Swan for Wells

I am very pleased to have been asked to decorate one of the Swans of Wells by All Hallows Prep School in Cranmore, a sponsor.  The project ‘will feature sixty, magnificently decorated, 5ft swan sculptures, one for each of the sixty years of the Queen’s reign. The flock will be displayed in public locations in and around Wells from June to September 2012. This eye-catching, high profile event is expected to bring thousands of visitors and vibrant contemporary art to the streets of England’s smallest city.’  Our Swan will have pride of place outside Bishops Palace.  I have just over a fortnight to do the work, which has a recycling theme and will entail 3-d materials collected by All Hallows and me, including some wire creations by children at All Hallows…  images to follow as the work develops.

 

Update – 27/5

Over a month ago I was asked to decorate this Swan.  Luckily the deadline was postponed.  It’s been very absorbing and great fun, but incredibly time-consuming!  I’ve loved my residency creating the work at All Hallows Prep School (the sponsors), where I was supported by all.  The children added some bits (hand-made wire school crane emblems, patterns woven, painted and drawn, and a few stuck on beads, buttons and gogos) and they gave me loads of positive feedback.

We named our Swan Candela.  It has relevance in various ways:  The Latin word for ‘Candle’, it features in the All Hallows motto:  ‘Sancto cuique sua candela’ which translates as: ‘for every saint there is a candle (light).’  Every child is a potential saint and they too have their lights.  The Swan has a flame-like, glowing quality in its patterns, colours and bright, luminous objects.  The  recycled objects have been lovingly collected, donated and created by the children, (+ me and my son, Jack) – symbolic of their individual lights.

The process was more complex than I imagined, as I had to texturise the surface prior to sticking on the objects (all individually cleaned/de-greased),  then sand, prime and paint in between all the bits.  Varnishing was a huge relief – there was no return.  Although not perfect, I think it’s got a charm of its own.  The Swan was collected on Friday and will go on display with the rest of the flock next week (after 28th May).

Swans of Wells Launch – 28/5

Some of the flock were displayed on Wells Cathedral Green today for the media launch, including ours, and there was a brief appearance of them on BBC and ITV news.  All looked lovely in the sunshine!

See press: Shepton Mallet Journal, SwansofWells website, Jenikya’s blog

Update – 19/6

Visited Candela to give her a clean up.  Great to see Ian and the team were already doing some Swan cleaning.  Sadly Candela had her eyes plucked out + a few other bits.  I will be replacing the missing parts asap.  It’s encouraging to see members of the public trying to help by keeping an eye out for the Swans.  A note was found inside Candela, together with a missing part, retrieved by some kind person.  The good news is that Candela has a new sunny spot nearer the Palace entrance and is still attracting plenty of attention:

Update – 2/7

Gave Candela back her eyesight, replaced a few other bits that had been removed and another wash last week – so all gleaming again 🙂

Update 15/7

I helped on the first Swans of Wells stall this Saturday selling Swans merchandise to raise funds.  Also revived Candela with another freshen-up as the sun came out on Sunday.  Plenty of visitors in the sunshine:

Update 15/8
I’ve been back a couple of times to give Candela some TLC and clean her up from all the mud splatters after such heavy rain over the past month or so.  Today, plenty of visitors stopped to take pics and remark on Candela and the Swan flock.  They were intrigued to hear the background to her – some people even claimed she was their fav Swan.
Update 27/8
At the Moat Boat Race on Bank Holiday Monday; went to the SwansofWells stall for a bit – great to see more merchandise decorated with our colourful Swans.
Update 16/9
Candela is now preened and ready to be auctioned on 29th September.  Here she is at the Auction Preview weekend (15/16 Sept) at Bishops Palace with the rest of the flock:
Swans Auction – 29th September
I’m delighted that All Hallows have managed to acquire Candela through successful bidding at the Auction.  It was a very exciting evening. Candela achieved a healthy figure and will now return to her rightful place, where she will live happily ever after.  The amazing total of £111,500 raised from the Swans auction will go mainly to local charities.
I was asked to decorate one of two mini swans bid at end of the auction.  I decided to make a baby Candela – ‘Candelina’:
In permanent residence
Candela, now back at her resting place in All Hallows Prep School:
See FILM of the SWANS OF WELLS PROJECT made by S-J of WHITESPACE PRODUCTIONS.

Meeting deadlines

It’s a tricky thing knowing, in advance, just how much to book up in terms of work and exhibitions.  There are always last minute changes, new opportunities come along and some fall through.  A few projects of mine are now head-to-head and overlapping – I just hope I haven’t booked too much to handle!  The next few weeks/months are pretty packed –  see Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions for details.  In addition to my Green Capital Artist Residency I’ve recently installed work at some wonderful venues including Delamore (Devon) and Showborough (Gloucestershire) and working towards gaining funding for our Scraptorzoic Era at The Magdalen Project, where we (The Scraptors) will be showing samples of what’s to come at their Open Day on 29th April 2-5pm.

Green Capital Residency – Bristol’s Big Green Week

It’s been great focusing on one main piece for the past few weeks.  I’ve tried to avoid distractions (like social media sites/blogging!) to get ahead with a major piece I’m making for Bristol’s Big Green Week.  Selected as one of 8 artists-in-residence – all working in different media around sustainability – I’m now set up with a small but prominent space at the Create Centre, Bristol, and have officially started my 3 month residency as a Green Capital Artist.  I met Bristol’s Harbour Master on Tuesday, who has agreed to my Diatom sculptures (see info below) being floated in the harbour at Bush corner, by the Arnolfini, for Bristols’ Big Green Week in June.  I’m very excited about this!  I have decided to log the progress of the work I’m producing for the Green Week Exhibition (9-17 June) as it develops below.  (See links: Sculptsite article; Bristol BiennialArtists at Create)

‘Man models himself on Earth, Earth on Heaven’ will be approximately 4.5 metres tall.  Created mainly out of recycled steel components and copper wire, the piece relates to my interest in nature’s cyclical persistence and the network of threads weaving through all things.  The sketchy stretching human form, reminiscent of a tree, emerges from its cocoon, reaching upwards.  It represents the vital forces in nature and re-birth of humanity in a new, purer state.  We are all of the earth.  The piece is constructed in 3 separate pieces, which bolt together.   The concept was inspired by a Taoist line, echoed in the title.  Still in the making, here are some images of it so far (the last 3 were taken at Motorcade/Flashparade’s documentation day earlier in the week):

To help formulate my ideas, I made several studies of trees which have a similar sense of the inner cocooned trunk with wispy extensions – here are 2:

‘Diatoms’.    The idea of recycled floating diatoms stemmed from a design and prototype I made for a Scraptors’ project at an eco farm called Magdalen, inspired by Ernst Haeckel’s wonderful illustrations.   ‘Diatom I’ includes some tentacles added by fellow Scraptor Rachel Macleay, but was rejected due to its plastic content – unsuitable for the farm’s strict sustainability guidelines.  The rest are experiments from new designs.  These ideas will be adapted and explored further in new pieces for Magdalen using appropriate materials.  The sculptures will float on orange life buoys in the harbour beside the Arnolfini.  They will be approximately 1 – 1.5 metres in diameter, made of recycled steel, wire, plastic and other found materials.  Diatoms are microcosmic organisms, which are now sadly becoming endangered, yet essential to our survival – producing over 35% of our oxygen supply.  Beautiful, primal structures originating from the Jurassic era, to me they symbolise nature’s cyclical persistence, though threatened by man’s intervention.

Update – 7/6/12

Yesterday was the big day – installing all the work, both in the Create Centre and Arnolfini harbour.  As always, it took longer than imagined.  Floating the Diatoms took some organisation.  The Harbour team (Miles and Arabella) were a great help, but the weather was grim and it was hard to manoevre in the big Mariner boat, so placing the Diatoms was a struggle!  After a cold, wet 4 hours, all 9 are in situ!  As Miles (from Harbour team) said, they look a bit primordial floating there randomly.  Will need to take better photos when the sun’s out and we’ve managed to adjust their positions in a smaller boat – this Saturday, hopefully.  (See latest post: A constructive day at Bristol Harbour)