Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios and Swans auction at Bishops Palace

It’s that time again – Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios (15th – 30th Sept) starts soon,  highlighted by hundreds of yellow SAW signs around Somerset to indicate artists’ venues and arts events open to the public.  I’m at Venue 10 (West Cranmore BA4 4RH).  I’ve formed a cluster group “The East Mendip Collection” with 5 other artists from my area (David Brayne RWS and Jane Brayne, Christine-Anne Richards, Thea Dupays and Sally Jacobs) to encourage visitors get round to each of us:  SAW Cluster flyer ’12

My SAW venue will include an exhibition of large sculptural work in my garden and smaller work/sketchbooks/drawings/prints etc in my studio.  I’m also offering lunchtime wire workshops each Sunday (16th/23rd/30th, 12-1pm) – booking advisable (01749 880394).  For updates and images please see my Facebook page.

Some of my sculptures are currently on show in the Bishops Palace Summer Exhibition, Wells (’til 30th Sept), which coincides with the SwansofWells Swansong auction preview weekend (15/16th Sept) – also in Bishops Palace gardens.  This features over 60 decorated Swan sculptures – including my swan ‘Candela’ (sponsored by All Hallows Prep School), which I decorated with help from pupils, using colourful recycled materials.

Candela has proved a hit with children – her encrusted beak and body adorned with exotic and everyday collected objects including gogos (miniature luminescent toys), beads, buttons and wire cranes – made by children in workshops at All Hallows.  Her name originates from the Latin word for ‘Candle’, which features in the All Hallows motto:  ’Sancto cuique sua candela’: ‘for every saint there is a candle (light).’  Every child is a potential saint and they too have their lights.  It also relates to my design of flame-like linear patterns overlaid with vivid, interwoven materials and luminous paint.  Hoping the auction at Bishops Palace on 29th September will fetch a handsome figure for Candela (funds go to local charities).  Ideally, it would be lovely if it returned to All Hallows, where it was created.  Alongside this, SwansofWells have a Swans photographic competition – one of the prizes will be a wire workshop with me.

In addition, a series of my hanging “Nests” will be on exhibition at the Quartz Arts Festival, Queens College, Taunton TA1 4QS (26th Sept – 6th Oct).  See Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions for further details.

Here’s hoping for a lovely Indian Summer this September…

Liking Lichen

It’s always great when things tie up, strands of ideas link and what seems random fits into place.  Pondering on where to go next in my work and exploring ideas, I picked up a vividly coloured twig during a dog-walk and was captivated by the microcosmic yellow, orange and green world of lichen growing on it.  Strangely, I’d recently considered using lichen as a backdrop to my website pages.  The colours and textures seem so fitting.  But I hadn’t looked closely enough at the amazingly sculptural formations of their growth.  Researching lichen back at home, I discovered it is a prime example of a symbiotic union between fungi and algae.  I love the whole concept of symbiosis in the animal and plant kingdoms.  Equal collaboration.  Wish we humans could do it more successfully.

Lichen occurs in extreme environments and illustrates life’s cycle and persistence.  It is also useful in our assessment of environmental pollution (as with diatoms – another fascinating subject I’ve looked at recently).  Zooming in on lichen formations, it struck me how closely the bulbous ‘cushion xanthoria’ relate in shape to weavers’ nests, coral and other forms I gravitate towards.  Nitrate coloured dome-like heads on tentacles enclose a cavity of rich orange.  And I’ve just returned from Rome where domes are huge and plentiful and the walls burn orange.  New work on lichen begins…

Visit to Rome

I went to Rome last week for a 3-day break with my son.  Totally in awe of it all.  Below are a few snippets of favourite architecture and sculptures:

Now to get on with some grand pieces of my own… well, perhaps not quite so grand, but am feeling very inspired and the urge to create keeps me going strong.

Wire Workshops

I ran a wire workshop on Thursday 16th August as part of Gallery4Art’s series of workshops offered alongside our Summer Exhibition at Binham Grange, near Minehead in August. If you’d like to take part in other workshops there, please see this link for details:

An inspiring venue, the exhibition runs from 11th Aug – 2nd Sept.

Below are images from previous workshops – two run very recently at Bridport Arts Centre and Sherborne Youth Centre: