Bishops Palace

B-Wing Funding Success & New Developments by Fiona

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June brought a stream of thrilling news. After months of what seemed like never-ending funding applications and a long waiting game to hear our results, B-Wing received several grants in succession for our art in prison project. This will enable us to pay artists and engage the wider community in a series of special events including free workshops, talks and exhibition tours. We are so grateful to Arts Council England and The National Lottery for awarding B-Wing a project grant.  We have also received match-funding from Somerset Community Foundation, Shepton Town Council and Cranmore Parish Council - huge thanks to them and to all our supporters (see our website for a full list). It has been worth all the meetings and late nights at the computer. Now onto the next stages of curating and making.

I’m co-curating B-Wing with Luminara Star, alongside 6 other artists/writers. 8 of us will be installing a range of site-responsive visual art, poetry and text-based artworks in the unique spaces of B Wing, Shepton Mallet Prison for Somerset Art Weeks Festival 2019 (21 Sept - 6 Oct).

All the B-Wing artists met together at Shepton Mallet prison recently to celebrate.  Ideas are accumulating, and new collaborations brewing. I’ll be collaborating on work with Lou Baker and Scott Sandford on an immersive piece.

We now have our logo designed (by Chris Lee) and hard work continues, moving the project forward.

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In the next couple of months, we are engaging the local community in free one-off workshops leading up to the main exhibition. I’m running 2 free workshops for adults on 23 July and 6 August, creating collaborative artworks (all abilities welcome), to be exhibited at our exhibition ( see poster). We aim to engage the local Shepton community as much as possible. We are also leading workshops at Whitstone schools and a Shepton home ed group this July, and offering free additional workshops for schools at the prison during Somerset Art Weeks as part of the prison’s educational package. For info on these and special events visit B-Wing Community Events and follow us on our social media channels: instagram, twitter and facebook (@bwing2019) #bwing2019 #artbehindbars .

To book a workshop email: bwingsheptonprison@gmail.com

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For my B-Wing artwork, I have a few ideas on the go and am looking forward to getting cracking during my residency at the prison in August. I will be working on site using the Servery in B-Wing as my Studio. Some of my B-Wing work is going to be quite large, so making part of it on site will make logistics simpler .

I recently discovered Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Tavola VII (The Bridge), from The Imaginary Prisons series, 1745, thanks to a talk by Helene Bremer at Grow Flow symposium, Pound Arts, Wiltshire. The work reinforced ideas I’ve been developing for months around the theme of rickety ladders. Like the game snakes and ladders, humans seem imprisoned in an eternal cycle of striving, greed, pain, suffering and evil. Louise Bourgeois wrote a series of short stories - illustrated as 9 engravings. ‘He disappeared into complete silence’ features skeletal buildings, claustrophobic cells, dysfunctional spaces, human frailty, separation, isolation. Her floating ladders (plate 8) relate to the story of a man who ‘became cut off from part of the world’ through deafness. My large-scale installation for B-Wing will reflect on similar notions.

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Re-Formation

Last week I installed my large sculptural installation Crowns of Thorns for a summer group show Re-Formation at Bishops Palace, Wells, organised by Heritage Courtyard Gallery. It’s made from various re-purposed older works (more than 7), using scrap steel, lead, a hand-woven net made from recycled materials (Canopy, 2016, originally created for RHS Chelsea Flower Show), and glass. The install was a long process, as is often the case with my work, thanks to my son Jack for all his help loading and unloading. I’m so grateful that the weather has allowed me to work outside, as the scale is too large for my increasingly cramped studio. Crown of Thorns investigates ideas about religion and myth, rethinking our belief systems. I’ve really enjoyed working with lead and glass again, playing with their capabilities, both respond so differently to heat and fusion. The materials speak of flux, transformation, contrast, collapse. The exhibition runs from 22nd July - 6 October. Private View 10 August, 6.30-9pm, all welcome!

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Drawing on Dorset

My work Traces is included in a publication and exhibition Drawing on Dorset, currently at Fine Foundation Gallery, Durlston, Swanage - an idyllic setting. Part of Durlston Castle, it overlooks the sea, Studland and Isle of Wight. The Private View was held on a perfect summer evening this week, a packed event, which included a panel discussion about the practice of drawing, led by Anita Taylor. Tania Kovats read her beautiful introduction to the book, which begins ‘Make a mark, leave trace, something against nothing...’ I feel honoured to be a part of the exhibition and publication, alongside some great South West artists. The show runs til 17n July, then tours to the Lighthouse, Poole Centre for the Arts, 6-29 Sept.

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Marks Hall Summer Exhibition

I delivered my Verticals and Giant Nest to Marks Hall Estate, Coggeshall, Essex last week - 9 hours round trip! Pleased to be showing work in such a beautiful landscape.

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Sheds

Due to the nature of my work and my increasingly tight studio space, I’ve spent a few weekends sorting out and fixing 3 old dilapidated sheds in my garden, which will become storage and work spaces. I’m making good progress thanks to the help of Jason Nosworthy and Nick Weaver.

Workshops

I’ve run a range of workshops recently - the furthest was a sculpture workshop using recycled materials at Nottingham High School; a long way to go in a day but what a delightful set of outcomes from 40 Yr 9 students!

For further news of my forthcoming workshops and exhibitions please visit this link.

Happy summer days ahead!




My time inside comes to an end by Fiona

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Cells Residency

May was an exhilarating month for me, dominated by my solo residency/exhibition in the incredible atmospheric Cells, Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge.  My exhibition ‘Offenders’ (9-31 May) was the culmination of an art residency there in April.  Set in historic holding cells for suspected offenders (the grand magistrates court is on the floor above), the show may have offended some, but alludes to a question ‘are we all offenders given the state of our world?’ The work was a response to the site and to the horrors that we are facing - plastic oceans, factory-farming, animal extinctions.  The labour-intensive process of my work - weaving, wrapping, sewing - is a form of suturing, a cathartic attempt to repair in response to world destruction. I created a range of large and small works, installing as I made them.  Ironically, it was such a pleasure to be unrestricted in the cells spaces, free to test out new ideas and take risks.

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Tongue, 2019,    330cms (l) x 158cms (h) x 135cms (w)   Recycled and found materials: fabric, old clothes died with avocado pits, foam, sponge, copper wire, steel, wax, twine, blankets, duvets, pillows, cushion, towels, wool, leather, plastic, rubber, thread    Photos by Tchad Findlay

Tongue, 2019, 330cms (l) x 158cms (h) x 135cms (w)
Recycled and found materials: fabric, old clothes died with avocado pits, foam, sponge, copper wire, steel, wax, twine, blankets, duvets, pillows, cushion, towels, wool, leather, plastic, rubber, thread

Photos by Tchad Findlay

My larger works - a body-sized Tongue sculpture (above) and 3 rickety ladders - filled the 3 main cells.  Fragile and exposed, Tongue activated the space. Like a wounded body, its vulnerable softness was juxtaposed against the harsh surroundings, repulsive but seductive. The ladders were precariously balanced, with wrapped soft sculptural entrails made from recycled materials weaving through them, and dangling from cell bars.

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Photos by Tchad Findlay

Photos by Tchad Findlay

Other works became interventions in smaller spaces and in the corridors.  The work included a sound piece - a new direction for me. I made a series of Spiderweb drawings - ancient neglected spider webs captured from dusty corners of the Victorian cells.  To become acquainted with the space I spent time creating a large graphite rubbing of a decaying section of brick wall, and some imprints on fine handmade paper, which I oiled, transforming them into skin-like parchment. In the loo, large stone spheres that have been incongruously left on the floor inspired an installation of interconnected cellular/planetary forms like a constellation. The stone balls remind me of these ancient ones.

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Spiderweb drawings

Spiderweb drawings

Cellular/Planetary structures - installed in the cell loo  Photos by Tchad Findlay

Cellular/Planetary structures - installed in the cell loo

Photos by Tchad Findlay

As part of the residency, I invited various community groups to engage through debate and collaborative making.  I had some great conversations with visitors about the work, which expanded to discussions about human use and abuse of materials and wider issues about the state of our world.  I really appreciate all the visits and am grateful to those who supported me. Towards the end, I engaged the community in make a growing artwork for the exterior fencing outside Town Hall Arts. As a finale, I joined forces with artist Katryn Saqui (also exhibiting at Town Hall Arts) on Saturday 25 May, to create a colourful Street Sculpture ‘Bahuli Entrails’.   It was a wonderful way for members of the public to engage with art while having a bit of fun. All sorts of people dropped by to contribute to the work as a social activity, it attracted more people to enter inside the formal town hall to see the exhibitions, (several who don’t normally go to art exhibitions).  I have grown fond of friendly Trowbridge and was particularly charmed by a man Peter, who spent hours making a long finger knitted woollen piece for the display.


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Workshops

I took part in a spectacular Jack in the Green event organised by The Old Stores Studio, Evercreech. My role was to run a rag cloak-making session, with community help. The event celebrated the release of the spirit of summer.  At Bruton School for Girls, 50 students made cellular/planetary structures with me (based on the work I made in the cells) using recycled copper wire, twine, wool, plastic netting, printed handmade paper and oil.  The ethereal forms link to the 50 year anniversary of the first landing on the moon. Each piece will eventually interconnect with others to become part of a whole room installation at the school, to be exhibited as part of Somerset Art Weeks Festival 2019. At the Holburne Museum I ran a ‘masterclass’ with 11-16 yr olds creating self-portrait paintings - I was so impressed with their outcomes.

I will be running workshops at Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge in August making carnival headdresses: 13, 20, 27 August, 10am-1pm. Book here.

Current exhibitions

My piece Accretion has been selected to feature in the Bath Open Art Prize at 44AD, part of Fringe Art Bath. The exhibition runs until 9 June, 11 - 6 daily (until 2pm on last Sunday).  4 Abbey Street Bath BA1 1NN.

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Forthcoming exhibitions

Re-Formation: a summer exhibition at Bishops Palace, Wells, 22 July - 6 October, organised by Heritage Courtyard Gallery.   Private View Saturday 10 August, 6.30-9pm. I am making a large outdoor piece entitled Crown of Thorns, inspired by a mixture of myth and religion, using re-purposed materials.  Re-Formation calls for a new vision.  With our planet at risk, we need to re-think our belief system.

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I am thrilled that Traces has been selected for a book and exhibition: Drawing On Dorset organised by Dorset Visual Arts. The publication features 40 drawings linked to Dorset.  The exhibition will be at Fine Foundation Gallery, Durlston, Swanage 5- 17 July.  I made Traces in 2017 during my MFA. It is made mainly with copper wire on handmade paper, some elements 3d, inspired by whelk egg sacs found on the  Dorset coast.  In the work I was interested in blurring the boundaries between drawing and sculpture, so it expands into an out of form.

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Sculpture at Marks Hall 2019: outdoor exhibition of sculpture throughout the landscape of Marks Hall, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TG, 20 July - 31 August.


B-Wing

B-Wing is an arts project I’m co-curating with Luminara Star in Shepton Mallet Prison, for Somerset Art Weeks Festival 2019.

It’s so great to have the support of several sponsors including Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Chrisi & Simon Kennedy, MJW Architects, Kelly O’Brien, Cameron & Daniella Scott, Cranmore Parish Council and 2 anonymous donors. Many thanks to all!  We are waiting on news back from our main funding applications. Meanwhile, we are still fundraising, so if you can contribute to our project that would be wonderful!  Sponsors will be mentioned on social media and our website. Thanks to Mark Adler (Mendip Times) and Giles Adams (Whats On Somerset) for fab features.


Talks

I’m taking part in a Pecha Kucha at Hauser & Wirth Somerset on June 11, part of a professional development day for Artist/Educators. Hauser and Wirth’s current exhibition ‘Unconscious Landscape’ is such a joy, with so many of my favourite women artists featured, including Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse.



Farewell to Spring, Hello Summer!



Juggling by Fiona

It’s a common phenomenon for artists to be adept jugglers, managing multiple balls in the air to survive. A book I’m reading ‘The Artist as Cultural Producer’ by Sharon Louden highlights 40 artists who do it very well. It’s been a dizzy time juggling different strands of my practice and feeling excited by opportunities that have come my way.

Carymoor - newt sculpture

I installed my Great Crested Newt sculpture in his new home at Carymoor Environmental Trust. Made from recycled and found materials, he sits on a grassy tussock by an old bomb incineration tank (now pond - home to great crested newts). Here he can oversee his live newt friends who hide underneath the sheet of corrugated steel.

The sculpture was commissioned as a memorial to the founder of the environmental centre Hamish Craig. He loved great crested newts and it was finding these on the old landfill site that sparked the beginnings of Carymoor - now a wonderful wildlife and education centre built over a site full of waste.

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MA graduation ceremony

Earlier this month I officially graduated with an MA in Fine Art at a grand ceremony in the awesome Assembly Rooms, Bath, celebrating with fellow graduates. It was a treat to meet our chancellor Jeremy Irons and I was honoured to be invited to give the valediction speech on behalf of our cohort. I managed to do this without tripping up. It was a lovely sunny day for photos - happy memories!

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Gilbert Bayes Award sessions

Since winning a Gilbert Bayes award from the Royal Society of Sculptors, I’ve been going to London for monthly development sessions. The last with Shelley James focused on writing about our work. The year ends with a group exhibition in London, which tours to Grizedale Arts afterwards - exciting! I try to maximise on my London day trips by visiting exhibitions or museums. I saw Anni Albers at Tate Modern and more recently strolled through the V&A materials and techniques sections, which is mid-blowing.

Outdoor Arts

I have spent 2 weekends on an Outdoor Arts Development Course in Weymouth (delivered by Activate, b-side & Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival). It’s been fun and informative discussing potential art projects, learning tricks of the trade and thinking up new ideas. I’m now working on a pitch for a potential project which will involve collaboration, to present soon for the forthcoming event Dorset Moon this summer (Luke Jerram's international touring project Museum of the Moon). I’ve made a mini rickety ladder as a maquette. If I don’t get selected I will at least have a cute little ladder for posterity. I quite like making small objects despite normally making huge pieces. A bit finickety but addictive!

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Incendiary

The wonderful multi-site exhibition ‘Incendiary’, featuring my work, came and went in full fiery mode. 25 artists responded to the firing up of industrial incinerators - a thought provoking exhibition curated by Patricia Brian. Lou Baker and I held an event ‘Join in the Conversation’ as part of it - we were delighted that we had a room packed with engaged people at Stroud Valleys Artspace, discussing our work in context with waste.

Glut at Incendiary. Photo by Mike Garlick

Glut at Incendiary. Photo by Mike Garlick

Cells residency

For my cells residency ‘Offenders’ at Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge (April/May) I’ve made initial sketches, a collage and have started sourcing scrap steel for the skeletal form of a proposed huge Tongue sculpture. Working in the garden on sunny February days has been great. Confrontation with uncomfortable topics related to environmental exploitation will be a characteristic of this residency and exhibition. 

My work often involves sourcing, sorting and stripping wire. I’ve happily received donations of unwanted materials: pink clothes, towels, wire and fruit nets. Still looking for recycled wax, lead and copper wire. Please get in touch if you have any spare.

Forthcoming exhibitions

Other events coming up include a big group show ‘Re-formation’ at the Bishops Palace, Wells, Somerset for Summer 2019, organised by Heritage Courtyard Gallery. I have been developing ideas for this.

Fundraising for Prison Project - B-Wing

I’m currently writing an ACE application for a forthcoming project ‘B-Wing’, an arts event being held in the unique spaces of Shepton Mallet prison. Delivered alongside co-curator Luminara Star and several selected artists, we are making progress. B-Wing will involve 5 artists and 1 writer making site-responsive works leading to an exhibition and performances in the B-Wing section of Shepton Mallet Prison during Somerset Art Weeks Festival ’19. The project promises to be quite special and will be a nice follow on from my Cells residency work. We are looking for funds to engage the local Shepton community, schools and various other groups in the area and from afar. More news to follow.

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Copper bowls

I have made a series of little copper bowls for Fosse Beads and Friends, Black Swan Arts, Frome. Each one is annealed and hand beaten.

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Workshops

I had fun with tinies (Yrs 1 & 2) at Trinity First School, Frome the other day. Around 120 children made sea creatures in a day using recycled plastic and other found/discarded materials.

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I am running a few workshops over the next few months with places available. The next is a 3d wire workshop, Tues 9 April, 10am-1pm, ages 6+; £15 per adult+child; additional children £8 each; includes materials & drink. Town Hall Arts, Market Street, Trowbridge BA14 8EQ. Book: www.townhallarts.co.uk

If you’re interested in more, please visit this link.

PRESS 2016 by Fiona

Frome Standard, March '16 - Local Artists' work focal pieces/Chelsea Flower Show story Frome Times, March '16 - Chelsea Flower Show commission

Fine Times Recorder, March '16 - Bishop unveiling at Bishops Palace

Wells Journal, March '16 - New sculpture unveiled at Bishops Palace

The Visitor Magazine, May '16 - Somerset artists net Chelsea Flower Show commission

BBC Get Creative Day, April '16 - workshops at Black Swan Arts

Bruton Town website - Chelsea Flower Show commission

The Fine Times Recorder - Chelsea Flower Show commission

Bishop commission - Country Gardener

Bishop - Country Gardener

Mendip Times, May '16 - Bishop and Chelsea

Mendip Times May '16

Gardens Illustrated, May '16 - Chelsea

Gardens Illustrated May '16

Sunday Telegraph, 29 May '16 - Chelsea canopy

Sunday Telegraph 29 May 16

Viking Cruises brochure for Chelsea Garden, May '16

Viking Cruises brochure for Chelsea Garden, May '16

Somerset Live - Chelsea artists return

Frustrated Gardener blog - Chelsea Mekong Garden

Garden Design Journal - Chelsea

Garden Design Journal

Country Life, Collectors' Issue, 1 June '16

Canopy and Boat, Mekong Garden, Chelsea - Country Life June '16

Chelsea Fringe website - Hidden Garden Art Show

Frome Standard, 9 June '16

Frome Standard 9 Jun 16

Ham and High - Hidden Garden Art Show

Ham & High - Secret Garden Full of Gems

Ham & High - Garden Events

The Artiscape - Gold and Best Artisan Garden Awards for Somerset Artists

The Visitor Magazine, June '16 - Gold and Best Artisan Garden Awards at Chelsea Flower Show for Somerset Artists

Bruton Town website, June '16 -  Secret Swans Art Trail

SculptSite.com, June '16 - Secret Swans Art Trail Adds Mystery to Frome Festival

SculptSite.com - Secret Swans Art Trail

Frome Festival, July '16 - Secret Swans Success Story

Somerset Cool Blog, July '16 - 30 Years of Art - Black Swan Arts, Frome

Frome Standard, July '16 - Secret Swans

Secret Swans - Frome Standard 21:7:16

Frome Times, August '16 - Black Swan - Beacon for the Arts

Black Swan - Beacon for the Arts - Frome Times 28:8:16

Salisbury Journal, Aug '16 - step in stone tours to Salisbury Art Centre

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Sense of achievement by Fiona

Around this time I normally write a winter newsletter, but it feels like I've only just finished the autumn one!  Time has really flown by.  It's been a very intense and challenging few months for me, full of achievements and not quite burnt out yet!  'step in stone' - an ambitious art in quarries project I organised - took over my life for many months and is now over.  It was incredible seeing it through to fruition, and so fulfilling working with quality artists whose work I admire. Overall, ‘step in stone’ was a tremendous success, very well received by an extremely varied and broadly based audience.  Combining the role of project manager and curator with that of being a participating artist was demanding.  Considering time constraints and my other roles, I feel I achieved a great deal, though disappointed that I could not fully explore more possibilities with my commissioned artwork for the project. 'Cirri' was intended to be more numerous, (based on Fossilised remains of ancient sea life forms).  I relished the opportunity to explore new concepts and media in my piece ‘Eviscerated Earth’ installed at Fairy Cave Quarry – recycled wax, cloth, scrim, paper and wire combined with found, rusty scrap steel collected from quarries.  It linked to the story of Fairy Cave: destruction of caves and beautiful (speleothem) formations within.  I would have liked to create more work for our Black Swan Exhibition - a beautiful show - but management of the project took over and time ran out.

step in stone catalogue pageEviscerated Earth recycled wax, cloth, scrim, paper and wire combined with found, rusty scrap steel

Now that the excitement is over, and I've reached the end of the arduous (but revealing) evaluation process for it, I'm starting to look forward to new ventures and getting inspired.

I visited Ai Weiwei's exhibition at the Royal Academy, London recently.  It's not often art brings tears to my eyes, but his work is so powerful, I was deeply moved.  The cell depictions of his sordid incarceration by Chinese authorities made me feel voyeuristic, angry and amazed at the brilliance of them.

A fortnight ago I sold my Nestling Cocoon to Mark Owen of Take That for an anniversary present to his wife Emma.  I drove from Somerset to North London to collect the piece from Maureen Michaelson (Gallerist), then to Sussex where I delivered it, then back to Somerset, in time to teach my evening art classes... all in a day!

I'm currently working on a life-size steel Bishop commissioned for the gardens at Bishops Palace, Wells, and will then start on a new commission for garden designer Sarah Eberle's Artisan Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2016, to create a 4 metre square woven canopy.

Bishop design

Other opportunities in the pipeline include showing with Maureen Michaelson again next year for Chelsea Fringe.  In the immediate future, I have been selected to show at the The Grant Bradley Gallery, (1 St Peters Ct, Bedminster Parade, Bristol BS3 4AQ) as part of a mixed show entitled 'Bristol Green Capital in the Frame'. Celebrating and reflecting on the year that Bristol was voted The European Green Capital, it embodies a green theme: recycling, the importance of green spaces and wildlife.  The exhibition runs from 5 Dec '15 - 2 Jan '16.  You're welcome to come along to the Private View: Fri 4 Dec 6-9pm!

In case you've tried viewing my website gallery pages - apologies!  There is a plug-in issue due to server updates, so some images are failing to open.  Hopefully it will be sorted soon!