Great Crested Newt

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.

Great Crested Newt 168x90x46cms, recycled materials, Carymoor Environmental Trust.jpg

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!

MA Group.JPG
Me with Robert Luzar.jpg

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!

Moon project sketch.jpg
rickety ladder maquette.jpg

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.

IMG_2978.jpg

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.

Hand beaten and annealed copper bowls.jpg

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.

IMG_2912.jpg

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.

Tentacular by Fiona

At the start of this month, I went to a Somerset Art Weeks Symposium in Taunton ‘Prospecting: new directions and territories for artists’ practice’.  It was an invigorating day, albeit condensed, making connections and thinking laterally.  I particularly enjoyed catching up with SAW artists and meeting new practitioners. One of our tasks to bring to the event was a ‘This is Me’ profile for a group wall display.  Mine (below) reflects on the tentacular nature of my practice:

The talks highlighted inspiring examples of socially engaged practice and collaboration.  In workshops with Kerry Harker and Lydia Catterall we discussed the imperative for resilience, forging artist-led initiatives, and finding interesting spaces to show our work.  With this in mind, I’ve been planning a few interesting ventures for next year.  Two happen to involve prison cells.

I’m excited to be mulling over ideas for a residency culminating in a solo exhibition in the basement cells at Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, in the Spring.  Alongside the show, I'll be delivering some related workshops with the young and elderly.  I am also in early stages of organising a joint art project and exhibition with Luminara Star and the Rubbish Art Project in Shepton Prison (the oldest UK working prison - now vacant until it gets developed into residential homes).  The cells are still in tact.  Both sites are unique, intriguing spaces for site-specific work, full of dark, sad histories, appropriate for creative responses to current society and environmental issues.  On a sunny day, light through the windows, steel bars and grids casts dramatic linear shadows. The prison, now silent, has great acoustics - one can only imagine the sounds of its past. We hope to include other artists, possibly sound, film, performance and installation and will engage the community in the making process.

A recent tweet about a bull elephant being shot because it broke out of its fenced enclosure in South Africa made me fume.  Almost as bad as poaching and trophy hunting.  It turns out they did not maintain the fences adequately, and all he was doing was naturally pushing boundaries, exploring, roaming beyond barriers – human imposed after all.  Why shoot him? Because he wasn’t towing the line we impose for our own humancentric logic.

Inky the Octopus, a hero in 2016, broke out of his aquarium tank in New Zealand National Aquarium, slid/crawled across the floor and down a drainpipe to the ocean.  Amazing intelligence and agility, but as this article points out, for many reasons beyond our own intelligence. Octopuses are so very different to us – ‘aliens’ apparently.  What’s fascinating is that ‘octopus literature is full of such flights to freedom’. The escape and how he did it remains a mystery. I was in awe watching an octopus in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet (Green Seas episode) trick a shark and escape by very cunningly and swiftly covering itself with a coat of shells. Picasso and his contemporaries were intrigued by ‘The Octopus’, 1928, a film by Jean Painleve, which led to Picasso's octopus-like women.  Octopuses also remind me of the interconnectedness of life:

The tentacular are... fingery beings like humans... squid, jellyfish, neural extravaganzas, fibrous entities, flagellated beings... swelling roots... The tentacular are also nets and networks... Tentacularity is about life lived along lines... a series of interlaced trails’ (Donna Haraway, 2016)

So, this creature – a symbol of our great and mysterious oceans- inspired my design for a giant octopus lantern to lead 2018 Shepton Lantern Parade (see top).  I am making the chicken-wire structure, then working on it with the community and the Rubbish art project in workshops at the Art Bank,Shepton Mallet, using recycled materials, especially plastic.  Workshop dates: Sat 24 Nov 11am-1pm, Mon 26 11-1, Mon 3 Dec 7-9pm, Thur 6 Dec 4-6pm + more... To take part in a workshop email lucy@therubbishartproject.co.uk   The Octopus will be lit by led lights and paraded on 22 December with the Shepton Lantern Parade. Please come along!

Creature and environmental concerns continue to engage me, as does the blurring of boundaries.  My thoughts are currently meandering around concepts of confinement, caged animals/humans, factory farming, obstruction, barriers, walls within walls.. and I'm sure there will be an element of the tentacular.

Other news:

I received the official results of my Masters in Fine Art this week and delighted to have passed with distinction!

In between tidying up my studio so it's fit for purpose, I've started working on a 1 metre Great Crested Newt as a commission for Carymoor Environmental Centre in memory of Hamish Craig, whose amazing contribution to Carymoor was instigated by great crested newts found there.

Last week I ran my first workshop as part of the Holburne Museum education team.  It was an A'Level life-drawing session linked to 'Rodin: rethinking the fragment'. It encouraged me to do some of my own life-drawing beforehand and prep on Rodin's link with the Pantheon sculptures, which all helped.

The class did some fabulous drawings:

Forthcoming exhibitions include: Residency and Solo Exhibiiton (title TBC), The Cells, Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, April - May; Incendiary, Landsdown Gallery and SVA, Stroud, 4-10 February 2019; Marks Hall Sculpture, Essex, 20 July - 1 September 2019; Reformation, Bishops Palace, Wells, July - October 2019.  More info to follow.

 

If you'd like to receive updates please follow me here or on instagram, where I add regular updates: https://www.instagram.com/fionacampbellartist/   

My website is undergoing a complete rehaul and a much needed paring down.  Watch this space!