Wells

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!




Suddenly, it's Spring! by Fiona

Working on Bishop JocelynLoaded on my truckBishop Jocelyn installed at Bishops Palace Gardens. Base to be sunk. I completed my steel Bishop last month (see images) for Bishops Palace Gardens, Wells - to be unveiled soon!  I was originally asked to create a topiary structure, but as he evolved it was decided the Bishop would remain purely a sculpture.  I created him as a 3d linear sketch.  He represents a myth about the medieval Bishop Jocelyn of Wells who slayed the Dragon of Worminster, saving the people of Dinder from further ravaging of their children and stock.  The Dragon will be made later.

New Black Swan 30th logoWinner in 8-11 yrs category - one of my studentsSome of the masks on display at the Young Open. Chuffed that all my students' entries were selected

I’ve been involved in work behind the scenes at Black Swan Arts as a Trustee. The current Young Open Exhibition required lots of preparation – an impressive show of young talent including some of my students from All Hallows and elsewhere.  Very proud that some of them were winners!  Celebrations for Black Swan’s 30th anniversary this year include some exciting events coming soon at the centre – BBC’s Get Creative Day (Drop-in workshops on Sat 2nd April, 2-4pm), 1000 Postcards (exhibition & sale of mini artworks by artists/celebs), Secret Swans (trail as part of Frome Festival) and 30 Plinths exhibition.  A chance to look forward to a great future for Black Swan and vital fund-raising.  If you’d like to help or take part do visit www.blackswan.org.uk.  We need 1000 postcard artworks by June!

Me & Nick Weaver coppicing hazel for the canopy structureNick and Fiona in Fiona's garden with samplesCanopy in progress, fishing net sections

My work for the Viking Cruises Chelsea Flower Show Artisan Garden, designed by Sarah Eberle, is now well under way.  It is inspired by Cambodian floating gardens and fishing techniques of the Mekong region.  I'm working on it collaboratively with Nick Weaver, who's making the wood boat/lounger, while I'm making a 4 metre textured fishing net/canopy by hand (see image), incorporating fine woven copper wires, twine, silk, wool and other surprising found materials like fish skeletons!  I am avidly collecting lemon netting bags for it.  It’s a long process and an exciting prospect – I’ve not produced work for Chelsea Flower Show before.  I will be there on 24/25 May, so please come and say hello if you have tickets!  Updates about this will be added to this blog in due course or visit here.

This June I will be exhibiting works in The Hidden Garden Art Show at Maureen Michaelson Gallery in Hampstead, London (June 4-12).  On Sunday 12 June this Gallery is also hosting a day as part of Chelsea Fringe Festival where I will be demonstrating my sculpting techniques.  For more information about these events, visit www.maureenmichaelson.com or www.chelseafringe.com.

Looking ahead, 'step in stone' - the artscapes-in-quarries project I ran last year - will be touring to Salisbury Art Centre in Aug/Sept.  Artworks by all 14 artists will feature - a chance to see some of the work if you missed it last year.

Have a lovely Spring!

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.

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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!