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B-Wing, Contemporary Art in Unexpected Places by Fiona

Making one of my giant ladder forms. Photo by Jason King

Making one of my giant ladder forms. Photo by Jason King

I’ve been focused on the lead up to B-Wing, an ACE-funded arts project in Shepton Mallet Prison I’m co-curating with Luminar Star, alongside 6 other artists.  Fuelled by the idea of presenting art in unexpected places, the prison’s cavernous B Wing will be transformed into an immersive experience.  Curation has been all-consuming, involving a huge amount of fundraising, planning, management, PR/radio chats, meetings…  In tandem, I’ve been making artwork for it. 

The practicalities of making large-scale work is challenging with limited studio space.  Thankfully, we had a good summer, enabling me to work in the garden on sculptural pieces.  I’m grateful to Shepton Mallet Prison for allowing me to take up residency in B Wing’s Servery to develop my artwork, and thanks to Nick Weaver for use of his wood workshop facilities and technical assistance.

Fiona Campbell (co-curator:artist)  working on her giant ladder.  Photo by Jason King.jpeg
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Fiona working on her installation in the B Wing Servery.jpg
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I’m making large-scale site-responsive sculptural installations involving dysfunctional rickety ladders, referring to the game snakes and ladders.  Interacting with the space, one will be suspended high up in the skylight of B Wing.  Piranesi’s Tavola VII (The Bridge), from The Imaginary Prisons series, resonates with my concerns around freedom and confinement, the endless human cycle of desire, striving, greed, suffering, and human imposition of nature.   Recycled and found everyday materials - wood, fabric, paper, cardboard, wire, twine, wool - are being transformed into drawings in space.


My skeletal ladder structures refer to precarious lives, dreams, escape.  ‘All realization of potential’ Bachelard observes, ‘is conceived as elevation… depicted as a rising curve.’ Ladders are the imaginary stairways of spiritual ascension, dating back to genesis.  I want mine to appear winglike and bonelike, reminiscent of flight, and extinct animals hung in museums.  They will be translucent in parts, ghostly, dreamlike, surreal.  Layers of reused monochrome collaged newspapers add a frailty, evidence of our consumerist world. In contrast, flesh coloured handwoven and wrapped entrail forms will dangle and entwine around ladders, bewailing the heavy realities of violence, destruction, waste and suffering around us.

The work raises questions - are we all offenders given the state of our world today?

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We have numerous free workshops, talks, tours and performances, many come with free get-into-prison tickets. Collaboration is key.  We’ve been engaging community groups making work to be featured as part of our exhibition.  I worked with Whitstone School and adult groups creating collaborative pieces, based around possessions, identity, marking time, time as value, bound. ‘Conversations became the threads that made our connections.’  

Saturday 28th September is B-Wing’s action packed Special Events Day from 10-5.  It will be opened by John McCarthy, renowned writer and broadcaster held hostage in the Lebanon.  The day includes a performative Join in the conversation with Lou Baker and me, Lucy Large’s artist talk, a performance by Luminara Star and Rosie Jackson’s poetry reading.  It will be a day to meet the artists and celebrate. Please come along!

 On National Poetry Day, Thursday 3rd October, 2-4pm, poet Rosie Jackson will lead a poetry performance, 18 Poets in B-Wing, featuring poets from the South West.  On Saturday 5th October, 10-1, I'll be running a family friendly sculpture workshop.  See attached posters (designed by Chris Lee ) and visit: www.b-wing.weebly.com  & social media: @bwing2019

B-Wing opens during Somerset Arts Weeks Festival, 21st September - 6th October, daily 10am-5pm. Reduced entrance (exhibition and prison): £10 adults, accompanied children free.

I’ll be posting about my other projects soon!

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Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions and Projects 2018 by Fiona

I am excited to be involved in the following exhibitions and projects this year: MA Walcot Chapel Residency, Bath; 12-18 February

The Cotswold Sculpture Park, The Paddock, Somerford Keynes, Cirencester GL7 6FE;  1 April – 30thSeptember, 10.30am-5pm (closed Tues and Wed), admission £5.  http://www.elementalsculpturepark.com/

Sound Bites Talks on Beatrix Potter's 'Absidia' drawing, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton, 10 March  & 27 April, 2pm; part of 'The Land We Live in - The Land We Left Behind' exhibition.

Talk 'Art from Scrap' at The Ocean Matters, Bristol Aquarium, Bristol (organised by Bath Spa university); 4.30pm, 26 May.  Event: 26-27 May.  Exhibition will be extended for longer.  A1 mounted photographic prints of various artworks displayed to highlight the plight of our oceans. https://oceanmatters.weebly.com #oceanmatterstoartanddesign

'ABC Bath’ (Art Breeds Conscience), Walcot St and surrounds, Bath; 11 – 31 May. Initiated by MA Curatorial Practice student Beatriz Nogueira, the project aims to bring environmentally friendly art onto the streets and parks of Bath, in the hope that it will encourage its audience to question current issues – waste, factory farming, pollution of our air, land and seas. Instagram - @abcbath; Twitter - @AbcBath; Website - bathabc.wordpress.com

Continuum, FAB Festival (Fringe Arts Bath), 6 New Bond Street Place, Bath; 25 May (opening night)- 10 June;11am - 6pm daily.  Artwork by MA students from Bath Spa University. Varied practices including sculpture, painting, installation and performance.  The exhibition addresses the issue of change.  I will be working on a piece, which will grow throughout the festival period.

WE ARE ALL ... FOUR WORDS MEETS PARIS 1968, Media Wall, The Commons Building, Bath Spa University, Newton Park, Bath.  1-17 May.  500 submitted/selected slogans animated into a one-hour sequence with programmed screenings and talks  http://alandunn67.co.uk/weareall.html @MediaWallBSU

WE ARE ALL poster

The Rubbish Art Project, old HSBC Bank, Shepton Mallet, a new venture creating art with the community for the town using scrap materials.

SAW Residency working with PRU teenagers, Bridgwater and Taunton College; 19 - 27June, making artworks from reclaimed materials particularly metals.

Making headdresses with All Hallows Prep School pupils for an exhibition ‘All the Fun’, Silk Mill, Frome; 23 June

Summer Show, Atkinson Gallery, Millfield School, Street; 25 June - 3 Aug

Ingruttati Palermo’, Manifesta12 collateral event 5x5x5. 10 day workshop and exhibition as part of Manifesta Biennale (supported by Bath Spa University Enterprise Showcase Fund). The exhibition is in Crypt of Chiesa Parrocchiale SantaAgnese, Piazza Danisinni, 90134 Palermo, Sicily and runs throughout Manifesta12, 27 July - 4 November 2018 (by appointment)

Evolver Prize, ACE Arts, Somerton; 28 July - 25 August

Up Late, Holburne Museum - collaboration with Bath Spa University; Friday 31 August, 5-9pm

MA Show, Bath School of Art & Design, Sion Hill, Bath BA1 5SF; 22 - 26 Sept, 9am-5pm. Private View Fri 21 Sept, 6-9pm, all welcome!

Visions of Science, Andrew Brownsword Gallery, The Edge, Bath University, BA2 7PD, open 15 Sept - 13 Oct Tues-Sat, 11-5

Line and Point, Centrespace Gallery, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol BS1 1EA; 27 Oct - 31 Oct, 10am-6pm daily.  Private View Fri 26 Oct, 6-9pm.  All welcome!

Residency and Solo Exhibiiton (title TBC), The Cells, Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, April – May 2019

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

Material experiments, exhibitions and open studios by Fiona

Hello to Winter and the festive season!

I am now in my second (and final) year of my MA Fine Art course at Bath Spa Uni.  It has been a great opportunity to reflect on previous work, find new ways of working and research.  I am still expanding and refining ideas, while continuing the thread of using reclaimed materials. This aspect relates partly to the issue of waste and energy – utilising and recycling.  It belongs to a wider subject of our relationship with matter, nature, and ourselves.  In the series ‘Wonders of Life’ Brian Cox explains that energy is eternal, transforming from one thing to another. There is a connection between everything that has ever lived, and an impact, as in the Chaos theory, or Butterfly Effect.  I see Vitalism as energy in all things, although in Science it is the vital force peculiar to only living organisms.

A mass of frass (insect excretions) appeared around tiny entry points in a piece of found wood (above) in which I had inserted glass tendrils as growths. The frass resemble decaying matter on a holdfast I studied. I find them intriguing, referencing life’s recycling, organic matter as bodily forms. These phenomena have been starting points to further investigations. They led to microscopic studies of frass. Microscopic hidden structures vital to our being reflecting the magnitude of life. These images could easily be rock formations – even meteors.

I have since experimented with annealing and beating copper over molds I carved in wood, based on frass forms. My copper project – exploring the materiality of copper and what happens to it under different conditions – included an experiment with copper electrolysis. The alchemic process is fascinating, I have learnt a little more chemistry and made copper hydroxide as a pigment. Two scrap pieces of copper were connected to a low voltage battery charger, with opposite charges. The electricity splits the ions in salty water. A complex chemical process ensues, involving copper hydroxide, chlorine and hydrogen bubbles. The effects of disintegration and patination are wonderful. The harnessing of elemental energy could become an artwork.

I recently visited the exhibition ‘Italian Influences, British Responses’ at Estorick, London. It was interesting to see current artworks alongside the anti-consumerist 60’s group Arte Povera, who broke with tradition believing art should be inclusive.  In their resolution to fuse life and art, nature and culture, they used everyday materials, often incongruous juxtapositions of mundane manufactured with organic. Their work was about energy and the elements. The exhibition included a piece by Mona Hatoum.  She uses everyday objects arranged to signify displacement and confinement.  In her work domesticity becomes ‘menacing’ (Van Assche).  In a Youtube film she explains her intuitive response to materials. She incorporates body parts eg nails, skin, hair, creating modest hair balls, or hair grids. Through these bodily excretions she transforms materials and meaning.

I also saw Damian Ortega at White Cube Gallery and watched him online. He playfully takes apart and re-assembles components, dealing with fragmentation of objects, time, materiality.  It is a philosophical discourse involving material and message.   I like his encyclopaedic geodes made from old maps, which he layers as shells, suggesting geological time, and his visual essays, which question truth, mass media’s effect on our perceptions and judgements. ‘Learning Scheme’ indexes small thumbnail clay pieces according to their similarities. Some forms are similar in different groups/lines. Like convergent evolution, they seem to morph, some are organic, others more mechanical.  Since then I have been working in clay a little.

Last week we opened our MA studios to the public.  I created an installation for it inspired by the organic forms I have been studying, using found and reclaimed materials, some transformed by me. It was a great gathering and the deadline helped me focus on one thing for a while.

On a more commercial note, to make ends meet, I have just updated my Etsy page: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/FionaCampbellArt. Do have a look – there are some possible gifts for Christmas!

Have a lovely one!