Collaboration

'Flock in Flight' All Hallows Prep School group work

Each project brings with it new challenges. Sometimes several projects run alongside each other and the art of juggling can be a challenge in itself. Some of my roles overlap or interlink. This can be a good way to function, ‘killing 2 birds with 1 stone’ (though I hate killing), easing the problem of having too many things on the go, but isn’t so straightforward if you don’t want to compromise the work, and it can create a bottleneck time-wise, amongst other complications. I’ve enjoyed working alongside other artists/makers of all ages. I like collaboration – at its best, combined effort multiplies output and result, it’s more fun and creatively, one can learn so much from working with others.

The past month has been full-on. With a bit of time to reflect now, here’s a look at what went on in my little creative world (in the bigger world – all I can say in a nutshell is PLEASE CAN WE UNITE AND STOP KILLING).

Teaching, Workshops, Talks, Demonstrations

On 12 June I spent a day at the Hidden Garden Art Show (Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead), part of Chelsea Fringe Festival where my sculptures were on show with other selected artists, demonstrating my work process, running a drop-in workshop and giving a talk about my work to visitors.  Although it poured with rain all morning, the sun brought a magical shimmer and quite a crowd in the afternoon, including Tim Richardson – founder of Chelsea Fringe.

Drop-in workshop at Hidden Garden Art ShowWorkshop participant's beetleMe talking to Tim Richardson (leads Chelsea Fringe)

I teach 2 evenings a week at All Hallows Prep School and as I’ve been involved in the Secret Swans Art Trail (one of Black Swan Arts’ 30th anniversary events and part of Frome Festival), I devised a project to involve the children in the Trail.   We created a flock of flying swans in wire, which were installed on the exterior wall of Black Swan’s historic Round Tower.  Inspired by my recent trip to Sophie Ryder’s exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral, we used her ‘scribbly’ technique to add more black areas.  It was an effective solution given time constraints.  The final lessons getting the work completed was a mission as some children were absent due to end-of-term activities.  Thankfully others stood in (special mention: Ellie West and Nick Somerville!). The swans looked like faint drawings, quite lovely and ethereal, though visitors had to look hard to see them.

Student's work in progress - making the All Halllows swansStudent's work in progress - making the All Halllows swansMy contribution to 'Flock in Flight'Installation on Round Tower, Black Swan Arts Centre

Preparations for Priddy Festival included some ‘birdy notes’ as we called them.  A team of Mendip Creatives made them from wire and paper, for marquee decor.  A large willow hog was also made, led by Angela Morley.

I worked with a couple of schools recently (Bishops Wordsworth & North Town) making wire figures and mini creatures.  Bishops Wordsworth was a 2 day slog over to Salisbury in a hire car (my truck was broken) giving 4 x powerpoints/making sessions to 128 children in fairly swift succession. The short sessions of 2 hours per group had limitations, but it’s amazing what children can do when focused!

North Town Primary students making Giacometti-inspired figureNorth Town Primary student making Giacometti-inspired figureGiacometti-inspired figureGiacometti-inspired figureGiacometti-inspired figureWire Fish by Yr 7 pupil - Bishops Wordsworth School Wire Dragonfly by Yr 7 pupil - Bishops Wordsworth School Wire Seahorse by Yr 7 pupil - Bishops Wordsworth School Wire Crane by Yr 7 pupil - Bishops Wordsworth School Wire Woodlouse by Yr 13 helper - Bishops Wordsworth School

Volunteering Roles

Secret Swans badge (illustration by Belinda Brownlee)

I continue to be very involved in the Black Swan Arts centre as a trustee, especially this year, with its 30th anniversary.  We have held several special exhibitions/events to mark the occasion, which have so far been a ‘resounding success’ (Christina Oswin), with great feedback, overwhelming support from the public, serious funds raised, heightened the BSA profile and engaged the community.
1000 Postcards attracted over 1000 postcard-sized artworks (including 2 of mine) for a massively popular exhibition with over £10,000 of sales so far and visitors galore.  Unsold postcards can still be bought online.  Preparations for the Secret Swans Art Trail, which followed straight after, grew more intensive.  30 artists in 30 venues around Frome.  I made a piece, ‘Resurrection’, (using reclaimed steel, copper wire, tar, rope and scrim) and sited it by the river.  It only recieved slight damage, easily rectified and many positive comments, so am grateful to most Frome residents for their respect!  In addition I worked on the All Hallows piece, helped Nick Weaver with the organisation and was largely involved in the PR for these events.  They are great examples of a huge team effort by Black Swan volunteers.

Sketches for my Secret Swans work'Resurrection' - ‘Black Swan’ is a metaphor for the impossible becoming possible. This piece is about hope, endeavour, yearning, striving for truth, purity (‘we will never know everything’), freedom from constraints, environmental pollution. Swans represent love, which ‘conquers all’, symbolised by the crucifix. 'Resurrection' - ‘Black Swan’ is a metaphor for the impossible becoming possible. This piece is about hope, endeavour, yearning, striving for truth, purity (‘we will never know everything’), freedom from constraints, environmental pollution. Swans represent love, which ‘conquers all’, symbolised by the crucifix. 'Resurrection' - ‘Black Swan’ is a metaphor for the impossible becoming possible. This piece is about hope, endeavour, yearning, striving for truth, purity (‘we will never know everything’), freedom from constraints, environmental pollution. Swans represent love, which ‘conquers all’, symbolised by the crucifix. 'Resurrection' detail 'Resurrection' detail Secret Swans piece (detail) by Edgar PhillipsSecret Swans piece by Tessa Farmer (detail) Secret Swans piece by Alicia Merret Secret Swans piece by Angela Morley - detail Secret Swans piece by Annie Fry

I’ve been involved in various Somerset Art Works meetings, a couple for an exciting new project that might come off next year with Anna Best, and for Somerset Open Studios ’16 (17 Sept – 2 Oct).  As Rep for East Mendip, I’m keen to make sure we do Somerset proud.  I’m part of a cluster group in my area called The Mendip Triangle; we have a specially designed map (by Michel Linthorst) to help direct SAW visitors to our lovely rural Studios in September.  Looking forward to seeing this year’s SAW guides being delivered next week!

SAW flyer 'The Mendip Triangle' by Michel LinthorstSAW flyer (back) 'The Mendip Triangle' by Michel Linthorst

New Work, Exhibitions

I made a new Nest and Mini Dung Beetle & Ball for the Maureen Michaelson Show, in addition to existing work.  ‘Resurrection’ will be sited at the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail, Teignmouth seafront from 23 July – 4 Sept, and I am now curating our forthcoming step in stone exhibition touring to Salisbury Art Centre (18 Aug – 24 Sept), with Amanda Wallwork’s help. 2 of my main outdoor pieces will be on show.  If you missed any step in stone artscapes last year, try to visit!

Nest detail'Cirri' created for step in stone, installed at Westdown Quarry, found and reclaimed steel, copper, aluminium, twine, wool, netting, rope, plastic. Photo by Duncan Simey

The garden and studio get quite a battering after big projects, so it’s time to tidy up!   My good intention of simplifying life, with less to clutter the brain is still in the development stage – I hope it will happen one day.  In the meantime, the juggling continues!

Summer Exhibitions

My blog writing has suffered in the past few months as demands on my life expand.  It can be said of many of us, life seems to be getting busier.  Trying to take time out to simply enjoy can be a challenge!  The past month has certainly been a massive effort for me to manage, but I seem to have done it fairly unscathed.  Planning and running workshops at different schools, drawing and making large sculptures for new exhibitions, transporting and setting them up, endless admin and meetings for new roles and plans (to be divulged soon) and of course personal life, son, garden, home blah blah…!  So, here’s a snapshot of what’s happening in terms of exhibitions and projects I’m involved in this summer.

I’ve been working towards several summer shows at seaside venues and in some lovely gardens in London, the South West and Guernsey.

Starting next week is my solo exhibition entitled ‘Found, Now Missing’ at Contains Art, Somerset, as part of their ‘Voyages’ programme.  My largest piece (image above) will be sited on the roof of a shipping container/gallery overlooking Watchet marina and Bristol Channel.  It will be seen from the West Somerset steam railway line above, too.  See the Private View invite below for further details – please come along if you can.

On 7th June, I’ll be running a drawing workshop tied in with the exhibition.  Do drop in!

From July to September I will be showing work in Glastonbury Abbey’s grounds for their Abbey Orchard Sculpture Trail and participating in the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail ‘14.  (See current and forthcoming exhibitions for dates.)

My work is currently featured in The Hidden Garden Art Show as part of Chelsea Fringe and the National Garden Scheme until 8th June and at Art Parks International Sculpture Festival, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG until October.  I also have 3 pieces on show until July for Sidcot Arts Centre’s Outdoor Artist Programme.

Various workshops in schools include recently making crane sculptures with All Hallows students linked with the Great Crane Project – soon to be filmed by Whitespace Productions in the making.  We made a 2 metre high Tree at Watchfield Primary and this month I’ll be constructing a large nest for children’s litterbugs to live in as part of a Litterarti project, which will feature in Bristol’s forthcoming Big Green Week.

On 12th July, I will be discussing my SAW/NGS Abundance work at the ‘Make, Create, Cultivate Symposium’ – a weekend celebration of some recent innovative creative projects in Somerset.

Then I’m off to Florence for a short break, which I’m sure to enjoy!

I hope you can visit some of these events and wishing you a happy, hot summer ahead!

 

Spring

February has flown by for me, thankfully, with an intense period of making new sculpture, installations, exhibitions, commissions, teaching and workshops.  I’m very glad Spring is in the air at last!

Our Gallery4Art exhibition ‘Art at Blackmore’ ends tomorrow (Sunday) at 5pm, whilst ‘All Wired Up’ at Walford Mill started yesterday and continues until April, featuring my work.

I installed two pieces at Lanhydrock National Trust Estate, Cornwall yesterday, as part of ‘Art in the Garden’ – running until October.

Two days of wire workshops this week via Spaeda at Preston Primary School resulted in some great insect sculptures by Yr 6 pupils.  I was also really pleased that some of my students at All Hallows Prep School gained scholarships to their next schools and won awards at Black Swan Arts’ Young Open, Frome. On Monday I went on an art trip with some of these pupils to see the Rain Room and Light Show in London – two fantastic shows!

I’m very excited to have been selected for the Somerset Art Works/NGS ‘Abundance’ commission, which will entail a garden trail of sculptures by seven artists installed in various beautiful gardens in Somerset during Somerset Art Weeks later this year.  Ideas are brewing…

Next week I will be installing some work at The Magdalen Project as part of the Scraptors‘ Scraptorzoic Era. This will be the last trail for me as part of the Scraptors group, although I will of course continue individually as a scraptor – working with recycled materials, as ever.

And now it’s nearly Spring, people traditionally turn their attention to gardening and perhaps a sculpture or two…

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…

Swan for Wells

I am very pleased to have been asked to decorate one of the Swans of Wells by All Hallows Prep School in Cranmore, a sponsor.  The project ‘will feature sixty, magnificently decorated, 5ft swan sculptures, one for each of the sixty years of the Queen’s reign. The flock will be displayed in public locations in and around Wells from June to September 2012. This eye-catching, high profile event is expected to bring thousands of visitors and vibrant contemporary art to the streets of England’s smallest city.’  Our Swan will have pride of place outside Bishops Palace.  I have just over a fortnight to do the work, which has a recycling theme and will entail 3-d materials collected by All Hallows and me, including some wire creations by children at All Hallows…  images to follow as the work develops.

 

Update – 27/5

Over a month ago I was asked to decorate this Swan.  Luckily the deadline was postponed.  It’s been very absorbing and great fun, but incredibly time-consuming!  I’ve loved my residency creating the work at All Hallows Prep School (the sponsors), where I was supported by all.  The children added some bits (hand-made wire school crane emblems, patterns woven, painted and drawn, and a few stuck on beads, buttons and gogos) and they gave me loads of positive feedback.

We named our Swan Candela.  It has relevance in various ways:  The Latin word for ‘Candle’, it features in the All Hallows motto:  ‘Sancto cuique sua candela’ which translates as: ‘for every saint there is a candle (light).’  Every child is a potential saint and they too have their lights.  The Swan has a flame-like, glowing quality in its patterns, colours and bright, luminous objects.  The  recycled objects have been lovingly collected, donated and created by the children, (+ me and my son, Jack) – symbolic of their individual lights.

The process was more complex than I imagined, as I had to texturise the surface prior to sticking on the objects (all individually cleaned/de-greased),  then sand, prime and paint in between all the bits.  Varnishing was a huge relief – there was no return.  Although not perfect, I think it’s got a charm of its own.  The Swan was collected on Friday and will go on display with the rest of the flock next week (after 28th May).

Swans of Wells Launch – 28/5

Some of the flock were displayed on Wells Cathedral Green today for the media launch, including ours, and there was a brief appearance of them on BBC and ITV news.  All looked lovely in the sunshine!

See press: Shepton Mallet Journal, SwansofWells website, Jenikya’s blog

Update – 19/6

Visited Candela to give her a clean up.  Great to see Ian and the team were already doing some Swan cleaning.  Sadly Candela had her eyes plucked out + a few other bits.  I will be replacing the missing parts asap.  It’s encouraging to see members of the public trying to help by keeping an eye out for the Swans.  A note was found inside Candela, together with a missing part, retrieved by some kind person.  The good news is that Candela has a new sunny spot nearer the Palace entrance and is still attracting plenty of attention:

Update – 2/7

Gave Candela back her eyesight, replaced a few other bits that had been removed and another wash last week – so all gleaming again 🙂

Update 15/7

I helped on the first Swans of Wells stall this Saturday selling Swans merchandise to raise funds.  Also revived Candela with another freshen-up as the sun came out on Sunday.  Plenty of visitors in the sunshine:

Update 15/8
I’ve been back a couple of times to give Candela some TLC and clean her up from all the mud splatters after such heavy rain over the past month or so.  Today, plenty of visitors stopped to take pics and remark on Candela and the Swan flock.  They were intrigued to hear the background to her – some people even claimed she was their fav Swan.
Update 27/8
At the Moat Boat Race on Bank Holiday Monday; went to the SwansofWells stall for a bit – great to see more merchandise decorated with our colourful Swans.
Update 16/9
Candela is now preened and ready to be auctioned on 29th September.  Here she is at the Auction Preview weekend (15/16 Sept) at Bishops Palace with the rest of the flock:
Swans Auction – 29th September
I’m delighted that All Hallows have managed to acquire Candela through successful bidding at the Auction.  It was a very exciting evening. Candela achieved a healthy figure and will now return to her rightful place, where she will live happily ever after.  The amazing total of £111,500 raised from the Swans auction will go mainly to local charities.
I was asked to decorate one of two mini swans bid at end of the auction.  I decided to make a baby Candela – ‘Candelina’:
In permanent residence
Candela, now back at her resting place in All Hallows Prep School:
See FILM of the SWANS OF WELLS PROJECT made by S-J of WHITESPACE PRODUCTIONS.

Roche Court

Having wanted to visit Roche Court Sculpture Garden and New Art Centre, Salisbury for ages, I was very happy for the opportunity to accompany a group of students I teach from All Hallows Prep School on a trip there with Nick Somerville (Head of Art) this week.  An amazing collection of contemporary sculptures set in beautiful grounds, we were all the more inspired through our personalised tour by Jo and Alice from Roche Court, who initiated a series of drawing exercises for students to get the most out of work by sculptors such as Michael Craig-Martin, Barbara Hepworth, Julian Opie and Peter-Randall-Page.

We met resident willow sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon, who was installing her massive nest forms on the buildings there, ready for a forthcoming exhibition ‘The Nature of Things’.  I have a similar fascination with nest forms, and was intrigued by her process and scale of work.  Students learnt how to make a fish-knot using willow sticks and we all came away inspired and eager to explore new ideas.