Sense of achievement

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!

 

BBC Radio interview

A couple of weeks ago I did a radio interview with Martin Evans at BBC, Bristol.  Zoe Li (SAW) and I went up for an interview to plug Somerset Art Works Open Studios Family Friendly weekend, which we did.  Martin then suggested a separate interview about my work.. so here it is – live for 7 days..!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0287hwn

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!

 

Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions

Artist Outdoor Programme, Sidcot Arts Centre, Sidcot Community Arts Centre, Winscombe, North Somerset, BS25 1PD (off A38) 1st Feb – 31st July

Of Form And Texture, Sidcot Arts Centre, Sidcot Community Arts Centre, Winscombe, North Somerset, BS25 1PD (off A38) 22nd March – 26th April, 11-6 every Thursday & Friday and 10-4 on Saturdays (excluding Easter weekend)

Voyages, Contains Art, Easy Quay, Watchet, Somerset TA23 OAQ  4th – 15th June, 10-5 Wed – Sun (related workshop Sat 7th June, 2-4pm)

Hidden Garden Art Show in Association with Chelsea Fringe, 24th May – 8th June (part of NGS – 8th June)

Art Parks International Sculpture Festival, St. Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG  25th May – end October

Sculpture in the Orchard, Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 9EL  5th July – 28th September

Devon Recycled Sculpture T.R.A.I.L, Teignmouth seafront and surrounds  20th July – 31st August

Big Green Week ’14 & Litterarti Waste of Space Recycled Art Exhibition, Trinity Centre, Bristol 14th – 22nd June & 5th – 9th August

Second Time Around – The Hubcap As Art  Landfillart Exhibition, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia, USA  7th Sept ’14 – 1st March ’15

Somerset Art Works Open Studios Laundry Cottage, 13 Cooks Lane, West Cranmore, nr Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 4RH 20th Sept – 5th Oct, 11-6 daily

From Arnolfini to Frome’s Cultural Quarter

I had a great day at the Arnolfini, Bristol recently with fellow SAW Abundance artists and SAW curator Zoe Li seeing new work on show and catching up.  Micheael Dean’s sculpture (see tongue piece below) and Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ performance ‘Maintenance Works’ were inspiring.  Ukeles’ work seeks to overlap activities of ordinary labours of life with artistic labour – a concept she originated in the ’60’s.  Amongst other projects in ‘Touch Sanitation’ she spent months following, talking, participating and shaking hands with New York sanmen – thanking them for their thankless work.  Dean’s textured concrete works are made to be handled, making them far more accessible.

At the Black Swan Art Centre, Frome, I visited Seamus Moran’s exhibition of beautiful, haunting sculptures cast from tree knots.  His work resonated with my own fascination and collection of found objects including tree knots, twigs and roots.

Frome seems to be gathering momentum in the arts.  I went to a meeting about their planned new ‘cultural quarter’ for the area around the Black Swan, Museum, Library, Cheese and Grain, cattle market and river – a potentially very exciting arts complex which will infuse the Mendips with even more creativity – in addition to the Hauser and Wirth Gallery opening in Bruton in 2014.

I’m currently exhibiting a piece in this ‘cultural quarter’ for Loop de Loop – newly converted mini exhibition cubicles, which used to be loos!  The spaces look great lit up at night and will hopefully be appreciated over the Christmas period, starting with the Frome Christmas lights opening by Jenson Button this Friday evening, Catherine Hill artisan market and Super Market on Sunday.

 

Summer events

The Abundance commission work has taken over recently as a daily activity.   I’m hooked and no matter what the day holds, I try to spend a few hours on making my lichen-inspired sculptural pieces towards a steadily growing mass of forms for my installation at Esotera during Somerset Art Weeks Festival. (See Abundance blog for further details).

Meanwhile, a succession of exhibitions, teaching and personal stuff is using up my remaining energy reserves.  Did the Sustainability Show yesterday in Taunton.  It poured with rain, but otherwise a great event!

Here’s an exhibition update on summer events I’m taking part in:

Bristol’s Big Green Week started at the weekend.  I’m showing some work in the Salvage exhibition at the Architecture Centre, next to the Arnolfini, Narrow Quay (15th – 23rd June).

My Artist on a Plinth exhibition at Black Swan Arts is up and running (until 4th July).

Frome Festival kicks off soon, along with Frome Artists Open Studios.  I will be showing in a group exhibition at ‘The Limes’, 45 Keyford, Frome BA11 1LB (venue 23 – private view invite below)

 

This photo of my work will feature in the Evolver Prize 2013 Exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon EX14 1LX (13th July – 31st August)

 

I’ll be taking part in the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail (20th July – 1st Sept) around Teignmouth seafront area

Art in the Garden, Lanhydrock National Trust Estate, Bodmin PL39 5AD (1st March – 31st Oct)

And as we draw closer to midsummer in UK, bring on the sunshine..!






Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions

Art in the Garden, Landhydrock National Trust Estate, Bodmin PL30 5AD  1st March – 31st Oct

Scraptorzoic Era, The Magdalen Project, nr Chard, TA20 4PA  permanent installation as part of Scraptors Sculpture Group

Widcombe Art Trail, Paragon School, Bath BA2 4LT  18/19th May 10.30-5.30 (Private View Fri 17th, 6-8pm, The Paragon)

Delamore Arts, Cornwood, Devon PL21 9QT   1st – 31st May

Artist on a Plinth, Black Swan Arts, 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB  28th May – 4th July (open Mon – Sat, 8.30 – 5.30; Sun 10.30 – 4)

 Showborough House Sculpture Exhibition, Twyning, Gloucestershire GL20 6DN  2nd May – 16th June (open Thurs – Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays 10.30-4)

Café Bar, Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury Glos GL20 5NX  2nd May – 16th June

‘Salvage’, Architecture Centre, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA (part of Big Green Week) 15th – 23rd June

The Sustainability Show, Trull Rd, Taunton TA1 4QS  16th June, 10-4

Frome Artists Open Studios, The Limes, 45 Keyford, Frome, Somerset BA11 1LB  6th – 14th July

Evolver Prize 2013 Exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon EX14 1LX (13th July – 31st August)

Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail, Teignmouth seafront  20th July – 1st Sept

Somerset Art Weeks Group Exhibition, Thornreed Studio, Lower Godney, Wells, Somerset  BA5 1RZ  21st Sept – 6th Oct

Abundance Garden Trail, Esotera, Foddington, nr Babcary  TA11 7EL  21st Sept – 6th Oct

‘Blurred Edges’, Walcot Chapel Gallery, off Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5UG  14th – 27th Oct

Loop de Loop, Frome BA11 1BB  28th November – 31st December

My work is also currently represented at The Sculpture Park, Surrey and First-View Gallery, Stourhead.

 

 

Africa, Wildlife and Art

I’m very proud to have roots in Africa.  David Attenborough’s recent BBC TV series has brought the continent to the fore and each film brings tears to my eyes – mingled emotions of sadness, nostalgia, amazement, joy, laughter, despair, pride, love…  Several people have commented to me on the memorable Dung Beetle and Ball episode, as I have an affinity with Dung Beetles.  I make sculptures of them, use one as my gravitas and even won David Shepherd’s 3-d Wildlife Artist of the Year Award (’09) with my Dung Beetle and Ball piece (see below).  Since my childhood, I’ve always been captivated by dung beetles.  Their attachment to dung, the backward ball-rolling, their striking appearance, strength and perseverance appeal to my interest in the extra-ordinary.  Worshipped by the Egyptians, they are also symbols of wealth and power.  My Dad used to (and still does!) enjoy picking up dried elephant dung on safaris (see also my brother’s Andrew Campbell safaris) or driving over it for fun, and I guess the dung thing has stuck.  Hopefully, more people now understand that the beetles roll balls with their back legs and why they love dung so much (nutrition, nest etc..).  In galleries I’ve had to reverse my beetles, after being placed the wrong way round!

This week I managed to catch the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at Bristol Museum before it ends (today).  Wildlife in all its guises – again raising all sorts of emotions with incredible images of nature – closeup, narrative, beauty and horror (mainly due to ‘sick people’ as my son succinctly put it).

My son and I then popped to the Arnolfini’s Worktable event as part of IBT13, passing IBT’s fake moon rising in College Green on our way to the harbourside.  Worktable is a drop-by interactive artwork by Kate McIntosh set in connected shipping containers with microphones to record the antics. We chose an item to use/smash up (rollerskate), which was great fun to do in a room on our own, then had to artfully re-assemble someone else’s trashed object (car) in a shared room with other creative participants, with very basic materials. Equally exciting was seeing the results of everyone else’s handiwork at the end.  Challenging work – good for lateral thinking with no pre-conceived ideas.  Project ends later today.

 

SpoonFed 5

I had a go at SpoonFed 5 on Sunday evening.  Run by The Collect and held at Spike Island, Bristol, it’s a fantastic micro funding event, developed for practitioners and audiences as a platform for sharing ideas.  At £5 entry per person, a pot of money is collected for the winner.  After a delicious borsch soup, organic bread and pastries, a few of us shared our projects.  With only 3 minutes each to deliver our ideas, time is of the essence.  My proposal was for a sculptural installation ‘Love, Loss and Renewal’, which I’m hoping I can turn into reality next year.

The presentation was a challenge in itself.  I made a maquette as a visual aid and some small prototypes for people to handle whilst I explained the concept and how the funding would help.  The other artists’ ideas were great and it’s a shame we couldn’t all win!  The pot of cash went to The Parlour Showrooms for their Light Box series, a Bristol-based scheme, which I liked very much.

I plan to develop my idea further and am looking into various options as venues, mainly in the South West.  Meanwhile, I have plenty of other projects coming up in the New Year, so must get making!

 

 

Engaging projects

Over the past few weeks I’ve been on a mission to open myself up to new ideas and approaches, inhale more of what’s going on in the current art scene, explore less charted veins in my work and re-define my practice.

In early November, I volunteered at the Engage International Conference in Cardiff ‘Landing Place: the local in the international’ for 2 days. The highlight for me was chatting to artist Sonia Boyce. Debate amongst galleries, curators, artists and educators centred around the importance of cross-fertilisation between ‘local’ and ‘international’ art, with speakers sharing experiences.  There were some inspiring projects presented.  I visited Artes Mundi and G39 – helping in a breakout session at the latter, and was blown away by Cardiff’s vibe.

Closer to home, I attended a couple of SAW sessions this month – one about curating and one to showcase my work for future projects.  Just as writing an artist statement helps focus the mind, my powerpoint presentation on different strands of my practice gave me a chance to re-assess what I’m doing.  (In September I had to present to over 30 primary school teachers about cross-curricular links via art, so my powerpoint skills are rapidly improving!)

This week I also visited Spike Island, Bristol (such a dynamic contemporary art centre) to discuss doing an MA with Roy Voss and see the Ivan Seal exhibition.  In between this thinking, I’ve been doing some teaching, making and marketing.  As a result, I have some exciting prospects for next year and the challenge of seeing through an ambitious concept I’m developing for an indoor gallery space, around the theme of love, loss and renewal.  Initial doodles below – further details soon…