In September I attended Judy Pfaff’s talk and the launch of her new site-specific installation ‘Roots Up’ at Messums, Wiltshire. Having previously researched her online as an artist of great interest to me, it was a real thrill to see her work in reality. Pfaff sees her installations as ‘painting in 3d’. ‘Roots Up’ fills the length and height of the huge tithe barn. On entering, I was taken aback by the immensity of two extraordinary entwined tree root balls, which have naturally melded together clasping man-made stone blocks between their roots. Monumental in scale, nature’s power is unequivocal. Steel rods wiggle and writhe – their man-altered forms communing with the architecture and nature. Colourful concentric rings are encircled by 12 hovering vessels, a fantastical mix of green to pink sinuous melted plastic and expanded foam spilling out. I was reminded of sundials, crop circles, the solar system and celtic patterns. The recognisable influence of Salisbury Cathedral is represented in a fluted architectural column reaching to the ceiling. Pfaff’s work oozes, spews and flows with energy and vitality, which I love.
Earlier this month I visited Frieze London. I was overwhelmed by the scale of it; seemingly endless compartmentalised spaces filled with art and hoards of people, which made me quite dizzy by the end! Gallery Pillar Corrias created an incredible theatrical show of Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley’s work. The floor is integrated into the work as a stage set. Floor, wall-mounted lightbox portaits and sculptural installations are all treated with the same black and white stylisation of a fictional narrative based on American World War II sailors’ lives on a submarine. I found it compelling.
Lee Bul’s ‘Untitled (Mekamelencolia – Velvet #3 DDRG29AC) incorporates human hair, paint, dried flowers and silk velvet. Strands of hair furrow through the velvet pile as a drawing, particles of dried flowers embedded in the surface. I’ve noticed human hair featured in several artworks lately. There are so many everyday materials under our noses which we can utilise. I like the unexpected mix. I am experimenting with grass juice, feathers and ground coal, though hair may be added to the list!
Do Ho Suh’s ‘Main Entrance, 388 Benefit Street, Providence, RI 02903, USA’ is a beautiful, ethereal walk-through sculpture about memory of place. Made from blue polyester fabric over thin steel pipes, it is immaculately crafted, simple and elegant. Sarah Sze’s intricate maquette is a miniature version of her planetary installation ‘Triple Point (Planetarium)’. ‘Her work challenges the static nature of sculpture. She draws from Modernist traditions of the found object, dismantling their authority with dynamic constellations of materials that are charged with flux, transformation and fragility’ (Victoria Miro).
I’ve compiled a slideshow of the stages of my interim MA Show installation ‘Matter in Flux’ (which explored connections between line, growth and energy inspired by webs – see ‘Spider Web Safari’ – and other micro phenomena). A short film taken by Nick Weaver also gives a flavour of the work. I’m now working on research for my 4th module.
‘Anthill I’ is now happily installed in its new home, purchased at ‘Form and Fascination’, The Courts Garden, where I showed alongside Ian Turnock. It was a joy to exhibit in such a National Trust gem.
When it came to taking down ‘Cirri’ from ‘Summer Sculptures’ at Glastonbury Abbey, I was delighted to find a lady absorbed in drawing the pieces. Julia from Edinburgh had been with my work two days in a row, finding them a great source of inspiration.
As part of our collaborative exhibition ‘Ephemeral and Eternal’ during Somerset Art Weeks Festival ’17 at Black Swan Arts, Angela Morley and I ran some workshops. Mine involved participants ranging in age from 3 to adult making pieces using found and reclaimed materials.
1173 visitors came to see our exhibition, and we received some wonderful feedback. If you missed it, our collaborative piece ‘Life Form’ is still mounted on the Round Tower wall. There were 4 exhibitions at Black Swan Arts, including the beautiful and incredibly moving ‘Hinterland’ show by Gladys Paulus, so it was buzzing. My ‘Cocoon’, exhibited during SAW Festival at Clayhill Arts, Bridgwater, is still on show to those who visit the centre by appointment.
I managed to visit a few other SAW venues. I was particularly inspired by SAW’s Muse project (artist responses to South West museum collections). At Wells Museum Sean Harris’ revealing, clever animation machines respond to the collection of ancient bones found in local caves including the Hyena Den. Dorcas Casey’s elevated crocodile at Bruton Museum is an amusing take on the collection’s animal shaped jelly moulds. ‘Gather-ing’, Somerset Rural Life Museum and Cotley Barn made use of the history and architecture of tithe barns. They are such evocative spaces.
I am delighted that my Log Cast has been selected for the Black Swan Open, Frome, starting next week.
Time to move forwards with new ideas for my final MA year!