Although the pressure started earlier for me this year, I’m beginning to feel it tightening its grip. Determined not to let the season of summer madness get the better of me, I have declined a few possible festival workshops (usually done for love not money!) in order to keep focused on important commissions/exhibitions coming up later in the year. However, there still seems to be a gathering list of exhibitions, and I’ve spent much of the past week either delivering/installing or collecting work! The long journeys and physical exertion of lifting/carting work can be time-consuming, expensive and exhausting. No matter how hard I try, I can’t say no and often, the good exhibitions are miles away. The trick is to make the most of every journey.
Last Monday, with a bit of clever planning, I incorporated 3 appointments in one day, so that the travel to Devon was fully utilised. With truck fully loaded, I went first to Greenway (Agatha Christie’s place – so beautiful) to discuss a possible solo exhibition there next year, which is exciting. Agatha described it as “the loveliest place in the world”, and I can see her point. Overlooking the river Dart and a boathouse, her georgian home is surrounded by lush planting, lichen and mossy woodland. I was entranced!
I then went on to Cornwood to install work for the Delamore Arts exhibition (runs throughout May) – a great venue, particularly for sculpture. And finally, a trip to a small Gallery in Exmouth (LookArt). My dog and I enjoyed several walks that day exploring each area, so it was quite an adventure.
Whilst in Bath last week collecting flyers for the Widcombe Trail (18/19th May) and delivering work, amongst other errands I visited Bath Abbey to see the Odyssey exhibition (about journeys), including work by Tessa Farmer and Damian Hirst. I first saw Tessa’s work at the Saatchi Gallery, but this was even better. Her ‘Voyager’ piece contains miniscule winged skeletons spearing beetles on the back of a real swan with strange growths… incredible!
Yesterday I drove north to Showborough House, Twyning, Glos to install there. It took up most of the day, but another great venue for sculpture I can’t resist.
Now I have a week or two to get stuck into making (hopefully in the sunshine), before the next set of installing. For a full list of forthcoming exhibitions please see here.
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!
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…
Now that most of my exhibitions are over for a while, I have a bit more time to focus on some drawings in between a couple of commissions. After months of intensive sculpting, this is a gift – an opportunity to get new ideas rolling. Some edgy new work for gardens with a difference… Ginger Fig Gallery has asked me to produce some work for their forthcoming ‘Birds and bees, butterflies and other bugs…’ exhibition – prompting me to visit some butterfly houses and get some inspiration. Longleat and Cadbury Gardens are great resource centres for butterflies and cocoons, kindly giving me some dead ones for my collection.
I went to a couple of Private Views in Bath yesterday evening. Duncan Cameron (love his work of collected creatures/bones and sketchbooks to die for – I even own a piece!) at Bo Lee Gallery and the Gillespie sisters at Beaux Arts. I was very moved by Sarah Gillespie’s intimate charcoal and ink drawings of moths and bees… it seems many of us are on the same wavelength.
New ideas to follow..
This year’s Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios event was an interesting one. Naturally, the recession has hit peoples’ pockets a plenty, so visitor attendance and sales were clearly down on previous years, in my experience. However, although a bit remote from the main hub of venues, I was pleased that my venue at no. 10 attracted some lovely, appreciative people and a whole range of positive feedback – all of which help make it worthwhile. I do feel that we artists will need to work even harder to gain public recognition and earn a crust in times ahead… A blog by Nancy Farmer articulates many thoughts from this year’s SAW artists. Somerset Art Works is a great organisation for artists in Somerset and let’s hope it continues to move from strength to strength despite the arts cuts.
Sometimes it’s hard to verbalise what my work is about – often working in an instinctive way – so it’s helpful receiving other people’s responses. Here are some of my visitors’ comments from SAW ’12, to end the 2 weeks and 3 weekends on a positive note (and to entice you to come and view my work in forthcoming exhibitions):
“Beautifully close to nature…delicate and strong at the same time” “..fascinating and clever” “absolutely intriguing” “inspirational” “your sculptures work very well in the garden” “we love your stuff – you have a wonderful eye for the incredible” “wonderful texture and form” “individual” “unique” “amazing work” “inventive use of materials” “jack of all trades – master of all!” “so versatile” “ethereal” “I very much admire your work” “so organic” “I love your work – it’s so intricate, clever and witty” 🙂
Another artist recently said of my work: “Rather fun organogenesis going on”. I wish I’d coined that term myself – what a great new word. Thanks ReTech for that (maker of inventive reclaimed sculptural lamps with a difference – have a look).
It suggests notions of taking things back to their basic elements, reconstructing primal life forms, vitalism, rebirth (an essential part of life’s cycle), idealism as a more primitive, spiritual concept. The wonders of what’s going on amidst all our ‘sound and fury’. Micro in tandem with macro. A simple ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ message. Let’s appreciate and care for the real things in life more (and do less blogging!) Construct not destruct. Mend the world and return to a new beginning – a Utopia. That would be nice.
So many of us are caught and wrapped up in modern life’s pressures. I’m happy to be doing what I feel is my calling, but I do wonder where time goes, how to balance a hectic workload with quality time enjoying life’s greats – and earn a good crust. Fast and furious… I guess we are just ants keeping busy.
I’ve installed more exhibitions this year than ever before and it’s only half way through. Last week I set up some of my work in Bishops Palace Gardens, Wells for their Summer Show. (Exhibiting with Ian Marlow, Jo Jones and Cathy Judge). The venue is one of my top favourites in Somerset. Adjacent to Wells Cathedral you enter via a drawbridge. Huge earthy red ruins are surrounded by a moat, waterfalls, stunning views from well pools to the Cathedral and a rose garden with scents from Eden. My cocoons are now hanging from the ‘Tree of Heaven’. Going back to Organogenesis – it seems appropriate. The Exhibition runs from 1st July – mid September, open 10-5. Normal admission charges apply.
Just need a little more sun for the summer please…
I’m installing some work at East Burford House today for an Open Garden & Exhibition, Sunday 24th/Monday 25th June. Let’s hope the weather holds… See information below:
We were lucky – weather was great, loads of visitors and I sold some work! The venue is perfect for showing sculpture – it has a wonderful array of different areas to discover, wild and formal, wooded and beach… I could live there very happily!
An Exhibition of my work starts next week and will be running throughout February at Casespace, Bruton Museum, entitled ‘Precious and Primal’. It features a collection of my smaller pieces, including Cocoons, large Dung Beetle and Ball and some new work. There will be a Private View on Saturday 4th February, 12 – 3pm, so please come along!
See below for details:
A solo exhibition of my work is dawning soon at Casespace, Bruton Museum. An intimate space enclosed in a glass case and one corner of the Museum, the exhibition ‘Precious and Primal’ will show some of my smaller pieces – including cocoons and new work I’m making at present: New Beginnings is a series of egg forms with tentacles sprouting upwards. I’m experimenting with the kinds of media I used years ago – bandage, wax, bristles etc… to achieve the textures I’m after.
My ideas have been developing for a proposed show, for which I’d like to create a massive piece as the main focus. Concepts of ‘a network of threads weaving through all things’ and Nature’s cyclical persistence keep re-emerging. Although one changes, develops and adapts in life – it’s strange how one keeps returning to old ideas. It’s that ‘cyclical nature of things’ concept again (or I’m like a goldfish swimming around.. and around….)
Sonja Klinger (glass artist) kindly gave me some beautiful large pink glass baubles, which she considered scrap. As I collect recycled materials she thought I could use them in my work. In a way, I’d like to keep them just as they are – objects d’art in themselves. They have been sitting decoratively in my garden over the winter, mulling over their next destiny. But I have a plan for them now. My Diatom drawings show the baubles encased as the heart within these sculptures. Diatoms are phytoplankton from the Jurassic Era. Significantly endangered, they’re responsible for over 40% of the ocean’s primary production – without which we all die. When I recently learnt that information, my obsession with these fascinating microscopic phenomenon grew all the stronger. We mustn’t kill them just as we mustn’t slaughter whales!
My work with the Scraptors sculpture group is accelerating once more. We are about to launch our IndieGoGo bid to help fund our next venture at the Magdalen Project and filming continues tomorrow to get our message across. See our blog for details: scraptors.blogspot.com S-J of Whitespace Productions has kindly made a shorter film version of our Scraptors’ Sculpture Trail at Stourhead to help with our IndieGoGo fund-raising launch.
Wildlife Artist of the Year Award ’09
Somerset Life Magazine article 2009:
garden beet – Sculptures for Gardens
Spaeda Magazine feature 2010:
bbc news – Glastonbury Festival’s Greenfields 2010 – Giant Spider
Green Diary – Glastonbury Giant Spider project
winkball.com – First 2 videos show me at work on Spider at Glastonbury
Mendip Times – Glastonbury Spider ’10
Somerset Life – Carymoor Environmental Sculpture Project 2010
Mendip Times – Carymoor Environmental Sculpture Project 2010
bbc news – Somerset Art Weeks 2010
bbc news – Insect sculptures stolen from Dobbies entrance
Spaeda – featured school project
Wincanton Window – Art for Life – Sustainable Sculptures in Historic Venues (2011)
Central Somerset Gazette – Scraptors at Pylle scrapyard (’11):
Wincanton Window – Scrap – The New Alchemy
Period Living article – Salvo Fair 2011
TAAG – Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail 2011
Chronicle front page – Stackpool, Kidderminster – Community Insect Sculpture Project:
This is Somerset – Somerset Art Weeks 2011
Somerset Life Magazine – Art in the Garden, Somerset Art Weeks
Thinly Spread blog – Scraptors Stourhead Sculpture Trail ’11
This is Somerset – Stourhead Sculpture Trail ‘Beyond the Garden Gate’ ’11
Wincanton Window – Stourhead Sculpture Trail ’11