I’ve been selected to show work at this year’s International Sculpture Festival in Guernsey. Whittled down from thousands of applicants from across the globe, there will be approximately 120 pieces on display throughout the summer (May 25th to the end of October), making it apparently the largest festival of sculpture held this year in Britain and a mecca for collectors, garden lovers, visitors and art enthusiasts.
In contrast, I’ve also been invited to show my work in the Hidden Garden Art Show as part of Chelsea Fringe in London. Some of my smaller hanging woven wire sculptures will be displayed in a beautiful Hampstead garden from 24th May – 8th June. The show will also feature in the National Garden Scheme on 8thJune. Curator of the show Maureen Michaelson says: “Our lushly planted hidden garden houses the smallest outdoor sculpture gallery in the UK. We specialise in artworks for urban gardens and can commission works from a wide range of artists for all types of outdoor spaces: from balconies and courtyards to large spaces.” The exhibition is open Sats, Suns & Bank Holiday Monday, 2-6pm.
More locally, I’ve been selected to create a set of new site-specific work for an exhibition at Contains Art, Watchet in June/July. The three large shipping containers, situated by the harbour have been transformed by artists into gallery and workshop spaces, providing much interest in Somerset.
Entitled ‘Found, Now Missing’, my work for the commissioned ‘Voyages’ project is inspired by my collection of flotsam and jetsam from many trips to coastlines in UK and abroad. Having made numerous voyages to Kenyan beaches and reefs over the past 5 decades, for example, I’ve become aware of the detrimental effects of collections such as exotic shells and tourism generally to coral reefs and beaches. Over the years, I’ve witnessed a dramatic decline in its coral life, shells and resident sea creatures. On top of pollution, our human desire to collect, own, trade, discover, colonise and capture continues to impact on the disappearing life and beauty in coral reefs.
I have started making a set of large sculptures to be sited in the courtyard and on the gallery roof at Contains Art of skeletal, exotic sea life forms based on shells, urchins, coral and starfish using scrap metal and found materials sourced locally, including the boatyard and beaches. These exotic pieces will celebrate the wonder of sealife, hopeful of a better future for our environment. My largest sculpture mounted on the roof will be visible from the steam railway line and viewing platform on the cliff.
The installation aims to convey my concern for environmental degradation. What once seemed beneficial voyages of discovery by naturalists such as Ernst Haeckel (whose drawings I love) have, ironically, led to the current situation in which mass tourism degrades the environments, habitats and ecosystems, which inspire us to travel.
Related drawings will be on show in the gallery and I will be running a workshop on Saturday 7th June for members of the public to create shell drawings on postcards with environmental messages. Visitors will be invited to send these out far and wide.
The exhibition runs from 4th – 15th June, open Wednesdays – Sundays, 10am – 4pm at East Quay, Watchet Somerset TA23 0AQ. The outdoor sculptures will remain on display until mid July.