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…

Massive to miniscule

With Christmas coming up soon, I’ve been making a few smaller pieces on request – more suited to pockets and budgets for the pressie season.  Makes a change to the large, heavy duty work I was doing earlier in the year and it has given me a much needed break and thinking time.  Ideas are flowing for a new series of more challenging work, which will be posted when more concrete.

Butterflies, bees and other bugs…

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..

 

Dragonfly sculpture for Westfield Academy

Last week I spent two days working with a lovely group of Year 8 & 9’s at Westfield Academy, Yeovil on a large steel and wire Dragonfly sculpture for their Art Park.  The Art Park in the school grounds already houses an impressive, growing collection of permanent Art created by students – some pieces made with the help of visiting artists – organised by Art teacher Tamsin Gilham.

I created the steel structure in advance, before we worked together constructing the various sections of the Dragonfly.  We also made some wire blackberries on stems to add to the sculpture, all to be installed in a tree.

 

 

 

Workshops making a Dragonfly sculpture at The Downs School

I ran some workshops over two days at The Downs School, near Bristol, last week for their Art Curriculum Enrichment, resulting in a vividly coloured steel and wire Dragonfly sculpture for the school’s permanent collection.  Various groups of years 5-7 – about 75 pupils – worked with me constructing all the sections, some of which I then welded together between the two day period.  Everyone worked hard individually and as a team, and it was great seeing the sculpture develop so quickly – with a final massive effort at the end bringing it together.

See also video

Feedback from clients

I’m grateful for updates from clients who’ve bought my work and send photos of the pieces in situ.   I have an odd mix of feelings when my work is bought.  Happiness, naturally, to have sold them, but also a strange pang of loss at the time of handing over.  So much time, effort and soul goes into the work, and it’s good to know how they are faring.

Recent photos of work sold last year:

“…a photo of my wonderful dragonfly… here are some pictures, though it is very well camouflaged.  It has been a great joy.  Thank you so much”  Jane

“…a lovely pic of the heron against a menacing sky.”  Chrisi

Bumblebees III & IV are doing well in their new home – sold last year through Showborough Sculpture Garden.

I’d love to know what happened to the two pieces stolen from Dobbies entrance (Shepton Mallet) over two years ago  (Butterfly and Dragonfly).   Anybody out there seen them?  This is what they looked like:

An exciting day at Bristol’s harbour

It’s been great getting to know Bristol’s harbour – I feel quite at home there now.  Over the past couple of months, I’ve been finding my way around the harbourside as a Green Capital Artist in Residence, working occasionally at the Create Centre on a series of work for the Big Green Week (9-17th June), scouring the surrounds for retrieved bits and pieces for my sculptures, exploring new areas with my son and walking my dog there in between it all.  Saturday (9th June) was the culmination of months of preparation.  The final tweaking of my floating Diatoms in the harbour by the Arnolfini, Family Mash Up drop-in workshop at the Arnolfini, launch of our Artists in Residence Exhibition at the Create Centre, Cumberland Basin and Green Week party later in the evening, also at the harbourside.  Huge thanks to the Green Week, Create Centre, Arnolfini and Harbour teams for all their support.

Even parking was bliss!  I was allowed to park in the Harbour car park opposite the Arnolfini, normally restricted to Harbour officials, in order to unload and meet the little boat skippered by Miles from the Harbour team.  We needed to sort out 3 of my floating Diatoms – installed a few days earlier, but which had got tangled, turned uspside down or gone astray in the recent high winds.  It was the first day of Green Week and it was glorious sunshine at last!  With my son and Miles on board, we managed fairly swiftly to secure the Diatoms into position and have a little boat ride before I had to get to the Mash Up workshop I was running in the Arnolfini’s Light Room.  

I was amazed at the turnout for the workshop – a constant buzz of people actively engrossed in creating their own floating sculptures sparked off by some of my resources, various reclaimed materials I had compiled and their imagination.  There were loads of children – even some toddlers – making pieces.  Some families brought their own recycled stuff to use.  I had lovely helpers via the Arnolfini, who gave up their time voluntarily that sunny afternoon.  Looking out of the Light Room Window, we could view the Diatoms below in the harbour and relate it to the workshop theme of organic structures (and a bit of sci fi thrown in).  The results were wonderful!  (See article in Ecojam).

Across from the Light Room is the Reading Room, where my sketchbooks are currently on display, so I took a peak at them in their new special setting.

From there, all packed up, it was a neat dash to the Create Centre upstream to celebrate the opening of our Green Capital Artists in Residence Exhibition.   The overall Exhibition looks great, I think – a good mix of work by 8 artists working in very different media –  linked to eco ideas in some way.  With a couple of hours to kill before the evening doo, I wondered back down to the Arnolfini harbourside.  It was brimming with people out in the late sunshine, ballons flying above; boats and Diatoms floating in the water.  Bristol looked vibrant.   Later, we (Green Week Artists) met up at the Secret Green Pass Party at Jack’s Pavilion, Harbourside for the official Big Green Week launch.  Milo Newman, one of the Green Week Artists, was awarded a prize for his beautiful seed encrusted photographs.  I was very pleased that my work was highly commended.

Sherborne Learning Centre

I spent 2 mornings at the Sherborne Learning Centre recently, as part of an ArtsLink programme, working with 6 teenagers on some 3-d wire pieces.  They found some aspects hard – forming the initial structures being the greatest hurdle – but lovely to see their satisfied, happy faces at the end, together with great finished pieces, despite the brief timescale.  Tiffany’s bulrushes have been selected to appear on the cover of the ArtsLink main summer programme.

Bats and Beetles

I recently completed a Bat Sculpture at the Tamar Valley Centre, Cornwall, with the help of some participants during a workshop there.  The ever-depleting Bat population, existence of rare Horseshoe Bats in redundant mines in the Tamar Valley and Halloween inspired the subject.  Strangely, I had a brief face-to-face conversation with a little Natterer Bat in September and as a result have formed a special fondness for Bats.  They have always intrigued me, but this vulnerable creature, struggling to get its bearings with a broken wing, was inches away from me on the grass, where I quietly approached it.  As it listened to my daft sounds, it seemed to calm down.  A specialist Bat Man came to deal with it, and I now have a need to sculpt Bat-like creatures – winged and magnificent.  Some will hopefully feature in a new Sculpture Trail planned with my Scraptors group early next year at Cookswood quarry in Somerset.

Another commission of mine has also been completed – two large insects soon to be installed in Stackpool Park, Kidderminster.  These were created with the help of participants over four days at Stackpool Park in the summer (see previous post) and I recently spent 10 days finishing them off.  Dragonfly will be mounted on the tall Chimney Stack and Waterboatman will be placed in the lake there.  Will post better pics when installed in situ: