Latest Trips and Exhibitions

I have been very remiss with blogging – too many balls to juggle!  Recently I took a short 2-day break to Yorkshire to visit the Sculpture Park, an astounding place, and walked across the moors to the house that inspired Wuthering Heights, one of my favourite books.

As summer blasts upon us (hooray!) I have a flurry of work and exhibitions coming up from tomorrow.  I hope you will be able to visit some of them:

I am still working on a large Cocoon piece for Fresh Air ’17 (see below), due to be installed in a week and still some way to go before completion!   Quenington Old Rectory, Quenington, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5BN, 11 June – 2 July, open daily 10am-5pm, (£5 Adults, children free).

In between making this I have been working towards an imminent MFA module at Bath Spa Uni, to be assessed next week.   Clashing deadlines, late nights, but nearly ready!

I’ve made a Nests piece for Fifty BEES: The Interconnectedness of All Things, at ACEarts, Somerton, 1-22 July, open Tues – Sat, 10am-5pm.  A lovely project with great ambitions.

I am also taking part in the following:

Wylye Valley Art Trail, (see below) Venue 16, The Hive Artspace, 93 Boreham Rd, Warminster BA12 9JY. 26 May – 4 June opening with a Private View this evening.

Bradford-on-Avon Sculpture Garden ‘17 (see attached), Lynchetts, 15 Woolley St, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 1AD.  25 June -2 July 11am – 6.30pm (closed Mons). Opening night Sat 24 June, 6-9.30pm (tickets £6, inc. wine + live music).

NGS Open Garden, College Barn, Benter, Somerset BA3 5BJ, 23 July, 10am-5pm

Summer Sculptures at Glastonbury Abbey, 1 July – 1 October

‘Form and Fascination’Courts Garden National Trust, Wiltshire, 9 September – 15 October.  I will be showing a selection of work alongside Ian Turnock.

Somerset Art Weeks Festival ‘Prospect’, ‘Ephemeral and Eternal’, Round Tower, Black Swan Arts Centre, 2 Bridge St, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB, 16 September – 7 October, 10am–4pm, Monday to Saturday, (open Sun 1 Oct) and Clay Hill Farm, Bridgwater, 23 September – 8 October. I will be showing alongside Angela Morley.

I am also really looking forward to a mini break away to the Venice Biennale soon.

Have a lovely Summer!

 

 

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!

 

Tentacle making

After months of collecting and creating, I’m now in the final stages of my step in stone work for Step 2 at Westdown/Asham Quarry – with just a few more tentacles to make.  Time is short and tentacles are long but I think I’ll get there!  Ideally, I would have liked to have made more work but time has constrained.

Seeds were my starting point.  Just as they have blown in to fertilise these ancient deserted rocky environments I envisaged large tumbleweed-like structures rolling around, like old man’s beard seed heads growing there. Thoughts have evolved around life’s energy force, neurons, repeat forms in nature, nature’s persistence,  sea creatures (see previous post on Crinoids)…

Rusting machinery and discarded mattress springs left in the quarries, old horseshoes (thanks to Luke Ellis) and other scrap found locally and donated – fossils of the modern era, remnants of past, have provided most of my material to make the work.

Scrap donated by Chris Lee Crinoid fossil Old Man's Beard in foreground at Westdown Quarry Tumbleweed/neuron design Scrap Scrap for fossilMaking tentacles'Cirri' in the making Pile of tentacles Cirri structure'Cirri' half made. Photo by Duncan SimeyGathering tentacles in studio Colour sorting Making the Crinoid structureSkeletal structure Skeletal structure

Age of Crinoids

step in stone continues to absorb me – not only in my role as curator and manager of the project, but also as a featured artist – taking most of my time and thoughts.

Delving further into the quarries theme for the project, I’ve discovered that the earlier part of the Carboniferous period (Mississipian) has been coined the Age of Crinoids.  Over 350 million years ago the Mendips were submerged under a warm, swampy sea, the Mendip Hills hadn’t yet formed into a range of mountains – now substantially eroded back –  and animal life comprised mainly of primitive reptiles, giant insects like dragonflies the size of seagulls, and a myriad of sea creatures such as echinoderms and corals.  Crinoids (sea lilies) were abundant in thousands of varieties, showing huge morphological diversity.  These fascinating ancient creatures look like exotic plant forms and many varieties still exist today.  They cling to the bottom of the sea bed by long spiny stems, others are unstalked, have tentacle legs or long arms which enable them to drag themeselves along.

Crinoid fossil

Fossils found in limestone rocks exposed in the quarries (often in now vertical old sea beds) brings into question our origin, distant past and future.  Captivated, I have been imagining these other worlds.  Following on from my post on convergent evolution, my work will focus on these and other similar forms as visual metaphors of complex primal systems in nature, universal forms which echo others, examples of fractal geometry and the interconnectedness of all things.

Each time I visit the quarries, often on dog walks, I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they represent – the geology; how far back time goes; what extraordinary life forms exist now and in the past; how incredible and persistent nature is; how we are all linked; how insignificant we are as individuals, yet how we impact on our surroundings…

Quarry at Stoke St. Michael

Representing step in stone, I launched an under 20 year olds’ Sculpture Design Competition at Somerset Earth Science Centre a fortnight ago, and alongside other step in stone artists and Juliet Lawn from SESC, gave a slideshow/talk, with work on display to give young visitors inspiration for their designs.  This competition is now online for entries at: Black Swan Arts.  Last week Nick Weaver and I set up a stand for step in stone at Frome Town Councils’s AGM.  Having been funded by them we were asked to present our project to attendees.  It was a full house – the energy in Frome seems infectious!  This Wednesday (8th April) I’ll be taking part as a speaker in a public discussion at Wells Museum about Public Art (7.30pm if you’re interested in coming!)

I ran a wire workshop at the end of March via ArtsLink, which resulted in some great outcomes by participants.  I have more workshops coming up and will also be running some during step in stone at SESC and Black Swan Arts (details of these will be posted soon).

Wire workshop IMG_9931 IMG_9932 IMG_9934 IMG_9935 IMG_9939 IMG_9940 IMG_9941

Although there’s still a lot to do, I’m looking forward to my forthcoming exhibitions this summer.  Maureen Michaelson is representing me at GROW London and Hidden Garden Art Show this June and my biggest project to date step in stone starts in July.

Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions

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

Showing with Maureen Michaelson Gallery in the following 2 exhibitions, in association with Chelsea Fringe:

Hidden Garden Art Show, Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead, London NW3; Saturdays and Sundays  6, 7, 13, 14, 27, 28 June, 2 – 6 pm.  Weekdays by appointment.

For full visitor information, please contact Maureen Michaelson Gallery on 0207435 0510 or info@maureenmichaelson.com or visit: www.maureenmichaelson.com

GROW London, Hampstead Heath, London NW3, Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Stand J9; 19 – 21 June, 11am – 6pm.  Full information: www.growlondon.com

Art Parks International Sculpture Festival, Sausmarez Rd, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG, May –  October

step in stone art in quarries trail in the East Mendips, Somerset curated and managed by me in partnership with Somerset Earth Science Centre, Black Swan Arts, Somerset Art Works, Mendip Hills AONB, Somerset Wildlife Trust

Phase 1: 8 July – 18 October – exhibition/art installations/workshops/talks/guided walks – Somerset Earth Science Centre, Stoke St. Michael BA3 5JU (open to all public Weds 9-5)

Phase 2: 15 August – 18 October – exhibition/art installations/guided walks – Halecombe (working quarry, peripheral public pathway); Westdown (massive disused quarry), Chantry (both open 7 days a week)

Phase 3: 3-18 October, finale fortnight tying in with Somerset Art Weeks Festival ’15 and Momentum programme – exhibition/art installations/workshops/talks/guided walks – Fairy Cave Quarry (open 11am-6pm daily); Black Swan Arts Centre, 2 Bridge Street BA11 1BB and Frome Museum (open 10-4 Mon – Sat, open Sunday 4th, closed Sun 11, 18th)

For further information, please visit: stepinstone-somerset.co.uk or contact me

Past, Present, Future: SAW Projects Showcase, 44AD, 4 Abbey St, Bath, BA1 1NN 29 Sept – 11 Oct, 10am – 4pm

Time and Place, Somerset Art Works, Art at The Heart, Royal United Hospital, (Central corridor, Zone B & Courtyards), Bath BA1 3NG 9 Oct ’15 – 15 Jan ’16, 8am-8pm

Bristol Green Capital in the Frame, Grant Bradley Gallery, 1 St Peters Ct, Bedminster Parade, Bristol BS3 4AQ  5 Dec ’15 – 2 Jan ’16; Private View: Fri 4 Dec 6-9pm

 

Spring in my Step

Hello to budding spring!  (I guess there is a spring in my step, though sometimes I feel like my feet are dragging – especially early mornings).

A few updates about events you might be interested in.  My Art in Quarries project ‘step in stone’ is progressing well, having achieved a fantastic result through generous donors via crowdfunding on Ideas Tap and more recently a successful Arts Council England/National Lottery application. Heavily involved in bringing it to fruition, I am trying to reserve slices of time to make art. We have a new step in stone website, in addition to our facebook and twitter pages, so do please visit, follow and share. The best bit of the project is working with artists and other experts I admire.  I’ve been getting increasingly inspired by the history, geology and nature of the quarries, with new sources of information from scientists such as Gill Odolphie from Somerset Earth Science Centre and friend Nick Weaver.  I hope you’ll be able to visit the project this summer.

Fairy Cave Quarry

Part of the step in stone project will involve a young Sculpture Design Competition, kindly hosted by Black Swan Arts online from 1st April – 18th May. The winner will create their design as a full-scale sculpture to feature in our Trail, and all entries will be shown at the Black Swan, so any under 20 year old budding artists you know might like to have a go: http://www.blackswan.org.uk/sculpturedesign2015. Somerset Earth Science Centre (BA3 5JU) are hosting a Launch for us to explain more about this on Monday 23 March, 6-8pm. Come along if interested!

Sculpture Design Competition Poster

I feel honoured to have recently been elected onto the Black Swan board as a trustee and hope I can do the role justice in time. I love the Black Swan, it continues to provide excellent quality Arts in the South West, despite it’s huge crash in Council funding a few years ago. I hope it will gain further funding to be the best it can.

Nest 1 - final idea for Sunflow radiatorIdeas for Nest radiator

A radiator company, Sunflow Ltd, commissioned me to produce a 3-d sculptural piece for their new line of interesting Arty Radiators earlier this year. A challenging concept, I created an organic piece (no surprises there) involving copper piping and a woven nest on a layered backing of cut out metal, which we then sprayed (see design left and link above). These radiators are unusual – beautifully engineered, slim and very low heat. Mine is a prototype, so further one-off versions can be commissioned from me via Sunflow.

This June I will be featuring in the GROW London Fair, Hampstead Heath, London (18-21 June) represented by Gallerist Maureen Michaelson. My work will also be on exhibition at the Hidden Garden Art Show, Hampstead, London NW3 from 6-28 June and ArtParks International Exhibition, Sausmarez Rd, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG.

Workshops and teaching continue to keep me connected with surrounding schools and the community. I’m looking forward to some great projects ahead with students, making large insects, birds and a dragon.

Spring - Wire work class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to create

Things have gone a bit quiet for me on the creative front while I’ve been somewhat immersed in organising and fundraising for a new major Art in Quarries project I’m organising called step in stone.  Thanks to generous donors we are half-way to our goal on the IdeasTap crowdfunding site.  With a few other successes raising funds since July, I’ve spent the past month just on one application… the massive G4A Arts Council form.  Now submitted, I feel light-footed, light-headed and ready to embark on some new artwork for next year.  Below is one idea for step in stone:

Design for step in stone - inspired by tumbleweed, hairy seeds, neurons and solar systemsWestdown quarry - one possible site for step in stone

Apart from this project, I’ll be featuring in GROW London 2015 – a contemporary Garden Fair, so it looks to be an exciting year ahead.

 

Crowd funding campaign launched for step in stone!

I have just launched a crowdfunding campaign for step in stone on IdeasTap:

http://www.ideastap.com/crowdfunding/project/stepinstone

The link leads to full details about my planned step in stone project, together with a short related film, made by Jack Offord.  Please visit and support. We hope to be successful in raising our target amount for an exciting project!

It’s All Happening In Somerset

Somerset Open Studios ’14 is now in full swing, we had a great open evening doo to kick off and I’m happy to say our venue (140 – Cranmore BA4 4RH, shared with Nick Weaver) made several sales this weekend.  With over 52 pieces on show in the garden alone, it was a big job setting up (and clearing up my studio ready for the event).  I ran a brief workshop for several art students from Wells Cathedral Junior School and will be running similar taster workshops on the next 2 Sundays (11.30-12.30).  Please book if you’re interested: (01749) 880394.

Wire workshop with juniors from Wells Cathedral School Laundry Cottage on show SAW '14 - Nick's stools and my Nest SAW '14 SAW '14 - Found Now Missing on show

Last weekend I visited Hauser & Wirth’s new Gallery space in Bruton for their Private View of Piet Oudolf’s newly created garden.  Phyllida Barlow’s work inside provided a tactile (though you can’t touch), raw and quite spectacular use of the barn buildings.  Her work seemed to celebrate the space: multi gigantic pompoms suspended and massive colourful structures reaching into roof voids.  It was invigorating, while Oudolf’s garden was soothing.  Luckily we could touch his wonderful, feathery grasses – it would have been torture not to.  And it was a treat to see one of Louise Bourgeois’s Spiders (much smaller than the one I saw at the Tate Modern, but still great!)

Louise Bourgeois' Spider Piet Oudolf's garden Piet Oudolf's garden (detail)

Fundraising is not my forte but I’ve had to do it as part of a major project I’m organising entitled ‘step in stone’.  The film we’ve been making for a crowdfunding platform is now ready to launch on IdeasTap.  This will go live in the next day or so, and I hope we will have some success through it.  We have now made the final selection of featured artists, and it is all getting very exciting and absorbing!  More news of this project soon…

Hello to Autumn

I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer and feel ready for the fall.  I managed to get away for an inspiring trip to Florence and Pisa for a week in between working on various projects, teaching, commissions and exhibitions.  I sold some work locally and in Londonmade a tree in a day and very happy to have just learnt I won an Environmental Award for my work at the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail!

There’s plenty to look forward to this autumn.  I’ve been preparing for Somerset Open Studios ’14 as East Mendip Rep and exhibitor.  This year I’ll be showing work in my studio and garden with Nick Weaver (elegant wood pieces) from 20th Sept – 5th Oct, 11-6 daily (wire workshops each Sunday 11.30-12.30 – please book).  We’ve formed a small cluster group in our vicinity and have a Launch doo on 20th Sept (see below) – please come and visit us!

Fiona and Nick inviteSAW 14 Cluster poster

My energies have also been focused on organising a major project entitled step in stone – a collaborative holistic, multi-stranded Art Trail around 2-4 disused/working quarries in the East Mendips (planned for July – Oct ’15), with related exhibitions at Black Swan Arts Centre and Somerset Earth Science Centre, linking with Somerset Art Works.  Artists are being drawn from a range of disciplines, some selected from a callout.  Confirmed artists include Tessa Farmer – one of my favourites after seeing her at Saatchi and recently at Holburne.  The project relies on funding, so in addition to formal applications we’re running a crowdfunding bid on IdeasTap via their commission-free Accelerator platform (soon going live – watch this space) and making a film for it.  I’ll have curatorial mentoring from Amanda Wallwork (Sherborne House Art Director/B-Side Curator) and Zoe Li (SAW/Arts Council) – let’s hope it all comes to fruition!

Some other exhibitions I’m involved in over the next month or so:

Glastonbury Abbey’s Orchard Sculpture Trail, BA6 9EL (ends 28th Sept)

Art Parks International Sculpture Exhibition, Guernsey (ends Oct)

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, USA – Second Time Around – The Hubcap as Art, LandfillArt (6th Sept ’14 – 1st March ‘15)

Have a great start to autumn!