The Garden of Eden

The last fortnight has been a rather mad whirlwind leading to Somerset Art Weeks Festival opening, managing both my SAW venues between other day-to-day commitments, testing my sanity.  Miraculously, the Garden of Eden (SAW Abundance Garden Trail) came together on time.  With the support and help of good friends and a few late nights finishing off, I managed to complete my 3  installations at Esotera (Foddington, Somerset TA11 7EL), set up at Thornreed Studio, Godney (venue 94), get to the Abundance micro feast at East Lambrook, do a talk and workshop on the first Saturday and thoroughly enjoy chatting to visitors for the past week.  Thanks to Pauline Watson and team, the Harveys (owners at Esotera) and Hicks & Don (wine sponsors) for their hard work, food and drink contributions to the private view, it was a lovely event.

I asked a photographer (from 35mil) to take some pics of the work.  We re-scheduled 3 times due to poor weather and it was third time lucky when the sun finally broke through after a dull, cold day.  Dappled sunlight heightens the enchantment on the largest piece – lichen-inspired work set in a copse of silver birch trees.  What’s really needed now is more sunshine to do its magic over this last coming weekend to encourage a wider, more abundant audience.

I’ve received many appreciative, insightful comments about the Garden of Eden and yesterday was a particularly good day at Esotera, with a large range of visitors of all ages.   A friend even made a visit from above in a glider.  Grass is starting to grow through my main installation, and although I regularly collect some of the leaves/debri that fall onto the work (especially after high winds last week), they almost enhance it.   The work is settling into the site – perhaps it should remain a permanent feature!   Gengis the resident cat/leopard is enjoying the extra attention and Scruffy – one of the free-roaming chickens – has an odd habit of pecking at visitors’ feet/legs!   Ahh sweet!

I am feeling positive about the whole experience, apart from poor weather at times bringing less visitors (and a few recoiling when faced with the NGS entrance fee).   It has been hard work, challenging, great fun, addictive even – and I think, successful.

Please see my Abundance post for further details about this project

Summer events

The Abundance commission work has taken over recently as a daily activity.   I’m hooked and no matter what the day holds, I try to spend a few hours on making my lichen-inspired sculptural pieces towards a steadily growing mass of forms for my installation at Esotera during Somerset Art Weeks Festival. (See Abundance blog for further details).

Meanwhile, a succession of exhibitions, teaching and personal stuff is using up my remaining energy reserves.  Did the Sustainability Show yesterday in Taunton.  It poured with rain, but otherwise a great event!

Here’s an exhibition update on summer events I’m taking part in:

Bristol’s Big Green Week started at the weekend.  I’m showing some work in the Salvage exhibition at the Architecture Centre, next to the Arnolfini, Narrow Quay (15th – 23rd June).

My Artist on a Plinth exhibition at Black Swan Arts is up and running (until 4th July).

Frome Festival kicks off soon, along with Frome Artists Open Studios.  I will be showing in a group exhibition at ‘The Limes’, 45 Keyford, Frome BA11 1LB (venue 23 – private view invite below)

 

This photo of my work will feature in the Evolver Prize 2013 Exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon EX14 1LX (13th July – 31st August)

 

I’ll be taking part in the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail (20th July – 1st Sept) around Teignmouth seafront area

Art in the Garden, Lanhydrock National Trust Estate, Bodmin PL39 5AD (1st March – 31st Oct)

And as we draw closer to midsummer in UK, bring on the sunshine..!






Skips and scrapyards – a growing concern

I’ve been clambering over scrapyard heaps for about 25 years (on and off) and it still thrills me to go hunting in them.  My friends’ Dad, Mick, worked in a scrapyard in Cirencester decades ago and introduced me to scrapyard wonderland.  Mountains of metal in all shapes and sizes; colourful writhing wires, crying to be resuscitated.  Once upon a time it was a cheap way to find materials.  Skips aren’t quite as exciting, but they are cost free.

My scraptor exploits are getting a bit crazy of late.  I have a scrap zone in my garden, and it’s getting a bit out of hand.  When I co-founded the Scraptors group 2 years ago and subsequently became a Green Capital Artist in Residence for Bristol’s Big Green Week ’12, friends and the public donated numerous items, some of which I turned into sculptures for related trails and exhibitions.  Now a recent commission (Abundance) via SAW/NGS has given me more reason to go rummaging.   Recycled materials feature strongly in the pieces I’m creating for it.

Owners of the garden at Esotera, where my Abundance work will be installed in September, gave me a large pile of wire for the work.  Last week I returned to a skip I’d come across armed with snips to extract some springs from a dumped sofa (with permission from the owner).  I got some funny looks as I struggled to cut the steel, straddled on top..  Today I dragged back a large rusty steel barrel from a local quarry I frequent and have been avidly collecting bits on dog walks.   Let’s hope the resulting work is worth my garden turning into a scrapyard.  After this project I might sell the leftovers back to the yard, have a scrap free garden for a while and grow nice flowers.

Press 2013

Some articles below, related to my work:

Wire Birds Workshop, Ash Primary School – Great Crane Project

Gallery4Art at Blackmore Farm – This is Somerset

Art in the Garden, Lanhydrock – National Trust website

Lanhydrock, Cornish Guardian, April ’13

Art in the Garden, Lanhydrock – Museums in Cornwall website

Abundance Commission – SAW website

Abundance Trail  – SAW blog

SAW Abundance blog

Abundance Garden Trail – ArtsCulture

Esotera, Abundance Project – Country Living magazine

Giant Spider at Widcombe Art Trail

Spider – Bath Chronicle

Artist on a Plinth – Somerset Standard

Artist on a Plinth at Black Swan Arts

Take One Picture, National Gallery 

Evolver Prize

Brief Art 2013

Avon & Somerset Police, Respect Workshops

Bristol Post, Rubbish to Art

Burnham-on-Sea.com, Dreamscheme transforms rubbish to art

What’s On Somerset

Somerset Art Weeks ’13 by Rebecca Pow

Garden of Eden – Cultural Forum

A Garden of Abundance – Landscape Juice

Abundance Art/Garden Trail – Arts/Culture

Abundance Art/Garden Trail – Creative Somerset

Abundance Art/Garden Trail – Swindon does Arts

Somerset Art Weeks Festival ’13 – Wells Life

Somerset Life, Sept ’13

Abundance Garden Trail – The Fine Times Recorder

Garden of Eden – Somerset Guardian

Garden of Eden – Artists Newsletter

Blurred Edges – Artists Newsletter

Blurred Edges – Somerset Life

2d meets 3d – Bath Chronicle

Blurred Edges – Landscape Juice

All Hallows Chronicle ’13

SAW Rep

 

 

Abundance Commission

I am very happy to have been selected for the Abundance project, and excited to have a creative challenge to work towards in the coming months.

Part of Somerset Art Weeks Festival 2013 (21st September to 6th October), ‘Abundance’ is a programme of exhibitions, events and a series of site-specific contemporary art commissions, set in a wealth of cultivated garden landscapes in Somerset. The programme is organised by Somerset Art Works, in partnership with National Garden Scheme (NGS), supported by Friends of SAW and funded by Arts Council England Lottery Funding. It aims to connect the wider public with the creativity between the cultivation of gardens and art making in Somerset.

8 of us have been selected to create new work, using different materials and approaches in response to the theme of ‘Abundance’ in a wider context. We are encouraged to use locally sourced materials in response to the landscape, culture and knowledge from each of our allocated gardens.

March:

It was great to meet and catch up with fellow artists and SAW organisers last week at the Spring Soiree and Abundance launch.  I have been thinking about how to develop my initial ideas for the installation at my allocated garden at Esotera.  Having taken a few photos when I first visited the garden in February, I’ve since made some rough sketches which are gradually evolving.  I’d like to create an element of surprise, use found and recycled materials related to the garden and make something large and challenging.  Below are a few images of ideas:

A scraptor at heart, I am on the lookout for scrap items such as small wheels, springs, copper bits, clear lightbulbs (old style), glass baubles, nuts, bolts, washers, screws, nails, horseshoes, chicken wire, copper wire and pipes, twine, netting, old steel tools, balls.. for the project.  Please contact me if you are local and have any of the above available that I can collect: (01749) 880394

April:

An article in Country Living (May ’13) features Esotera – the garden I’ve been allotted, with a mention at the end about SAW’s Abundance project and my forthcoming work at Esotera.  Seeing it here in full bloom, with all the shape and colour at its peak, I am even more excited about the prospect of creating something special for the Abundance project.

My ideas have moved on to something a little more ambitious.  The work will be time-consuming but fun to make!  My thoughts have lingered on Genesis’ Garden of Eden – the most abundant garden where plants, creatures and humans grow and roam freely in complete harmony.  It is the first Utopian concept, explored by many including Plato, Thomas More etc… Utopian ideals encompass world peace, enlightenment, labour, arts and science, fulfillment, harmony between man and nature,  all needs supplied by the abundance of nature.
Esotera means ‘of the earth’.. esoteric means ‘mystical, unusual, rare.’  The garden symbolises a love for the land and relationship with the earth, the owners at Esotera work hard together to create from nothing an idyllic garden (Eden), make a huge contribution to society (Utopian), build things from found materials – including houses of various sorts, the garden is very harmonious with nature, rich in wildlife, creatures everywhere.   Nature has repossessed, like a return to Eden.  ’Eden’ is almost tangible at Esotera…
Next week I’m revisiting the garden to get more of a feel for it, discuss my ideas with Shirley and Andrew, see the garden blooming and arrange practicalities.

May:

Today was a perfect day to revisit Esotera.  My first visit with Zoe was on a grim winter’s day.  But today blazing sunshine had brought out new flowers from bulbs, ferns were unravelling, ducks, chickens, fish and a very sociable cat ‘Gengis’ were all glorifying our brilliant 1st of May.

As I wandered around, I could understand why Esotera gets so many visitors who stay for hours.  The owners and garden envelop you into their world – a place at peace with itself, whilst buzzing with the magic of life and I found it hard to leave!  Undecided about the exact location of my installation, with several possibilities, I took plenty of photos and absorbed the ambience.   It helped to confirm my ideas for the project, and 3 hours later I left, armed with a load of reclaimed materials for my work there, generously donated by the owners Shirley and Andrew.

I’ve been gathering scrap materials from pockets of Somerset to use in my work at Esotera.  Dragging rusty barrels from woodland walks, corrugated steel fences no longer required for guinea fowl and rummaging through skips and scrapyards to add to my collection of materials, in line with the ethos at Esotera of utilising found and recycled items.

June:

The aim is to create a mass of giant growing forms, inspired by lichen, linked to the Eden concept and utilising found objects.  It involves hours of weaving, wrapping and forming, using soft and hard materials together, which is relatively new for me and occasionally  I wonder if I’ll ever get it finished.  Anyway, it’s becoming a daily activity and no matter what else the day holds, I try to spend a few hours on the Abundance work.  I’m hooked on what I’m making, and what I would really like is to have no other interruptions but life isn’t that simple..

Earlier this week we went to Esotera again to measure the installation area and confirm a few details with Zoe.  A landscape designer friend, Jason, came along to help work out where the grass might be allowed to grow a little, in order to create more of an enclosure for the work.  Owners Andrew and Shirley have been very accommodating with this.

July:

Not there yet, but here are a few photos of my progress over the past few weeks.  I think the correct term is ‘hoarder’… my garden’s been taken over and going a bit wild, but the good news is I have enough scrap steel now!  I would still love to acquire some more copper – especially in sheet form.   Will soon be embarking on using my new plasma cutter, which should make the job much easier.  There’s still lots to do.  The real art will be to bring it all together successfully…

August:

I have struggled to keep up with my own self-inflicted deadlines for the making stages, especially during this school summer holiday, although there is progress.   With September nearly upon us, I’ll need to accelerate in order to get it all completed on time.

My large ‘fallen nest’ is coming along ok and I hope to complete it in the next week.  Other parts to the lichen-inspired installation have now been shaped and patinated using reclaimed copper and lead.  I have a couple more items to make, and will then set it all out again in my garden as a mock up.  It’s been great fun exploring techniques and finding new ways of working with materials.

September:

A very busy month has finally reaped the fruits of my labour – see Garden of Eden post.   For fuller information about the project, please visit SAW Abundance blog

My work has relied on the kindness of numerous local donors, who have given me recycled materials and/or their time.   A huge thank you to the following:  Sam Garland, John Shepherd Feeders, Ridgeway Garage, Station Road Garage, Pete Reakes, Fon Cosens, Somerset Earth Science Centre, Andrew and Shirley Harvey, Vicky Grinter, Georgia Grinter, Caroline James, Jason Nosworthy, Nigel Evans, Peter Osborne, Denise Campbell, Nick Weaver, Adrian Candy.

 See also press page

Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions

Art in the Garden, Landhydrock National Trust Estate, Bodmin PL30 5AD  1st March – 31st Oct

Scraptorzoic Era, The Magdalen Project, nr Chard, TA20 4PA  permanent installation as part of Scraptors Sculpture Group

Widcombe Art Trail, Paragon School, Bath BA2 4LT  18/19th May 10.30-5.30 (Private View Fri 17th, 6-8pm, The Paragon)

Delamore Arts, Cornwood, Devon PL21 9QT   1st – 31st May

Artist on a Plinth, Black Swan Arts, 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB  28th May – 4th July (open Mon – Sat, 8.30 – 5.30; Sun 10.30 – 4)

 Showborough House Sculpture Exhibition, Twyning, Gloucestershire GL20 6DN  2nd May – 16th June (open Thurs – Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays 10.30-4)

Café Bar, Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury Glos GL20 5NX  2nd May – 16th June

‘Salvage’, Architecture Centre, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA (part of Big Green Week) 15th – 23rd June

The Sustainability Show, Trull Rd, Taunton TA1 4QS  16th June, 10-4

Frome Artists Open Studios, The Limes, 45 Keyford, Frome, Somerset BA11 1LB  6th – 14th July

Evolver Prize 2013 Exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon EX14 1LX (13th July – 31st August)

Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail, Teignmouth seafront  20th July – 1st Sept

Somerset Art Weeks Group Exhibition, Thornreed Studio, Lower Godney, Wells, Somerset  BA5 1RZ  21st Sept – 6th Oct

Abundance Garden Trail, Esotera, Foddington, nr Babcary  TA11 7EL  21st Sept – 6th Oct

‘Blurred Edges’, Walcot Chapel Gallery, off Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5UG  14th – 27th Oct

Loop de Loop, Frome BA11 1BB  28th November – 31st December

My work is also currently represented at The Sculpture Park, Surrey and First-View Gallery, Stourhead.

 

 

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…