Tentacular

At the start of this month, I went to a Somerset Art Weeks Symposium in Taunton ‘Prospecting: new directions and territories for artists’ practice’.  It was an invigorating day, albeit condensed, making connections and thinking laterally.  I particularly enjoyed catching up with SAW artists and meeting new practitioners. One of our tasks to bring to the event was a ‘This is Me’ profile for a group wall display.  Mine (below) reflects on the tentacular nature of my practice:

The talks highlighted inspiring examples of socially engaged practice and collaboration.  In workshops with Kerry Harker and Lydia Catterall we discussed the imperative for resilience, forging artist-led initiatives, and finding interesting spaces to show our work.  With this in mind, I’ve been planning a few interesting ventures for next year.  Two happen to involve prison cells.

I’m excited to be mulling over ideas for a residency culminating in a solo exhibition in the basement cells at Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, in the Spring.  Alongside the show, I’ll be delivering some related workshops with the young and elderly.  I am also in early stages of organising a joint art project and exhibition with Luminara Star and the Rubbish Art Project in Shepton Prison (the oldest UK working prison – now vacant until it gets developed into residential homes).  The cells are still in tact.  Both sites are unique, intriguing spaces for site-specific work, full of dark, sad histories, appropriate for creative responses to current society and environmental issues.  On a sunny day, light through the windows, steel bars and grids casts dramatic linear shadows. The prison, now silent, has great acoustics – one can only imagine the sounds of its past. We hope to include other artists, possibly sound, film, performance and installation and will engage the community in the making process.

A recent tweet about a bull elephant being shot because it broke out of its fenced enclosure in South Africa made me fume.  Almost as bad as poaching and trophy hunting.  It turns out they did not maintain the fences adequately, and all he was doing was naturally pushing boundaries, exploring, roaming beyond barriers – human imposed after all.  Why shoot him? Because he wasn’t towing the line we impose for our own humancentric logic.

Inky the Octopus, a hero in 2016, broke out of his aquarium tank in New Zealand National Aquarium, slid/crawled across the floor and down a drainpipe to the ocean.  Amazing intelligence and agility, but as this article points out, for many reasons beyond our own intelligence. Octopuses are so very different to us – ‘aliens’ apparently.  What’s fascinating is that ‘octopus literature is full of such flights to freedom’. The escape and how he did it remains a mystery. I was in awe watching an octopus in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet (Green Seas episode) trick a shark and escape by very cunningly and swiftly covering itself with a coat of shells. Picasso and his contemporaries were intrigued by ‘The Octopus’, 1928, a film by Jean Painleve, which led to Picasso’s octopus-like women.  Octopuses also remind me of the interconnectedness of life:

The tentacular are… fingery beings like humans… squid, jellyfish, neural extravaganzas, fibrous entities, flagellated beings… swelling roots… The tentacular are also nets and networks… Tentacularity is about life lived along lines… a series of interlaced trails’ (Donna Haraway, 2016)

So, this creature – a symbol of our great and mysterious oceans- inspired my design for a giant octopus lantern to lead 2018 Shepton Lantern Parade (see top).  I am making the chicken-wire structure, then working on it with the community and the Rubbish art project in workshops at the Art Bank,Shepton Mallet, using recycled materials, especially plastic.  Workshop dates: Sat 24 Nov 11am-1pm, Mon 26 11-1, Mon 3 Dec 7-9pm, Thur 6 Dec 4-6pm + more… To take part in a workshop email lucy@therubbishartproject.co.uk   The Octopus will be lit by led lights and paraded on 22 December with the Shepton Lantern Parade. Please come along!

Creature and environmental concerns continue to engage me, as does the blurring of boundaries.  My thoughts are currently meandering around concepts of confinement, caged animals/humans, factory farming, obstruction, barriers, walls within walls.. and I’m sure there will be an element of the tentacular.

Other news:

I received the official results of my Masters in Fine Art this week and delighted to have passed with distinction!

In between tidying up my studio so it’s fit for purpose, I’ve started working on a 1 metre Great Crested Newt as a commission for Carymoor Environmental Centre in memory of Hamish Craig, whose amazing contribution to Carymoor was instigated by great crested newts found there.

Last week I ran my first workshop as part of the Holburne Museum education team.  It was an A’Level life-drawing session linked to ‘Rodin: rethinking the fragment’. It encouraged me to do some of my own life-drawing beforehand and prep on Rodin’s link with the Pantheon sculptures, which all helped.

The class did some fabulous drawings:

Forthcoming exhibitions include: Residency and Solo Exhibiiton (title TBC), The Cells, Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, April – May; Incendiary, Landsdown Gallery and SVA, Stroud, 4-10 February 2019; Marks Hall Sculpture, Essex, 20 July – 1 September 2019; Reformation, Bishops Palace, Wells, July – October 2019.  More info to follow.

 

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Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions and Projects 2018

I am excited to be involved in the following exhibitions and projects this year:

MA Walcot Chapel Residency, Bath; 12-18 February

The Cotswold Sculpture Park, The Paddock, Somerford Keynes, Cirencester GL7 6FE;  1 April – 30thSeptember, 10.30am-5pm (closed Tues and Wed), admission £5.  http://www.elementalsculpturepark.com/

Sound Bites Talks on Beatrix Potter’s ‘Absidia’ drawing, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton, 10 March  & 27 April, 2pm; part of ‘The Land We Live in – The Land We Left Behind’ exhibition.

Talk ‘Art from Scrap’ at The Ocean Matters, Bristol Aquarium, Bristol (organised by Bath Spa university); 4.30pm, 26 May.  Event: 26-27 May.  Exhibition will be extended for longer.  A1 mounted photographic prints of various artworks displayed to highlight the plight of our oceans. https://oceanmatters.weebly.com #oceanmatterstoartanddesign

‘ABC Bath’ (Art Breeds Conscience), Walcot St and surrounds, Bath; 11 – 31 May. Initiated by MA Curatorial Practice student Beatriz Nogueira, the project aims to bring environmentally friendly art onto the streets and parks of Bath, in the hope that it will encourage its audience to question current issues – waste, factory farming, pollution of our air, land and seas. Instagram – @abcbath; Twitter – @AbcBath; Website – bathabc.wordpress.com

Continuum, FAB Festival (Fringe Arts Bath), 6 New Bond Street Place, Bath; 25 May (opening night)- 10 June;11am – 6pm daily.  Artwork by MA students from Bath Spa University. Varied practices including sculpture, painting, installation and performance.  The exhibition addresses the issue of change.  I will be working on a piece, which will grow throughout the festival period.

WE ARE ALL … FOUR WORDS MEETS PARIS 1968, Media Wall, The Commons Building, Bath Spa University, Newton Park, Bath.  1-17 May.  500 submitted/selected slogans animated into a one-hour sequence with programmed screenings and talks  http://alandunn67.co.uk/weareall.html @MediaWallBSU

WE ARE ALL poster

The Rubbish Art Project, old HSBC Bank, Shepton Mallet, a new venture creating art with the community for the town using scrap materials.

SAW Residency working with PRU teenagers, Bridgwater and Taunton College; 19 – 27June, making artworks from reclaimed materials particularly metals.

Making headdresses with All Hallows Prep School pupils for an exhibition ‘All the Fun’, Silk Mill, Frome; 23 June

Summer Show, Atkinson Gallery, Millfield School, Street; 25 June – 3 Aug

Ingruttati Palermo’, Manifesta12 collateral event 5x5x5. 10 day workshop and exhibition as part of Manifesta Biennale (supported by Bath Spa University Enterprise Showcase Fund). The exhibition is in Crypt of Chiesa Parrocchiale SantaAgnese, Piazza Danisinni, 90134 Palermo, Sicily and runs throughout Manifesta12, 27 July – 4 November 2018 (by appointment)

Evolver Prize, ACE Arts, Somerton; 28 July – 25 August

Up Late, Holburne Museum – collaboration with Bath Spa University; Friday 31 August, 5-9pm

MA Show, Bath School of Art & Design, Sion Hill, Bath BA1 5SF; 22 – 26 Sept, 9am-5pm. Private View Fri 21 Sept, 6-9pm, all welcome!

Visions of Science, Andrew Brownsword Gallery, The Edge, Bath University, BA2 7PD, open 15 Sept – 13 Oct Tues-Sat, 11-5

Line and Point, Centrespace Gallery, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol BS1 1EA; 27 Oct – 31 Oct, 10am-6pm daily.  Private View Fri 26 Oct, 6-9pm.  All welcome!

Residency and Solo Exhibiiton (title TBC), The Cells, Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, April – May 2019

Incendiary, Landsdown Gallery and SVA, Stroud, 4-10 February 2019

Marks Hall Sculpture, Essex, 20 July – 1 September 2019

Reformation, Bishops Palace, Wells, July – October 2019

More info to follow

Spring News

Now that the cold spell is over, I feel a Spring update is due.

In my week’s residency at Walcot Chapel, Bath last month as part of my MA, I made a piece (image above) in response to the site, current waste issues, and Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  It was inspired by the plight of 1000’s of albatross chicks dying from stomachs filled with plastic.  Entitled ‘Instead of a Cross, an Albatross’, it is a kind of altarpiece. The steel and copper components echoed the trees and shadows through the window.  Later this year I’m hoping to make work involving some participatory interaction with the public using waste materials.

Ongoing work is also being influenced by a book I’ve just read Planet of Slums by Mike Davis, which reveals horrific realities as a result of our rapidly growing worldwide poverty, rich/poor divide – cruel slumlords, neglect and harrowing deaths.  Factory farming (particularly a film ‘Our Daily Bread’) is also affecting my thoughts, and the loss of Tilly, our beloved boxer dog, who died at the weekend.  These experimental process pieces are all made from scrap materials.

On a lighter note, I continue to teach All Hallows Prep School students extra-curricular art.  I’m proud to see some of their work selected for the Black Swan Young Open, starting this Saturday.  Last week I ran a workshop with several groups of children Years 4-8 at Hazlegrove Prep School, making a 1.75m flying albatross sculpture out of recycled plastic and wire.

This Saturday, I’ll be running a collaborative workshop with Aya Kobayashi and Stephen Ives as part of BBC’s Get Creative event and Black Swan Arts Young Open exhibition, sponsored by Visual Arts South West.  It will explore the creative process – how to shape an idea into form – experimenting with sculpture and sound technology, combining found/reclaimed materials.

Book soon via Eventbrite (https://goo.gl/SNdgny) – spaces are filling up!

This season, I’ll be showing 2 of my sculptures in the The Cotswold Sculpture Park, The Paddock, Somerford Keynes, Cirencester GL7 6FE http://www.elementalsculpturepark.com/ from 1 April – 30th September, 10.30am-5pm (closed Tues and Wed),  admission £5.

I’ve visited a few exhibitions locally including Messums Museum’s ‘Myth, Material & Metamorphosis’ (that’s a mouthful!) – fantastical sculpture by Kate McCgwire and Ann Carrington (image below), ceramics and narrative paintings with many surprising gems.  It’s always a joy to visit the wonderful tithe barn showing consistently high quality, exciting contemporary art.

At The Edge, Bath, the Jerwood Drawing Prize comprises some great pieces.  Amongst others, I loved the thick roll of paper covered in pencil – like a gleaming sheet of metal.

I’ve been invigilating at Hauser & Wirth Somerset for ‘The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind’.  It’s been good to be able to keep returning to study the exhibits (numerous artworks/artefacts of interest).  I’ve also managed to sell a couple of small pieces through the Honest Shop – part of the show.  I’m doing a talk for Hauser & Wirth’s Sound Bites programme on Beatrix Potter’s drawing of fungal spores entitled ‘Absidia’, Thursday 29 March, 2pm. Come along, it’s free!

Happy springtime!

 

 

 

Instead of a Cross, an Albatross

I am relieved that the research-based module 4 of my MA is now over.   I read alot of books – ‘Materiality: Documents of Contemporay Art’ is a brilliant eye-opener to concepts on matter and process.  I now have a fairly clear run until September to work through ideas and create for my final MA show.  I have been working outside for the first time since last summer in the February sunshine. Though cold, it has been wonderful to spread out and get on with new work.

I have become fixated by the plight of sea creatures, dying in large numbers from trash heap gyres in our oceans. I am particularly disturbed by images of Albatross chicks taken by Chris Jordan, a photography initiative at Midway, USA. Their stomachs get bloated full of plastic objects – sharp shards, lighters and bottle tops, fed by their parents mistaking the floating objects for morsels of fish. Their insides reveal a microscopic view of our trash.  My new piece is a response to this terrible reality, to be shown in a residency at Walcot Chapel, Bath, later this month (12-18 Feb).  I am linking the myth of the albatross in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (‘instead of a cross, the albatross’) with ideas of the crucifixion, using found objects including old steel nails, rope and plastic.

I had to make a 2 minute video of an artist between 1900-49 to present as part of Dexter Dalwood seminars at Bath Spa Uni.  I decided to make one about Graham Sutherland’s Green Tree Form: Interior of Woods.  For a first film, it turned out ok, thanks to my son Jack for his technical help putting it together.  Sutherland’s thorn series brought to mind the association of nails/thorns with the crucifixion for my new piece.

A couple of my pieces (below) will be shown at the Elemental Sculpture Park near Cirencester, Gloucestershire (The Paddocks, Somerford Keynes, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6FE from 1st April to 30th September, 10:30 – 17:00, closed Tuesday and Wednesday, last admission 16:00).  Do visit if you are in the area.

I have started invigilating at Hauser & Wirth’s The Land we Live in – The Land We Left Behind.  The exhibition is a narrative about our relationship with the rural, featuring an incredible selection of artists including Archimboldo, Beatrix Potter (a lovely drawing of fungal spores which prompted me to investigate her innovative work on lichen and fungi), Samuel Palmer, Henry Moore, Mark Dion.  An intriguing show and so comprehensive, it is worth several visits.  As part of the exhibition there is an Honest Shop where local artisans can sell their work (£20 max).  I have some small copper items for sale – enameled lichen forms, keyrings, incense holder, balls and hearts!

Yesterday I visited Dorothy Cross’s Glance exhibition at The New Art Centre, Roche Court, near Salisbury. I was amazed by her carved marble Bed with its gently creased sheets and soft-looking pillow hollowed by an absent head. She manages to turn a traditional medium into something very contemporary.  Her body fragments – dangling feet and hand casts are also very beautiful.

Here’s to more February sunshine!