Glut

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on ‘Glut’, a set of wrapped, woven and sutured forms made from found and recycled materials (fabric, plastic, sponge, twine, sisal, foam, copper wire, linseed oil, wax).   It’s first public showing will be at an exhibition ‘Continuum’, part of Fringe Arts Bath, an arts festival coming up soon.  The work relates to issues of waste, our relationship with matter, nature and ourselves.  Its labour-intensive process and use of recycled materials is an important element in the work. 

‘Continuum’ will showcase artwork by MA students from Bath Spa University.  Varied practices including sculpture, painting, installation and performance.  The exhibition addresses the issue of change.  During the exhibition, I will continue to make elements for the work in situ.

6 New Bond Street Place; 25 May (opening night) – 10 June;11am – 6pm daily.

I have also been making some small, temporary artworks for a curated environmental art project in Bath. ‘ABC Bath’ (Art Breeds Conscience) runs from 11 – 31 May in the Walcot area of Bath;  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

‘Glut (ii)’ is made from recycled materials.  I dyed cotton, silk & linen naturally using avocado pits.  Other materials include sponge, twine, copper wire, wax.  I am concerned with factory-farming methods and animal welfare.  Animals are treated as commodities, over-crammed and over-produced.   I have been affected by reading ‘Planet of Slums’ (Mike Davis), and the film ‘Our Daily Bread’ (Nikolaus Geyrhalter).  

Do visit!

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

Spring

For me, winter is a good time to collect and hoard interesting found materials, gather ideas, catch up on admin and cast out my net for potential projects and exhibitions for the coming year.  It’s a chance to re-fuel and visit exhibitions too.  I saw Zarina Bhimji’s work at the Whitechapel, London recently (one of my favourite art venues), which encouraged me to think big.  Her evocative large scale films and photographs made me weep, with their haunting sounds and imagery – reminiscent of complex feelings about my own East Africa.  Anyway, my studio felt neglected until last week.  With several projects set up now and sunny spring in the air, I’ve sprung into action and creativity!

Using reclaimed materials isn’t new to the art world. Duchamp’s readymade urinal in 1917 was preceded by centuries of African Art utilising found materials.  I’ve been doing it for 30 years.  But the eco movement of today definitely embraces conservation, recycling and found materials more holistically in art – as in other areas of life.  As I said in a previous post, I’m excited that I’m a part of Bristol’s Big Green Week.  A new ‘world class festival of sustainability – celebrating the environment, art and culture’, my role as one of the selected Artists-in-Residence is to produce a series of eco sculptures, which the public can view in progress at the Create Centre and which will eventually go on show around the city in June.  Below are images of the start of my first big piece for it – ‘Man models himself on Earth, Earth on Heaven’:

It’s nice to be invited to show in Exhibitions.  Amongst others coming up, I’m really pleased to have been asked to feature in Delamore’s May Exhibition and the Bishop’s Palace Summer Exhibition (July – Sept) – both lovely venues.  For details of other projects and exhibitions I’m involved in, please see my post ‘current and forthcoming exhibitions’.  I can feel the busy period looming already…