Viking Cruises Mekong Garden – RHS Chelsea Flower Show

My canopy at Chelsea. Photo by Sandie Roche

Just back from a stint at Chelsea Flower Show celebrating the success of the Viking Cruises Mekong Garden‘s gold and best artisan garden awards, Nick Weaver and I were overawed by the massive interest in our focal pieces for the garden, which appeared to have the wow factor.

A seemingly endless stream of visitors in their 1000s admired and appreciated the garden, designed by multi-gold award-winner Sarah Eberle.  People expressed how much they would love to lounge on Nick’s boat and chill, with the water gently lapping around them and visitors were charmed by the ‘ethereal beauty’ and colours of my canopy, many intrigued by its makeup.  Sarah Eberle described it in her BBC TV interview this week with Joe Swift as her best bit of the garden: “I love the canopy.. like a celestial beam.. wonderfully charming”!

Me working on the final stages of the canopyMe working on final corner of canopyCanopy finishedCanopy loaded on truckCanopy unveiling at Chelsea - checking fish skeletons are still in tact!Transporting canopy to siteNick and Fiona installing sticks at ChelseaInstalling canopy at Chelsea, May 15Fiona and Nick installing canopy at ChelseaFiona installing canopy at ChelseaViking Cruises Mekong Garden completeOur focal piecesCanopy rising above hoards of visitorsEndless stream of peopleGold and Best Artisan Garden Awards proudly displayedKate Adie giving an interview by our gardenOur garden - image supplied by Guardian GardensWire baskets I made for the showCanopy detailNaga (snake deities) carved by Nick WeaverJMP_VIKING_CHELSEA_15Me and Nick Weaver on the garden stepsMe, Nick Weaver and Sarah Eberle lounging on the boat

I was commissioned by Sarah Eberle to create the canopy for her Artisan Mekong Garden, inspired by Cambodia’s floating gardens, traditional fishing nets and silk weaving in the Mekong River region, following Sarah’s journey on board sponsor Viking Cruises Magnificent Mekong.  Nick made a lounger styled on a traditional fishing boat.

The 7 x 5m garden is entirely water with a small deck leading to the boat/lounger and cantilevered canopy suspended above. The beds follow the style of the region and contain an eclectic mixture of fruit, flowers and vegetables. Harvested hazel, other reclaimed woods and a plethora of woven wire, silk and found materials have all be used to harmonise with the planting.

I was approached by Sarah after seeing my installation piece “Lichen” at the Maureen Michaelson Gallery stand at GROW London last year.  The 4 metre textured fishing net/canopy I made by hand incorporates incredibly fine woven copper wires, fruit netting bags, twine, silk, wool and other surprising found and reclaimed materials like fish skeletons!  I also made 3 wire baskets used as props. It was a great pleasure and honour working with Sarah for Chelsea Flower Show and amazing to have achieved such highly acclaimed awards. The team involved many others, including Nigel Evans (paint effects on boat) and Angela Morley (supplied trombone squash), and we are grateful to all who have supported us, given materials and helped!

After over 4 months of hard work, I am a little exhausted but elated!

To see more photos of the Chelsea Flower Show work in progress visit my Art Facebook Page

Next show – The Hidden Garden Art Show, at Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead, London; 4 – 12 June.  I will be showing a range of my work, alongside other selected artists (see poster below).  On Sunday 12 June this Gallery is also hosting a day as part of Chelsea Fringe Festival, where I will be demonstrating my sculpting techniques from 11am – 5pm, with a talk at 3pm.  Do come along!

www.maureenmichaelson.com or www.chelseafringe.com

MMG Hidden Garden Art Show

 

Autumn News

step in stone

An update on a few projects I’m involved in, which may be of interest.

An exhibition I took part in via Maureen Michaelson Gallery at GROW London this summer has led to a commission to create a large woven canopy piece for Chelsea Flower Show ’16 as part of Gold award-winning Designer Sarah Eberle’s ‘Floating Gardens of Mekong’ theme.  I am starting to formulate ideas and very excited by it!

I’ve also been commissioned to produce a life size steel Bishop for Bishops Palace Gardens, Wells and hope to have this made and installed by the end of this year.

The excitement and momentum of my main project this year step in stone is building up to a crescendo with its third and final step, which will embrace three more venues to make up the final six.  Part of Somerset Art Works Festival 2015 and Momentum programme, step 3 launches on 3rd October to include Black Swan Arts, Frome Museum and the magical Fairy Cave Quarry.  Special performances and events will include Frome-based Artmusic’s ‘ECHO’ sculpture and sound installation at Fairy Cave Quarry (3-18 Oct, weekends, 11-4).  This will be animated by live performances of Artmusic’s BLAST (Sats 3, 10, 17 Oct, 2-3pm).   Bristol Poet Ralph Hoyte has created a poetic ‘sound intervention’ for visitors perambulating around Fairy Cave Quarry’s amphitheatre.  For the Westdown/Asham quarryscape, Ralph has created a downloadable GPS piece for visitors to listen to as they walk through.  The aural word-symphony needs to be downloaded onto your smartphone from Ralph’s website before you go to Westdown (ralphhoyte.com – click “SIS link to QR”).

A few of us are running workshops as part of step in stone‘s Finale and Artist Talks include an insight into the work of internationally celebrated Tessa Farmer, whose fantasy worlds of tiny malevolent fairies, insect wings and taxidermy create an intriguing contrast to the largescale environmental installations by Sally Kidall and weathered stone works of Duncan Elliott.

step in stone is open now and continues until 18th October 2015.  I attach an invite to the step 3 Preview at Black Swan Arts and Finale Do at Somerset Earth Science Centre. 

Hope you can visit one or more of our venues!

A4 Step 3 Finalfinal bsa A4

Launch of ‘step in stone’

Time for reflection has been very thin over the past few months.  It has been the busiest ever period of my working life (possibly not to be repeated)!Installing work at GROW London for Maureen Michaelson’s Gallery stand in June proved successful, with some great feedback and an offer of a Chelsea Flower Show commission next year.  Happily, I sold a couple of Nest and Cocoon pieces at The Hidden Garden Art Show (also with Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead – part of Chelsea Fringe).

A full load for GROW London GROW London

I ran a couple of 2-day workshops at Kings Hall School and Farmors School, resulting in a great dragon and large insects with Yr 7 students.  A fortnight ago I set up my Giant Nest in Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome.  This will remain on show there for a couple of months.
Dragon in the making at Kings hall School, Taunton
However, most of my time continues to be absorbed by my project step in stone‘.  Co-ordinating, curating and making are quite a challenging combination, but so far things are going well and last week was the big opening of ‘Step 1’, after months preparing and publicising with stands, presentations, interviews, leaflets and other forms of PR.  Installing artwork, arranging signage, running a school workshop, leading a guided walk, making a sculpture in a day, holding a press launch and organising the official opening at Somerset Earth Science Centre has been a whirlwind of activity! Thanks to the massive support of Nick Weaver and other members of the team, I’ve survived.4 of us spent 2 days setting up artwork inside and around the grounds of SESC.  My artwork for the project includes both new work inspired by features of the quarries (for Steps 2 & 3) and pre-existing work (for Step 1) that reflect how the quarries resonate with my interest in life forms.  The installation of my floating pieces involved adventures in a boat.   2 helpers were enlisted from Moons Hill quarry to assist with this.  Slightly perturbed by the strangeness of it all to start with, they were soon singing rowing songs – delighted by the novelty once they’d relaxed into their new roles and we floated the first ‘Diatom’ in the water.   My other installations meant climbing up tall ladders, and wrapping ‘Lichen’ round a tree with helper Nigel.  Duncan Elliott dragged his heavy stone pieces up the road on a trolley, and built huge scaffolding frames to hoist up his ‘Age of Stone’ – a back-aching job, but worth the effort – it is magnificent!  I met Tessa Farmer from the train laden with her intriguing boxes of insects, miniature evil fairies, worm casts and bell jar – the intricate work taking her hours to install – and Christina White set up her beautiful multi-exposure photographs in the Centre against limestone walls.

Some of this process was documented by Duncan Simey (see ‘wild-landscapes’ photos below) and filmmaker Jack Offord, for our final documentary film.

Installing DiatomsOne of my Diatoms, floating at SESC Installing Lichen with Nigel Help from Moons Hill Quarry worker Lichen being installed Duncan Elliott's 'Sleeping Beauty' - detail 3 men in a boat One of my Diatoms Lichen - detail Tessa Farmer installing her work Christina White installing her work Me up a tree Tessa Farmer's 'Out of the Earth'
‘step in stone’ opened on Wednesday 8th July, and we’ve already had a wide range of visitors of all ages engaging with our work, including 2 school groups through Somerset Art Works’ inspirED programme and some guided walkers through our collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust.  My half day workshop was with Yr 7 pupil premium students from Selwood School.  In small groups they created wire pieces based on silver birch seeds.  Suzie Gutteridge’s workshop the next day resulted in felted balls using locally sourced wool.  Both sets of work will be exhibited as part of the Trail at Halecombe Quarry from Step 2 (15th Aug) onwards.
Guided Walk in collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust Participant doing rubbings Guided Walk
Our first week culminated on Saturday with us making Charlotte McKeown’s sculpture with her in just one day.  This was her award for winning the ‘Under 20’s Sculpture Design Competition’.  A bit like scrapheap challenge, our small, dedicated team worked hard to create the Kinetic Structure in a day.  Despite having prepared materials and got some parts together in advance, it was still a little daunting.  Our team included Charlotte, Lucja Korczak, who won the under 13 year-old design competition prize, Duncan Cameron (step in stone artist and Strode College tutor to Charlotte), Nick Weaver (step in stone Partner) and me.  Perhaps the best thing about the day was how everyone worked together so well to make it happen and with such aplomb!    A slight rush to finish before the arrival of press and guests for our official opening at 5pm, the sculpture was installed near the Centre entrance.  Sarah Jackson from Mendip Hills AONB kindly did the honours to ‘open’ the event, and we all celebrated the start of an exciting few months ahead!
Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Official Opening Trying out the Kinetic Structure Press Launch and Official Opening
Do please come and visit Somerset Earth Science Centre (SESC)  – open to public Weds 9am-4pm & special events.  Artists exhibiting at SESC for Step 1 are: Duncan Elliott, Tessa Farmer, Christina White, Charlotte McKeown (young sculpture design competition winner) and me.  Step 2 follows on 15th August.

Summer Events

Fiona Campbell ‘Cirri’ recycled and found materials. Photo: Duncan Simey in Asham/Westdown Quarry

It’s going to be a very busy summer…

step in stone is absorbing most of my energies as curator and I hope you’ll visit the artscape when it opens this summer!  A collaborative multi-disciplinary art project featuring work by fourteen leading artists, step in stone offers a unique opportunity to encounter contemporary artworks in rural Mendip while exploring spectacular, wild landscapes of abandoned and working quarries.  Opening on Wednesday 8th July and stepping up in 3 phases to its finale in October (part of SAW Festival’s Momentum programme), the event will occupy 6 different venues. Trail, exhibitions and guided walks are free while there will be a small charge for our workshops and artist talks.

Together with some of the step in stone team I’ll be speaking about the project to a drop-in audience as part of Bristol’s Big Green Week outside at The Hub, just above the cascade steps, (near the Watershed) on Sunday 7th June at 12 noon (http://issuu.com/biggreenweek2015/docs/bgw_2015_programme).  If you’re in Bristol at 12 noon – please come along!  We’re also taking stands at Collett Park, Shepton Mallet on Saturday 13th June and The Sustainability Show in Taunton on Sunday 14th June, so people can learn more about the project.  I’ll be there at both.

Friend Jo Martin created a beautiful hand painted map for our leaflet.  The signed limited edition map will soon be available to buy at step in stone venues and the leaflet will be downloadable on our website and in various outlets throughout the region.  My cousin Jack Offord made our trailer film for the project.  I’ve loved teaming up with friends, family and colleagues on the project!

We’re looking for volunteers to man and/or help in our workshops at Somerset Earth Science Centre so please get in touch if interested, or pass this on to others.  For further details about step in stone or to book a step in stone workshop, guided walk or artist talk visit: www.stepinstone-somerset.co.uk

This June my work will feature in GROW London, Hampstead Heath, London (18-21 June) and the Hidden Garden Art Show, Hampstead, London (see previous post), represented by Gallerist Maureen Michaelson.  I’m happy to say that one of my pieces on show there has already sold this week!  My work will also be on exhibition at ArtParks International Exhibition, Sausmarez Rd, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG.

I hope you can visit some of these events and wishing you a happy, hot summer ahead!

 

Chelsea Fringe and GROW London

I’m looking forward to taking part in the Hidden Garden Art Show as part of Chelsea Fringe and GROW London – both with Maureen Michaelson Gallery in Hampstead this June.  Come along if you can!

Chelsea Finge

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

 

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.