Time To Move On

My intense 2-year MFA course at Bath Spa Uni has now come to a successful end.  I threw myself into it mind and body, so the past few weeks have been a strange time of re-adjustment and reorganising, sadness, but also hope for exciting work ahead.  Time to move on.  Below are some images of the 3 works I presented for the final module and MA Show – thanks to John Taylor for some of these photographs. Through the MA, my practice has undergone a series of shifts; it has developed more integrity, an expansiveness, but also a paring down in approach.  I was happy with the results and delighted with my grade.

Some info about the pieces:

Inspired by reading ‘Planet of Slums’ (Mike Davis) – rich/poor divide, precarious lives, cruelty to humans/animals; watching ‘Our Daily Bread’ (Nikolaus Geyrhalter) – factory farming; ‘A Plastic Ocean’, and grief over the death of my dog, my response is a form of suturing.

Concerned with waste, ‘Glut’ is a set of wrapped, woven and stitched tentacular entrails, viscous hybrids transformed, suturing trash into treasure, both seductive and disgusting. The materials (especially personal items) speak of past lives, loss, textiles, craft. In contrast, the organic forms symbolise death, violence, but also vulnerability and renewal – the duality of horror and tenderness. ‘Accretion’ is an accumulation of many parts. Its evolution, the labour-intensive process of its making is an important element in the work. It is an abject object.  It has connotations of the intestine, a metaphor for waste, excess and recycling, and other tentacular forms.  Like pulling hair out of a plug, it is repulsive, ambiguous.

We are all of the earth; the earth is flesh and bone. ‘Of Bones’ demonstrates a relational play of human-made and organic materials. The juxtaposition of fragile, translucent parched ‘bones’ against metal and wood sets up dynamic tensions. Cast branches as limb-like forms are playful abstractions. It references Picasso’s Crucifixion series inspired by Matthias Grunewald. Christ’s tortured hand is interpreted from the cast of a found piece of gnarled wood. The work also references Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ series and Mark Dion’s trees. Regarding humanity, Christ’s words from the cross: ‘they know not what they do’ resonate.

Since re-entering the outside world I have been catching up on loose ends, establishing new connections, working on a commission, running workshops and other bits and bobs.  In a one-day workshop at Beckington First School (via SAW) working with tinies aged 4-9 years old, we made a whale, fish & other sea creatures. Every child in the school took part in making the sculptural artworks using recycled materials, especially plastic as an environmental project highlighting waste.  It was linked to the story of Jonah and the Whale to tie in with the school’s current theme Retell, Reused, Recycled.  After I fixed all the components together, the sculptures were installed in the school grounds for permanent display.

One morning I taught acrylic painting to a group of 17 U3A adults.  They all produced lovely still life paintings – a few illustrated below.

I was commissioned to make a set of copper bird feeders for Horatio’s Garden, Stoke Mandeville. Some commissions are more interesting than others. This one has increased my understanding of copper and the process of annealing.  I love watching the colours change through application of heat. Copper expands when hammered into a sunken mould. For moulds I used found steel objects and carved a couple in wood, thanks to Nick Weaver. Quite a long process but a fascinating transformation.

I am using these copper processes for a range of shop Christmas decorations (Fosse Beads and Friends, Frome).   Next commission is to make a 1 metre Great Crested Newt for Carymoor Environmental Centre using recycled materials.  It has a lovely backstory, which I will relate in another blog soon.

Yesterday I sold a large sculpture made a few years ago to a lovely couple, who I know will give him a great home. ‘Man Models Himself On Earth, Earth On Heaven’ (my longest title to date) will be added to as a site-specific residency, returning to my original plans for him to be more densely woven.

I occasionally invigilate at Hauser & Wirth Somerset.  I am elated that Berlinde de Bruyckere is now showing there with her Stages & Tales exhibition.   During my MA I researched her work, which became a key influence to my practice.  Her new body of work is more abstract: in her powerful series Courtyard Tales, she uses layers of decomposed, torn blankets as a metaphor for bodies, intimacy, decay, shelter, vulnerability, lust and war.  There is a duality of love and suffering.  I burnt my thumb badly with a glue gun the other day, and the scarred fleshy wound reminds me of details in her work.  It was fantastic to have the opportunity to speak to Berlinde at the opening.

There are crossovers between Berlinde de Bruyckere’s work and Takesada Matsutani’s adjoining exhibition ‘A Drop in Time’. It has been mesmerising to watch the stages of transformation since Matsutani performed the piercing of the bag of ink suspended over a wooden ball.  Over time, single droplets fell repeatedly onto the ball causing remarkable splatters of ink, making an eclipse, flowing to the edges in its own way.  The piece has developed over time. I find his work very beautiful.  I love the simple gesture, the aspect of time and timelessness, the gestural hand-made labour-intensive process with graphite pencil marks on paper, canvas and wood.  Like de Bruyckere, the work refers to the ‘endless cycle of life and death’.

I am pleased to now be a small part of the education team at the Holburne Museum, Bath. Next month I will be running a Life Drawing session for A’ Level students linked to the ‘Rodin: re-thinking the fragment’ exhibition.  It may well re-ignite my own life drawing passion from years ago.

I am allowing myself some head space before properly starting new artwork.  Meanwhile this website is being changed (watch this space).

Next exhibition coming soon ‘Line and point’, will be at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol (25 Oct-1 Nov). If you didn’t get to the MA Show, this exhibition features work by a group of MA alumni and final year postgraduate fine artists, including me.  Contemporary practices across installation, drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media, objects and digital work is tiered with connections relating to the theme ‘line and point’.  My piece ‘Glut’ will be on show: Line and Point, Centrespace Gallery, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol BS1 1EA.  It runs from Saturday 27th October – Wednesday 31st October, open daily 11am – 6pm.  Preview, Friday 26th October, 6pm – 9pm – all welcome!  http://www.centrespacegallery.com

Hope you can come along!

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!