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.

 

 

Scraptorzoic Era at The Magdalen Project

On Friday, 8th March our Scraptors sculpture group finally installed some work at The Magdalen Project – an organic farm and eco/educational centre bordering Somerset, Dorset and Devon.  The work is a scaled down version of the original Scraptorzoic Era planned at the centre, an eco sculptural project of Scraptorzioc creatures, humanoids and weird, fantastic plant life.   The installation will remain as a permanent feature for visitors to enjoy.  We spent well over a year trying to gain sufficient funds to enable us to install a much larger set of work.  Although we didn’t achieve our Arts Council grant – required to match funds given by Dorset Arts Council – we did gain some success fund-raising via Indiegogo (crowd-funding), donations of materials and a workshop at the Gryphon School via ArtsLInk.  Some of the students’ spawn and scraptoroid creatures will be on display at the centre, as part of the installation.  The Magdalen Project will be holding a ‘Spring on the Farm’ Open Day on Sunday 21st April for the public to visit the farm, see the lambs, calves, piglets and aliens, make pizza and roast marshmallows.

This is my last trail/event as part of the Scraptors group.  I have various new projects on the horizon, including the Abundance commission and other forthcoming exhibitions, which will keep me very busy and it is time for me to move on.

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…

Press 2012

Wincanton Window – Casespace – Solo Exhibition at Bruton Museum, Feb ’12

Western Gazette – Casespace, Bruton museum, Feb ’12

Somerset Guardian – Precious and Primal, Feb ’12

Wells Journal – Casespace Exhibition, Feb ’12

Country Life – Precious and Primal, Feb ’12

Somerset Life – Scraptors, crowd-funding for Magdalen Project, Feb ’12

Western Daily Press – Scraptorzoic Era planned for Magdalen Project ’12

Western Morning news – Scraptors’ plans for Magdalen Project ’12

Create Centre – Green Capital Artist in Residence 2012

Big Green Week Workshop – Arnolfini

North Somerset Arts – Big Green Week involvement

SculptSite.com – Big Green Week involvement, April ’12

SculptSite.com – Floating Diatoms and forthcoming Shows, June ’12

Ecojam – Big Green Week and Family Mash Up workshop

This is Somerset – Highly Commended for Green Capital Residency work

Arnolfini Arts Pinterest – Featured Artists

Sculpture & Installations Pinterest – Featured Artists

Sir Harold Hillier’s Art in the Garden ’12 – Spider featured

Garden Art & Whimsy Pinterest

Swans of Wells – Swan Artists

All Hallows Prep School – Candela

This is Somerset – Candela Swan for Swans of Wells 2012

Metro UK Press site photo – Candela at Bishops Palace, SwansofWells auction preview, Sept ’12

Bishops Palace Facebook – Swansong Auction Preview weekend

All Hallows Prep School Chronicle 2012 article – Candela Swan

All Hallows Prep School Chronicle 2012 article – Extra Curricular Art

Culture and Anarchy blog – The Bishops Palace Summer Exhibition, ’12

Musiety article – Fiona Campbell sculptures, Nov ’12

This is Somerset – Sculptures make big impact… Nov ’12

Dragonfly sculpture workshops, Westfield Academy

Diatoms

I’ve been a bit obsessed with Diatoms of late.  Sucked into their microcosmic world, it’s become a running theme – versions of diatoms floating and not floating – made of recycled steel, wire, plastic, twine, bottle tops and other found materials.  I was thinking about an interesting form for a prototype I wanted to make for a Scraptors project late last year.  I had also been previously donated some beautiful large pink glass baubles – cast offs by Sonja Klinger (a glass artist I know) and was looking to incorporate these in a set of work.   Something nest-like, primal and related.   I was looking at some Ernst Haeckel illustrations I’ve always loved, together with old sketchbook drawings.  Haeckel’s intricate drawings of strange and fantastical plant forms and microscopic creatures have inspired me in the past in my own work and art teaching projects with children, though I hadn’t fully investigated their scientific content.  The diatom illustrations struck me more than ever before – colourful, ephemeral, sculptural, primal and reminiscent of so many simple life forms and my growing collection of scrap bicycle wheels, tyres and bottle tops etc – a perfect union.  After researching the topic, I was hooked – endless possibilities of woven, kaleidoscopic forms.  Diatoms live up to their name, with diametrically opposed characteristics and dichotomies that are fascinating.  They have inspired others, but still more have never heard of them.

Diatoms are microscopic organisms living in aquatic environments, now sadly becoming endangered, yet essential to our survival as they provide over 35% of our oxygen.  Beautiful, primal structures hailing back to the Jurassic era, if not earlier, they are symbols of nature’s cyclical persistence, though threatened by man’s intervention.  Just yellowish algae to the human eye, close up they are living glass sculptures, coated in iridescent silicate shells, similar to glass.   Shaped mainly as circular, ribbons, zig zags or stellates, their shells display the most incredible range of raised frustules and cavities.  They are single celled, yet multiply by splitting in two.  Because their shells are heavy, there’s a risk of sinking, yet they need to be on the surface to photosynthesise, so they blow themselves up like helium balloons, to counteract this and to float.  Some can move via flagellation.  They provide food directly or indirectly to numerous animals.  When they die, their shells float to the bottom and become diatomaceous earth – forming a major part of the earth’s limestone, and used by us as diatomite (and here’s another twist – this is used as insecticide and a component of dynamite).  We use diatoms to monitor environmental conditions…

I offered a diatom-based design, amongst other drawings/ideas of cocoons, nests and eggs, to our Scraptors group as one of a set of prints to try to raise funds for a planned ‘Scraptorzoic Era’ eco sculpture installation at The Magdalen Project.  This led to more diatom drawings and sculpture designs incorporating the pink glass baubles.  The first floating diatom prototype sculpture I made (using recycled materials) had a tractor inner tyre tube as its basis for floating.  However, the Magdalen Project felt it wasn’t appropriate as it contained friable plastic  – not condusive to their eco farm – and the tyre would need maintenance in future years.  Having taken several days to make it and with the agreement of Rachel Macleay (fellow Scraptor who’d added some wire & plastic tentacles as a collaborative piece) and her partner Paul (Scraptor) I put it forward for Bristol’s Big Green Week, rather than let it lie listless and wasted in my garden, together with newer alternative designs utilising recycled materials.  Accepted as a Capital Green Week Artist, I was kindly offered several orange life rings by Bristol’s Harbour Master and ended up making 8 more floating Diatoms and 1 non-floating (with glass bauble) for part of my exhibition, amongst other new work.  Initially exhibited on the harbour by the Arnolfini, these Diatoms are now floating in London’s various Canal Festivals this summer as part of the Rubbish Art Project – being moved to each site in turn.  I’ve just made 2 more Diatoms (a little sketchy due to time limitations) to complete a set of 3 non-floating ones – each with a central pink glass bauble for the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail – showing at Teignmouth seafront until September.  I may build on these in the future.  The glass baubles seem appropriate – silica being in intrinsic element of diatoms.  I will hopefully be making others – different and exclusively suitable for the Magdalen Project requirements (with no plastic content) – later this year for the Scraptors’ project.


Meeting deadlines

It’s a tricky thing knowing, in advance, just how much to book up in terms of work and exhibitions.  There are always last minute changes, new opportunities come along and some fall through.  A few projects of mine are now head-to-head and overlapping – I just hope I haven’t booked too much to handle!  The next few weeks/months are pretty packed –  see Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions for details.  In addition to my Green Capital Artist Residency I’ve recently installed work at some wonderful venues including Delamore (Devon) and Showborough (Gloucestershire) and working towards gaining funding for our Scraptorzoic Era at The Magdalen Project, where we (The Scraptors) will be showing samples of what’s to come at their Open Day on 29th April 2-5pm.

Big Green Week

Various interruptions have prevented me from starting a large piece I’ve been planning for a while.  Campaigning for the Scraptorzoic Era (very time-consuming business) and my son’s half-term (great excuse to relax) being two reasons.  However, I’m now excited, geared up and raring to go as I have been selected as one of the Big Green Week artists.  The project runs from April to June, culminating in an exhibition in Bristol  (9-17th June) as part of Big Green Week.   Having collected enough scrap, recycled and found materials over the past month, I started on the piece pictured below today (hooraayy)!   For further information about Big Green Week, please visit:  www.biggreenweek.com

Exhibitions 2012

This list has been added to over the months, together with images of the exhibitions:

‘Precious and Primal’ Solo Exhibition at Casespace, Bruton Museum, 26 High Street, Bruton Somerset BA10 0AA  1-29 February (Open Tues, Wed, Fri 11-1pm; Sat 11-3pm)

Black Swan Open Art 2012 Exhibition, Black Swan Arts, 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB  11th February – 31st March (Private View 10th Feb, 6-8pm)

Mercedes Pop-up Art Exhibition, Mercedes Showroom, Taunton  10th/11th March

Environment Exhibition, Hawthorns, 8-12 Northload Street, Glastonbury BA6 9JJ  21 – 29th  April (in support of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation – raffle to raise funds)

Delamore Arts, Cornwood, Devon PL21 9QT  1 – 31st May 2012

Showborough Sculpture Garden Exhibition, Showborough House, Twyning Gloucestershire GL20 6DN 3rd May – 17th June (open 10.30am – 4pm; Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun & Bank Holiday Mon)

Swans of Wells, Bishops Palace moat and surrounds, Wells May – September (decorated ‘Candela’ Swan for sponsors All Hallows Prep School)

Art in the Garden 2012, The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire  19th May – 27th October

Summers Place/Sotheby’s Auction, The Walled Garden, Stane St, Billingshurst, W.Sussex RH14 9AB 18th – 24th May

Green Capital Residency Exhibition, Create Centre, Smeaton Road, Cumberland Basin, Bristol BS1 6XN   6th June – 27th July and harbour by Arnolfini, Bristol   6-17th June

Reading Room, Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA 6th June – 1st July (sketchbooks)

Woodland Sculpture Trail, Goblin Combe, Cleeve BS49 4PQ 15/16/17th June

NGS Open Garden & Art Exhibition, East Burford House, West Compton, Pilton, Somerset BA4 4PA 24/25th June, 11-5

ArtsLink Summer Show, Newland Gallery, Old Hall, 101 Newland, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3DU 29th/30th June

The Bishop’s Palace Summer Exhibition 2012, Wells, Somerset BA5 1UN  July – Sept

The Blue House Sculpture Exhibition (part of Frome Festival), The Bridge, Somerset, Frome BA11 1AP  6-15th July

Rubbish Art Project (work displayed on London waterways until the end of the Olympics, including Regent’s Canal Festival, Shoreditch Festival, Barbican, Angel Canal Festival, London Pleasure Gardens and London Wildlife Centre) 13th July – Sept   (For further details see London Canal Festivals post)

Devon Recycled Sculpture TRAIL, Teignmouth seafront, Devon 18th July – 2nd September

Sculpture in the Gardens 2012, Godinton House & Gardens, Godinton Lane, Ashford, Kent  TN23 3BP  21st July – 12th August, open daily 2-5.30pm

Binham Grange Summer Exhibition, Nr Minehead, Somerset TA24 6HX  11th August – 2nd September, open daily 10.30am-5pm.   Wire workshop Thursday 16th – for details see Gallery4Art website & to book contact me: (01749) 880394

Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios, Laundry Cottage, 13 Cooks Lane, West Cranmore, Shepton Mallet Somerset BA4 4RH  15th – 30th Sept

Quartz 2012, Queen’s College, Trull Road, Taunton TA1 4QS  26th Sept – 6th Oct

Black Swan Arts SMALL Exhibition, 2 Bridge St, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB  1-24th Dec ’12

Ginger Fig Gallery’s 5th birthday themed exhibition ‘The birds and the bees’, 1b Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER  25th Jan – 9th Feb ’13

Scraptorzoic Era by the Scraptors, at The Magdalen Project, Magdalen Farm, Winsham, Chard, Somerset TA20 4PA   2013 onwards

Nature’s cyclical persistence

A solo exhibition of my work is dawning soon at Casespace, Bruton Museum.  An intimate space enclosed in a glass case and one corner of the Museum, the exhibition ‘Precious and Primal’ will show some of my smaller pieces – including cocoons and new work I’m making at present:  New Beginnings is a series of egg forms with tentacles sprouting upwards.  I’m experimenting with the kinds of media I used years ago – bandage, wax, bristles etc… to achieve the textures I’m after.  

My ideas have been developing for a proposed show, for which I’d like to create a massive piece as the main focus.   Concepts of  ‘a network of threads weaving through all things’ and Nature’s cyclical persistence keep re-emerging.  Although one changes, develops and adapts in life – it’s strange how one keeps returning to old ideas.  It’s that ‘cyclical nature of things’ concept again (or I’m like a goldfish swimming around.. and around….)

Sonja Klinger (glass artist) kindly gave me some beautiful large pink glass baubles, which she considered scrap.  As I collect recycled materials she thought I could use them in my work.  In a way, I’d like to keep them just as they are – objects d’art in themselves.  They have been sitting decoratively in my garden over the winter, mulling over their next destiny.  But I have a plan for them now.  My Diatom drawings show the baubles encased as the heart within these sculptures.  Diatoms are phytoplankton from the Jurassic Era.  Significantly endangered, they’re responsible for over 40% of the ocean’s primary production – without which we all die.  When I recently learnt that information, my obsession with these fascinating microscopic phenomenon grew all the stronger.  We mustn’t kill them just as we mustn’t slaughter whales!  

My work with the Scraptors sculpture group is accelerating once more.  We are about to launch our IndieGoGo bid to help fund our next venture at the Magdalen Project and filming continues tomorrow to get our message across.  See our blog for details: scraptors.blogspot.com   S-J of Whitespace Productions has kindly made a shorter film version of our Scraptors’ Sculpture Trail at Stourhead to help with our IndieGoGo fund-raising launch.