Sense of achievement

Around this time I normally write a winter newsletter, but it feels like I’ve only just finished the autumn one!  Time has really flown by.  It’s been a very intense and challenging few months for me, full of achievements and not quite burnt out yet!  ‘step in stone’ – an ambitious art in quarries project I organised – took over my life for many months and is now over.  It was incredible seeing it through to fruition, and so fulfilling working with quality artists whose work I admire.

Overall, ‘step in stone’ was a tremendous success, very well received by an extremely varied and broadly based audience.  Combining the role of project manager and curator with that of being a participating artist was demanding.  Considering time constraints and my other roles, I feel I achieved a great deal, though disappointed that I could not fully explore more possibilities with my commissioned artwork for the project. ‘Cirri’ was intended to be more numerous, (based on Fossilised remains of ancient sea life forms).  I relished the opportunity to explore new concepts and media in my piece ‘Eviscerated Earth’ installed at Fairy Cave Quarry – recycled wax, cloth, scrim, paper and wire combined with found, rusty scrap steel collected from quarries.  It linked to the story of Fairy Cave: destruction of caves and beautiful (speleothem) formations within.  I would have liked to create more work for our Black Swan Exhibition – a beautiful show – but management of the project took over and time ran out.

step in stone catalogue pageEviscerated Earth recycled wax, cloth, scrim, paper and wire combined with found, rusty scrap steel

Now that the excitement is over, and I’ve reached the end of the arduous (but revealing) evaluation process for it, I’m starting to look forward to new ventures and getting inspired.

I visited Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the Royal Academy, London recently.  It’s not often art brings tears to my eyes, but his work is so powerful, I was deeply moved.  The cell depictions of his sordid incarceration by Chinese authorities made me feel voyeuristic, angry and amazed at the brilliance of them.

A fortnight ago I sold my Nestling Cocoon to Mark Owen of Take That for an anniversary present to his wife Emma.  I drove from Somerset to North London to collect the piece from Maureen Michaelson (Gallerist), then to Sussex where I delivered it, then back to Somerset, in time to teach my evening art classes… all in a day!

I’m currently working on a life-size steel Bishop commissioned for the gardens at Bishops Palace, Wells, and will then start on a new commission for garden designer Sarah Eberle’s Artisan Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2016, to create a 4 metre square woven canopy.

Bishop design

Other opportunities in the pipeline include showing with Maureen Michaelson again next year for Chelsea Fringe.  In the immediate future, I have been selected to show at the The Grant Bradley Gallery, (1 St Peters Ct, Bedminster Parade, Bristol BS3 4AQ) as part of a mixed show entitled ‘Bristol Green Capital in the Frame’. Celebrating and reflecting on the year that Bristol was voted The European Green Capital, it embodies a green theme: recycling, the importance of green spaces and wildlife.  The exhibition runs from 5 Dec ’15 – 2 Jan ’16.  You’re welcome to come along to the Private View: Fri 4 Dec 6-9pm!

In case you’ve tried viewing my website gallery pages – apologies!  There is a plug-in issue due to server updates, so some images are failing to open.  Hopefully it will be sorted soon!

 

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.

PRESS 2015

Somerset Art Works Blog – Artists Out in the Cold

Frome Standard – step in stone Feb ’15

Somerset Guardian – Ambitious Art in Quarries Trail, step in stone, Feb ’15

Creative Somerset – step in stone, Feb ’15

The Artiscape – Art, Views and Trails, step in stone Feb ’15

Tessa Farmer – Site Visit to Fairy Cave, step in stone Feb ’15

Shepton Journal – Funding turns quarries into canvas, step in stone March ’15

Mendip Times, Spring ’15

Mendip Times, spring '15

ArtsLink – Wire workshop

ArtsLink Spring Newsletter, Wire workshop

Sculptsite – step in stone

The Visitor – step in stone Sculpture Design Competition, March ’15

Maureen Michaelson, GROW London Garden Fair

Down To Earth magazine, Spring issueDown to Earth mag, step in stone

Frome Standard – Tessa’s evil fairies, April ’15

Frome Standard – step in stone project gathers momentum, April ’15

Artiscape – step in stone

Frome Standard – sculpture design competition, May ’15

Frome Standard May 14 '15 1

Cranmore website

Jack Offord trailer

Country Child Magazine, May ’15

Country Child Magazine, May '15

Shepton Journal

Shepton Journal, June 4 '15

What’s On Somerset, summer ’15

What's On Somerset Magazine, summer What's On Somerset, summer '15

Somerset Life, July ’15

Somerset Life, July '15 1Somerset Life, July '15 2

Shepton Mallet Journal, July

Shepton Journal - Official Opening at SESC

Frome Standard

Frome Standard 1Frome Standard 2

Wells Journal

Wells Journal 1Wells Journal 2

Mendip Times, August ’15

Mendip Times, Aug 1Mendip Times, Aug 2

Somerset Wildlife Trust summer magazine

Somerset Wildlife Trust magazine

Off The Beaten Track  18/8/15

Shepton Journal 20/8/15

Shepton Journal 20:8:15 2

Somerset Guardian/Frome Standard 20/8/15

Frome Standard 20:8:15Frome Standard II 20:8:15

Mendip Times Twitter, Aug ’15

Frome Standard 27/8/15

Frome Standard 27:8:15Frome Standard 27:8:15 1

Richard White Blog  Doing Time in Somerset and Portland 28/8/15

Somerset Life September ’15 issue

Somerset Life p.1 - September '15Somerset Life p.2 - September '15

Evolver Sept/Oct ’15

Evolver - Sept:Oct '15

Gane Trust

SculptSite.com  10/10/15

The Artiscape  October ’15

Landscape Juice  October ’15

Shepton Journal  15/10/15

5 Mins with Fiona Campbell 001

Mount Art Services blog   21/10/15

Crysse Morrison blog

Ali Browne’s blog

 Cranmore Grapevine  Nov ’15

step in stone full documentary film by Jack Offord

SAW website – Looking Back…Nov ’15

Hanson UK – step in stone

Frome Standard – Selwood Seeds

Clifton College – Artist led sculpture workshop

 

 

 

Spring in my Step

Hello to budding spring!  (I guess there is a spring in my step, though sometimes I feel like my feet are dragging – especially early mornings).

A few updates about events you might be interested in.  My Art in Quarries project ‘step in stone’ is progressing well, having achieved a fantastic result through generous donors via crowdfunding on Ideas Tap and more recently a successful Arts Council England/National Lottery application. Heavily involved in bringing it to fruition, I am trying to reserve slices of time to make art. We have a new step in stone website, in addition to our facebook and twitter pages, so do please visit, follow and share. The best bit of the project is working with artists and other experts I admire.  I’ve been getting increasingly inspired by the history, geology and nature of the quarries, with new sources of information from scientists such as Gill Odolphie from Somerset Earth Science Centre and friend Nick Weaver.  I hope you’ll be able to visit the project this summer.

Fairy Cave Quarry

Part of the step in stone project will involve a young Sculpture Design Competition, kindly hosted by Black Swan Arts online from 1st April – 18th May. The winner will create their design as a full-scale sculpture to feature in our Trail, and all entries will be shown at the Black Swan, so any under 20 year old budding artists you know might like to have a go: http://www.blackswan.org.uk/sculpturedesign2015. Somerset Earth Science Centre (BA3 5JU) are hosting a Launch for us to explain more about this on Monday 23 March, 6-8pm. Come along if interested!

Sculpture Design Competition Poster

I feel honoured to have recently been elected onto the Black Swan board as a trustee and hope I can do the role justice in time. I love the Black Swan, it continues to provide excellent quality Arts in the South West, despite it’s huge crash in Council funding a few years ago. I hope it will gain further funding to be the best it can.

Nest 1 - final idea for Sunflow radiatorIdeas for Nest radiator

A radiator company, Sunflow Ltd, commissioned me to produce a 3-d sculptural piece for their new line of interesting Arty Radiators earlier this year. A challenging concept, I created an organic piece (no surprises there) involving copper piping and a woven nest on a layered backing of cut out metal, which we then sprayed (see design left and link above). These radiators are unusual – beautifully engineered, slim and very low heat. Mine is a prototype, so further one-off versions can be commissioned from me via Sunflow.

This June I will be featuring in the GROW London Fair, Hampstead Heath, London (18-21 June) represented by Gallerist Maureen Michaelson. My work will also be on exhibition at the Hidden Garden Art Show, Hampstead, London NW3 from 6-28 June and ArtParks International Exhibition, Sausmarez Rd, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG.

Workshops and teaching continue to keep me connected with surrounding schools and the community. I’m looking forward to some great projects ahead with students, making large insects, birds and a dragon.

Spring - Wire work class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny June

I’ve had a lovely month, which started with setting up and manning my exhibition at Contains Art, Watchet – almost a fortnight of hot sunny days by the harbour, chatting to visitors and resident artists (and quite a bit of driving to and fro), followed by making a large Nest for children’s litterbugs in Bristol via Litterarti, running adult and children’s workshops and going on art trips with my All Hallows students.  A highlight for me was seeing Tessa Farmer’s fairy/insect works at the Holburne Museum, Bath – such amazing attention to detail!  I also sold 2 sculptures in my London show via Maureen Michaelson.

Sculpture on gallery roof at Contains Art - with views to the marinaSculpture on gallery roof at Contains ArtSculptures on show at Contains Art Sculptures on show at Contains Art Sculptures on show at Contains ArtIMG_8898Sculptures on show at Contains Art   Indoor Gallery exhibition at Contains Art   Sea Life workshop at Contains Art

For the last few days I’ve been concentrating on installing my Lichen piece around a tree for Glastonbury Abbey’s Orchard Sculpture Trail starting in a few days.  A scary storm of lightening and thunder stalled the process – copper, steel and trees don’t bode too well when thunder and lightening is cracking down at an ever increasing rate, but thanks to friend Nick Weaver’s help it is almost done and the sun’s now returned (just as Glastonbury Festival ends.. as is the norm!)

Setting up at Glastonbury Abbey

Plans are well underway for a new project I’m organising for 2015 – an Art Quarry Trail in the Mendips.  I have the support and partnership of Somerset Art Works, Black Swan Arts and Somerset Earth Science Centre.  More will be posted of this as it develops – just hope we get the funding…

 

 

Local to International

I’ve been selected to show work at this year’s International Sculpture Festival in Guernsey.  Whittled down from thousands of applicants from across the globe, there will be approximately 120 pieces on display throughout the summer (May 25th to the end of October), making it apparently the largest festival of sculpture held this year in Britain and a mecca for collectors, garden lovers, visitors and art enthusiasts.

In contrast, I’ve also been invited to show my work in the Hidden Garden Art Show as part of Chelsea Fringe in London.  Some of my smaller hanging woven wire sculptures will be displayed in a beautiful Hampstead garden from 24th May – 8th June.  The show will also feature in the National Garden Scheme on 8thJune.  Curator of the show Maureen Michaelson says:  “Our lushly planted hidden garden houses the smallest outdoor sculpture gallery in the UK.  We specialise in artworks for urban gardens and can commission works from a wide range of artists for all types of outdoor spaces: from balconies and courtyards to large spaces.”  The exhibition is open Sats, Suns & Bank Holiday Monday, 2-6pm.

More locally, I’ve been selected to create a set of new site-specific work for an exhibition at Contains Art, Watchet in June/July.  The three large shipping containers, situated by the harbour have been transformed by artists into gallery and workshop spaces, providing much interest in Somerset.

Entitled ‘Found, Now Missing’, my work for the commissioned ‘Voyages’ project is inspired by my collection of flotsam and jetsam from many trips to coastlines in UK and abroad.  Having made numerous voyages to Kenyan beaches and reefs over the past 5 decades, for example, I’ve become aware of the detrimental effects of collections such as exotic shells and tourism generally to coral reefs and beaches.  Over the years, I’ve witnessed a dramatic decline in its coral life, shells and resident sea creatures.  On top of pollution, our human desire to collect, own, trade, discover, colonise and capture continues to impact on the disappearing life and beauty in coral reefs.

I have started making a set of large sculptures to be sited in the courtyard and on the gallery roof at Contains Art of skeletal, exotic sea life forms based on shells, urchins, coral and starfish using scrap metal and found materials sourced locally, including the boatyard and beaches.  These exotic pieces will celebrate the wonder of sealife, hopeful of a better future for our environment.  My largest sculpture mounted on the roof will be visible from the steam railway line and viewing platform on the cliff.

The installation aims to convey my concern for environmental degradation.  What once seemed beneficial voyages of discovery by naturalists such as Ernst Haeckel (whose drawings I love) have, ironically, led to the current situation in which mass tourism degrades the environments, habitats and ecosystems, which inspire us to travel.

Related drawings will be on show in the gallery and I will be running a workshop on Saturday 7th June for members of the public to create shell drawings on postcards with environmental messages.  Visitors will be invited to send these out far and wide.

The exhibition runs from 4th – 15th June, open Wednesdays – Sundays, 10am – 4pm at East Quay, Watchet Somerset TA23 0AQ.  The outdoor sculptures will remain on display until mid July.