Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios and Swans auction at Bishops Palace

It’s that time again – Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios (15th – 30th Sept) starts soon,  highlighted by hundreds of yellow SAW signs around Somerset to indicate artists’ venues and arts events open to the public.  I’m at Venue 10 (West Cranmore BA4 4RH).  I’ve formed a cluster group “The East Mendip Collection” with 5 other artists from my area (David Brayne RWS and Jane Brayne, Christine-Anne Richards, Thea Dupays and Sally Jacobs) to encourage visitors get round to each of us:  SAW Cluster flyer ’12

My SAW venue will include an exhibition of large sculptural work in my garden and smaller work/sketchbooks/drawings/prints etc in my studio.  I’m also offering lunchtime wire workshops each Sunday (16th/23rd/30th, 12-1pm) – booking advisable (01749 880394).  For updates and images please see my Facebook page.

Some of my sculptures are currently on show in the Bishops Palace Summer Exhibition, Wells (’til 30th Sept), which coincides with the SwansofWells Swansong auction preview weekend (15/16th Sept) – also in Bishops Palace gardens.  This features over 60 decorated Swan sculptures – including my swan ‘Candela’ (sponsored by All Hallows Prep School), which I decorated with help from pupils, using colourful recycled materials.

Candela has proved a hit with children – her encrusted beak and body adorned with exotic and everyday collected objects including gogos (miniature luminescent toys), beads, buttons and wire cranes – made by children in workshops at All Hallows.  Her name originates from the Latin word for ‘Candle’, which features in the All Hallows motto:  ’Sancto cuique sua candela’: ‘for every saint there is a candle (light).’  Every child is a potential saint and they too have their lights.  It also relates to my design of flame-like linear patterns overlaid with vivid, interwoven materials and luminous paint.  Hoping the auction at Bishops Palace on 29th September will fetch a handsome figure for Candela (funds go to local charities).  Ideally, it would be lovely if it returned to All Hallows, where it was created.  Alongside this, SwansofWells have a Swans photographic competition – one of the prizes will be a wire workshop with me.

In addition, a series of my hanging “Nests” will be on exhibition at the Quartz Arts Festival, Queens College, Taunton TA1 4QS (26th Sept – 6th Oct).  See Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions for further details.

Here’s hoping for a lovely Indian Summer this September…

Swan for Wells

I am very pleased to have been asked to decorate one of the Swans of Wells by All Hallows Prep School in Cranmore, a sponsor.  The project ‘will feature sixty, magnificently decorated, 5ft swan sculptures, one for each of the sixty years of the Queen’s reign. The flock will be displayed in public locations in and around Wells from June to September 2012. This eye-catching, high profile event is expected to bring thousands of visitors and vibrant contemporary art to the streets of England’s smallest city.’  Our Swan will have pride of place outside Bishops Palace.  I have just over a fortnight to do the work, which has a recycling theme and will entail 3-d materials collected by All Hallows and me, including some wire creations by children at All Hallows…  images to follow as the work develops.


Update – 27/5

Over a month ago I was asked to decorate this Swan.  Luckily the deadline was postponed.  It’s been very absorbing and great fun, but incredibly time-consuming!  I’ve loved my residency creating the work at All Hallows Prep School (the sponsors), where I was supported by all.  The children added some bits (hand-made wire school crane emblems, patterns woven, painted and drawn, and a few stuck on beads, buttons and gogos) and they gave me loads of positive feedback.

We named our Swan Candela.  It has relevance in various ways:  The Latin word for ‘Candle’, it features in the All Hallows motto:  ‘Sancto cuique sua candela’ which translates as: ‘for every saint there is a candle (light).’  Every child is a potential saint and they too have their lights.  The Swan has a flame-like, glowing quality in its patterns, colours and bright, luminous objects.  The  recycled objects have been lovingly collected, donated and created by the children, (+ me and my son, Jack) – symbolic of their individual lights.

The process was more complex than I imagined, as I had to texturise the surface prior to sticking on the objects (all individually cleaned/de-greased),  then sand, prime and paint in between all the bits.  Varnishing was a huge relief – there was no return.  Although not perfect, I think it’s got a charm of its own.  The Swan was collected on Friday and will go on display with the rest of the flock next week (after 28th May).

Swans of Wells Launch – 28/5

Some of the flock were displayed on Wells Cathedral Green today for the media launch, including ours, and there was a brief appearance of them on BBC and ITV news.  All looked lovely in the sunshine!

See press: Shepton Mallet Journal, SwansofWells website, Jenikya’s blog

Update – 19/6

Visited Candela to give her a clean up.  Great to see Ian and the team were already doing some Swan cleaning.  Sadly Candela had her eyes plucked out + a few other bits.  I will be replacing the missing parts asap.  It’s encouraging to see members of the public trying to help by keeping an eye out for the Swans.  A note was found inside Candela, together with a missing part, retrieved by some kind person.  The good news is that Candela has a new sunny spot nearer the Palace entrance and is still attracting plenty of attention:

Update – 2/7

Gave Candela back her eyesight, replaced a few other bits that had been removed and another wash last week – so all gleaming again 🙂

Update 15/7

I helped on the first Swans of Wells stall this Saturday selling Swans merchandise to raise funds.  Also revived Candela with another freshen-up as the sun came out on Sunday.  Plenty of visitors in the sunshine:

Update 15/8
I’ve been back a couple of times to give Candela some TLC and clean her up from all the mud splatters after such heavy rain over the past month or so.  Today, plenty of visitors stopped to take pics and remark on Candela and the Swan flock.  They were intrigued to hear the background to her – some people even claimed she was their fav Swan.
Update 27/8
At the Moat Boat Race on Bank Holiday Monday; went to the SwansofWells stall for a bit – great to see more merchandise decorated with our colourful Swans.
Update 16/9
Candela is now preened and ready to be auctioned on 29th September.  Here she is at the Auction Preview weekend (15/16 Sept) at Bishops Palace with the rest of the flock:
Swans Auction – 29th September
I’m delighted that All Hallows have managed to acquire Candela through successful bidding at the Auction.  It was a very exciting evening. Candela achieved a healthy figure and will now return to her rightful place, where she will live happily ever after.  The amazing total of £111,500 raised from the Swans auction will go mainly to local charities.
I was asked to decorate one of two mini swans bid at end of the auction.  I decided to make a baby Candela – ‘Candelina’:
In permanent residence
Candela, now back at her resting place in All Hallows Prep School: