I completed a new piece ‘Cocoon’ last week for Fresh Air ’17. Inspired by the puss moth cocoon and pupa, it is a drawing in space, welded, woven and wrapped. The exhibition starts this weekend and runs until 2 July.
I have been very remiss with blogging – too many balls to juggle! Recently I took a short 2-day break to Yorkshire to visit the Sculpture Park, an astounding place, and walked across the moors to the house that inspired Wuthering Heights, one of my favourite books.
As summer blasts upon us (hooray!) I have a flurry of work and exhibitions coming up from tomorrow. I hope you will be able to visit some of them:
I am still working on a large Cocoon piece for Fresh Air ’17 (see below), due to be installed in a week and still some way to go before completion! Quenington Old Rectory, Quenington, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5BN, 11 June – 2 July, open daily 10am-5pm, (£5 Adults, children free).
In between making this I have been working towards an imminent MFA module at Bath Spa Uni, to be assessed next week. Clashing deadlines, late nights, but nearly ready!
I’ve made a Nests piece for Fifty BEES: The Interconnectedness of All Things, at ACEarts, Somerton, 1-22 July, open Tues – Sat, 10am-5pm. A lovely project with great ambitions.
I am also taking part in the following:
Wylye Valley Art Trail, (see below) Venue 16, The Hive Artspace, 93 Boreham Rd, Warminster BA12 9JY. 26 May – 4 June opening with a Private View this evening.
Bradford-on-Avon Sculpture Garden ‘17 (see attached), Lynchetts, 15 Woolley St, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 1AD. 25 June -2 July 11am – 6.30pm (closed Mons). Opening night Sat 24 June, 6-9.30pm (tickets £6, inc. wine + live music).
NGS Open Garden, College Barn, Benter, Somerset BA3 5BJ, 23 July, 10am-5pm
Summer Sculptures at Glastonbury Abbey, 1 July – 1 October
‘Form and Fascination’, Courts Garden National Trust, Wiltshire, 9 September – 15 October. I will be showing a selection of work alongside Ian Turnock.
Somerset Art Weeks Festival ‘Prospect’, ‘Ephemeral and Eternal’, Round Tower, Black Swan Arts Centre, 2 Bridge St, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB, 16 September – 7 October, 10am–4pm, Monday to Saturday, (open Sun 1 Oct) and Clay Hill Farm, Bridgwater, 23 September – 8 October. I will be showing alongside Angela Morley.
I am also really looking forward to a mini break away to the Venice Biennale soon.
Have a lovely Summer!
Finally completed my piece for the Walcot Chapel MA residency after a week making and installing. There’s lots of other work too – come along tomorrow 6-8pm for our Open Eve!
For more information about my MA work visit: fionacampbellblog
Months of research and writing for research methodologies on my MA is now finally over and I am looking forward to focusing more on developing my practice.
I have been looking at worms. I studied an earthworm through a magnifying glass. Its semi-transparent body enabled me to view its internal organs which buckle and coil as it moves. I am intrigued by a pulsating deep pink artery that runs centrally through the length of their bodies, delineating this coiling movement. My ideas are revolving around lead lines, reinforced with steel rod in parts, that suggest huge 3d worm forms, skeletal, with linear coiled pink innards made from copper wire, heated red glass, orange twine and plastic strands. This may change, perhaps it will seem too representational, although the expansive forms meandering through space could be quite breathtaking.
As an experiment, I have created a small worm colony in an old fish tank, with dead leaves for them to munch. In a few weeks I plan to remove the worms by attracting them to the top, then cast their tunnels. If it works, it will be interesting to see what their tunnels look like, how they interconnect.
I have cast some more 3d lead lines, using routed wood blocks as moulds, made with a friend (Nick Weaver)’s help. The wooden lines were gouged with 4 different router cutters, so that I have a range of curved and v-shaped lines. The process was slow, as the lead didn’t melt properly on my studio electric hob, until I directed a gas blowtorch flame into the hot pan too. When I poured, the slag remained in the pan, so the lines were smooth, clean lead. I am considering how these might become more 3d, or whether they don’t need to, and how to convey message with method and materials, creating forms that carry natural associations, bridging the gap between science and art.
Since finishing my egg sac drawing/sculpture (above), worms have been a recent preoccupation. Last week I went on a worm hunt (in a harmless way) to photograph and draw them for my research. There’s a special technique for this: by vibrating the earth, they rise to the surface (apparently to seek mates in the rain – more important than the fear of being pecked by birds or moles).
This is a layer of research over my investigation into possible uses of graphite (and linseed oil) as a medium. Graphite, interestingly, is a form of carbon, which, I’ve recently learnt, is a primary element (4th most abundant in the universe) that comes from the beginnings of life – brought from the stars via buckyballs. All living things contain carbon in some form. Julio Gonzalez, when he first coined the expression ‘to draw in space’ was initially inspired by constellations and the points between them as a metaphor for drawing in space. Graphite, due to its carbon property, is the thinnest medium and can stretch to only 1 atom thick, whilst retaining great strength.
Earth worms have been of interest to me for several years.
I respect their status as recyclers and importance within the cycle of life. I like their grey to maroon transparent skin tones (some with clearly visible red veins delineating their contours as they move) and their form that resembles many others – limbs, tree roots/branches, neurons, filaments…
I hope to create a series of works in 2-d and 3-d – drawings/sculptures/installations that could be immersive, possibly worm-like! The drawings might start flat on oiled paper with graphite, leading to graphite as 3-d. I need to explore other possibilities – perhaps using perpex to back the paper so it can arc into space. It’s early days, and seems a little slow to get going, but I’m enjoying the process of investigation.
Each project brings with it new challenges. Sometimes several projects run alongside each other and the art of juggling can be a challenge in itself. Some of my roles overlap or interlink. This can be a good way to function, ‘killing 2 birds with 1 stone’ (though I hate killing), easing the problem of having too many things on the go, but isn’t so straightforward if you don’t want to compromise the work, and it can create a bottleneck time-wise, amongst other complications. I’ve enjoyed working alongside other artists/makers of all ages. I like collaboration – at its best, combined effort multiplies output and result, it’s more fun and creatively, one can learn so much from working with others.
The past month has been full-on. With a bit of time to reflect now, here’s a look at what went on in my little creative world (in the bigger world – all I can say in a nutshell is PLEASE CAN WE UNITE AND STOP KILLING).
On 12 June I spent a day at the Hidden Garden Art Show (Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead), part of Chelsea Fringe Festival where my sculptures were on show with other selected artists, demonstrating my work process, running a drop-in workshop and giving a talk about my work to visitors. Although it poured with rain all morning, the sun brought a magical shimmer and quite a crowd in the afternoon, including Tim Richardson – founder of Chelsea Fringe.
I teach 2 evenings a week at All Hallows Prep School and as I’ve been involved in the Secret Swans Art Trail (one of Black Swan Arts’ 30th anniversary events and part of Frome Festival), I devised a project to involve the children in the Trail. We created a flock of flying swans in wire, which were installed on the exterior wall of Black Swan’s historic Round Tower. Inspired by my recent trip to Sophie Ryder’s exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral, we used her ‘scribbly’ technique to add more black areas. It was an effective solution given time constraints. The final lessons getting the work completed was a mission as some children were absent due to end-of-term activities. Thankfully others stood in (special mention: Ellie West and Nick Somerville!). The swans looked like faint drawings, quite lovely and ethereal, though visitors had to look hard to see them.
Preparations for Priddy Festival included some ‘birdy notes’ as we called them. A team of Mendip Creatives made them from wire and paper, for marquee decor. A large willow hog was also made, led by Angela Morley.
I worked with a couple of schools recently (Bishops Wordsworth & North Town) making wire figures and mini creatures. Bishops Wordsworth was a 2 day slog over to Salisbury in a hire car (my truck was broken) giving 4 x powerpoints/making sessions to 128 children in fairly swift succession. The short sessions of 2 hours per group had limitations, but it’s amazing what children can do when focused!
I continue to be very involved in the Black Swan Arts centre as a trustee, especially this year, with its 30th anniversary. We have held several special exhibitions/events to mark the occasion, which have so far been a ‘resounding success’ (Christina Oswin), with great feedback, overwhelming support from the public, serious funds raised, heightened the BSA profile and engaged the community.
1000 Postcards attracted over 1000 postcard-sized artworks (including 2 of mine) for a massively popular exhibition with over £10,000 of sales so far and visitors galore. Unsold postcards can still be bought online. Preparations for the Secret Swans Art Trail, which followed straight after, grew more intensive. 30 artists in 30 venues around Frome. I made a piece, ‘Resurrection’, (using reclaimed steel, copper wire, tar, rope and scrim) and sited it by the river. It only recieved slight damage, easily rectified and many positive comments, so am grateful to most Frome residents for their respect! In addition I worked on the All Hallows piece, helped Nick Weaver with the organisation and was largely involved in the PR for these events. They are great examples of a huge team effort by Black Swan volunteers.
I’ve been involved in various Somerset Art Works meetings, a couple for an exciting new project that might come off next year with Anna Best, and for Somerset Open Studios ’16 (17 Sept – 2 Oct). As Rep for East Mendip, I’m keen to make sure we do Somerset proud. I’m part of a cluster group in my area called The Mendip Triangle; we have a specially designed map (by Michel Linthorst) to help direct SAW visitors to our lovely rural Studios in September. Looking forward to seeing this year’s SAW guides being delivered next week!
I made a new Nest and Mini Dung Beetle & Ball for the Maureen Michaelson Show, in addition to existing work. ‘Resurrection’ will be sited at the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail, Teignmouth seafront from 23 July – 4 Sept, and I am now curating our forthcoming step in stone exhibition touring to Salisbury Art Centre (18 Aug – 24 Sept), with Amanda Wallwork’s help. 2 of my main outdoor pieces will be on show. If you missed any step in stone artscapes last year, try to visit!
The garden and studio get quite a battering after big projects, so it’s time to tidy up! My good intention of simplifying life, with less to clutter the brain is still in the development stage – I hope it will happen one day. In the meantime, the juggling continues!
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.
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.
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!
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!
It’s been an incredible few weeks, unleashing inner reserves of energy I didn’t know I had! Thank goodness for the unyielding patience and support of partner Nick Weaver, helping me to pull off the installation of Step 2 for ‘step in stone’ (a project I’m running), while finishing off artwork, getting signage done for 2 venues and co-ordinating it all. In between, I have been keeping things going at Somerset Earth Science Centre (our Step 1 venue), and maintaining my diatoms, which have been taken over by birdlife and getting mucky in the process!
Halecombe and Westdown/Asham quarries are now open daily for all to visit – see Duncan Simey’s wonderful selection of pics from a very rainy Friday. Jack Offord filmed us for the project documentary – looking forward to seeing the results of that at our Preview evening, 2nd October at Black Swan Arts, Frome.
Below is a selection from our Step 2 installation days and a couple of photoshoots by Duncan Simey taken since.
Finished work by some of the artists at both venues:
My main pieces – ‘Cirri’ (last images above) are based on crinoids (see the making process)! These are ancient sea creatures whose fossilised remains are common in carboniferous limestone and whose descendants can still be found living today. Crinoid tentacles (cirri) are reminiscent of branches, tendrils, feathers or the microscopic pattern of neurons. They cling to the seabed (some now vertical rock faces) by long spiny stems, others are without a stalk but have tentacle legs or long arms, which enable them to drag themselves along. I’m inspired by the tenacity and diversity of life and similarities of form that occur in different organisms.
Sadly a couple of heavy steel springs (components of my work) have gone missing and other parts tampered with at Westdown – if anybody spots these lurking in the bushes there, do contact me, they might be from my work!
The past fortnight was filled with our workshops, guided walks and talks, held at SESC, Westdown and Halecombe Quarries. The guided walks, in collaboration with Rosie and Pippa from Somerset Wildlife Trust, were really well attended and greatly enjoyed. Workshop participants of all ages explored a range of creative approaches related to the project, Sally Kidall’s talk was much appreciated and I was chuffed that my talk for 27 Active Living members received a wonderfully receptive and enthusiastic response.
Last week culminated in a very inspirational performance at Westdown/Asham: Artmusic’s ‘ECHO’ sculpture and sound installation on Saturday 22nd August was animated by live performances of Artmusic’s ‘BLAST’ – a theatrical response to the rock and mechanics of quarrying, with specially composed trumpet music being played from locations which echoed around the quarry. We had a great turn out and the audience seemed to really enjoy the unique show and setting. “A delightful melange of live and recorded fluttering trumpets grab our attention this way and that while butterflies flit among the stones…. As they move slowly up the valley from stone to stone, always edging closer to melody, we begin to follow, or not, or meander above and below. ..” Caroline Radcliffe
People brought picnics, dogs, cameras, sketchbooks and the sun was scorching all day!
Can’t wait to download Ralph Hoyte’s GPS Soundwalk ‘ANTICLINE‘ – now available for your smartphone before visiting Westdown.
I’m now working on the next stage for Step 3, which opens on 3rd October at Black Swan Arts, Fairy Cave Quarry and Frome Museum. Hope you can visit step in stone soon (www.stepinstone-somerset.co.uk)!
After months of collecting and creating, I’m now in the final stages of my step in stone work for Step 2 at Westdown/Asham Quarry – with just a few more tentacles to make. Time is short and tentacles are long but I think I’ll get there! Ideally, I would have liked to have made more work but time has constrained.
Seeds were my starting point. Just as they have blown in to fertilise these ancient deserted rocky environments I envisaged large tumbleweed-like structures rolling around, like old man’s beard seed heads growing there. Thoughts have evolved around life’s energy force, neurons, repeat forms in nature, nature’s persistence, sea creatures (see previous post on Crinoids)…
Rusting machinery and discarded mattress springs left in the quarries, old horseshoes (thanks to Luke Ellis) and other scrap found locally and donated – fossils of the modern era, remnants of past, have provided most of my material to make the work.