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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
‘All Wired Up’ is a current exhibition at Walford Mill Crafts, Stone Lane, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 1NL, featuring a whole range of wirework in all its wonderful forms, by various artists and makers. Some of my work is featured as part of the exhibition. Running until 14th April, this link will hopefully tempt you to visit before it ends: Walford Mill flickr photostream
Just over a week left to visit exhibitions at Sidcot Arts Centre BS25 1PD & Ginger Fig Gallery TA1 4ER before they end on 9th Feb. If the snow held you back, now’s a good time to catch them:
Meanwhile, I have started on new work to install at Lanhydrock National Trust Estate (1st March), completed some designs for projects and received a couple of exciting commissions to deliver this year. One is related to Somerset Art Works and the other Private. More news on these to follow…
Inspired by weavers’ nests I’ve used recycled materials to create my own:
These are currently on display in ‘Mystery and Mutability’ at Bridgwater Arts Centre with other work by Kitty Hillier and me until 26th May.
Just back from a fantastic, inspirational safari in Kenya, where my family live. Always an emotional pull when I have to leave, ‘though the imagery, sounds and smells remain strongly with me. With my brother Andrew as guide, we drove in his very smart land cruiser to some amazing places in Central and Northern Kenya. Favourite spots were the Ewaso N’giro River in Samburu, Lewa Downs and Sheldrick’s Orphans. I started a couple of nest pieces whilst out there, sketched a little and took loads of photos – some of which will fuel new work: