SAW ’16 ends MA begins

I’ve started a part-time MA Fine Art course at Bath Spa University.  It’s never too late!  I’ve wanted to do one for many years, but the time never seemed right.  Now it’s as right as it will ever be.. so I took the plunge and applied belatedly in early September, amazed that I was accepted onto this year’s intake!  It’s been a bit of a jolt to the system, but am getting the hang of research methodology and all the mouthfuls that go with it.

This was going on around the time of preparing and running our Somerset Open Studios event.  I shared my venue with Nick Weaver, whose wood pieces harmonised well with my work, especially in the “magical Alice-in-Wonderland like garden/sculpture park” (as one visitor put it).  Other visitor comments: “Brilliant – most lovely and surprising and innovative visit of the day“; “Wonderful, positive views of life in all respects”; “Remarkable, inspiring exciting”; “Magic!! An oasis of inspiration! Thanks”; “Absolutely stunning“. Our Open Studios event went well – plenty of new enthusiastic, friendly visitors who loved our exhibition, a very wide demographic and several sales.  I ran some workshops with a local school, home ed children and adult group, including A’ Level Art students.  It was busy but rewarding!

Me putting up the canopy (from Chelsea Flower Show)Nick Weaver helping install Lichen Sculpture in the garden - Somerset Open StudiosVisitors enjoying Nick's boatSculpture in the garden - Somerset Open StudiosSculpture in the garden - Somerset Open StudiosWorkshop in the gardenTaster workshopTaster workshopResult in an hour!School not put off by the rain!Bee by 9 yr oldSchool visitSchool workshopCat face by 9 yr oldSculptures in garden

 

 

Autumn Events

Somerset Open Studios invite

It’s been a wonderful summer. I often feel a little sad at the end of this season, but what makes it more bearable for me is that autumn is beautiful and in UK we tend to have ‘indian summer’ weather in September. Tied in with that is Somerset Open Studios running 17 Sept – 2 Oct (see invite). It’s something to look forward to and work towards. I will be showing my work alongside Nick Weaver (elegant, organic wood furniture and sculptures) in my rejuvenated garden and studio. Our work compliments each other – we both use reclaimed and found materials that harmonise within natural surroundings. If you missed seeing our focal pieces earlier this year in the Mekong garden at Chelsea Flower Show, which received gold and best artisan awards, we will have these on show during Open Studios. I’m also looking forward to visiting a few other Open Studio venues when possible.

My work is currently on exhibition in ‘step in stone’ at Salisbury Arts Centre until 24 Sept. Curated by Amanda Wallwork and me, the exhibition tells the story of last year’s art-in-quarries project. Selected artworks by all 14 artists include re-created dioramas by Tessa Farmer and a GPS soundscape around the grounds by Ralph Hoyte. You can download this on your smartphone via this link.

I will be taking down my work from the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail, Teignmouth seafront this weekend, so if you’re around that area before Saturday evening, take in a beach stroll, fish and chips and a look at the artworks before they disappear!

In October, I’m taking part in the Quartz Festival’s ‘Outside In’ exhibition (Queens College,Taunton), 5-15 Oct, with over 40 other South West artists and makers working in different media. The theme is the natural world.

I have decided to donate my Giant Spider sculpture to Carymoor Environmental Centre, (Castle Cary) where I know it will have a great permanent home. Originally created for Glastonbury Festival’s Greenfields ’10, it has travelled to various shows around UK since. Look out for it if you visit.

I hope you’ll be able to make it to one or more of these events – have a great start to autumn!

Secret Swans

I am currently working on a new piece for Black Swan’s Secret Swans Art Trail.

In celebration of the Black Swan Art Centre’s 30th anniversary, the Trail will be part of Frome Festival and Open Studios, running from 1-10th July.  A free event, it involves 30 swan-themed artworks in various media and styles.  Sculpture, drawing, textiles, ceramics, light and other surprising forms will be on display at venues around Frome, such as shops, cafes, public buildings and outdoor locations.  An opportunity for families, art lovers, school groups and adventurers to discover and buy intriguing collectable pieces by selected artists, ranging from silver jewellery, etched and linocut prints to large willow, steel and glass garden pieces.  Visitors can make secret auction bids for the work at each trail venue and the winning bidders will be notified at the end of the festival.  Badges will also be available for everyone who identifies all 30 artworks and there will be the opportunity to enter a prize draw at the Black Swan.  Artists involved include Tessa Farmer, Edgar Phillips, Ian Marlow, Bronwen Bradshaw, Chris Lee, Alicia Merrett, Nina Gronw-Lewis, me, Nigel Evans, Caroline Walsh-Waring and Angela Morley.   I will also be working with pupils from All Hallows School on a group wire piece for one of the trail artworks.   
 
The Secret Swans Trail hopes to raise much-needed funds – sales being split between the artists and Black Swan. Trail leaflets will be available from Black Swan and Frome library during the festival.  Organiser Nick Weaver says: ”It’s been wonderful to see the variety of interpretations of the swan theme and the quality of work by some great artists.  Visitors are in for a treat!
Hope you can come and visit!
Secret Swans poster

Viking Cruises Mekong Garden – RHS Chelsea Flower Show

My canopy at Chelsea. Photo by Sandie Roche

Just back from a stint at Chelsea Flower Show celebrating the success of the Viking Cruises Mekong Garden‘s gold and best artisan garden awards, Nick Weaver and I were overawed by the massive interest in our focal pieces for the garden, which appeared to have the wow factor.

A seemingly endless stream of visitors in their 1000s admired and appreciated the garden, designed by multi-gold award-winner Sarah Eberle.  People expressed how much they would love to lounge on Nick’s boat and chill, with the water gently lapping around them and visitors were charmed by the ‘ethereal beauty’ and colours of my canopy, many intrigued by its makeup.  Sarah Eberle described it in her BBC TV interview this week with Joe Swift as her best bit of the garden: “I love the canopy.. like a celestial beam.. wonderfully charming”!

Me working on the final stages of the canopyMe working on final corner of canopyCanopy finishedCanopy loaded on truckCanopy unveiling at Chelsea - checking fish skeletons are still in tact!Transporting canopy to siteNick and Fiona installing sticks at ChelseaInstalling canopy at Chelsea, May 15Fiona and Nick installing canopy at ChelseaFiona installing canopy at ChelseaViking Cruises Mekong Garden completeOur focal piecesCanopy rising above hoards of visitorsEndless stream of peopleGold and Best Artisan Garden Awards proudly displayedKate Adie giving an interview by our gardenOur garden - image supplied by Guardian GardensWire baskets I made for the showCanopy detailNaga (snake deities) carved by Nick WeaverJMP_VIKING_CHELSEA_15Me and Nick Weaver on the garden stepsMe, Nick Weaver and Sarah Eberle lounging on the boat

I was commissioned by Sarah Eberle to create the canopy for her Artisan Mekong Garden, inspired by Cambodia’s floating gardens, traditional fishing nets and silk weaving in the Mekong River region, following Sarah’s journey on board sponsor Viking Cruises Magnificent Mekong.  Nick made a lounger styled on a traditional fishing boat.

The 7 x 5m garden is entirely water with a small deck leading to the boat/lounger and cantilevered canopy suspended above. The beds follow the style of the region and contain an eclectic mixture of fruit, flowers and vegetables. Harvested hazel, other reclaimed woods and a plethora of woven wire, silk and found materials have all be used to harmonise with the planting.

I was approached by Sarah after seeing my installation piece “Lichen” at the Maureen Michaelson Gallery stand at GROW London last year.  The 4 metre textured fishing net/canopy I made by hand incorporates incredibly fine woven copper wires, fruit netting bags, twine, silk, wool and other surprising found and reclaimed materials like fish skeletons!  I also made 3 wire baskets used as props. It was a great pleasure and honour working with Sarah for Chelsea Flower Show and amazing to have achieved such highly acclaimed awards. The team involved many others, including Nigel Evans (paint effects on boat) and Angela Morley (supplied trombone squash), and we are grateful to all who have supported us, given materials and helped!

After over 4 months of hard work, I am a little exhausted but elated!

To see more photos of the Chelsea Flower Show work in progress visit my Art Facebook Page

Next show – The Hidden Garden Art Show, at Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead, London; 4 – 12 June.  I will be showing a range of my work, alongside other selected artists (see poster below).  On Sunday 12 June this Gallery is also hosting a day as part of Chelsea Fringe Festival, where I will be demonstrating my sculpting techniques from 11am – 5pm, with a talk at 3pm.  Do come along!

www.maureenmichaelson.com or www.chelseafringe.com

MMG Hidden Garden Art Show

 

Curating, making and installing for Step 2 – step in stone

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.

Signage step in stone groupSuzie Gutteridge with Felted RockDeciding on Christina White's photographsArtmusic birdbox speakers being installed by AlastairJack Offord - our filmmakerNick Weaver helping Bronwen install her etched plateMe at work on 'Cirri'Filling Sally Kidall's mini tents on a rain deluged dayChristina White installing at HalecombeNick Weaver installing our collaborative 'Ligna' (stick) pieces at Halecombe

Finished work by some of the artists at both venues:

Amanda Wallwork Deep Time Portals in the Eastern MendipStuart Frost - Pavimentum - limestone dustTessa Farmer Out of the Earth (ii) (detail)Christina White Carboniferous Timeline Photograph at Halecombe

My work:

Fiona Campbell, Vertical III, reclaimed steel copper wire and nitrate (detail). Photo Duncan SimeyFiona Campbell 'Cirri' recycled and found materialsCirri'Cirri'Cirri at Westdown/Asham quarry

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.

Guided Walk in Westdown QuarryBronwen's bookmaking workshop - I took part and loved it!Tanya Josham's stone carving workshopChristina White's Cyanotype/Van Dyke photograph workshop at HalecombeMy Guided Walk at Westdown

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!

Trumpeter Jack Vincent by Cirri Artmusic's BLAST at Westdown Quarry Artmusic's BLAST with trumpeters John Plaxton and Jack Vincent, photo by Christina White Artmusic's BLAST, trumpet John Plaxton

Can’t wait to download Ralph Hoyte’s GPS Soundwalk ‘ANTICLINE‘ – now available for your smartphone before visiting Westdown.

Ralph Hoyte with his GPS smartphone app

 

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)!

Fundraising success!

I was elated when news came through in January that my grant application to Arts Council England/National Lottery (via Grants for Arts) for step in stone was successful!  This is the icing on the cake after several hard-going months fundraising and a few other succcesses including our crowd funding on IdeasTap.   It’s really not my thing, so I feel a huge sense of achievement and relief!  I owe thanks to several people who helped and supported me, particularly Nick Weaver, for his patient editing.

Since then, work’s got even busier!  In between organising our step in stone Artist Research Trip (image below), doing step in stone PR and some art teaching, I have a commission I’m working on.  Once complete, I will post images.  It’s a new departure for me and I’m sworn to secrecy about it at the moment.

I was also delighted to be invited to join the Black Swan Arts Centre team as a trustee.  It’s a great honour, and I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the Centre.

step in stone Artist Research Trip, Jan 15

 

 

 

Looking back at Somerset Open Studios ’14

SAW signSAW sign

Taking down the yellow signs for Somerset Art Weeks often feels a bit like the end of a party.   Quite exhausted, tinges of sadness but ultimately happy to have met and even befriended so many lovely, appreciative people from the South West and beyond.  Looking back at stimulating conversations and comments left by visitors it’s great to know that they enjoyed themselves and were inspired.  Starting and ending on a high note, overall I felt this one went with a swing.

I shared my venue this year with Nick Weaver, whose reclaimed wood pieces really enhanced the show.  Thanks to his hard work helping to restore my garden to former glory and to an indian summer, the 52 outdoor sculptures glistened in their surroundings – described by one visitor as ‘reminiscent of arcadia’!

Bulrushes and Lignum amongst grasses Sculptures in the garden Workshop in the garden Found Now Missing

Good signage, SAW catalogues and successful PR (by all involved) seem to be the main ways to attract SAW visitors.  A focus this year was to appeal to a younger, wider audience.  Zoe Li (SAW Art Weeks manager) and I did a BBC radio interview in Bristol with Martin Evans to increase media coverage of the final Open Studios ‘family friendly’ weekend.   As it turned out, the last weekend was, in my view, a brilliant finale.  I manned at All Hallows School’s venue on Saturday, where some of my students’ work was on show.  Tied in with an Open Day their venue attracted far more family visitors than usual.  And on Sunday, as part of the Big Draw, I had 20 participants of all ages doing a taster wire workshop in my garden in addition to many other visitors – challenging but fun!

Visitors at All Hallows SAW venueWire Crane (detail) by a student at All Hallows Wire Cranes by my students at All HallowsSunday wire workshop in garden for family friendly weekendSunday wire workshop in garden for family friendly weekendSunday wire workshop in garden for family friendly weekendMother and daughter teamWire owl by workshop participantWire cat head by workshop participantWire beetle by workshop participant

Making sales is always a bonus, and happily we made some of those too!

It’s All Happening In Somerset

Somerset Open Studios ’14 is now in full swing, we had a great open evening doo to kick off and I’m happy to say our venue (140 – Cranmore BA4 4RH, shared with Nick Weaver) made several sales this weekend.  With over 52 pieces on show in the garden alone, it was a big job setting up (and clearing up my studio ready for the event).  I ran a brief workshop for several art students from Wells Cathedral Junior School and will be running similar taster workshops on the next 2 Sundays (11.30-12.30).  Please book if you’re interested: (01749) 880394.

Wire workshop with juniors from Wells Cathedral School Laundry Cottage on show SAW '14 - Nick's stools and my Nest SAW '14 SAW '14 - Found Now Missing on show

Last weekend I visited Hauser & Wirth’s new Gallery space in Bruton for their Private View of Piet Oudolf’s newly created garden.  Phyllida Barlow’s work inside provided a tactile (though you can’t touch), raw and quite spectacular use of the barn buildings.  Her work seemed to celebrate the space: multi gigantic pompoms suspended and massive colourful structures reaching into roof voids.  It was invigorating, while Oudolf’s garden was soothing.  Luckily we could touch his wonderful, feathery grasses – it would have been torture not to.  And it was a treat to see one of Louise Bourgeois’s Spiders (much smaller than the one I saw at the Tate Modern, but still great!)

Louise Bourgeois' Spider Piet Oudolf's garden Piet Oudolf's garden (detail)

Fundraising is not my forte but I’ve had to do it as part of a major project I’m organising entitled ‘step in stone’.  The film we’ve been making for a crowdfunding platform is now ready to launch on IdeasTap.  This will go live in the next day or so, and I hope we will have some success through it.  We have now made the final selection of featured artists, and it is all getting very exciting and absorbing!  More news of this project soon…

Hello to Autumn

I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer and feel ready for the fall.  I managed to get away for an inspiring trip to Florence and Pisa for a week in between working on various projects, teaching, commissions and exhibitions.  I sold some work locally and in Londonmade a tree in a day and very happy to have just learnt I won an Environmental Award for my work at the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail!

There’s plenty to look forward to this autumn.  I’ve been preparing for Somerset Open Studios ’14 as East Mendip Rep and exhibitor.  This year I’ll be showing work in my studio and garden with Nick Weaver (elegant wood pieces) from 20th Sept – 5th Oct, 11-6 daily (wire workshops each Sunday 11.30-12.30 – please book).  We’ve formed a small cluster group in our vicinity and have a Launch doo on 20th Sept (see below) – please come and visit us!

Fiona and Nick inviteSAW 14 Cluster poster

My energies have also been focused on organising a major project entitled step in stone – a collaborative holistic, multi-stranded Art Trail around 2-4 disused/working quarries in the East Mendips (planned for July – Oct ’15), with related exhibitions at Black Swan Arts Centre and Somerset Earth Science Centre, linking with Somerset Art Works.  Artists are being drawn from a range of disciplines, some selected from a callout.  Confirmed artists include Tessa Farmer – one of my favourites after seeing her at Saatchi and recently at Holburne.  The project relies on funding, so in addition to formal applications we’re running a crowdfunding bid on IdeasTap via their commission-free Accelerator platform (soon going live – watch this space) and making a film for it.  I’ll have curatorial mentoring from Amanda Wallwork (Sherborne House Art Director/B-Side Curator) and Zoe Li (SAW/Arts Council) – let’s hope it all comes to fruition!

Some other exhibitions I’m involved in over the next month or so:

Glastonbury Abbey’s Orchard Sculpture Trail, BA6 9EL (ends 28th Sept)

Art Parks International Sculpture Exhibition, Guernsey (ends Oct)

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, USA – Second Time Around – The Hubcap as Art, LandfillArt (6th Sept ’14 – 1st March ‘15)

Have a great start to autumn!

Voyages and Discoveries

Caught in a whirlwind of exciting art projects in and around Somerset, I’ve put on hold my intention to exhibit further afield, instead embracing a wave of creativity locally, very much inspired by a recent trip to Mombasa.  Amongst my discoveries on the beach were extraordinary hairy crabs, sand-filled crab sacs and various interesting flotsam and jetsam.  I returned with drawings and ideas for site-specific installations happening from this month onwards.  I have just finished the first of these new pieces.

Braving the elements on Friday 31st Jan, I installed my tallest work to date – a 6 metre Tendril writhing heavenwards up a pole and over the canopy of Sidcot Arts Centre.  Thanks to Nick Weaver’s patient help setting up in the cold rain, Tendril, accompanied by my Man and Nest pieces forms the first in a new outdoor artist programme at the Centre, run by Georgina Micklethwaite.  They will be on show from 1st Feb until the end of July.  I will also be showing work in their amazing indoor space for a group exhibition “Of Form and Texture“, which runs 22nd March – 26th April.

Happily, ContainsArt have selected my work for one of their ‘Voyages’ exhibitions.  I will be creating some large new sculptural pieces based on sealife using scrap found in the locality (especially the boatyard), as a site-specific installation for their innovative container/gallery spaces at Watchet from 4th – 15th June, open Wed – Sun.  Must get collecting again…

Other forthcoming exhibitions include Showborough Sculpture Exhibition, Twyning, GL20 6DN 25th April – 15th June; Art Parks International Sculpture Show, St. Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG in May; Glastonbury Abbey Sculpture Trail in the Summer and Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios in my garden and studio 20th Sept – 5th Oct.

In my new role as East Mendip Rep for Somerset Art Works I really enjoyed meeting up with new and exisiting members at a recent get together. Chris Lee (West Mendip Rep) and I got East and West members for a social to exchange ideas for SAW 2014 and get more acquainted.  Useful and fun I think!

Last Autumn Richard Tomlinson of Somerset Film made a film about my work called ‘Common Threads’ as part of the Ignite Somerset Project.  This has now been published.  To watch click here.

Art is just flooding out of Somerset 🙂