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!
Just a brief update on a few exhibitions and events that I’m taking part in this Spring. I hope you will be able to visit some of them.
‘The Future Can’t Wait’, recently opened in the Long Gallery, Black Swan Arts Centre, 2 Bridge St, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB, 18 March – 5 April (see attached poster/invite). A show of exhibits from 30 Bath Spa MA postgraduate students across four disciplines – ceramics, fashion and textiles, fine art and visual communication.
I’ve been involved in linking this up with BBC’s get-creative-weekend. On Saturday 8 April, from 2-4pm, Black Swan artisans will be offering drop-in taster workshops for adults and children over ten years old, and MA artists will work with young people offering activities for children of all ages, exploring concepts of their current exhibition. I will be doing one of the workshops.
I’m still working on my piece for Fresh Air ’17. Too large now for my studio, I am making it outdoors. Spring weather is helping a lot! Quenington Old Rectory, Quenington, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5BN, 11 June – 2 July, open daily 10am-5pm, (£5 Adults, children free).
I’m also making a small sculpture for Fifty BEES: The Interconnectedness of All Things, at ACEarts, Somerton, 1-22 July, open Tues – Sat, 10am-5pm. The topic is close to my heart.
Have a lovely Spring!
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!
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!
I am currently working on a new piece for Black Swan’s Secret Swans Art Trail.
I will be involved in the following exhibitions this year:
The Viking Cruises Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show , Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3 4SL; 24-28 May ’16. I am creating a large woven canopy as a focal piece for Sarah Eberle’s garden, inspired by Cambodia’s floating gardens and artisanal fishing techniques in the Mekong River region
The Hidden Garden Art Show, Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead, London; 4 – 12 June. 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. www.maureenmichaelson.com or www.chelseafringe.com
1000 Postcards, Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome; 18-28 June (Preview Evening Fri 17 June, 6-8pm). Sale of 1000 Postcards (original artworks), many by famous artists and celebrities at an affordable £30. Exhibited anonymously (signatures on back), with list of contributors displayed. Funds will refurbish the historic Round Tower
Secret Swans, Frome (trail as part of Black Swan’s 30th anniversary celebrations and Frome Festival); 1-10 July. Trail of 30 related artworks in various media/scale displayed at indoor and outdoor public venues around Frome. Information sheets/list of artists/venues available at Black Swan. Secret auction at each venue
Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail, Teignmouth seafront; 23 July – 4 Sept. My new piece ‘Resurrection’ will be on show alongside a range of other artworks
‘step in stone‘, Salisbury Art Centre; 18 Aug-24 Sept, open Tues-Sat, 10am-3pm. Private View Fri 19 Aug 6-8pm. The artscapes-in-quarries project I ran last year goes on tour. This exhibition tells the story of a unique event held in the summer and autumn of 2015. 14 local/international artists created site-specific artworks in response to the nature of quarries and their place in the environmental, cultural and industrial heritage of the region
I completed my steel Bishop last month (see images) for Bishops Palace Gardens, Wells – to be unveiled soon! I was originally asked to create a topiary structure, but as he evolved it was decided the Bishop would remain purely a sculpture. I created him as a 3d linear sketch. He represents a myth about the medieval Bishop Jocelyn of Wells who slayed the Dragon of Worminster, saving the people of Dinder from further ravaging of their children and stock. The Dragon will be made later.
I’ve been involved in work behind the scenes at Black Swan Arts as a Trustee. The current Young Open Exhibition required lots of preparation – an impressive show of young talent including some of my students from All Hallows and elsewhere. Very proud that some of them were winners! Celebrations for Black Swan’s 30th anniversary this year include some exciting events coming soon at the centre – BBC’s Get Creative Day (Drop-in workshops on Sat 2nd April, 2-4pm), 1000 Postcards (exhibition & sale of mini artworks by artists/celebs), Secret Swans (trail as part of Frome Festival) and 30 Plinths exhibition. A chance to look forward to a great future for Black Swan and vital fund-raising. If you’d like to help or take part do visit www.blackswan.org.uk. We need 1000 postcard artworks by June!
My work for the Viking Cruises Chelsea Flower Show Artisan Garden, designed by Sarah Eberle, is now well under way. It is inspired by Cambodian floating gardens and fishing techniques of the Mekong region. I’m working on it collaboratively with Nick Weaver, who’s making the wood boat/lounger, while I’m making a 4 metre textured fishing net/canopy by hand (see image), incorporating fine woven copper wires, twine, silk, wool and other surprising found materials like fish skeletons! I am avidly collecting lemon netting bags for it. It’s a long process and an exciting prospect – I’ve not produced work for Chelsea Flower Show before. I will be there on 24/25 May, so please come and say hello if you have tickets! Updates about this will be added to this blog in due course or visit here.
This June I will be exhibiting works in The Hidden Garden Art Show at Maureen Michaelson Gallery in Hampstead, London (June 4-12). 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. For more information about these events, visit www.maureenmichaelson.com or www.chelseafringe.com.
Looking ahead, ‘step in stone‘ – the artscapes-in-quarries project I ran last year – will be touring to Salisbury Art Centre in Aug/Sept. Artworks by all 14 artists will feature – a chance to see some of the work if you missed it last year.
Have a lovely Spring!
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!