Skips and scrapyards – a growing concern

I’ve been clambering over scrapyard heaps for about 25 years (on and off) and it still thrills me to go hunting in them.  My friends’ Dad, Mick, worked in a scrapyard in Cirencester decades ago and introduced me to scrapyard wonderland.  Mountains of metal in all shapes and sizes; colourful writhing wires, crying to be resuscitated.  Once upon a time it was a cheap way to find materials.  Skips aren’t quite as exciting, but they are cost free.

My scraptor exploits are getting a bit crazy of late.  I have a scrap zone in my garden, and it’s getting a bit out of hand.  When I co-founded the Scraptors group 2 years ago and subsequently became a Green Capital Artist in Residence for Bristol’s Big Green Week ’12, friends and the public donated numerous items, some of which I turned into sculptures for related trails and exhibitions.  Now a recent commission (Abundance) via SAW/NGS has given me more reason to go rummaging.   Recycled materials feature strongly in the pieces I’m creating for it.

Owners of the garden at Esotera, where my Abundance work will be installed in September, gave me a large pile of wire for the work.  Last week I returned to a skip I’d come across armed with snips to extract some springs from a dumped sofa (with permission from the owner).  I got some funny looks as I struggled to cut the steel, straddled on top..  Today I dragged back a large rusty steel barrel from a local quarry I frequent and have been avidly collecting bits on dog walks.   Let’s hope the resulting work is worth my garden turning into a scrapyard.  After this project I might sell the leftovers back to the yard, have a scrap free garden for a while and grow nice flowers.

Photography and Film-making

I’m becoming more and more aware of the importance of using film well to document work, explore ideas, present and attract a wider audience and even, perhaps, make a few extra bucks on the internet!  I try to take good photos of my work in diverse settings, but when I’ve used a professional photographer, the results are usually much better.  I realise we can’t do everything well.  I went to ’35mil’ in Frome recently to try out their expert eye/lenses/lighting on the start of some new work, in the hope that the images would be good enough for some new PR.  The results were great and I’ll definitely return for more, when my series of Vertical pieces is finished:

A photographer friend and co-member of Gallery4Art, Nic Wingate, recently photographed one of my Earth Worm pieces as a 360˚ image.  This has great potential for products which need to be seen from all angles.

V-J Ultra made a film of my work once, and I’ve since been meaning to make my own.   Whilst I was a member (and co-founder) of the Scraptors, S-J of Whitespace Productions kindly produced a wonderful film (gratis) of our Stourhead Sculpture Trail.  We used it to good end in our fund-raising appeal and it remains a lasting reminder of the trail’s success.  Recently, my teenage son and I have been to a couple of animation/film-making workshops via Somerset Film, as he’s interested in this media.  We took part in making a Bridgwater Carnival film and made simple animations.  It reminded me of doing animation as part of my Art Foundation course years ago, which I really enjoyed.

So now with a taste for it again, I plan to make some “how to make…” films, stick them on Youtube, get millions of hits and make big bucks.  That way I can carry on sculpting into ripe old age..!  Watch this space…

Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions

Art in the Garden, Landhydrock National Trust Estate, Bodmin PL30 5AD  1st March – 31st Oct

Scraptorzoic Era, The Magdalen Project, nr Chard, TA20 4PA  permanent installation as part of Scraptors Sculpture Group

Widcombe Art Trail, Paragon School, Bath BA2 4LT  18/19th May 10.30-5.30 (Private View Fri 17th, 6-8pm, The Paragon)

Delamore Arts, Cornwood, Devon PL21 9QT   1st – 31st May

Artist on a Plinth, Black Swan Arts, 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB  28th May – 4th July (open Mon – Sat, 8.30 – 5.30; Sun 10.30 – 4)

 Showborough House Sculpture Exhibition, Twyning, Gloucestershire GL20 6DN  2nd May – 16th June (open Thurs – Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays 10.30-4)

Café Bar, Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury Glos GL20 5NX  2nd May – 16th June

‘Salvage’, Architecture Centre, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA (part of Big Green Week) 15th – 23rd June

The Sustainability Show, Trull Rd, Taunton TA1 4QS  16th June, 10-4

Frome Artists Open Studios, The Limes, 45 Keyford, Frome, Somerset BA11 1LB  6th – 14th July

Evolver Prize 2013 Exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon EX14 1LX (13th July – 31st August)

Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail, Teignmouth seafront  20th July – 1st Sept

Somerset Art Weeks Group Exhibition, Thornreed Studio, Lower Godney, Wells, Somerset  BA5 1RZ  21st Sept – 6th Oct

Abundance Garden Trail, Esotera, Foddington, nr Babcary  TA11 7EL  21st Sept – 6th Oct

‘Blurred Edges’, Walcot Chapel Gallery, off Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5UG  14th – 27th Oct

Loop de Loop, Frome BA11 1BB  28th November – 31st December

My work is also currently represented at The Sculpture Park, Surrey and First-View Gallery, Stourhead.

 

 

Scraptorzoic Era at The Magdalen Project

On Friday, 8th March our Scraptors sculpture group finally installed some work at The Magdalen Project – an organic farm and eco/educational centre bordering Somerset, Dorset and Devon.  The work is a scaled down version of the original Scraptorzoic Era planned at the centre, an eco sculptural project of Scraptorzioc creatures, humanoids and weird, fantastic plant life.   The installation will remain as a permanent feature for visitors to enjoy.  We spent well over a year trying to gain sufficient funds to enable us to install a much larger set of work.  Although we didn’t achieve our Arts Council grant – required to match funds given by Dorset Arts Council – we did gain some success fund-raising via Indiegogo (crowd-funding), donations of materials and a workshop at the Gryphon School via ArtsLInk.  Some of the students’ spawn and scraptoroid creatures will be on display at the centre, as part of the installation.  The Magdalen Project will be holding a ‘Spring on the Farm’ Open Day on Sunday 21st April for the public to visit the farm, see the lambs, calves, piglets and aliens, make pizza and roast marshmallows.

This is my last trail/event as part of the Scraptors group.  I have various new projects on the horizon, including the Abundance commission and other forthcoming exhibitions, which will keep me very busy and it is time for me to move on.

Spring

February has flown by for me, thankfully, with an intense period of making new sculpture, installations, exhibitions, commissions, teaching and workshops.  I’m very glad Spring is in the air at last!

Our Gallery4Art exhibition ‘Art at Blackmore’ ends tomorrow (Sunday) at 5pm, whilst ‘All Wired Up’ at Walford Mill started yesterday and continues until April, featuring my work.

I installed two pieces at Lanhydrock National Trust Estate, Cornwall yesterday, as part of ‘Art in the Garden’ – running until October.

Two days of wire workshops this week via Spaeda at Preston Primary School resulted in some great insect sculptures by Yr 6 pupils.  I was also really pleased that some of my students at All Hallows Prep School gained scholarships to their next schools and won awards at Black Swan Arts’ Young Open, Frome. On Monday I went on an art trip with some of these pupils to see the Rain Room and Light Show in London – two fantastic shows!

I’m very excited to have been selected for the Somerset Art Works/NGS ‘Abundance’ commission, which will entail a garden trail of sculptures by seven artists installed in various beautiful gardens in Somerset during Somerset Art Weeks later this year.  Ideas are brewing…

Next week I will be installing some work at The Magdalen Project as part of the Scraptors‘ Scraptorzoic Era. This will be the last trail for me as part of the Scraptors group, although I will of course continue individually as a scraptor – working with recycled materials, as ever.

And now it’s nearly Spring, people traditionally turn their attention to gardening and perhaps a sculpture or two…

Press 2012

Wincanton Window – Casespace – Solo Exhibition at Bruton Museum, Feb ’12

Western Gazette – Casespace, Bruton museum, Feb ’12

Somerset Guardian – Precious and Primal, Feb ’12

Wells Journal – Casespace Exhibition, Feb ’12

Country Life – Precious and Primal, Feb ’12

Somerset Life – Scraptors, crowd-funding for Magdalen Project, Feb ’12

Western Daily Press – Scraptorzoic Era planned for Magdalen Project ’12

Western Morning news – Scraptors’ plans for Magdalen Project ’12

Create Centre – Green Capital Artist in Residence 2012

Big Green Week Workshop – Arnolfini

North Somerset Arts – Big Green Week involvement

SculptSite.com – Big Green Week involvement, April ’12

SculptSite.com – Floating Diatoms and forthcoming Shows, June ’12

Ecojam – Big Green Week and Family Mash Up workshop

This is Somerset – Highly Commended for Green Capital Residency work

Arnolfini Arts Pinterest – Featured Artists

Sculpture & Installations Pinterest – Featured Artists

Sir Harold Hillier’s Art in the Garden ’12 – Spider featured

Garden Art & Whimsy Pinterest

Swans of Wells – Swan Artists

All Hallows Prep School – Candela

This is Somerset – Candela Swan for Swans of Wells 2012

Metro UK Press site photo – Candela at Bishops Palace, SwansofWells auction preview, Sept ’12

Bishops Palace Facebook – Swansong Auction Preview weekend

All Hallows Prep School Chronicle 2012 article – Candela Swan

All Hallows Prep School Chronicle 2012 article – Extra Curricular Art

Culture and Anarchy blog – The Bishops Palace Summer Exhibition, ’12

Musiety article – Fiona Campbell sculptures, Nov ’12

This is Somerset – Sculptures make big impact… Nov ’12

Dragonfly sculpture workshops, Westfield Academy

Diatoms

I’ve been a bit obsessed with Diatoms of late.  Sucked into their microcosmic world, it’s become a running theme – versions of diatoms floating and not floating – made of recycled steel, wire, plastic, twine, bottle tops and other found materials.  I was thinking about an interesting form for a prototype I wanted to make for a Scraptors project late last year.  I had also been previously donated some beautiful large pink glass baubles – cast offs by Sonja Klinger (a glass artist I know) and was looking to incorporate these in a set of work.   Something nest-like, primal and related.   I was looking at some Ernst Haeckel illustrations I’ve always loved, together with old sketchbook drawings.  Haeckel’s intricate drawings of strange and fantastical plant forms and microscopic creatures have inspired me in the past in my own work and art teaching projects with children, though I hadn’t fully investigated their scientific content.  The diatom illustrations struck me more than ever before – colourful, ephemeral, sculptural, primal and reminiscent of so many simple life forms and my growing collection of scrap bicycle wheels, tyres and bottle tops etc – a perfect union.  After researching the topic, I was hooked – endless possibilities of woven, kaleidoscopic forms.  Diatoms live up to their name, with diametrically opposed characteristics and dichotomies that are fascinating.  They have inspired others, but still more have never heard of them.

Diatoms are microscopic organisms living in aquatic environments, now sadly becoming endangered, yet essential to our survival as they provide over 35% of our oxygen.  Beautiful, primal structures hailing back to the Jurassic era, if not earlier, they are symbols of nature’s cyclical persistence, though threatened by man’s intervention.  Just yellowish algae to the human eye, close up they are living glass sculptures, coated in iridescent silicate shells, similar to glass.   Shaped mainly as circular, ribbons, zig zags or stellates, their shells display the most incredible range of raised frustules and cavities.  They are single celled, yet multiply by splitting in two.  Because their shells are heavy, there’s a risk of sinking, yet they need to be on the surface to photosynthesise, so they blow themselves up like helium balloons, to counteract this and to float.  Some can move via flagellation.  They provide food directly or indirectly to numerous animals.  When they die, their shells float to the bottom and become diatomaceous earth – forming a major part of the earth’s limestone, and used by us as diatomite (and here’s another twist – this is used as insecticide and a component of dynamite).  We use diatoms to monitor environmental conditions…

I offered a diatom-based design, amongst other drawings/ideas of cocoons, nests and eggs, to our Scraptors group as one of a set of prints to try to raise funds for a planned ‘Scraptorzoic Era’ eco sculpture installation at The Magdalen Project.  This led to more diatom drawings and sculpture designs incorporating the pink glass baubles.  The first floating diatom prototype sculpture I made (using recycled materials) had a tractor inner tyre tube as its basis for floating.  However, the Magdalen Project felt it wasn’t appropriate as it contained friable plastic  – not condusive to their eco farm – and the tyre would need maintenance in future years.  Having taken several days to make it and with the agreement of Rachel Macleay (fellow Scraptor who’d added some wire & plastic tentacles as a collaborative piece) and her partner Paul (Scraptor) I put it forward for Bristol’s Big Green Week, rather than let it lie listless and wasted in my garden, together with newer alternative designs utilising recycled materials.  Accepted as a Capital Green Week Artist, I was kindly offered several orange life rings by Bristol’s Harbour Master and ended up making 8 more floating Diatoms and 1 non-floating (with glass bauble) for part of my exhibition, amongst other new work.  Initially exhibited on the harbour by the Arnolfini, these Diatoms are now floating in London’s various Canal Festivals this summer as part of the Rubbish Art Project – being moved to each site in turn.  I’ve just made 2 more Diatoms (a little sketchy due to time limitations) to complete a set of 3 non-floating ones – each with a central pink glass bauble for the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail – showing at Teignmouth seafront until September.  I may build on these in the future.  The glass baubles seem appropriate – silica being in intrinsic element of diatoms.  I will hopefully be making others – different and exclusively suitable for the Magdalen Project requirements (with no plastic content) – later this year for the Scraptors’ project.


Meeting deadlines

It’s a tricky thing knowing, in advance, just how much to book up in terms of work and exhibitions.  There are always last minute changes, new opportunities come along and some fall through.  A few projects of mine are now head-to-head and overlapping – I just hope I haven’t booked too much to handle!  The next few weeks/months are pretty packed –  see Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions for details.  In addition to my Green Capital Artist Residency I’ve recently installed work at some wonderful venues including Delamore (Devon) and Showborough (Gloucestershire) and working towards gaining funding for our Scraptorzoic Era at The Magdalen Project, where we (The Scraptors) will be showing samples of what’s to come at their Open Day on 29th April 2-5pm.

Green Capital Residency – Bristol’s Big Green Week

It’s been great focusing on one main piece for the past few weeks.  I’ve tried to avoid distractions (like social media sites/blogging!) to get ahead with a major piece I’m making for Bristol’s Big Green Week.  Selected as one of 8 artists-in-residence – all working in different media around sustainability – I’m now set up with a small but prominent space at the Create Centre, Bristol, and have officially started my 3 month residency as a Green Capital Artist.  I met Bristol’s Harbour Master on Tuesday, who has agreed to my Diatom sculptures (see info below) being floated in the harbour at Bush corner, by the Arnolfini, for Bristols’ Big Green Week in June.  I’m very excited about this!  I have decided to log the progress of the work I’m producing for the Green Week Exhibition (9-17 June) as it develops below.  (See links: Sculptsite article; Bristol BiennialArtists at Create)

‘Man models himself on Earth, Earth on Heaven’ will be approximately 4.5 metres tall.  Created mainly out of recycled steel components and copper wire, the piece relates to my interest in nature’s cyclical persistence and the network of threads weaving through all things.  The sketchy stretching human form, reminiscent of a tree, emerges from its cocoon, reaching upwards.  It represents the vital forces in nature and re-birth of humanity in a new, purer state.  We are all of the earth.  The piece is constructed in 3 separate pieces, which bolt together.   The concept was inspired by a Taoist line, echoed in the title.  Still in the making, here are some images of it so far (the last 3 were taken at Motorcade/Flashparade’s documentation day earlier in the week):

To help formulate my ideas, I made several studies of trees which have a similar sense of the inner cocooned trunk with wispy extensions – here are 2:

‘Diatoms’.    The idea of recycled floating diatoms stemmed from a design and prototype I made for a Scraptors’ project at an eco farm called Magdalen, inspired by Ernst Haeckel’s wonderful illustrations.   ‘Diatom I’ includes some tentacles added by fellow Scraptor Rachel Macleay, but was rejected due to its plastic content – unsuitable for the farm’s strict sustainability guidelines.  The rest are experiments from new designs.  These ideas will be adapted and explored further in new pieces for Magdalen using appropriate materials.  The sculptures will float on orange life buoys in the harbour beside the Arnolfini.  They will be approximately 1 – 1.5 metres in diameter, made of recycled steel, wire, plastic and other found materials.  Diatoms are microcosmic organisms, which are now sadly becoming endangered, yet essential to our survival – producing over 35% of our oxygen supply.  Beautiful, primal structures originating from the Jurassic era, to me they symbolise nature’s cyclical persistence, though threatened by man’s intervention.

Update – 7/6/12

Yesterday was the big day – installing all the work, both in the Create Centre and Arnolfini harbour.  As always, it took longer than imagined.  Floating the Diatoms took some organisation.  The Harbour team (Miles and Arabella) were a great help, but the weather was grim and it was hard to manoevre in the big Mariner boat, so placing the Diatoms was a struggle!  After a cold, wet 4 hours, all 9 are in situ!  As Miles (from Harbour team) said, they look a bit primordial floating there randomly.  Will need to take better photos when the sun’s out and we’ve managed to adjust their positions in a smaller boat – this Saturday, hopefully.  (See latest post: A constructive day at Bristol Harbour)

 

Big Green Week

Various interruptions have prevented me from starting a large piece I’ve been planning for a while.  Campaigning for the Scraptorzoic Era (very time-consuming business) and my son’s half-term (great excuse to relax) being two reasons.  However, I’m now excited, geared up and raring to go as I have been selected as one of the Big Green Week artists.  The project runs from April to June, culminating in an exhibition in Bristol  (9-17th June) as part of Big Green Week.   Having collected enough scrap, recycled and found materials over the past month, I started on the piece pictured below today (hooraayy)!   For further information about Big Green Week, please visit:  www.biggreenweek.com