step in stone is a project I’m organising, which will form a collaborative holistic, multi-stranded Art Trail around 2-4 disused/working quarries in the East Mendips to illuminate these hidden landscapes and explore Somerset’s heritage and beauty. Steeped in history and controversy, many repossessed by wildlife, the quarries will provide a fresh, dramatic environment in which to show distinctive art. So far, confirmed quarries are Westdown, Halecombe and Fairy Cave, with another possible.
Drawn from a range of disciplines, 15 invited/selected local and international artists: Artmusic, Cath Bloomfield, Bronwyn Bradshaw, Duncan Cameron, Duncan Elliott, Tessa Farmer, Stuart Frost, Suzie Gutteridge, Ralph Hoyte, Sally Kidall, Caroline Sharp, Amanda Wallwork, Christina White and I will create challenging, contemporary artworks for a curated trail in response to the subject. The project offers important new opportunities and development of practice for the artists, introducing a curatorial role for me and focusing on public engagement. In collaboration with Somerset Earth Science Centre, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset Art Works and Black Swan Arts Centre there will be dedicatedworkshops, exhibitions, tours and talks to involve a wide audience.
Planned to run from July – October ’15, with the finale tying in with Somerset Art Works Festival and a related exhibition at Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome (3-18 October) the event will also hold an accompanying exhibition at Somerset Earth Science Centre, to include Christina’s impressive quarry photographs. Workshops during one week in July ’15 at Somerset Earth Science Centre will link with SAW’s InspirED offers with schools, as well as the wider community.
The aim is to involve school children, families, walkers, art and culture enthusiasts, nature lovers, research students and tourists wishing to explore the countryside, seeking a different experience. A catalogue and film would document the event, creating a lasting legacy.
The next big step is to apply for funding. The success of the project is reliant on this, together with local support. So, I’m avidly applying for financial backing and seeking sponsorship, (which would result in the organisation’s logo being attached to all publicity/marketing material, together with mutual benefits). A crowdfunding bid will soon go live on IdeasTap. Watch this space and do please let me know if you feel you can support this project in any way.
A new exhibition starts this Saturday entitled ‘Of Form and Texture’ at Sidcot Arts Centre, in which some of my work will be on show as part of a selected group. Diane Burnell, Sara Parsons, Debbie Lamb and Laura Howarth are also taking part. My Lichen piece took nearly 2 days to install (thanks to the help of friend Nigel Evans), but is now up and ready for the Launch event on Saturday. This piece, made from recycled materials, was originally created with more components as part of the Abundance commission last year – an Art/Garden Trail organised by Somerset Art Works and the National Garden Scheme.
3 of my sculptures have been on show outside the entrance of Sidcot Arts Centre since February, the first set of work for their new Outdoor Sculpture Programme. Below are details of the exhibition – do try to come along!
This year has been one of contrasts for me, including plenty of achievements, interesting new directions and records set. With over 20 exhibitions, it’s been a busy one. I plan to focus on fewer but bigger shows next year.
One of my more challenging projects was the SAW/NGS Abundance commission work, which engrossed me for months. For my ‘Garden of Eden’ I created 3 new works including my largest to date – ‘Lichen’. Although the site-specific installations were only on exhibition to the public at Esotera for a fortnight, I moved some of the work on to my next show at Walcot Chapel Gallery, Bath for further airing. A blog and catalogue about our Abundance work has been published to ensure some legacy for the project.
My involvement with Somerset Art Works has developed into a new role as Rep for East Mendip, which is leading to interesting new work relationships and projects with other artists. Somerset has a lively creative community with some amazing talent and innovation going on.
A few other commissions, numerous workshops and teaching have also kept me hard at work. I made a piece for an indoor architect-designed space, which was novel for me. I was surprised at how comfortable my work sits in a more urban, glass-panelled interior setting.
Amongst other sales I sold my longstanding steel ‘Man’ piece this year. He has been with me to many events, homes and shows over the years and nearly sold several times. He now resides in a lovely NGS garden with a diversity of wildlife to keep him company. Coincidentally, the real thing came along in my life around the same time.
Over the Christmas period I have a piece in one of Frome’s Loop de Loop spaces, by the Black Swan Art Centre, which you may like to visit. They have an unusual history…
I’m looking forward to seeing family in Kenya for Christmas, where it will be deliciously hot! Sketchbooks will be fully utilised.
Thanks for your interest and BEST WISHES FOR A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Still hard at work on my SAW Abundance commission, in between completing a couple of other private commissions. I was recently asked to take on the role of Somerset Art Works rep for Mendip area, which I have accepted. This will start in October, and I’m looking forward to getting more involved with a great organisation and team.
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.
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!
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…
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…
This year’s Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios event was an interesting one. Naturally, the recession has hit peoples’ pockets a plenty, so visitor attendance and sales were clearly down on previous years, in my experience. However, although a bit remote from the main hub of venues, I was pleased that my venue at no. 10 attracted some lovely, appreciative people and a whole range of positive feedback – all of which help make it worthwhile. I do feel that we artists will need to work even harder to gain public recognition and earn a crust in times ahead… A blog by Nancy Farmer articulates many thoughts from this year’s SAW artists. Somerset Art Works is a great organisation for artists in Somerset and let’s hope it continues to move from strength to strength despite the arts cuts.
Sometimes it’s hard to verbalise what my work is about – often working in an instinctive way – so it’s helpful receiving other people’s responses. Here are some of my visitors’ comments from SAW ’12, to end the 2 weeks and 3 weekends on a positive note (and to entice you to come and view my work in forthcoming exhibitions):
“Beautifully close to nature…delicate and strong at the same time” “..fascinating and clever” “absolutely intriguing” “inspirational” “your sculptures work very well in the garden” “we love your stuff – you have a wonderful eye for the incredible” “wonderful texture and form” “individual” “unique” “amazing work” “inventive use of materials” “jack of all trades – master of all!” “so versatile” “ethereal” “I very much admire your work” “so organic” “I love your work – it’s so intricate, clever and witty” 🙂