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’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.
The New Year often brings with it an awakening of new (and old) ideas. Having always been interested in the way life forms so often repeat themselves throughout the macro and micro natural world, I was interested to recently discover the term ‘convergent evolution’. This describes the independent evolution of similar features in different species – structures that have a similar form or function. The ability, over time, of insects, birds, reptiles and some mammals to fly is one example. David Attenborough’s new “Conquest of the Skies” series illustrates this beautifully.
I’m fascinated by certain primal structures, which are echoed everywhere, from tiny microbes to nervous and planetary systems. Lately I’ve been focusing on spheres, branch-like forms and ‘cirri’ (tentacles, tendrils, hairy filaments..). Many natural forms combine all these in varying degrees. Through my recent investigation into quarry environments for step in stone, I have been discovering more about ancient sea life forms that existed over 350 million years ago. Locally, in the Mendips, the most dominant rock is carboniferous limestone, which is full of fossiled skeletons, particularly an abundance of crinoids (sea lilies) and corals (e.g. rugose). Although both marine creatures, they are from completely different families, yet have strong similarities, as do diatoms (marine micro-organisms).
Nature’s tenacity and persistence is reflected in disused quarry sites. Silver Birch seeds blow in and take root almost immediately and in no time at all, vast cavities of scooped out rock are covered with a multitude of life forms. In addition to fundraising, I’ve been doing some drawing and thinking about possible site-specific work to install in these spaces for step in stone later this year (see below). At the moment, I like the idea of making 2 metre tumbleweed-like forms that relate to crinoids and rugose corals. They will entail a great deal of work, but an exciting prospect!
We received well over our crowdfunding target for ‘step in stone‘, have received more funds from a local trust since and now awaiting news from the Arts Council bid – fingers crossed!
Happy New Year!
‘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
I had a go at SpoonFed 5 on Sunday evening. Run by The Collect and held at Spike Island, Bristol, it’s a fantastic micro funding event, developed for practitioners and audiences as a platform for sharing ideas. At £5 entry per person, a pot of money is collected for the winner. After a delicious borsch soup, organic bread and pastries, a few of us shared our projects. With only 3 minutes each to deliver our ideas, time is of the essence. My proposal was for a sculptural installation ‘Love, Loss and Renewal’, which I’m hoping I can turn into reality next year.
The presentation was a challenge in itself. I made a maquette as a visual aid and some small prototypes for people to handle whilst I explained the concept and how the funding would help. The other artists’ ideas were great and it’s a shame we couldn’t all win! The pot of cash went to The Parlour Showrooms for their Light Box series, a Bristol-based scheme, which I liked very much.
I plan to develop my idea further and am looking into various options as venues, mainly in the South West. Meanwhile, I have plenty of other projects coming up in the New Year, so must get making!
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
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