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 🙂

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…

Abundance Commission

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.

March:

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

April:

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.

My ideas have moved on to something a little more ambitious.  The work will be time-consuming but fun to make!  My thoughts have lingered on Genesis’ Garden of Eden – the most abundant garden where plants, creatures and humans grow and roam freely in complete harmony.  It is the first Utopian concept, explored by many including Plato, Thomas More etc… Utopian ideals encompass world peace, enlightenment, labour, arts and science, fulfillment, harmony between man and nature,  all needs supplied by the abundance of nature.
Esotera means ‘of the earth’.. esoteric means ‘mystical, unusual, rare.’  The garden symbolises a love for the land and relationship with the earth, the owners at Esotera work hard together to create from nothing an idyllic garden (Eden), make a huge contribution to society (Utopian), build things from found materials – including houses of various sorts, the garden is very harmonious with nature, rich in wildlife, creatures everywhere.   Nature has repossessed, like a return to Eden.  ’Eden’ is almost tangible at Esotera…
Next week I’m revisiting the garden to get more of a feel for it, discuss my ideas with Shirley and Andrew, see the garden blooming and arrange practicalities.

May:

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.

June:

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.

July:

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…

August:

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.

September:

A very busy month has finally reaped the fruits of my labour – see Garden of Eden post.   For fuller information about the project, please visit SAW Abundance blog

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.

 See also press page

Press 2009 – 2011

Wildlife Artist of the Year Award ’09

Somerset Life Magazine article 2009:

garden beet – Sculptures for Gardens

Spaeda Magazine feature 2010:

bbc news – Glastonbury Festival’s Greenfields 2010 – Giant Spider

Green Diary – Glastonbury Giant Spider project

winkball.com – First 2 videos show me at work on Spider at Glastonbury

Mendip Times – Glastonbury Spider ’10

Somerset Life – Carymoor Environmental Sculpture Project 2010

Mendip Times – Carymoor Environmental Sculpture Project 2010

bbc news – Somerset Art Weeks 2010

bbc news – Insect sculptures stolen from Dobbies entrance

Spaeda – featured school project

Wincanton Window – Art for Life – Sustainable Sculptures in Historic Venues (2011)

Central Somerset Gazette – Scraptors at Pylle scrapyard (’11):

Wincanton Window – Scrap – The New Alchemy

Warminster Journal:

Period Living article – Salvo Fair 2011

TAAG – Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail 2011

Chronicle front page – Stackpool, Kidderminster – Community Insect Sculpture Project:

This is Somerset – Somerset Art Weeks 2011

Somerset Life Magazine – Art in the Garden, Somerset Art Weeks

Thinly Spread blog – Scraptors Stourhead Sculpture Trail ’11

This is Somerset – Stourhead Sculpture Trail ‘Beyond the Garden Gate’ ’11

Wincanton Window – Stourhead Sculpture Trail ’11

 

Looking back at 2011 and forward to 2012

Looking back at 2011, it’s been a busy, hard-working year and despite the financial slump I’ve survived and been involved in various fresh, exciting creative ventures.  Had some great Exhibitions with other inspiring artists (eg: ‘Mystery and Mutability’ alongside Kitty Hillier, Bridgwater Arts Centre & Gallery4Art’s Binham Grange Summer Art Show, Minehead); founded the ‘Scraptors‘ with Paul Boswell, Rachel Macleay & Anthony Wilson – creating our first Scraptors Sculpture Trail at Stourhead National Trust Gardens, Wiltshire; completed several interesting commissions – some with community participation (eg: Insects at Stackpool Park, Kidderminster); awarded a prize for Nestling Cocoon (Millfield Summer Show, Atkinson Gallery); ran numerous workshops with children and adults (including Larmer Tree Festival); took part in Somerset Art Weeks at Stoberry Park, Wells and now preparing for our next ‘Scraptorzoic Era’ landscape with the Scraptors at the Magdalen Project, Somerset/Dorset – planned for 2012.  

Other projects for the coming year include a Solo Exhibition ‘Case Space’ at Bruton Museum (Feb) and the Summer Exhibition at Bishops Palace Gardens, Wells.  More Exhibitions are in the pipeline – to be confirmed soon.

Below are some images of work created in 2011 (for further details visit www.fionacampbellart.co.uk):

Cloudless Sulphur Detail

 

WISHING YOU A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND ALL THE BEST FOR 2012!

 

Hello Autumn

All my Exhibitions are now over for a while.  I took down two last week and two yesterday – the largest being our Scraptors Sculpture Trail at Stourhead (a mammoth operation, but all went smoothly).  The de-installations distinctly  marked the passing of summer.  I’m very pleased to report several sales – some big (my scrap steel Heron will have a lovely new home shortly with large pond, rushes, chickens, ducks and bees) – and commissions to keep me busy and the household fed ’til winter.  

I managed to visit three Somerset Art Weeks venues in between manning our own at Stoberry Park, and was blown away by a couple of artists’ work.  Rowena Pearce‘s (Shave Farm Studios, Bruton) woodcut prints/paintings/handmade booklets on photosynthesis, worms and ants were beautiful (and conceptually just up my street).  Her husband’s poetry features within her work creating a perfect union.  Hiro Takahashi‘s intricate ceramic sculptures are also fascinating objects – I love the concept of her soul houses as “symbols of refuge”.  My Cocoons are rooted along similar lines.

Our Scraptors group are planning two new Trails in the South West.  We will be raising funds through crowd-financing – a great concept if it works!  We had such fantastic feedback for our Stourhead Trail and it seems to have been well-documented by visitors.  One photographer (Sally aka “moominmama’s handbag” – love the name!) has added lyrics from Joanna Newsom’s Bridges and Balloons song and poetry by Edward Lear to accompany her beautiful images (see below).  As Brian Eno suggested in an interview the other day – we are moving further towards a sharing, collaborative world and the ‘Big Society’ is already happening in forms we don’t even recognise.  There are whole new conversations taking place…

luminosity When awful darkness and silence reign Over the great Gromboolian plain, Through the long, long wintry nights;-- When the angry breakers roar As they beat on the rocky shore;-- When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:-- Then, through the vast and gloomy dark, There moves what seems a fiery spark, A lonely spark with silvery rays Piercing the coal-black night,-- A Meteor strange and bright:-- Hither and thither the vision strays, A single lurid light.

 

“Yesterday I discovered by accident the scraptors trail at Stourhead,
and was bowled over. I saw it in the early evening light and it was
magical and magnificent. Congratulations to all of you for such an
inspiring collection of work, and especially to you for your organic
pieces which I loved. I hope Stourhead will display your work again,
and hope you’ll find other venues for it.”  Rosie Jackson

Sunshine at Stourhead

I went to Stourhead today to meet a large group of All Hallows Yr 8 students who were visiting our Scraptors’ Sculpture Trail.  We (Scraptors) are taking it down from next Tuesday 4th October – a slight extension to the 30th September end date – and it was my last chance to take pictures of our work there.  Everything glowed in the sunshine and Stourhead was staggeringly beautiful.  Suddenly, I felt so much more alive –  I wish Britain had more days like today!  The children explored the Trail with great enthusiasm and our Children’s Quiz sheets seemed to help.  As they were studying metals in Science, learning about sustainability, studying mythology in Latin and some doing Surrealism/metamorphosis with me in extra-curricular Art, the Trail provided plenty of relevant cross-curricular themes.

Stoberry Park and Muchelney Abbey – SAW

Today the sun came out at Stoberry park, Wells, in time for a visit from Wells Cathedral Junior School students – some with whom I’ve run workshops in the past.  It was lovely to see them all engrossed, discovering and drawing our sculptures around the extensive gardens – everything glimmering in the fresh sunlight (see images below).

My current work is divided between 4 events this month, the bulk of which features at Stoberry Park (venue 60 – Somerset Art Weeks – until 2 Oct) and the Scraptors’ Sculpture Trail at Stourhead (ongoing until 30th September).  In addition, I have a piece at Venue 28, Muchelney Abbey, showing alongside wire pieces by primary school students who worked with me on The Great Crane Project (until 2 Oct).  I will also be showing a couple of pieces at the Quartz Festival Art Exhibition, Taunton (29 Sept – 8 Oct).

Now that the hectic phase is almost over, I am starting to wind down and think… what luxury!  Exhibitions and commissions are great, but I’d also like to find time and headspace to explore new ideas and processes over the coming winter months without the pressures of too many deadlines.  Here’s hoping…

Review of our Sculpture Trail at Stourhead

We have had some wonderful feedback for our Sculpture Trail at Stourhead.  Please see the latest article & review by Wincanton Window:  http://www.wincantonwindow.co.uk/scraptors-sculpture-trail-opens-at-stourhead.htm