Viking Cruises Mekong Garden – RHS Chelsea Flower Show

My canopy at Chelsea. Photo by Sandie Roche

Just back from a stint at Chelsea Flower Show celebrating the success of the Viking Cruises Mekong Garden‘s gold and best artisan garden awards, Nick Weaver and I were overawed by the massive interest in our focal pieces for the garden, which appeared to have the wow factor.

A seemingly endless stream of visitors in their 1000s admired and appreciated the garden, designed by multi-gold award-winner Sarah Eberle.  People expressed how much they would love to lounge on Nick’s boat and chill, with the water gently lapping around them and visitors were charmed by the ‘ethereal beauty’ and colours of my canopy, many intrigued by its makeup.  Sarah Eberle described it in her BBC TV interview this week with Joe Swift as her best bit of the garden: “I love the canopy.. like a celestial beam.. wonderfully charming”!

Me working on the final stages of the canopyMe working on final corner of canopyCanopy finishedCanopy loaded on truckCanopy unveiling at Chelsea - checking fish skeletons are still in tact!Transporting canopy to siteNick and Fiona installing sticks at ChelseaInstalling canopy at Chelsea, May 15Fiona and Nick installing canopy at ChelseaFiona installing canopy at ChelseaViking Cruises Mekong Garden completeOur focal piecesCanopy rising above hoards of visitorsEndless stream of peopleGold and Best Artisan Garden Awards proudly displayedKate Adie giving an interview by our gardenOur garden - image supplied by Guardian GardensWire baskets I made for the showCanopy detailNaga (snake deities) carved by Nick WeaverJMP_VIKING_CHELSEA_15Me and Nick Weaver on the garden stepsMe, Nick Weaver and Sarah Eberle lounging on the boat

I was commissioned by Sarah Eberle to create the canopy for her Artisan Mekong Garden, inspired by Cambodia’s floating gardens, traditional fishing nets and silk weaving in the Mekong River region, following Sarah’s journey on board sponsor Viking Cruises Magnificent Mekong.  Nick made a lounger styled on a traditional fishing boat.

The 7 x 5m garden is entirely water with a small deck leading to the boat/lounger and cantilevered canopy suspended above. The beds follow the style of the region and contain an eclectic mixture of fruit, flowers and vegetables. Harvested hazel, other reclaimed woods and a plethora of woven wire, silk and found materials have all be used to harmonise with the planting.

I was approached by Sarah after seeing my installation piece “Lichen” at the Maureen Michaelson Gallery stand at GROW London last year.  The 4 metre textured fishing net/canopy I made by hand incorporates incredibly fine woven copper wires, fruit netting bags, twine, silk, wool and other surprising found and reclaimed materials like fish skeletons!  I also made 3 wire baskets used as props. It was a great pleasure and honour working with Sarah for Chelsea Flower Show and amazing to have achieved such highly acclaimed awards. The team involved many others, including Nigel Evans (paint effects on boat) and Angela Morley (supplied trombone squash), and we are grateful to all who have supported us, given materials and helped!

After over 4 months of hard work, I am a little exhausted but elated!

To see more photos of the Chelsea Flower Show work in progress visit my Art Facebook Page

Next show – The Hidden Garden Art Show, at Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead, London; 4 – 12 June.  I will be showing a range of my work, alongside other selected artists (see poster below).  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.  Do come along!

www.maureenmichaelson.com or www.chelseafringe.com

MMG Hidden Garden Art Show

 

Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions 2016

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

Somerset Open Studios 2016, Laundry Cottage, 13 Cooks Lane, West Cranmore, Somerset BA4 4RH; 17 Sept–2 Oct.  Showing with Nick Weaver.  I will be running a Taster Wire Workshop, Sun 25 Sept, 11.30-12.30.  £6 pp. To book contact: fionacampbell-art@sky.com
Quartz Festival 2016, ‘Outside In’, Queens College, Trull Road, Taunton TA1 4QS; 15-22 Dec.  Collection of work based on the natural world from over 40 artists and makers from South West UK

Launch of ‘step in stone’

Time for reflection has been very thin over the past few months.  It has been the busiest ever period of my working life (possibly not to be repeated)!Installing work at GROW London for Maureen Michaelson’s Gallery stand in June proved successful, with some great feedback and an offer of a Chelsea Flower Show commission next year.  Happily, I sold a couple of Nest and Cocoon pieces at The Hidden Garden Art Show (also with Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead – part of Chelsea Fringe).

A full load for GROW London GROW London

I ran a couple of 2-day workshops at Kings Hall School and Farmors School, resulting in a great dragon and large insects with Yr 7 students.  A fortnight ago I set up my Giant Nest in Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome.  This will remain on show there for a couple of months.
Dragon in the making at Kings hall School, Taunton
However, most of my time continues to be absorbed by my project step in stone‘.  Co-ordinating, curating and making are quite a challenging combination, but so far things are going well and last week was the big opening of ‘Step 1’, after months preparing and publicising with stands, presentations, interviews, leaflets and other forms of PR.  Installing artwork, arranging signage, running a school workshop, leading a guided walk, making a sculpture in a day, holding a press launch and organising the official opening at Somerset Earth Science Centre has been a whirlwind of activity! Thanks to the massive support of Nick Weaver and other members of the team, I’ve survived.4 of us spent 2 days setting up artwork inside and around the grounds of SESC.  My artwork for the project includes both new work inspired by features of the quarries (for Steps 2 & 3) and pre-existing work (for Step 1) that reflect how the quarries resonate with my interest in life forms.  The installation of my floating pieces involved adventures in a boat.   2 helpers were enlisted from Moons Hill quarry to assist with this.  Slightly perturbed by the strangeness of it all to start with, they were soon singing rowing songs – delighted by the novelty once they’d relaxed into their new roles and we floated the first ‘Diatom’ in the water.   My other installations meant climbing up tall ladders, and wrapping ‘Lichen’ round a tree with helper Nigel.  Duncan Elliott dragged his heavy stone pieces up the road on a trolley, and built huge scaffolding frames to hoist up his ‘Age of Stone’ – a back-aching job, but worth the effort – it is magnificent!  I met Tessa Farmer from the train laden with her intriguing boxes of insects, miniature evil fairies, worm casts and bell jar – the intricate work taking her hours to install – and Christina White set up her beautiful multi-exposure photographs in the Centre against limestone walls.

Some of this process was documented by Duncan Simey (see ‘wild-landscapes’ photos below) and filmmaker Jack Offord, for our final documentary film.

Installing DiatomsOne of my Diatoms, floating at SESC Installing Lichen with Nigel Help from Moons Hill Quarry worker Lichen being installed Duncan Elliott's 'Sleeping Beauty' - detail 3 men in a boat One of my Diatoms Lichen - detail Tessa Farmer installing her work Christina White installing her work Me up a tree Tessa Farmer's 'Out of the Earth'
‘step in stone’ opened on Wednesday 8th July, and we’ve already had a wide range of visitors of all ages engaging with our work, including 2 school groups through Somerset Art Works’ inspirED programme and some guided walkers through our collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust.  My half day workshop was with Yr 7 pupil premium students from Selwood School.  In small groups they created wire pieces based on silver birch seeds.  Suzie Gutteridge’s workshop the next day resulted in felted balls using locally sourced wool.  Both sets of work will be exhibited as part of the Trail at Halecombe Quarry from Step 2 (15th Aug) onwards.
Guided Walk in collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust Participant doing rubbings Guided Walk
Our first week culminated on Saturday with us making Charlotte McKeown’s sculpture with her in just one day.  This was her award for winning the ‘Under 20’s Sculpture Design Competition’.  A bit like scrapheap challenge, our small, dedicated team worked hard to create the Kinetic Structure in a day.  Despite having prepared materials and got some parts together in advance, it was still a little daunting.  Our team included Charlotte, Lucja Korczak, who won the under 13 year-old design competition prize, Duncan Cameron (step in stone artist and Strode College tutor to Charlotte), Nick Weaver (step in stone Partner) and me.  Perhaps the best thing about the day was how everyone worked together so well to make it happen and with such aplomb!    A slight rush to finish before the arrival of press and guests for our official opening at 5pm, the sculpture was installed near the Centre entrance.  Sarah Jackson from Mendip Hills AONB kindly did the honours to ‘open’ the event, and we all celebrated the start of an exciting few months ahead!
Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Creating a sculpture in a day Official Opening Trying out the Kinetic Structure Press Launch and Official Opening
Do please come and visit Somerset Earth Science Centre (SESC)  – open to public Weds 9am-4pm & special events.  Artists exhibiting at SESC for Step 1 are: Duncan Elliott, Tessa Farmer, Christina White, Charlotte McKeown (young sculpture design competition winner) and me.  Step 2 follows on 15th August.

Summer Exhibitions

My blog writing has suffered in the past few months as demands on my life expand.  It can be said of many of us, life seems to be getting busier.  Trying to take time out to simply enjoy can be a challenge!  The past month has certainly been a massive effort for me to manage, but I seem to have done it fairly unscathed.  Planning and running workshops at different schools, drawing and making large sculptures for new exhibitions, transporting and setting them up, endless admin and meetings for new roles and plans (to be divulged soon) and of course personal life, son, garden, home blah blah…!  So, here’s a snapshot of what’s happening in terms of exhibitions and projects I’m involved in this summer.

I’ve been working towards several summer shows at seaside venues and in some lovely gardens in London, the South West and Guernsey.

Starting next week is my solo exhibition entitled ‘Found, Now Missing’ at Contains Art, Somerset, as part of their ‘Voyages’ programme.  My largest piece (image above) will be sited on the roof of a shipping container/gallery overlooking Watchet marina and Bristol Channel.  It will be seen from the West Somerset steam railway line above, too.  See the Private View invite below for further details – please come along if you can.

On 7th June, I’ll be running a drawing workshop tied in with the exhibition.  Do drop in!

From July to September I will be showing work in Glastonbury Abbey’s grounds for their Abbey Orchard Sculpture Trail and participating in the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail ‘14.  (See current and forthcoming exhibitions for dates.)

My work is currently featured in The Hidden Garden Art Show as part of Chelsea Fringe and the National Garden Scheme until 8th June and at Art Parks International Sculpture Festival, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG until October.  I also have 3 pieces on show until July for Sidcot Arts Centre’s Outdoor Artist Programme.

Various workshops in schools include recently making crane sculptures with All Hallows students linked with the Great Crane Project – soon to be filmed by Whitespace Productions in the making.  We made a 2 metre high Tree at Watchfield Primary and this month I’ll be constructing a large nest for children’s litterbugs to live in as part of a Litterarti project, which will feature in Bristol’s forthcoming Big Green Week.

On 12th July, I will be discussing my SAW/NGS Abundance work at the ‘Make, Create, Cultivate Symposium’ – a weekend celebration of some recent innovative creative projects in Somerset.

Then I’m off to Florence for a short break, which I’m sure to enjoy!

I hope you can visit some of these events and wishing you a happy, hot summer ahead!