Natural:History (a fable of progress) is my new exhibition and runs from 10th March to 2 June 2018 at Gallery Oldham. The exhibition comprises a series of works created by myself and Jacqui Symons exploring the era of the Anthropocene*, questioning humankind’s impact on, and changing relationship with, the Natural World from the 19th Century to the present day.
Currently Climate Change caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) presents an extreme threat to life on our planet and this combined with loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction and pollution are issues explored in this work. My work in response to these issues includes a new kinetic sculpture Pointless Device #27 There Is No Away a plastic non-recycling machine, installation piece All The Names, a Cenotaph to the non-human and an Extinction Sensor that prints out extinctions as they occur in real time.
Counter to this negative global situation there are pieces that invite visitors to explore the miraculous detail and beauty of our environment, especially the nearby and everyday, and what we stand to lose. These including In Passing Unnoticed, a Lilliputian moss and lichen garden and Dead Moth Told Me, a study of crypsis, mellanism and the famous biston betularia moth.
Hopefully the show will be interesting,entertaining and thought provoking (providing the current weather conditions*** allow us to install it in good time).
*Anthropocene** – relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
**For this exhibition the year 1801 represents the start of the Anthropocene. 1801 was the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution, the start point of modern scientific investigation into Evolution and theorising on Natural Selection. It is also the birth year of Percival Farrington.
*** see Climate Change caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Commissioned by counterpArt Lytham as part of Lytham Festival 2016.
Created in collaboration with artist and printmaker Jacqui Symons and reflecting their shared interest in entomology and concern regarding the decline in insect species worldwide. The instinct chair celebrates the diverse beauty of these creatures and encourages the viewer to see these ecologically vital creatures in a new way.
By re-imagining insects as a chair the piece explores the structural beauty of the insect form and their unimaginable variety of shapes, inviting the audience to encounter these creatures in a new way.
The piece plays also against instinctual reactions to creepy crawlies (of disgust or unease perhaps mixed with fascination) and touches on the uncanny through use of scale and the re-purposing of the familiar everyday object of a chair in combination with the unfamiliar yet also everyday life-form the insect.
We hope the audience will look closely at the printed fabric, which shows 100 species in detail and perhaps take a seat amongst them.
The chair is being exhibitied at Lytham Heritage Centre until August 14th 2016.
Please note: None of the insects included pose a threat to the viewer and no insects were harmed in the making of this piece.
The artists are currently working on a series of ‘altered chairs’ and pieces can be purchased and commissioned from them.
As yet untitled (Throwing Away Information) is a piece of entropic art which started as a blank MDF board used as a work bench in my studio. (A blank table top state with zero information and unlimited potential?). Through use over a number of years and for various tasks it was rendered useless as a bench top, covered with a build up of marks, stains, scars; the echoes of the work produced. It had been a vital part of the process of creation but had to be renewed.
When removed and stood vertically outside the studio it became apparent that the board had a striking aesthetic and that it’s surface had been transformed to a state of high entropy (if entropy equals information?). It can be read as an abstracted history of the work produced – I can identify pieces of work made on the bench from clues within the strata of marks.
The piece’s aesthetic and visual interest has lead me to keep it and present it as an objet trouve. Not created as a definite piece of art but one that evolved and now exists through the resonances provoked by it’s surface…
The piece is also a new departure in that it works as both a purely aesthetic and as a political artwork.
I’m currently revisiting Mill, Memory, Lapse – a piece of work I created (unbelievably) five years ago. This personal archeology has been led by composer Peter Mcgarr who has created a new soundtrack for the piece. He actually started creation of around six pieces inspired by the film (including a work that became the award winning Dry Stone Walls of Yorkshire) but this is the first version he has felt happy to share as truly part of MML. His new work is very, very good, totally different from my own mental/imagined soundtrack and a world away from the sound-scape I created to accompany the work when originally exhibited.
Talking to Peter about his creative process and complications in making ‘music for images’ has resonated with my own feelings during creation of moving image for compositions by the Sterling Trio. He has rekindled my interest in creating further moving image and sound works.
I’m also finding it fascinating to revisit MML after this long and especially through the audio lens of Peter’s work. I’m surprised by how much I still appreciate the piece, despite flaws that are now very obvious to me (although I can’t recall if they were obvious when it was being created). I’m tempted to revisited and re-edit and am definitely inspired to create further moving image work using a similar approach. Thank you to Peter for your belief in Mill / Memory / Lapse / and your creativity in producing the soundtrack – I look forward to hearing the orchestral version performed live soon.
For The Mossley Park Art Project I’ve been asked to create a piece of permanent public art for Mossley Park in collaboration with local school children. The artwork’s sculptural elements will be created from natural materials with detail and decorative elements created from work produced by the young participants during the creative sessions.
The start point for the artwork is ‘the tree as habitat’ and aims to reflect the importance of the trees in Mossley Park as part of a habitat shared by a multitude of flora and fauna.
For the creative sessions I spent three days working with years 3, 4, 5 and 6 from Micklehurst All Saints Primary School.
We spent the morning exploring the wooded area of Mossley Park and sketching forms, shapes and patterns to inspire the sculptural elements of the artwork and undertook a ‘bughunt’ and habitat investigation with Lesley Bardsley from TMBC. Thank you to the Friends of Mossley Park for the loan of a key to access the wooded area of the park!
The afternoon was spent back at school creating block prints inspired by our investigations and visit to Mossley Park, these prints will be translated into decorative and informational elements of the final artwork. A big thank you to the all the staff from Micklehurst All Saints School for letting me take over their classrooms each day and getting involved and helping make the sessions a big success.
We all had a great time and were lucky it only rained on one day!
For Santa’s Reindeer Parade in Oldham this year I collaborated with Jacqui Symons to create a rather large Partridge In A Pear Tree or rather SPIN a pear tree in this case.
The carriage consisted of a 2.5m diameter 3m high spherical Pear Tree in welded steel (a treeogesic dome?) decorated with cutout leaves and pears and a graphic style Partridge that was spun by the action of a pedal bike on the front of the carriage. The carriage was ably performed in the parade by Dylan and T-Jay from Dove Stone Youth Rangers and rising BMX star Louis Robinson and the parade was a great success despite the damp weather (and yes there is an Alan hidden in there somewhere!).
I’m currently creating two parade carriages for the Oldham Santa’s Reindeer Parade that is taking place on Saturday 8th November.
In collaboration with Jacqui Symons we’re creating the lead carriage representing a Partridge in a Pear tree which consists of a treeogesic steel Pear Tree with a graphic style Partridge spinning in it’s centre and the Four Calling Birds which is based on the abirdabode project Big Art Birdbox.
The deadline for getting them finished is tight and the Pear Tree has been a real challenge structurally but I’m hoping they’ll look good and the parade will be a success.
The Parade starts at Clegg Street at about 12:45 and continues around Oldham Town Centre to finsh at the Spindles Shopping Centre at about 2pm and is free to all,
Friday 12th September saw the opening of mine and Martin Walsh’s exhibition at Stockport Art Gallery. The install for the show had been a busy two days of moving artwork around, changing layout and trying to get lighting to work to suit the pieces – neither too dark nor too light. Luckily the preview deadline made us stop tweaking and walk away with the acceptance that the show was ‘finished’ otherwise there is every chance we’d still be moving and changing things now!
The preview evening was really pleasant; our select guests looked around the exhibition and seemed to respond to the work in the way it was intended and it was great to see their reactions, discuss the work and have a catch up with old friends. Thank you to everyone who attended – it was great to see you all.
The exhibition is up until 28th Oct so if you didn’t make it to the preview please pop along and have a look – any comments much appreciated.
I’ve got an upcoming exhibition, entitled the Secret Language of Shadows, with fellow artist (and artistic fellow) from Woodend Mill; Martin Walsh.
Not sure exactly what will be in the show as Martin and I are firing ideas and works backwards and forwards and creating pieces in response to each others work. It will feature painting+sculpture+other, (and maybe sound and movement). I’ve got a few pieces in progress in the studio…