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.
Our first creative engagement drop in at the Ribble Discovery Centre involved print making in responce to invertebrate life found in the mud of the Ribble Esturary.
From two half buckets of mud we discovered: rag-worms, hydrobia snails, crabs, shrimp and seaweed. Visitors to the centre investigated these creatures and then made block prints inspired by what they had seen and some great artwork prints were created.
My favourite estuary mud fact: One square metre of Ribble Estuary mud holds so many worms, shellfish and shrimps that it is equivalent in calorific value to twenty Mars bars ( and probably tastes similar!) – that’s why it attracts so many birds…
Crab fact of the day learnt from one of the young artists I met: How to tell if your crab is a boy or girl! If you look at the underside of a crab (being careful not to harm it!) a male crab will have a triangle shape at the rear of it’s underside and a female crab will have a broad rounded / elliptical shape – fascinating what you learn on a creative engagement session!
It’s taken a while to get there but we have finally installed the Bromley Farm Totem created with young people from the Bromley Farm Community Centre over a year ago.
The totem consists of three upright cast stone ‘pillars’ inset with letters spelling Bromley Farm and hand casts of all the young people involved. The installation only took a few hours as and worked flawlessly, dropping the elements into the concrete foundation we’d cast the day before, followed by some slight tweaking to vertical with wedges and then cementing the pieces in with concrete.
The artwork looks great in-situ, really suits the location and adds a much needed identity marker for the community centre.
A beautiful, blazing summer evening and we spent a pleasant few hours touring the Fairhaven Lake site and discussing locations and approaches for the One Wing Amongst Many and trail artworks. It was great to discuss the artworks with the RSPB steering group and also chat to the other artists about their pieces; some really interesting work is coming out of this commission and I’m fascinated to see how it all works.
Binn Green Arch – Commissioned by the RSPB to enhance the new pathway to the viewpoint over Dovestone at Binn Green. The arch is carved from Turkey Oak from Cheethams Park in Stalybridge. Part of Cheethams Park.