After doing a number of residencies over the past few years and having recently bought a caravan, it seemed like the time was right to curate my own residencies i.e. to spend time in an area of my choosing at a time that suited me; to immerse myself in this location and to think about making new work. My first trip in October 2018 took me to the village of Llanvetherine, 10 miles from Abergavenny on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.
To focus on my artwork for a week, to explore, to walk, to photograph, to film
To re-energise my creativity
To be in and re-connect with Wales. Llanvetherine is about 20 miles from Ystrad Mynach where I come from and the same distance from Newport where my family lived in the late 1960’s.
Borders – I was keen to explore the border between Wales and England and photograph any visual evidence of there being such a divide. This was as much about me as the actual landscape, having come from Wales but spending most of my life in England. I did walk some of Offa’s Dyke and the Three Castles (White, Grosmont and Skenfrith) built by the Normans soon after the invasion of 1066. I discovered the border ran along parts of the River Monnow and photographed both sides.
As ever it is the location where I stay and explore daily where I ultimately find inspiration. My time in Llanvetherine was no different. In this case it was an orchard in the grounds where I was staying. The Orchard needed some care and attention, but seemed to perfectly reflect the time of year, the Autumn light and colours of the apples and trees combining to hint at the perfect summer now faded and gone. I spent time in the space reflecting, and felt like injecting some my energy, so decided to play. Here’s the result:
The Mothership residency is based on an organic farm in Dorset. It provides the opportunity for contemporary artists working in any media seeking a secluded retreat and potential collaboration. The residency explores the themes of climate/weather, rural/social/political issues, land/agriculture, and is run by artist Anna Best Mothership web.
My ideas leading up to my Mothership residency were based around Daylight Saving Time and the ‘loss’ of an hour on October 30th. I had some pretty firm ideas of what I wanted to do. I was interested in what happened during this lost hour, and thinking about work that was time based rather than site-specific.
Once at the Mothership my ideas evolved as I decided to follow a more relaxed approach, an approach that allowed an element of play. Although still immersed in the concept of time I decided to follow my instincts rather than a pre-determined path. Consequently the work evolved to become much more site-specific.
In the end the three pieces of work I started and continued to make months afterwards are pretty dark, heavily centered on Autumn exploring the feeling of losing the light and maybe life itself.
Almost the first thing that happened when I arrived at the Mothership was finding a dead pheasant that Curly the dog had just killed. This was quite a shock and injected a dose of reality into an early conversation with my host Anna. This episode pushed my thoughts from autumn and darkness towards death! I collected some feathers and with a found object made a dream-catcher like pendulum that is the focus of the film loop.
Fall, leaves, Fall (Intervention)
The Mothership is surrounded by Woodland. These generate large amounts of timber; found stacked at various points around Copse Barn. The process of woodland management has interested me for many years, specifically since a 2011 residency ‘Rural Idyll’ in Suffolk. A particular aspect is the marking of trees for felling and the use of fluorescent spot marking spray. Numbers and lines are often found, but never letters and certainly not words. ‘Fall, leaves, fall’ aims to correct this by marking a timber stack with the first three lines of the poem Fall, leaves, fall by Emily Brontë
Fall, leaves, fall; die flowers away
Lengthen night and shorten day
Every leaf speaks bliss to me.
I transcribed the first three lines of the poem onto a stack of timber next to the Mothership allotment. The marking spray is not the easiest to use, and even though some of the letters are difficult to read I decided to just go with it and enjoy the process.
Forest Floor(Moving image)
I brought some solar powered garden lights with me to the Mothership, thinking I might make a piece of work with them. I was interested in way solar uses energy from the previous daylight hours to illuminate the darkness today. The rope swings hanging from the giant oak tree opposite the studio grabbed my attention. Their pendulum like motion akin to workings of a grandfather clock.
Although the use of solar lighting proved impractical I persevered with using a combination of torches and the rhythm’s rope swings created to illuminate the woodland floor. My work has always between as much about what you can’t see as much as you what you can see. Forest Floor plays with this idea, by revealing and then hiding the vegetation of the woodland floor, forcing your mind fill in the gaps.
Mothership residency Oct/Nov 2016
utopia:dystopia is an ambitious series of exhibitions and events curated by Geoff Dunlop and Sophie Erin for Fringe Arts Bath during 2016. This creative initiative is inspired by the 500th anniversary of the publication of Utopia, Thomas More’s reflections on the idea of an ideal society. Since 1516, the year of Utopia’s release, the world has witnessed countless attempts to establish a perfectly ordered community, in reality as well as in print. Yet the frequent outcome of such ambitions has been the decay of Utopia into Dystopia. From no-place to bad-place. In modern times the two concepts seem inseparable.
I will be showing pieces from a new body of work ‘Cofio | Remember’. The work pays homage to the rallying cry of Welsh nationalism ‘Cofio Tryweryn’. This remembers the flooding of Twyweryn valley in 1965 to create a reservoir to provide water for the city of Liverpool.
Walking under electricity pylons in the Severn Estuary during a very foggy Autumn day, at times you could see no more than twenty metres in front of you. You could however hear the buzz of electricity. ‘Cofio | Remember’ re-imagines the purpose of the pylons, in that they are not in fact carrying electricity but instead transporting light, i.e. away from the area to somewhere else. It imagines a dystopian future when a communities light is taken from one area to provide light for another. With water becoming the new oil, whose to say light might not become the new water?
28 May until 12 June (10am – 6pm)
Walcot Gate, off Walcot Street
Bath BA1 5UG
I’m very happy to been showing a short film as part of the Of the Sea exhibition at the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent. The show contains lens based media, sculpture and performance art responding to the ‘freedom of the seas’ principle, which covers powerful topics such as conflict, ecology, territory, migration, piracy, border disputes and the ebb and flow of oceans.
My film ‘The Crossing’ is taken from a body of work made during a residency on Cape Cornwall in March 2013. The residency explored the relationship between the land, sea and sky, specifically the transitions between those elements. In ‘The Crossing’ the sea, horizon and sky have merged into one powerful mass.
The boat is almost lost, but not quite. Seemingly against the odds it makes headway. Quietly and steadily it traverses our field of vision, then starts all over again, it never tires. The film is about human endeavour; to battle with and harness the power of the sea. It slows the viewer down to the pace that the sea demands and requires he/she to see rather than look.
Of the Sea
5th May 5-9pm (Private view)
6 May until 24 July (daily)
The Historic Dockyard
Kent ME4 4TE
Artists Aksel Haagensen, Anoushka Haviden, Bruce Asbestos , Chris Alton , Daniela Zahlner, David Morgan-Davies, Fiona Townend, George Eksts , Greta Hauer, Guo – Liang Tan , Helen Barff , Jane Pitt , Jessica Ackerman , Kathleen Herbert , Louise Long, Lucy Andrews , Matt Gee , Rachel Thomson , Steph Goodger , Stephanie Grainger , Tamara Van San , Tom Davies, Jessica Sarah Rinland , Hania Ferrel, Magnus Maarbjerg, Matthew Krishanu , Sidonie Robert and Sonia Levy.
Selected by Adam Chodzko, Hannah Conroy, Kathleen Palmer, Victoria Pomery and Nicole Mollett
Ystrad|Strata are very excited to be part of a cosmic mini-festival in Aberystwyth which will feature and celebrate aspects of future Wales. Visual artists, musicians, writers, performers and thinkers will gather for a day of imagining and creating future Wales.
With sci-fi and futurism becoming increasingly prominent in Welsh culture this event provides a timely opportunity to pull togerther the people working and making in the field together in one place. Amongst the artists taking part are the noted designer Hefin Jones whose Welsh Space Campaign and Cosmic Colliery projects have attracted world-wide attention. The headline band for the event is HMS Morris , bringing their cosmic pop-rock to the festival. The band were chosen as part of the BBC Wales Gorwelion scheme and have seen great success this year already playing to acclaim at Glastonbury and Festival No. 6. Supporting them will be the local electronic band, Roughion.
Arad Arad Goch Centre will be a space centre for the day with activities filling the building. As well as the music performances, there will be panel discussions on subjects such as literature, games, politics and art.
Canolfan Ofod Arad Goch Space Centre
Aberystwyth SY23 2NN
Sat 28th November 2015 (1pm-11:30pm)
Ticket sales and information on artists
‘sandset i & ii’
Giclee prints, aluminium mounted, 18″ x 12″
‘A beautiful exhibition, clean pure and spare’ …
‘Love the darkness’….
‘through the’, ‘living space’
Giclee prints, aluminium mounted 30″ x 20″
‘leaf light i’
Floating acrylic Giclee print, framed 30″ x 20″
‘Excellent inspiring work. Great food for thought’….
‘into the trees i & ii’
Giclee prints, aluminium mounted
40″ x 26″
‘we’ve landed’, ‘point of view’
Giclee prints, aluminium mounted
26″ x 20″
‘Pushing a new way to perceive landscape’
Projected Lightjet FujiClear print
‘Impressive, original and atmospheric’….
‘city rising i’, ‘lakeland light’, ‘up in the air’
Giclee prints, aluminium mounted, 40″ x 26″
‘A moving show’…. ‘Flawlessly executed’….
Following March’s Rural Idyll 2 residency the resulting exhibition takes place every weekend throughout June 2011 between 11-5 at: Little Dodnash Farm, Bergholt Rd, Bentley, Suffolk IP9 2DQ.
Following the weeks residency I created two groups of work to be shown at the farm throughout June:
A constant theme of my work is the human interaction with landscape. Whilst walking the woodlands that surround Little Dodnash Farm I became increasingly in awe of the trees, and fascinated by the process through which they are managed. ‘Wood Workings’ documents the human relationship with the woodlands, and ultimately reflects on how; through domestic occupation and husbandry we leave a transitory mark on this environment.
See Gallery – Wood Workings for images from the collection.
‘5 WORDS – SHADOWS ON A RURAL IDYLL’
Responding to the question – ‘give me 5 words that describe your feelings about living in a Rural Idyll’, the owner of Little Dodnash farm replied:
Solitude, Panic, Pleasure, Hardwork and Comfort.
‘5 Words – shadows on a rural idyll’ uses these words as inspiration for a series of shadow based photo-ascetates constructed and photographed at the farm during the residency in March. Through the use of Real-time graphical programming the photographs have subsequently been transformed into five animations (one for each word) and shown as a site-specific installation in the farms wood cutting yard.
It should be noted that although the inspiration for the piece sprang from the owner’s feelings about living in a rural idyll, its creation and ultimate presentation are based on my own responses to spending time at Little Dodnash Farm. My main aim was to produce a piece that creates unity and provides equal weight to all five words, so giving us an insight into reality behind living in a Rural Idyll.
Having been involved in organising the South Bank Arts Trail for five years, I have been looking for a ways to develop new community arts based events. The big difference being that I’d like to retain more creative control, be funded to do it and be able to pay artists to be involved. Jess Wright was in a similar situation, having run the South Bristol Business Awards for two years she was looking for a new challenge. We share the same aims but come from different backgrounds:art and business. Seven months ago Jess and I started working on a new project called illuminate. Illuminate aims to produce arts-based events that promote and reflect both the creativity and rich history of South Bristol. Key elements of illuminate projects will be the use of disused properties to show art/moving image work, to reflect the community and history they are set in and to involve key creative organisations in the city of Bristol.
illuminates long-term aim is to produce a festive Christmas event that would transform multiple disused shops on North/East St by using projected films/light/artists installations. We will be piloting the illuminate concept at the end of March with Spring Forward, an event partnered with the Knowle West Media Centre and Picture This:
The weekend of March 27 to 29 will see two empty shops – numbers 26 and 28 in Bedminster’s North Street – playing host to illuminate’s first event ‘Spring Forward’. Number 26 will feature a series of projected films made by Bristol based artists alongside an exhibition in the empty property (no.28) next door. The exhibition celebrates the past and present of Bedminster’s retail history.
For more information see the illuminate web site
Bristol stories is a collaboration between the Watershed and Bristol Museums to develop digital content for the new Museum of Bristol, due to open in 2009. Bristol Stories is based on the blueprint devised by Joe Lambert at the Centre for Digital Storytelling in California. The process enables people to ‘use digital media to tell meaningful stories from their life’.
I recently took part in a four day course to learn how to create stories based around the theme of travel, and enable the participants to facilitate Digital Storytelling workshops themselves (something I hope to do). My film ‘space boy’ uses photographs from my childhood, some sounds and images (copyright free) and my own recorded narrative.
The image above (yes, it’s me) is from the film which can be seen here: Space Boy