Living Collections

My new installation ‘Living Collections‘ is currently installed at The London Wetland Centre until the 14 November 2021. Wetlands Unravelled is a year-long program looking at the paradoxes of conservation in the wetlands environment.

I worked as co-curator on this project and discussions began back in 2017 and then funding in place in 2019. Little did we know that as we were about to install the first season of commissions that we were about to go into lockdown, and so we cancelled installation of the first season.

My project took a few twists and turns with the pandemic stopping everything in it’s tracks, so too did my project. My initial response was to create a performance working with the local community and a choreographer to develop a large scale performance. 

Visitors would encounter people dressed as part birds, part creatures, emerging from different spaces in and around the wetlands.

In the end with so many movable things going on it became easier to focus on creating an installation.

Detail from ‘Living Collections’ photography by Julian Abrams

“Living Collections’ was inspired by the conservation term, imprinting, early on in our visits to London Wetland Centre, we learned about how the site adapts to support migrating birds from across the world. 

The impact of climate change was being played out right in the hub of the wetlands. The site is carefully managed with changing water levels adjusted to support incoming birds further into the marshlands and wild side of the site.

The site is constantly battling both native and non-native species, which brings up interesting ethical and challenging questions on which species should be allowed to thrive and survive.

Images of work in progress as I began developing my ideas.

My work draws upon this dichotomy, the new arrivals are both of the site and not. They try to transform and morph into beings that would suit the wetlands, but also stand out, not quite fitting in.

There is a performative feel to the work, in part due to my original intentions and also through their construction, the capes submerge the body, keeping it safe, it could potentially change to cover the figures entirely, offering shelter as well as protection.

The installation also draws on two previous works of mine Tree Boys and Bird Children where figures are transforming and becoming birds or trees.

The exhibition is on at The London Wetland Centre until 14 November 2021.

News updates

Disintegration Series I, II, III, acrylic and ink on linen, 70 cm x 100 cm, 2020.

Earlier this year suddenly everything was upended, normal life put on hold and usual projects postponed with the pandemic stopping everything in it’s tracks.

I had been working on a site-specific project with The London Wetland Centre, as part of Unravelled commissioning exhibition, responding to the wetlands environment and considering the impact of climate change, migration patterns from birds across the world and the unique role the wetlands play in combatting this.

The enforced stop made me focus on creating some new work, in part to alleviate my anxiety at what was a very stressful and surreal time. It forced me to re-think existing patterns of working and make use of my ‘she-shed-studio’ in the garden.

The Disintegration series takes a birds eye view of wetlands and maps as you soar across the site. These watery landscapes use pattern and colour to transport you to a fictive place.

The paintings refer to a constant state of flux, unsettled land and water, for unsettling times.

Three Headed Monkey, acrylic and ink on canvas, 100cm x 100cm, 2020.

This painting was inspired by a story on the news where monkeys had grabbed Covid-19 samples. The uncanny events of 2020 and this story, felt like the natural world was changing the balance, reminding us as humans who was in charge.

The monkey is both monstrous and beautiful, partly camouflaged amongst the lush and green foliage. The face is obscured by patterns of its fur.

Out of The Shadows, acrylic and ink on canvas, 70 cm x 70 cm, 2020.

This was one of my very first paintings made early in lockdown. The title refers to how I felt both working in this way but also when it felt safe to emerge from our time of hibernation, at quiet times of the day and night, to walk outside, notice small things such as wildflowers, trees, the light falling on leaves. It was about those quiet moments.

Artist Bursary Awarded

I am delighted to say that I have been awarded an a-n artist bursary to attend the Jamboree Artist, Curator and Producer networking event in Dartington in June. I will be using this opportunity to develop new artist networks with a view to creating new projects. I will be sharing my experience with fellow artists where I have my studio at Phoenix Brighton and plan to do some follow up visits to other artists and curators who will be at the Jamboree Event.

Installation at Chard Museum

My new installation commissioned by Somerset Artworks as part of Muse:Makers in MuseumsIMG_4446.JPG

has now opened at Chard Museum in Somerset and is open until Saturday 28 October 2017.

The former industries of Chard – from agriculture and lacemaking to James Gillingham’s boot-making and artificial limb production and the collar factories – all inform my installation.

 

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The town’s social histories and politics also form part of my research and my intention is to highlight the often invisible histories and contributions made by women through the generations.

I have chosen to work with different types of netting fabric to allude to the history of the local lace factories and to suggest an outline of an edifice or factory building. The fabrics and cut-outs also reference the female body and the workforce who powered the local industries.

The suspended figures are based on photographic and archive research into history of women and the different roles they have played in industry, agriculture, politics and reform in Chard.

Install7.JPGReferencing themes of the body, the machine and rural traditions-bodies, buildings and cogs merge to create the installation, which is suspended next to the machinery and working implements on display here to offer an alternative, woman-focused narrative for the local collection.Chardinstallation.JPG

 

I have also been working with the local community to realise a celebratory banner, which references Margaret Bondfield and the social and personal histories of women in Chard. It features personal motifs together with those that draw on the local landscape and architecture of the town.

Muse: Makers in Museums

I am currently working with Chard museum in Somerset as part of a Muse: Makers in Museums commission. I have been researching their collections and  in particular have been fascinated by the town’s past industrial heritage and links to textiles and clothing over the last century.

I have been especially interested in researching women in industries connected to Chard. I made these discoveries on a research and development visit a couple of weeks ago and I also met some ladies who had grown up in Chard when I was based at the museum over a few days.IMG_4191.JPGIMG_4190.JPG

They used to work as hairdressers in the town and recalled how on a Friday evening all the factory workers would pile out and want their hair washed and set ready for the weekend. Often their hair was powdered with a graphite substance which would have come from the machinery.

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Chard is known for it’s lace industry, it was a machine net that is produced still today and  used in netting products.

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The museum holds a vast collection of an old lace machine and some of the cogs and parts that would have been used in the production. I am gathering together lots of different sources to help me develop my installation.