Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Our Woods commission

I am currently working on a new commission for Our Woods, a festival of over 40 events celebrating the woodlands in Corby, Northamptonshire.

The festival runs from September 2016 to May 2017, and so over the next few months I am working with artist Carole Miles on developing our ideas for our woodland walk, Continuum, at Thoroughsale Woods on Sunday 5th March 2017. The walk plays with ideas about time and the seasons; we invite you to step through a portal and enter our magical woodland world...

It may seem a long way off, but people are booking for events now so to be sure of a place, take a look through the online brochure as soon as you can! All tickets can be booked on The Core at Corby website.

Continuum is described on page 20 of the brochure... and see if you can spot me on the cover!

I hope to see some of you there.

Photo by Kate Dyer.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Reliquary Project: exhibition dates and preview

The time is finally here:  tomorrow I begin to install The Reliquary Project exhibition.

The exhibition will run from 7th May to 3rd July, alongside three other exhibitions at Attenborough Arts Centre - so lots for you to see!

There will be a free public preview on Friday 6th May, the details are below. If you would like to book onto the preview, please follow this link.

I have made a limited edition set of 4 postcards from the exhibition. The first 100 people to visit will have a free set.

To find out about the other exhibitions running at the same time, visit the Attenborough Arts Centre website.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Personal bone stories

It's really interesting how different people connect with different artworks. Often this is for very personal reasons. I shared some of my work from this project in a talk a few weeks ago, and it was fascinating how each person I spoke to had a completely different favourite image.

I was asked if I would make a print of one of the x-ray images with a cat's skull. Alison, currently undertaking research at the University into chicken breeds, asked me if I could make a small version for her. When I visited the Bone Lab yesterday to give her the print, she told me that her very first acquisition, years ago, for her own reference collection of animal bones was a cat's skull, which she dug up from the end of her garden and found it to be in a beautifully preserved condition but all on its own, just the skull, no other parts of the body. A little mystery to why it was alone. She still has the skull.

A little later I fell into conversation with Eric, who is researching faunal remains from North American sites. He said he had liked the drawing of vertebrae that I had made, and we talked about how I use this drawing in my visits to schools to get students thinking imaginatively about the shapes of the bones and how, by drawing them in certain ways or arranging them on the paper, they could evoke other things. These remind me a little of flying ducks.

We talked about some of the other pieces of work that I had shown in my talk and how he had remembered when he'd seen me making them in the Bone Lab, such as the photographs of fish bones. Eric is from Canada and asked about having a print of the drawing to take back home with him as something to remind him of his time here.

One of the things I used to find difficult with selling work through galleries is that you often don't get to meet the person who buys it. It's really special when you can talk to a person about work they like and discover what that personal reason is, it makes the work better. It's a curious thing that, once you have made an artwork and set it loose into the world, it takes on its own life and other people's connections start to make it more than what it was when you made it. In the end making art, for me, always comes back to a way of connecting with people.

I have another four prints available of the Schrรถdinger's Cat Reliquary, visit my Shop page for details.

Read more about researchers' projects in the Bone Lab here.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

La Huesera in Pit Prop Woods

I have been invited to take part in a project by Miriam Keye, a dance and movement artist.

Her project will take place in the woods of Pit Prop Woods (where Carole and I led a walk last year; always good to re-visit a site). Miriam is pregnant with twins at the moment, and so her project is taking on the timescale of her pregnancy and she is responding to the experience of growing in her body in conjunction with Spring blossoming in the woodlands. The project will also draw on folklore of wildness and women, such as La Huesera, a Mexican tale of the Bone Woman.

It will be really interesting for me to work with a dance artist in a woodlands. My woodland projects have been very much about connecting with the senses, which is what Miriam is doing through movement. I love the part in her video where she is walking barefoot with very aware steps across crackly dried leaves!

Miriam is looking for backers to help support her project, which will take place this Spring. Please visit this link for more information and to see Miriam's video, and support us if you can, or share the link with people you know. Many thanks.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Reliquary Project talk

I will  be talking about my residency on 24th February, I hope some of you can come. Here's the invitation with details:

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Time slips

and slips away from me.

It is traditional, at the turn of the year, to look back and then to look forward at the coming year, but right now I have more of a sense of time sliding. Work right now has a theme of past, present and future slipping backwards and forwards; the past informs the future and the future informs the past.

I've been working on a number of pieces for The Reliquary Project over the past few months. The exhibition for the project is confirmed: it will run from 6th May until 30th June 2016 at Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester. They've offered me Gallery 3, the new upstairs gallery which, I have to say, is my favourite space of the two smaller rooms. There's a window wall that looks down onto the double-height space below, so that's got me thinking about how I can use the space creatively and I am thinking of the exhibition as an installation, changing the whole space in some way, not just hanging things on walls.

In the second half of last year I ran a number of workshops in schools for the project, working with students of varying ages, from 8 to 18. I developed the workshops as I went along, so I could react to the responses of the students as well as them reacting to my work. I showed different examples of my own work to them to try to get some feedback (and children can be so honest!).

Reliquary for a bird, Avenue Primary School
One workshop I ran with 8 year olds, I asked them to create a reliquary for an animal that was special to them. Some created this for their pets, but others thought really hard about what made an animal "special" in their view and this was a really interesting discussion about what we value. Some of them made reliquaries for animals that were extinct. One child made a reliquary for a mongoose, an animal he had seen in India and had made quite an impression!

Working with Regent College students. Photos  by Jacqueline Hunt
I also ran a workshop at Regent College for A Level art students. The students were really insightful and it encouraged me to hear what they read into my work. I talked to them about being an artist, about my route in and about higher education, as they are thinking about their options for university at the moment. They were very attentive, asked intelligent questions and they made their work with a sense of fun but also serious application.  It was a really enjoyable experience for me.

Regent College students. Photos by Jacqueline Hunt
They wrote very thoughtful evaluation notes at the end of the session and I felt I had made a real impact.

Evaluation notes from student, Regent College
I ran an open workshop for families too, using pantographs to make large scale bone drawings. This was really fun and I would like to do that workshop again, if I get the opportunity. I can offer a further two free workshops for schools, so if you know a school that might like one, do get in touch.

Using the giant pantograph!
A couple of other things have developed as a result of The Reliquary Project. I've been invited to do an artist's talk at New Art Exchange, an arts centre in Hyson Green, Nottingham, on Saturday 5th March. The talk is to accompany an exhibition by artist Larissa Sansour and her newest film "In The Future They Ate From The Finest Porcelain". Sansour's film is a science fiction, considering the manipulation of archaeology. I've been asked to create an alternative guided tour from my own point of view about art and archaeology, and I've been thinking about time slips, past, present and future sliding in to one another and about myth making. I may title my talk "Uchronia" (though I am still deciding on this.)

I'll be running a series of three workshops as an evening class at Attenborough Arts Centre (as part of their Creative Learning Programme) on the theme of art and archaeology. The course will use my exhibition as a starting point and we will consider materiality, time, objects in time, and create contemporary works from these ideas, using drawing, found objects and casting techniques. I always enjoy working with other people and sparking ideas off each other, and I'm sure that this course will feed my own thoughts further.

I hope you'll be able to join me for some of these events. I keep an up to date list of things I'm running in the right sidebar of this blog so please check back there for updates. Thanks for following.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Finding Our Voice

Collaborative drawing by women in Loudspeaker
On 27th November I will be part of a conference called Finding Our Voice at Nottingham Contemporary.

The conference is a culmination of three years work that I have been doing with the Contemporary in partnership with the charity Changing Lives.  Loudspeaker was an innovative project for women facing complex life challenges. Groups of women worked with me and artist Gillian Brent to look at and learn about contemporary art and respond to art in their own creative ways, developing their confidence and self esteem through their thinking and making. The project has been an amazing experience for all of us, and the conference aims to share some of the things we've learned and to discuss issues that women face.

To give the women of Loudspeaker a voice in the conference, Gillian and I, along with artist Ben Harriott, are currently working with some of the women to create a film essay that will be first shown at the conference. The women have been incredible, voicing their insights and allowing us to direct them in various locations around Nottingham in order to express something of what Loudspeaker has meant to them. I feel immensely proud of them as I write this, and all that they have achieved. One of the women involved, Lynn, started with me at the very first session of Loudspeaker three years ago and has been involved in so many things since: acting as a mentor for all the following groups, speaking to the press and media about women's issues, visiting schools, volunteering on the family programme at Nottingham Contemporary and now helping to make the film. Today I interviewed her for the film about the progress she has made over the past three years and moving into the future. Her positive energy is an inspiration, amazing for somebody who has had to overcome incredibly difficult things in her life. I have seen her grow and grow over the years and it's people like Lynn that keep me doing what I'm doing.

Details of the conference are appearing on the Nottingham Contemporary website, and you can read a blog written by the women of Loudspeaker here.