Project news

April 2018: The Dilemma of the Non-ephemeral Artefact

As a way of disseminating this body of work, I have produced a leporello leaflet.
Please email me if you would like a copy.

Here is the text describing the ideas and process.

The Dilemma of the Non-ephemeral Artefact
(What are we going to do with all this stuff?)

I have always been interested in the relationship we have with physical objects. How we perceive desirability, function, and purpose, and the different monetary and cultural values that affect this. Yet, the pressure to define ourselves through the things we deem desirable is contributing to a social and environmental time bomb.

In February 2016 my partner’s father, potter Arthur Griffiths, died. There was a collection of small pots in his workshop, some of which had been fired but not glazed, some of which had been used to test glazes. After he died, they were put into a large bucket, which was brought to my studio, as no-one wanted to throw them away.

The presence of the bucket of pots under my studio table led me to make the series of small works ‘The Dilemma of the Non-ephemeral Artefact’.

Both Arthur’s and my work originate in the 20thcentury Modernist practice of exploring aesthetics of form, space and material, although we are influenced by very different intentions. Using Arthur’s experiments and unfinished pieces seemed a good starting point for me to experiment, both in terms of materials and exploring ways of communicating ideas.

Each sculpture is constructed using one pot and three or four birch plywood and steel elements. These elements come from offcuts from previous works, so also have a history. I have worked with steel for all my career. The plywood is a newer material for me to use. The steel defines 3D linear forms; drawing in space, while the plywood gives mass and allows simple junctions.

By incorporating the pots into sculpture, they are given an alternate life. The sculptures are almost mini-architectural models or maquettes for larger works, although there is no intention to make them on a grander scale. The scale of the pots in relation to the other materials makes them seem slightly surreal, the way seeing something you’re familiar with placed in a different context changes the meaning of the original object, sometimes in an unexpected way.

The photographs have been carefully framed to present the sculptures’ spatial relationships. I asked artist Peter Griffiths to transform some of the images into two colour prints to give another perspective on how the different sculptural elements interact.

I am attempting to address how to deal with the emotional power objects can have over us, and to explore the value given by the artist, beyond utility and economics.

I am not sure what ‘place’ these sculptures have in the world, but I have made them anyway. This is all part of asking the loaded (and possibly universal) question: What are we going to do with all this stuff?

January 2018: Six month Sabbatical

 

I am currently taking an unpaid sabbatical for six months from working with Nottingham Contemporary and The Hepworth Wakefield so I can focus on my studio practice.

I still intend to seek out interesting projects and commissions during this period.

February 2017: Interconnect, Nottinghamshire YMCA

Image Ben Harriott 2016

A Nottinghamshire YMCA and Nottingham Contemporary partnership. 

Since October 2016 I have been collaborating with lens artist Ben Harriott on Interconnect, an Arts Council funded project to develop an identity for the new training area of the YMCA homeless hostel in Nottingham City Centre, by developing artistic interventions and artworks with the hostel community.

We have been working closely with hostel residents and staff with a series of eight creative sessions and a sharing event at Nottingham Contemporary. The artistic intention has been to make the everyday extraordinary, recognising and highlighting the different experiences, backgrounds and cultures of the residents who participated. 

As the training room includes a training kitchen we used food and cooking as a theme to engage residents in presenting themselves on their own terms to create a series of photographic images. It was a performative process with the participants telling stories through their actions and use of props.

The images and other interventions will be installed in the training area, general lounge and residents’ kitchen of the hostel to create a welcoming atmosphere and inspire the hostel community to actively engage with the arts as well as with the other training opportunities offered.

The project seeks to promote the arts as a vehicle for change and inspire local voluntary organisations (especially those working with the homeless) to engage with arts projects and with organisations such as Nottingham Contemporary in the future.

December 2016: Commission for Manor Lodge Primary School

The generous support of Julie MacDonald, High Sheriff of South Yorkshire 2016-17, enabled Yorkshire Artspace to commission me in May 2016 to work with around 90 children to create a permanent artwork for Manor Lodge Primary School that celebrates Sheffield’s past and present as a city of makers.

The artwork was launched in December and is made up of eight wall panels, with individual elements created by all 90 pupils mounted onto them.

For more details, see main project page.

June 2016: Moving studio sculpture show

fb image

I am moving studio this Summer so I am having a two day show of my large sculpture which I won’t be able to move with me. This work has been seen in exhibitions around the country.

The show will be in the Atrium at Yorkshire Artspace’s Persistence Works, 21 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS.

I am inviting all my friends to come and see it for the last time. If there is a piece you would like for your garden, please make me an offer; money, services, even pots of jam will all be considered. It would be nice if at least some of the pieces found good homes.

The show will be open:

Friday 17th June, 12 – 7 pm
Saturday 18th June, 11 am – 5 pm.

Looking forward to seeing lots of friends there and feel free to bring your friends too.

December 2015: Yorkshire Sculpture Park family learning

ysp making

Since May 2015, Jo Dacombe and I have been working with the Learning Team at Yorkshire Sculpture Park on their action research project ‘Learning Together’, exploring new ways to engage families. We worked with families from five schools in the Wakefield District, looking at lots of different ways to interact with and interpret the sculpture and  landscape.

As a result of our discoveries, we have developed some resources and activities for families to use to increase their enjoyment and understanding while visiting the Park, which should be available sometime in 2016.

November 2015: Loudspeaker conference and film

Loudspeaker conference

Loudspeaker conference: discussing and making

On 27th November 2015 the conference ‘Finding Our Voice’ was held at Nottingham Contemporary to share learning from the Loudspeaker project with delegates from the creative, voluntary, education, health and criminal justice sectors.  As the artists who delivered this innovative project for women facing complex life challenges, Jo Dacombe and I spoke about our experiences of working with around 70 women from Nottingham over the past three years, and how contemporary art and creative practice can play a positive role in engaging and supporting people.

A short film essay made by myself, Jo Dacombe and Ben Harriott with women who had participated in Loudspeaker was screened. You can watch the film here.

November 2015: Dementia & Imagination exhibition

D&I show

Dementia and Imagination: Making Connections through Contemporary Art

I worked with artist Jo Dacombe and Researcher Dr Kat Taylor to curate and present an exhibition of artwork made by people with dementia at the Saints Parish Centre in Chesterfield.

The works were made as part of a major national research study taking place in Derbyshire NHS services during arts interventions in clinical settings led by myself and other artists from Nottingham Contemporary.

Over 300 people across the UK participated in this research exploring how art can improve the lives of people with dementia, and impact on the communities around them. “It wasn’t just meeting people it was sharing an experience that was interesting. It made me connect to people again and that’s been so important to me.”

More details are available on the website:

http://dementiaandimagination.org.uk

 

April 2015: ‘Journeys of Ideas’ exhibition at Bilborough Library

look up bilbourough lib 11

On 10th April 2015, I installed the exhibition Journeys of Ideas which  I curated with work produced during the first Look Up course.

Look Up helps people in Nottingham who are looking for work by offering participants a fresh perspective on how they view themselves and their futures. The project is a one-year partnership between Nottingham Contemporary and Nottingham City Libraries funded by Arts Council England. I developed and delivered the first Look Up course to 14 participants.

This exhibition was my reflection on the personal and collective journeys participants have been making in their exploration of libraries, contemporary art and ideas. Journeys of Ideas shows artworks by the participants and also traces routes they have travelled during the course and in their lives.

March 2015: ‘The Gallery of Thought and Feelings’

gallerybox

‘The Gallery of Thoughts and Feelings’ is a sculpture for schools to use to with their children when discussing emotional issues and developing their language to communicate how they feel. It is part of a resource called ‘Feelings in your hands’ I have developed with women from Loudspeaker.

Loudspeaker is a three year project based at Nottingham Contemporary and in partnership with the community charity, Changing Lives. Funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Loudspeaker aims to raise the voices, self-esteem and aspirations of local women through contemporary art.