An Undertaking, St Chad's, Shrewsbury 2018
An Undertaking is a new collaborative, site specific contemporary installation by re:collect artists which will be exhibited at St. Chad's Church, Shrewsbury 4th August – 30th September 2018.
This project is funded by Arts Council England and includes a programme of workshop sessions and talks. Also there will be a professional development aspect for the artists involved via mentoring with Oriel Davies’ Curator Alex Boyd Jones throughout the project, to explore new ways of working, critiquing the development of the artwork, the installation and career progression beyond the project end.
Inspired by the Wilfred Owen's poems 'Futility' and 'Spring Offensive ', I am exploring a sense and contrast of hope and loss, winter and spring using the site of Haughmond Hill which Owen spent time exploring before the First World War, when he lived with his family in Shropshire.
'Reveal, Conceal' BPN Architects, Birmingham, September 2016
This project is inspired by buildings and architecture around the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham where BPN Architects are situated.
In the surrounding streets I became aware of the obvious building work being carried out and scaffolding in place with the need to wrap and conceal this while working on the sites. These concealed spaces are intriguing along with other parts of buildings that are being revealed in the process of new building or reconstruction.
Walking along Newhall Street into the city through the vistas of the side streets I glimpsed some of the iconic Birmingham buildings which were also juxtaposed with other interesting buildings. One of the views that I've concentrated on is of Birmingham Library is from the side and with a concrete style car park in front of it which isn't the view that's it's usually seen from. At this distance the colours are less saturated with atmospheric perspective, I've included this on some of the prints along with others that are more vibrant and colourful.
I made a series of prints themed ‘Reveal, Conceal’, referencing the changing landscape of building work interspersed with glimpses of iconic buildings around the Jewellery Quarter.
In The Shadow of Oswestry Hillfort, Willow Gallery, Oswestry, 2016
I invite the viewer to take a closer look at the archaeology and nature that are intertwined with human activity on and around Old Oswestry Hill Fort and its impact on the environment. This project came about as a result of pressure from proposed development in the area which could subsequently wipe away the identity of the Hill Fort. The 'Ghost Trees' print alludes to the human habit of destroying nature to the point of extinction.
My artist book 'In the Shadow of Old Oswestry Hill Fort' was exhibited in the Willow Gallery, Oswestry and then moved to the exhibition 'The Human Temperament at Blossoms Gallery in Aberystwyth.
In the middle of the concertina book is a blind embossing of Old Oswestry Hill Fort, the inside covers are screen printed and the outside is covered with Japanese Moriki Kozo paper.
'The First Casualty of War is Truth', Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, 2015
I visited the art installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper at the Tower of London just as the ceramic poppies were being dismantled amongst a field of mud. Upon entering the Tower Hill underground station I noticed small booklets of ‘War Poems on the Underground 1914-1918’, that were freely available in the station. Reading the booklet later I came across a poem called ‘Lost in France’ by Ernest Rhys.
I approached the theme of ‘The First Casualty of War is the Truth’ in an abstract way as the ‘truth’ is what people hold to be true in their lives, their characteristics, way of living, beliefs, thoughts etc. and war brings all these to a standstill. Surviving the war some of these could be regained, others lost forever, particularly for those who didn’t return. ‘Lost in France’ struck a chord with my thoughts; these were the truths of the man and now they were no more.
No matter how many times you read the poem the last line always stops you in your tracks, brings you to a standstill.
‘Lost in France’ is reprinted by kind permission of Stephen Rhys.
Lost in France
He had the ploughman's strength
in the grasp of his hand;
he could see a crow
three miles away,
and the trout beneath the stone.
He could hear the green oats growing,
and the south-west wind making rain.
He could hear the wheel upon the hill
when it left the level road.
He could make a gate and dig a pit
and plough as straight as stone can fall.
And he is dead.
'The First Casualty of War is Truth' was funded by Arts Council England and Shropshire Council.
Cabinet of Curiosity, touring exhibition with re:collect, Powis Castle; Shrewsbury Museum, 2014 - 15
The Cabinet of Curiosity was part of a touring exhibition funded by Arts Council England, Friends of Shrewsbury Museum and Shropshire Council, that visited heritage venues in England and some in Wales. The contents of the Cabinet and artwork was changed within it to reflect the heritage of the different venues which were: Powis Castle, National Trust; Wenlock Poetry Festival; Wrexham Museum; Unitarian Church Shrewsbury (where Charles Darwin worshiped as a young boy) and Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
As part of the programme I ran lino workshops at Powis Castle and Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery inspired by objects in the venues.
The Space Between, Roman Gallery, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery , 2014
‘The Space Between’ is work made for the opening of the Roman Gallery at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, funded by Arts Council England and Shropshire Council. It is inspired by the physical and temporal space between the two iconic structures at Wroxeter Roman City (situated five miles from Shrewsbury), The Old Work (part of the basilica wall built around 150 AD and at one time the only indication that a city existed) and the new recreated town house.
Further the title extends to the space between floor level (the herringbone floor) and the Roman artefacts excavated from the earth below. The herringbone floor pattern contains the wear of human traces and has had to keep being re-laid throughout the years. At the present time it lies hidden from sight in the city beneath a protective membrane.
Artefacts depicted in the work are from the museum at Wroxeter, however, one of the exhibits, a pair of gold votive eyes is exhibited in the British Museum. I was able to go and sketch the gold votive eyes behind the scenes at the British Museum and talk to the curator Ralph Jackson about them. I brought a little bit of the Wroxeter Museum into Shrewsbury Museum and also used an artefact exhibited in the British Museum, making links between the three museums.
Blind embossings of views from Wroxeter Roman City are derived from the snow laden landscape surrounding the centre of the city in early spring. Snow simplifies the landscape and leaves bare bones of the features: hedges; trees; boundaries and marks on the landscape.
Geological Traces, Object Lessons, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, November 2012 - March 2013
For this body of work I chose to explore some of the objects in the Geology Collection at Shrewsbury Museum. These objects were in a state of transition as they were subjected to the process of being re-established in the new Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.
These blind embossings, a set of nine, are devoid of colour and show traces of these objects in their ambiguous states. They offer the viewer partial, fleeting glimpses some objects were available in their cases and others have disappeared – all to reappear in their new environments.
Making Art History, Wightwick Manor and Gardens, National Trust ,May 2011
This was run by Enter Arts, Wolverhampton Education Service and Making Art History a project run by the National Trust. Professional artists could take any inspiration from Wightwick Manor and use to make new art work which was then to be displayed as final pieces in an exhibition in the house and garden.
Built in the late 1890's Wightwick Manor is well known for having been furnished under the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement and the house contains many examples of William Morris designs on fabric and wallpaper and William de Morgan designs on ceramics and tiles. My inspiration is from the natural plants, flowers and foliage outside as well as the obvious natural inspiration from the designs of William Morris and de Morgan.
It was a privilege to be able to view Wightwick Manor at its quietest time during the winter months and also to see the seasons change into spring and summer as the house and garden come to life.
I was been fascinated by the windows in the house firstly from the light coming through the dark blinds that cover them in the winter months creating different colours and shapes. I also took some photos of the windows from the outside and cut a lino block which I then used for blind embossing which is where the lino block is pressed into wet paper and leaves its impression behind.
I made a 'Window and Plant Memories' concertina book and flowers in the book are screen printed onto Chinese paper and are inspired by a book that I found in the house which was Gerard's Herball printed in 1693. Although the flower drawings in the Herball are not botanically correct they were inspiration for the flowers of William Morris, along with the Netherlandish Medieval paintings of Van Eyck and Hans Memling.
On the inside of each of the covers I placed my blind embossing prints inspired by the windows at Wightwick Manor.
The garden is very much part of the aesthetic at Wightwick and I printed my own version of one of Morris' designs onto aluminium to be placed outside, which involved taking the inside out as Morris himself was a great lover of the outdoors.