Words by Sinead Nunes, Editor. Liverpool Art Prize winner Robyn Woolston will be taking part in Threshold 2014 http://thresholdfestival.co.uk
Nantes 2014: Scoping Mission
I’ve just returned from a research trip to France that explored Nantes and the St Nazaire region courtesy of Polly Moseley (Consultant/Producer), the British Council (http://www.britishcouncil.org), Lieu Unique (http://www.lelieuunique.com) and Voyage à Nantes (http://www.levoyageanantes.fr/en/).
The concentrated nature of the trip, lasting just a few days, reminded me of how densely layered new experiences can be when one fully commits to the ‘shock of the new’.
“I love going out of my way, beyond what I know, and finding my way back a few extra miles, by another trail, with a compass that argues with the map…nights with strange paintings and floral spreads and cable television that furnish a reprieve from my own biography, when in Benjamin’s terms, I have lost myself though I know where I am. Moments when I say to myself as feet or car clear a crest or round a bend, I have never seen this place before. Times when some architectural detail on vista that has escaped me these many years says to me that I never did know where I was, even when I was home.”
A Field Guide to Getting Lost - Rebecca Solnit
The Designed and Emergent dancing intensely with each other over the course of just a few days. Psychogeography creating as great an impact upon the experience as the round table discussion with Thomas Heatherwick (http://www.heatherwick.com), Kirsty Lang (BBC) & creatives from the region.
The British Council framed the strategic discussions by raising the following themes:
- arts and culture as drivers of economic and sustainable development
- the importance of quality of life and cultural tourism for job creation
- the role of academic research, especially in the field of marine renewable
- energies, shared histories, alternative economies and green space
"Our purpose in designing this event has been to develop and strengthen connections between the UK and the Nantes region, both bilaterally and in wider multilateral projects. We would also like to explore new ways of taking these fledgling partnerships forward, helping them to reach their maximum potential and to gain recognition for the richness that cross-sector collaboration brings to wider society."
Julia Handelman-Smith. Head of Programmes and Partnerships, British Council France.
Whilst I realise what I’ve seen and heard, explored and learnt will take weeks and months to digest fully. There are some conclusions that come to mind…
- Language barriers can fade when a community of ‘like minds’ convenes.
- Funding streams can offer radically different opportunities depending upon the country you are working from, or political climate you are framed by, yet by re-focusing your discussion/collaboration it’s entirely possible to have a sustainable arts practice.
- Collaborative practice is innately process driven, therefore the agents involved in ‘change-making’ can work in conjunction whilst creating entirely different outcomes.
- Installation/intervention creates a puncture point in the fabric of everyday experience and therefore an activation ‘space’ for change, conversation, interaction, re-invention. A context for exchange.
“All that we make and do is shaped by the communities and traditions that contain us, not to mention by money, power, politics, and luck. And even should the artist or scientist think she as extracted herself from the world to stand alone in the studio, a tremendous array of faculties and mind-states may well attend her creativity.”
Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership - Lewis Hyde
ABOUT THE BRITISH COUNCIL:
The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7,000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes.
National Museums Liverpool acquire ‘Waste. Product. Istanbul’ (2013) for their permanent collection at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool.
Published to coincide with a solo show exhibited earlier in 2013:
The publication contains a foreword by Ann Bukantas, Head of Fine Art, National Museums Liverpool and copies of the limited edition Artists’ Bookwork are available here:
Art Raffle at the Bluecoat: 17/12/2013
Incredibly pleased to be exhibiting alongside Mike Badger, Jyll Bradley, Li Wei Chen, Jagjit Chuhan, Rick Creed, Gill Curry, John Davies, Alan Dunn, Michelle Edwards, Jemma Egan, Leo Fitzmaurice, Pete Flowers, Elaine Furniss, Mark Harrison, John Hughes, David Jacques, Jason Jones, Gareth Kemp, Nicki McCubbing, Geoff Molyneux, Neil Morris, Tabitha Moses, Bernadette O’Toole, Jeannie Powell, James Quin, Pauline Reeves, Ottoman Said, Amrit & Rabindra Singh, Emily Speed, John Steele, Chris Sutherland, Nick Sykes, Chiz Turnross, Claire Weetman, Elizabeth Willow, Lila Wilson, Alex Wolkowicz, Simon Woolham & Hannah Wooll.
Edge Hill University: Workshops
During November 2013 I completed my final set of workshops for Edge Hill University, Lancashire. Inspired by my commission within the grounds of the institution:
Working with over 150 GCSE, A Level and BTEC students, the activities explored site-responsive interventions, collage, drawing and model making.
The things to do are: the things that need doing: that you see
need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done.
Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be
done - that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This
will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character
that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed
by others on the individual.
Listen to an interview with award-winning artist Robyn Woolston as she explains in more detail about Habitus, the innovative art installation she has created for Edge Hill University.
Since the grounds were landscaped and planted with specimen trees back in the 1930s, our outdoor spaces have always been a part of the educational environment here. ‘Habitus’ (2013) continues this tradition, situating an artwork that asks challenging questions about human impact on the planet on a campus where creativity, environmental science, ecology and sustainability are taught and researched.
Roy Bayfield, Chair
Edge Hill University Arts and Culture Group
In response to ‘Habitus’ (2013) by Robyn Woolston.
Further info here:
'Habitus' (2013) Statement
Material: Twelve aluminium composite signs, vinyl lettering; one steel, foamex and aluminium, printed vinyl sign
Location: Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire, L39 4QP
Date: 27th September - December 2013
A series of signs inhabit the grounds of an educational institution. They form an installation that juxtaposes human behavior with environmental impact.
One group of signs references geological eons, eras and epochs. They are functional, stripped back and somewhat commonplace; akin to the road signs one finds along the highways and byways of the United Kingdom. The other hails from somewhere altogether different. It is brash and transatlantic in nature, kitsch and somewhat gushing. Employing the visual shorthand of an altered iconic American ‘welcome’ sign, it states in hyperbolic fashion: ‘Welcome to the Fabulous Anthropocene Era’. Inviting the viewer across a threshold they have perhaps already stepped over.
At play within this sculptural dynamic is a contradiction that questions our ability to read the signs we are surrounded by, to acknowledge the markers displayed within the nature that supports us; a predicament which, in its essence, is influenced by the stories that we share and the values around which we construct meaning - in short our chosen habitus.
The word ‘habitus’, after which the work is named, refers to the expectations, values and dispositions that are acquired through the activities and experiences of everyday life.
The word ‘Anthropocene’, proposed by atmospheric chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen (2000), refers to the period within which we are currently living - a time perhaps unlike any other where physical markers within the geological record are pointing towards permanent global impacts upon the Earth’s ecosystem as a result of human activities.
Crutzen PJ and Stoermer EF (2000) Global Change Newsletter 41: 17 - 18
Robyn Woolston is an artist who works across installation, photography and moving image.
Her work focuses attention upon the parts of life that others shy away from, from waste materials to difficult emotions. She questions commercial meta-narratives and material ‘use’ against the back-drop of environmental urgencies. Her previous installations have included 7,500 ice-cream containers, 45,000 carrier bags and a selection of trees from Ash to Silver Birch all classified as rubbish.
She won the Liverpool Art Prize 2012 by siting a discarded tree inside a former water tower on the platform at Edge Hill Station for Metal. At its base were 132,000 plastic knives and forks that broke underfoot as the work was viewed. As part of the prize she was awarded a solo show during 2013 at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool: ‘Strangers in a Strange Land’ juxtaposed an Artist’s Book, four photographic works and 3.6 tonnes of waste against a painting of the same name from the permanent collection dating from 1889.
Previous clients have included Eden Arts, Green Party, Guys Hospital / London, HM Prison Service, Intel, ITV, London Print Studio, Maerz Arts Association / Linz, Mitsubishi, National Geographic Traveller, National Trust, Psychologies Magazine, Tenderpixel Gallery / London and the Walker Art Gallery / Liverpool.
The Canopy Suite commissions are available to view throughout the Summer and into Autumn. Both are the result of a residency with Eden Arts that took place over 10 months during 2012 - 2013 in Cumbria:
'Last (Bank)' (2013), Acorn Bank National Trust, Penrith, Cumbria
Until 3rd November 2013
'Watchtree' (2013), Ullswater nr Pooley Bridge, Cumbria
Until 3rd November 2013