Think you know about plants? guest blog by Helen Brown
Think you know about plants, think drawings of plants can be pretty boring – this exhibition will make you look again.
The Plant project is the second of the guest curated exhibitions in preSense – an Arts Council funded project which aims to raise awareness of the Young gallery and its collections. Inspired by the plant drawings of Robin Tanner (1904-1988) artist, printmaker and teacher, the exhibition explores the inclusion of plant life in contemporary art – and what a wealth is discovered.
When Pru Maltby its curator told me what she was planning I was intrigued to see what the outcome might be. There were little clues along the way; Pru’s love of Prunella Clough’s work in the Young Gallery collection, her interest in including a piece by former Brit artist Gary Hume and her earlier powerful exhibition Cicatrix (‘the scar of a healed wound’, inspired by the physical effects of war on the Wiltshire landscape and much more).
Blog post from Stasha McBride
This is a blog post from Stasha McBride, who completed her Masters in Art History at the University of Essex in 2005, and who many people in Salisbury had the pleasure of knowing, when she worked at Salisbury Arts Centre. Stasha now lives with her family in America where she’s put down roots in Mississippi.
From the moment I saw her work in my earliest Art History classes, the profound emotional element of Frida Kahlo’s paintings captivated me. They are simultaneously deeply personal and universal, often showing pain and suffering from her perspective but evoking empathy and solidarity from the viewer. Roots is one of Kahlo’s numerous self portraits, and critics conventionally accept it as a fertility metaphor; Kahlo deeply mourned her inability to successfully carry a child and processed her pain through her painting. The dominant interpretation of the piece sees her blood flowing through the vines into the parched Mexican earth providing nourishment. When I revisited this painting recently I saw the blood flow in reverse, from the earth to the artist. Read more …
Plant Project blog by Susan Francis
Helen Chadwick’s work had great impact on me as a young artist in the early 90s. At that time I was hugely influenced by female artists whose practice was process driven, with Eva Hesse to look back on and Rachel Whiteread rising to prominence with her emphasis on the casting process. But it is Helen Chadwick’s ‘Piss Flowers’, created with her boyfriend by urinating in the snow and casting the resulting caverns, that remain personally significant for me. This is not so much for the work’s aesthetic or formal qualities (I actually feel she had no need to tamper with the organic shapes, taking their analogy to its representational conclusion) or even its success conceptually – (in my humble opinion she over egged the pudding as it were, a fault we are all, as artists, often guilty of) but for the whole wonderfully irreverent, visceral, playful and experimental feel of the work.
Did she need to shape the organic little volcanoes into flowers to punch the joke home? Maybe not, but who gives a damn! I vividly remember photographs of Helen Chadwick, outside her workshop in the snow, completely absorbed in her practice, the line between making and living totally blurred, taking process to the extreme and woman’s sculpture to a whole new level. Helen’s life, as many will know, was tragically cut short at 42 years old. Strange and poignant that we have this work, created so directly from her living body, the very act of her living self locked into the coated bronze. To read Susan’s blog in full …
Linn O’Carroll blog for The Plant Project
I am currently artist in residence with The Young Gallery in Salisbury working on preSENSE. I am based in Redlynch, a small village 8 miles south of Salisbury. One of my great pleasures is discovering the drover trails and gentle chalk escarpment which lie close to my home/studio.
I am a walking artist – memory, meaning, place, objects …I call them my ‘finders/keepers’ and context are all essential elements in my methodology. I am a hunter/gatherer – I walk every day, looking for discarded, lost objects and I salvage these melancholic finds. The happy accident is an integral element of my connecting, knowing, seeding ideas and paths of creativity.
On a corner, in a lovely residential street in Salisbury I spied a tree with the most beautiful fan-shaped leaves – Ginkgo Bilbao (scientific name) commonly known as The Maidenhair Tree. Charles Darwin named it a ‘living fossil’ it is one of the world’s oldest tree species, records suggesting it could be 300 million years old. Read more …
Julie Ayton’s blog about collaborating for: The Plant Project
Collaborating with another artist is a great spur to fresh thinking; a demand to step outside habit. When I was invited to join The Plant Project I felt that unsettling sense of venturing into fresh territory, not knowing exactly where it would lead. Read more ….
Fran is a member of Group 7 – www.group7.org.uk
Guest blogger, Johanna Smith – (The Garden Bird @thegardenbird) gardener at Heale House in the Woodford Valley, chooses a photograph by Howard Sooley.
When asked to write about photography and plants, I drew a blank, my photographic history focusing on fashion, portraiture and architecture. Since re-training as a gardener I have taken nothing but photographs of plants, plants and more plants yet could not pinpoint a photographer. Then an epiphany! Read more …
I took the train to Westbury just before Christmas to meet with Catherine Bloomfield who shall be showing her work as part of The Plant Project exhibition. She lives and works in Trowbridge where there is a studio at the bottom of her garden.
She lives and works in Trowbridge where there is a studio at the bottom of her garden. Read more ….
Henny Burnett, installation artist and teacher has chosen for The Plant Project blog – “Specimen” a beautiful, fragile and ephemeral piece by the artist Clare Twomey.
With the run up to The Plant Project exhibition launch on Saturday 7 March 2015, I’ve decided to alternate my weekly blog between documenting the project, and including posts from guest bloggers. These guests will either be artists or plants people, making their choices of works where flora is referenced, providing an image, the title of their chosen piece, artist’s name, date, medium and dimensions. A text explaining the work and reasons for selection of up to 150 words will accompany the choices.
To launch this idea I have pleasure adding the project’s first guest appearance …. read more.
Last month Peter Riley and I were invited to visit Peter Randall-Page’s studio in Exeter. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours with him and his very lovely PA, Jennifer Mullins, talking about the project, his current work and looking at the pieces he’s prepared to offer for the exhibition.
The Plant Project exhibition will first show at The Young Gallery, Salisbury from Saturday 7 March – Saturday 11 April 2015. Between now and then, I shall be keeping a diary about the preparations for the work involved in curating this exhibition.
A modest rather tatty notebook caught my attention. It contained the delicate confidant observational drawings from nature by Robin Tanner. Undoubtedly some were preparatory sketches for the books about plants to be found locally, in particular, ‘Woodland Flora’, which he produced with his wife Heather.
preSENSE guest curator, Prudence Maltby has been studying woodland flora from Robin Tanner’s sketchbooks from the 1940s. The concept for her exhibition: The Plant Project, proposed for March 2015, at The Young Gallery was inspired by coming across these drawings in The Collection. Pru has been documenting her journey.
Robin Tanner (1904-1988) was an English artist, etcher & printmaker.