In May 2021, the Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) and their project partners, Forest of Dean District Council, were successful in securing funding from Arts Council England to commission artists to create a community engagement campaign.
The project will focus public attention on how a Biosphere Reserve (BR) UNESCO designation for FoD could work here. It sets out to inform the local communities and businesses of the anticipated economic and environmental benefits of the Forest of Dean becoming a Biosphere Reserve
We shall commission two artists to engage the Forest of Dean through an artist’s film and an audio work, to stimulate discussion and debate. We seek to promote the concept of a BR widely to the general public within the Forest of Dean district by engaging the community through creative interpretation of landscape, drawing attention to place, community, culture and nature
Applications are invited from individual artists, or artist teams, that have experience of working in the public realm and an interest in environmental issues. Carolyn Black of Flow Contemporary Arts will be supporting the team with her producer experience, providing curatorial guidance to the artists:
“I live and work in the Forest of Dean and am keen to support artists to understand this unique place. There are so many special landscape features here, and fascinating people with stories to tell about it. We all need to understand more about the potential of becoming a Biosphere Reserve – art is a powerful way to do that.”
For more information and how to apply please see further information here
I’m delighted to say that Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) have succeeded in securing an Arts Council Project Grant towards a public engagement project, which sets out to inform local communities about the potential benefit of becoming an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
I shall be working with the team as the producer/curator, to commission two creative practitioners – one to make a film/video and the other a soundwork. Each commission will be a contract for £3000.
As soon as the brief is available it will be available for download. Subscribe to Flow to be alerted when the opportunity opens. It won’t be long!
I’m also supporting artists Denman & Gould with their public art commission, alongside Project Manager Rose Farrington, for Lydney Harbour – it is great to be part of the cultural development here in the Forest of Dean.
Firstly, the thoughts I share here are merely that. I have not seen Hambling’s work that is ‘for’ Wollstonecraft, nor have I seen the Aldeburgh work. I only know them from images. I would not usually comment on works I have not actually seen ‘in the flesh’ so to speak, but on this occasion I am responding to how this work has been (mis?)represented in the press.
Most of the press images we see are only of the nude figure, which is showing it out of context. For this writing it is important you see a picture of the whole thing. There is a full image of the work here on Artnet. In the review of the work, by Sarah Cascone (November 10, 2020), a quote from Twitter is shared, posted by Imogen Hermes Gowar “What I hate is the sexy toned female on top. Nameless, nude, and conventionally attractive is the only way women have ever been acceptable in public sculpture”.
Am not sure I agree with Hermes Gowar’s description of the woman depicted in the sculpture (but the name Hermes did make me smile a little in relation to considering classical sculptures). The first thing I noticed in the images of the the figure is her oddly extended neck, in a conical shape, a bit like a Barbie doll. And the narrow hips, androgenous, unlike the voluptuous hips of any Venus. The thought of Venus took me back to Hambling’s scallop shell, designed to celebrate Benjamin Britten on Aldeburgh sands. One can’t see a scallop shell without thinking of a sexy Venus. One cannot see a documentary about Maggie Hambling without thinking of an androgenous lesbian with a wicked and wry sense of humour (well I can’t). Nor can one see a plinth with a statue without thinking of men.
Hold that thought.
While I’m on perspective, let’s return to the long neck and the anamorphic body – the pert breasts (which from below maybe look more like swollen pecs?) and the narrow hips. When you see the photo of the sculpture in its entirety, you see that the figure is tiny and stands at the very tip of a tall column of what looks like solidified liquid. A snapshot of a wave, or an ejaculation of fluid? This is where I began to wonder whether this is Hambling’s humour rising up (forgive the puns!).
Because on seeing a plinth with a plaque, and an inscription which in most works would describe the heroics of the elevated male statue, I immediately questioned what she was up to. Hambling, now in her 70’s, will be aware of the expanded field theory. In 1979 Rosalind Krauss defined sculpture in the expanded field.
Krauss claims that the traditional logic of sculpture transformed into something different. “Instead of making something pretty “logical” or narrative-based, sculptors are able to express their own personality and convey their voice in their work.”
The premise is that sculpture, from then on, did not need to follow conventions of plinths, columns and elevations, but could be an expression of their own personality. Artists were literally looking at the way sculpture relates to the ground, to the human, as opposed to elevation. I’d like to argue that the Wollstonecraft artwork does exactly that. It is ‘for’ Wollstonecraft but ‘about’ Hambling. It pokes fun at the traditional male statues. It offers a different perspective. And the viewer may not get the joke.
Imagine going to visit it (I am trying to do so). You won’t be looking the little woman right in the eye, but be craning your own neck to see her, high above you. From that distance, though not as high as Nelson is in Trafalgar Square) what you see with your eyes will not be the same as what the close up camera shots give you. Surely it will be much more androgenous from down below?
And that big whooshing wave – is that not mimicry of the columns, the perpendicular phallus’s usually used to elevate the famous men? But it is not hard and rigid, it is soft and flowing.
Apparently Hambling describes this figure as being ‘everywoman’ – a figure women aspire to be. Personally, I don’t, and it’s possible others don’t either. But Hambling is the artist and has her own perspective on that.
And, I suspect, has the last laugh too.
I have not made a value judgement on the artwork as I have not seen it myself. I have made that clear. I’m a little alarmed at how many people do make value judgements on ANY creative output without seeing them/reading them/watching them. If we only rely on the critic’s viewpoint, without experiencing something ourselves, we are doing a disservice to the arts, all arts.
Just writing the title for this post warms my cockles! It’s been a while since I have been able to share opportunities – two very different ones – both a pleasure to be involved with. And what makes them special is they are both in the Forest of Dean!
Destination Lydney Harbour – a public artwork contract – £70k budget – open to all
I am pleased to say I have been working as a consultant on this project. This is a substantial contract and requires experience of delivering permanent art in the public realm. You need to register with the procurement portal to get the brief and tender documents.
This one is on my artist website as it is about practice rather than theory. But my experience as a producer enables me to analyse my own practice in context. Pop over and have a look if you are interested, there are some films to watch!
In recent years I have become increasingly aware of attention, during the pandemic my inability has become even worse. For some time now I have found reading a book very challenging and become aware that part of the difficulty is that my curiosity is evoked by something I read – such as the name of a place, or a particular word I don’t know – and off I go. [more]
The Attention Series of writings are both disparate and connected. They speak of a particular time in my life, in our lives, that only four months ago were unimaginable. And how I am processing that world through acting, reflecting and writing. It is a rich time for sharing as we self-isolate and reconsider our place in this topsy-turvy world.
I have previously written a blogpost reflecting upon my first experience of live-relay theatre from London into a rural cinema in the Forest of Dean. More recently, I wrote one about the gratitude I have during lockdown for suddenly having access to cultural resources that previously were too far away, or too expensive, for me to enjoy. These texts are growing into a collection of thoughts that cross reference each other and all relate to how one gives attention to the world, both online and offline. And the differences between those experiences. They are first person observations and the associated thoughts, physical sensations and emotions that arise when one attends to them. It was not my intention to connect them into a collection but is, I feel, a timely thing to do so.
Intention, attention and outtention seem to be a talking point during the Covid19 pandemic.
A thing intended; an aim or plan
(In medicine) the healing process of a wound
Notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.
The action of dealing with or taking special care of someone or something.
things done to express interest in or please someone.
(Military) a position assumed by a soldier, standing very straight with the feet together and the arms straight down the sides of the body.
Outtention: no dictionary definition
Found online, referred to in dialogues about the soul: “…..about levels and layers of our intentions, one of them being “out-tensions” vs. “in-tentions”. An “out-tention” is the first layer of intention that you are projecting externally. This energy serves the exterior version of you, the self that others see, and the one detached from the soul.
I initially added outtention as a term that evolved in my own mind, whilst considering the relationship between attention, intention and the strange wobbly place we are in now. When I searched for outtention online, it was revealed it lacks definition, but is a term used for things relating to the soul. My experience is that external things presently seem more raw, my senses are uber-alert, my mind stimulated by the effort it takes to simply exist in the context of this pandemic. Or risk falling into the void.
We need to draw on all out senses and discover new ways of seeing and understanding the world. It is both curious and frightening. I find my curiosity is winning most of the time as I reflect and try to understand this new world.
If I were to define my use of the term ‘outtention’ it would be to “pay attention with intention – to deliberate, to attempt to understand something one has never experienced before in life”.
These writings are the best I can do.
And documenting how I experience the pandemic in words and imagery.
I am currently working with b-side to provide Creative Producer support to 6 new art commissions for a public art trail in Weymouth town centre. The commissions are for Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. They include the potential to create work in association with water refill units – to our knowledge the first time public art has embraced promoting the use of units, as a trail, to reduce single-use plastics. Wessex Water are supporting the project.
Matt Collishaw VR work, Threshold, at Lacock Abbey, National Trust Estate, Wiltshire.
I’ve not felt compelled to write a review of any work lately, but today’s visit to Lacock Abbey fascinated me in many ways. I went specifically to see Matt Collishaw’s VR work about Talbot Fox, to inform my own learning about the potential of VR in contemporary artworks. I was not disappointed.
I’ve seen a few in the past year – Bjork’s show at Somerset House; Rafman in Berlin Biennale and one in a Cotswolds barn, Corridor, by Helen Kincaid. All very different and satisfying in their own way. But I wish to consider context and the visceral experience and interactive qualities of Collishaw’s piece, not just in the space it was exhibited and experienced, but also in the wider location.
Firstly, you need to know that Fox Talbot was a pioneer of photography, so the medium is perfect shown here. Secondly, you need to know that the VR offer was in a tent in a courtyard within the Abbey walls, which enhances the circus-coming-into-town feel. After all, technology is contemporary snake oil, isn’t it?
What you also need to know is the ‘the village’ of Lacock is used regularly as a film set, so is designed to be easily adaptable for that purpose. It too is a VR environment, with all trappings of contemporary living removed from sight – no satellite dishes, no telephone cables, no PVC doors or modern trappings. Flip-flap – the street conceals the real, yet pretends it is real; the VR artwork presents a seemingly real experience that is virtual, by overlaying onto museum display simulations.
Photography was terrifying for many, and Talbot’s first ‘photos’ were made with real objects, such as plants and pieces of lace, on light sensitised papers to capture virtual images. Contact prints. Touch.
This touch thing is important to our experience of place. What works extremely well with Collishaw’s work is the way you can hold onto the display cases, and even lean on them, (they are naked white blocks, like CAD designs of the wooden ones they are modelled from). Being able to touch the surfaces of the cabinets locates your own body in VR space and time. The virtual fire emanates real warmth and the images in the cases can be extracted and expanded by your hand movements. I even played with a virtual spider which was walking across a portrait on the wall (sadly it only had six legs so wasn’t very convincing!). When rioting chartists are heard outside, you can look through the window and see them shouting below you.
Outside the grounds of the Abbey, in the ‘real’ village, life felt more virtual than it did in the headset. It was more theme park than a theme park. It all messed with my head and really made me consider, yet again, about this merging of real and virtual, and what it means to us and how we experience this world we live in, and create. It all reminds me of Benjamin and Baudrillard, about how a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Somehow the street reverses that phenomena, and Collishaw exemplifies it.