Gallery 2: Exhibition 1st July – 13th August 2017
Open: Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 am to 5pm
Vulgar Earth is a contemporary exhibition of sculpture, painting and installation, exploring and questioning our interactions with the environment around us.
In this blog post we meet the artists behind the Vulgar Earth Exhibition: Simon Meiklejohn, Peter Horrocks, Jackie Yeomans, Verity Howard, Jim Carter, Rob McCarthy and Glyndwr Brimacombe.
A qualified mechanical engineer Simon trained under a traditional apprenticeship scheme in Hereford and studied fine art in Cleveland. Combining disciplines he achieves a balance between artist informing engineer and engineer informing artist.
Art performs many subtle and dramatic roles in our society. It is a varying and multifaceted thing, and its forms overlap, compliment and sometimes oppose each other. I too am not one fixed and constant thing, I have different heads, moods and motivations that influence my work. Of these many forms I see areas that I move between.
There is a whimsy, a humour and a child like playfulness, that sometimes takes the lead. In it’s way I feel it is very important, we should not be too grown up and serious all of the time, we should have moments of silliness and be acquainted with the child’s innocence and purity, I think it is important for perspective and scale, and indeed mental health. There is also what I might refer to as pure art, that is, the pursuit of beauty, in all it’s aspects; form, colour, texture, movement and sound. These are the things that enrich our lives, quietly in the background, they ask nothing of us, they force no agenda. They are the glimpses of beauty that are caught in the corner of your eye. They are the tranquility that you do not realise you are watching, while your mind is miles away, either dealing with a problem or being momentarily and happily vacant.
And then there is that, emotive, noble and ignoble thing we call fine art. I define it; if this is possible, as art that wishes to impart meaning, topic or emotion. It is a mixture of the whimsy and the pure, with politics and philosophy, propaganda and advertising, psychiatry, psychology and sociology, ideology and humanity. It is discussion and argument, postulation and ridicule, it plays on emotion, it questions concepts, it underlines and highlights, it is moot.
In this last area is my passion, in this area I am most complete, every aspect of me is encompassed here, as an artist, as a maker, and as a human being. This is where I explore my concerns, my frustrations and my observations, but this would not be possible in isolation, without the level and balance of the other areas I also occupy.
For me the point of art is not intrinsic with topic, form, style or motivation, but is an opportunity to brake from the everyday and the functional. It is an excuse to stand and contemplate. It is a distraction, that allows us to return to our lives with fresh eyes and good humour.
Peter Horrocks was born in 1945 in Oldham, Lancashire. He studied at Leicester College of Art, Chelsea School of Art and London University. He began his teaching career in London and moved to Herefordshire in 1971.
His work has been exhibited widely in Herefordshire and Shropshire as well as nationally.
My work is characterised by a concern for abstraction and carefully constructed structures. Initial images are often drawn from landscape sources with themes such as; ‘Traces’, ‘Earth works’ and ‘Landmarks’, which explore marks left behind in nature and their possible meaning. I am always more interested in small fragments of the landscape and geological features rather than the bigger picture.
I like to work on a series of images at the same time and enjoy the way the works interact with each other – one work teaches me about the next. I usually work on a square format which contains the image in a balanced way and reads less like a traditional landscape composition.
I use natural earth pigments mainly sourced from the ochres mined at the Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean. In 2011 I mined it myself 300 feet down in the old iron ore mines. Other pigments have been sourced on my travels, including Australia and Roussillion in France, for the best yellow ochre.
The dry earth pigment is rubbed into the surface of an acid free board. Any structural lines are first incised into the board using various metal scribers. This enables the drawing to become a more physical part of the image.
More recent work explores the combination of textural qualities. Layers of gesso, plaster, pigment, slate dust, etc are applied to panels. Surfaces are layered, revealing colours beneath the surface by scraping, rubbing, digging and sanding.
I have also become inspired by the aesthetic qualities of early Japanese ceramics and the concept of wabi-sabi, described as one of beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermenant and incomplete’. The journey continues.
Verity Howard is a ceramic artist from Hereford. She graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2015 with a B.A (Hons) First Class Degree in Three Dimensional Design.
In November 2015, she took part in an international ceramic residency, Project Network, at Guldagergaard (International Ceramic Research Centre, Denmark).
Following her graduation she has exhibited nationally, at New Designers, London, The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Manchester, The Manchester Craft and Design Centre, Manchester (Solo Exhibition) and Made North, Sheffield. She has also exhibited internationally at The Apple House Gallery, Denmark.
Verity was also recently selected to be part of the Crafts Council’s development programme; Hothouse 2017. Hothouse brings together 35 maker businesses across a variety of disciplines for a six-month programme delivered in partnership with institutions across the UK.
Verity has most recently exhibited at Aardvark Books in Brampton Bryan. This was a group ceramics exhibition entitled ‘Fire and Earth’ which showcased the current diversity of ceramics being made in Herefordshire and the Marches.
Verity is interested in responding to themes linked to people’s lives and places in order to create contemplative ceramic artworks. She makes slab built forms using clay as a medium for drawing and monoprinting.
‘A Ley Landscape’ was made in response to Victorian photographs taken by Alfred Watkins of rural Herefordshire. Watkins’s photographs document his research into Ley Lines, with his images often depicting ancient pathways, hills and mounds. Verity was drawn to his images for their mysterious, looming, dark, sinister and foreboding qualities. In this body of work Verity has created ceramic forms depicting themes from Watkins’s landscapes which capture the qualities that she was drawn to in his photographs. In order to reflect the atmosphere of Watkins’s images Verity has monoprinted a variety of grey slips and minimal line drawings on to the surface of the works. This conveys a stillness of mood.
Jackie Yeomans has lived in Dorset for the last three years, having spent most of her life living in rural Herefordshire. Returning to exhibit in Vulgar Earth @ Canwood, Jackie has produced a new body of work with her rich pickings from the Dorset Coast.
Jackie has painted on paper with soils, clays & earth pigments, collected from the locality. She spends time exploring the coast, walking and feeling her way as she seeks colours to collect, as she becomes embodied by her surroundings; gleaning information of the earth’s time frame and movement, animal and human habitation and movement, and the relationship of land edge and sea movement. Her painting practice becomes a meditation, slowly translating the ancient layers, the lay of the land, pathways and folds. She incorporates the macro and micro, seeing patterns and landscapes within a fragment of stone. Within the process of life, death and entropy, each piece has its own evolution.
SOIL IS LIFE:
A selection of soils collected from 4 counties; Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Herefordshire. Soil is a living, visceral medium to work with; each soil has its own colour, texture and quality. Jackie thins the soils with water and a drop of linseed oil, which acts as a binder. She goes into a soil zone, considering its aspects: the millions of years of formation, the dynamic eco system, the gift of its life force energising the seed, her gratitude for abundance and her concern for the extensive decline of healthy soil, abused by industrial farming practices. She is a gardener of organic vegetables; her days are spent touching earth, the soil under her fingernails. This and her art practice, for Jackie, is holistic nurturing: soil is life. Each painting starts with an essence of an idea to which she allows the soil to bring itself to life. Each mark has to be considered as she moves along the paper, as that mark is the one, if it is painted over it becomes too dense and will fix less well. Dirt is related in a clean form as a blessing to good health!
Jackie is keen to promote awareness of where our food comes from and the soil and seed relationship, encouraging the idea of supporting local growers. Each single seed is a precious gift in its potential of life, growing your own food is possible for everyone, in small scale pot planting or larger scale garden growing. Sharing home grown produce is a delightful way to act within a community and saving seeds to pass on to others keeps the gift moving forward. This promotion has been enabled through hosting workshops in collaboration with Falmouth Art Gallery, situated within the Cultural Triangle of St. Ives, Penzance and Falmouth; there is a long standing community outreach program set up with a non-didactic ethos, encouraging art for all, a principle Jackie holds.
Nurturing nature and nurturing creativity are the essence of Jackie’s project and the ethos of her life and artistic practice. Encouraging the gift of creativity through making within a community field brings together people of all ages and abilities to produce a collaborative art piece.
For this project, Jackie says: we have taken a small, hold-in-the-hand, ball of clay, placed inside this earth vessel a chosen seed, and then formed a figure to be the protector of the seed. All participants have been willing and excited to be a part of a bigger picture and be given the opportunity to have their creation in a public exhibition. The Seed Community want to encourage planting, growing and saving seeds, these then can be passed on as gifts for others to do the same. Canwood has offered the Seed Guardians a resting place, for they will be given back to the land at the Gallery grounds and potentially become a riot of abundant vegetables and fruit!
COSMOS SEED MARBLES:
5,000 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean last year (2016) whilst desperately seeking safe Home. Men, women and children of all ages and the death toll continues to rise as more wars, land grabbing, toxic pollution carries on; whatever the reasons given are, it is a devastating act on humanity. Have we lost our marbles!
An old farming technique known as pelleting, which coats seeds in clay before planting; it protects the seed from drowning in overly wet soil and acts as a slow release mechanism giving more strength to the roots.
Each marble has been made to honour each person who drowned. Inside the marble a Cosmos seed is harboured. They will be planted after the exhibition.
Jackie’s 6 year old granddaughter, Lola, assisted with the making of the marbles and knowing her mission was to make 100, to encourage herself she said, “So Nana, let me get this, each poor person who died will be turned into their own Cosmos, that’s making something very sad beautiful.” She honoured the lives and made 200!
Thank you to Richard Wilson Ceramics, West Bay, Dorset for the generous gift of clay. Thank you to Lola Mae Robinson, Cherry Baum, Freddie Miller, Karen Hughes and Mary Ragg for the making of many marbles.
Based in Cornwall, Jim Carter received an MA with distinction in Art and Environment from Falmouth University. With a practice grounded in seasonal cycles of destruction and renewal, his sculpture and writing is concerned with myth and transformation in animals and landscape. A member of the Newlyn Society of Artists, his work has appeared in Unpsychology and Earthlines magazine.
“There is a fragility in this work, an other-worldness speaking to us from we don’t quite know where. But it is not all fragile. Jim Carter’s work is deeply animal and yet deeply human in its passions and propensities. We gain a new understanding of his work by looking at the materials from which it is made: skin, bones, seeds, soil, ash. It becomes redolent of, if not death, then other-life. A place we intrinsically know from the work without perhaps understanding why. The work is dreamlike. Not always perhaps the kind of dreams we like to have; they tell tales of other lives and unknown dimensions. We are told stories we can’t quite grasp.”,
“Jim Carter creates powerful, profound renditions of the animal world and the mythic psyche.”,
Rob McCarthy’s paintings come to the Canwood Gallery with “Vulgar Earth.” They aim to introduce visitors to a depiction of the Celtic scenery inspired by the coastlines of Wales and Scotland, Rob McCarthy’s work uses landscapes elements such as sky, sea and cliffs to define human emotions, but in a more expressionist even romantic way. Rob studied under Sir Robin Philipson and was heavily influenced by the Scottish colourists.
“Rob McCarthy’s paintings, hit you like a blow to the guts. He turns the elements of our planet water, rock, earth, moon – into a language of paint that flew past my brain and spoke straight to my soul. It is the light. What McCarthy does with oils makes water and sky shimmer and glow with luminescence. His oceans, lakes, reservoirs, waterfalls are radiant in the darkness. When his paintings work they are elemental, stripped back to a powerful geometry of place. The rock, the water, the earth, has weight. Gravity, and yet they glow ghostly and ephemeral. He has found a language of the cosmos, the heart and the soul in paint that speaks like poetry.
After visiting one of his exhibitions at ‘Art in general’ – New York, Nancy Grimes wrote of Rob McCarthy that he “Transforms sections of the Scottish coast into brooding psychologically charged vistas. By radically simplifying form, transposing the warm and cool tonalities of landscape into saturated reds maroons and ultramarine sand rendering descriptive detail as ragged streaks and matted patches of pastel he invents a nocturnal hallucinatory world that blurs the distinctions between inner and outer self.” J White 2015
Rob McCarthy was born in London and attended Hornsey College of Art before going on to Edinburgh College of Art.
He has undertaken study tours of Orkney, Los Angeles and Andalucía in Spain. He was an artist in residence at Edinburgh’s 369 Gallery for over 3 years. He received a British Council Travel award in 1988.
Rob McCarthy’s work is held in collections such as Scottish Arts Council, Coopers and Lybrand, Edinburgh City Art centre and private collections throughout Europe and the US. Rob has exhibited extensively in the UK and the USA.
I am a self taught artist working from my basement studio in the beautiful South Wales Valleys.
My latest work is UV reactive fluid abstracts, which under uv light totally changes the painting. These paintings have hidden colours and details that you can’t see in normal light but are revealed in vivid 3D colour under ultra-violet light that draws you in to inspect the detail that is revealed.
This is my way of showing that you can’t always see the full picture in front of you, sometimes you have to look closer and in a different light to understand. The same is true of people I think. These are paintings that change with the light, and for me they are my therapy.