Lucy Soni, Portal (Entangled Mass) 2021, Hand cut book pages, entomology pins
13th November - 27th February 2022
Hestercombe Gallery will present a major exhibition of artwork from 13th November to 27th February 2022. ‘Changing Atmospheres’ explores creative responses from nine unique artists on what it means to rediscover connection to natural environments and the self
Showcasing new and recent works from Paul Emmanuel, Fiona Hingston, Trish Morrissey, Susie Olczak, Alexandra Searle, Lucy Soni, Peter Stiles, Madinah Farhannah Thompson and Matt Stokes, Changing Atmospheres will feature painting in its many forms, sculpture, film, performance and sound work.
Artistic Director and Curator of this arresting new exhibition, Tim Martin, says:
“The past two years have led many of us to reconnect with our local natural environments. During this time contemporary artists have had exhibitions and commissions put on hold, which has led to uncertainty but often given time for reassessment and re-engagement. Here we present nine artists, some of whom have realised new works for Hestercombe that were initially postponed by the pandemic, others where their relationships with flora and fauna have taken on new meanings during this time”.
Paul Emmanuel’s sculptural fleece paintings evoke a strong sense of place. Working from his chapel studio in the Brecon Beacons, the works focus on materiality and process that are intrinsically linked to the local, pastoral landscape.
Fiona Hingston’s poignant hay sculptures of a sleeping bag and pillow are made for her friend and neighbour Joyce, one of many who died of Coronavirus. Using hay from Joyce’s field, Hingston stresses the importance of keeping her methods simple, “just twist the grass”.
Trish Morrissey takes as her starting point Christopher Anstey’s An Election Ball, published in 1776 and illustrated by C.W.Bampfylde of Hestercombe, to inspire her new film Madge; an updated satirical look at Georgian Bath society from a contemporary woman’s point of view.
Susie Olczak’s Digital Projection, Waiting for the Natural to be Switched on, explores Hestercombe’s landscape garden, it's Great Cascade, through the use of framing. The filmwork is a visual journey which layers together footage of plants and water from within the gardens and intertwining materials found in Olczak’s studio and the architectural spaces she moves through.
Alexandra Searle draws on references to the mental and the medical, creating sculptures that combine the solid with the fragile and create tensions and anxieties that are often physically represented in the strain and weight of the materials themselves.
Lucy Soni's work captures the spontaneous mark making of children through a classically trained eye, creating carefully balanced ‘scribble’ or ‘doodle’ compositions. Catching COVID-19 shifted the artist's attention to the outdoors, inspired by Gertrude Jekyll’s planting, here she utilises images of plants and gardens in her large-scale wall piece.
Peter Stiles returns time and time again to the same places in Devon to create his landscape paintings. He draws parallels between the composing of pictures of nature with gardening and romanticism. Stiles assembles rocks and other features of the landscape into a rhythmic, musical flow - drawing on energies supplied by arabesques and rhythms that Gainsborough would recognise.
Matt Stokes presents a 16-channel audio installation entitled Beyond the Field. Originally made in 2019, it draws from the historical records of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, who made important recordings of changes to fauna and flora, or life on earth, as a consequence of the agricultural revolution of the 18th Century.
During this pandemic, three artists have been connected to residencies at Hestercombe, in partnership with the Ingram Collection. Guardian featured artist, Madinah Farhannah Thompson, examines black British people's relationship with the English countryside. Born and raised in rural Norfolk, in this debut piece, Thompson presents the first in a series of works exploring black and rural identities through film and text.
Philip White, Chief Executive of Hestercombe commented:
“In addition to nine, unique artists with varied art forms, one of the galleries in this is being used as a community space to display work by teachers and young people, initially, in partnership with SPAEDA, reflecting on similar experiences and concerns that the pandemic has placed on teachers minds.
“Hestercombe is committed to engaging with the local community, with art and heritage, this is the perfect opportunity to highlight the value of art and culture in society.
“These diverse artists, and the work they have produced during the past two years, will make viewers think poignantly about history and the true significance of the landscape. Changing Atmospheres invites people to consider how art and the environment allows us to forge connections with our identity, other people, our history and place in the world”.
Changing Atmospheres is supported by Arts Council England and Somerset West and Taunton.
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Hestercombe Gallery opened in 2014 with the aim of showcasing the best in contemporary arts practice. Seven years on from its opening, Hestercombe Gallery has delivered a programme of high quality exhibitions in reclaimed spaces, a series of artists in residence, outdoor commissions as well as an engagement programme including talks, seminars and workshops involving artists, students, academics, teachers and experts from other disciplines.
The Hestercombe Gardens Trust is an independent charitable trust, famous for its unique collection of gardens which span three centuries of garden history and design. The Formal Garden is hailed as one of the finest examples of the world renowned partnership between garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Hestercombe House and Gardens has undergone acclaimed restoration works and continues to develop and grow giving visitors a stunning setting to explore, learn and relax.
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Over the last 30 years Hestercombe’s historic landscape and its unique, world famous gardens have been lovingly restored.
However, Hestercombe’s closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Hestercombe Gardens Trust’s finances. We’re an independent charity without the safety net of larger organisations, and we must now raise substantial funds to ensure Hestercombe continues to thrive and to help secure its magnificent heritage for future generations.
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