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As we near the end of our current exhibition, 'Regions of Light' at the Hestercombe Galley we talked to artist Rebecca Chesney about her work and inspiration:
Where did you begin your career as an artist and how has this developed?
I started my career where I was born and brought up - in north Lancashire, but I've moved around a bit since then to Wales, Norfolk, County Durham and now back in Lancashire. I have always made work that is concerned with the human impact on the environment, our perception of landscape and our relationship with nature, but how I work has changed a bit - I started out mainly making sculpture, but now I use many different mediums to convey an idea.
How do you describe your work?
I am interested in how we perceive land: how we romanticise, translate and define urban and rural spaces.
I look at how politics, ownership, management and commercial value all influence our surroundings and have made extensive investigations into the impact of human activities on nature and the environment.
Exploring the blurred boundaries between science and folklore, my work is also concerned with how our understanding of species is fed by this confused mix of truth and fiction.
My projects take the form of installations, interventions, drawings, maps and walks and are underpinned by research into the protection of the environment, conversations with scientists and a desire to make work specific to chosen locations.
Tell us about the pieces featured in 'Regions of Light’ ?
Language of Birds
4 x ‘Language of Birds’
Ink print text on paper. Each 18 x 13cm, 2014
They are bird songs as translated by EM Nicholson in 1936
wee choo is Coal Tit; trewirioee is Mistle thrush; tchay is Willow tit; p’tsooee tsooee is Great tit
A sorrowful sight I saw; dark night coming down prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow’.
Pencil on paper 59 x 84cm
The Bronte drawing was made while on a residency at The Bronte Parsonage Museum in 2011/12. I sited a solar powered digital weather station in the Museum garden and collected data for a year. The drawing is of a night in 2011 that most closely matches the description of the evening when the character Lockwood gets stranded at Wuthering Heights, in Emily Bronte’s novel. So, it’s historical fictional writing linked with contemporary climate data.
Snapshot, Colours of the Brecon Beacons.
Snapshot by Rebecca Chesney
I made, named and described 96 colours derived from my experience in the national park over 6 weeks. I did this by collecting hundreds of photos, and samples of soil, water, plants, rocks, plastic etc. Hestercombe has a framed copy (front and back) of the colour chart plus 4 x soil samples and 16 bits on display: pony hair, celandine, fur, lichen x 2, gorse, black plastic x 2, green plastic x 3, blue plastic, moss, pheasant feather, catkins, rusty tractor metal. The colour chart was commissioned by Peak.
Laser-cut card 30 x 40
Sycamore with Tar spot Rhytisima acerinum
And Cherry with a bacterial canker Shot hole Pseudomonas syringae
Urban Wildlife Observations.
Digital videos. I’ve been collecting observations of wildlife in urban habitats since 2013:
Wasps in Preston 2014; House Crows in Mumbai 2013; Poplar seeds in Preston 2014; Ant in Johannesburg 2013; House Sparrow in Preston 2015
What are your main influences and areas of interest at the moment?
At the moment I am particularly interested in looking at extreme weather episodes and the connection to climate change and human influence on the environment.
Which artists do you follow and/or are inspired by?
Loads of artists inspire me, but also scientists, writers, designers etc.
What is your favourite gallery or inspirational place to visit?
That’s a difficult one to answer - I travel quite a bit and love going to new places and see new things. I always try and go to galleries and museums to see exhibitions, but also love exploring / walking in cities and the countryside. I just returned from a residency near San Francisco, California and the museums and galleries around there were wonderful.
What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
I have just returned from 2 months in California where I was researching extreme weather (they have suffered years of drought, and now very damaging floods) where I had meetings with scientists at NASA, Stanford University and UC Berkeley. This project will develop over the coming months with resulting work launched next spring. It was incredibly exciting to go to NASA and see the research going on there connected to earth science and use of satellite technology etc.
For your last chance to see Rebecca's work along with other artists including Paul Deborough, Jem Southam and Rev John Eagles (17783 - 1855) visit the Hestercombe Gallery before the exhibition ends on 2 July, 11am - 5pm.