11:00am - 4:00pm | Cost: Standard Garden Admission

Focusing on our relationship with landscape and the environment at a time of climate change and biodiversity collapse, this exhibition charts a journey from the importance of our deep oceans and shorelines, along rivers to local hills and the gardens at Hestercombe. It brings together work by Emma Critchley, Feral Practice with Megan Broadmeadow, Hannah Fletcher, Lydia Halcrow and Jem Southam and includes work from Hestercombe’s own collections, together with a newly commissioned audio play by Stephanie Weston.

Emma Critchley uses a combination of photography, film, sound to continually explore human relationships with the underwater environment as a political, philosophical and environmental space. Focusing here, for example, on the imminent threat of deep-sea mining for rare earth minerals, or the long-term study of a 4-acre tidal pool, a remnant of a coastal town’s heyday. The materiality of the coast is also from where Lydia Halcrow’s inspiration comes. Made over a period of 8 years walking the banks of the Taw Estuary in North Devon, a time that coincided with the last years of her grandmother’s life, living as she did overlooking the river. Her work, that spans print, drawing, installation and painting, is formed in response to a close observation of human traces in our landscapes and the gradual decay of post-industrial structures and coastal erosion through the passage of time.

Jem Southam’s richly detailed photographs document subtle changes and transitions of the British landscape, from the coastline to the river, to the tops of hills and into the garden. He explores cycles of life and death through the seasons, his works being characterised by their balance of poetry and lyricism within a documentary practice. Likewise, Hannah Fletcher, works with the photographic, alongside not-so photographic materials. Working in an investigative, ritualistic and environmentally conscious manner, she combines scientific techniques with photographic processes. In a new work here, she intertwines matter from the grounds of Hestercombe including iron, wood ash, nettles and water from the cascade into photographic mediums and traditional analogue photographic processes. Working with images from the archive, she creates imagery that is both of and from the garden. The photographic materials become activated by the same stuff they depict, the only thing separating the garden in the imagery and the garden in the chemistry is time. Like Southam, she creates landscape-based poetic dialogues.

Emma Critchley 2024
Emma Critchley, 2024

Feral Practice draws on artistic, scientific and subjective knowledge practices to expand relationality and cultural connection across species boundaries. They use digital technologies together with analogue processes to foreground creaturely lives and explore the forces of modernity that threaten them. Their new digital commission The Word for Home is Forest is a short fiction film made in collaboration with artist Megan Broadmeadow and students from Pyrland School in Taunton. Countering the narrative that assumes a divide between nature and culture, it presents an alternative vision of the Quantock Hills as home to a group of diverse and hybrid characters for whom the landscape is the wellspring of cultural production, vital for emotional and biological survival.

This exhibition also brings together several important strands of engagement work. As part of the culmination of the SPAEDA/Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme’s work across the Quantock Hills, Pyrland School have collaborated in the making of Feral Practice’s film work and have had curatorial input into historic works that support the exhibition. Theatre West’s ‘Making an Exhibition of Yourself’ commission supporting young writers in the South
West, has, in partnership with Hestercombe, produced ‘Charlotte and Emily’ a newly commissioned audio play by Stephanie Weston inspired by Gertrude Jekyll’s trowel from Hestercombe’s collections.

The title draws inspiration from Donna Haraway's words in her book ‘Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene’ (2016, p.12): “It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.”

Artists include: Emma Critchley, Feral Practice with Megan Broadmeadow, Hannah Fletcher, Lydia Halcrow and Jem Southam with Pyrland School, SPAEDA, Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme and Stephanie Weston with Theatre West.

Dates & Tickets

What Stories Make Worlds is showing at Hestercombe Gallery from 20th July 2024 until 23rd February 2025.

Entry is by gardens admission only.

Hestercombe Gallery is open daily from 11am - 4pm.

Event Location

Hestercombe Gardens
Hestercombe Gardens
Cheddon Fitzpaine
Emma Critchley 2024

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