a year of change and challenges
17 May – 1 August 2021 at The Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
Time-Lapse is a creative record of what happened when time stopped as Covid-19 took hold. Nine members of Design-Nation Cornwall & Devon have contributed work exploring this theme of making in isolation, as we emerge once again into the public domain after a period of containment and introspection. Using the exhibition as a springboard, these artists have explored the benefits of creating art as a way of coping with living through a pandemic and vital for raising morale. A exploration of the healing nature of creativity and mental health.
‘Artists have a function. We are part of a conversation. It is our job to represent and mirror back the values of the culture in a way that people haven’t seen before.’https://www.documentjournal.com/2019/01/how-susan-hiller-turned-the-occult-into-radical-art/
This is a shared conversation about Lockdown, and a celebration of when life as we knew it stopped, but we still kept making.
My practice is deeply rooted in my relationship with the land. I create artworks that paying homage to what I observe and worship within the natural world, using a meditative making process is ritualistic and a spiritual experience.
In 2020, during the peace of the first lockdown, I became increasingly concerned by how far-removed from nature humans have become. The pandemic has distracted attention from the climate change crisis that we are already experiencing. A crisis for which there was no vaccine.
This body of work is inspired by my fascination with the standing stones and ancient monuments of Europe’s tribal past. The lichen is symbolic of our need to rekindle connection to Mother Earth. Lichen is a symbiotic life form, two beings that co-operate to live in harmony symbolises the reciprocal relationship our ancestors had with the land, the ancestors who built the ancient monuments we still see today.
When lockdown began I was bereft and disorientated. Gradually, through experimentation; by stretching and pulling at ideas, I uncovered a new strand of work incorporating both my love of textiles and ceramics, knotting nets to catch fish, reminded of the exquisite woven bamboo and grass animal traps I’d seen in the Pitt Rivers ethnological Museum in Oxford. Entwining rusty wire into hand-held ‘containers’ for porcelain pipefish, soon grew into huggable sizes to contain larger objects. The process of weaving became a meditative act as new ways of making emerged from isolation. But are these traps or cocoons for fish? and were we protected during lockdown or trapped?
Ghost Fishing highlights industrial fishing techniques and world-wide overflow of detritus and flotsam. Washed up sea twine is twisted into hand-made braid and hooked with porcelain fish. Ovid wrote ‘Where belief is painful we are slow to believe.’ We need to cherish our beautiful planet and its extraordinary inhabitants.
There have been times in the last twelve months when I did not want to go into the studio at all. Every exhibition and craft fair that I was involved in was cancelled. All the galleries were shut. Suddenly I had absolutely no work. I have tried to keep going by refining my skills, by studying online and by experimenting in the studio with new techniques.
Lockdown also meant restrictions: unable to buy porcelain, I resolved to use only what was in my studio. It also meant freedom. Walking became inspiration: a bird’s egg, with its sense of sanctuary, a clay print left by a boot. I found that I wanted to make work which commented on our plight and about concerns for the special place in which I live. I made tiny vessels and many, many boxes. Repetition felt reassuring and became the over-riding theme of all my work.
Fiona J Sperryn
During the first lockdown of 2020, I was working intently on a commission to translate a painter’s work into weave. It was a challenge to reproduce the range of colour required and I decided to develop the technical knowledge gained during this period in my own practice over the following months. I have taken this time to advance my work along bold new lines and experiment intuitively with colour, stepping sideways from representational work to concentrate on abstract patterned pieces.
I have revisited why I first loved textiles, researching beautiful cloth from around the world and I have delighted in the process and physical interaction with colourful thread. While I create the digital liftplan to instruct the jacquard loom to lift specific threads, the weft of every piece is hand-woven. I wind a mix of threads onto bobbins and then throw up to ten shuttles of different colours and fibres.
During Lockdown, I had more time to read and I love nature writing. Reading ‘The Running Hare’ by John Lewis-Stemple and ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree inspired the thought behind the Talisman range.
For each Talisman piece, I researched the names of rare species of plants and animals that are endangered and/or extinct due to mis-informed human action. I wanted to create a contemporary jewellery collection that calls to mind the names of these diminishing lives as a way of remembering them and holding them in our consciousness.
A portion of the profits from each sale will be donated to a related charity to help fund the work they do in saving our wildlife and wild places.
During 2021, through research for the Talisman collection, I have started a group called Makers Against Extinction to bring the craft community together to support global conservation projects.
Stuck in a boat,
Stuck in a boatyard,
Stuck in Gweek,
Stuck in Cornwall,
… (and the sun shone)
We were the lucky ones …
locking down, in what (we think)
is the most beautiful place in the world.
Living in a bubble.
Living to avoid the lurgy
I live in my boat,
I walk my dogs,
I go to my studio,
I socialise with people in a safe cyber world of artists and makers;
… (and my mum on the phone)
Now I physically talk to more physical people …
who like us …
Stuck in their boats,
Stuck in this boatyard,
Stuck in Cornwall.
This boatyard of people …
who guiltily confessed …
in hushed tones …
of actually rather enjoying this new locked down world of staying at home.
And my work ??
Well it’s still being made from discarded objects
found in the same boatyard as before lockdown ….
… (and the sun shone)
My subconscious sparks memories and feelings which evolve into a cohesive visual language that is at the heart of each of my collections. During lockdown I became acutely aware of the importance to mentally ground myself by taking daily walks on my local beaches. I collected seaweed and driftwood which feature in my work as a reminder of my connection to the planet and its fragility. My wax carved and cast mountain range rings are a direct response to my own personal struggles with the Corona Virus pandemic and its impact on my life. Losing both my parents last year, has forced me to delve deeper into the mental challenges we all face on a daily basis. I invite the wearer of my jewellery to look at the way we value what is most important to us and to treasure every moment.
To create art during lockdown was difficult. Creativity seemed to be all around: on the radio, zoom calls, art clubs from rainbows to sourdough. My mind went blank. Like many I needed to find a way to feel in control and relax. In the winter months whilst Storm Dennis was raging I set myself a task of drawing for 15 minutes a day. This routine became a really helpful tool as we entered into Lockdown I was able to reset in those minutes.
The early sketches in 2020 focussed on being in my home looking out on a world only accessible for an hour or to go and get food. As time went on I started to draw up and down the street taking a few moments to capture some of the colourful posters and messages placed in windows for passers-by. This was May.
Throughout the past year I have been trying to find comfort and headspace. When space seemed so constricted that headspace was found in creativity.
I make artworks and installations that cross boundaries of disciplines, materials and processes, responding to particular places across time. My starting points are often ancient archaeological sites, and works in glass, enamels and Japanese papers mirror both the wider landscape and close up surface details, with changes of viewpoints. As in time-lapse photography, shapes and images shift and repeat, building a visual story.
Much of my recent work draws from the timeless Bronze Age landscape of West Penwith, and I often return several times to photograph and record changes throughout the year. The fired glass wall pieces in Time-Lapse incorporate photographic fragments, and are waterjet cut with layers of translucent glass enamels. Piercings cast shadows, and are drawn from map like shapes of lichens on stones.
Over the last year time has stilled as a series of glass slides – frozen moments, encapsulations of memories, places visited, and small, layered worlds.