History Reframed in Community Art Project
Watch as eight artists, twelve young people and a whole community respond to a local museum collection during the summer of 2016. In the wake of Townscape 2014, a £40,000 community art initiative in East Grinstead, artists have further purloined their town’s resources to produce new work of national significance.
Townscape 2016 comprises two exhibitions showing simultaneously in town centre venues. At the town museum, a team of professional artists who call themselves ‘Example’ present eight individual responses to the collection, from 25 May to 4 September 2016. The resulting exhibition includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, painting and stitch. In the town library, students from local secondary schools will exhibit their own version of the project from 3 June to 3 September 2016.
Find out which objects and artefacts each artists chose, and how they chose to respond in creating unique artwork for the exhibition. In the coming months, artists from Example will be staging a number of adult and family workshops in an extension of the theme, ‘reframing local history’, watch this space for further details.
With work by Example artists (click on the artist to go straight to their work):
Hannah Buckley Healing Hands
This series of work began when artist Hannah Buckley studied a collection of drawings at the Museum. Red Cross nurse Mollie Lentaigne worked at the Queen Victoria Hospital, as a medical artist, with Archibald McIndoe and other plastic surgeons, illustrating the surgical procedures they carried out. Although McIndoe was most famous for innovations in facial plastic surgery, Buckley was drawn to the medical illustrations of pilots’ hands, repaired after sustaining burns or frost-bite.
Buckley’s work explores a fictitious sequence of events; from an initial tragedy to eventual recuperation. Implied in the work is the relationship between patient and surgeon.
Susan Dodds Indian Silver Trophy 1928
Being fascinated by pots, Susan Dodds was drawn to a rather beautiful, intricately wrought, silver bowl presented by West Sussex County Council Fire Service to East Grinstead Fire Brigade on the occasion of their sports day in 1928.
It is described as an Indian silver cup with foliage scrolls. Incised on it are four hunting scenes with big cats attacking lion, boar, antelope and elephant. Elephant heads and trunks form the handles.
Dodds has chosen to explore the shape through colour and pattern in lino prints, using printing inks combined with acrylic paint on paper.
The pot has been simplified but the decoration, especially the animal figures, emphasised. In some cases the animal scenes leap off the pot. On one print the Indian origin has been accentuated by having an Indian paisley decoration background.
Harriet Brigdale The Carpet Beater
This project started when artist Harriet Brigdale saw the beater and remembered her mother’s beautiful carpet, threadbare through years of treatment by carpet beating.
Intrigued by what the beater could do when used, or even abused, Brigdale created several different textures and media to create the carpet; combined with the metal carpet beater, appearing threatening and yet quite elegant.
Through most of the artist’s projects a small idea appears when she sees something; a shadow on a building or a branch against the sky, and this becomes the start of an ongoing series of images. There are continuous ideas from many visual clues, which then lead to the production of new work.
Many ideas are also influenced by media used. Painting, printmaking, watercolours, pen and ink drawing, coloured pencil drawing, pastels, oil pastels or work with fabrics all have their own effect on the work and the artist always tries to be open to these changes.
Andrew Webb The Brick Mould
Artist Andrew Webb is interested in traditional ideas for sculpture such as juxtaposition of shape and form in space. For Townscape 2016, he takes inspiration from the heritage of the town’s brickworks.
The sculptor is interested in totemic forms; work that seems to move upwards to something better, maybe providing a gateway to the heavens! He works in steel, bronze and stainless steel.
Sheri Gee Stitched Up
This body of work is inspired by the cross-stitch sampler on display at the Museum, sewn by a ten year old girl from Baldwins Hill School in 1878. Exploring the project, artist Sheri Gee became interested in the seeming loss of these traditional needlecraft skills amongst school children today, despite cross-stitch’s current renaissance, with many young designers creating avant-garde patterns, often referencing modern culture.
The figure of a girl working on a cross-stitch design, a current student of Baldwins Hill School, forms the basis of this project, in an attempt to link the past with the present. The paintings weave threads between contemporary art and traditional needlecraft, some pieces employing cross-stitch together with oil painting.
Jackie Watkins The Telephone
Artist Jackie Watkins selected her Museum object because of personal recollections and the realisation of how much technology has evolved during her life time.
The telephone is identical in design and colour to Watkins’ first ever home family telephone, possibly installed early1970 at the request of her father’s employer; the first home telephone in their street. Before this the only telephone use was by the red public telephone box for emergency services or to call the doctor, never for social calls.
On a recent trip to London, the artist counted half the number of pedestrians on the very busy Tottenham Court Road totally engaged with their smart phone whilst crossing the road. The telephone now provides a continuous access to information.
Watkins’ work is created in copper wire, an element of the telephone system. The hanging journeys downwards, with the telephone morphing as smart telephone shapes became ever more predominant.
Renate Wilbraham Socks In Deed
The Museum has an abundance of texts written by those who have lived in the town through the decades. Many of these texts reflect the minutiae of everyday life; a postcard, the record of the first stamp sold at the Post Office in London Road, a school boy’s musings and many, many more.
Wilbraham’s work is built upon one phrase found in a note written as a thank you to Fred Tooth from the vicar, Douglas Y Blakiston, on the return of a pair of socks lent to him whilst they watched the Vicarage burn down on 27th February 1900.
Morphogenetic freehand drawing exploits what develops as lines are drawn, taking advantage of the line previously drawn. There is no correction of course, no change of direction – just building upon what has gone before; exploiting and exploring any deviation that may occur. One might possibly compare it to how society builds upon itself and continues on regardless.
Annie Burrows Blades and Gags
Artist Annie Burrows has always found metal tools quite alluring. They are designed with precision for a particular use. In the case of the Museum’s collection of surgical instruments from the Queen Victoria Hospital they were modified by the surgeons who used them, such as Archibald McIndoe, to improve performance.
The juxtaposition of these strange looking instruments and the visceral reality of the body led the artist to imagine their uses and explore a range of possibilities for them. In particular she is fascinated by how they become an extension of the user that in turn allows the surgeon to both repair and create.
Mammory sizing rings (QVH22) and McIndoe breast knife (QVH24) – used in breast surgery
Oldfield’s skin graft spreading shovel (QVH29)- used in conjunction with a skin grafting knife to transport thin samples of skin
Doyen’s mouth gag (QVH58)- placed behind the back teeth during surgery
For more about our exciting new project, please see our press release.