I was drawn to this exhibition to see Laura Ellen Bacon’s willow work, a recurring interest of mine, and to see the paper cutting work of Maeve Clancy, I had become interested in the idea of cutting into paper whilst exploring the work of Ellen Gallagher during my last module.The exhibition came about through collaboration between Somerset Art works and the National Trust, bringing together 5 Contemporary Artists to work with locally sourced raw materials from Somerset. Its aims to explore issues around contemporary art, skills, materials, craft, as well as recognising the contribution of the production of these materials to the local ecology and economy.
As a sculptor, Laura Ellen Bacon, explores space using willow. She created an installation in the Old Kitchen. It was different to previous works, more open. Layers and layers of web like screens that filled the space, with an opening to walk through. A very strong smell of willow as you enter. She has written a blog charting the project and there is a video that make the connection between the work and the materials. I really like some of her previous works, large organic forms often emerging from a building or in a tree. When talking about her work she makes the connection between drawing and the line of the willow.
Maeve Clancy’s paper cutting installation was very different from the way Ellen Gallagher uses a scalpel; more illustrative and technically very accomplished. What I do like about the cutting is the ability to look through the work and the play of light around it; a shaft of light came through the window creating shadows that made the work extend across the floor- for me this really lifted the piece.
The surprise for me was the work by Lara Youngson Coll. She had made works in leather and vellum; a kind of fantasy allium and a pair of gloves. The leather was sourced from a local glove making business, Burfields. Now this work started making connections for me. My Dad, who is no longer with us, was the lead chemist at Pittards, another local business, that produce the leather for Burfields. My Dad knew Mr Burfield. But also my niece, who is very creative, recently graduated with a degree in conservation and is now working with leather. I thought she would love this work for its aesthetic appeal, but also for the connection to glove making leather and her grandfather. So what struck me, on a very personal level, in relation to making art work was how connections can be made through the choice of materials. It is quite likely that many people seeing these works will have some connection to the quarry, wood yard, paper mill, willow beds or glove factory, which may start some related dialogue.