On Monday I installed the Scratching The Surface Exhibition at Scottish Natural Heritage Battleby, Redgorton. The exhibition was put together as an assignment for my MA in Fine Art course. The brief – to put together an exhibition in a public place. The deadline – 5 weeks, which isn’t a great deal of time when you’re working and have family commitments!
Given the nature of my work, I decided to contact Scottish Natural Heritage, as this is an organisation that I would like to develop links with, either as part of collaborative research/art projects, or perhaps one day as an artist in residence.
My main interest at the moment is invasive and injurious plants, and after a few ideas, I decided that Scratching the Surface would be a suitable title. Through a bit of research, I also found out that the site was used as a “hospital” for soldiers to convalesce after the First World War. Given that the plants which I was planning to use for the exhibition had either injurious or healing properties, I felt that this gave my work a site-specific connection, which I aimed to portray within some of my pieces.
The poster which I designed to advertise the event, using a detail of the painting ‘Hostile Invasion’
The work I produced over the 5 weeks was:
- Masking the Pain : a mask made from nettles, Ivy and other plants
- PRICK : A word made from thorns on canvas, sprayed with white acrylic
- Forbidden Fruit : A 3D piece mounted onto canvas, made with polyustyrene, papier mache nails and elastoplast
- Hostile Invasion : A painting of a hostile, overgrown landscape
- The Exotic Seed Company : An Installation of fictitious seed packets
- No way out : Wire and thorns coming out a of canvas
- Off side : A painting of a Butterbur Leaf, in the style of stained glass
- From Scratch : A stylized painting of a bramble stalk
- Sleeping with the enemy : A bed made from Giant Hogweed, Butterbur, Nettles and Thorns
- A sign for Poison Ivy’s Cocktail Bar
- A fanzine called Invasion of the Body Scratchers
I also made a few more pieces which I did not exhibit, as it was felt that they weren’t strong enough, or devalued other pieces .
I spent all day Monday installing the exhibition, and had a few challenges along the way…covering the picture hanging system to give the exhibtion a more contemporary feel was probably the biggest, so I decided to use canvases to hang over the rods, onto which I then fixed my work.
A contrast with lighting gives the exhibition a more dramatic feel (below) but I found it difficult to photograph my work under these conditions
I have to say that I’m quite pleased with the result of my work, and its great to see it all up together as an exhibition. On Friday, between 12 noon and 1pm I am hosting a tasting session to sample some of the materials I used to create the artwork, e.g.. Nettle, bramble and rose hip wines, bramble crumble etc. and dandelion and nettle teas. I will be serving the wines as spritzers from Poison Ivy’s Cocktail Bar, and will set up my sign advertising this.
If anyone wants to visit, this exhibition will be on until 2pm Friday, when the 3D works will have to be dismantled due to other events taking place, but the 2d works should be up for possibly another week.