After all the hype surrounding the exhibition I never did get round to writing about the exciting events that followed. Firstly there was the opening night of the exhibition- which was a huge success. Despite my nerves, there was a crowd of people who came along to enjoy some great art, music, food and wine. I was able to meet the other artists involved- Christine Hurford, Janis Young and Caroline Dalton. It was great to explore the ideas behind their work. We all commented how the works complimented each other enormously. With all of us working in contemporary sculpture we transformed the 16th century church into a modern gallery space. Telling the story of the church in our own way. As well as the open night I also managed to get myself into the local paper! This was a really exciting time for me- I felt the photo really cemented my breakthrough into the Cumbrian art scene. The whole exhibition was a fantastic experience that motivated me to get making, meet new people, make my friends and family proud and exhibit in an extraordinary place.
I’m extremely proud to say that the piece is up! It’s currently in place at Greystoke Church, Penrith, Cumbria. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to hold an exhibition in the very church my great grandparents were married in. It feels very monumental. It’s the first piece I’ve made in the UK since graduation and it’s of great family value to me. It reflects my current life situation, explores place and time and picks up on those memorable moments in life, the repetition of those events and our incessant need to secure ourselves in an area- our corner of the world.
Putting the piece up felt really special, I want to say a huge thank you to Christine Hurford, both for asking me to get involved in the exhibition and for all her help installing. Seeing the piece in the space, the idea coming alive so to speak, it became really real. It was no longer just an idea in my head, something I wasn’t sure I could make- but a real piece in an exhibition. And it looks good, professional yet artistic.
It also feels important that I’ve managed to break through an unwritten rule of the Lake District- the desire to paint the beautiful landscape. It’s so beautiful here it’s hard not to. However I knew I needed to break through that barrier to pursue my practice the way I’ve been doing. This piece explores the area without having to paint a replica of its surroundings.
The only way to really know what I wanted to make was to visit the church itself, see the space, and get an image of Greystoke. It turned out to be a really quaint village, with a fantastic old pub. The church itself stood tall at the end of a narrow lane. It was a lovely church and a fantastic space to exhibit in. After seeing the signposts in the village and thinking about those significant dates in time I began thinking about making my own signpost, the same design as the old Cumbrian road sign but with mine and and my great-grandparents significant dates. The date they met, married and moved and the same again for me. Our places in time.
As well as that exciting news from Rheged I also had a rather exciting meeting with a lady called Christine Hurford that opened up yet another opportunity for me. Whilst volunteering with Jo at C-Art, I was told there was an exhibition on downstairs in the Old Fire Station. (The office space for Eden Arts is located in the Old Fire Station- Penrith.) I went along and was really surprised to find the exhibition displayed eerie photographs of a previous obsession of mine- abandoned buildings. I began talking to one of the Artists- Christine about how she gets into these buildings- from previous experience I know the difficulties you can be faced with. It’s well worth it though. The photographs were fantastic- cleverly mounted onto fencing well recognised as a symbol to keep out. The images Christine Hurford and Jane Peet exhibited in ‘Dereliction’ complimented one another’s investigation into the unknown brilliantly.
As the conversation went on, Christine became interested in my own art practice and later revealed she’s soon to have another exhibition at Greystoke Church- which she wondered if I’d be interested in showing some work. I was, of course, honoured to be asked- having something to work for gives any artist the drive to start making again. So as I set off up the stairs with a spring in my step, I became even more excited when I then remembered something that’s been playing on my mind for a while now. A family member of mine had posted something on Instagram about my Great-grandparents (her grandparents.) It was a newspaper clipping commemorating their 50th Wedding anniversary- and what church where they married in? – None other than Greystoke Church, Penrith. What are the chances? I’m not from Cumbria; I move here for work each summer and it’s only recently that I’ve found out that my ancestors lived here in this area. I’ve been considering making some art about this happy coincidence- and well now I have no excuse.