13 October – 16 December, 2018
Shaun Fraser, Wayne Binitie, Flora Bowden, Kabir Hussain,
Theories of the Earth, offered a timely insight into the contemporary issues of climate change alongside deeper stories of the earth’s formation. Four artists ventured into the earth’s mysterious histories and geological formations to investigate our understanding of the changes to the environment. Wayne Binitie, Flora Bowden, Shaun Fraser and King’s Lynn artist, Kabir Hussain come together to explore the theory of deep time and the elemental and physical matter of the earth. Stone, peat, bronze and ice provided the ‘core material’ of the show through the use of glass and bronze sculptures, drawings, photography, cutting edge video and audio installations and jewellery, to create a fully immersive experience for the viewer. Occupying multi-sensory realms of the representational and the abstract, the exhibition spoke about the histories and futures of human inhabitation and its impact upon the earth. This narrative or ‘story’ of the earth was developed and reimagined further by the artists through their long-term engagement with environmental history – and demonstrates how art can be used to help people discover how they experience the world around them..
Equally, dismayed by the fleeting changes they have observed in different landscapes, and the frightening rate of disappearance of what seem to be enduring features, the artists aim to communicate the importance of environmental change through their subtle range of artistic images and impressions.
Wayne Binitie and Shaun Fraser formed a professional and personal friendship while studying glass at the Royal College of Art and discovered that they had both visited and been fascinated with Iceland, and its stark, magical and mysterious landscapes. Subsequently, Wayne has worked with the British Antarctic Survey, studying glacial water, recording compressed ancient air bubbles trapped in ice-cores and transforming them in sound and image.
For Shaun, growing up in the Highlands of Scotland, landscape has always featured heavily as a part of his notion of self. His work often comments upon links to landscape and connections with a wider sense of environment. By incorporating soil and natural inclusions into his sculptural works he hopes to tap into some of this disposition; the ability to evoke this sense of place.
Flora Bowden has developed a new visual vocabulary of stone from her research into geological studies taking place in the 18th century in Enlightenment Edinburgh. Her work derives inspiration from the geological discovery of ‘Deep Time’ first explored in James Hutton’s book of 1795, ‘Theory of the Earth’.
The artist says: ‘One plate in particular details the mineral formations of granite and feldspar, which present very angular, geometric forms. Hutton describes these as having a ‘typographic character’, which has been the starting point for much of my work. I am interested in the idea of a vocabulary or language of stone, and how I can develop this from Hutton’s image.’
King’s Lynn, Suffolk and London-based artist, Kabir Hussain, exhibits bronze sculptures inspired by the landscapes of Norfolk, India and Peru . He is a different generation from the other artists, trained at Leeds and Chelsea art colleges and exhibiting nationally and internationally since the early 1980s. Originally from Pakistan, his responses to landscape are both physical and cultural and form a slow unfolding drama both of his relationships to the earth and of his perceptions of time. His delicate bronze casts of ground and landscape, some tiny enough to be held in the hand, some of which are planar and map-like, others describing dramatic or mountainous features, are evocative of the slow unfolding drama of geology, movement and environmental change. He compares the process of heating bronze as a kind of ‘speeding up of the ageing process’ and links it to the changes we are currently experiencing. His aim is modestly descriptive: to inform the viewer about what is happening and record it, but the result is tender and poetic with implications for how we might pay closer attention to the details of what we experience, and hold memories close.