5 November-17 December 2016 – & extended to 21 January 2017
Tara Books and Gond artists from India
Out of the Wood celebrated trees, forests and the art of wood. The exhibition included a range of work from the lyrical to the practical. Its aim was to raise awareness of the beauty and usefulness of wood and trees in our lives. It was organised to support the Woodland Trust campaign for a new tree charter.
It showed a variety of ways in which woods, forests and trees inspire images and stories. Equally wood can provide a precise and versatile creative medium. The exhibition included work by artists who made atmospheric painted and photographic images. Others carved out of the wood, sculpting, modelling, shaping and turning timber into artefacts.
A new tree strategy
This exhibition and the events associated with it led directly to the Borough Council writing a new Tree Strategy. The gallery’s work with trees and forests as a subject continues, with a campaign for street trees for King’s Lynn. We are working together with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Civic Society. Involvement continues with many of the artists, as associates of the gallery and its concern with environment. Trees and Environment
Simmons represents the strange beauty of forests in his dramatic photographs. They illustrate dense woods and their undergrowth from Norfolk and the United States. Tim’s work has a symbolic dimension, connecting landscape with ideas about time, isolation, distance, motion, movement of the earth. He often uses artificial lighting to enhance the natural conditions. The effect of this is an intense clarity, a sense of mystery and expectation. He shows us an aspect of nature with greater intensity. Tim Simmons is one of GroundWork selected artists.
Lee Grandjean is formerly deputy head of sculpture at the Royal College of Art. He explored wood as a surreal medium for sculpture. Living deep in the country, he is always sensitive to the suggestiveness of natural forms. As such, he is an intuitive and opportunist user of found eccentricity.
Lee made little assemblages, incorporating roots and branches with geometric forms, some painted, some left in a natural state. They verge on the figurative and are shape-shifters, leaving room for the imagination. Images cross over between nature and artifice and their titles hint at deeper stories yet to be created. Lee Grandjean is one of GroundWork’s selected artists.
Calum McClure is a painter and printmaker based at Glasgow Print Studio. His work is steeped in the experience of nature and landscape. It is full of the colour and atmosphere of European and North American woodlands. He is fascinated by reflections and light and shade. But as a painter he rethinks how specific responses to nature can become expressed laterally rather than literally. His images range from the closely detailed, to those which verge on the abstract. They can evoke a quality of dry or damp woodland atmosphere. But at the same time they remain true to the particular sense of each place.
The precision and angularity of Concrete Art and modernism lie at the root of the work of Ian Tyson. He has been renowned internationally for many years as a book and print artist. He now lives and works in the South of France. The intensity of the light and shade has inspired in his work an ever crisper three-dimensional form. It has led him to work increasingly as a sculptor.
Here, he showed a collection of reliefs and sculptures which climb up the wall like an abstract forest. Tyson’s work is minimal and measured and made from carefully judged, formal elements. It nevertheless explores the hardness of timber and the natural colour of each species.
Norwich based artist Doo Gurney aka Cordelia Spalding, has made woodcuts, drawings and engravings. They are based on the gnarled patterns of bark and tree rings. She has experimented with patterns and forms, and her graphic style has a retro, slightly surrealist quality. A Woodland Trust selected artist, her carvings and engravings use discarded laminate and engineered floorboards. Resourcefully, she also uses the shavings from machined timber, twigs and copper wire.
Lorraine Bewick’s work reflects her home environment on the edge of a country house estate. It borders once productive orchards and the wide open landscapes of the coast. Her paintings of the Wash and North and West Norfolk capture isolated panoramas and luminous light. Trees, bark, and fruits in her orchard appear in her work. She records them as small monuments to specific details and atmosphere of her local places.
Tim Plunkett began his career as an environmentalist, graduating in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia. He is seriously knowledgeable about the properties of trees and their habitats. Actively involved with the politics of conservation of woods and forests, he supports direct action opposing destruction of ancient woodland.
Tim aims to produce simple, elegant uncluttered pieces which show the unique character of each species of tree.
As a designer, he only uses native hardwoods. All are locally and sustainably sourced. For the exhibition he showed a range of bowls and boards finely turned and finished over two seasons.
Table furniture by Par Avion and Dominic Ash
Furniture for the table can share the attention to detail and craftsmanship of a work of art. It can turn a festive dining occasion into an opportunity for display of fine craft. Dominic Ash from Dorset exhibited salt and pepper table sets made from oak and ash. Par Avion, domestic and exhibition furniture designers made peppermills from bog oak cut with sharp precision.
The night life of trees
Members of the Gond and Bhil peoples, forest dwellers of Central India create handmade illustrated books. These bring alive their sense of an environment full of beauty, wildlife, and folklore. A selection of these, published by Tara Books, was on show in GroundWork Upstairs.