Artists responses to human and environmental fragility from Continuum@OXO2021 members Queenie Yuan, Nicky Lawrence, Moya Tosh and Julie Massie. Another Brick In The Wall - a community project.
Queenie's work focuses on emotional expression.
Respect for life triggered her pity for animals and the desire for communication triggered her thinking of the human need for touch.
"Treat others the way you want to be treated." is the central idea of most of Queenie’s work. This is the way that Queenie spreads her concept and encourages people to notice the injustice of animals or any unfairness in our
The reason why I turned Vegan is “PAIN”.
If I see someone has been cut by a knife, I will feel the pain at the same time. Because I know the feeling of being cut and recognise the same pain in animals. What a severe pain that animals suffer before we swallow them - “when we suffer, we suffer as equals.”
And we should not view any differentiation on seeing farm animals abused as opposed to domestic animals, such as dogs. Why do we love the dog but eat the pig?
Image on the right:
"Mouth" is the main medium through which humans express their behavior and ideas.
In daily life, it is inseparable from eating, drinking, communication and other actions that need to be completed through the mouth and the same is true for emotional expression.
It is often not weapons that hurt people the most, but words to achieve their goals.
Similarly, when we eat, we also ignore the animal's misery to achieve the pleasure of chewing and swallowing.
The artist expresses human desire through the depiction of the form of "mouth" and gives people some new ideas to consider.
The bark sculptures came to me as a flash of inspiration during a time of artistic drought. In an idle moment I had found a Silver Birch log in a basket of firewood. The bark had started peeling away from the log and as a small, unspoken challenge to myself I tried to see if I could get it all off without breaking it. Actually, it was quite easy and as I looked at the peeled-off bark in my hand a creative spark flared in my mind and my next project was conceived. The Silver Birch sheds its bark like any other tree as part of growth and ageing. This natural process is not noticeable in most trees but the papery bark of the Silver Birch sloughs-off in dramatic style.
My sculptures are an attempt to capture the essence of the tree, its flaky, curly, bark unravelling and twisting away from its trunk, its gnarled knots and blemishes darkening its otherwise silvery-whiteness. I use porcelain clay - its paleness a perfect complement to the Silver Birch’s delicate elegance. I stretch the clay to breaking point and create abrasions and distortions across its surface which echo the life history and character of the living tree.
I don’t think anybody forgets their first underwater glimpse of a reef. Journeying just one inch under the surface is to step into a dream, where nature is governed by new rules, a fantasium of the bizarre and beautiful. Easing our heads below the surface, we leave the mundane at the same instant that our senses become cocooned in the distant murmurings of a living, pulsing ocean and its shifting, pastel shadows. Coral flows with shoaling rivers of life; the reef is a crucible for the sun’s rays, nurturing them into teeming islands of life in the heart of a barren sea.
And it is dying.
In the most part, our seas are akin to deserts, with living organisms being few and far between. Reefs however, the rainforests of the sea, have photosynthetic algae which provide sugars, the building blocks of proteins and oxygen to the reef and the sea that bathes them. Occupying a mere thousandth of our oceans, they house a quarter of our marine species, underpin the livelihoods of half a billion people and the lives of each and every one of us. As our oceans become hotter, it is these algae that are the first to disappear, taking the colours, nutrients and living soul of the coral with them as they go. The curtains of sea creatures follow quickly, leaving only the frosted, skeletal remnants of the coral. Between 2015 and 2016, half of the Great Barrier Reef was lost. Diving in desolate waters that shimmered with life only 20 years before, I felt touched by the same chilling hand that destroyed the reef, and the fishing community that once thrived on its shores. The emptiness was haunting. Among the debris, the occasional, exquisitely vibrant nudibranch (sea slug) would remain as sole witness to what has been lost. That image of the shattered reefs has stayed with me through my work; first in an environmental education centre and now, more viscerally, through my art.
Since then, I have been creating pieces that both celebrate the beauty of our reefs, and mourn their demise. My latest installation, Vertical Reef, does both while bearing an important message of hope. Challenges to averting the climate crisis are legion, daunting and real. But they are not insurmountable. Faced with a pandemic, we have demonstrated our ability to make fundamental changes to our behaviour at a global level, while the necessary reduction in emissions to keep temperature rises down to 1.5% above pre-industrial levels still remains within our grasp. In ‘Vertical Reef’ the blanched ghosts of once-vibrant coral seascapes are represented by pallid, blown glass and displayed against a wall. The ripples of sunlight that give life to a reef are represented by shifting backlights, whereas changing hues capture both its demise and its possible regeneration back into vivid cathedrals of wonder and life.
‘Vertical Reef’ will be on show as part of ‘Materiality’ at Oxo Gallery, London, 10 – 15th March 2021
‘Another Brick in the Wall' is a brilliant project that people of all ages and all backgrounds can take part in. It’s an opportunity to leave your mark on the Farnham landscape – just as previous generations of residents have done through our historic craft industries.’ (Pat Evans – Mayor, 2020)
Another Brick in the Wall is an exciting new community project by Making Matters. Continuum artists, Lene Ryden and Nicky Lawrence are founder members. Originally created to celebrate Farnham being awarded World Craft Town status, it has also become a catalyst for reuniting the community over the Covid pandemic.
The essence of the project is to provide a platform for the whole community to come together and express themselves through creativity, whilst celebrating Farnham’s historical connection to craft. Whilst each maker creates one brick, together the bricks make up a whole - a series of public art installations around the town. Due to its popularity, local shops and businesses have also been keen to get involved.
Workshops have been held virtually and face to face in care homes, schools, colleges and to the Public. These have gone down very well, as reflected in the feedback:
‘It was really fun being part of an art project, especially after being inside during Lockdown. I loved being outside, working on my brick. I am excited to find it on the art trail. Solomon (age 9)
‘We don’t see each other very much, so it has been lovely to be able to be creative together’. (mother and daughter, Helen and Denise)
In addition to the workshops, there is an evolving exhibition of fired and raw bricks at the Farnham Herald Shop. The first phase was funded by South Street Trust in Farnham, with bricks donated and fired by Ibstock Bricks. Making Matters is currently sourcing funding for more workshops and to build the structures.
The project is accessible, free to join, and open to all. If you would like to find out more about ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, comment on the project for the next phase of funding or would like to take part in the project – contact Making Matters:
Julie Massie takes her inspiration for her artwork from the Jurassic Coastline which is a beautiful, interesting and internationally important place because of its fragility. Coasts are a product of erosion and without the sea eroding the land we would not have this remarkable coastline at all.
Inspiration for Julie’s fragile porcelain shards developed after a visit to Kimmeridge in Dorset – her home county. Coastal erosion is most evident here with crumbling slate cliffs that we are told ‘not to touch’, in a similar way we are instructed not to touch within an art gallery space. It is feared that fossil hunting will damage the vulnerable and fragile cliffs and responsible fossil hunting is promoted in the same way that we may damage art work within the gallery due to our lack of thought and care. After her trip to Kimmeridge she continued to explore and challenge the way we are expected to behave when visiting a gallery.
The edges of the shards of porcelain that make up her wall hung sculptures are created from shards of stained porcelain clay, fired to 1260 degrees. They have been rolled thinly and have fragile and vulnerable edges that could possibly break on exposure to human contact. Julie likes to explore the senses, especially touch, sight and sound. As physical touch is the fundamental element of human development and culture she enjoys watching people’s reactions when they touch her work within the gallery space. What does it feel like, what does it sound like or will it break?