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Art for Life - Sustainable Sculptures in Historic Venues

Sunday 17 April 2011, 13:16
By Fiona Campbell

A butterfly constructed using layered wireA series of layered wire cocoons nestled in elegant, twisting vertical structures characterises Fiona Campbell's new work - soon to be shown at Bridgwater Arts Centre in May (30 April - 26 May) - the oldest Arts Centre in the country. The title 'Mystery and Mutability' evokes concepts of change, growth, hidden worlds, emergence and transformation, which exist at the root of Fiona's vibrant textured, steel and wire sculptures, shown together with Kitty Hillier's beautiful mixed media paintings, which incorporate carved marks and often seem to contain an element of landscape or otherworldly space.

Fiona's interest in environmental issues is evident in the content and media of her work. Recycled steel, copper and wire have been Fiona's preferred materials for many years. "Wire, particularly, consumes a tiny percent of solid materials, and when constructed by hand with mostly recycled materials, openly woven, it's as green as metal art can get. I love sourcing materials in scrap yards and on walks - the plethora of coloured wires and interesting metal shapes is endless."

Working from her Somerset studio, Fiona's work is sited in numerous private and public collections throughout Southern England and abroad. Her early Kenyan upbringing often informs the essence of her work - vibrant, primal, organic forms in an apparent state of growth, metamorphosis or flight. "Intrigued by the process of weaving intricate structures and the mystery of metamorphosis, I am currently exploring different possibilities with wire, such as layering, patina, texture and transparency. Recycled materials in art is an ancient concept - it's been going on in Africa for centuries."

Small nesting cocoonFurry cocoonLarge cocoon

In addition to exhibiting and working to commission, Fiona works in the public domain on intergenerational community projects (mainly through Somerset Art Works), and within schools - aiming to widen the arts to a broader audience and transmit her enthusiasm for creativity - what is, she feels, an essential element to our wellbeing. "Tragically, the huge Arts cuts will be a devastating blow to similar projects."

In 2010, Fiona created a giant five-metre recycled steel and wire Spider, inviting the public at Glastonbury Festival to help complete it using crushed cans and bottle tops. The Spider sculpture later featured in the Devon Recycled Sculpture Trail over the summer. Through Somerset Art Works, Fiona was also engaged in working with a group of volunteers at Carymoor Environmental Centre, to produce a site-specific recycled sculpture for the Centre. "Dragonfly emerging from Nymph" now looms over the pond on its steel and wire bulrushes - a striking visual piece, helping to educate visitors about sustainability, recycling and life cycles.

Cloudless SulphurWire butterly in detail

Amongst other outdoor shows, this summer, Fiona will be producing some interesting reuse creations for Salvofair 2011 at Knebworth (24 - 26th June), followed by collaborative work with participants at the Larmer Tree Festival (July 15th) to create a large recycled Adornable Art piece for the Festival site. A member of Gallery4Art, she will feature in their annual show at Binham Grange, West Somerset (7 - 27th August: and in September, Fiona will be taking part in a Sculpture Exhibition in the beautiful, historic gardens at Stoberry Park, as part of Somerset Art Weeks and the National Garden Scheme, along with Ian Marlow, Alex Relph, Christine-Anne Richards and Sonja Klinger.

Wire dragonflyStourhead (National Trust Estate, Wiltshire) has invited Fiona and three other sculptors to create a Sculpture Trail in their landscape during September '11. The group of 'Scraptors' (Fiona Campbell, Anthony Wilson, Paul Boswell and Rachel Macleay) are all dedicated to using scrap materials within their work. The purpose of the circular sculpture trail will be to publicize and enhance the wider estate of Stourhead, beyond the iconic lakeside, exploring themes connected with Stourhead, including its wildlife and iconography. The sculpture trail is part of a whole month of activity to find out what lies beyond the horizon and why it is there with the theme of "Beyond the Garden Gate". As visitors explore the garden throughout September the storyboard exhibition will reveal the significance of the views you see into the wider landscape. Discover what's beyond the garden boundary; learn about the history of the landscape, its development and how the countryside areas of this vast estate are managed today. Spikey cocoonAiming to extend the fantasy and whimsy of the lakeside into the woods, the group intends to create a vibrant spectacle, a magical sense of 'otherworldliness' - appealing to both children and adults (see blog: The Trail will run throughout September, open daily 9.00am - 6.00pm (normal NT admission applies).

Looking ahead, Fiona hopes to continue evolving and developing her practice, reaching audiences further afield. This may be enhanced during 2012, when she holds a solo exhibition of her work in Bishops Palace Gardens, at Wells Cathedral, over the Spring and Summer. A fabulous venue for Fiona's sculptures, it will be an attraction for visitors to Wells during the Olympic season.

Any donations of scrap - particularly mild steel, clean, brightly coloured bottle tops, buttons and copper wire - would be much appreciated. Contact: (01749) 880394.

To view Fiona's work visit:


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