Published on the occasion of
‘Hidden Dimensions’ – 3rd International Artists Symposium for Milton Keynes Westbury Farm Studios & Westbury Gallery Symposium 5–20 August 2004 Exhibition 19 August – 18 September 2004 The Silbury Group of Artists Westbury Farm Studios Foxcovert Road Shenley Wood Milton Keynes MK5 6AA +44 (0) 1908 501214 email – firstname.lastname@example.org website – www.silburygroup.org.uk
Symposium coordinators: Jessica Rost & Helen Taylor Designed by Allan Davies Printed by Sceptre Print Ltd, Leicester Set in VAG Rounded and Flex SF Images © 2004 Maria Barry, Sue Brown, reproduced by permission Text © 2004 The Silbury Group of Artists and authors Edition 350
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Elena Brazdziuniene Dave Pearson Deborah Dallyn
Early on in the selection process, one of the guest artists telephoned me. She asked, ‘What happens if I don’t make anything at all?’ Apparently I replied, ‘That’s all right, just walk around with a glass of wine and enjoy the private view!’
Contrary to some people’s belief, artists are very hard-working, busy people. The Silbury Group of Milton Keynes has a rare and precious facility at Westbury Farm Studios and in the Silbury Group. Here we have the Artists has had its highs and lows, but we have ideal facilities to allow artists to explore, to encounter new survived as an artist-led organization for thirteen ideas, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to exyears. We are practically an institution! periment with different media. It is at events like this that the real value of being This is an opportunity to meet other artists and exchange part of a group becomes obvious. We become experiences, to re-evaluate our perceptions of ourselves aware of the original reasons for forming and as creative people. These two weeks are a time to step being a part of a group, and realize that the out of our normal comfort zones. There is no pressure, artistic soul is universal where boundaries, only the continual inner creative drive, which is pressure generations, countries and languages are enough. crossed. These days, to be a successful artist requires Jessica Rost more than straightforward practical skills and Symposium Coordinator knowledge of materials. We are required to teach and work with the community, to negotiate with architects, network with businesses, promote ourselves through the media and the internet, create project proposals, keep up with new techniques, document everything we do, support our fellow artists and juggle one hundred and one other things all at once. You can imagine how stepping outside all of this for two weeks can be of such immeasurable value both for the work produced during this time and in an artist’s long-term development.
So much of life is segregated; we know our places, mark The major issue raised by the symposium, and one out our patch, and we don’t get the chance to venture I’m most passionate about, has a lot to do with beyond our chosen territory all that often. This pattern of boundaries. We all need them but there are some pigeon-holing doesn’t simply affect the domestic lives of that just keep us in prison. There was one artist, from the (so-called) ordinary. Think a little about the early deciIreland, who noticed that Woodhill, Milton Keynes’ sions we ask our children to make. It happened to me: they prison, was just round the corner. That set him off. asked me, at 14 I think, ‘O levels: science or art?’ I made The Third International Artists’ Symposium has colmy choice and I’ve never looked back, and much as I loved lectively, and perhaps unconsciously, created a new Silas Marner, I might have missed physics more had it not version of reality that invites all of us who are lucky been for the spitty teacher. enough and brave enough for the experience to The generic divisions make a difference to many of our touch us to question our expectations, to stretch lives, and artists are not exempt from being excluded, the limits of our perceived and projected views of from finding other disciplines inaccessible. The Third the purpose and forms of ‘good art’, and to look International Artists’ Symposium strove to celebrate and beyond the world we know into a wider and more integrate diverse genres, cultures, disciplines and versions inclusive view of the future. of reality. The overall aim was to make accessible and Cherry Coombe visible that which usually remains just beyond our view, to access ‘hidden dimensions’. The symposium comprised a two-week experiment during which invited artists took time out from busy schedules. The symposium offered an opportunity to explore the possibilities of exchanging ideas with other artists, taking on the challenge of experimenting with media from other specialisms as well as finding generalised new expressions for art. Even artists find themselves separated by sub-divisions between the various artistic genres: sculptors are segregated from calligraphers, ceramicists from painters. The symposium strove to tear down any and all divisions, making specialisms cross-generic and expectations redundant.
It has happened that I have been involved with the International Artistsâ€™ Symposium in Milton Keynes on all three occasions. In the first year I attended as a participant, and I was then invited to open the event for the second and then this third time. This third symposium is a little different from the others, with fewer participants from foreign countries but more artists from various regions of England. It has been very interesting for us, as guests of the symposium, to see so many different faces from different areas. Compared with other countries in western Europe, England is the place we visit the least. This symposium is a very good opportunity to make the acquaintance of English artists, and to see their work. Looking back over these events, I would say that they have a great spirit and a special, remarkable atmosphere. For me, arriving is like coming home: you canâ€™t spend long here, but itâ€™s a place you always miss, and long to return to. The atmosphere depends not only on the participants but also on the organisers of this great meeting. I would like to thank Helen Taylor, Jessica Rost and the whole Silbury Group for great work, and for their energy in organising this special event at Westbury Farm in Milton Keynes.
Lithuanian Artists Association
The ‘Bridging Two Cultures’ day brought together medical staff from Milton Keynes Hospital, scientists from the Open University and artists involved in the symposium to explore the cross-overs between art and science by looking at working practices, materials, tools of the trade, technical processes and observational methods. Planning for the event was a twoway process – totally collaborative. The emphasis was not on predicted outcomes but rather on exploration and participation by two cultures, helping to alter perceptions of the differences between art and science. The day provided a starting point for many of the artists who went on to use what was initiated here in more depth over the following two weeks. For the science community, Westbury Farm opened up a facility for practising and developing an interest in visual art. The aspirations of those involved were quite ambitious for a one-day event. ‘Bridging Two Cultures’ was perhaps a taste of future collaborations.
Aim: To investigate parallels between arts and sciences. Method: An assortment of artists, scientists and medical professionals were gathered in a seventeenth-century farmhouse for twelve hours. A range of medical and scientific apparatus was provided, including an endoscope, several microscopes, ultraviolet lamps, fibre optics, fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals, and bacteria. A photographic darkroom, printing press, sculpture workshop, paints and drawing materials were also available. There were several bottles of red wine and rather a good lunch. Results: After some discussion, the artists began their usual processes of observation and experimentation. At first, this was carried out by individuals, sometimes based on their previous work. Gradually, more scientific practices began to emerge, such as collaboration and peer review. Environmental artists discussed the principles of bonsai with surgeons. Palaeontologists and stone-carvers reminisced about their favourite rocks. Discoveries were made. One practitionerâ€™s work was built on by another. Scientists were seen with paint on their hands. Artists were enquiring about quantum electrodynamics. Ideas intermingled and hybridised, evolving into maquettes, studies, installations and interventions. Conclusion: Initial results were promising, indicating that art and science can be interwoven in creativity at a deeper level than hitherto suspected. The presence of professionals in both disciplines for an extended period of time was crucial to the experiment. Provision of dedicated work spaces and ample equipment were also key factors. The research would have benefited from a longer timescale â€“ some collaborations are still continuing by correspondence.
(Physics graduate and artist)
When I attended the Silbury Group’s ‘Bridging Two Cultures’ day I knew what I wanted to achieve – I wanted to make a sculpture, and I wanted it to be a big one! The question was, would I find any artists to work with, and could we come up with an idea and build it in a day? I took along with me a petrographic microscope, which is an insturment we geologists use to look ‘inside’ rocks at the crystals and air spaces that make them up. This seemed to intrigue two of the artists present – Anthony Hayes and Jamie Frost, who are both sculptors working in stone, metal and wood. Together we came up with an idea that was based around crystal structure, crystal lattices and the molecules that make them up, and by the end of the day, with much welding and twisting of wire, we had indeed created a large sculpture. What I enjoyed most was the creative discussion we had to generate the idea, and the way we constantly modifed and extended the idea throughout the day. It felt like a very free and fluid process, and was quite a contrast to the methodical, meticulous and often rigid way I have to work normally as a scientist.
Dr Janet Sumner Open University
Once, maths and science were considered to be arts, not separate intellectual disciplines. In ancient Greek culture for instance, there was no separation, no division between art and science. Later, Da Vinci and Goethe and Durer had no problem being interested in both. Art and science coexisted quite happily, their differences understood but not considered insurmountable. Over time both disciplines have changed dramatically, and a great divide has come to be perceived between the two. In 1959 C.P. Snow, novelist and scientist, gave the Rede Lecture at Cambridge. The name of the lecture was ‘The Two Cultures’, which are, of course, science and art. C.P. Snow pointed out what few had dared to say previously, that scientists and artists had split into two cultures, and were extremely ignorant of, and often quite hostile towards, each other. But now, it seems, art and science – the two cultures – may be drawing closer to each other once again. Many artists have a growing interest in and awareness of the scientific, whether in the tools they use, particularly computer technology, or in a straightforward borrowing from scientific imagery and technique. As an artist who borrows scientific imagery myself, I am not so sure that scientists have yet gained much in return. In our ‘Bridging Two Cultures’ day we hoped to bridge the two cultures by working in a totally collaborative way with our visiting scientists. We envisaged an exchange of ideas and working methods culminating in discussion and creation. Both of these did indeed take place, so in this respect the day was a success. I think though that we need not only to build on the successes of the day but also to learn from its less successful aspects. There are differences in the ways that scientists and artists work. Science, I think, is more about absolutes and certainties, the importance of a known goal and outcome. Art is sometimes more about the journey, and discovery by process – less focused on a known outcome. Maybe we as artists could have better understood this difference, as I think some of our scientific visitors would have appreciated more structure and formality to the day. The day was, however, a great success when seen as an experimental and innovative experience.
Helen Taylor Silbury Group of Artists
The â€˜Bridging Two Culturesâ€™ day examined the potential artistic uses of ultraviolet light. Various materials were tested for their ability to react with ultraviolet light, and some interesting discoveries were made: for example, that certain polycarbonates fluoresce naturally, and that certain domestic cleaning materials behave in a similar manner. The piece Light matters was created as a result of the lessons learned. Text was printed on acetate which was treated with special ultraviolet marker fluid. The text was printed mirror image and sealed in glass phials. It was rendered legible only as a reflection in chromium-plated reflectors. The reflectors were lit by an external ultraviolet light source. Appropriately, the text related to the scientific and technical aspects of light. The images show the work in progress.
Anthony Bates Silbury Group of Artists
The universal perception of space is different for each of us Sometimes we do not see what is under our feet, or beside our arms or even in front of our eyes. In my work I like to make use of the space from the places we see every day. Space is interactive. You can step through a door and enter a new world. The senses become alert. A smell, a noise or the sight of an object can trigger a memory. Your feelings are then transferred on to the object in view and your perception of that object has changed. The experience is similar when encountering a story. The inspiration for my art comes from the space around me. I think space is an important aspect of all art. The space is mysterious. There are significant meanings that are hidden or embedded in the area around. A nail in the wall is curious. Why is it there? How did it get there? Who put it there? And so I begin to think. I look at it for a long time, and then forms and thoughts appear from my imagination. The original form transforms into another form. During this symposium I have been collecting a number of rubbings from around Westbury Farm. When they are hung on the wall they cease to be what they were originally and become narrative landscapes. When I return to Kaunas I can further these ideas and create more projects from them. .
Silbury Group of Artists
The work concerns the unseen, what we know to be there but cannot see: breath. It is internal and external, macro and micro all at once. It keeps us alive; such a tenuous thing. If it is polluted or withheld we die. Where once we were outraged at paying for water, that old joke ‘they’ll be trying to sell us air next ' has now apparently come true – little canisters of oxygen and masks are now regularly used by the fashionably wealthy health-conscious. It is a symptom of the fears of our society. If we really don't want to pollute our public spaces, ban cars not smokers. So from plastic bags full of the breath of artists (literally ‘caught breath’) to ‘bags of water’; clear plastic bags full of local water arranged in a south-facing window that reflect and refract the light beautifully, altering visual and special perceptions. Water has other qualities too; it distorts, dissolves and is a catalyst for actual changes in states of matter. It can be absorbed and ingested to integrate and become part of another. It permits life and mythologically is the source of all life: la mer/ la mere, the mother. It has a molecular memory and, like air, sustains the lives of many living things on the planet. It is now the UK's biggest selling bottled drink. Why? Because people are scared? Because it is dirty and they need it. So light … air, water and light, the trinity that sustains us, and what I love most about light is the illusions it creates, the ‘tricks of the light’. It bends through both water and air, bounces, reflects and casts shadows. The natural tool to capture it, or try – the camera, but still the light is too clever; with mirrors and glass and shining surfaces the single lens of the camera cannot make sense of the images with the subtlety of the eyes and brain. And what of those things so closely associated but physically unconnected to the brain, our thoughts? The hidden and private dimensions and dementias of our selves.
Silbury Group of Artists
Silbury Group of Artists
Once upon a time there was a little red hen. She was out and about one day and found some grain. She decided to make some bread. She went home to tell her friends, saying, ‘Who will help me to sow this grain?’ ‘Not us,’ they all said. ‘We have things to do.’ So the little red hen said, ‘Fine, I shall do it myself.’ So she planted the grain and when she had done this she asked her friends, ‘Who will help me to water the garden?’ ‘Not us,’ they all said. ‘We are far too busy.’ The little red hen said, ‘Fine, I’ll do it myself!’ So she watered the grain. And when the grain was ripe, she said to her friends, ‘Who will help me cut the grain?’ ‘Not us,’ they all said. ‘We are busy.’ So she cut the grain. Once she had cut the grain she said to her friends, ‘Who will help me bring this grain to be milled so it can be turned into flour?’ ‘Not us,’ they all said. ‘We have things to do.’ ‘Then I shall do it myself,’ said the little red hen. When the grain was ground, she said to her friends, ‘Who will help me make the bread?’ ‘Not us,’ they all said. ‘We are tired.’ ‘Then I shall do it myself,’ said the little red hen. When little red hen had baked the bread, she said, ‘Who will help me eat this?’ One said, ‘I will with cream.’ Another said, ‘I will with caviar.’ And another said, ‘I will with parsley sauce.’ And the last one said, ‘I will with hundreds and thousands on top.’
Repeat script Mixed media
Steel & found objects
Acrylic on absorbent paper
And I lied to you that summer â€Ś Video installation
Struck dumb I, II, III, IV Enhanced DV stills
The first cut
Carved apples & oak cart
Big rotter Elm
Floating islands Mixed media
Scrap Store series: Blue bloom Mixed media
Donâ€™t touch the earth Wax & mixed media
Secret life of tools #I
Electrical wire, garden fork, steel
Maru in ivy
Maru in ash/hawthorn
Maru in beech Maru in beech
Mixed media installation
Living thing Mixed media
The wooden horse Bricks
Briars & wire
Little Red Henâ€™s big bake Video & installation
In search of the Holy Grail Digital & carbon prints on perspex
Hidden dimensions â€“ the invasion Digital print
Man at work, back in half an hour Mixed media & performance
Projection & performance
Silbury Group of Artists
The woman, the cat, the angel II Charcoal on paper
These three drawings are the first in what will be a series of work. The starting point is Lorenzo Lotto’s Annunciation. Where will this lead? What can emerge from the relationship of woman, cat and angel in the sixteenth-century Italian interior? By starting here and allowing each drawing to take its own direction, the hidden dimensions – pictorial, mythological, psychological – begin to show themselves as Lotto’s composition and my personality interact.
Dear Mama Being here at Westbury Farm is similar to being in paradise. The people are fantastic! I am learning many new things. I am able to make and materialise any ideas quickly, and without difficulty find the facilities to make my ideas come to reality. An idea without tools will fly away. Every person has an artist inside them and every person also has ideas, but not everyone can transform their idea into an object. I like the public to participate in my artworks â€“ I like to see the personal boundary broken down so they can become fully involved. This is one way I like to get stimulation and I also gain some amusement. I do not like artists who make art for themselves. I much prefer creating art to make people aware of problems in the world. This makes me feel I can make a positive contribution. I believe everybody can create and do something to better the world. See you soon. xxxx Andrea PS My leg is better every day.
Silbury Group of Artists
I was pleased I made the tall piece Prognosis so quickly as I am usually a slower worker. Its underlying theme followed on from the other smaller work displayed, Repeat scripts (the first of a series of four). All the materials were found in the grounds of Westbury Farm. I use the term ‘grounds’ here, rather than ‘garden’, as I have watched the garden deteriorate and decay over the years.
For an artist, choosing a space to work in is an important occasion as well as an important issue. I need a space where I am comfortable. I need to feel something towards the space. Meeting difficulties in your work space is not that different from meeting difficulties in real life. In life you meet people who all talk to you about different things, and sometimes it is difficult to focus on what you are doing, but my work is influenced through this interaction. Some of my works change because situations change â€“ because I am in the middle of all this energy. The main idea of my work then becomes stronger; the place then connects with the space. I like to use simple and real objects for my painting subjects. I am not a conceptual artist, but some of my time is spent thinking about the object itself. When I began painting Rose I thought, what is a rose? We have all seen a rose, but eventually the image we have encountered becomes a memory. I enjoy painting from what I remember. During the time I was painting Face I was listening to Janis Joplin, and she laughed. I ended up painting a smile that I thought resembled Janis Joplin. Then the whole face looked like her. A painted face can change expression and change in a blink of an eye.
Silbury Group of Artists
And I lied to you that summer …
AnAnd I lied to you that summer … is concerned with observing the observer observing the observed. Bush and Blair talk glibly of preserving our freedom, but it is a curious fact that the ordinary citizens of the US and UK are more closely observed than other nations. There are possibly more cameras per square mile in these ‘free countries’ than anywhere else in the world. There are cameras in shops, in car parks, in office foyers, in garages, in town centres, on street corners … Just who is watching whom???
Anna has created a series of digital stills taken from endoscope images her own vocal cords made during the symposium. The works look at the way that the vocal cords can become so tense, due to stress or fear, that they can prevent speech altogether – the reason you can’t scream when you are scared. Coming to a symposium and working with other artists can feel like quite a nerve-wracking event, when your voice can fail you, especially in the early days, when you can feel constantly judged (even though this may not be the case). The piece also looks at the idea of how people (in particular women) are perceived in this kind of situation, and the nature of how you can find your place within a group. At the end of the first week of the symposium Anna met individually with all the artists taking part and, after explaining that she would ask them a question that required an absolutely truthful answer, asked them, ‘What do you think of me?’ Most people were quite shocked by the question, expecting, perhaps, to be asked something about themselves. Answers ranged from the very perceptive to the completely superficial. Many responses focused on Anna’s appearance and led her to question how her work is perceived in relation to her persona and her femininity. In the body of work produced for the symposium Anna plays with her own fears and feelings, and questions how effectively she is a representative for her own work.
Mundane and elegant events or objects can sometimes speak with surprising gravitas For example, the fall of Newton’s apple is invested with a disproportionate amount of symbolic power for me. The apple itself has many other associations, and it has this wonderfully taut skin that seems to burst with that potential. I’ve tried to make simple statements about action/reaction. If it’s worked then hopefully you’ll see these pieces as more than literal depictions of the subject matter. Working so closely with other artists on this symposium has forced me to look at my usual working practices with fresh eyes. Most artists rarely allow themselves the time to really experiment and open up to new approaches, but when we do it can be an incredibly enabling experience. The atmosphere at Westbury Farm has given me that valuable breathing space. Many of the things I have done here, like biting an apple without removing it from the tree, have been transient and experimental. This has led me to explore a less complicated vocabulary when expressing my ideas. In effect the exposure to many other people’s methods and activities has caused a paring down of my own. The challenge for me now is to take the spirit of this experience with me. For every piece of work I have attempted here, there are many more that I haven’t attempted, and this growth would certainly not have happened had I been working alone in my studio.
Mundane and elegant events or objects can sometimes speak with surprising gravitas
E. Sussex, UK
Much of my work is about ‘place’. I am interested in ideas about locating oneself, knowing one’s place in the world and in the great scheme of things. Arriving at Westbury Farm and attempting to locate myself in my new surroundings, it was not long before I got a sense of a vast criss-crossing network of roads, and roundabouts. Around each roundabout sprouted clusters of traffic signs, all looking just the same, and bearing names I had barely, if ever, heard of. All this heightened a sense of being in transit, confused, ungrounded. My main work for ‘Hidden Dimensions’ addresses this sense of dis-location. A small square pond is cut into the lawn. Trapped within the square, on the pond’s surface, miniature traffic signs drift and float like lily pads in endlessly shifting relationships. Arriving at Westbury Farm, and after initial confusion, it was not long before I felt a sense of freedom and relaxation. Limitations and pressures were left behind as I settled into my temporary home. The continual distant roar of traffic on the criss-crossing roads only increased the sense of being on an island of tranquility, detached from the frantic rush of the modern world. Time to think, to dream, to talk, to experiment – this, for me, was a time of inner nourishment and explorations. I have been left refreshed and eager to explore further hidden dimensions.
E. Sussex, UK
Feltpen on paper
Lost – please return Feltpen on paper
Where am I? Feltpen on paper
The history of the Tileman before he became Tileman In public toilets around the land of Milton Keynes an unseen force has been placing outrageous-looking tiles of artistic creation on lavatory walls for unknown reasons. Why has this been taking place, and will this happen again, and finally, who is this unseen force? The story begins on a warm summer’s day when Carlo Gori arrived in the land of Britain. He came with a mission. He had approximately two weeks to complete this mission or he would have to return to Rome in a physical and mental state of humiliation. The amazing idea came to Carlo when he meditated about life in a toilet. He sought to explain his philosophy as follows: ‘There is a dog, there is a cat, there is the artist. My life is a festival, a big party with a lot of people. I like people, I work for them, to create images, ideas, surprises, to be better, for a better life … Ah, my name is Tileman!’ And so he sought out people to be his trusty companions – fellow creators and artists. After his companions had been put through the gruelling affiliation ceremony, they were all ready to go and confront the hidden world of public toilets and expose the public to new dimensional space. By Johanna Steele
My sculpture is site-specific – it relates totally to the site, taking into consideration the architecture, landscape, history, economy or mythology of the area. I use a wide variety of materials relevant to the project – wood, stone, bricks, steel, bronze, planting, rope, sand, water, glass, light, plastics, even feathers and drinks cans, etc., and enjoy working on both large and small scales. I have participated in many international symposia throughout Europe, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Japan and Korea. The experience of the language and culture of the countries, the intense discussion and exchange of ideas, and the showing of artists’ work that is such an integral part of these projects all sustain and feed me as a sculptor. I arrived at Westbury Farm Studios with a completely open mind and was taken to the Scrap Store, a cornucopia of treasures, where I selected, among other things, some beautiful blue and green bottles, some blue plastic selfadhesive discs and a roll of acetate. Exploring the grounds, three sites invited me to work within them – an apple tree with a hollow cleft, an overhanging branch bridging a pathway between two box hedges and the dereliction of the swimming pool.
I am a sculptor and environmental artist whose main interest over the last few years has been art in public places. I have worked throughout the UK as well as overseas, in urban and rural landscapes, indoors and outdoors, and have made both permanent and temporary sculptures.
Silbury Group of Artists
I am a sculptor working mainly with steel, but I have taken this opportunity to work with new materials. My work during the symposium explores the hidden energies that surround us. Using the metaphor of electrical wire to suggest movement and energy within static and mundane objects, I hope to prompt thought in the viewer about what is overlooked on an everyday basis.
While science develops ever more sophisticated extensions of the senses to explore dimensions hidden from us, art harnesses imagination and playfulness to seek explanation and meaning. Both are impulses from the human spirit. Science has many explanations and predictions concerning physical matter or even the way people behave, whereas art is more content to remain in a state of ambiguity and to accept mystery. Science may objectify but art may retain an integrity in dealing with its subject by investing it with human care. As Albert Einstein discovered, everything is affected by the act of observation itself. The thieves are always cleverer than the guards.
I have often wondered what it would be like to get involved in an art symposium and so I took the opportunity here at Westbury Farm Studios, giving myself precious time to play and to express myself through art in different media. New friendships have been formed with fellow artists from here in the United Kingdom, from Ireland, Italy and Lithuania. The workshops that have been running throughout the symposium have enabled me to think in different dimensions and to use different materials through a diversity of subject.
Silbury Group of Artists
I hold myself responsible for vandalising a wall with fluorescent paint, which was great fun, while the addition of ultraviolet lights made the experience doubly satisfying, all recorded using photography. Finding a quiet time to meditate in Shenley Woods at one workshop brought about a sense of grounding and peace. This experience resulted in a short verse on the emotions gleaned, and this was read to the participating group. Being able to wander in the grounds at Westbury and then find a place that expresses inner quite and tranquil thoughts brought about the topiary in the beech hedge; it enabled me to look from both sides at a selected view for repose. Having made this indentation in the undergrowth I went on to make others within the grounds. When it came to the woodworking workshop I know that I just had to carry on the theme from the topiary. A well-seasoned piece of elm was selected, and after a good number of hoursâ€™ work something was forming. My plan is to fire the wood and to rework, leaving elements of the burn and the internal texture and colours.
My recent work has been about hidden worlds that can be accessed only through the use of specialist equipment – the inner workings of the heart, the microscopic, the heavens and the worlds of the corals under the sea. For the symposium ‘Hidden Dimensions’ I decided to extend my interest to the hidden world of energy flows, explaining the Chinese concept of Qi (energy) in the Chinese philosophy that the human body is a microcosm of the world we live in and that energy flows throughout both. I have been comparing the new age and ancient ideas of the earth’s chakras and considering the energy channels of our civilisation – connections with ley line maps, maps for transporting us around the world. The symposium has brought together artists with some conceptual connections and I have found that my ideas are shared with other artists here. As well as enabling a dialogue between people who talk the same language about the energy that is the creative process, the concentration of artists in one place for two weeks has created an intensely energetic location within the matrix of Milton Keynes. I have felt that I have been in a strange energetic hot spot within a big grid. Alongside the sharing and development of my own ideas, I have found it of great value to be receptive to other ways of working, and skills sharing with science, paint, wood or nature has provided valuable nourishment.
Co. Wexford, Ireland
I came with a map sent from Westbury Farm to Ireland to negotiate the roundabouts from Wexford to Milton Keynes. The sinister rectangle of HM Woodhill Prison, ‘information classified’, struck me immediately as a ‘hidden dimension’ both physically and politically. It seemed important and urgent to make some work about this hidden dimension following on the web of undisclosed information, torture and extreme interrogation methods of the Iraq war.
Co. Wexford, Ireland
I started with ideas of making a very direct piece about personal liberty. Analogies with intensive factory farming methods such as battery chicken farms seemed a possible starting point. These were followed by ideas of a performance piece â€“ digging out of a contained cell. These intense initial ideas softened in the creative carnival of the symposium, which helped me reinterpret the original direct imagery into a more personal and poetic way of working. The emphasis changed from incarceration towards the idea of escape or flight. Such things as the quietness of Shenley Woods (Linda Greenâ€™s workshop) and warm contact with fellow artists has turned an initial political statement into a voyage of personal discovery.
Silbury Group of Artists
In search of the Holy Grail My quest continues in the gardens of Westbury Farm in search of the Holy Grail … the Grail, historically known as the cup present at the Last Supper, the cup believed to have contained the sweat and blood of Jesus after the crucifixion. Brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, the Grail was taken to Corbenic where it was housed in a spectacular castle guarded by the Grail kings, descendants of Joseph’s daughter Anna. Centuries later the location of Corbenic had been forgotten. King Arthur is said to have sent his knights on a quest to find the goblet, believed to be kept in a mysterious ancient building surrounded by wasteland and guarded by a custodian who suffered with a wound that would not heal. In search of fulfilment and healing, I seek the power of the Grail. Westbury Farm – an ancient building surrounded by wastelands, guarded by a moat – I believe this place to be Corbenic. The Grail is among us, concealed within the fabric of this ancient site. I search in the most mundane spaces, the discontinued swimming pool, the disintegrating shed, the redundant tennis court, the blackberry bush drenched in sewage, the guttering, the spaces in between the fixtures and fittings, and a rusty hedgehog car. My images of vessels may well contain the secret of the Grail.
Silbury Group of Artists
‘No one would have believed … that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger …’
War of the Worlds H.G. Wells
Silbury Group of Artists
To be immersed in a new group of individuals from other cultures and backgrounds is exciting. Then to be asked to explore your own ways of working within that environment for two weeks with no pressure is both daunting and exhilarating. This intoxicating atmosphere sent my mind into overload, drunk on the fumes of inspirational creativity.
I joined the symposium a few days in, with no plans. The idea of building a fire sculpture with a component of performance soon emerged. There was a desire to throw away the distractions that often enter my work practice and focus on burning the product of my labours. I constructed a wood kiln that was very sculptural, with a personality of its own. The function of a kiln is to change the clay artefacts within, but this process of construction and firing has elements of theatre about it. By focusing on â€˜processâ€™ not only am I gaining greater knowledge of the techniques involved in creating something from a simple though versatile material such as clay, but I also allow the work to take on the character of a choreographed ritual.
Like the phoenix rising from the ashes to begin anew, I too feel that I am at a new stage of creative development. I felt the five elements: earth (material needs), fire (passion), water (emotions), air (intellect) and spirit (the self), all combining. The end product was the residue of a fourteen-day labour. My working process became a performance.
Silbury Group of Artists
Since graduating in 2000 I have produced both performance and video art that critically engages with a range of public contexts. Black humour is used as a tool to make the work accessible on all levels and in an attempt to make us consider our actions, roles and personalities. The comic value of the work can be interpreted as a light relief from more serious, formal counterparts, providing audiences with a fresh and frank outlook.
My work has recently been exhibited in London, Mexico and Canada, and I am in the process of completing an Arts Council England artist’s residency at Artsway in the New Forest. ‘Hidden Dimensions’ provided me with the opportunity to escape from normal day-to-day activities. Being given this concentrated amount of time provided me with an unprecedented chance to experiment and create new works. I used the time to start on a project entitled Vent, a non-detrimental investigation into the venting of anger/frustration. I contacted approximately one thousand people and received an overwhelming response. In reaction to the responses, I created a live performance, with the audience made up of people who had sent me their ‘vents’. I carried out every non-detrimental venting technique I received using my personal approach. The techniques varied from getting naked in public and singing to a tree to chopping a carrot. The audience was provided with a hectic, slightly neurotic and definitely comical live performance. An installation, which included a projection and the large scrolls of paper written on hastily during the performance, was presented for the exhibition. This work in progress has provided me with the much needed stimulus to produce even more adventurous work in the future. The time away has taught me not to be afraid of experimentation or where it may lead.
I just would rather pull all my pubes out than write and summarise my work ...
Amelia Eloise Johanna Nikki Richard Ryan Tom
Film training – The Living Archive Project Stencil and spray paint Picasso-style – Bill Billings Video performance – Victoria Melody Private dimensions – public dimensions – Carlo Gori & Mark Compton Fire sculpture – Paul Smith Qi, the human body, a field of continually flowing energy – Jenny Kirner Crossing the divide – Linda Gordon Art in nature – Lorna Green Experimenting with watercolour – Anna Dumitriu Wood carving – Jamie Frost Liquid light photography – Diana Winkfield My vision of space – Ausra Andziulyte Water and colour – Elena Brazdziuniene
Chris Murray Dominic Newbould Nikki, Johanna, Tom, Eloise, Amelia, Ryan and Richard Artworks MK Alice Peasgood and Dr Janet Sumner Yaw Asiyama Prestige Cars Maria Barry Jean Pierre Rasle Big George at BBC Three Counties Radio Reg ’n’ Jill’s Fish and Chips Bill Billings Serves You Right Catering Peter Brown, Dr Mathew Clark and Dr Robin Souter Annabelle Shelton Sue Brown Michael Stanley Mike Bullivant Helen Taylor and Jessica Rost Mark Compton, Anthony Hayes, Paul Smith and Simon Tipping Alison Tucker & Emily Benstead Christine Considine Tuppers the Stationers Cherry Coombe Arvydas Zalpys Catherine Damon Allan Davies Deborah Dallyn, Kate Edwards and Diana Winkfield Theresa and John Killman Jim Lockett and Willmott Dixon Financial support is gratefully acknolwedged from Maharajas The Mayor of Milton Keynes Milton Keynes Scrap Store
The Silbury Group and all at Westbury Farm