Vulgar Earth is a not for profit artists collective, promoting awareness and discussion of contemporary Social, Political and Environmental issues. Through producing engaging, emotive and stimulating art exhibitions and events, we take a thought provoking and emotionally charged look at the beauty and vulgarity of human relationships with the natural world and our current disassociation from it. Each member is an independent artist who adds their voice and vision to a collective message for change
Verity Howard. A Ley Landscape. Image courtesy of Dan Barker Studios
Words by founding member Simon Meiklejohn
Within our communities, despite a superficial awareness of the need for recycling and sustainable resources, there is a lack of understanding of the greater implications of these subjects, the worst offenders, and how deep our damage to the planet has gone.
â€œAs a tool for communication, art has the advantage of not relying solely on the limitations of languageâ€? Through technology our capacity for communication has increased, but our feeling of connection has become more distant. These technologies are intrinsically reshaping our society, while we are mostly oblivious to the creep of these changes. Endless marketing and agenda driven media provide a distorted view of reality, and individuals feel a greater disconnection from social structure and value.
Our commitment to capital, to guide the direction of our progress and priorities, has lead us to desperate inequality, wanton waste of human material resources and destruction of the natural world on an industrial scale in the name of profit. A policy that makes absolute financial sense can easily be shown as utter madness from an alternative perspective. When we see our impact on the world in isolated sound bites we feel a fleeting outrage yet fail to absorb the scale of our effect. As a tool for communication, art has the advantage of not relying solely on the limitations of language and intellect, but can impart a lasting emotional realisation of a truth that may be hidden from the waking conciousness.
Simon Meiklejohn www.form-and-function.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Meiklejohn is a sculptor working mainly in metal and casting and founding member of the Vulgar Earth Artists Collective. A qualified mechanical engineer Simon trained under a traditional apprenticeship scheme in Hereford and studied fine art in Cleveland. Combining disciplines he achieves a balance between artist informing engineer and engineer informing artist. Simonâ€™s specialist knowledge has also gained him prestigious contracts with national galleries and museums, creating displays and object mounts. My sculpture work reflects my engineering background, I love the beauty and creativity humans can bring to the world. I love our ingenuity and ability to create systems and mechanisms that have beauty, balance and function. I am interested in, and have produced many works expressing this beauty that I see in form, movement, balance and humour. But today my passion in these areas is overshadowed by more pressing things, and it is these that now inform my work. We are at an extraordinary point in history; never before has there been a moment of such great danger and opportunity for humanity. Humanity, society, community; is that that binds us, that shields, feeds and informs us, and it is the responsibility of each to help protect
and inform this community as we are all able. As an artist, it is to reflect on our society, so that we might see ourselves more clearly. Through my work I hope to awaken greater understanding and consideration of the effects on ourselves and the natural world, of how we currently live; and to encourage wider discussion and active involvement with issues that effect us all. If we choose to look more closely at how our human world works, and start to understand the scale of our effect on all things; it is easy to become overwhelmed, to feel powerless, disassociated and disoriented. But I do not believe we are powerless; everything we do, however small, every decision we make, will effect the course of our future. Furthermore, I believe the change needed in the way we all live and interact, can only come about as a result of individual actions that will show a collective result. We must find new ways of living and we must each participate if we wish to see change. The pieces I am exhibiting are blunt in manner and pointedly subjective. While I hope they have a poignant aesthetic, they are not meant to be subtle or to have hidden esoteric meaning. They are intended to be accessible to all, to inform and to provoke an emotional response. To further this aim I include a brief written text with each.
Jackie Yeomans www.jackieyeomans.com email@example.com
The responsibility of guardianship for our Earth and respect for Nature is given some solace through the consideration of my art practice. It is holistic; embodying nature through the reciprocity of nurture and respect, making art with organic matter is a choice for ecological value. For installation pieces, I like to use Clay and Seed to engage honour, guardianship and gratitude. Seed is a metaphor for many processes, representing transformation and emergence of potential over time. Seeds are a perpetual reminder of the complexity and diversity of life. Seed guardians are clay ephemeral figurines containing and momentarily protecting a seed. They are guardians in practice and metaphor: -For the importance of community when faced with humanitarian and environmental disasters. -To promote awareness of where our food comes from: encouraging growing your own, sharing produce, saving seeds and to pass these gifts on to others. -For soil and seed relationship: how industrial farming is depleting the health of soil and
questioning the global health and wealth effects, questioning genetically modified seeds. -For dreaming, for nurturing nature and creativity, both supporting a vibrant and sustainable ecology. -For the universal cycle of life, death and regeneration. When walking and dwelling in rural landscapes, I collect soils and earth pigments to directly paint with. These images are translations of location, information from time spent exploring, feeling my way, as I become embodied by my surroundings. Gleaning the earthâ€™s time frame and movement, animal and human habitation and movement, and the relationship of land edge and sea movement. My painting practice becomes a meditation on the ancient layers, the lay of the land, pathways and folds, and the required respect for encouraging healthy soil for abundance. I refer to the macro and micro, seeing patterns and landscapes within a fragment of stone, or the markings of activity within fields of soil. Within the process of life, death and entropy, each piece creates its own evolution.
Glenn Morris www.glennmorris.co.uk
Glenn Morris creates sculptures in stone, wood, bronze & mixed media. Glenn’s practise is described in his own words; “I aim, through my work, and by using a variety of media, to explore the tenuous and ephemeral nature of beauty and our human response to this. I find myself drawn to forms that, perhaps, contain visual suggestions of sensuality and frailty whilst, at the same time transmit an underlying message of a darker, troubled quality. The passage of time and the effects of this, either through decay or erosion, the brevity of a ‘state of being’ and the importance that is attached to the concept of the present, I find intensely interesting.
For these reasons it would be fair to say that I work along three avenues of enquiry: carving stone as a means of using material with associations of ancient time and slow erosion, more figurative constructed works that allow the viewer to relate to forms that, by being visually accessible are able to relay subliminal messages through surface treatment or by use of material and, lastly, works that use visual references to explore the above ideas using a variety of materials. How an object is perceived within a brief time frame, as in a museum where it is bestowed with a ‘preciousness’ greater than it originally possessed, existing as it does under glass and carefully lit, is of immense interest to me. It is no longer prosaic but speaks to us of the past and reminds us of the brevity of our own
David England www.facebook.com
David England is a self-taught sculptor, painter and graphic artist – living just south of Hereford. His last major installation ‘An Alchemy of Stone’ explored the idea of silicon as a database for ‘held’ memories and feelings that could be accessed by touch. As well as sculpture David employed willow cages, three-dimensional drawings and wall-pastels to weave an imagined alternative universe of stored images from the past. Having grown up with a love of Earth Magic, his sculptures evoke a mixture of Cubism and Medieval narrative. His favorite medium is pencil. But…he adds ‘ I became aware that it is not enough just to make things for people to decorate their homes with. What skills I have as an artist should also be used to question the things that worry me about being human in this age.’
‘I’ve been an artist for a long time – it’s what I do when I get out of bed. I love the transitory nature of the creative impulse and lately have enjoyed the fleeting messages you can leave with chalk[for example]. Over recent years the state of the natural world and our lack of empathy for it has influenced my work and given it more of an edge. More of a message.’ David’s latest work is concerned with the fear of corporate manipulation through public media.
Verity Howard www.verityhowardceramics.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Verity Howard is a ceramic artist from Hereford. She graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2015 with a B.A (Hons) First Class Degree in Three Dimensional Design. Verity is interested in responding to themes linked to people’s lives and places in order to create contemplative ceramic artworks. She makes slab built forms using clay as a medium for drawing and monoprinting. ‘Sacrificial Stone Series’ explores using words as a starting point to conjure up a mental image and a feeling of something you have never seen before. Through the medium of clay Verity has been translating these images and feelings into reality by creating physical ceramic works. To Verity the words that evoke the feeling regarding ‘Sacrificial Stone’ are: surreal, stone like, obscured and encaged. By monoprinting using grey slips Verity has created a stone like surface quality to her slab built forms. Furthermore by layering up monoprinted line drawings on the surface of the work Verity has created a feeling of these forms being obscured and encaged.
In November 2015, she took part in an international ceramic residency, Project Network, at Guldagergaard (International Ceramic Research Centre, Denmark). Following her graduation she has exhibited nationally, at New Designers, London, The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Manchester. The Manchester Craft and Design Centre, (Solo Exhibition) and Made North, Sheffield. She has also exhibited internationally at The Apple House Gallery, Denmark. Verity was also recently selected to be part of the Crafts Council’s development programme; Hothouse 2017. Hothouse brings together 35 maker businesses across a variety of disciplines for a six-month programme delivered in partnership with institutions across the UK. Most recently Verity has had been selected to take part in New Designers One Year On which will take place from the 27th - 30th June 2018 at the Business Design Centre, London. Furthermore Verity has been selected for the IV. International Ceramics Triennial UNICUM, Slovenia, 2018. She will be exhibiting her work from the 17th May – 30th September 2018 at the National Museum of Slovenia, Ljubljana.
Glyndwr Brimacombe www.brotherglyn.wixsite.com
Glyn is a self taught artist who works from his home studio in the South Wales Valleys. His latest works, shown here, are abstract paintings using a variety of paint mediums including ultra violet reactive fluid. These works are intended to be viewed under both white, and ‘black’ light, where hidden details, colours and depths are revealed. Glyn reveals his struggles with depression and anxiety and says “my painting is my therapy.” “The intention behind these pieces with multi dimensions and hidden depths, is a direct result of trying to understand and come to terms with these issues. I’m trying to demonstrate that what you think you see isn’t necessarily the full picture, you sometimes have to look from a different perspective or
in a different light, and I have found that that applies to the self as much as to other people and life in general.” Glyn’s paintings are beguiling and richly fluid in colour and emotion, and when a black light is applied to them a seemingly bottomless depth is revealed with luminescing colours that are quite ephemeral. It is as if you are tumbling down the rabbit hole.
Jo Bushell www.chalkblack.com
As a performance artist, Jo creates space for people to reconnect with the natural world, community and heritage (personal/local/ global). Her practice focuses on ‘our primal urge to connect and create and the wellness that comes from this process’. Having practiced as a performance artist since 1991 (ongoing), studied 3D design, studied and worked as a freelance textile designer, worked in youth services and adult substance misuse services over a period of 16 years she has drawn from these experiences in order to develop a way of working which is accessible and dynamic. Jo uses immersive, experimental techniques to engage audiences and participants. Her work encourages a deeper connection and understanding of specific environments/ aspect of heritage/’ourselves’ in relation to our community and environment. In her workshops and retreats she encourages hands on preparation, use of the imagination and an element of performance to create powerful moments of self-discovery.
Jo describes the intentions of the Vulgar Earth Opening Performance as follows: ‘A participative, site-specific performance piece, drawing on the mythology and landscape of the Brecon Beacons, to explore the influence of nature/culture dualism on our understanding of what is valuable...and ultimately, what can therefore be exploited.’
Kim Colebrook www.kimcolebrook.com email@example.com
Kim is a Ceramicist whose work is influenced by her professional experience in the heritage and tourism sectors across the UK, in which she has worked for almost 30 years. Throughout this time her storytelling abilities were developed as she learned of the tales of South Wales and the people that drove the Industrial Revolution, heightened knowledge which continues to be a big influence on her work. Kim studied for Contemporary Design Crafts BA at Hereford College of Arts, where she experimented with many different types of media. Though it emerged that her main passion is ceramics, and in particular, porcelain. She is currently studying MA Ceramics at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Of her work Kim says; â€œIn my practice, I aim to incorporate texture and narrative, often creating very simple forms that will carry the intended message. I seek to combine my professional interests with my ceramics, developing a narrative about the natural assets that gave this area the opportunity to lead the world. I also explore historical events, such as the Aberfan Disaster, which is the topic that I explored for my degree exhibition, and which is being shown in the Andrew Lamont gallery this Spring. Kimâ€™s work uses hand building and casting techniques, integrating textures and oxides. The narrative may be developed within a single vessel, or by combining numerous elements for wall displays or installations.
Frida Go www.fridago.com
Writer, researcher, activist, filmmaker and participatory video consultant Zoe Young (zoeyoung.net) tells some terrible tales. Reluctant to self promote, she gives voice to the voiceless and reports from frontlines of society, justice and the wild. Chanting Stop Climate Change! Save the Whale! Beneath the paving stones, the beach …… Zoe was conceived amidst the ferment of May ‘68 and born in London to politicians and artists, writers and adventurers. Her uncle established the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and co-founded WWF, her parents worked for eco-sanity, preservation and peace, her much older siblings rode the countercultural waves. Growing up, all she wanted to do was to understand humanity and ecology; to travel, dance, network and create, to resist capitalist fossil fuelled madness and make the world safe for more kids. .… before having children herself.
Facing her failure in this and becoming Frida she breaks loose, moves on, looks ahead. She’s fermenting old files, feelings and ephemera from some of the Holocene’s last hopeful frontlines, into art for the Chthulucene Anthropocene** age we’re now in… Fertilising freaky fresh futures with wild cultures from the past.. Zoe is now Frida Go. Maybe we all need to be, a bit. *Anthropocene - Our current geological age, characterised by humanities influence on the chemistry, and subsequently the ecosystems of the planet. *Chthulucene - Refers to processes of reworlding, the resultant transformation of ecosystems resulting from the Anthropocene age.
Jim Carter www.jimcartersculptor.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Carter tells animal stories through words and sculpture. More often than not, they are about British wildlife and a sense of its power and vulnerability in relation to humankind. Often uneasy or tragic, irrational or obscure, he tries to convey stories linked to his experience of a real world of suffering and transcendence: making sculpture from organic materials as a means of advocacy, atonement or commemoration; shifting to the written word as a way to enter emotional and numinous spaces of memory and dream. Jim tries to be honest in negotiating the complex experiences that arise in relation to land and animal life: there is anger, fear, sorrow, death, but also fertility, transformation and renewal, with the central theme being the intimate relationship between land and the human psyche. Jim received an MA with distinction in Art and Environment from Falmouth University. A member of the Newlyn Society of Artists, his work has appeared in Earthlines, Unpsychology Magazine, and About Place Journal.
“Jim Carter creates powerful, profound renditions of the animal world and the mythic psyche.” - Jay Griffiths Richard Povall says of Jim’s work; “There is a fragility in this work, an otherworldliness speaking to us from we don’t quite know where. But it is not all fragile. Jim Carter’s work is deeply animal and yet deeply human in its passions and propensities. We gain a new understanding of his work by looking at the materials from which it is made: skin, bones, seeds, soil, ash. It becomes redolent of, if not death, then other-life. A place we intrinsically know from the work without perhaps understanding why. The work is dreamlike. Not always perhaps the kind of dreams we like to have; they tell tales of other lives and unknown dimensions. We are told stories we can’t quite grasp.”
Maisie Noble www.maisienoble.co.uk
Maisie is a London based illustrator, digital media artist and lecturer. She grew up near Abergavenny, South Wales and moved to London in 2010 to study Ba Fashion Illustration. After 5 years working as a freelance and in-house illustrator Maisie completed her MA in Communication Design Illustration in 2017. Both courses have given her the opportunity to explore emerging and future platforms for illustration, including interactive illustration for App Design and animation for Virtual Reality. Maisie describes a tension in her practise; “There are often juxtapositions present in my work, I think this comes from the incompatability between my love of the natural world and my fascination with city life. I still spend a lot of time in Wales and I often encounter unique parallells between urban and country life. I have friends in the city to whom the countryside is a wilderness, foreign and hostile, even frightening, they feel estranged from it. My work seeks to re-familiarize the viewer with the treacherous landscapes of the Brecon Beacons.” Almost all of Maisie’s self initiated work grows from her interest in nature, earth, environment and anthropology. “I grew up in the borderlands between Wales and England, I so often struggle to verbalise the wonder of this
place, though it has been almost 10 years since I lived here I still feel a visceral pull to the hills, light and energy of North Monmouthshire”. Maisie believes in the importance of consciousness in the arts, including an mindful approach to the ethics surrounding sustainability, environment and politics. She feels a sense of responsibility to make creativity an accessible platform for self discovery. About the project: ‘Beacons’ is an immersive, cyclic narrative that was developed through Maisie’s MA investigation into the complex and multifacited discourse surrounding Rewilding in the Welsh uplands. Rewilding is often seen as being radical and controversial on the one hand, and over-glamorised on the other, with calls for the reintroduction of wolves, wild boar, beaver and lynx frequently making the headlines. This wordless, looped narrative prompts us to reconsider both our ownership of and relationship to the Brecon Beacons; a territory that has been tamed for human need. The animation demonstrates how ecosystems are interconnected and asks us to rethink our position on the earth by becoming stewards of this landscape and living in harmony with it.
Tina Walton www.greeneyedmonster.org.uk
Having initially trained as a Packaging & Graphic designer Tina has spent the last 14 years running the not for profit, eco art company Greeneyedmonster co. with friend and fellow artist Karen Meiklejohn as well as 4 years ago establishing Rose Tinted Rags, a Textile Recycling & Arts Centre in Hereford, in partnership with Leominster based charity Echo. Working with purely reclaimed and recycled materials, workshops with Schools, Community groups & Adults with Disabilities, producing artworks for private and public exhibition, most recently a commission from the National Trust, for Berrington Hall. Tina’s personal work varies in medium from painting and sculpture to installation. Currently driven by environmental and social politics her work and medium change with the issues and messages being conveyed.
Tina describes the motive behind her involvment with the collective: “For some time I have felt completely overwhelmed by the whole consumerist model and our society in general. I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of expectation and failure, and completely powerless to change anything. The insidious brainwashing of advertising and the current state of our society has created a population expectantly believing that ‘if I buy this I will feel happy, more validated, more worthy’. With simply no understanding, realisation or care to take responsibility for the havoc being caused globally by their actions. By exhibiting work that addresses my concerns I hope to be able to relieve some of my own sense of powerlessness, bringing to the fore the issues that seem to be going unnoticed around us.”
Rob McCarthy www.mccarthystudio.co.uk email@example.com
Rob McCarthy is an award winning art psychotherapist working in acute and community adult mental health for an NHS Trust. Rob is currently undertaking a postgraduate accredited course in art therapy supervision with the British Association of Art Therapists based in London. More information on art therapy can be found on Rob’s website
Rob’s paintings aim to introduce visitors to a depiction of the Celtic scenery inspired by the coastlines of Wales and Scotland. His work uses landscape elements such as sky, sea and cliffs to define human emotions, but in a more expressionist even romantic way. Rob studied under Sir Robin Philipson and was heavily influenced by the Scottish colourists.
Born in London, he attended Hornsey College of Art before going on to Edinburgh College of Art. He has undertaken study tours of Orkney, Los Angeles and Andalucía in Spain. He was artist in residence at Edinburgh’s 369 gallery for over 3 years. He received a British Council Travel award in 1988. Rob McCarthy’s work is held in collections such as Scottish Arts Council, Coopers and Lybrand, Edinburgh City Art centre and private collections throughout Europe and the US. Rob has exhibited extensively in the UK and the US.
After visiting one of his exhibitions at ‘Art in General’ – New York, Nancy Grimes wrote of Rob. “His paintings are elemental, stripped back to a powerful geometry of place. The rock, the water, the earth, have weight, gravity, and yet they glow ghostly and ephemeral. He has found a language of the cosmos, the heart and the soul in paint that speaks like poetry. He transforms sections of coastline into brooding psychologically charged vistas. By radically simplifying form, transposing the warm and cool tonalities of landscape into saturated reds maroons and ultramarine, sand rendering descriptive detail as ragged streaks, and with matted patches of pastel he invents a nocturnal hallucinatory world that blurs the distinctions between inner and outer self ”.
Peter Horrocks www.peterhorrocks.co.uk
Born in 1945 in Oldham, Lancashire. Peter studied at Leicester College of Art, Chelsea School of Art and London University. He began his teaching career in London and moved to Herefordshire in 1971. His work has been exhibited widely in Herefordshire and Shropshire as well as nationally. Peter describes his work; “My work is characterised by a concern for abstraction and carefully constructed structures. Initial images are often drawn from landscape sources with themes such as; ‘Traces’, ‘Earth works’ and ‘Landmarks’, which explore marks left behind in nature and their possible meaning.” “I am always more interested in small fragments of the landscape and geological features rather than the bigger picture. I like to work on a series of images at the same time and enjoy the way the works interact with each other - one work teaches me about the next. I usually work on a square format which contains the image in a balanced way and reads less like a traditional landscape composition.” “I use natural earth pigments mainly sourced from the ochres mined at the Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean. In 2011 I mined it myself three hundred feet down in the old iron ore mines. Other pigments have been
sourced on my travels, including Australia and Roussillion in France, for the best yellow ochre.” Peter rubs the dry earth pigment into the surface of an acid free board. Any structural lines are first incised into the board using various metal scribers. This enables the drawing to become a more physical part of the image. More recent work of Peter’s explores the combination of textural qualities. Layers of gesso, plaster, pigment, slate dust, etc are applied to panels and canvas. Surfaces are layered, revealing colours beneath the surface by scraping, rubbing, digging and sanding. The Landmarks 10 panels, exhibited at Brecon for the first time, were developed specifically to focus on small-scale panels that aim to reflect the vastness of the landscape and its structure. Each panel informs others in the series. Also included are works on handmade paper that reflect my current practice. They were developed by creating many layers of natural earth pigments, and clays, often applied with a variety of brushes and tools. The pigments are suspended in water and an acrylic binder that allows them to flow and form in ways that reflect movements in the earth itself.
In 2017 Vulgar Earth hosted itâ€™s debut exhibition at the Canwood Gallery in Herefordshire. The exhibition featured work from Simon Meiklejohn, Jackie Yeomans, Peter Horrocks, Glyn Brimaconbe, Verity Howard, Jim Carter and Rob McCarthy, it summeted with a meet and greet the artists forum at a picnic on the gallery lawns.
About the Canwood Gallery
When the Canwood Gallery opened in the summer of 2016 it posed a perfect opportunity for a well presented large scale exhibition. The Galleryâ€™s ethos was ultruistic, with profits going to Barts Hospital, and the sole intention of the owner, Steve Dale, a local farmer, was to bring art to the people. www.canwoodgallery.com
Vulgar Earth are pleased to announce their second exhibition, at The Andrew Lamont Gallery, Theatr Brycheiniog. A large, contemporary space in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. This spring, Vulgar Earth will present a selection of painting, sculpture and installation artwork in keeping with the years theme from the gallery; ‘From The Beacons to The Sea’.
About the Space
“The Gallery aims to showcase a diverse range of work from local, national and international artists. From 2018, a selection panel will be choosing exhibitions for their excellence, contemporary qualities and past credentials, with the aim to exhibit a broad range of work, ranging from established artists to those at the start of their career.” www.brycheiniog.co.uk/en/gallery
“My work was becoming more topical and subjective, my everyday frustrations with the ways our world functions had taken my full attention, I was making stuff you wouldn’t really expect to sell, but didn’t care, I wanted to show it and for people to be interested. Those around me, I noticed, were expressing their concerns through their work, the way they work, the materials they use. There is a collective unrest bubbling under the surface, we all know it’s there, we all know things must change, we yearn for it in our ever quiet grumbling about modern life. So do we just ride the wave of change and see
where it takes us, or do we decide to have a hand, however small, in steering the course of this change? We need a collective voice”
Tina Walton & Simon Meiklejohn
The Andrew Lamont Gallery The Canwood Gallery Seedbed Youth social action fund
Vulgar Earth would love to hear from artists, galleries and organisations regarding future projects. Visit our website at: www.vulgarearth.com or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vulgar Earth is a not for profit artists collective, promoting awareness and discussion of contemporary Social, Political and Environmental...
Published on Apr 13, 2018
Vulgar Earth is a not for profit artists collective, promoting awareness and discussion of contemporary Social, Political and Environmental...