Those of you who follow our blog will be wondering where we have been:-
Working away on our next exhibition of course! We have called it Engineered, and it will be running all summer long from the beginning of May to the end of August 2015.
Papplewick Pumping Station in Nottinghamshire is the venue and the inspiration for this new body of work. You will need to check their website for opening times, but if you can get to a Steaming day then grab the opportunity as it brings everything to life.
The setting for our new work is truly challenging. Papplewick Pumping Station is a beautiful example of Victorian engineering and architecture, set in lovely grounds just a few miles north of Nottingham. The scale of the building and the machinery, the fact that it all still works and you can see it in action, the lure of steam, and the enthusiasm of the volunteers, and just about every aspect of Papplewick captured our collective imaginations.
Throughout the year the boilers are set to work and the grandeur of the James Watt Beam Engines is an awe-inspiring sight. You might think it would be noisy and dirty, but the cathedral-like engine room is brought to life with the rhythmic, powerful motion of the beams and pistons in an almost silent ballet with gentle puffs of steam from copper bound cylinders.
Here is a sneaky peak of work in progress, along with a few words from the some of the artists. We will post some more in the coming weeks.
The imposing size of the piston rods, beams and flywheels is awe-inspiring. Yet inside the metal are tiny crystal formations – some called ‘pearlite’. That contrast in scale inspired me to investigate further. Oh happy bands of volunteers – each with your oily rags – tending and nurturing such Victorian splendour.
The strength and sturdiness of the structures and machinery, contrasting with the lace-like design of the stairs, and the copper glowing in the light of the sun through the stained-glass windows. Beauty and utility together inspire practical pieces and abstract sculptures
The moving parts of the machines inspired expressive drawing. From that came the shapes, colours and sense of movement in my work
The machinery of Papplewick has been the focus of my interest and ideas; the size, scale, juxtaposition and layers of strong, solid shapes. This only increased when I witnessed it ‘In Steam’ and in motion. Trying to capture all of these aspects working together has been my goal
The powerful and rhythmical beam engines, steam driven by coal from the stokers shovels, the fire of the men who, metaphorically and physically, brought the machinery to life, has informed my work for this exhibition, reflecting a sense of scale, form and human achievement.
I am exploring aspects of water management; its transportation through networks of pipes and its storage in the magnificent underground reservoir. Metalwork shows rust, cracked paint and lime scale encrustations, whilst spotlights cast shadows through brick columns and arches – as if the stage is set for a theatre production
The workmanship and attention to detail, even down to the smallest bolts and screws took my attention at Papplewick. The contrast between the gleaming polished metals of the interior and the rusty, coal-dusted, workmanlike areas define the approach to my work for this exhibition.
To reach the level of beautiful engineering that is Papplewick Pumping Station, the engineers have built their knowledge by standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before them. Layer upon layer of talent and skill creating beauty where there need be none to perform the function of pumping water to the homes of Nottingham.
Over the last 9 months we have also been working on some collaborative pieces involving 2 or 3 members in each little collaborative group. It was the luck of the draw who we ended up working with, and this has proved challenging, but most of all, exciting. Learning to work closely with another artist, bending to, and playing on each others strengths, discovering our own weaknesses, and then producing work that reflects all participants in the collaboration.
Coralie, Carly and Robyn have been making chain links, a perfect example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts; this idea is reflected in each and every piece that resulted from working together.
Judith and Liz concentrated on the engineers who built Papplewick and artefacts that represent their work.
There will be more to follow when we have images to share with you. But it is always better to see these things in the flesh, and we would love to have the chance to welcome you to Papplewick over the summer. On Steam days we will be there to talk to anyone who wants to know about the exhibition and all the varied pieces that it comprises. You will find the work inside the pumping station and boiler house, and also in the grounds.
Papplewick is a family day out when it is in steam; something for everyone. Beautiful architecture, lovely grounds, a mysterious underground reservoir, and a little steam engine railway to ride and of course the lure of the beam engines themselves. There is music and picnic spots and a little cafe, and so many wonderful volunteers who keep everything going. You can ask them questions and watch them do stuff. I can’t tell you exactly what stuff, as I am not an engineer, but a lot of it involves coal, oil and heavy bits of metal, large spanners, wheels whirling around, pistons pumping, and governors spinning, but they are always very keen to chat about it all!
See you there.