Ephemeral Coast | Gemma Copp

Statement

I work predominately with film and installation, often filming in isolated and secluded places or places perceived to be so by the viewer. My work aims to raise a flux of visceral emotions relating to identity and basic human emotions and concerns.

Bio

Gemma Copp is a Welsh artist, who currently resides in Swansea, her city of birth. Graduating with a BA in Fine Art from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2006, Copp went on to complete an MA in Contemporary Dialogues in 2009 at the same University. Copp has recently taken part in the Glynn Vivian’s Artist in Residence program. Copp has shown work nationally and internationally and has recently exhibited work at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh, and at the Mannheim Film Festival in Germany, where she received a special commendation from the judges. She was awarded Welsh Artist of the Year in 2012.

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Space  2014

Film, 40 mins.

With its continuous body of salt water covering most of the earth’s surface, the sea is seen as a geophysical body with the tidal rhythms acting as its lungs. The sea is a constant reminder of life, where its continuous tidal motions breathe existence into nature’s habitat and fuel the cycle of regeneration. But what if that were to stop? Life is given value because of its transient and impermanent nature, and the coastline can be just as fragile and ephemeral. What if the rhythm were to be damaged and the cycle broken? Would nature’s balance disappear with the low tide, never to return? Within the piece you see a melancholic, motionless figure, dressed in black, with her back to the viewer. It appears that she is stood, balancing on top of the sea, as the waves repeatedly roll around her. The sea appears to be in balance at this point but as the once high tide turns to low tide and disburses around the figure, it gives the impression that something menacing is about to happen. The colour and focus of the horizon, that once was clear and inspiring, creating feelings of happiness and limitless possibilities, instead now offers the viewer visceral feelings of concern and desolation.

Ephemeral Coast | Fern Thomas

www.thesefuturefields.eu

Statement

Fern Thomas is based out of Swansea, Wales, UK. Rooted in the processes and principles of Social Sculpture, her work explores the potency and transformational capacities of the image in its broadest sense and interrogates her relationship with the ecological, archetypal, and mythological world. Manifesting in action – live or documented – her process-led and intuitive explorations often take the form of a physical interaction or ‘meeting’ between herself and a place, a dream, a history or another being.

Bio

Thomas is the winner of Mostyn Open (2011), was a recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Award (2011/2012), was awarded the Interdisciplinary Arts Prize (2013) at Oxford Brookes University for her work during her Masters in Social Sculpture, and received a Creative Wales Award in 2014 to support her ongoing research into participatory forms and their relationship with sustainability. Thomas received her MA in Social Sculpture from Oxford Brookes University, working with Shelley Sacks, where she developed the post-apocalyptic research unit Institute for Imagined Futures & Unknown Lands.

She co-initiated the collaborative and pedagogical groups Art’s Birthday Wales and Forever Academy, works closely with her key collaborator Owen Griffiths, and is a member of the Social Sculpture Research Unit based in Oxford, UK.

 

From the Watchtower

 

The Sea and We;

A love affair

A catastrophe…

 

From the Watchtower will see the transformation of citizen into learner/observer into active participant. Expanding on a woman’s daily practice of watching the sea from her top floor flat overlooking Swansea Bay, the Watchtower will be activated by the use of a high stool by the window to sit on and the day-long focus and observation (sometimes with binoculars, sometimes without) of the sea.

Across several weeks full days will be dedicated to the act of observing the sea. This act of considered mindfulness will attempt to focus on the sea only, without distraction, holding the image of, and also ‘being with’, the sea. This will provide the space to notice the shifting tides, the changing colours of the sea and also things about the sea which the woman does not yet understand.

At the end of each day observations and thoughts will be transformed into a spoken word / sonic interpretation of the day which will then be made available on the online From the Watchtower Radio Station.

Although in essence a lonely process, with connotations of a future world where a person sits looking at the sea for something yet unknown, this research will extend to include other women who live on the same hill. They will be invited to contribute their thoughts and experiences of having a daily relationship with this body of water visible from their homes.  Pre-established contact with others who have a relationship with the sea such as academics working with climatic change and oceanography at Swansea University will form a bank of expertise to call upon at appropriate times during the process (forms of contact and evidence of dialogue to be confirmed).

There will be a resulting sound archive available online as part of the radio station and a small publication will also act a document of the process. This will be printed by Like Lichen a small handmade publishing press and will be the first publication by this press.

Ephemeral Coast | Stefhan Caddick

http://www.stefhancaddick.co.uk

Artist Statement

I am interested in the savagery of the natural world, misremembered episodes from political history, the three-minute single and not knowing the way. My work, whilst taking a range of forms from film to installation, drawing to performance, is unified by an intellectual and aesthetic rigour. I approach the act of making work with an interest in the process itself and will sometimes invent ornate, often ridiculous systems or methodologies as a mode of production. My work is at once darkly melancholic and blackly comedic.

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Brief Bio

Stefhan Caddick is a Wales-based artist who works in video, installation and performance.  His practice is often a collaborative engagement that sources its materials from institutions, communities and individuals. With an interest in process itself, Caddick invents ornate systems of production that are both melancholic and comedic. He is the recent recipient of the Major Creative Wales Award from the Art Council of Wales (2013), and has been commissioned for various artistic projects including Pickle Lane (2013) at the Fourth Wall Festival, Ghost Parade (2012) at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Festival and The Magician’s Cat (2004) at the Welsh National Opera. Caddick is currently a visiting lecturer in Creative Sound and Music at the University of Wales College, where he also earned his MA in Documentary Photography.

Drowned World

“The low night sounds of the jungle drifted over the water; occasionally a marmoset gibbered or the iguanas shrieked distantly from their eyries in the distant office blocks. Myriads of insects festered along the water-line, momentarily disturbed as the swells rolled in … slapping at the canted sides of the pontoon” JG Ballard, ‘The Drowned World’, 1962

Taking its starting point Ballard’s novel of the same name, Drowned World comprises a functional, scaled down prototype of a junk rigged floating survival craft. The craft sits at the centre of a fictional, faceted environment, reminiscent of early video games.

Like Ballard’s 1962 novel, the installation asks questions about what happens to people when the edge is redrawn; and the enduring allure of natural catastrophe – ‘the-end-is-nigh’-ism – as evident in the biblical flood story as it is in contemporary debates about climate change. It also stumbles into issues about migration and whether there’s a survivalist thread hidden within the contemporary ‘maker’.

Ephemeral Coast is an international, 4-year curatorial research project curated by Celina Jeffery (University of Ottawa,Canada).

Ephemeral Coast | Julia Davis

http://www.juliadavis.com.au

Statement

The primary focus of my research investigates the perceptions of and relationships between places, spaces and human habitation. My questions revolve around how these perceptions underpin our sense of self as well as howlandscape is cultural space – a space formed by and informing culture.

Brief Bio

Julia Davis is a site-specific artist based out of Sydney, Australia. Over the past decade Davis’ work has been installed in salt lakes, deserts, coastal precincts, parklands, galleries and built environments. Her practice explores the perceptions and relationships between objects, places and spaces. More recently, Davis’ work has attended to the viewer’s experiential reading of space in terms of temporality and duration. She has exhibited in Australia, Germany, Italy and Spain, and is the recipient of numerous awards including the NAVA NSW artist grant (2011), the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award (2007), the Woollahra Sculpture Prize (2006) and the NGSW Director’s prize (2002). She currently teaches sculpture at TAFE and holds an MVA from Sydney College of Arts.

Consilience: as the world turns, 2013/14, Time-lapse HD video, stereo sound, 07:49 (loop).

Concept/performance: Julia Davis

Camera: Alex Cherney

Compositing: Matt Fezz

Sound: Paul Huntingford, Julia Davis Thanks to NASA for extracts of sound from Voyager 1 & 11’s  first recording of interstellar space and encounter with Saturn 1980.

My work explores the effect of time on understandings of the body in relation to landscape and how this underpins our sense of self and place. I often work in ‘active‘ landscapes such as deserts, volcanic areas, coastal precincts and salt lakes and am interested in the idea that landscape is cultural space – a space informed by and informing culture.

In geological time, the landscape moves, pulses and crashes in processes of coming into and out of existence. The often, violent imagery of turbulent volcanic ash clouds used in recent works translates here in this vast Southern Hemisphere sky which elicits contradictory feelings of foreboding and rapture. Tension between anticipated loss and subsequent renewal, as well as the duality of processes that create and destroy, corrode and protect are ongoing interests in Davis’s art practice. The ‘active’ places she refers to mirror the fragile human experience of movement, instability, rhythm, reflection and change. In my work, geological time and human perception merge into a single spatial experience and take us closer to a sense of the world as our place.

Through this work, I explore what Elizabeth Grosz calls in her book, The Nick of Time, the “brute world of materiality, a world regulated by the exigencies, the forces of space and time.” I question how our immersion in time and place affects both our sense of embodiment and our perception of ourselves. Her installations, videos and prints evoke desire, vulnerability and anxiety; a sense of being poised at the edge of a world that is fraught with man made and natural disaster.

You can also view Julia’s work produced during an IASKA’s residency in Western Australia, SPACED: art out of place, 2010

http://www.spaced.org.au/one/content/project/Mukinbudin%3A+Julia+Davis/16/

Ephemeral Coast is an international, 4-year curatorial research project led by Celina Jeffery (University of Ottawa, Canada).

Ephemeral Coast Curator’s Perspective: Celina Jeffery

One of the central intentions of Ephemeral Coast is to consider new ways of configuring culture and meaning into experiences of environmental change. As a university based curator, I’m interested in how alliances between the visual arts, academia and community can create such opportunities for us to consider this.

South West Wales, which boasts stunning beaches on the Swansea peninsula that sit side by side with a significant industrial past and a commercial present, is an obvious choice for me to locate one of the Ephemeral Coast exhibitions. It offers potential for so many facets of the project’s goals: the gallery hosting the exhibition is situated in a maritime quarter and has the capacity to connect through geographic proximity and community to the cultures of the coast. Moreover, South Wales, along with the West of Wales and most regions in the South of England, have experienced startling and aggressive weather patterns – mostly attributed to climate change, with record storm surges and flooding remapping the physical and I would argue, emotional contours of the coastline with serious ramifications of how we conceptualize living on the coast.

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I also grew up in one of the more industrial areas of South Wales and carry very vivid memories of the surprising and often sublime contrasts between this coastal region, the coal, steel and chemical works which dominated the coastal edge and the hills and valleys which envelop the habitats of the communities within. Major aspects of these industries and their associated cultures have now recessed, thwarted by lack of economic regeneration, while the long-term impact of such industries upon the environment have yet to be fully realized. The artists taking part in Ephemeral Coast, S. W. Wales were chosen for a number of reasons, but all have been concerned with the aesthetic problems and conditions that arise from coastal environmental changes occurring within their specific region.

The artists taking part in this exhibition currently employ ideas, themes and methods of exploration and mapping coastal culture and their related ecologies; and all are concerned with practices of site-specificity. Each of the artists produced new work based on the curatorial premise of the exhibition: Stefhan Caddick, (Abergavenny, Wales) will respond to the recent floods in the region with a diorama inspired by J.G. Ballard’s Drowned World, which alludes to nihilism, biblical floods as well as contemporary migrations; Fern Thomas’s (Swansea, Wales) From the Watchtower Radio Station will utilize sound recordings of her own performative practices of observing the sea as well as those of her community for ‘the [...] space’ in Mission Gallery; while Julia Davis’ (NSW, Australia) video installation presents a comparative geography in which the artist positions herself ‘at the edge’ of an encounter – with nature’s wonder and imminent ecocide. Meanwhile, Gemma Copp, a Swansea based artist has produced a video for ‘the [...] space’ in which she contemplates the breath of the sea and its figurative death.

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Leaving Tide, Gemma Copp, 2014

There are always and inevitably gaps in the conceptualization of such projects and their specific realization. The cultural imaginings of coastal environmental changes in local and comparatively global contexts is magnanimous; the task of identifying the ethical and aesthetic potential of curating climate change is a difficult one; and the concept of using the exhibition as a forum for exchange between multiple but related disciplines in academia while also trying to create legitimate engagement with the public sphere is challenging.  Yet, if viewed as an event that creates a series of propositions, Ephemeral Coast offers an interesting nexus of dialogue between art, ecology, and community.

Some of these questions fold back on identifying the aesthetic problem itself: the curatorial process offers for me, a unique opportunity to discover, analyze, re-imagine and re-frame the cultural and ethical discourses surrounding environmental change. It is therefore, the very ‘uniqueness’ of Caddick’s drowned world, of Davis’s numinous encounter with the coastal perimeter, of Thomas’s daily observations of the sea and Copp’s fusing of her breath with that of the tide, that present very particular and distinct takes on our relationship to the coast. Indeed, the ‘topic’ of climate change – a nebulous and indistinct phenomenon associated more with changing weather patterns than multifarious economic, political and cultural impacts on the environment, is not overtly or didactically apparent. It is not an exhibition ‘about’ climate change, so much as a series of individual, poetic and socially investigative aesthetic considerations which trace the coast as a liminal, transgressive and ‘ephemeral’ counter-narrative.

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Ephemeral Coast is a long-term research project with exhibitions currently planned for Mauritius (2015) and Alaska (2016) with further sites being investigated. A catalogue of Ephemeral Coast – S. W. Wales, will be available, with contributions by Ian Buchanan, Director of the Institute of Social Transformation, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia; Mary H. Gagen, Associate Professor of Geography and Climate Change, University of Swansea, Wales; and Celina Jeffery.

The Mission Gansey | Angela Maddock

Fisherman’s ganseys (or guernseys) are knitted garments usually produced by the wives, sisters, mothers and daughters of fishermen. Common to fishing ports throughout the British Isles, they were most prolific on the east coast, but also indigenous to the Netherlands.

Angela knitting the gallery

Angela teaching a contributor how to knit in Mission Gallery

Ganseys are knit in the round on circular or double pointed needles and are transferred to two needles when the body reaches the arm, at which point the back and front are knit separately. Arms are also knit in the round. Ganseys are essentially seamless, though many will include a mock seam at either side of the body and along the inside of the arms. Gansey patterns are vernacular and there are many. Whilst each gansey has its own distinct pattern for example The Filey or The Flamborough, patterns often share similar motifs, including marriage lines, cables, diamonds, anchors, hearts and pennants.Ganseys often include the initials of the wearer above the front welt and popular myth holds that the patterning of the gansey could identify the bodies of fishermen drowned at sea.

Mission Gallery was formerly a Seaman’s Mission and Swansea has a strong seafaring tradition. Interestingly ganseys are absent from Welsh cultural heritage. What this discovery enabled was the opportunity to create a gansey and I choose to do this for the gallery to acknowledge its past and to celebrate the gallery’s on-going contribution to Swansea’s contemporary culture.

A beginner learning how to knit and adding a few stitches to the gansey

A beginner learning how to knit and adding a few stitches to the gansey

Mission Gansey is concerned as much with communicating the language of knitting as it is with fostering a sense of locale. It seems that some craft traditions, like knit, have the vernacular materially embedded within them and thus potentially contribute to a sense of place or belonging. Within the Mission Gansey project is an attempt to explore how I might articulate the idea of belonging through the design and fabrication of a garment, a long-term ambition is to create a Swansea Gansey in collaboration with the City’s fishing community.

Lasercut Knitting Pattern

Lasercut Knitting Pattern, ‘Co-respondents’ exhibition in Mission Gallery, March 2014

The whole process meant I needed to learn how to chart a knitting pattern, essential to the design of a gansey with its rich and complex combinations of knit and purl. I cannot measure with any accuracy how long it took me to develop a design that was true to the gallery and also ‘worked’. The process was overwhelmingly characterized by a troublesome engagement with maths, which was never my favorite occupation.

If we identify a pattern we assume it has some significance and make an effort to decode it. This is true for gansey designs particularly and explains some of my internal negotiation over the patterns in the Mission Gansey, should they relate to the fabric of the building, or what it stood for? In the end, it features both. Code breakers will spot the three windows of the apse, but also the signs of celebration with which the gallery is also associated. I am hopeful that gallery staff and visitors will contribute to the knitting of the gansey, that you will add your loops and turns to its fabric and contribute to its making.

Angela Maddock designed the gansey pattern for the Co-respondents exhibition at Mission Gallery in March and now you are invited to help Angela knit it up. She needs help with reading the pattern and is also keen for you to share your tales of the sea… bring along objects and photographs to contribute to her on going project and even knit a few stitches into our gansey.

Angela will be in the gallery at certain dates throughout the year following her successful knitting day on Bank Holiday Monday in May. These dates are yet to be confirmed so please check Mission Gallery’s Events page for details in the coming weeks.

Art Walk #1 with Sarah Abbott

It’s the first Art Walk of the year at the Mission Gallery and I am looking forward to getting out into the environment. There is a small niggle inside my head about the weather. It’s been raining all morning but, who cares, it’s booked and ‘we’ or ‘me’ or how ever many people turn up are just going to go for it – well with sketch pads, a pencil case, bulging with just about everything, my Art Handbag! – emulsion paint, camera, finger-less gloves and sweets!

At 12 o’clock, I see a pair of pink wellies at the gallery door. Yes! Some enthusiastic walkers have turned up. Inspired by the current CIVIC exhibition I thought it might be interesting to look at how architecture is placed alongside the natural landscape. How it sits. Where edges merge and meet. We set off and didn’t have to go very far to be inspired.

An urban sculpture reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread’s work.

Walking

Looking

Chatting

Sharing

 

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Heightened colour through drops of rain.Subtle shades of the buildings provide a backdrop for a tree .just in bud ,fresh green for Spring .

Heightened colour through drops of rain. Subtle shades of the buildings provide a backdrop for a tree. Just in bud, fresh green for Spring.

When a group of creative minded people get together things happen!

Finding a spot on the beach provides a good location for some spontaneous sketching.

Quick Ideas

Doodles

Down on Paper

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Then……

The Rain Comes

The Observatory provides a bit of shelter as two loyal walkers stay behind with me so I can get just one more sketch done, as the sand blows up filling pencil case, clothes and providing an interesting texture to the art work.

We pack up and head back to the Mission Gallery for a cuppa.

 

We talk.

Look at the mornings work and share our ideas together.

How can we stay motivated as artists?

How can we meet other creative people?

Our own personal artistic journey and

Work/Art/Life balance

 

Its been a rewarding exchange for all of us!

Later
In a hot bath

I crunch

On the

 

Occasional Grain

Of

Sand.IMG_0923

Art is for Sharing!

Art is for Everyone!

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So why not come along to the next Mission Gallery Art Walk held every month.

See the Events page on our website for forthcoming dates.