Each month one of our Directors chooses an art.earth member to become ‘Artist of the Month’. What follows is a response from that artist to some questions and a discussion, together with some examples of their work.
This month’s selected artist is Kim Norton (https://www.kimnorton.co.uk) selected by Mark Leahy (April 2020).
Collaboration with Jane Ponsford
Collaboration is a large part of my practice and I’m currently working on two projects with links to the natural world.
This year I’m working with artist Jane Ponsford (https://janeponsfordstudio.com) on a project called Earthbound for the SIT select festival called Groundworks. This was to open in May 2020, but of course in light of what’s currently happening it has been postponed until later in the year, when the entire collection of work will be on show at Three Storeys, in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.
We have been working together since October 2019 in relation to landscape and place, in a process of exchange and respond beginning with our own local landscapes. Five months in, this has expanded out to many different locations across south and southwest England. It encompasses materials such as local soils, clays, chalk, wood, paper, along with photography from the site and written observations. All these have derived from walking, journeying or traveling across different landscapes.
The only specification we laid down was that all the work had to be within the format of A6. There’s an intimacy to smaller works and we both felt that this was important, as these objects would be linked to the memory of place, to make them more portable in scale.
Collaboration with Annie Woodford
My second collaboration is with artist Annie Woodford (http://www.anniewoodford.com/index.htm). Her extraordinary work takes you into the world of microscopic research with analytical detail and observation. We are still in the early stages of work, for an exhibition called fieldwork next year with my collaborative group haptic/tacit.
Other Artists and Projects I Want to Highlight
Goodness there are so many creative people who need a brighter light to shine down on them. I particularly like the way Local Works studio operate (https://localworksstudio.com/projects/?project_category=research). They are an environmentally led design studio established in 2017 based in Lewes. They believe in using local materials and using found or waste materials – for example they have been researching how to make building materials from seashells.
Also I would highlight Brickfield (https://whitegold.org.uk/in-the-heart-of-clay-country-lies-brickfield/), an experimental temporary brickworks set up by Rosanna Martin and Georgia Gendall at Blackpool Pit, Trewoon, St Austell in 2019. This is part of Whitegold, where arts projects are reconnecting people to the history and heritage of the old china clay pits and the local landscape.
I also loved Ruth Ewan’s exhibition Back to the Fields 2015 at Camden Arts Centre (https://archive.camdenartscentre.org/archive/d/ewan). There, the gallery was filled with plants and objects representing each day within the French Republican calendar.
Publications of Relevance and Interest
There are a couple of publications that immediately come to mind. Bumble (https://www.bumblemagazine.co.uk) is a beautiful, considered biannual nature magazine run by volunteers. Their first issue was released in September 2018
Also The Earth Issue (https://www.theearthissue.com) : A collective of environmental artists who also have a printed publication and have a programme of exhibitions and talks to help build more awareness around environmental issues and social change.
And, I’d like to give a shout out for Phytology (https://phytology.org.uk/) who are doing some great work right in the middle of the urban landscape, at a nature reserve in Bethnal Green, in London.
Sustainability within creative practice is something that more artists, designers and makers are having to think about. This has been a crucial element of my practice for quite some time. Before I embark on any piece of work I will always question its relevance and the consumption of material
Back in 2009 during my MA I visited a brick factory and for the first time saw a clay pit where the annual supply of clay was extracted from the ground. Clearly defined by layers, or bands, this was a huge hole in the ground. And I was told that the pit had about 60years worth of material left.
It was from that moment I felt I had to change the way I approached making. As a ceramicist so much of your thinking is reserved for firing and glazing, where clay becomes ceramic. Once fired it is irreversible. I began to find ways of making work without firing or using large quantities of material for a piece of work and then returning it back to its original location or clay pit.
I also work with soils and clay soils, materials that still nod to the language of ceramics but I’m not entirely rooted there. I’ve recently been working with shale collected from Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset, and bituminous paint. Most of these materials have been found or foraged. Location and geology absolutely fascinate me. I have a huge respect for these often unnoticed, ancient materials that represent long periods of transformation beyond our lifetime.