Each month one of our Directors chooses an art.earth member to become ‘Artist of the Month’. What follows is a conversation with that artist, together with some examples of his or her work.
Simon Lee Dicker
What are you currently working on?
Passing Place is a collection of work made in response to a series of visits I have made to the Orkney Islands since September 2015 and is part of the Odyssean: Topographies exhibition taking place at Hestercombe Gallery in Somerset until 25 February 2018. My contribution includes drawing, sculpture and writing that has been made over the past two years including a major new work entitled Red Hot Haystacks developed through conversations with geologist Ross Aitken.
High levels of radiation were reported on the coasts each side of the Pentland Firth that separate mainland Scotland from the Orkney Archipelago. Believing a valuable uranium deposit may have been discovered a boat, kitted out with state of the art radiation detection equipment, was commissioned to investigate. Being one of the most treacherous areas of sea in the world the Pentland Firth proved to be too much of a challenge for the Geologist working for the Radiogeology and Rare Minerals Unit of the Institute of Geological Science who spent all his time below deck being sick. All the equipment recorded was the motion of the waves going up and down. The survey was never completed.
It was later discovered that particles produced by air borne nuclear testing in the early 1960’s had found its way into the soil, only becoming apparent when the grass grew and hay was cut and gathered into stacks, described by the geologist as Red Hot. I have used a combination black light and wild meadow grass from the Hestercombe estate to explore ideas around this story and the unseen environmental impact of this human activity.
What would you say are the primary motivations for your work?
My work explores a discordant relationship with landscape and the natural world. From intimate drawings and transient installations to event based social activities, each work is the start of a conversation often evoking ritual activity and personal narratives that involve other people in the production and presentation of work.
My time is split between making work as either a primary or secondary producer. I’m either making art or supporting other artists to make art through OSR Projects, an artist-led organization I helped set up in 2011.
The work we do from the OSR Project Space in West Coker, Somerset, and further afield, is a conversation starter; it engages people through its processes of thinking and making, as well as seeking out new and unexpected ways to have impact. Public involvement, conversation and the sharing of ideas are part of our natural vocabulary; placing people at the centre of artistic activity through creative partnerships, collaboration, and different forms of participation.
Any particular artists / others who have had a profound effect on you?
Artists are continuously having a profound effect on my work. I am always looking at, reading about and talking to other artists. Through my recent obsession with haystacks I have learned to cut grass using traditional scything techniques and have studied painters of haystacks to learn how to form them sculpturally. This research has ignited a passion for Van Gogh’s drawings, in particular Haystacks in Provence (1888) that was made after the painting of the same name. Dead artist are fine, but since setting up OSR Projects I have been lucky enough to work closely with some incredible live artists that challenge me to constantly look at the world with new eyes.