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The Shape of Longing, 2019

The Shape of Longing
Slip cast paper-clay bowls with slip cast elements of nature (bones, feathers, seaweed, moss, insects, shells etc)
113 pieces, each 8 – 15 cm

Curiosity, delight and a pensive hush filled the gallery room while for many the desire to touch the pieces was substantial. In this piece, what appears to be lost is actually simply transitioned, and what is recognizable lays in perfect quietude held gently within the bowls, ranging from elegant to broken down.

One paper-clay slip cast vessel containing a slip cast flower began an experiment to see if something delicate and natural could survive the thousand degree temperature of a kiln firing. The Shape of Longing became an ongoing project of discovery coupled with a formulated desire to record and save elements of my surroundings and recent experiences. To make precious the small intricacies and to ultimately draw an audience in to look closely, to consider, to question, and to be hyper aware of the fragility of what was before them turned my insular investigation into a exquisite shared experience.

 

Braving the Anthropocene 2019

Braving the Anthropocene: Air, Fire, Earth, Ether & Water
Reclaimed sports helmets with found natural elements such as pheasant feathers, branches, dragonfly, beech seed pods, burnt wood & ashes, flies, paperclay branches, discarded bird nest section, shuttle cock feathers
Sizes variable

Thinking of the climate crisis, and of our disappearing environment, presenting questions about tenacity, fragility, resilience and beauty. Thinking of the human attempt to act as guardians.
Thinking of respect and honouring the land.
Thinking of both hope and fear for the future; thinking of the confluence of man-made with nature.
Thinking of how these helmets, each representing an element: Air, Fire, Earth, Ether and Water, represent the intertwining with natural worlds around us, the battle for ourselves and for our survival.

 

 

The Voyagers 2019

 

Taxidermy pigeon, 280+ hand-built paper clay branches, discarded fishing net
260 x 108 x 58 cm

Creating hundreds of paper clay, oxide stained branches to waive into the discarded fishing net extends the visual story of the pigeon from being simply in flight to one of rescue or relief. To what end have these branches been collected? While they are symbolic of nature as a whole, they also represent the cycle of gathering materials with which to create a home.
There is a tension between the branches that are suspended being carried away on a mission, and those left trailing in a precarious position on the gallery floor close to the footsteps and actions of the gallery audience. I am interested in this interactive narrative which mirrors life, the audience holding the potential for contrasting roles as the observer, caretaker and destroyer.
While the word could signify the animal kingdom, the hand-built branches, ranging in colour from a dark charcoal grey to almost white, represent the struggles of the natural environment on both land and sea (forest fires and coral bleaching). Emotions stemming from this piece range from hope to vulnerability, affording the viewer an intimate reflective moment in the current climate crisis.

Ways to Speak with Trees 2018

Sculptural installation | Cut, found wood, fishing line
Private commission | Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada

Other Ways to Find Home No.3 | Silver wire, twin needles with yellow paint

Other Ways to Find Home 2017

Ongoing series Other Ways to Find Home | 2017/8
Silver wire, twin pine needles | 13″ x 4.5″ x 3.5″/ 33 x 11.4 x 8.9 cm

 

 

Desire Line 2016

Desire Line  | 52 hand sewn boats from discarded moving blankets
1 lost wax bronze boat  |  2016

 

Second iteration  |  Desire Line, in situ at Ranger Station Art Gallery, BC  |  2016

 

First iteration  | Desire Line at Back Lane West  Cornwall UK  | 2016

 

 An interview by Jo McCallum  from the Tender to the Sea catalogue. 

JM ~ Clearly the scale of the small boat in Endangered 101 is now influencing your further, current work. Is that because of the emotional response people had?

SH ~ Consciously, I don’t think so, but possibly on another level. These boats that I’m sewing out of moving blankets evolved naturally, once again, by using the materials I had. I saw two moving blankets left by the side of the road after a couple was forcefully removed from their flat across from my studio. They stayed clumped up there for almost a week. I kept thinking about those people, and of the blankets…the colour, texture and the story they were connected to. The history of the event -of being left outside, soaked with rain and dirt -remains in the material itself. Discarded as often humans are. I saw a potential to make something interesting, to attempt to imbue the objects with history. In contrast to the event, there evolves a preciousness by creating small and intimate objects.

JM ~ The handheld aspect?

SH ~ Yes. While there is an obvious absence of any human presence, the human element is represented in the scale. The small boats are the scale of the hands and the large boat [Tender to the Sea, tea bag boat] is the scale of the body. When we see objects in groups we can tend to anthropomorphize them, to see them as people and in that sense these boats represent so much in a societal context.

JM ~ Are you referring to the migrant crisis?

SH ~ Yes, not politically but from a feeling of helplessness. Of feeling that the things I make, this job I do does not accomplish anything toward helping the pressing issues of our time. There is a sense of internal anguish that comes with working in my studio toward the single purpose of making art. Perhaps there’s something in the handsewing that works through that frustration.

JM ~ You do enjoy stories. Are you interested in folk tales?

SH ~ Very much so. I love looking at situations symbolically, and as tools for interpretation as much as I enjoy the reading, watching and telling of stories. In this case, the little boats can be seen to represent society following the bronze boat. It is in the lead but also in a state of decay. It is valued and singular but in decline. No longer seaworthy.

JM ~ In a way, your work is so much about the telling of stories…

SH ~ That’s it exactly, and I hope this translates to those seeing the work.

 

 

Tender to the Sea 2015

Tender to the Sea   | 2015
1075 used tea bags, 3mm steel rods, used tea, 600 metres thread  |224 x 130 x 46 cm  |  88″ x 51″ x 18″

4. boatTender, detail3. boat horizontal

tender to the sea

Why a teabag boat?  When I first arrived in Falmouth for the MFA (Art & Environment) course, I really wanted to make a shift to being careful and thoughtful about what kind of materials I used to make art and in turn, what those materials would say about what it was I made. Using reclaimed materials was an obvious option, especially while I waited for my shipped art supplies to arrive from Canada. I have previously saved tea bags to draw on, and it was definitely something that there was lots of, both at home and in the assigned post-grad studio. I began collecting and drying them before I knew what I would make but it didn’t take long for me to decide that I would make a boat. A life size rowing boat. The boat, here in Cornwall, is ubiquitous, and although it is a well-worn symbol, I felt the idea of having it made of a recycled tea bags would give it an intriguing spin.
My work has been centred on man’s interaction with the environment for several years, combining man-made objects with abstracted aspects of nature, so this was a natural extension of that theme. I had also started to use images of boats in my work. The canoe being a vessel that is historically and geographically prevalent in the West coast of Canada, however, did not work for this area. I felt it had to be a small hand propelled vessel in order that the metaphor of human carried through. I am interested in displacement from nature as well as our interaction with it; of the search for ‘home’ and where it leads us and of both the fragility and resilience of the natural world. The boat, which is made on the land, from the land yet meant for the sea, and often tethered, seemed a compelling and expansive symbol to work with. And the rowboat speaking more to the individual than a group and it represents both strength and fragility.
One of the aspects that I found intriguing about ‘the tea bag boat’, is that everyone I mentioned it to was interested in the project. It very quickly became a community project, with people volunteering to help save tea bags and others attending workshops in which they helped to empty the dried tea bags of the tea whilst I recorded them talking about their boat journeys, the idea of home and what tea meant to them. To my surprise, not one person acted dumbfounded at my idea. The enthusiasm I have experienced and the stories that people have shared over the last ten months has formed a cornerstone to my experience here in Cornwall.
Being raised by an English mother and Irish father, tea was always important to the social fibre of our household. Anyone entering our home was offered a cup of tea. Every morning, tea. Every evening after dinner, tea. Before bed, tea. An injury, emotional upset, or triumph, tea! And so, for myself, moving to the country that my mother was raised in, tea was my one piece of home, a logical starting point from which to settle in.
This boat was made of the course of ten months with 1075 tea bags sewn with over 630 metres of thread. And hundreds of hours. I think people are interested for two basic reasons: one, that the boat is something everyone recognizes but being made of highly unconventional materials adds a sort of delight or whimsy to the concept and presents it as a story, open ended for translating. Secondly, the material itself, the tea bags, are surprisingly beautiful. Each person who has seen them sewn together, even in small batches, is amazed at the colours, textures and associations with other natural elements like leather or wood.
There are many aspects this project can work within and the metaphors and stories are endless. While the collecting and sewing took months, I was surprised at how quickly the structure and finally sewing the tea bag fabric to the armature came together. And so it sits, in the Lamorva attic, rocking gently with the wind from the open windows that look out to the sea.

Endangered 101 2015

Endangered 101 with Row the Boat Out drawings  | In situ at Ranger Station Art Gallery  |  September 2016  (above)

Endangered 101, third iteration, in situ at Back Lane West, Redruth, UKEndangered 101 | In situ at Back Lane West artist residency  | January 2016

 

 

Endangered 101  | Raw, unfired clay, silver wire, fabric (one-hundred & one pieces)  |
In situ at Lamorva House (Woodlane Campus, Falmouth University)  |
Second iteration (above)

 

First iteration | In situ at Lamorva House, Falmouth University, Cornwall, UK  | 2015

endangered 101

Evolution Series 2013 (ongoing)

Evolution Sculptures  |  2013 | Plywood, branches, felt, graphite, fabric, cat fur | between 20-54″ x 16-30″ |


gallery, south wall facing east
Elissa Cristall Gallery, Vancouver, Canada |  2013

3-place between, some of whatThe Space between Here & Then (72″ x  21″ x 8″) with Some of What Totem (78″ x 52″) |  In situ at Ranger Station Art Gallery  | Harrison Hot Springs, Canada | 2013