Maria Rebecca Ballestra (Italy), Stefhan Caddick (Powys), Rawley Clay (Vale of Glamorgan), Helen Clifford (Cardiff), Pascal-Michel Dubois (Caerphilly), Johana Hartwig (Cardiff), Jo Lathwood (Bristol), Matthew Smith (London), Fern Thomas (Swansea), Sean Vicary (Ceredigion)
Rhôd’s fifth annual exhibition invites artists and audiences to consider the future of the relationship between nature and culture. Describing the theme of this year’s exhibition, Curator Sara Rees says:
“Future Nature Culture addresses the critical need for us to respond to the challenges we face as a result of the impact of human beings upon the natural world. The demands of over-population and a globalized market economy have resulted in damage to eco-systems, diminishing biodiversity, the depletion of natural resources and climate change. This exhibition invites artists and audiences to respond to this context, to re-interpret and re-imagine the relationship between nature and culture, beyond exploitation and idealization, towards a future in which we acknowledge ourselves as not separate from, but an intrinsic part of, nature, and the responsibility this implies.”
The selected artists all have practices that resonate strongly with the exhibition’s theme, using a diverse range of creative and conceptual strategies.
Maria Rebecca Ballestra: Artist-in-Residence
Ballestra’s works often arise as a response to a specific site and context, using the space that welcomes them to enhance their communicative and emotional aspects, and are inspired by complex contemporary concerns such as the commerce of the body and the consumption of natural resources. Her most recent body of work, Journey Into Fragility is oriented toward the perception of the future in relation to climate change and explores multiple human interventions in the natural world.
Stefhan Caddick is interested in the savagery of the natural world, misremembered episodes from political history, the three-minute single and not knowing the way. Making work at once darkly melancholic and blackly comedic, Caddick’s approach to the process of making often sees him inventing ornate, ridiculous systems or methodologies.
At Coed Hills Rural Artspace, Rawley Clay has evolved art and craft practices alongside spirituality, and practical enquiries into low impact community living and future land use, forming together a holisitic ‘Art of Living’. Through his fascination of aesthetics and the Gaia concept, Clay’s artwork explores social frameworks and interactions with this extraordinary, boundless, on-the-edge world in which we all live.
Place and space are defining aspects of Helen Clifford’s practice, which is engaged with the geography, history and social landscape of a site. Predominantly installation and temporary in nature, Clifford is interested in the areas where culture and nature collide and overlap. Recent work has involved mapping the sonic qualities of locations to explore their cultural ecology and natural biodiversity.
Pascal-Michel Dubois sees his work as an invitation to the viewer to question and investigate our familiar fields of knowledge and imagination. Inspired by his curiosity about the material of the everyday Dubois sees his often humorous artworks as observations of life, playfully re-interpreting the fabric of reality.
The work of Johana Hartwig feeds from her emotional responses to quirks in her immediate environment – the patterns, flux, humour, sensuality and anthroporphic resonances of the objects around her. From flapping fans to dancing wires, Hartwig ‘venerates’ these often overlooked objects, exploring their ‘humanity’.
Jo Lathwood creates intimate physical spaces and sculptures made out of bronze, wood, cardboard and other familiar materials. The natural world is an ongoing source of inspiration in her work; structures found in flora and fauna providing starting points for forms and materials.
Matthew Smith works across sculpture, drawing, photography and video in his explorations of fictionalised and idealised representations of nature and place. He is interested in humankind’s relationship to and philosophical distance from the natural world. Smith seeks to reveal ‘nature’ as something in constant flux and open to endless interpretation by each successive generation.
Fern Thomas’ Institute for Imagined Futures & Unknown Lands is a transdisciplinary research project incorporating anthropology, ecology, art, archaeology, philosophy, social sculpture and phenomenology. Working with images, dreams and inner landscapes, the time travelling Institute invites us to think about the future in new ways.
Sean Vicary’s work is primarily concerned with ideas of ‘landscape’ (internal and external) and our increasingly politicised interaction with the natural world. He uses found objects and fragments of detritus to explore this relationship, manipulating these elements in a virtual space to create animated assemblages which may suggest to the viewer a wider narrative or the hidden processes at play behind the visible world.
Listen to the Rhôd 2013 Talk – Small World Theatre – 24th May 2013