A FINE BALANCE
AN EXHIBITION OF ART AND HANDMADE OBJECTS BY FORTY ARTISTS AND MAKERS FROM EAST ANGLIA
AT THE STABLES, HOUGHTON HALL, NORFOLK
12 JULY – 1 NOVEMBER 2020
A Fine Balance will be the fourth pop-up exhibition of art and handmade objects by artists and makers from East Anglia held in The Stables at Houghton Hall and curated by Paul Vater and Paul Barratt of Contemporary & Country (formerly Norfolk by Design). The exhibition will feature recent work by more than 40 artists and makers who explore narratives that reference our landscape, the creatures that share it, natural materials and processes, and how mankind’s activities affect and influence it. The fine balance these artists seek is often a moment, or a tipping point that brings attention to an aspect of our surroundings that has been overlooked or undervalued.
The situation we now find ourselves in collectively, as the Covid-19 epidemic runs its devastating course means that our relationship with ‘the great outdoors’ has probably changed forever. The artists and makers we have included in the exhibition are ahead of the curve, creating memorable images that will chime with the public, post lockdown. During the last four months we have all had to become aware of our vulnerability to forces we mistakenly assumed we had mastered. We respond viscerally to a favourite view or landscape, much as we would if our home or family were under threat. The exhibition holds up a mirror to what we perceive, or have hidden, in the complex confluence between the sustainable and natural, the artificial and man-made.
Some of the artists and makers have chosen to look at a highly maintained version of the countryside and our place within it. Others employ sustainable materials to create pleasing pieces intended to be handled and used every day. Others look into the natural phenomena and practical activities that are frequently personal to us in terms of our physical impact on the planet whether through recycling and re-assigning waste to new purposes. While others explore areas that are not quite urban or rural, but like much of modern Britain, somewhere in-between.
The exhibition is open from Sunday 12 July to 1 November, to coincide with the same opening times as the Anish Kapoor sculpture exhibition held throughout the gardens and park at Houghton Hall. Check the Houghton Hall website to see opening times and to book tickets for entry onto the estate. https://www.houghtonhall.com/book-tickets/
An interesting fact: The title comes from Rohinton Mistry’s novel A Fine Balance, published in 1996. The book was set in 1975 and traces the lives of four main characters whose interconnected lives are heavily impacted by their circumstances in a fictional Indian city, as they slip between a succession of karmic banana skins during the course of the narrative. Mistry’s powerful story exposes familiar fault lines within the values of a society where the characters lives are in jeopardy, brought about by familial conventions, institutional injustice and political expedience.
DATES AND OPENING TIMES
Check the Houghton Hall website for opening times and to book tickets for entry to the estate. Social distancing in compliance with UK government guidelines are expected to be observed by visitors, please make yourself aware of what these are before your visit. If you are travelling by car follow the brown signs off the A148 Fakenham to King’s Lynn Road PE31 6EY.
The venue has been provided by kind permission of the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley. Houghton Hall is one of Norfolk’s finest houses, it encourages recreation and relaxation throughout the grounds and has created suitable spaces for displaying large-scale installations by leading contemporary artists within a formal garden setting as well as the park. Our exhibition will be held in the Stables at Houghton Hall to coincide with a solo exhibition by the renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor.
For more details of previous exhibitions please go to https://contemporaryandcountry.com/
Please contact Paul Vater or Paul Barratt on 07943 291834
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
MORE ABOUT CONTEMPORARY & COUNTRY
Contemporary and Country (C&C) present contemporary art and the handmade by established artists and makers based in the East of England in pop-up exhibitions at non-gallery spaces that celebrate our rural surroundings. The artists and makers we display live and work in rural locations, or include the natural world in their subject matter or production process. Together they bring about a closer understanding of the countryside, its people and landscape. They look creatively beyond the passing trend and encourage greater consideration for nature, as its appreciation and preservation becomes ever more prescient to our time.
CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS AND MAKERS
There will be more than forty artists and makers exhibiting their work. We will be displaying paintings, drawings, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, furniture, and handmade decorative objects for the home.
ARTISTS - Paintings, photography and works on paper
Zarya is a multi-media artist and an independent curator whose work explores the relationship between everyday life and the objects that populate our domestic environment. Since graduating from Brighton University in 2018 after studying Fine Art and Critical Practice, Zarya has had four solo exhibitions in Norfolk and Brighton.
Debby was born in Great Yarmouth, and trained in Norwich at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). She has specialised in documentary and editorial photographic work and had a full career teaching photography at degree level. She has had her work published in The Guardian and Independent Newspapers, numerous photography magazines as well as touring exhibitions in the UK. In 2015, Debby was selected as a finalist in the prestigious Association of Photography Awards 2015.
Lorraine has taken tried and tested techniques in the tradition of figurative landscape painting and applied them to her own perspective of the English landscape. Her interest in interpreting Norfolk’s expansive skies and coastal reaches as liminal space treads a path mapped out by acknowledged masters of the genre, such as John Robert Cozens and JMW Turner.
Polly is a Norwich based artist. Her practise currently involves photography and sculpture, and is focused on the relationships between the intangible and the material aspects of the everyday. Her photographs depict objects and ornaments from her collection composed into classical ‘still life’ arrangements to create images of beauty, narrative and humour.
Ferenc Cseh is a Cambridge based artist whose style is rooted in his architectural and fine art training. He enjoys working with geometrical forms present in our built environment and exploring the interaction between humans and these shapes. Ferenc has been experimenting with basic shapes and forms for a long time. He is intrigued by the possibilities of space, space alteration by objects, movement in space, and the relations between humans and space.
Katarzyna is from London and studied at Hornsey College of Art (1979-1982, followed by an MA in Fine Art at Manchester College of Art (1982-1983). Katarzyna’s work explores industrial and urban landscapes, predominantly the unarranged landscape near her studio in the harbour area of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
Will has been painting Norfolk landscapes during the last 20 years, while based in London and moved to North Norfolk seven years ago. He has followed the work of influential Californian landscape painter Richard Diebenkorn. Will has exhibited his work with the Royal Society of British Artists at The Mall Gallery and The Millinery Works Gallery in London, as well as numerous group exhibitions.
Amanda’s paintings are abstract in nature, drawing in architectural and cartographical features in her aerial views. She studied Fine Art and graduated in Printmaking from the Slade UCL. She was awarded a Fellowship in Architectural Glass at Central Saint Martins London and then worked with specialist glass studios in London and Germany exhibiting and installing commissions for private and public spaces. She has exhibited internationally in Germany, Portugal and Pakistan.
Judith is an author and bookbinder and self-taught independent publisher. In her former career as a country vet she often had to handle birds and was always moved by the lightness of their being. She has developed her own version of the flag book and combines a love of drawing with her lifelong interest in the natural world, particularly birds. The Birdflight series of artist books are all individually hand painted by Judith and no two will ever be quite the same.
Her first degree (1981 – 84) was taken at New College Oxford. She graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in English Literature. She then went on to take a Foundation in Art and Design at Camberwell School of Art ((1986 – 87) and followed this with a Fine Art degree at Falmouth School of Art and Design (1987 – 90). She grew up in Norfolk and lived in Suffolk and now resident in North Norfolk again. She has exhibited regularly ever since, in London, East Anglia and internationally.
Gareth is a photographer based in North Norfolk, who studied graphic design and moved into photography with an interest in open and closed spaces. His work is concerned with the passage of thought leading from the expanse of large open spaces, seemingly impossible to capture. Using time and patience these take form through his photographs harmonising composition, light and land to create a final photograph conveying thought and evoking awe in nature.
Bridget Heriz trained at Goldsmiths College and Ravensbourne College of Art and Design (1973-77). She moved to Great Yarmouth in 2002 where she has her studio. She is presenting a series of smaller watercolour sketches on paper and a single sculpture of a female figure. The work she does on paper is an important part of her creative process as a sculptor. Bridget has taken on numerous public commissions and has shown her work at The Royal Academy London and internationally.
Ruth studied Fine Art, specialising in sculpture and over the years has shifted to painting and illustration in her work. For Ruth the intrigue of a paper cut is in starting with a blank paper and carefully, intricately removing bits of it to make a picture. She starts with a minimum of material and rather than adding and adding pencil, pen, ink, paint, she carefully cuts into the sheet by hand, extracting an image from exploiting positive and negative space. She is showing a new 3D paper cuts this year.
Linda was born and spent her childhood in Norfolk. She trained at St. Martins School of Art and studied further at Heatherlys and with Francis Pratt in France and Norfolk. She worked for many years in the field of textile design in London, France and Italy, and also as a consultant for interior design. She now divides her time between her studios in Norfolk and London and has also exhibited regularly in both.
Susi Joel is a multidisciplinary artist based in Norfolk whose work explores the process of attachment. Drawn to the small and fragile, her work has always united conventionally incongruous elements and discordant materials such as wood and woven fibre or paper and cotton thread. Through this she invites ideas about interdependence, habitat, contextualisation and the nature of pattern or repetition. Her latest project repurposes wooden fragments collected from the North Norfolk coast where she lives and works. Susi has worked with special needs children for many years teaching techniques for weaving and stitched textile work. She has exhibited in London and internationally.
Liz works with natural and found materials, creating responses to particular environments through installation, sculpture, drawing and conversation. Her focus is the meeting point between inner and outer landscapes, where personal creativity is given inspiration and form by those elements – stone, reed, tree, earth, tideline – that combine to form a landscape.
Maria originally studied painting studied at Norwich School of Art and then continued to an MA in printmaking at Camberwell College of Art. She works with the dream-like world of fairy tale and narrative, including its darker and uncanny elements. Starting from a very strong commitment to drawing, she develops images using a mixture of traditional and non traditional methods, including etching which she uses to explore new ways of mark making and expression. Maria has exhibited widely, and is a member of London Organisation of Original Printmakers.
Educated at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford Pandora has painted all of her adult life. She lived for many years on Exmoor before returning to her roots in Norfolk. Her inspiration and reference has always been the natural world and even beyond. She works in oil and mixed media on canvas, often on a large scale. Her works present the greatest challenges and seduction; a place of tranquillity and threat, vastness and peace.
Verity is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Norwich. Her paintings and sculptures reflect three broad themes: function/non-function of objects (and our attachments to them), fading memories of journeys through spaces and places, and the transience of our personal habitats/environments. The rituals and imagined - or reconstructed - histories we create around these fascinate Verity, as well as an increasing need to pin down what 'home' might be. Verity tries to express the ever-changing evolution, movement and energy of the surrounding environment - and the sense of us within our personal habitats. She has shown her work across the eastern region as well as London and internationally, several times recently in China and Greece.
NATALIE ODILE LANG
Natalie originally studied Fashion at Newcastle Polytechnic, now known as Northumbria University in 1991. She decided to study fine art and graduated in 2011 with a BA Hons Degree from Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) and has exhibited in selected group exhibitions in Norwich and North Norfolk, entering her work for the Holt Art Prize in 2014 and 2017. Natalie has been painting landscape in different forms for many years.
Tracey paints to capture the beauty of Creation along the North Norfolk coast, with its creeks, skies and expansive beaches. She finds that painting in an abstract style using mixed media, acrylics and oils will enables her paintings to reveal a deeper mystery. Capturing the fiery hues of a blazing sunset, the misty sea frets together with the clarity of light on a bright breezy day conveys an intense visual experience that speaks to Tracey's heart expressing the colour and thanksgiving she feels as an artist.
Colin Self was born in Rackheath, Norfolk and attended the Royal College of Art (RCA) in the early sixties. Self arrived at the crucial moment Pop Art emerged in London. Identified as one of Pop’s exponents, Self exhibited at the influential Robert Fraser Gallery, along side Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and Clive Barker. By the late sixties Colin Self was producing technically innovative prints along side drawings, paintings and maquettes, as he terms his 3D haiku. He has remained true to his Pop roots and sees potential in the everyday objects that surround us and calls himself a ‘hunter’, seeking out connections between objects he has selected out from the detritus of mass consumption.
Tim has an underlying need to make sense of the world through his own experience. Using photography and film, he explores themes of time, motion and place, and the idea that landscape acts as a link between the past and the present. His work has a visual clarity and a quiet, reflective quality, which offers space for personal contemplation. Attempting to make the unseen visible, he encourages the viewer to consider on the constancy of the land, and our inherent relationship to it.
Liz is fascinated by patterns. She sees her work as a visual counterpart to the kinds of pattern with which her father grappled in his work as a mathematician: however, her patterns are somewhat less precise than his! The prints are made using a variety of techniques to manipulate the conventional elements of abstraction: colour, tone, texture, line and form. She aims to create work that is mysterious, subtle and playful. Occasionally the results are not entirely abstract.
Molly taught for many years at Falmouth Art Collage in the 1980s, moving to Cleveland Art Institute, Ohio (US) in 1990 and then as a senior lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) from 1991 to 2010. There is a surgical precision at work here. Molly’s simple wooden supports are cut and re-shaped as she goes along, leaving a trace element of the alteration visible to the viewer. Often using poured paint, her colour choices trigger deep-set associations for the viewer. Thomson works within strict limits that she sets for herself and then pushes against them to produce hard won moments of colourful, collected joy.
Graphic designer, printmaker Paul was born in the Netherlands and has resided in West Norfolk since 2015. He works across a range of media, believing “Anything can function as a carrier for information”. He is a Visiting Lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts. He is focused on the twists and turns in creating an image or piece of text using screen-printing. He prints in limited editions with an eye for subtle details, love for print, a sense of joy and appreciation of the craft of printmaking.
Peter was born in Lowestoft 1956 and completed a Foundation there between 1974-75. He achieved BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Canterbury College of Art 1978 and recently an MA Fine Art Printmaking from Camberwell College, London 2017. He has shown across the eastern region and various galleries and institutions in London, France and Cyprus. His North Sea Studies paintings are about a journey he often makes several times a year from one seaside town to another along the Suffolk coast. His series of Suffolk Bunkers are black and white etchings of WWII coastal defences are reminders of invaders that thankfully never arrived.
Keron gained a First Class BA (Hons) in Contemporary Art and Design (2016) and a MA Fine Art with Distinction (2018) from NUA. His work for A Fine Balance is concerned with the natural world under pressure including disconnection with nature and natural cycles. Keron prefers to use found and recycled objects, generally working by hand using traditional tools and techniques. This slower process encourages a way of seeing and then re-seeing the materials and allows new ideas and forms to emerge. He is currently exploring how traditional jewellery making materials, processes and forms can inform and influence his small sculptural works.
Jonathan was born in 1961 in Suffolk, UK, where he continues to work today. At the age of 16 he took up an apprenticeship with his father, the sculptor Geoffrey Clarke (RA), and he began exhibiting his own sculpture in the early 1980s. He works in sand-cast aluminium, initially carving his sculpture in polystyrene. This method relies on the destruction of the original mould as it is vaporised by molten aluminium. The result is an entirely unique, one-off sculpture.
Roger trained at Kingston upon Thames College of Art and Design (Kingston University) where he was awarded BA (Hons) in graphic design. Roger’s figurative constructions and sculpture made using found elements from local boat yards and estuary worn wood from the river Alde, Suffolk, could have been carved long ago. Roger uses the natural processes in the degradation of his materials to simplify the essence of the human form. Cleansed of their original purpose his figures take on a totemic resonance that help us define the human condition.
Andrew studied at Newcastle in the early 1970’s and began a project on the wind that lead to a 30-year career in power kite design. After over 30 years of designing for kite power and control, Andrew has returned to explore the wind for its own sake. His sculptures have an order to them, which, by means of careful balancing, can then be easily disturbed by even the slightest breeze. Chaos may follow on but usually a gentle sort of chaos that reminds us that all is not rigid, nor should it be.
Rachael makes large-scale sculpture of animals and birds, using redundant farm machine parts. They are welded together and sometimes forged to subtly change them. The alchemical transformation of cold hard metal into fluid animated creatures interests Rachael. She graduated in History of Modern Art BA in 1990. An award-winning artist with many successful public commissions across the UK including Lifeboat Horse at Wells next to the Sea, she has work in collections based in France, Austria, New Zealand and the US.
Dan is a Norfolk based stone carver and letter cutter. He is acclaimed for his memorials, commemorative plaques and ground breaking conceptual sculptures. Meek, who trained as an Architectural Stonemason, studied carving and letter cutting at Bath – he qualified in 1995 – and has worked on many of the country’s major restoration projects, including St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. For some years, as a member of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s stone-masonry and letter carving team, he was responsible for restoring First and Second World War monuments across the country.
Graduating from Hereford College of Art, Ben trained an artist blacksmith and explored the world of kinetic art. He loves exploring kinetic forged metal sculpture because of the endless varieties of shapes and forms it is possible to make and the rich potential of orchestrating movement. He uses these properties to inform the work’s interest in creating experiences of ‘calm’ and ‘relaxation’. The forged steel process adds to these conceptual qualities, detaching us from our ‘hyperculture’.
Telfer Stokes was born 1940 in St Ives, Cornwall. He went on to study at the Slade School of Art, and gained a Beckmann Fellowship to go on to a postgraduate at Brooklyn Museum Art School, New York in 1962. He taught from 1964 at Reading Art School and Bath Academy. In 2002, Stokes moved to East Anglia to care for his mother the artist Margret Mellis. He redirected his focus to sculpture, which he exhibited at the Kettle's Yard Open House in 2008 and at exhibitions in the UK.
DESIGN FOR THE HOME
Carolyn graduated from studying sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1982. After a twenty-five year career in London as a fashion designer she moved to North Norfolk in 2003. Carolyn’s background in sculpture, her love of natural form and the close proximity of the beach led her to indulge a childhood interest in shell collecting. She uses shells with their accidental beauty, subtle colours, variety in shape and texture to decorate caskets, candlesticks mirrors and other decorative objects.
Heather Connor hand stitches cushion covers using cotton to create spontaneous designs that reference traditional decorative tapestry patterns. Each one takes a month to produce and Heather employs traditional embroidery techniques learnt after she was given a tapestry set by a friend. Heather has learning difficulties and it has given her a creative outlet that she has never had before. We think the enjoyment she finds in the process is evident in the finished embroidery.
STEVE GORE ROWE
With a background in Graphic Design, Steve now concentrates his creativity on making decorative and functional interior pieces using new and used materials. Based in West Norfolk, he applies combinations of modern and traditional workshop skills to create original designs that explore contrasting materials and surface finishes.
Laura’s continual experimentation on a broad body of ceramic work has a subtle and individual commonality. She produces a range of domestic scale ceramic vessels employing various techniques, including sgraffito to embellish the surface. This is a term that describes the process of drawing a stick across the soft surface of the clay before firing, piercing the glaze and revealing the character of the material underneath.
Blott is an international seashell artist. Ingrid Thomas, in the book The Shell, wrote “Kerr-Wilson is the most innovative shell artist working today.” Blott set off at full steam on her shell career in 1993 after winning a design competition in The World of Interiors magazine. Since then she has created works both privately and publicly worldwide.
Sue Kirk makes traditional and contemporary baskets made using willow grown in King’s Cliffe near her home in Cambridgeshire. She uses several varieties of willow that have been growing for a minimum of15 years. The hazel used is also locally sourced from coppiced woodland. “I love the qualities of the willow; it’s colour, strengths and texture. I also make large-scale outdoor sculpture, which has a steel frame and a willow ‘skin’” She is influenced by heavy, solid forms, such as natural rock formations, and love the fluidity and movement which willow gives to the sculpture.
With a BSc in Environmental Science and a deep passion in opposing the destruction of ancient forests and cultures, it is important to Tim Plunkett that all his work is made from locally sourced wood. Entirely self-taught through trial (and often painful error) he strives to produce elegant, functional pieces with graceful uncluttered lines, for the kitchen and table.
Amanda studied History of Art at Manchester University before, specialising in Furniture Restoration and Design at The London College of Furniture. She has painted murals for Simon Callow, restored frescos and sculpted fountains for Domaine d’Orves on the Cote d’Azur and created wonderful painterly effects for film director Ridley Scott in London. Having moved back home to Norfolk, Amanda is currently exploring the technique of verre églomisé through gilding, etching and painting on the reverse side of glass. Her verre églomisé pieces are available for interior and architectural applications. Some are available as pictures.
Toby trained at London's Royal College of Art and set up his workshop in King's Lynn. He has exhibited widely and shown work in New York, Milan, Düsseldorf, Munich and Dubai. His work encompasses a variety of styles from elegantly simple statements to bold marquetry decoration. He combines original design ideas with innovative construction to produce striking pieces for any setting.
Take a virtual walk-through to take a personal trip through the stables to see local artists' work alongside the Anish Kapoor exhibition at Houghton Hall
If you cannot book a ticket to visit Houghton Hall and the much acclaimed exhibition by Anish Kapoor... don't despair. It is well worth the wait until you get to visit but you can visit Contemporary and Country in the stables now - virtually. Enjoy this rather handy walk-through of our exhibition including hot spots that link through to each artist on our online shop, so you can see each work that interests you in detail and also buy them.
As the Covid-19 epidemic runs its course, one of the unforeseen consequences of the four-month lockdown has been that our relationship with ‘the great outdoors’ has changed forever. In a Fine Balance, which is about the landscapes that surround us, the artists and makers in the exhibition hold up a mirror to the confluence between the sustainable and natural, and the artificial and man-made.
Please refer to the Houghton Hall website www.houghtonhall.com for ticketing options before booking. Social distancing on the Houghton Hall Estate is compliant with current UK government guidelines and so masks will be expected to be worn indoors. You will need a pre-booked online ticket for Houghton to access A Fine Balance.
A virtual tour of A Fine Balance