Highgate galleries collaborate on ceramics and floral show
PUBLISHED: 09:51 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:51 20 May 2020
OmVed Gardens and Thrown are staging the virtual and physical show Gatherers, showcasing work which explores artists’ deep connection to land and landscape
Two Highgate art spaces have collaborated on a stunning show based around clay and foraging.
Gatherers is both a digital and a physical exhibition at OmVed Gardens, curated by N6’s ceramics gallery Thrown.
The exhibition, which showcases a dozen artists with distinctive connections to their materials - and to land and landscape - was to be part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival until the coronovirus pandemic intervened.
Now the array of ceramics and dried floral displays is in situ in OmVed’s architecturally designed glasshouses - and available to view in a 360 film.
Those attending the Private View on Saturday were mailed VR cardboard goggles to give an immersive experience of the artworks whose materials have been foraged, dug, cut or collected.
OmVed’s resident gardener, Highgate herbalist Vicky Chown, joined live from the space to show us how to home make botanical cocktails - a juniper, rosemary, thyme and grapefruit tonic, and a strawberry and basil mojito.
Two years ago, the former plant nursery was transformed into an eco habitat with a wild flower meadow, orchard and vegetable garden hosting collaborations with artists, architects, chefs, musicians and horticulturalists.
Director Karen Pagarani said: “This is our first online exhibition it’s an exploration. We don’t have an end date because we are in uncertain times. Maybe we will be able to have people visiting in person or maybe not. It’s been a challenge to think of how to combine something so elemental as clay with an online exhibition, but I think it has deepened and enriched the experience.”
She added that the pandemic had heightened people’s passion for the outdoors and the importance of place, and said exploring soil and bringing the outdoors indoors was timely.
Claire Pearce director of Thrown then showed us around the exhibition which includes wild clay projects from both Tambourine Mountain in Australia and earth from OmVed.
“This exhibition was set to be one of the highlights of the year, but in coming through lockdown and going through some serious rethinking it’s come out even stronger as a symbol of resilience, the power of collaboration and the need to create - wonderful things to be reminded of right now,” she said.
“Gatherers is all about foraging and local materials, it’s about celebrating our surroundings, telling unique stories about a sense of place. We have gathered together distinctive artists from all over the world with their insightful ways of looking at what’s around us. Look at this exhibition as an adventure, you don’t have to travel miles to have it, but it is an exploration.”
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Some works are now represented by video including Joseph Ludkin’s which was due to use the clay from OmVed, but remains unfinished because he had to self-isolate.
Spanish born artist Bisila Noha explores women, power and society - excavating her heritage in Equatorial Guinea by using clay from the country.
Rhiannon Gwyn addresses her deep connection to the Welsh landscape and “appreciation for the endowment of the land” in pieces made from slate, ash and gorse.
‘The Gold Beneath the Gorse’ refers to a Welsh proverb ‘Gold under gorse, silver under bracken, starvation under heather’ and the idea that bracken soils were vital to the prosperity of Welsh farmers.
Elsewhere there are pieces made from ground down rocks in Austria and Steph Buttle and Tim Gray’s collaborative collection ‘Unessential Items’, sculptures inspired by storm-revealed root balls on the Dorset Coast.
“All those hidden tendrils suddenly discovered and looking mysterious”.
Among the artworks are foraged floral displays by design studio Metafleur including an intertwined wild garden installation by Alice McCabe and ceramicist Zuleika Melluish.
Pearce added that ceramics was a “prehistoric art form made from earth and water to create the clay and then fire to seal it into whatever form you decide”.
“People have been creating vessels to put things in for thousands of years. This show is about connections to local materials, it makes us really think about what’s around us, which couldn’t be more relevant to now.
My life is a lot slower my daily walk an opportunity to see the outside world, you find yourself savouring every moment.”
Online workshops including bouquet making and family foraging plus film and photography will help to share the exhibition virtually until visitors can hopefully see it in person.
As organisers say, like society, the exhibition will be improvised as it progresses, an “on-going experiment of sorts”.
To view the exhibition or book the workshop visit gatherers.co
Join floral artist Alice McCabe for a foraged bouquet making workshop making beautiful bouquets with limited resources on May 23 at 2pm.
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