Friday, 8 April 2016

Charcoal Works - Hardwick Gallery, University of Gloucestershire

Magdalena Jetelová, Place, Forest of Dean, 1986-2015
Charcoal Works is at Hardwick Gallery, University of Gloucestershire until 22 April 2016.
This is a wonderful exhibition – beautiful in its conception and its execution.
The exhibition, curated by Onya McCausland, and the works produced especially for it, arose out of the decision to ‘de-commission’ Magdalena Jetelová’s extraordinary sculpture Place (better known as ‘The Giant’s Chair’) sited on a mound in the Forest of Dean. This much loved work has been in its commanding position overlooking the Cannop Valley for nearly 30 years – but part of its ‘rightness’ in this location is the fact that over time it has weathered and decayed and has a natural lifespan shared with the forest surrounding it. It was part of Jetelová’s original intention that the chair be burnt for making charcoal – a practice deeply embedded in the history of the Forest. And so it was that in October 2015, witnessed by Jetelová herself, the chair was dismantled and the wood built into a clamp – the wood is stacked and buried under an earthed mound around a chimney: burning fuel is introduced through the chimney and the wood burns slowly for several days transforming into charcoal in the process.
The inspired decision to appoint Onya McCausland to create new work out of the charcoal remains of the chair and for her to commission 16 artists to make artworks using the charcoal has resulted in this exhibition. In addition to McCausaland herself the artists are: Edward Allington, Sophie Bouvier Auslander, Jess Bryant, ‘Rocket Child’ (Marcin Gawin & Malgorzata Lucyna Zajac), Joy Gregory, Tess Jaray, James Keith, Sam Llewellyn- Jones, Lisa Milroy, Jayne Parker, Lotte Scott, Joy Sleeman, Andrew Stonyer, Kay Tabernacle and Jo Volley. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Sam Llewellyn-Jones installing Disclosure in Hardwick Gallery, 2016 (Photo by Sarah Bowden)

Edward Allington, Charcoal Needle, 2016
Sarah Bouvier Auslander, Brazil, 2016 (Charcoal on fired clay)
Onya McCausland, Charcoal Measure, 2016 (Triptych copper plate etching - charcoal ink)
Lotte Scott, Forest to Heath, 2016
Jayne Parker, Magnolia Bud, 2016
Charcoal Works - installation view
Watch a video A Sense of Place recounting the history of Jetelová’s ‘Chair’ and the decision to decommission it.
A new temporary work by Onya McCausland, Charcoal Measure, can be seen in the Forest of Dean: charcoal made from the de-commission of “Place” has been compressed into a series of black trenches, scored into the ground, tracing the locations of coal excavations 1000ft below. 
Onya McCausland, Charcoal Measure, 2016 (Photo by Gareth Bowden)
Onya McCausland, Charcoal Measure, 2016 (Photo by  David Broadbent)
Accompanying the exhibition Charcoal Works, a symposium, Deep Material Encounters, will be held at Clearwell Caves on Friday 15th April 2016. See here for details.

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