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Hippocampus Plasticas, by Ian Shillito. Each artwork is supported with an often terrifying fact about sea plastic. Each piece of plastic ever invented is still around as it is estimated to take about 500 years to break down.

i-Found artists create new life from lost things

HOT’S Judy Parkinson immersed herself in the i-Found exhibition at St Andrew’s Mews and discovered some new ideas about more than a few old stories.

i-Found is an exhibition by Ian Shillito, Ian Skelton and Emma Harding.  It is the culmination of a six-month project during which the two Ians worked as artists-in-residence at St Andrew’s Mews where they met Emma Harding who was exhibiting in one of the first mixed shows there.

The work of this triumvirate, while distinctly different, is linked by a shared interest in found materials, memory, a sense of place and storytelling.  Individually they explore public and private history using paper, plastic and clay.  All three collections aim to instigate a dialogue, reveal subplots, underlying stories, submerged themes and deeper meanings.

“The location of the exhibition was also an important factor,” said Ian Shillito. “The mews with its newly exposed lost rooms seemed perfect for storytelling. We wanted to respond to it creatively as an extension of the artwork with immersive and theatrical elements.”

Ian Shillito is a production arts educator and his new work FUTURASSIC consists of inventive montages of found plastic flotsam on Hastings beaches creating brightly coloured coastal creatures. They are vibrant and easy on the eye, but a deadlier message lurks beneath their shiny surfaces. Shillito imagines his works as museum specimens of the future, as he addresses the devastating environmental effect of marine plastic. He predicts how, a million years hence, our marine and coastal fossil life might look if we do not deal with plastic pollution now.

Hippocampus Plasticas: The Sea Horse is one of his favourite pieces, its brightly coloured form initially catches the eye, but on further investigation, the marine plastic chokes and kills. The UV room in which it is hung is informed by bioluminescence. Plastic detritus floats above and the works are surrounded by Brechtian styled graffiti #save our seas.

Ian Skelton writes for film, television and theatre. His collection is called WITHDRAWN in recognition of its origins in a university library where he works part time. He uses fragments in the form of notes, lists and graffiti as backgrounds to his drawing and painting. Notably, it is the defunct library loan labels that form a distinctive foundation for the work – stamped when the book was issued, the dates bleed through like ghostly gravestones.

Nighty Night Rosina, by Ian Skelton. “Possibly the high point of my part of the show. It commemorates the 101-year-old neighbour I used to shop for.”

There’s humour here too.  Cartooning, collage, typography and abstract painting are drawn together, layered and lacquered. Skelton presents the work on found materials, mainly wooden panels and often roughly framed in similar style.

“It is my own particular way of recording and somehow, hopefully dignifying, the passing of time,” said Skelton.

Emma Harding has taught art for many years and completed numerous mosaics in public settings. She has recently gained an MA in ceramics. She works with found clay, natural pigments and repurposed ceramic fragments, and here she focuses on the human mind and memory and the receptacles that contain them. St Andrew’s Mews itself has sparked a fascination with the history and memories contained in the place.

Head pot by Emma Harding, based on the life cast of Ian Skelton. Ian’s daughter Molly wove a loose head piece for the figure.

“I worked in a space at the mews for a day making life casts of residents – shop owners and artists, said Harding. “I wanted to respond to the space and the sense of the farriers and grooms who used to inhabit those rooms upstairs, especially as the spaces have not changed much in 100 years.”

“I have kept the life casts very simple and rough using local clay. I wanted the ‘pots’ to suggest funerary urns without being too ‘spooky’.  Our fragile heads are containers of our lives and memories.”

Emma and the two Ians are keen that this will be more than the usual white cube or black box art event.  Instead, the visitor walks through the room sets in this remarkable building and becomes part of the show, immersed as a character in a theatrical experience full of dramatic tension, thought-provoking subplots and mind-altering denouements.

Venue: The Upstairs Gallery. St Andrew’s Mews, Hastings TN34 1SP
Dates: Friday 12th, Saturday 13th, Sunday 14th, Thursday 18th, Friday 19th, Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st
Times: 11am-4pm
Cost: Free
Contact Details:

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Posted 21:00 Sunday, Jan 14, 2024 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

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