Future Works: A Contemporary Art Perspective

Liquid LivingPart of Liquid Living 2013.

Having spent several days working with Julia, Renata and students from the Future Works module at the Sheffield School of Architecture that included visits to a number of the Stories of Change partner organisations, I have been cogitating on the work that I want to create in response. I am currently undertaking practice-based research in fine art at the University of Leeds where I have been developing ideas and projects that connect with issues of energy use and making, and that have also been informed by my on-going interest in, and critical engagement with Arte Util and the ideas on Usership developed by Stephen Wright.

One of the projects that I’m developing concerns the wider movement to grow more locally produced food, by creating communal gardens or allotments on dis-used land that was formally tarmacked or concreted over. Linking in with my previous interests in creating art-objects-as-tools, I am creating objects that suggest a use as a tool for breaking up and removing these hard surfaces –allowing access to the soil and its potential fertility. Significant energy savings can be made by helping to reduce food miles – by reducing the transportation, refrigeration and storage demands that are required to deliver foodstuffs from all over the world to your local supermarket. The work also raises questions about land use and ownership. The ‘de-pave’ idea is gathering momentum, sitting as it does, within the wider context of the Transition Network, the Permaculture movement and the Incredible Edible Network. It has also been proven to help reduce the risk of urban flooding by slowing down the flow of rainwater that otherwise would run off the hard surfaces much more quickly into the drains and rivers.

At the same time I’m interested in exploring the ways in which the ‘make-do-and-mend’ and the ad-hoc can interface with emerging digital technologies of production, suggesting new ways to integrate the re-purposed and the highly engineered. These concerns and others will form the underlying narrative that will inform an exhibition of work that I will be mounting at Bloc Projects in Sheffield from the 22nd to the 30th October 2016, needless to say the work is still evolving and somewhat alarmingly there is a lot left to do!

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