Saturday, 21 July 2018

The Brownfield Research Centre - Brownfield Artists of the Day : Imogen Ridgen, Andrew Howe, Gunhild Thomson

In our ongoing series highlighting Artists and works submitted to our Brownfield Research Centre, each day until July 22nd, we will be highlighting the work of artists submitting to our Open Call.

Imogen Ridgen, Blue Plaques

In his book Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast Peter Del Tredici defines the weed as a plant that grows without human intention.
English Heritage Blue Plaques “link the people of the past with the buildings of the present” recognising human effort, good works and good deeds.

In 2014 I awarded blue plaques to five wild plants, directing public attention to the value of weeds and appreciating their courage in persistently growing in inhospitable urban dust.

As Engineer for ‘Urban Heritage’ I installed Blue Plaques for wild plants at five sites around Oxford City. A pamphlet mapped each blue plaque and provided information about the wild plant featured. These pamphlets were held at all the city hotels, city museums, Oxford Town Hall and the Oxford Tourist Office. Tourists were often observed taking these walking tours – to a bus stop, a car park, the edge of a churchyard, a can-strewn triangle of “wasteland” (with a resident robin) and a bridge over a rarely noticed mill stream.

Four of the five blue plaques remained in place for over a year beyond their installation and the plaque for Buddleja Davidii on Quaking Bridge still remains at the time of writing, almost obscured by the plant it celebrates. A few months after its installation I found the blue plaque for Solidago Virgaurea (Golden Rod) sandwiched between two fences and I asked for it to be removed (see photo of engineer with plaque above). Building had begun on the new Westgate shopping centre.


Andrew Howe, Whixall Forms

 The urban fringe or edgelands are a familiar part of our contemporary, urban landscape. Andrew Howe's paintings depict views shifting from everyday details to the wider landscape and its emotional affect. He raises issues concerning land ownership and uses of public/private space, and investigates relations between control and liberty, geometric order and chaos, the organic and human-made. Rhythm, transition and connections are themes that Howe regularly returns to.
No Time Like the Present


Gunhild Thomson

Brownfield Site near Birmingham Canal in Ladywood Birmingham, 2015-2017

Brownfield Site in Moxley/Black Country , 2015-2017

Friday, 20 July 2018

The Brownfield Research Centre - Brownfield Artists of the Day : Frederick Hubble, Pandora Vaughan, Angela Sidwell

In our ongoing series highlighting Artists and works submitted to our Brownfield Research Centre, each day until July 22nd, we will be highlighting the work of artists submitting to our Open Call.

Frederick Hubble, The Sower

Hubble's current practice encompasses ideas surrounding gesture. Working with the residual, the vestige of an art practice he investigates an idea of time, the continuing ruptures/ reformation/ the nonsensical to the sensual, in a multiplicity of forms and ideas.

Formulations of ideas can spring from the everyday, making and connections are formed everywhere.
Pieces are often traces of events or objects that are vestiges of gestures. He questions notions of authenticity through his practice, and the nature of experience and that translation or transference of experience, whether that is a gesture, a performance, a photograph or a piece of prose.

Through exploring different cultural and natural histories my practice interweaves narratives and histories attached to place. Exploring cultivation, growth and cooking as artistic gesture, creating through these methodologies art can become a cultural, physical exchange, a different form of cultivation that endures in a different manner to conventional art making.

He is interested in the cultural and natural histories of places, the forms we find in them, the presence we find in them, and how these presences resonate through creating artwork on the sites, the site becomes a lens through which to view art and become a new language through which the site can speak.


Pandora Vaughan, Various

The Seed 2017

Silk & cotton on hessian stabilisation netting, seeds
Sited on a hidden railway embankment near Dial House in Essex
Words by Gee Vaucher
From the Emblems for Now series, in which I asked artists & writers for words about their work. ‘Peace Within Is the Seed, Peace Shared is the Flower’, was embroidered on netting and underplanted with wild flowers. As they grew the text disappeared. The work is now hidden and partially biodegraded.

Group of Seven 2018

plastic, ink, rope, soil, seeds
Unbesandten, Germany
For Wilde Welt Wald, BBM art collective

I see forests as a place of refuge between cultures. This is a transitory hand printed habitat linked with handmade rope and planted with seeds from the Longo Mai co-op. Both shelter and induced coma. The installation changes form as the season progresses. The print process became a celebration of inefficiency and self identifying intent.

Various Projects on Derelict Hard Surfaces

A small visual documentation of several projects where neglected sites were re-imagined. Some permanently, some imaginary, some briefly.

Pandora Vaughan works with designed & confined spaces. Some of these are nostalgic, some futuristic, some internal, some imposed. They sometimes explore sentiment as a tool for coercion, the failure of collective memory in the public realm and/or the politics of land use. She uses a re-interpretation of ‘popular’ arts and texts in combination with intensive making.

She currently lives/works in London & Berlin


Angela Sidwell, Habitation, Crossing Point

Porcelain paper clay, volcanic glazes, steel wire, 2018
Crossing Point

Stoneware paper clay, oxides, steel wire, 2018

Life finding temporary footholds in marginal spaces such as edge lands, brownfield sites and derelict buildings has become a significant focus of my work. I use paper clay to create fragmented sculptures - the paper fibres allow me to stretch and tear the clay, pushing it as far as I can before it breaks. The rough edges hint at a ragged and delicate life in the balance: I do not aim to capture a static moment: more a feeling of time continuum.

Volcanic glazes echo the textured greens, yellows and deep red hues of moss, lichen and rust that can I see taking hold between the nooks and crannies of both natural and manmade surfaces.

Exploration and consideration of these sites has encouraged me to revisit the use of wire in my work: Combining it with the fired clay is not a comfortable process - it is both physically challenging and visually there is a conflict between the juxtaposition of the two materials. But as the steel grinds with the ceramic surface there is a dialogue here between process and subject matter - that of life on the edge; harsh, precarious, difficult.



Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Brownfield Research Centre - Brownfield Artists of the Day : Nerissa Cargill Thompson, Jill Impey, Jane Walker

In our ongoing series highlighting Artists and works submitted to our Brownfield Research Centre, each day until July 22nd, we will be highlighting the work of artists submitting to our Open Call.

Nerissa Cargill Thompson, No Laughing Matter

Collection of gas canisters collected one morning from brownfield site on a journey from the tram to MMU. ^

 ^Found gas canister and new growth in urban environment 
Nerissa Cargill Thompson encourages the viewer to stop and look closer; to consider the beauty, value and purpose in the old and discarded through photography and three-dimensional textiles. Her work investigates how things change appearance & shape over time, not just eroding or decaying but also new layers of growth, giving interesting juxtapositions of structure and colour. She uses old clothes and scrap materials within her work for economic & ecological sustainability, choosing fabrics that hold some significance or connection to the work. Currently embellishing & embroidering textures into old office wear representing the city, both people & place, and casting with concrete into found litter. This collection is the start of new work that Nerissa intends to develop further following her MA in which she has been concentrating on coastal textures and plastic waste. 

Instagram/Twitter: @nerissact


Jill Impey


Jill Impey, film & installation artist offers her practice as a way of bearing witness to natural phenomena and human response, the connection between the natural world, our mental health and wellbeing.  Impey’s practice is anchored in notions of heritage, migration and cultural identity in relation to place, the artist revealing truths, through notions of shifting borders, boundaries and thresholds. The human communicated through perceptions of the mundane and the beautiful, reality and fa├žade, inclusion and otherness, evolutionary development and the unquantifiable sublime.
The 9 images below, submitted for The Brownfield Research Centre, were taken on midsummer’s day 2017, on the former site of Furber’s car breakers yard at Whixall in North Shropshire, on the edge of Whixall Moss. They recognise the way in which nature will always adapt and reassert itself. And how we can benefit by allowing time to pass, nature to reclaim, evidence to be gathered, reflections made and understanding grasped.


Jane Walker

One of my approaches to my subject matter, the city, is to make pastel drawings of street scenes, normally at night.
 This is a really contested site. There was a pretty electricity substation built in 1910 on the site it was demolished a few months ago. The electricity substation was architecturally integrated with the end terraced house. Families complained that kids were doing drugs behind the substation building.  It is industrially polluted land but classed as residential in-fill. The ownership of the wall of the end terrace is contested. The electricity board sold the site 7 years ago. There used to be trees, bats and owls living on the site. Even though it has only been completely cleared of vegetation a few months ago, the variety and colourfulness of the new growth  is amazing. Each year the hedge round the edge of the site was completely cut down, and re-grew each time. That has unfortunately been finally removed. The site was just earth and bricks and bits of the demolition process a short while ago, the greenery in my drawing is very recent, and it is already making a new shape of the site.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Brownfield Research Centre - Brownfield Artists of the Day : Sean Roy Parker, Helen Stratford, Cathy Wade

In our ongoing series highlighting Artists and works submitted to our Brownfield Research Centre, each day until July 22nd, we will be highlighting the work of artists submitting to our Open Call.

Sean Roy Parker

Sean Roy Parker is a visual artist and social worker based in London. He studies human attitudes towards waste, the lifecycle of materials and the collective conscience. Capitalising on surplus and antipathy, Parker makes playful composites like chutneys, sculptures and pamphlets, which he distributes locally or globally through exchange. His research focuses on practical problem-solving through collaboration, often taking form as workshops, walking tours and litter picks.

As part of the Brownfield Research Centre, Parker has submitted a selection of work from an ongoing project trying to capture personal, emotional responses towards encountering debris in public green-spaces. Increasingly, he has been processing natural and man-made waste as art materials,developing language around sustainability, painting and composition. Considering the importance of mental health and wellbeing against a backdrop of the Anthropocene, these works offer possible solutions for overwhelmed individuals.

Parker has upcoming exhibitions at Peak Art (London) with May Hands and Good Press (Glasgow) with Hugh Frost, has previously exhibited on and at Auto Italia South East, Deptford X and Eastside Projects. He is a current associate of School of the Damned and delivers engagement workshops to fringe communities as PEFAProjects.

Instagram: @seanroyparker


Helen Stratford, Field Notes

Helen Stratford is an artist with a background in architecture and part time practice-led PhD Candidate at Sheffield University, researching Performative Architectures. Located between live art, visual art, architecture and writing, Helen’s work is collaborative - working with architects, artists, curators, diverse communities and publics. Searching for modalities that work between and expand architectural conventions, she develops site-specific interventions, including live events, video-works, speculative writing and artists’ books.

Former studio and residency artist at Wysing Arts Centre Cambridge, Helen’s work and research has been presented at Yorkshire Sculpture Park: West Bretton, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art: Thrapston, g39 and Oriel Davies Gallery: Wales, Wysing Arts Centre and Aid & Abet: Cambridge, Transitions Gallery, RIBA, National Theatre, Tate Modern and ICA: London, Primary: Nottingham, MSB2015 Bloc Projects, Yorkshire Artspace and SIA Gallery: Sheffield, Akademie Solitude: Stuttgart, Center for Contemporary Arts: Celje, Škuc Gallery and P74: Ljubljana. Helen has recently started a 2-year residency partnering with Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Furtherfield Gallery London and finished a 2-year residency (both supported by Arts Council England) with national arts organisation METAL in Peterborough and Southend-On-Sea. Both focus on developing mobile artworks, with artist Idit Elia Nathan, that playfully critique approaches to the urban environment and landscape.




Cathy Wade, A Letter about a Brownfield

Cathy Wade is an interdisciplinary artist who works through collaboration, writing and research. She has exhibited extensively in both the UK and internationally working with galleries and projects including Werk, Vertigo Gallery, Vivid, Rope Press, Toomey Tourell Gallery, Ikon, Newlyn Art Gallery, Capsule, Clarke Gallery & A3 Project Space.

Residencies & Fellowships include: Longbridge Public Art Project 2013-2017, Birmingham City University Wheatley Fellowship for 2015-2016 and Repeator at The Office for Art Design and Technology in 2017. Projects in 2017 include the commission Videotheque with Vivid Projects and Repeator: Composite Space as a partner project to Coventry Biennale. Publications include Delineator (2014), After Carl (2014) and As We Alter It (2017) publications are for sale at Rope Press (UK) & Printed Matter NY

Twitter: @Cathy_Wade 
Instagram: @Cathy__Wade

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Brownfield Research Centre - Brownfield Artists of the Day: Danny Treacy

In our ongoing series highlighting Artists and works submitted to our Brownfield Research Centre, each day until July 22nd, we will be highlighting the work of artists submitting to our Open Call.

Danny Treacy, Those 

Treacy's practice incorporates elements of photography, sculpture, performance, archaeology and anthropology. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and also works regularly as lecturer and arts educator.

His working process combines collecting and recycling, identity, social invisibility, fieldwork, surveying and the politics of space. As such it is located both in the dialogues of art practice and material culture. 

"The images submitted are from a photographic series Those. The objects in the images are constructed entirely from found clothing, the clothes are collected by myself, then reconstructed in a manner that they reference organic life forms, flora and fauna. As such, they blur the boundary between the artefact and the organism.
The nature of the areas the clothes are collected from are in flux. I typically gravitate towards woodland, wasteland, car-parks, the banks of rivers and clearings. The materials I use are gradually disintegrating. This erosion is intrinsically tied to the land use, physical boundaries and human interaction that defines the characteristics of these spaces."
There is a temporal frailty of the Law in these neglected spaces...We must negotiate the terrain on their terms...Those are archaic, they visualize the aspiring life forms of the underworld. Cellular structures, seed pods, egg-like protrusions; They speak of dormant life forms and potentials unlocked. The sculpted objects hold this history in their present form. The rotting insole, the un-braiding threads and fungal growth also speak of reclamation. The original acts are silenced, meanings rebound, memory is inert.
 Gavin Murphy, Source Magazine, Issue76.

Danny Treacy.


Monday, 16 July 2018

The Brownfield Research Centre - Brownfield Artist of the Day: Alec Finlay

In our ongoing series highlighting Artists and works submitted to our Brownfield Research Centre, each day until July 22nd, we will be highlighting the work of artists submitting to our Open Call
Alec Finlay has submitted to the Brownfield Research Centre a series of hand-drawn posters from an ongoing manifesto, some of which have a relevance to this specific setting of the Potteries. The material is drawn from an ongoing body of work which considers rewilding in an urban context, in its widest implications. Currently working in siomilar sites in Glasgow, Finlay is looking at waste lots, brownfield sites, and community gardens as well as applying ideas of transhumance, commons, shileings and rewilding to urban settings.

Alec writes..." as an artist and poet I am committed to creating social change through what I call place-awareness. 


speak with the hart's tongue

communal compost bins
make no sense
without communal veg boxes 

there are few wild wants
there are many wild needs

city pines
not urban plans

only by mending the city
will we repair the weather

anyone who thinks wild nature
is dirty and dangerous
hasn't looked very closely at twitter

only wild things are indispensable
(after Picabia)

wild things have their own sequence

without counting, note everything wild around you
now note the relationships between these wild elements

the city tuts at weeds

the wild is under our feet and above our heads

when the wild becomes unthinkable then life becomes impossible

tree-lined avenues are vestiges of the great wood

wildness doesn't begin (or end) at the edge of the city

the wild doesn't shut at 10pm

the wild is a store of unfamiliar adjectives

names lead us into the wild, but names also tame the wild

grubbing around in the weeds is a good place to find new arguments
(after Jacob Rees-Mogg)

we will never remediate climate breakdown in pretty landscapes, only in streets and canals

the sign saying these trees are not safe to climb can't be read from up here

wild lots of willow could make wild lots of heat (biomass)

the river breathes twice a day, and in its breathing there is energy

long periods of unemployment are natural in the wild

nothing makes people more afraid than poverty -
in a landless city with no place to grow food for your family
and shops at every street corner supplying basic needs
(after Evie Love)

a city need not be urban
the city could be wild

weeds, being lovers of broken ground, probably evolved in the scree and boulder fields of the mountains
(after Richard Mabey

we are not animals
we are natures

the wild is treated as an interruption in the city's reason

we treat mountains as the nation's lungs: but most people do their breathing in cities

glass can be wild and so can paper, but never plastic

wild politics: a fluctuating blend of wide-eyed federalism and grassroots anarchism

the moon sets as certainly behind the tower block as the mountain

the reclaiming of public space will only be achieved by an alliance of people and trees

bring back the seasons!

a culture so fixated on death has no need of breath

material existence cannot be sustained without wildness

allotments represent the right to care for the land not the right to own it

the sparrow hawk's swoop
tips up the tower block

the wild flit of the seasons is a rush of signs

parkour is wild architecture

sustainability isn't sustainable


Alec Finlay (born 14 March 1966) is a Scottish-born artist currently based in Edinburgh. Finlay's work takes various forms and media, including poetry, sculpture, collage, audio-visual, neon, and new technologies; often it reflects on human engagement with landscape.

His work has been widely exhibited at The Bluecoat, Tate Modern, Norwich Castle Museum, ARC Gallery (Sofia), and HICA (Highland Institute for Contemporary Art). In 2010, Finlay was shortlisted for the Northern Art Prize.[1] In 2012 he was a finalist in the first annual ALICE awards, nominated for his 2009 project white peak | dark peak (Public Art Category).[2]

Friday, 13 July 2018

The Brownfield Research Centre - Brownfield Artists of the Day : Tracy Hill, Lucy Andrews & Lawrence Bailey

In our ongoing series highlighting Artists and works submitted to our Brownfield Research Centre, each day until July 22nd, we will be highlighting the work of artists submitting to our Open Call.

Tracy Hill, Sensorium and Matrix of Movement 2014 – 2017

"The Intersection between our digital and aesthetic worlds is where I situate my art
works: a hybrid space where technological control meets emotion and memory of a
human experience.
As a visual artist I am utilising commercial digital 3D mapping instruments, seeking to
change our perceptions and challenge our understanding of post-industrial spaces.
My current research brings together the worlds of Fine Art, Environmental
conservation, Ecology, Environmental science as well as Industrial and commercial
surveying offering new ideas and ways of seeing. Environmental impact and
awareness of post-industrial spaces especailly wetlands over the last few years has
led to increased interest in re-engaging with and the protection of these unique
My artworks acknowledge our modern obsession for locating; ordering and
controlling abstracted experiences of landscape whilst reconnecting with the human
emotion and experience and memory of place only achieved through direct
engagement with the land.
Working with combinations of installation and printed paper works my imagery is
informed by digital data collected through digital mapping technology whilst walking.
This digital data offers an analysis of the physical location while the hand drawn mark
allows a reconnection to the aesthetic. These landscapes are an aggregation of
shadows, reflections and textures; they contain traces of our ancestors, hidden
narratives and unimaginable futures.
Images presented create an opportunity to explore what is beyond the 2D surface
becoming a visualisation of the point where our physical and digtial worlds overlap,
the edge between location and how we feel to be part of it."



Lucy Andrews, 

Submitted to the Brownfield Research Centre, this series of images were taken at a site in Maastricht, Netherlands which used to be occupied by a ceramics factory. The series depicts pages of books (which were dumped there) and captures their transition from cultural to natural artifacts, focusing on the moment when their legibility is disrupted by fungi and other beings.

Lucy Andrews was born in Stoke -On-Trent, studied sculpture at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and recently completed her Masters the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. She is currently on a 3-month residency at the Bemis Centre for Contemporary Arts in Nebraska, USA. Her work mainly takes the form of objects, installations and architectural interventions which explore the flow and feeling of matter, creating tensions and amalgamations between naturally occurring and human-made materials. The life and life-span of these materials are closely considered, and time-based processes are often incorporated or alluded to.


 Lawrence Bailey, various (banners, zines, photographs)


Lawrence Bailey is an Amsterdam based, British born artist making work based on an emotional response to the urban-rural fringe (urban edgelands),. Brownfield sites are often at the core of his work. Having grown up in the suburbs of the Midlands surrounded by Post-industrial landscapes. such places have always been with him.

"Lawrence James Bailey’s latest series explores the divide between nature and society by reframing idealised rural areas as bleak, almost dystopic places inhabited by unseen communities. Although Bailey rarely depicts cities in his artwork he constantly hints at their presence through visual cues such as electronic pylons, abandoned cars or empty beer cans which act as stand-ins for negative attributes commonly associated with urban sprawls. By exaggerating these issues to the point of irony Bailey critiques attitudes that champion preindustrial or parochial lifestyles while presenting the modern world as an inescapable reality that deserves consideration rather than scorn."

 "Born in Stoke-on-Trent, England, but now firmly established in Amsterdam, Bailey’s childhood still informs his work. As a member of the post-Thatcherite generation, he experienced first-hand the collapse of a once prosperous section of society, witnessing the industrial dismantling of Northern England. He explains that, bored with suburban life, he and his friends would escape to the ‘vacant plots of one-time industrial sites.’ Playfully transforming formerly functional machinery and architecture into a vision of wilderness, ready for exploration. This adolescent retreat, Bailey believes, shares many characteristics with historic, and contemporary, movements obsession with an outsider, free from societal pressures."
both texts courtesy of Tom Coggins (2017/2015).
instagram - @lawjamba