17 PIECES. NATIONWIDE. ONE EXHIBITION IN LONDON.
GAIL ARMSTRONG // 'BED OF ROSES'
PRIMROSE HILL, LONDON
BED OF ROSES
Metal bed with paper sculpture and wire
For the past 30 years I have been working in paper to create my images and forms. A challenging medium, its attraction for me is taking something unremarkable, flat and every-day, and with a simple cut or fold, transforming it into something three dimensional and beautiful.
My work is predominantly photographed and used as illustrations as there is often an underlying message or narrative in each piece. In creating this art piece for the campaign to end bed blocking, paper seemed the perfect medium to use as a metaphor for the paperwork and bureaucracy that slow the process of being discharged from hospital. Going home after recovery from illness should be a positive experience with as little entanglement as possible, yet we hear too often of people being trapped in their hospital beds with nowhere to go. “Bed Of Roses” tries to positively reflect those thoughts. It is a play on the expression ‘bed of roses’ used convey a happy, carefree life. Larger-than-life paper sculpture roses ramble through the metal structure of a bed that is reminiscent of victorian hospital beds, looping in and back on themselves so that it’s impossible to lie on the bed.
The roses are thorn free - there are no hidden negatives here. But what are hidden amongst the roses are small butterflies and insects, little details to give secret pleasures - often in life it is the smallthings that make a real difference yet can go unnoticed. I deliberately kept the colours of the piece minimal to keep the clarity of the piece and concept, wanting to keep a sense of harmony in this visually complex piece. Continuing the theme, as a final detail, rather than signing the artwork conventionally, the name and signature is added as a plant label.
A graduate and postgraduate of Glasgow School of Art in 1988, Gail worked initially as a Graphic Designer in London before returning to paper sculpture. She has gained international success for her art, which has been recognised in numerous prestigious awards. Amongst them, her “Feelings” series for Kleenex gained 1 Gold and 2 Bronze Lions at Cannes International Advertising Festival 2010 and 1st place at The Big Won for the most awarded work in 2011. Her work has featured in numerous publications and she has exhibited in group shows around the UK that include Somerset House and Bankside Gallery.
HAMISH PRINGLE // 'SANDPAPER BED'
Sculpture, sandpaper on 1960s King's Fund hospital bed
The objective of my art is to change people’s view of the world, for the better.
To achieve this it must be both attractive and meaningful. If drawn in by the aesthetics then it’s more likely the viewer will engage with the content. Physical involvement with the artwork can produce a quicker change in attitude – the William James ‘As If’ principle.
My focus is on the process of attrition which is central to nature and human life. Newton’s Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
I believe this can also be true of interpersonal relationships. Yet this human reciprocity often goes unheeded and
self-centred attitudes persist. These can lead to unnecessary unhappiness.
Human relationships are an endless process in which one interacts with the other, changing both. This attrition can be gentle as bodies arouse each other, or aggressive as in acts of war. Attrition can be slow, with bivalves taking millennia to bore a hole in a pebble. Or it can be as quick as an incoming wave disturbing pebbles at the shoreline.
To explore attrition I adopted sandpaper as my main medium in 2005. It is available in a wide range of grits, colours, and formats which can convey many different things. Using sandpaper as my ‘lens’ I can say what has to be said, but in a way that’s not been said before. My ‘Sandpaper Bed’ for the Elder #endbedblocking campaign is the latest example. With many thanks to 3M for donating Hookit sandpaper, and Sofas & Stuff for warehousing and studio space.
Hamish Pringle was born in London in 1951. In 1973 he graduated with a BA in PPE from Oxford. His first 44-year career was in UK advertising agencies. He was also Director General of the IPA and a Council member of the ASA. He has co-authored/authored five books.
Starting in 2018 he’s studying for his MFA at Wimbledon College of Arts.
His involvement in contemporary art dates from 1970 when he worked on ‘Strategy Get Arts’, the exhibition which marked Joseph Beuys’ debut in the UK.
ANONYMOUS // 'THE SIDE RAIL'
HYDE PARK & PARLIAMENT SQUARE, LONDON
THE SIDE RAIL
Demonstrated by Ryan Thomas
The sculpture is based on a human chest made from the bars of a side rail of a hospital bed. It is from an anonymous artist who has a very close connection to the End ‘Bed Blocking’ campaign. He has a huge personal experience with this - he wasn’t ‘blocking’ a bed himself, but he was in hospital for a large portion of his youth, up until his formative adult years, and he felt trapped, he felt fragile, and he felt vulnerable. He has a very strong empathy with what’s going on with the elderly, which is not something that many of us can have until we get to that age.
He has kindly offered his services and created this fantastic piece which encapsulates all of the fragility and vulnerability that people go through - you are helpless, you are a ‘prisoner’ in some ways of your own condition and the lack of options that you have. As you see in ‘The Side Rail’, he really goes deep into that not just on a physical level but on an emotional level; the bruises show, not just showing physical pain but highlighting the emotional pain running through the body; not even your friends, family or the system that’s in place can help you.
The piece is made of clay which formed the original part of the piece that would structure the torso of the body. Once it was set, it was moulded around with fire, using intense heat to get the curvatures of the body, and make the definitions of the bone. Between the ribs there is bruising - dated bruising so it’s not just impact bruising, it’s external, so you can see the pooling of the white blood cells, so some parts have gone yellow and some are a dark, pale purple, showing the impact across the body. It’s not a collection of impact bruises, it’s one impact, across the whole body, and the damage is everywhere.
CAITLIN DICK // 'UNDER PRESSURE'
PRINCES STREET GARDENS, EDINBURGH
Mixed media on hospital bed
Elder's Campaign to End 'Bed Blocking' hits close to home for me. Four years ago, my grandfather had a major stroke and if we weren’t as lucky to have family living in the same village and able to care for him, who knows what would have happened. My grandfather has always been independent and has a lot of pride and dignity which I believe would have been lost if he were to be moved into care. During the time spent in hospital recovering, he fell ill with pneumonia, this could have been life-threatening. If the situation were to occur where we couldn’t care for him, we would be waiting on an available space in a care home, extending his stay in hospital, occupying a bed and his health possibly worsening.
My personal experience is not a rare occurrence, it is extremely relatable and a horrendous event to go through. We should be able to keep our loved ones in the life they know and love, while getting the care they need, and this is why I am supporting Elder's Campaign to end 'bed blocking'.
I’m showing my support to this campaign, which is taking place across the UK, by introducing a socially engaged sculpture to highlight what Elder has to offer in response to the ever-growing issue that faces societies continuously increasing elderly population.
My work recently has been focused on unpicking our unhealthy relationship with technology, using sculpture and casting to achieve the aesthetic which aims to put the audience into my dystopian vision of the incorporation of the technological and the physiological. I have felt that this theatricality helps the audience to experience a new point of view and encourages various emotional responses to the work. This connection with the audience using sculpture is what I have been trying to achieve in my piece Under Pressure in conjunction with Elder and their End 'Bed Blocking' campaign.
Under Pressure is a hopeful exploration of what can sometimes feel like a hopeless situation. Many older people throughout the UK can be trapped in hospital because of a lack of care in the community, preventing them from returning to normal life and preventing other older persons from accessing the hospital beds they require when unwell. I am therefore supporting Elder’s Campaign to end 'bed blocking'. Under Pressure consists of the juxtaposition of the clinical and the personal, contrasting the hard and emotionless cement, metal and plastic with the human form. Hands, feet and a heart present the remnants of the body, a reflection on prolonged experiences in a hospital. The presence of the heart, although absent of body, presents hope for a return to completeness.
'A QUIET SLEEP WITH A SWEET DREAM'
GABRIEL'S WHARF, LONDON
A New Zealander living London, Felicity Swan studied at Auckland University and Central St Martins College of Art (UAL).
She worked for many years in the media, whilst continuing to exhibit in both group and solo shows, mainly in the UK and New Zealand. Recently she has been able to focus on her painting practice.
A QUIET SLEEP WITH A SWEET DREAM
Acrylic on wood, bed frame
All the figures in this work are related to sleep: sleeping, dreaming, keeping watch; some are part of the dreams.
For this piece, it was important to me that the bed be viewed ‘the right way up’ from each side. I am looking for figurative within the abstract, and for the figures to create their own story. I want the viewer to look and look again, to find something new each time, and to enjoy what is seen.
Elder’s campaign is really worthwhile and I’m delighted to support it. Most of us need care at some stage and being looked after in your own bed at home is infinitely preferable to blocking a bed in hospital or nursing home.
My current approach to painting is intuitive, which has led to my own expressionist painting method. I start drawing quite randomly with lines and gestural marks, responding spontaneously. Images emerge through line, colour and movement.
JULIEN MASSON // 'TANGLE'
KEEPER'S GALLERY SPACE, SOUTHAMPTON