The Stone of Folly
The exhibition The Stone of Folly references Arthur’s Stone, a Neolithic site in the Golden Valley, nearby Down Stairs, which has become the subject of local folklore and forgotten histories.
The site incorporates a broken glacial boulder resting on an ancient burial chamber, where King Arthur (Owd Artur) mythically slew a giant, leaving indentations of his elbows in the stone as he fell to the ground. Over the years, the morphology of the stone has changed due to it being quarried, with the rubble being used in local buildings. The term ‘stone of folly’ comes from a medieval allegory of madness and stupidity (akin to “rocks in the head”), referenced in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting ‘The Stone Operation’ (1488), in which a surgeon is depicted removing a stone-like lump from a patient’s head, accompanied by the inscription “Master, cut the stone out quickly / My name if Lubbert Das.”
For the Stone of Folly, curator William Cobbing has invited artists to contribute works that play with the overlapping notions of fantastical narrative and shifting materiality. The exhibition will engage with ideas of superstition, alchemy, folly, entropy and flux that derive from the disjointed historical accounts of the site, and, more broadly, how we ascribe meaning to found objects and places. The exhibition questions the essence of temporal materiality, through sculpture and installation, digital, performance and text-based forms. The rural location in the Golden Valley, by the Black Mountains, also provides the potential for site-based works.
A publication will accompany the exhibition featuring a specially commissioned text by Jonathan P. Watts.
About the curator:
William Cobbing (1974) is an artist living and working in London. He studied BA Sculpture at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and the international artists programme at De Ateliers in Amsterdam.
He has exhibited internationally in exhibitions including Escape Chutes Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam (2002), A Secret History of Clay Tate Liverpool (2004), Room with a View Gemeente Museum, The Hague (2006), Netwerk Centre for Contemporary Art, Belgium (2007), Super Stories Hasselt Triennial (2009), Man in the Planet Viafarini DOCVA Milan (2010), Body Gestures Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel (2011), and Revolver at Matt’s Gallery London, forthcoming in October 2012.
He was awarded the Helen Chadwick Fellowship in 2005/6 at Ruskin School and British School at Rome. The resulting works were exhibited as Gradiva Project at Freud Museum and Camden Arts Centre (2007/8). In 2009 and 2010 Cobbing had residencies at Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Starting from a sculptural sensibility, William Cobbing’s artworks encompass a diverse range of media, including video, installation and performance. People are often depicted as being fused with the surrounding architecture, as extensions of the plumbing, or buried under layers of clay or concrete, from which they absurdly struggle to extricate themselves. Cobbing makes life casts of human limbs, installing them to look like they are trapped in the architecture, presenting the body as a trace, a vestige of what it had once been. These works allude to the concept of entropy and, underlining the extent to which earthly material is irreversibly dispersed, they give rise to a definitive blurring of the boundaries between the body and the landscape and put any possibility of meaning on hold.
About the participating artists:
Holly Antrum (1983) Lives and works in Devon and London.Through printmaking and durational media Holly Antrum compiles a reservoir of images as a basis to her practice. From this she select groupings of digital and analogue material and brings them together to settle into fragmentary or formal relation to one another - a thought process that sways between intuition and analysis. Singularly, a work internally follows a logic of echo and material simile that extends to presenting an awareness of its own edges and composition. Collectively, the work is defined by its differences, inviting a comparative mode of looking from the viewer.
Graduated from Royal College of Art in 2011. Recent exhibitions include New Contemporaries 2010, A Foundation, Liverpool and ICA, London (2010) Drawing Biennial, The Drawing Room, London (2011), SV12 Members Show, Studio Voltaire London, curated by Jenni Lomax and Mike Nelson (2012).
Mike Cooter (1978) lives and works in London.
Mike Cooter studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford, from 1997 to 2000. He received an MA (Sculpture) from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2003. Mike Cooter’s practice is typified by a combination of meticulous archival research and formal reflexivity. Concerned with the narrative agency of objects, his work seeks to investigate how narrative use affects the understanding of matter and vice-versa.
Exhibitions include A Darkness More Than Night, QUAD, Derby (2011/12) A Slowdown at the Museum, Extra City (Kunsthal Antwerpen), Antwerp, Gingko Goethe Garden, Arcade Fine Arts, London The Big Society, (curator: Alice Motard), Galerie GP & N Vallois, Paris, Maybe I Should Have Called It ‘My Life In 19 Minutes’, Calder Foundation, New York, The Snail, Serpentine Gallery, London, and Shadow Effect, The Company, Los Angeles.
Katie Cuddon (b.1979) Lives and works in Newcastle.
Katie Cuddon works across a range of media, her painted clay sculptures, bronze works and drawings frequently represent the human body and its many psychological conditions. The spaces around, through and beneath the works are carefully choreographed and given a leading role in presenting Cuddon’s view, and yet at the same time carefully conceal their intent.
Katie Cuddon graduated from Royal College of Art in 2006. In 2010, Cuddon was invited to be the ceramics fellow at Camden Arts Centre, and in 2008/2009 Cuddon was the Sainsbury Scholar at the British School at Rome. Selected exhibitions: Waiting for the Cue, Simon Oldfield, 2011 (solo); Spanish Lobe, Camden Arts Centre, 2011 (solo); I No Longer Know What The Money Is (solo), Alma Enterprises, London, 2010; New Symphony, Simon Oldfield, 2010; Overshoot and Collapse, Globe Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne 2008 and Jerwood Drawing Prize, (touring exhibition), 2005.
Benedict Drew (b. 1977) works across video, performance, sound and other media. His work uses the apparatus of film, video and music to test and reflect upon technology and its oscillation between the exalted and the commonplace, between desire and redundancy. Using the idea of illusion and illusionism in the context of moving image, his work embraces both hi- and low-tech devices and tools in creating fantastical worlds that are conditioned by, but aim to resist, the hierarchies of authority and control.
He graduated from Slade School of Fine Art in 2011. Recent solo exhibitions include This Is Feedback at Outpost, Norwich. Gliss, Cell Project Space, The Persuaders, Circa Site / AV Festival, Stephenson Works, Newcastle. Group exhibitions include Containing the Possible, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery. There Is Not And Never Has Been Anything To Understand!, ACS Gallery. Things That Have Interested Me, Waterside Contemporary, and SOUNDWORKS, ICA. He is currently lead-artist for Chisenhale Gallery’s Propeller Project and a LUX Associate Artist.
Martin Newth (b. 1973)
Martin Newth’s work is primarily photographic and might broadly be described as experimental. His approach is informed by a concern for the process of photography as well as its product. His work explores the historical routes of photography, harking back to the era of its discovery, and raises questions about aesthetics of the medium in the 21st century.
He is Programme Director of BA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design. He studied at Newcastle University and the Slade School of Art. Exhibition: George and Jørgen, London; Axel Lapp Projects, Berlin; Focal Point Gallery, Southend; Ffotogallery, Cardiff; Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool; the Kunstverein Konstanz, Germany; and most recently, the V&A Museum of Childhood, London.
Francesco Pedraglio (b.1981 Como, Italy)
Francesco Pedraglio is an independent writer and curator living in London. Something I haven't seen and yet I still remember is an event in which, through a selection of texts and visual material, he tries to evoke the influence of never-experienced memories on imagining the existence of abstract sculptures. Pedraglio is one of the directors of the London-based curatorial platform FormContent. He writes for several magazines, including Kaleidoscope and Mousse, and is commissioning-editor for the art publishing house, BookWorks, for a new series called The Time Machine.
Heather Phillipson (b.1978)
Her current practice uses HD video in single screen and live formats, the latter in conjunction with live voice-off. Central to the recent videos is an impulse to stake out a bodily territory within the digital spectacle. Speech is used to invoke the schism between the (disembodied) voice and the corpus it inhabits – the mouth as a portal for both language and sensual experience: the gruesome interwedge of body and mind.
She has recently shown work at the South London Gallery, the ICA, Auto Italia South East, Hollybush Gardens, Eastside Projects, Kunsthalle Basel (Switzerland), KG52 (Stockholm), Halle 14 (Leipzig), Whitechapel London Open (2012) She is participating in the LUX Associate Artists Programme 2011-12.
Nicholas Pope (b. 1949) Lives and works in Much Marcle, Herefordshire.
He studied art at the Bath Academy of Art in the early 1970s before being granted a Romanian Government Exchange Scholarship in 1974. His most important early shows included his solo exhibition at the Garage Gallery (1976), Anthony Stokes Gallery (1979), and Three stone slabs and other sculptures at the Art & Project Gallery in Amsterdam (1979). Pope’s professional success was validated by representing Britain at the 39th Venice Biennale in 1980.
Pope’s work from the 1970s has a powerful abstract quality that is softened by his use of natural materials, chalk and wood. This tension prevents him from being defined as either a modernist abstract sculptor with ties to Anthony Caro and the St. Martin’s School of Art, or a conceptual sculptor in the tradition of assemblage, land art, and performance. Pope exhibited Artnow at the Tate Gallery in 1997, installing the series The Apostles Speaking in Tongues. In 2012 Pope exhibited at Galerie Onrust in Amsterdam.
Tom Woolner (b.1979) Lives and works in London.
While Woolner’s practice is sculptural at its core, recent work has taken the form of performance-based events in various contexts and locations. By using these different outlets, he aims to continually develop and test his playful, cartoon-dumb language.
Recent exhibitions and performances include: More Soup and Tart, Barbican, London; An Evening with Archimboldo, Site Gallery, Sheffield; The Inside Out Cave is You! (with Lilli Hartmann), Galleria Moriarty, Madrid; Radio IPS, International Project Space, Birmingham; Going to Bakeries all Day Long, Ovada, Oxford; A Monument to Averages, Rockwell, London. His work has been featured in Frieze, Art Monthly, Modern Painters and The Guardian and he is the recipient of awards from Site Gallery, The Elephant Trust, The Danish Arts Council and Beck’s Futures.