UK ART TOUR 2024
Arranging an Exhibition
Exhibition Proposal UK Art Tour 2024
Terry W Scales
We Cannot See the Wood for the Trees
An Exhibition of Life and Art
Since the 1970s, as a constructivist artist, my primary interest has been exploration of colour and space. And I have developed my work in both two- and three-dimensional formats.
My early public art, which included environmental structures and agit-prop dance performances, was dedicated to working with new materials and technologies. More recently (from the 1990s), I have used colour to depict the subtle compositions observed in the fleeting light transmitted and reflected in our urban–industrial and domestic environments.
Until the late 80s, I focused on ensuring my work was accessible to all through art workshop projects funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain and Regional Arts Associations. Since then, I have continued exploring and exhibiting my light-scape work – what I call ‘luminaria’ – as paintings, collages, photography, neon constructs and, most recently, digitised imagery. It has been and continues to be, an exciting and fertile journey for my imagination.
I count myself fortunate to have been born in a meritocratic post-war era. During the 1950s and 60s, Britain benefited from a state education that had begun to recognise the need to harness creativity and imagination as economic and social assets to improve and enrich the life of the majority of the population.
Respect Our Planet
The advent of rabid globalisation since the late 1980s has changed all that. Not least has been the harmful impact caused by our industrial societies and technologies. Our degradation of the planet has robbed future generations of the rich and fulfilling life opportunities previously on offer. Subsequently, like many of my generation, I feel I have a responsibility to try and repair the damage and replenish what is lost. As an artist, this feeling drives me to find new challenges in my work – new approaches, processes and ideas. While wanting to express my deep respect for the complexity and beauty of our planet, I also feel a duty to make my work a critique of our human voraciousness.
2024: We Cannot See the Wood for the Trees
I intend to show three distinctly different styles of my recent work titled Light-scapes, Unnatural Nature, and We Cannot See the Wood For the Trees (the latter also lending its title to the whole show). Each of them is constructivist in approach. Yet, all of them have been defined by the different environments in which the three styles were developed.
As I look back over my life’s work, it’s clear to me that my artwork has constantly been about exploring new sources of aesthetic imagery. But my never-ending urge to experiment has always remained grounded in my daily experience and observations of the world around me.
My early experimental work was publicly funded for over a decade at national and regional levels. The exhibition will also include images and information from this period.
Mumbles Roofscapes After the Rain, series of light-scape photo prints, 2007.
MADE IN WALES: SWANSEA
Light-scapes: urban studies of light, luminaria & neon light constructs, 1995 – 2018
Urban in essence, my Light-scapes series relies on reflected and transmitted light spilling into our daily life, creating dynamic momentary compositions. They are composed of reflections generated by the highly polished surfaces found in our urban landscapes. Each is unique, transitory, and influenced in the moment by the reflective strength of the sun’s luminosity.
I started creating a portfolio of light-scape images in the early 1990s, soon after arriving in post-industrial Swansea. They were images of the light inside and outside our terraced cottage in Mumbles, enhanced by the greater luminosity created by the sea.
Initially, I captured photographic images and then developed them in the studio using duplicate overlays as transparencies printed in four or five primary colours. This process had the effect of giving a 3-D aspect to the finished composition. Sometimes I also placed light-scape transparencies over a painting, illustration or collage, introducing a distance between the viewer and the original image and adding a further dimension to the works.
These light-scapes offered me a new dynamic aesthetic source of imagery and the means to create strong, abstract digital prints.
ART TOUR – WALES & FRANCE
Initially, I exhibited my work in small galleries around Swansea, including the Exposure Gallery (2003), the Signature Gallery (2005) and the Winter Gallery in Mumbles (2006). I had a larger show at the Dylan Thomas Centre Gallery in Swansea (2007). Then, in 2013 I exhibited a range of light-scapes in Brittany, France in a display titled Light in Life at the Galerie Pierre Tal-Coat, Hennebont.
Colour, Space & Time
Blues fuse and move.
floods blue across red,
Fading into warm
Line red to space:
the magnitude is green.
Lost tangled streams
of colour float and surrender,
sipping momentary life.
Space trembles: softness.
Vermillion silhouettes slide
into subtle iridescence.
send blues to future
And the proximity of red
senses effluent colours’
(Terry W. Scales, 1974)
Made in Swansea: Sailing By: In Memory of My Childhood, neon and stretch fabric on steel frame, in exhibition Galerie Pierre Tal-Coat, 2013.
PERMANENT COMMISSIONED INSTALLATION
While working with light-scapes I was also working with two- and three-dimensional light-structures using neon. In 2003 I began mounting neon lights directly onto canvas and later, onto stretch fabric constructs. Exhibited at the Dylan Thomas Gallery in 2007 and the Galerie Pierre Tal-Coat in 2013, these works were created with the help of local Swansea artisans.
In 2016, I created a large, new neon sculpture titled A Hard Rain is Falling. This was for the first in a series of annual exhibitions with Nouvelles Metamorphoses group between 2016 and 2018. This new sculpture was later purchased by and installed at Newham Sixth Form College, Plaistow in 2018/19.
If funds could be raised I would be interested in creating a site-specific permanent feature for a college, town square or arts centre in Swansea. For example, a new version of A Hard Rain is Falling – a deluge of barbed neon rain cascading through trees – would certainly look dynamic.
MADE IN FRANCE: ATELIER BONNEUIL (PART 1)
Unnatural Nature: agricultural landscape studies, 2009 – 2018
My studio is in a village in an industrialized agricultural region of Central France. Living and working in this environment on a day-to-day basis is a whole different experience from being in Wales. The massive visual impact of modern farming practices on the local landscape and wildlife gets thrust upon you.
Over the past 20 years, because of the severe degradation of nature, there have been reports of up to 80% population loss among birds, reptiles and insects in the UK and Europe. At night, moths are now a rarity.
Our house is in the department of Deux-Sèvres on the borders of the Marais Poitevin. It is one of many intensive agri-business regions of France, growing maize, sunflowers and rape and with rapid rotation cropping. With reduced hedgerows, the vast areas of landscape change rapidly. The colour, texture, and surface patterns transform – in a few short weeks – throughout the year.
Nature appears hurried and harried by humanity. An unnatural nature defines the landscape. Farmland is treated like a factory without walls, with its own wind turbine electricity supply, reservoir water, and massive sheds to provide shade for the intensively reared livestock. Consequently, the number of people working the land has reduced dramatically.
“Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her and .. dragged her down“. (from When the Music’s Over, by The Doors).
An artist with a conscience cannot ignore this desecration. My response is a series entitled Unnatural Nature, using digitised photographic images from my library of landscape studies, treated graphically to highlight the artifice and abstraction of vast fields of monoculture.
MADE IN FRANCE: ATELIER BONNEUIL (Part 2)
We Cannot See the Wood For the Trees: experiments in wood and colour, 2021 onwards
Like Tolkien’s ents, trees stand like visual and functional symbols of nature’s last line of resistance to humanity’s conquest of nature. As long as they are undisturbed, their slow-growing longevity outlasts humans and reminds us how essential they are as a life form in protecting our planet’s ecosystem.
In 2019 I started steam-bending 5-metre-long poplar tree trunks torn into planks and using them to create two large sculptural tableaus – the Pall Bearers of Gaia and Refugee Mother and Child. Both are long-term projects that do not naturally accommodate this artist’s need to exhibit.
For the 2021 Nouvelles Metamorphoses exhibition, I felt a slight deviation was called for and focused instead on exploring the natural rhythmic beauty of the structure of the growth in the wood I was working with. The result was five photographic studies of the heart of ash wood under intense illumination and muted colour. They were submitted to the exhibition as portraits of a fleeting moment in the hidden life of an ash tree. They are, for me, a constant reminder of the natural strength and resilience of trees.
More recently, I have built up a sculptural portfolio of torn wood compositions illuminated and dusted with pigments to enhance the grain and create a different aesthetic interpretation and appreciation of wood.
UK ART TOUR – MORE DETAILS
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