Cumbria Crack

New exhibition combines botanical paintings and unique ceramics at Florence Arts Centre

After a successful summer of exhibitions, including vibrant wildlife paintings, textiles and traditional crafts, painter Fay Collins and ceramicists Miles-Moore are joining forces for a new show at Florence Arts Centre in Egremont: “Fragile Edges”.

Collins, an artist based in north Lancashire is inspired by the raw experience of being in mountain and coastal environments using nature as a starting point for creative exploration. Strong colour, texture, form and atmosphere are common themes in Fay’s painting and she has recently focussed on Ennerdale Water and the fascinating, so-called ‘wilding’ of the valley. In stark contrast to other visitor-orientated lakes of the National Park, Ennerdale’s identity as a wild valley is most fitting for this exhibition, which focuses on blurred boundaries and observations of nature reasserting itself. Her fascination with geological qualities and the impact that climate change has imposed on our fragile planet informs much of her work.

Fay says, “When time is spent outdoors, the forces at play are very keenly visible and often result in dramatic fluctuations and discoveries at the threshold between water and land. Wave action, river levels and inclement weather have also played their part in sculpting the landscape. I find there is a dark beauty in witnessing drifting and tangled vegetation, erosion and environmental shifts that humans have impacted minimally. However, the speed at which Man’s insatiable appetite for extracting resources without giving back, is shaping our world at an alarming rate but with an increased collective awareness of the strength of nature it is possible to achieve a balance of interaction with humanity.”

Joining Fay for this collaborative exhibition are Martin and Siobhan Miles-Moore, ceramicists based in South Cumbria. Using waste from current and historical industrial sites to create glazes and finishes for their ceramic sculptural forms they have previously spent time at Florence during the C-Art festival where they presented a superb and popular raku-firing demonstration. This, however, will be their first time exhibiting work at the venue.

Siobhan says, “My intention is to encourage explorations and understanding of a sense of place. To keep ourselves safe both in the landscape and in life, it is important to remember which way is up and to know where the edges are. Wherever we stand to look at the world, we see it differently. This is as true of our internal landscape as our external one. It is easy to walk through our landscapes and not notice our place within them. It is easy to look at the landscape of Cumbria and only see a rural landscape. What we see only exists in its current form because of the impact of agriculture, mining, quarrying and the industry of man.”

The exhibition, Fragile Edges, opens on Saturday 8 September, when Fay Collins will be present to hold a free workshop exploring painting and using natural elements from the arts centre’s wildlife garden and the site of the iron ore mine. Miles-Moore will also be hosting workshops during the run of the exhibition – contact the centre for details. The exhibition runs until 13 October and entry is free.

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