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A Unique Cotswold Art Event: Fresh Air 2013

A Unique Cotswold Art Event: Fresh Air 2013

The long-awaited 11th biennial FRESH AIR 2013, set up by art collectors Lucy and David Abel Smith.

The purpose of the FRESH AIR sculpture exhibition is ‘to wash the dust from the soul of everyday life’ and to provide the opportunity to celebrate the vitality and diversity of sculpture and its capacity to challenge.  Sculpture today embraces a broad spectrum of objects, film, photography, installation, text, sound and performance which are all mainstays of a contemporary vision and FRESH AIR actively encourages this diversity. 

Where else can you find a combination of brilliantly coloured sound reflector sculptures, a newly composed digital audio sound-track and a trapeze artist forming a heart-lifting art installation under a huge copper beech tree?  The answer is found in the exquisite 5-acre garden and river at Quenington Old Rectory which form a stunning stage setting for the most exciting and eagerly-awaited sculpture show in the country.

Art for the garden has now become main-stream but in order to compete with the richness and colour of nature, outdoor sculpture has had to evolve in surprising and delightful directions since the very first FRESH AIR show in 1992.  Over 12,000 people visited FRESH AIR 2011.  This year’s line-up includes 91 international artists combining established and inspiring new talent (31 are new this year) using a combination of conventional and unusual materials such as glass, stone, ceramic, marble, wood, fabric, plastic, resin, bronze, stainless steel and multi-media installations.  Prices range from £50 to £20,000 with one or two more expensive pieces up to £50,000.

This year exciting new work encourages the viewer to ‘think out of the box’ such as  Hannah Davies who adopts varying techniques to alter form ultimately displaying a fascination with the displacement of the common object as shown in ‘A Bench’; an installation, ‘Thorn Tree’,  of hundreds of porcelain thorns assembled over the trunk and branches of a tree by Natalia Dias; ‘Once is an accident, twice is a revolution’,  1,000 cast jelly shoes poured in pink silicone rubber by Tom Hackett; and three obsolete pianos are being rescued from the scrap heap and spontaneously reconfigured into a new structure on-site at FRESH AIR  by Alicia Fidler.

Look out for ‘Dark Bird 2002’ by Breon O’Casey (1928-2011) who saw himself as a ‘traditional innovator’; also ‘Couple I’ in bronze by Terence Coventry which is a simple yet intensely personal representation of love.

On-going colour in the garden is vital: Taz Lovejoy’s bright sculptural lamps made from coloured silicone cupcake moulds are hung in the canopy of a tree; ‘Damask’, laser-cut aluminium flower silhouettes by Caroline Parrott; textile artist Jennifer Norris combines leather and fabric to create stitched organic forms such as ‘Spinoza’; Christine Kowal Post portrays women as  fearless and strong without abandoning their intrinsic femininity in ‘Woman, Egg and Crow’ carved from horse chestnut.

The use of glass as a medium is very diverse as shown in ‘Strange Flower’ by Colin Reid, regarded as one of the most accomplished glassmakers worldwide; ‘Plantain’ by Colin and Louise Hawkins from the renowned LocoGlass and ‘Aechemea’ by Sam Herman as well as Matt Durran, Anna Glasbrook, Belinda Harding and Bliss Hill.   

Alison Crowther’s superbly ‘Carved Cube’ in unseasoned English oak and Andrew Trotman’s ‘Swingseat II’ are just two of the many wood sculptures to choose from; and a show would not be complete without hand-cut letter-carvers such as Iain Cotton exhibiting ‘Journey Stones’.  

The river Coln flowing through the garden provides an extra platform for artists influenced by water such as Jacque Pavlosky’s installation of floating glass bottles;  wildlife sculptor Adam Binder’s majestic bronze swan;  and ‘Submergence’ made of high fired porcelain by Jo Taylor,  designed to fit in the swimming pool.

The Quenington Sculpture Trust, FRESH AIR’s registered charity since 1997, provides bursaries to talented artists. This year Rob Olins is presenting ‘Sound Mirrors’, an installation of brightly coloured acoustic mirrors, which includes intermittent performances by trapeze artist Alice Watson bringing together the grace and elegance of dance with the strength and focus of aerial acrobatics.  The Trust is supported by The Arts Council, the Summerfield Trust, Strutt & Parker, the Cotswold District Council, and R K Harrison Insurance Services. 

FRESH AIR runs an impressive education programme accommodating over 650 children for local schools including workshops for the disabled and special needs schools.  Many children from primary and secondary schools in the region visit the show giving them a unique opportunity to enjoy the excitement of such a large range of art in a rural setting.

Another new departure this year is a pop-up restaurant at FRESH AIR to be held on Saturday evening, June 22nd. Allium, Fairford’s renowned restaurant specialising in Modern British food, will be creating 8 courses of ‘extraordinary food in an extraordinary setting’ for up to 60 covers for one night only.  For reservations please call Allium on 01285 712200.

Fresh Air  2013  runs from 16 June - 7th July 2013

Explore Gloucestershire
8 May 2013

For further information.


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