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Fresh Air 2011 : Contemporary sculpture shows near Cirencester

Fresh Air 2011

‘The purpose of FRESH AIR continues to be the promotion of contemporary art to enhance gardens of all sizes and character’. 

FRESH AIR 2011, one of the leading outdoor contemporary sculpture shows in the UK, takes place at Quenington Old Rectory, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5BN from Sunday 19th June to Sunday 10th July 2011. 

Over the years, at each FRESH AIR exhibition, new patterns emerge and this year is the increasing use of colour in the garden landscape.  103 artists are exhibiting, of which 45 are new to the event, with young emerging sculptors showing alongside the more established.  Prices range from £20 to £20,000 with one or two more expensive pieces up to £60,000.

Within the framework of the gardens and the river practically every weatherproof art form imaginable is displayed to provoke maximum thought and surprise - whether it is conventional or mixed media, colour or translucency, dance or textiles, or installation combined with sound.  For example, this year’s FRESH AIR has willow eggs and spheres, coloured velvet and steel plant forms, resin bananas, fibre-glass molluscs, sound pattern water pools, a video pinboard and even a knitted bridge. 

Inspired by the wonderful riverside Cotswold garden at Quenington, six artists are making site-specific installations in trees, over borders and in the river.  Look out for the extraordinary white plastic bag flowers of Claudia Borgna, which turn an object of disgust into one of strange and wacky beauty; LoveBid’s red, white and blue resin bananas hanging from a tree;  well placed, polychrome in the borders can shout at Nature’s colours or be a witty comment such as Avril Elward’s quixotic flora or Ruth Moilliet’s wild flowers;  huge, beautiful ceramics to withstand the climate from Wendy Hoare, Andrew Flint, Melissa Spykerman and Lucy Birtles or the cartoon-inspired work of Paul Cox, often with political overtones, inspires thought both about garden sculpture and its place in the border or lawn.

Few have thought about textiles in the landscape.  At FRESH AIR the great coloured banners of Shona Watt are a vital part of the show, similarly Jenny Ford, Fiona Haines, Carole Waller and Knit Installations all have an interesting take.  The translucency of glass, which constantly changes according to the time, light and weather adds another dimension, placed in either a border, in the river, or against a shrubby backdrop.   Other innovative work to look out for is a cast glass table by Colin Reid in the shape of a tropical leaf, cement and neon glass combined by Sarah Blood and new work by Richard Jackson and Fiaz Elsom. 

Lettering has become a popular art form and is a hard won skill.  Gary Breeze is one of the greatest artists working in this medium in the UK today and is joined at FRESH AIR along with Giles MacDonald and Incisive Letterwork. 

Finally, there are some fresh examples of garden furniture that are a far cry from the pastiches of the 18th and 19th centuries such as a stainless steel plate and spoon table by Euan Cunningham and a chair in the shape of a fin by Ben Barrell.  

FRESH AIR runs an impressive education programme accommodating over 850 children 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 art, probably for the first time in their lives.

ECCO will again be a feature at FRESH AIR (Encouraging Children to Collect Objects).  Every exhibitor is asked to donate a working sketch or model which will only be sold to young people of 18 or under.  Prices are from £10-60, the aim being to encourage young people to collect original works of art.

FRESH AIR 2009 attracted 9,000 visitors.  The Quenington Sculpture Trust, FRESH AIR’s registered charity since 1997, receives a grant from the Arts Council and is generously supported by The Summerfield Trust, Cotswold District Council and Strutt & Parker.

Explore Gloucestershire
16 May 2011


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