I really enjoyed being a part of the Park ’09 exhibition of site based art works in the beautiful Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon. This year the event was curated by Sarah B Davies who selected projects from proposals by BA and MA Wimbledon School of Art students. The exhibition was a great success in spite of the pretty dicey weather. I’d considered the British weather when I came up with the idea of my piece so I not only had somewhere dry to sit whilst invigilating it, it also had a certain poetry to it.
I felt that this “Umbrella Den” would be ideal for Cannizaro since it fits in with attributes of the park such as dens, tunnels and shelter. The suburban park relates very closely to the umbrella since both are part practical, part ornamental. One is unlikely to spot either a rose garden or someone sporting an umbrella in the wilderness. In the park, or under an umbrella, events take place which can be semi-obscured: a lover’s kiss, a conversation, family bonding. I also intended a wry nod to the sea of umbrellas at Wimbledon tennis.
In my studio work, I have been looking at how objects are used and reused; their functionality redefined. I enjoyed the opportunity of exploring this theme within the larger arena of the park and observing how the public negotiated these visual questions. I am intrigued by the relationship between man and nature and their constant interplay so this work embodies this. The man-made umbrella used as shelter is blown inside out and broken by nature’s elements then redefined in a suburban setting amidst trees as a structure using both natural and man made elements. A shelter made from smaller umbrella shelters beneath the larger trees which also act as shelter.
It was a great challenge having my work shown in the public arena but many negotiations and health and safety forms later, it was so rewarding to see people reacting to and interacting with it. I learnt alot from talking to visitors to the exhibition and the park and listening to their comments. I’m so grateful for the wonderful opportunity. I think next year, I’ll do something about health and safety!
Thank you to the people at Cannizaro Park and Merton Council for letting us do it, Wimbledon College of Art, Sarah B Davies for all the hard curation work, Anne Parkes, Anna Steeden, Sophia Vincent for all their help and all the other artists who participated and helped. It was a great event and a huge success.