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Pippa Ward: Say it with Plastic: The winner of the Surrey Artist of the Year competition in 2019

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Saturday 21 August 2021 - Saturday 6 November 2021 - All Day


New Ashgate Gallery

Artist in Residence and family workshops: 22 August, 3-5pm | Drop-in session at Music in the Meadow, Gostrey Meadow 26 August, 11-12.30 | Drop-in session at New Ashgate Gallery 2 September,11-12.30 | Drop-in session at New Ashgate Gallery

Free – no booking is required Suitable for children aged 5-12, attending with a guardian

Exhibition: 25 September – 6 November

We are delighted to invite Pippa Ward for a month long residency that consists of a series of community workshops run by Pippa, using discarded plastics.

Working with Farnham children, families and schools, Pippa will inspire, educate and raise awareness of plastics in our environment, whilst having fun creating a new artwork using plastic tops, bags and drinks cartoons with participants. The residency and the workshops are followed by Pippa’s solo exhibition, presenting a new body of artwork and celebrating her time as the Surrey Artist of the Year.

Pippa’s work is focused on the environment, with an interest in our use and relationship with single use, found plastics; bags, bottle tops and beach plastic. She looks at man’s inevitable impact on nature by using these materials. Pippa works with these ubiquitous and disposable materials and objects that do untold damage to our environment if discarded and used carelessly. Plastic’s unimaginably long lifespan, coupled with how casually we, as a society treat it, becomes a perfect metaphor for our almost blind overconsumption of the material.

In the words of philosopher Roland Barthes the essence of an object has something to do with the way it turns into trash, possibly meaning that once an object has been discarded, and thus absolved of its function, its form becomes brightly visible out of its original place and freed from its status as a commodity. Once an object is no longer treated in terms of its use/value, the ‘thingness’ and ‘unwantedness’ of an item intensifies. This is when Pippa becomes interested in it.

Pippa acquires plastic by visiting beaches regularly, particularly following a storm. The processes that follow involve gathering, manipulating and arranging of materials – using mindful taxonomy and grouping to create arrangements that, at times, speak of scientific plates and classification, or of marine narratives and environments that Pippa encounters. She looks at the effect man-made and natural materials have on each other, and particularly man’s impact on nature. With newly formed awareness of the abundance of plastic in our seas, we now have a love/hate relationship with the substance. We rely on plastic and at times we desire these convenient single use items, even though we know the damage they are causing, and continue to cause. The pieces are found on the beach, can be seen as a ‘tidemark’ where the sea has deposited minute nurdles, bullet casings, tampon applicators, bottle tops and toys – all plastic. They can be wedged between rocks or blown up into the sand dunes, but they are becoming a part of our earth – literally. These are becoming our future fossils and relics, which, if arranged carefully, can be evocative of coral reefs or seaside settings, sometimes mimicking the natural world at first, beautiful to the eye, before the ‘reader’ sees what they truly are.

The Surrey Artist of the Year project is supported by Patricia Baines Trust and the workshops programme by Farnham South Street Trust.

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