Creative Destruction - Rochester Art Gallery

Creative Destruction: Volcanoes Inspiring Art and Science
Volcanoes are everywhere. They have existed throughout time, have created much of the Earth’s surface, and have helped to create Earth’s ocean and atmosphere. For this reason, volcanoes and volcanic activity have fascinated the populations that live in their shadows. They stand above the landscape and often serve as symbols of beauty; at the same time, volcanic activity serves as a metaphor for (often impulsive) energy and destruction, particularly in their ability to radically alter familiar landscapes during a single eruptive episode.
This exhibit builds on both the creative and destructive aspects of volcanism as viewed from the perspective of scientists Professor Kathy Cashman FRS and (Sir) Professor Steve Sparks FRS CBE, who study volcanoes, and artist Emma Stibbon RA, who provides an emotional response to these powerful symbols of our dynamic planet. We explore the methods of scientific and artistic practice in the field, focusing especially on field observations of volcanic eruptions, including both rock samples and field notebooks, and their power to transform human lives, as represented by a series of films designed to translate scientific understanding to community knowledge. Presented in parallel with the scientific perspective is that of the artist, which provides a visual and emotional response to volcanic landscapes and represents the artistic desire to understand how our surroundings are shaped by the forces of nature. By combining these perspectives, the exhibit seeks to challenge traditional perceptions of disciplines – the artist concerned with the imagination, and the scientist with fact – by showing that while art can illustrate science, and science can give art tools and processes, art and science share a passion to explore and understand the world around us, and the deployment of the human capacity to imagine, to create and to communicate.
Emma Stibbon ‘Molten Landscape’
The uncertainty of solid ground fascinates me. The idea that a landscape is contingent and liable to transform is profound. The drawings and prints in this exhibition have emerged from my journeys in Iceland, Italy and, most recently Hawai‘i where I was Artist in Residence at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
I am driven by an acute awareness that we are living through a time where our relationship with environment is fragile. As an artist I feel compelled to respond to this and to try to connect the viewer with a physical experience of place. Volcanoes present a volatile and dynamic subject. When drawing in the field my visual reading of clues in the landscape relies on an interpretation of place that is informed by science. I often seek out collaborations with geologists and volcanologists such as Kathy Cashman who has helped my understanding about the underlying forces that drive change in the landscape and enabled me to identify features in the field. It is often the reading of a landscape and my efforts to understand how it has come about that provoke me to draw.
In approaching a project I will usually walk and make observations with my camera and sketchbook in the field. I rely on these methods of gathering research to inform my work back in the studio. I often use materials gathered in the field to incorporate with my media. In ‘Stromboli’ I have combined volcanic ash in the drawing media to create a tactile surface in the print. I aim to give a sense of the elemental terrain in the physical surface of the work.
Today our relationship with landscape is less certain and is mediated through a changing view of environment. A recurring theme in my own work reflects on this tension between destruction and renewal. Volcanoes embody the primordial forces of nature that shape our planet. They engender a sense of renewal and the ephemeral character of landscape that can seem unchanging. This is now being questioned by science and we face a more uncertain future - for me the challenge is how to render this view through drawing.
With thanks to the Provost and Fellows of Eton College, and to Charlotte Villiers of the Eton College Collections who developed this exhibition.
FREE Drawing Out Science Family Workshops
Tue 14 August 10.30-12.30 or 1.30-2.30
Join artist Emma Stibbon and volcanologist Kathy Cashman to explore science and art through drawing.
Suitable for young people and accompanied children aged 7+, to book contact arts@medway.gov.uk
Medway Open Studios and Arts Festival Launch Night
Thu 5 July, 6-8.30pm
During the exhibition Medway Council Arts Team are delighted to be hosting the launch of MOSAF 2018 at Rochester Art Gallery – come along and find out more about this exciting festival which runs from 14 - 22 July and welcomes visitors to explore the hidden creative work spaces of Medway, take part in activities and events, view exhibitions and meet artists. www.medwayopenstudios.org

Date and time details

Friday, 8 June to Monday, 27 August 2018

Contact info

Further details
01634 338319

Address

Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case - view the listing for more info.
High Street
Rochester
Medway
ME1 1LX

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All Dates

  • Friday, 8 June, 2018
  • Saturday, 9 June, 2018
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  • Monday, 11 June, 2018
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  • Monday, 27 August, 2018