In Our Element explores the reciprocal exchange between the artist and their environment and how we are all shaped by, and in turn shape, our surroundings. Artists have always drawn inspiration from their lived experience, often seeking out new situations to put themselves into; be that travelling and participating in residencies, mixing with new and different people, or visiting galleries and museums. So what happens when your frame of reference is reduced down to your own house, and your social interactions limited to your own family or housemates?
It is clear that the last year and a half has changed all of our lives dramatically. The relentless forward motion of 21st-century life was brought to an unceremonious halt and we were all left reeling. Very quickly everything was reduced to a macro or micro level with very little in between. Our daily routines split between reading about a global horror with unfathomably large numbers affected or getting to know our homes and the people in them in a way we perhaps had never before. We stopped. And then we gardened, we redecorated, we taught ourselves new skills, we read and watched and listened and came up with ever more ingenious ways to occupy and entertain our children. Many of us considered the trajectory of our lives perhaps for the first time since leaving school, we thought about how we were living and where. We discovered and rediscovered parks and natural spaces in our areas, we swam and ran and climbed. We started sketching, writing, we re-strung our old guitars and we remembered the things that used to excite us and the people we thought we wanted to be.
In Our Element selects five of the artists exhibiting in the 5th Edition of Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer who have produced new work across 2020 and 2021 that has diverged in some way from their previous way of working. Bringing in early life influences, exploring new materials and processes, finding ways to work remotely, separated from their studios or collaborators for periods of time, or delving deeper into their imaginations and psyche, retreating from the world around them.
No one has passed through this period of history unchanged, how much these personal evolutions will affect the world around us remains yet to be seen.