Unbounded: Contemporary Art Practices in Cornwall
2 November 2019 - 26 January 2020
Unbounded is an exhibition of contemporary art exploring some of the many layers of Cornwall’s social and environmental landscapes. This inspiring exhibition showcases a vast range of artists, each working in or deeply connected to Cornwall, whose art-practices extend beyond the geographical boundaries of the county.
Signs of human activity and industry are becoming evident in even the most natural environments. The Eden Project, itself the transformation of a barren landscape into a haven for plant life and community, provides the perfect setting for an exhibition of works exploring our connection to Cornish landscapes; our human relationship with and impact on it.
The artists in Unbounded each take different approaches to uncovering and investigating aspects of this rich and diverse county, with some inevitably drawn to the least accessible locations. These range from the unreal landscape of a neighbouring disused clay pit, the setting for a journey by a solitary figure encased in a plastic bubble in Laura Hopes’ Lacuna, to a game of chess played precariously perched on the cliffs for James Hankey’s In search of the ‘Immortal Game’.
Many of the artists collaborate with experts from other fields including scientists, geologists, social geographers, historians, folklorists and musicians to expand their understanding and in some cases to create their works. It is an approach championed by recent artist-led project Goonhilly Village Green; a gathering of people and knowledge connected to a site with extraordinary layers of history and scientific interest. Conversations about that project provided one of the starting points for Unbounded and some of the artworks commissioned for it will be on show. These include Beth Emily Richards’ Welcome (Sent Forever) - a choral performance, of a piece drawn together, with the help of local singers, from texts about Helston Flora Day and the words of personal messages sent into space by satellites at Goonhilly Earth Station.
Residencies have played an important role in connecting some of the artists to different fields of knowledge and place. Ben Sanderson’s paintings have been influenced by a year spent observing the change of seasons in the sub-tropical gardens of Trebah on the Helford River. Dr Bram Thomas Arnold’s Transect for Trelowarren draws together ideas about re/wilding, land ownership and the non-human explored with researchers at Exeter University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute in Penryn. The historic Porthmeor Studios in St Ives also provided two of the artists in the exhibition with formative opportunities to explore different aspects of Cornish heritage, with the history of Cresta (or Crysede) Silk providing the subject matter for Katie Schwab’s Quilts, and Cornish stone in the forms of menhirs, quoits, way markers and memorials, taking centre stage in works by Jonathan Michael Ray.
Unbounded reflects on the landscape of Cornwall from social, agricultural, post-industrial and geological perspectives, prompting questions on subjects from land-ownership and mineral rights to our individual relationships and responsibilities to nature.
Supported by the Arts Council and Field Notes.
Core Exhibition Gallery - entry included with Eden Admission, Pass or Membership