24 February 2021
The dome at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge (14/03/2020)
What are artists thinking and doing? We hope you enjoy the tenth and final instalment in our series of ‘Reflections from Home’.
‘It’s hard to believe that the last live event I attended was almost a year ago. I’m glad I took a picture, looking up inside the modernist 1960s dome*. The evening felt a bit like a hurricane party – there was an undercurrent, feeding off the strange tension caused by what was unfurling around the world. I cycled home across Midsummer Common in the dark, wondering what was coming next.
Here we are, seven weeks into yet another period of warped time. Deadlines bend, stretch and defy themselves. Home-schooling a young child means studio hours are precious, and never long enough. I am working smaller, using collage to make studies of shape, colour and meaning – using a single image to transform another. It’s pleasurable. Even therapeutic.
Wedded landscapes study, Lava Formation (2020)
Wedded landscapes study, Ice Armada (2020)
So it makes sense that a recent commission developed into a billboard-size collage of digitally manipulated images – hand-cutting at that scale has been an unexpected thrill. The Night the Mountains Moved, installed in the public atrium of the Jeffery Cheah Biomedical Centre, responds to a project I devised bringing together patient ambassadors for Blood Cancer UK and blood stem cell researchers from the Wellcome-MRC Stem Cell Institute. In workshops participants made hand-cut paper animation sequences, exploring their experience of the unknown in relation to living with cancer, the challenges of research and the global uncertainties of COVID-19. I found their openness and creativity deeply moving.
The Night the Mountains Moved, Jeffery Cheah Biomedical Centre, install day 1
The Night the Mountains Moved, Jeffery Cheah Biomedical Centre, install day 2
The Night the Mountains Moved, edited screenshot
The Night the Mountains Moved, Jeffery Cheah Biomedical Centre, install day 3
Prior to the pandemic, I’d been developing work that explores time outside of everyday experience and how we conduct ourselves when we have nothing to do. I was probing the question ‘what good is idleness?’ But now, in the midst of a third lockdown, I’m not sure how to respond anymore.’ – Anna Brownsted, February 2021
*at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
Commute between home & studio, Midsummer Common, Cambridge
Andrew Nairne, Director of Kettle’s Yard, writes: ‘over the last year we have asked artists we have worked with to offer their reflections from home, through images and text, at a time when millions around the world have been homebound.
Jim Ede, its creator, described Kettle’s Yard as “a space, an ambience, a home”. For Ede, the home was a social place in which art and life might become inseparable. As the artist Anthea Hamilton has observed, the Kettle’s Yard House can also be understood as ‘a state of mind’. Of course, for many the concept of ‘home’ is also deeply personal, and often economic and political too, as our 2019 exhibition ‘Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan’, explored. For Jim Ede, who never forgot his time in the trenches in WW1, Kettle’s Yard was a welcoming sanctuary, a place of renewal and insight which could sharpen how we engage and act in the world’.
More about the Jeffery Cheah project
Anna Brownsted’s The Night the Mountains Moved, responds to a project bringing together patient ambassadors for Blood Cancer UK and stem cell researchers working at the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre.
The artwork, an installation of prints collaged directly to the wall, is inspired by the workshop participants’ animated sequences which were made with photographs from issues of National Geographic published in 1960 (the year Blood Cancer UK officially became a charity). These photographs, magnified in The Night the Mountains Moved to an extreme scale that emphasises the grain and dots of the original printing techniques, depict momentous events from that year – including the record-setting high-altitude leap into space by Joseph Kittinger. Placed alongside these are more ordinary images, lifted from the magazines’ advertisements, which have been digitally manipulated into vibrant, repetitive patterns.
The artwork was commissioned by the Wellcome – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute as part of its Public Engagement programme, working together with Blood Cancer UK and Kettle’s Yard.
More about Anna Brownsted
The exhibition Actions. The image of the world can be different marked the opening of the new Kettle’s Yard in February 2018 and Anna Brownsted was one of the thirty-eight artists.
Anna Brownsted was also one of the artists in the 2019 exhibition The Cambridge Show. The exhibition showcased the work of 22 Cambridgeshire based artists, selected by a panel from an open call of 460 artists.
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