Great Piece of Turf

Jasone Miranda-Bilbao  Phil Coy  Dalziel + Scullion  Peter Dukes
Sophie Lascelles  Denis Massi  Kate Scrivener  Jem Southam
Finlay Taylor  Sarah Woodfine


Jasone Miranda-Bilbao  Land Formation 2000

clay and sand  80 x 80 x 70 cm (approx.)

31 January to 9 March 2003

Great Piece of Turf presents ten artists whose work is concerned with landscape and natural history.

This exhibition brings together work looking at the detail of matter trodden under foot to grand mountain landscapes, from domesticated animals to rarely observed creatures of the deep oceans.  The pieces investigate ideas ranging from how the visions of the world are changed through technical advances to the continued importance of taxonomic study to order the world around us.  Dealing with images and ideas of landscape and natural history at present, the works cannot be divorced from current environmental issues, evolutionary concepts and developments across the sciences.  As these artists show, with a gritty integrity, an idealised notion of nature (a lost paradise) is still a concern but these re-presentations question whether this can or ever exists.  The title Great Piece of Turf is taken from the Drer watercolour of 1503, Das Grosse Rasenstck.

Jasone Miranda-Bilbao's sculpture Land Formation appears as a delicate study of rock strata, made of clay and sand, the same geological material as the original land.

Phil Coy's giant pixels on a sack trolley wait either to be delivered or placed in new surroundings. These single flat squares of colour are dissected from satellite surveillance images and digital cartographic maps, enlarged to actual size and made real in the form of painted panels.

Dalziel + Scullion's Lost Wave is a 50cm plastic beach ball containing water collected from within the 2km exclusion zone around Douneray Nuclear Power Station.

Peter Dukess animation Undergrowth, a clump of ordinary-looking herbaceous plants, grows rapidly from seedlings to maturity in the manner of time-lapse video. As they grow an intervening hand appears, seeming to prompt changes to the plants - subtle movements, alterations of colour or form. At the end of the sequence the hand appears to grasp at the clump of weeds and tears them out of the frame.

Denis Masi presents a photo triptych of horsemen in a dusty North African scene. Below the triptych is a panel of printed text, larger fonts read Blue Sky, Romantic Experience and Pulsing Life, smaller texts in this mesh of abstracted information read Definite Impact, Perennial Power, Optical Illusion and Common Property.

Kate Scrivener's bonsai tree Small Plot of Land sits innocently in its pot; it is an object of perversion, a desire to control the natural world to our own ends. Scrivener has painted a minute text across the surface of every leaf relating tales of violent weather phenomena such as snow balls the size of basket balls to recounts of raining frogs.

Jem Southam has for the last two years been documenting the changes in his garden from the same position. The resulting photographs read as a set of subtle events but on closer viewing the politics of neighbour interaction and fence building become apparent along with the inevitable ramble of plants and seasonal impacts to the shifting of garden gnomes.

Finlay Taylor uses the images of two mountains in Matterhorn vs. Mt. Blanc a depiction of two geographically separate places forced together in a conflict the nature. These landscapes are rendered in chrome mounted on the wall, the mechanical surface shifting the reading and reflecting the viewer.

Sophie Lascelles presents a 16mm film of a lonely figure walking along the horizon: looking small and almost insignificant but undeterred by the vast landscape.

Sarah Woodfine draws two views of the same wooden dwelling, isolated in its environment and on separated sheets of paper. These views offer an emotive response as a potential for sanctuary and a threatening presence in the land.

Accompanying this exhibition is a book with commissioned works by each of the artists. This is intended as a work in its own right, a portable exhibition to outlive the length of the gallery event. This signed book will be published by Pupa Press and editioned at 30 copies.

Great Piece of Turf is curated by Finlay Taylor and is part of a series of related exhibitions and events which will continue at Cover Up, 25 Calvin St in E1. They will include invited curators Mel Gooding, Michael Wilson and Dan Howard-Birt and start with an exhibition Into the Red opening on February 28th.

Installation View

Phil Coy A Walk in the Park (prototype for a satellite guidance system)
trolley, acrylic on board




Denis Masi Fantasia
b/w photograph and text




Sophie Lascelles Till
16mm film




Kate Scrivener A Small Plot of Land
Bonsai tree, paint and ink





Jem Southam
c-type print
Jem Southam
c-type print




Finlay Taylor  British Butterflies & Moths (detail)
butterfly cabinet and migratory Lepidoptra specimens, screen print and flocking