Showing posts from 2012

What Next: Life After Changing Spaces

Since developing the concept and artwork for my project, 'Changing Spaces' I have been thinking about the term regeneration. In reality this is what 'Changing Spaces' as a project was about, taking something old and turning into something new. The term ‘regeneration’ is now in common usage and has impacted directly and indirectly on lives and communities, especially those in urban areas considered in need of change. The term suggests progress or renewal and something unquestionably deemed as a positive outcome.  In the contemporary context, regeneration has become associated specifically with the construction of new urban developments, delivering sustainable communities and creating a greater sense of place, and economic growth.
Since the 1990's artists have played a role in regeneration through government policy such Section 106. Within Section 106 town planners and developers had the facility to commission public art, but specifically  ‘outdoor site-specific art&…

Review by Michelle Doust

I had the pleasure of viewing some of Jonathan's work in his studio in Walthamstow a couple of weeks ago. The textures and composition of the Changing Spaces works stimulated not only my visual senses but also provoked a desire to touch the work in order to explore its various components. I was particularly struck by the contrast within each piece; monochrome and “quiet” backgrounds interrupted, sometimes brutally so, by the imposing structures of the objects Jonathan had sourced from the Lee Valley. I interpreted this as though the calm surroundings (nature) had had its tranquility and natural order shattered by the found objects (man-made materials/industry).

I was particularly drawn to the works Deconstructured Landscape 1 and 2 which consist of painted, white wood chips arranged, in what appears to be a gravity defying arrangement, against a black background. Alongside the obvious colour contrast these pieces, again, suggest a disruption of order and peace. Howe…

Changing Spaces - A Review

Changing Spaces - A Review
by Valerie Grove

Although I was closely involved in this project, my role in monitoring and documenting both the process and progress of Changing Spaces was defined by my collaboration with the artist, Jonathan O’Dea, and by my focus on editorial clarity in relation to the project’s online presence. As a consequence, I didn’t actually form an opinion of the work. However, now that the project brief has been fulfilled I can actually take a step back and approach the work, and the exhibition as a whole, from an analytical perspective rather than one of practicality.

This transition has been easier than anticipated for several reasons. Firstly, out of a total of 12 works I had only seen 3 in their finished state. The others I saw only in stages, either in the studio, or on-site in the case of the sculpture. It was only on completion of the hanging that I was able to see the totality of the project. So despite my familiarity with the sometimes literal nuts and bo…

Images of some of the final artwork

Here are some images of the final artwork from the project.

Review by Thomas Hardy

Walthamstow based artist Jonathan O’Dea opened his new exhibition this weekend at the Waterworks in the Lee Valley Park. I’ve known Jonathan for a few years now and we’ve spent the odd evening in the Rose and Crown talking, I am sure very wisely, about art and music, amongst other things. One subject we both keep returning to is Waltham Forest’s position on the edge of the city – and the way that this perhaps denies this part of London the identity and attitude of its East London neighbours, or the home counties security of adjoining Essex.

The first exhibition I saw of Jonathan’s work seemed to me to directly reflect these themes – a series of abstract landscapes on whose horizons shimmered objects which may have been trees, or could have been industrial buildings. Perhaps these were echoes of this part of the East End’s memories – of the factories and warehouses which were cleared from the Lee Valley when work began on the Olympic Park, or maybe they were natural feature…

Opening Day

Thanks to everyone who came to the opening. It was great to see so many people there. If you have any  photos or comments please send to me and I'll post them up on the blog.  See link below for local press coverage: New Sculptures unveiled at Nature Reserve

Notes from a a hanging

Q) Congratulations. It's all hung and ready to go. Apart from the sculpture how many works did you end up producing and are you happy with the way things look?

Thanks. I ended up with a total of eleven wall mounted works now hanging neatly in the Waterworks! Given the size constraints of my studio, it wasn't until the day of the hanging that I could actually see the eleven works together in a large enough space for them all to be visible. So I was really quite nervous about how things would work out and whether the individual pieces would cohere as a single conceptual show within the space.

So I am very happy and relieved at how smoothly the hanging went and how the show looks. It is great to finally be able to see it all together but I have to say a huge thanks to Neil Irons who helped me to hang the show.

There are a whole list of people I would like to thank actually so here goes.... 
Arts Council England for funding the project All the team from the Waterworks Nature Reser…

Turning on the Waterworks

The exhibition opens on Saturday and I was helping out with the hanging today so thought I would just give a quick profile of the Waterworks Nature Reserve especially in relation to art, artists and this exhibition in particular.

The Waterworks Nature Reserve opened ten years ago. Part of the huge Lee Valley National Park, the Waterworks has a team around it consisting of conservationists and experts in wildlife habitats,  woodlands and local history which includes the fascinating Middlesex Filter Beds. It also has a small but perfectly formed golf course and a lovely, quiet and comfy cafe!

Since 2010 the educational area of the centre has been opened up for artists providing a unique, local exhibition space in an area which has an almost complete lack of them. The person to thank for this is Angie Oliva who is manager at the Waterworks. I asked her about art, the Waterworks and Changing Spaces and this is what she said:
I thought we had a really nice building and that we could defi…


While working on-site creating this sculpture (which I have titled Intervention), I had at least two hundred passers-by stop and ask me what I was doing.

99% of the comments and feedback they gave me were very positive and people liked the concept behind the work. I did get one person who wasn't impressed with what I was up to but after a few minutes of lively discussion, even this person walked away having reconsidered.

Before I had started work on this piece I knew it had to be very different from the blandly typical sculptures that are usually made from trees. The fact that my tree had started to rot forced me even further along the trajectory of something new and different and I am delighted with how things evolved

However, I never expected that what I ended up with would capture the imagination of so many people. Many of those I spoke to in the course of making this work asked if I would be making more sculptures of this kind. This is not only a very hopeful sign of future po…

From Poplar to Sculpture

Progress Report by Valerie Grove 

Over the course of the past few months I have been closely monitoring the progress of 'Changing Spaces'. As well as regularly talking to Jonathan, I have made two studio visits and three sculpture site visits, all of which I have visually documented.

My three sculpture site visits have been very different. On the first visit I found a poplar tree trunk laying on the damp grass shedding its crumbly bark and soft wood along with a whole host of insect inhabitants.

By the time of the second visit it was obvious that the original plan for the sculpture (carving and inserting painted bricks) would have to be abandoned because of the unstable condition of the wood. When I arrived  at the site I found Jonathan already well under way with Plan B, which involved removing the most rotten parts of the trunk, wrapping the whole thing in wire mesh and stabilising it with steel straps.

Today was my third site visit and although the sculpture is not yet fin…

Up close and textural

Here are a few images showing some of the textural detail in the materials. Some are from finished works and others were taken when the work was in progress.

Always Have a Plan B

One of the defining pieces of the project was going to be a 3 metre high, site-specific sculpture made from a felled tree but I had a major problem today.

I went to the site to begin working on the sculpture only to discover that the tree is now completely rotted. Although I noticed some water damage when I moved it into position a few weeks ago, the majority of the central trunk was intact and stable. Since then a combination of constant rain, muddy ground and insects have made it completely unworkable as sculptural material.

This was a real blow, and let me tell you, depression started to set in rapidly! However, over the last two years I have repeatedly heard the mantra that artists should be taking more risks so I am putting this experience down as an exercise in risk. From the outset the tree was an unknown quantity and I knew that I had to work on whatever I was presented with. However, the other mantra that should never be too far from the mind is 'Always Have a Plan B'…

The whole process

Please give us a brief synopsis of the process of creating this piece of work?
OK... this particular piece consists of three different components. Two of these - the bricks and the wood - were salvaged from the Olympic Park more than twelve months ago which is a good indication of just how long I had been thinking about and planning this project. At that time I was constantly on the lookout for things that I could potentially use although at that time I was still not sure that the project would ever see the light of day. So to be writing about this now as a completed work is a really good feeling.

The first stage was to get my bricks in a row...

It was very important to get the symmetry and scale of this work right from the outset so that the precision work that followed always had the right alignment.

The next stage was to insert the salvaged wood into the brick and put in some serious work to transform the rough wood to the extent that it becomes almost unrecognisable. I then attach…