Preview: The Fresh Air Sculpture Show 2017

Belle by Beth Forrester (c) Steve Russell Studios

Belle by Beth Forrester (c) Steve Russell Studios - Credit: Steve Russell Studios Ltd.

The 13th Quenington Sculpture Show will take place from June 11 to July 2 at The Old Rectory, Cirencester

Chair of Unknowning by Derek Elliot (c) Steve Russell Studios

Chair of Unknowning by Derek Elliot (c) Steve Russell Studios - Credit: Steve Russell Studios Ltd.

Since its inception in 1992, Fresh Air remains one of the leading outdoor sculpture exhibitions in the UK. It would be hard to find a more charming location to exhibit such a varied collection of unique artwork – from the monumental to the miniature, traditional and contemporary – all set against a quintessential Cotswold backdrop with the River Coln bubbling through the five acre site.

Fresh Air is a biennial event, and it’s always worth waiting for. The quality of exhibit and careful curation never disappoints. This year, eighty eight artists are participating – some highly seasoned professionals, others art students, offered a rare chance to be part of this highly regarded event. This year there are thirty brand new artists on show, offering fresh and exciting pieces with prices ranging from £50 to £50,000. The pretty pool house returns in its gallery guise, with the theme ‘Emerging from the landscape’ to reveal ceramics by Anna Lambert, paintings by Dana Finch, wire sculpture by Melanie Day aswell as modern textiles, jewellery, glass and metal.

Beth Forrester at work

Beth Forrester at work - Credit: Archant

Beth Forrester, a newcomer to Fresh Air, is bringing ‘Belle’ – her ten foot, galvanised steel and wire curvaceous, female form to the show! It’s the largest piece on site, and was built in three sections, “because in one piece, Belle would have been too large for the galvanising tank. Working with wire means that her form changes depending on the light – sometimes it shines through the sculpture revealing the framework and wire patterns, and at other times the surface looks opaque, almost like stone. It’s the biggest sculpture I have made, her size was dictated by the ceiling height in my studio and working alone on this scale came with its own challenges. It’s very physical...cutting, welding, lifting and moving, but I like to work intuitively and be able to radically change the shape at any stage in the process.” Belle is bulbous and bold, while at the same time light and tactile – it’s a clever juxtaposition.

Beth is clearly delighted to be exhibiting at this years event, “I applied to Fresh Air this year because I wanted a beautiful outdoor venue to show some of my larger work – it was exciting when Belle was selected. It’s a great opportunity for my work to be seen – I hope somebody falls in love with her and gives her a home!”

The Paradise Syndrome by Karen Tang (c) Steve Russell Studios

The Paradise Syndrome by Karen Tang (c) Steve Russell Studios - Credit: Steve Russell Studios Ltd.

Highlights of the show include elegant form and bold colour courtesy of talented Patricia Volk, beauty marries functionality in the ‘Chair of Unknowing’ created by furniture designer Derek Elliot and a bronze, life size, red Highland stag by Tessa Campbell-Fraser whose work is sublime. ‘Figure Fountain Three’ by Alison Berman, was a year in the making and will undoubtedly prove popular as a delightful fountain in the heart of the garden.

Fresh Air has a strong record of collaboration with emerging artists and also an important education programme. Five students from Stroud College of Art and nine undergraduates from Hereford School of Art bring fresh creativity and young spirit to the event. With donations from The Summerfield Trust, The Ernest Cook Trust and The Coln Childrens Fete, Fresh Air is able to invite up to 650 primary and secondary pupils from local schools, special needs schools and community groups to enjoy this visual feast up close and partake in creative workshops. This year, in association with New Brewery Arts, adult workshops are available for the first time – try stone carving, animal sculpting, silk scarf painting and sketching.

Lucy Abel-Smith, director of The Quenington Sculpture Trust insists, “The aim of Fresh Air is to challenge, inspire, inform and delight,” and it definitely ticks all the boxes. It is certainly accessible to a very wide audience, from collectors, foreign visitors to young children, and is enjoyed by everyone. The event is generously supported by Savills and The Summerfield Trust.

I’m glad to say that Fresh Air 2017 has a contemporary edge to it - a perfect contrast to the chocolate box beauty of the Grade II listed rectory and the stunning gardens on which it stands. There is vibrant colour, original thinking, quirky ideas, undeniable quality, the practical and fantastical. Come and see for yourself.

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The 13th Quenington Sculpture Show will take place on June 11 to July 2 at:

Quenington Sculpture Trust

The Old Rectory


Glos GL5 7BN

01285 750358

Adults £5, children 18 years & under go free

Open 10 – 5pm every day including Sundays

Visit the website for more details here