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  • David Batchelor, Festival 2006, Found wheelie bin, fluorescent lights, inspection lamps, fairly lights, cable, steel objects
    Photo © Simon Steven
  • Kathy Prendergast, Land 1990
    Photo © Simon Steven
  • Ian Dawson, 171 Elements 1998
    Photo © Simon Steven
  • John Isaac, Dodo 1994
    Photo © Simon Steven
Thu 28 Feb - Sun 1 Jun 2008

Keith Arnatt, David Batchelor, Ian Dawson, John Isaacs, Janice Kerbel, Richard Long, Mike Nelson, Kathy Prendergast, Jem Southam, Mark Titchner, Toby Ziegler. Selected from the Arts Council Collection

Nature is a Workshop was the first exhibition in our Project Space in the old Marks and Spencer on Margate High Street and presented contemporary artworks selected from the prestigious Arts Council Collection.

The exhibition, also at Droit House on Margate's stone pier, featured works made over the past 30 years by some of the UK's leading artists in a range of media including sculpture, installation, photography and sound.

Artists have always recorded and responded to nature in their work, from the earliest painted depictions of landscape to Land Art of the 1960s and 70s, whilst highly topical subjects such as the recycling and reuse of materials have long been explored by contemporary artists in different ways.  

Coinciding with Margate's contemporary art festival Margate Rocks 3-11 May 2008 on the theme of Art and Ecology, the artworks selected for Nature is a Workshop shared a concern with our relationship to the environment, whether natural or manmade, and with those things that we collect or construct in an attempt to make sense of the world.

Richard Long has been working directly with nature since the 1960s, making maps, drawings, texts and sculptures based on his walks in the landscape, often using stones as markers of time or distance. His sculpture Fourteen Stones (1977) is one of the first stone circles that Long made for installation in a gallery and is made up of 14 stones gathered by the artist from a beach near the Bristol Channel, arranged in a circle on the ground.

It was shown in Droit House alongside landscape photographer Jem Southam's images of coastal erosion Birling Gap (2000) which document the slow erosion of materials over time along a stretch of coast near Beachy Head - the longest natural exposure of chalk cliffs in Europe.
In other works shown in the Project Space, materials are recycled or transformed as in Ian Dawson's 171 Elements (1998): a large sculpture in which a tower of coloured plastic crates appears on the point of collapse, the result of intense heat which the artist has applied to these ubiquitous mass produced objects.

Kathy Prendergast's Land (1990) is part tent, part landmass and the conclusion of failure to propagate 'extinction' is embodied in John Isaac's arresting sculpture Dodo (1994).

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