9 April - 12 June 2022
Public opening Saturday 9 April 2pm – 5pm
3pm Artist Talk: Abigail Reynolds in conversation with author, Philip Marsden.
When I realised that seaweed was once used as a flux in glassmaking, I was seized by the idea that a beach could be turned into glass.
The beach is a threshold, the moving line between land and sea. Glass is also an indeterminate threshold between fluid and solid states of matter, and this is something of its magic.
In 2019 the artist Abigail Reynolds set out to change a Cornish beach into glass. Her exhibition Flux shows the glass she made using only the simple materials of seaweed and sand. Alongside the glass, displayed as mouth blown roundels, the artist shows her film, which documents the glass-making process. For this exhibition Reynolds has additionally produced a large-scale woodcut print of kelp; the seaweed mixed with beach sand used to make the glass, and a book titled Flux: Glass from sand and seaweed (2022).
Having spent a summer gathering sand and seaweed, a furnace was built at Kestle Barton in September 2019 to melt them to glass at an event titled Estover, a word which refers to ancient rights to take ‘that which is necessary’ from the land. Continuing themes established at Estover, Abigail considers the value of labour, and how we can change our relationship to the land by looking through the lenses of different narratives.
Close to Kestle Barton in Redruth, Reynolds has newly unveiled a permanent piece commissioned by Cornwall Council. This work, Tre, is a four meter high window installed the reference library at Kresen Kernow the Cornish Archive. Tre incorporates glass roundels made from sand and seaweed also shown at Kestle Barton. It is free to view during opening hours 10am – 4pmTue-Sat.
With her book Flux created for this exhibition, Reynolds has produced a companion book titled Tre: A window for Cornwall. Tre unpicks the threads of meaning woven into the window at Kresen Kernow, and gathers together the voices of writers and academics, who share some of the many diverging stories and histories to be read in the Cornish landscape. Both publications are available at Kestle Barton during the exhibition of Flux, in an edition of 500. A collectors’ edition of 20 books is also available. These are signed and presented together with a sculptural form enclosing a disk of olive green kelp glass.
FLUX: Glass from sand to seaweed – pages = 56, foil blocked cover, 165mm x 225mm (landscape format)
TRE: A window for Cornwall – pages = 76, foil blocked cover, 225 x 165mm (portrait format)
Both contained in a slip for £20
Collectors’ Edition of 20 – includes disc of olive-green kelp glass mounted in a steel and copper form
Please note: books will be available to purchase in person at Kestle Barton during the course of the exhibition, or through the artist’s website: www.abigailreynolds.com. Card transaction and p&p fees will be added to online sales.
Much of my work starts with images printed in books. Widely circulated images (for example of London monuments) shape our shared perception of places and identities, by which individuals navigate. I often use my work to think about how subjectivity is mapped onto both place and time, photography being a direct way to think about time: you can’t avoid time with a photograph. I often work sculpturally with glass, using it like a lens to focus the act of looking. This is also an extension of photographic looking which is necessarily through a glass lens.
Whether I am working on a sculpture, a film, or an event it aligns with a collage sensibility. All my work is in essence collage; the practice of bringing found materials into a fresh context. As I work, I try to expose and spatialise the ideological and the formal structure of an image or a place.
Abigail Reynolds lives in St Just, Cornwall, and has a studio at Porthmeor in St Ives. She studied English Literature at St Catherine’s College Oxford University before an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Her work is currently included in the prestigious British Art Show 9 –a landmark touring exhibition that celebrates the vitality of recent art made in Britain. Organised every five years by Hayward Gallery Touring the exhibition brings the work of artists defining new directions in contemporary art to four cities across the UK. Reynolds is creating new work with libraries across the cities of the British Art Show 9 tour, closing with the final city, Plymouth Oct – Dec 2022.
In Plymouth Reynolds will present a large scale glass and steel sculpture When Words are Forgotten and she will work with the Cottonian collection at The Box.
In March 2016 Abigail was awarded the BMW Art Journey prize at Art Basel, to travel to lost libraries along the Silk Road. Her book Lost Libraries documenting this journey was published by Hatje Cantz in 2018.