A Green and Pleasant Land? Rural Life in Art

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As part of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery’s summer show ‘A Green and Pleasant Land? Rural Life in Art’, In Certain Places presented new artworks by Rebecca Chesney, Joanne Lee and Abi Townsend.

The exhibition explored how artists have been inspired by our rural heritage, from the romantic to the real. Images from the Harris collection including Preston landscapes and work by Anthony Devis, Thomas Wade, Adrian Stokes and Norman Stevens, were exhibited alongside existing work by contemporary artists.

Rebecca Chesney is interested in how we perceive land: how we romanticise, translate and define urban and rural spaces. She looks at how politics, ownership, management and commercial value all influence our surroundings, and has made extensive investigations into the impact of human activities on nature and the environment. Exploring the blurred boundaries between science and folklore, her work is also concerned with how our understanding of species is fed by this confused mix of truth and fiction. Her contribution to the exhibition, ‘Death by Denim’, explored notions of accepted behaviour and dress within the English countryside.

Abi Townsend‘s practice explore the shaping and forming of a place and the means by which the reflected cultural values can be represented. Abi presented work developed on the MA Fine Art Projects for Places course. Ruskin’s View – a sound and film piece, exposed an iconic and beautiful viewing point in the Lake District to closer scrutiny, in order to present an alternative view of the landscape.

Joanne Lee is an artist, writer and publisher with a curiosity about everyday life and the ordinary places in which she lives and works. Much of her activity emerges through a serial publication, the Pam Flett Press, which explores the visual, verbal and temporal possibilities of the ‘essay’, and via the opportunities for production that arise in dialogue with creative and critical friends. For the exhibition, she created a series of photographic works, entitled ‘Witches Knickers’, which examine the ubiquity of plastic in the landscape.

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