In 2017, the Dulwich Festival provided Bell House Dulwich the perfect opportunity to open its' doors for the first time. By taking part in Artists' Open House, Bell House exhibited work from multiple dyslexic artists. This year, Bell House is welcoming two wonderful artists to hold their debut show.
Benjamin and Pip Rice are having an exhibition of photographs and basketry as part of the Dulwich Festival 2018 on the weekends of 12 & 13th and 19th & 20th May, at Bell House. Ahead of their exhibition, we asked them to tell us a bit more about their work...
Benjamin is showing four projects, he writes:
Dry Stone Walls are a metaphor for the marriage between nature and human endeavour. Thousands of years ago, farmers began clearing their land to make way for cultivation; they developed techniques to construct walls, interlocking the foraged stones without the need for mortar. Since then, nature has tried its best to reclaim them, completely transforming the exposed surfaces so that some are unrecognisable as stones at all. My interest lies in the patina created by the action of weathering, the unhurried pace of the lichen, algae and other flora gradually embroidering the surfaces, fashioning walls with real character and personality.
I spent many days touring the urban parks of South London, scouting for the ideal tall thin tree to photograph for my Vertical Landscape series. The moment I saw this lone Wild Cherry, although this tree was the wrong form for that project, I was smitten. She - and I can only think of her as feminine - was everything that I was searching for and more. She has personality - defiance above all. She stands proudly alone, unlike the huddled trees behind her. She may not be perfect, but she is not afraid to flaunt herself. In the spring she flirts and entices with her pink-white blossom. In the early summer she drapes herself in shades of green - vivid and bright at first - but darkening and maturing as the languid days of August and September near. And then, in the autumn, comes her grand finale - the cloaks of blazing reds and golds and burnt oranges, one succeeding the other in rapid succession as if she is seeking to fend off the gathering melancholy of winter.
On my first visit to Japan, I arrived with no pre-conceived idea as to what to photograph; being in a largely Shinto country I thought it provident to wait for ‘enlightenment’. Being a keen cyclist, I soon noted that most of the bikes had been parked with great care, neatly and squarely outside the rigid architectural vernacular. This resulted in a flat, almost two-dimensional look to the environment. My Japanese Bicycles series was born. Although at first glance this gallery may appear to be about bikes, it’s really a series of images exploring the nuances of Japanese exterior design. Those curious to see the latest trends in Japanese cycle design may be disappointed, but those seeking to understand the famously enigmatic Japanese character and the intriguing mystery of their absent owners, may be as captivated as I was.
My work evolves from weaving with the plant material that I forage and find around me. The city yields unexpected treasures, a good haul includes bramble, willow, beech and birch. My weaving techniques can be traditional or experimental, but it is the textures and qualities of the raw material that determine the final piece. Being a volunteer gardener at Bell House has not only been a very sociable experience but also a rewarding source of materials that would otherwise have ended up on the compost heap. During the exhibition I will be showing a variety of my work including Bell House baskets.
This exhibition is held as part of Artist's Open House 2018, in the Dulwich Festival 2018. Bell House will be open throughout both weekends. Please do just turn up on the day.