Ivan Smith – Island




1. a tract of land completely surrounded by water, and not large enough to be called a continent.

2. something resembling an island, especially in being isolated or having little or no direct communication with others.

This body of work explores our island-ness and our relationship with others.

Our island has taken on a transformation over the past decade; Brexit has brought a new outlook by us and about us. A more aggressive far right wing government is instilling an us-ness that Brexit began, a new isolationism is leaving our island floating in a sea surrounding by others.

Obsolete hardwood sleepers have been collected over several years. Nails the most common of building materials are also deployed, these mass-produced objects take on a new identity. Lines and clusters of nails take on a human scale.

Simultaneously we have had a long history of involvement in global armed conflicts particularly in the Middle East. A burgeoning arms industry and a long relationship with backing the US has seen us responsible for causing civilian hardships and displacements, this continues today with an ongoing conflict stalemate in Syria and the movement of hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing the horror of war and destruction.

We have a long and uncomfortable history in dealing with displaced peoples, particularly during the crumbling of our empire and the management of its subjects desires to settle at the centre of their homeland. An uncomfortable truth has settled over our island over the past 6 decades since the end of the second world war, when our empire succumbed to a new world order. We are a whole made up of all its parts, a contemporary history that is in direct conflict with a post-Brexit philosophy being developed by the elite.

Ignorance to and for the evolving global climate crisis is a risk we cannot take. A warming planet will see the continuing movement of displaced people brought on by a different type of conflict.

Is this a time to float away from our responsibilities in isolated ignorance or are we to embrace differences, otherness and renew a need to collaborate with the them’s and others?

Ivan Smith August 2021A

Anthony Shepherd – Survival of the Fittest


Survival of the Fittest

This site specific installation explores the relationship between industry and nature. The installation comprises of 90 life size wire plants, which are growing out of place.

Using 8mm wire bar and cast flower heads, the steel plants form a plantation of industry, formed and grown for humans…

The tree guards were found discarded and left to rot from a plantation in the adjacent woodland. Now wrapped in foil they have been moved not only out of place and context but also into a new shiny future.

The need for growth is a constant statement for industry and political ideology, success will be built on output, and production will feed a growing market…but is growth always essential?

Unchecked, aspects of nature can be viewed as pure capitalism, in that plants ignore other plants needs, results in inequality, and not promoting equal opportunity.

Unchecked capitalism can be viewed as survival of the fittest.

What can we learn from these differing environments? Are they destined to continue to fight against each other?

Anthony Shepherd August 2021

Chintan Upadhyay


Sandarbh UK Belper 2009

This is the first time that Chintan has used his landmark babies in a Sandarbh residency or workshop in either India or abroad. The babies have been a very important part of Chintan’s artistic language and it is through them that he has projected his ideas and statements on various issues like genetic research, cloning, false realities and cultural hybridism among others. The babies have always spoken about the society and the spaces around them. In these particular works Chintan has placed the babies in an abandoned factory. In a way, this is a statement about the changing dynamics of the economies over the years where factories and production units have been closed down in many developed countries and shifted to the developing world, thus creating social and economic imbalances and life style changes affecting all strata of society across the world.

Chintan Upadhyay – Artist Belper 2009

Place – Wireworks Project – Shining Cliff Woods 2021

The babies dominate the space, defy rules and communicate confidently with the viewers. The smart Alec babies were once considered the surrogate self of the Indian artist Chintan Upadhyay.

Today with the changed fate of the artist, who has been incarcerated for nearly 6 years for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to ‘do away’ with his partner and artist Hema Upadhyay? These babies represent an alternative meaning; a sense of contemplation and hope.

When Chintan Upadhyay first made the babies he did so in various mediums including, painting, sculptures, digital prints and represented them as installations and multiples, they have surprised the art world with their defiant archaic smiles on their faces and the defiant postures of a ‘brat’.

When these works from the collection of the artist-friend of Upadhyay, Ivan Smith, who has been a frequent visitor to India and has worked there many times over the past two decades, are here presented again they become intermediary images that anticipate and exude hope and redemption; arrogance has given way to humility and acceptance.

These babies, when conceived, in fact had contemporized the Hindu idea of the world, the mighty gods embodying multiple universes in their physical bodies. Gods could incarnate according to the needs of the universe, so were the babies of Upadhyay who took various incarnations as per the worldview of the artist by changing contours, colours, size and attitude, and at times appearing only as giant heads.

Johny ML Indian Art Critic and Artist August 2021

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