ExLab: art, science and the coast: AUB exhibition reveals the research behind the artworks prior to launch of ExLab

A new exhibition that reflects the importance of research and the merging of art and science will open in TheGallery at The Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) on Monday 9th July.

Exploratory Laboratory (ExLab) showcases works and research material by commissioned artists Simon Callery, Mat Chivers, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom, Simon Ryder and creative studio Proboscis (Alice Angus, Giles Lane, Gary Stewart and Stefan Kueppers). Also on show will be work from three artists who received Dorset Visual Arts Bursary Awards. Sarah Gilpin, Karen Hansen and Frances Hatch were given the awards to undertake a research and development project that has a relationship with one or more of the overarching ExLab themes, or one of the angles pursued by the commissioned artists.

ExLab is a ground-breaking arts programme along the Jurassic Coast, where earth scientists and artists have collaborated to reveal hidden landscapes through the lenses of art, geology and technology. It was selected to be part of the London 2012 Festival as well as the Dorset cultural offer Maritime Mix. The remit for the artists was to work alongside earth scientists to explore the Jurassic Coastline and the inland geology of the county. The artists were selected from over 200 submissions to work with scientists to reveal new narratives about the places, the people and the region’s landscape. A number of field trips will also be available – walks, artist talks, tours, workshops and geocaching.

The special exhibition in TheGallery at the AUB runs until 3rd August 2012 (ExLab will also be open at various locations between 27th July – 9th September). the AUB exhibition provides an insight into how the artists have developed their practice in recent months, as well as showcasing previous works. The Private View, on Thursday 12th July invites members of the public to join the artists with a discussion panel, which takes place from 5-6pm.

Each artist has worked in a designated geographic area and responded to the unique geological characteristics found there.  Around Sherborne, Simon Callery considered references to geology both above and below his feet as he walked between Sherborne and the coast. His resultant large-scale paintings will be exhibited in a house constructed of local stone, appearing physically dominant within that domestic setting, challenging established notions of landscape-based painting.

Mat Chivers has developed a filmic installation, forming a multi-layered portrait of the geology of the Portland beds in Purbeck. Through conversations with Earth Scientists, Mat became interested in the complex conjugate faulting that exists in the Portland limestone, formed when the African tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate. View Mat’s work at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society Museum in Bournemouth and Spyway Barn, Langton Matravers in Purbeck.

The Purbeck landscape at Durlston provided a rich environment for Zac Eastwood-Bloom to explore. Using cutting-edge technologies employed by earth scientists, Zac has created his own unique representations using 2D, 3D and audio. Digital landscape scanning processes have informed all of his works, which transgress the boundary of the digital and physical. Zac exhibits at two sites – Durlston Country Park, Purbeck and Walford Mill Crafts, Wimborne.

Access to contemporary scanning processes has also enabled Simon Ryder to reveal the unseen characteristics of geological features found on Portland. Following an extensive period of fieldwork Simon has come to pivot around the concept of the ‘pseudomorph’, which literally means ‘false form’ or ‘false body’. The petrified wood found on Portland is a good example of a pseudomorph – Simon is stretching the concept further and applying it to the body of water known as The Race. Films, images and objects to be shown at the Coastwatch Station at Portland Bill will reveal his findings.

Proboscis have been beach-combing – not for objects, but for stories. They have harvested tales and recorded conversations during a series of events and interventions at the beach.  Stories collected from geologists, fossil hunters, sea swimmers, dog walkers and local people, as well as visitors to the beach. The resulting events, structures, objects and audio-visual works at Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock echo the impact of the geology on the human experience of the place.

The variety of works and locations also provides a brilliant way to experience the places yourself – as a volunteer invigilator. To take your part visit the ExLab website and sign up at www.exlab.org.uk

The private view in TheGallery on Thursday 12th July is a free event, but booking is required – please email gallery@aub.ac.uk or ring 01202 363272.