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John Newling Peterborough Soil

Posted by Jonathan on January 21st, 2010

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John Newling Peterborough Soil
Peterborough Museum and art gallery (8 January – 21 February 2010)


About the Project

The redevelopment of Peterborough’s city centre is not just a cleaning of its environment; it is essentially a renewal of the commitment to the people who occupy its public realm. To this end John Ealing’s project seeks to generate phases of work that evolves through a series of transactions and transformations creating art works inclusive of the city of Peterborough and its natural environment.

Phase one of the project was the call for people of Peterborough to contribute images of Peterborough to a dedicated website. These photographs of places and events in Peterborough that hold a special memory were collected through a dedicated website and at the museum. Alongside of the images a short text, in relation to the image, was also submitted. These images formed the bulk of the content of the phase two of the project.

Phase two of the project was the collation and design of the received images into a newspaper. The Peterborough Soil newspaper will be widely distributed through out the city in parallel with the project’s installation. A proportion of the newspapers are to be used in phase three of the project.

Phase three of the project is an installation for Peterborough museum. The installation will house two industrial cages accommodating the processes of newspaper distribution and shredding whilst the other will contain a converted compost tumbler that will transform in the ratio of 80% paper to 20% vegetative the newspapers into soil.

This compost will be, both metaphorically and actually, a soil containing the images and texts of Peterborough submitted by people from Peterborough. The ‘living’ installation will house a number of experiments centred around compositional analysis of the constructed soil in order to determine at what point the soil can sustain plant life.

Phase four of the project is the ‘Redistribution’ of the soil. This concluding phase of the project sees the constructed soil returned to the City of Peterborough. The soil will be placed into the fabric of the newly constructed St Johns Square. The live event of this action ‘Redistribution’ will see the soil becoming a permanent element of the nourishment of the grassed area that people will stand, sit and walk across in the square. In this manner the soil that is metaphorically and actually a soil containing the images and texts of Peterborough submitted by people from Peterborough will forever be at a border between people and the earth, a kind of live archaeological presence; an intelligent soil enriched with a renewed belief in the values of us.

Tags: 2008 - 2009

Stamping Uncertainty, Worcester Cathedral, The Chapter House

Posted by Jonathan on November 19th, 2009

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‘Stamping Uncertainty’
Worcester Cathedral, The Chapter House
7-29 November 2009

Questions found in hymns:
exploring the nature of doubt and the struggle for faith

This installation in the Chapter House of Worcester Cathedral explores the questions which are asked in hymns. On the stone benches all around the Chapter House will be lecterns, one for each question that John Newling found, each of which testifies to our uncertainty. It explores the nature of doubt and the struggle for faith that is expressed in the Church’s hymn book.

Hymns are traditionally seen as proclamations of religious certainty, a vocal manifestation of complete faith. Newling, however, has concentrated on the surprising number of questions and doubts contained within them.

Each lectern contains a rubber stamp and ink pad; and a book containing one page with the question from one hymn stamped upon it. Stamping onto paper is normally seen as an expression of bureaucratic certainty, an absolute truth, thus by subverting their use Newling has succinctly created a metaphor for two thousand years of spiritual doubt.

Previously venued at Canterbury and Carlisle Cathedrals, amongst other places, it has been specially adapted for the Chapter House here at Worcester.

The Reverend Canon Dr Georgina Byrne, Residentiary Canon comments: “A living faith is a faith that is unafraid to ask difficult questions. From the agonised ‘why’ in the Psalms of the Old Testament through ‘doubting Thomas’ in the New Testament right up to the ethical dilemmas in our own time, Christians have always wrestled with matters of life and faith. This remarkable installation reveals some of the many questions embedded in our hymns, and in doing so reminds us that, even in the end, the very heart of our faith lies in the great mystery we call God.”

Tags: 2008 - 2009

The Clearing, Hinterland – Nottingham

Posted by Jonathan on October 15th, 2009

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12:00am Wed, 16th Sep 2009 – 12:00am Sun, 18th Oct 2009

John Newling will be collecting and copying key documents relating to the different history of spaces adjacent to the River Trent and the industrial wastelands of Nottingham which have an emphasis on changing values and shifting architectural or ground use. This collection of documents will be shredded and transformed into soil. Using a laboratory provided by Bio City, the artist will then conduct a number of experiments. In this first phase of the project the laboratory will house a hydroponics system that endeavours to grow Beech trees.

Newling hopes to open up the ‘historic situation’ of material culture, evolving his project through a series of vital conversations between nature, environment and society.

Tags: 2008 - 2009

What we do to make ourselves feel better – Wellcome Collection / Frieze Art Fair

Posted by Jonathan on October 15th, 2009

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In October 2008 John Newling conducted a survey with the Wellcome Collection to find out ‘What people do to make themselves feel better’. (See ‘Make a Piano in Spain project’). The findings were then reconfigured to present a poetic insight into 21st century self medication.

This year the information has been represented in the form of tabloid Newspaper. The subversive newspaper is being distributed for free in the busy commercial district on the Euston Road area of London and the Frieze Art fair.

Distribution will be on 14 – 15 October 2009.

Tags: 2008 - 2009

The Noah Laboratory, 2009 – The Collection, Lincoln

Posted by Jonathan on July 31st, 2009

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Tags: 2008 - 2009

Ark Lab: The Noah Project, 2008 – The Lincoln Collection

Posted by Jonathan on May 5th, 2009

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Ark: Road Vines, 2008 – Work in progress

Posted by Jonathan on May 5th, 2009

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Make a piano in Spain, 2008 – Wellcome Collection, London

Posted by Jonathan on May 1st, 2009

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Voicing Mysteries, 2008 – Preston Market

Posted by Jonathan on May 5th, 2008

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Tags: 2008 - 2009