Pine Feroda’s recent private view at Rebecca Hossack’s beautiful and quirky art gallery in Conway Street, London was well worth attending. The show is now closed but you can catch them at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen’s gallery until early July.
Having worked with Merlyn Chesterman in the past I was already familiar with her highly accomplished woodcuts and was interested to find out more about this new group artistry, a partnership between Merlyn and 4 other artists.
The collaboration in itself is a work of art – 5 creative souls joining forces in this way represents a feat of diplomacy which the music industry is all too familiar with – how many bands fall by the wayside before they even manage to record any tracks? Within that context someone tends to take the lead, often the singer and/or songwriter. In the past, especially in the creation of monumental works and in the days of the nameless yet expert craftsperson (long before the explosion of ego on the internet), cooperative projects were commonplace in all the arts and indeed architecture, often fuelled by a sponsor or patron’s energy, and their capital of course.
Counter balancing the culture of me, me, me generated by the web, there is now a big revival in collaborative work, whether that be digital or in the case of Pine Feroda, physical or rather manual. This movement is definitely to be celebrated. There is huge satisfaction to be gained from working closely with others, for the sake of companionship as well as for the creative stimulus and the opportunity to share and learn new skills. What’s unusual with this group is that no single person is apparently in charge.
Pine Feroda have released a video which charts their work together and highlights the woodcutting and printing process as well homing in on the detail within a few of their pieces.
They have been together since 2013, beginning their journey with a 4 day experimental workshop and progressing to the creation of a body of work inspired by the powerful local (to their group studio) landscape of North Devon – sea, sand, rocks, skies and the often violent winds, which are as apparent in some of the woodcuts as they are in shaping the whole coastline.
The artworks are produced in small runs but on a larger scale (113 x 145 cm) than might be possible for a single artist working alone. Some are so exquisitely executed that they almost appear photographic.
Pine Feroda’s Ian Phillips, Judith Westcott, Julia Manning, Merlyn Chesterman and Rod Nelson are all independent artists in their own right. Rebecca Hossack’s exhibition placed their individual pieces alongside their group output to create an interesting perspective.
Images © Pine Feroda, words © Emma Boden