Artists combine to offer Terra Firma at Chichester’s Oxmarket Contemporary

Artists Maureen Brigden and Sylvia Kopeček combine to offer Terra Firma at Chichester’s Oxmarket Contemporary until March 3.
Artists Maureen Brigden and Sylvia Kopeček (contributed pic)Artists Maureen Brigden and Sylvia Kopeček (contributed pic)
Artists Maureen Brigden and Sylvia Kopeček (contributed pic)

The work in this exhibition demonstrates how two Maureen and Sylvia have recently developed their art alongside each other, sharing ideas but working with very different materials. The majority of the work has been created during the last few months of 2023 and early 2024. It is fresh, new and a response to the idea of exhibiting together, they explain.

One artist is a painter; the other makes ceramic sculptures and because of this they interpret and respond in very different ways to what interests and concerns them both.

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Maureen explains: “The title of the exhibition, Terra Firma, indicates a primary concern for the environment and the future of living things. The artists are exploring issues of fragility, our place on this earth and the vulnerable nature of human, animal and plant life. The purpose of exhibiting is to create a dialogue between the viewer and the work. There are usually clues to be discovered in a painting or sculpture which offer the viewer the opportunity to develop an understanding and appreciation. Finding a word or phrase to go along with a sculpture or painting can ease access and understanding.”

Maureen’s ceramic sculptures do not directly confront the visitor: “The ceramic heads avoid the need to face up to the viewer. It can be seen that each is a hollow head. The ceramic feet are naturally placed beneath our gaze. The visitor might think of sayings such as ‘one foot in front of the other’ or maybe think about the ground beneath our feet. The ceramic keys offer a right of entry, ownership and a sense of freedom. Needles offer an opportunity to mend and repair. Notice the gauze set through the eye of a needle and all that might imply.”Sylvia is exhibiting watercolours and acrylic paintings on canvas. She has mixed in drawing using pencil, crayon and pastel. Sylvia gained a first-class honours degree in fine art at Reading University and subsequently an MA from the University of Brighton. She has spent almost a lifetime painting, drawing and making. Early influences came from her personal tutor Terry Frost, visiting lecturers, fellow students and subsequently from lifelong artist friends. Her working career included a long period in education as art advisor for West Sussex and later as an educational consultant.

Maureen is exhibiting ceramic sculptures. In 2000, after a career in nursing, Maureen changed direction and studied sculpture with the Open College of Art. This led to enrolling on the BA course, part-time at Chichester University, completing her fine art degree in 2007.

Maureen works with smoke-fired clay and has a fascination with the material remains of our human history. She works instinctively, using different clays including locally sourced clay from Chichester harbour. This clay contains debris from past times including stones, roots, organisms, and ferrous metals left over from previous eras.

The exhibition continues until until March 3.

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