Saturday, 18 September 2021

Beetles and roadkill provide inspiration

LOCAL artist June Kingsbury has been fascinated by nature since childhood, when her father took her on rambles and pointed

LOCAL artist June Kingsbury has been fascinated by nature since childhood, when her father took her on rambles and pointed out various species of trees, flowers and animals, writes Lesley Potter.

The Skirmett-based artist has had her work displayed all over the world, and now two of her glass sculptures have been selected by V&A curators for a major art exhibition in the Lake District.

Navigational Errors is a series of 12 beetles attached to glass structures with taxidermy pins, while Shadow Catcher features a blue book, a glass dome which distorts words from the book, and a pair of beetles who stand by then catch the words as they tumble out.

June discovered she wanted to be an artist in her 30s, after she moved to Skirmett. She was running a playgroup and looking after her youngest child, when she decided to join a ceramics evening class at Bogmore Lane school in Marlow. Evidently, she found her vocation there, because pretty soon she was studying a BA in art. She went on to gain an MA in glass and is now working on her PhD, also in glass. She started by glass-blowing, but has now moved on to casting, in which glass is poured, moulded and kiln-fired.

She said: “I just love the way the light comes through the glass as you are working with it. I am now casting actual animals in glass so you are taking something with a solid form and transferring it to something that’s got a completely different texture.”

It was while studying for her MA that she began to experiment with forms from nature. She did the same walk through the Hambleden Valley every day for a year — from the woods outside her house, through Turville and back through Fingest, finding inspiration from the creatures she came across.

Although the most unusual species she encountered was a wallaby, she became more interested in roadkill, and one of her latest pieces features a dead badger.

She said: “It sounds macabre, but actually one of the things I found most upsetting was coming across these animals that had just been left there, as if nobody cared about them, and that are just going to disappear. My idea is to take them and transform them into something permanent — and beautiful.”

New Glass — Ancient Skill, Contemporary Artform runs at the Arts and Crafts House, Blackwell in Cumbria until May.

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