Venice Biennale 2024

Last year I was asked by Carlisle based artist Daniel Ibbostson to be one of 40 artists to create a work for the Venice Biennale 2024 (20th April - 24th November). Dan was curating a piece as the Proseed Collective, a collective he started as a vehicle for local artists to show work during the COVID pandemic. Dan had exhibited at the 2022 Biennale and was looking to try something different involving a group of hand picked artists. Quite a challenge!

Each artist was invited to produce a work no bigger than 50 x 50cm and between 75 and 125 mm thick and inspired by the 'Foreigners Everywhere' theme decided on by Biennale curator Adriano Pedrosa.

'Stranieri Ovunque - Foreigners Everywhere, the title of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, is drawn from a series of works started in 2004 by the Paris-born and Palermo-based Claire Fontaine collective. The works consist of neon sculptures in different colours that render in a growing number of languages the words “Foreigners Everywhere”. The phrase comes, in turn, from the name of a Turin collective who fought racism and xenophobia in Italy in the early 2000s.

«The expression Stranieri Ovunque - explains Adriano Pedrosa - has several meanings. First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners— they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.'

My Response:

This was a challenging project because as a landscape painter there aren't often conceptual themes in my work. My first response was to look for local landscapes with a foreign influence. There are the Chinese/Italian gardens at Rickerby park, Carlisle for example, but the painting is based on the Italian garden in the heart of the Lake District at Rydal Hall. My research also led on to migration in the natural world. Travel without borders. The Painted Lady Butterfly has one of the longest migrations in the World, travelling every spring from North Africa on a 9000 mile round trip (over several generations). I find it fascinating that we can be sitting in a garden next to something that on the face of it is so fragile, but it has been on such an incredible journey. Perhaps a metaphor for humans to remember they don't always know the journey that someone has been on?

There are two 'Painted Ladies' in the painting and classically butterflies have been used in art to represent transformation & hope.

See more about the 2024 Biennale here:

Specifically we are part of an exhibition called 'Personal Structures' at the European Cultural Centre. The venue is Palazzo Bembo, a stunning gallery overlooking the Rialto Bridge in the heart of Venice. More info at the link below:

EEC - Personal Structures

The Proseed collective was started in 2020 by Carlisle based artist Daniel Ibbotson. Daniel wanted to help artists exhibit during the Covid pandemic, and after a series of pop up exhibitons, the collective has exhibited at a permanent gallery and at the Aberdeen Art Fair.