‘Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.’— Chief Seattle
The world we live in hangs in a delicate balance. Every day, we interact with the environment in ways that further disturb such balance. Climate change, pollution and destruction of natural habitats—we never cease to receive reminders of the problems we create, be it through the media, conventional education or otherwise. Yet, when these problems can seem so distant, is there still a chance for lessons to be learnt?
Our Fragile Coexistence showcases the artworks of five emerging artists based within the City of Sunderland: Dale Hardy, Joanne Howell, Rachel Jefferson, Natsumi Jones and Abiodun Ogunfowora. Bringing together works of photography, painting, glass and ceramics, the exhibition creates a conversation that addresses the current state of our relationship with our environment. This conversation invites the public to participate and reflect on their place in all of this.
Featuring familiar landscapes and subject matters that local residents may share an affinity with, some of the exhibits confront us with ecological questions that are highly relevant to our community. The conversation continues and extends via various art media and materials, as artists explore possible relief to our fragile coexistence with the world surrounding us.
In the end, it is our hope that this conversation can continue beyond the boundaries of talking and develop into actions of change.
Dale Hardy is currently a first year BA (Hons) Photography, Video and Digital Imaging student at the University of Sunderland. Working with multimedia and using the surrounding environment as inspiration, Hardy creates work, often of an abstract nature, which questions what can be considered art. Drawing on previous experience as an engineer, chef and business manager, his work explores what it is to be human and live in the twenty-first century.
Jo Howell is a photographic artist from Sunderland whose recent series uses haiku and instant photographs to consider human impact upon the environment. She holds a BA (Hons) in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging at the University of Sunderland. Howell’s creative practice is aimed towards developing projects, teaching workshops, and commercial filmmaking with photography. Her previous public engagement projects include the ‘Wear Experimenting’ project, which was devised by herself and commissioned by The Cultural Spring and the North East Photography Network.
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Natsumi Jones is a Japanese artist specialising in glass and mixed media. Currently based in Sunderland, her work explores time, nature and cultural customs through the fragility and ephemeral nature of glass. Light often plays an integral part in her installation work, offering viewers an immersive experience while embellishing the material with reflective and transmissive properties.
Website | Instagram
Rachel Jefferson is an artist based in Sunderland. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Fine Art at the University of Sunderland. Her recent works pertain to extinction and the perils faced by wildlife.
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Abiodun Olufemi Ogunfowora is a postgraduate student at the University of Sunderland, currently studying for an MA in Glass and Ceramics. Prior to starting his studies in the UK, Ogunfowora was the Principal Instructor at the Department of Biological Science (Environmental Biology Unit), Lagos State Polytechnic, Nigeria. He is currently interested in researching the implementation of recycled glass and ceramics, and other solid waste, into sustainable eco-friendly furniture.
Website | Instagram
In response to the government’s guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Our Fragile Coexistence, originally scheduled for opening between 20th March and 2nd April, has been cancelled. The artist workshop on 22nd and 29th March has also been cancelled. This is to ensure the wellbeing of all people involved with our exhibition and Art Matters Now as a whole. However, a corresponding virtual tour will remain available on Art Matters Now’s website.
This exhibition was supported with funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, through Sunderland Culture’s Creative Development Fellowship. The exhibition venue was provided by Breeze Creatives.
Art Matters Now sincerely thanks Sunderland Culture and Breezes Creatives for their generous assistance in making this exhibition happen.