A new off-the-wall exhibition at Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery in November is set to make waves.
The display of work by Edwina Bridgeman, entitled Ship of Fools, from 29 November 2014 to 11 January 2015, marks an exciting development in her career as an artist and sculptor.
Edwina’s 2011 show at the Victoria Art Gallery drew 15,500 visitors. Three years on she has revisited her practice to create a five-metre installation piece of a Ship of Fools, supported by a cast of sea monsters and landlubber spectators. The exhibits are all made from recycled materials.
Using paper, cardboard, mushroom crates and other ‘found’ materials, which are variously stacked, bound and wrapped, Edwina’s large boat will take centre stage in the gallery. Beached as if by a receding tide, this artistic Ship of Fools is a hopeful but hopeless vessel.
Complementing the central installation is a throng of over 150 small figures and sea monsters, located directly on the floor and on shelves attached to the walls. These have likewise been made using simple techniques and everyday ‘stuff,’ endowing them with the wit and charm that are trademarks of the artist.
The Ship of Fools is a subject that has interested the artist for many years. In the Middle Ages, the ‘Fools’ were a section of society no longer valued or wanted; cast adrift, their fate was to navigate the waterways of the world indefinitely. Bridgeman’s Ship will contain interactive elements, allowing visitors to explore what it felt like to be treated as a ‘Fool.’
Never one to let negativity triumph, Edwina’s underlying message is one of hope and generosity of spirit. The obvious hand-making of the figures in this exhibition celebrates making as an activity whilst also representing an investment of time and love. Any one of us could be the ‘Fool’, we are all vulnerable, and it is only through thoughtfulness and kindness that we can support and encourage.
Edwina Bridgeman works widely in the community and in particular as lead artist for Artsparks at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. She lives in Somerset with her family. Her career began in theatre; after taking a Diploma in Technical Theatre Arts she worked for 10 years as a scene painter, latterly at the Bristol Old Vic. Returning to full-time education, she took a BTEC in Art and Design and more recently an MA in Fine Art. Since 1996 she has made sculptures from recycled materials using a process of construction and assembly.