Nuffield Chesterfield Public Art Plan
Frank Benson, Human Statue, 2005, bronze, oil & acrylic paint, textile, wood. Astrup Fearnley Collection.
American artist Frank Benson is working with Willis Newson and Nuffield Health to develop a new public artwork for Bristol. The commission is being made possible through the redevelopment of Clifton Court, one of Clifton’s earliest villas and now home to Nuffield’s Chesterfield Hospital.
The redevelopment of the Chesterfield Hospital involves both the restoration of a historic Grade II listed building with a rich local history and the erection of a new hospital building to the rear of the site. Nuffield Health has made funding available to support this commission as well as the establishment of a photography competition to support emerging lens based artists in the South West.
Clifton Court – the building which became The Chesterfield nursing home in the 1930s and which was taken over by Nuffield Health in the 1980s – was built in 1742 by prominent Bristol industrialist Nehemiah Champion as a home for him and his wife, Martha Goldney. Nehemiah Champion made his money through the metal industry, helping to establish brass works at Baptist Mills in Easton and Warmley, Bristol.
The Goldney family and Champion were renowned for their interest in emerging industries, including - for Thomas Goldney II, Martha’s father - the shipping trade and its more dubious cousin ‘privateering’. It was one of Thomas Goldney’s privateering expeditions that resulted in the rescue of Alexander Selkirk – the figure upon whom Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was based. In developing this commission, the artist is investigating the links between the site and the story of Selkirk, , brass and bronze production and how this has helped to shape the landscape of Clifton.
The Nuffield Photography Bursary will directly engage young lens based artists who are local to Bristol and the South West. The bursary will offer funding support to 6 finalists to produce, print and frame new work. It will provide them with career support by staging a public exhibition of the work as well as providing professional mentoring and a permanent home in the hospital for the pieces. In developing the bursary, discussions have taken place with local arts partners, including the Bristol City Museum and educational institutions in the South West delivering photography courses, to ensure that the bursary delivers as much support as possible to local young artists as well as showcasing their work to the public.
For further info on Clifton and Clifton Court, see 'Know your Place' at: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/planning-and-building-regulations/know-your-place
Frank Benson investigates manufacturing processes and the suspension of movement through hyperrealistic sculptures and photography. He derives inspiration from both consumer goods and nature; many of his photographic works feature manipulated found objects. His meticulously painted sculptures of vegetables and the human figure are notable because they create an uncanny illusion of reality.
Born in Virginia, Benson lives and works in New York. He received his MFA in 2003 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his BFA in 1998 from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. His most recent solo exhibitions include Human Statue (Jessie) at Taxter and Spengemann, New York, and Overduin and Kite, Los Angeles (2011); and Frank Benson, Sadie Coles HQ, London, England (2008 and 2009). Recent group exhibitions include In the Name of the Artists-American Contemporary Art from the Astrup Fearnley Collection, Bienal Pavilion, São Paulo, Brazil (2011); Frank Benson, Matt Johnson, Mark Grotjahn, Hydra’s Workshop, Greece (2011); and Permanent Mimesis: An Exhibition on Realism and Simulation, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy (2010). Benson was an artist-in-residence at The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, in 2012.
Willis Newson is a leading Bristol-based independent arts consultancy specialising in creative approaches to improving health and wellbeing. It develops public art strategies for new builds and refurbishments, develops, manages and curates public art plans and public engagement programmes, delivers training for artists and performers in healthcare settings and provides advice and guidance on the design and implementation of projects to promote healthy environments and improve health and well being.
Bristol City Council