Primary/Bristol: Marksbury Road Primary School
The new Marksbury Road Primary School is part of Bristol City Council’s Primary/Bristol series of artist commissions for primary schools commissioned as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme. As part of the development Welsh artist Melanie Counsell has been commissioned by Foreground to develop a new artwork for this new school.
Melanie Counsell has built a considerable reputation over the past twenty years for her films, installations and sculptural interventions.
Notable for her economy of means and material sophistication, Counsell has created numerous critically celebrated installations in gallery environments and disused buildings that created new psychological environments through intense manipulation of time and space, architecture and object. In recent years Counsell has also increasingly created autonomous sculpture and works on paper extending her vocabulary into both abstract and representational space to strikingly poetic effect.
Counsell’s commission for the Primary/Bristol programme has been made for Oasis Academy Marksbury Road. The school will eventually be one of the largest primary schools in Bristol, but when first opened in 2015 was occupied by only a single year group of approximately 60 children. Counsell has made 2 related works for these early custodians of the school – the mobile Perspex sculpture _a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_ and the bookwork Rhyme for a Rolling Puzzle.
_a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_ functions as both a communal object and a symbol for the school’s core values. Reminiscent of previous Perspex works by Counsell, where the artist has deployed the material to manipulate colour and light to create a heightened awareness of space, the interactive sculpture is a greatly enlarged, mobile version of a three-dimensional puzzle cube made from fluorescent amber Perspex and imprisoned within a sealed cube of the same material.
Set on castors, the sculpture can be moved throughout the school building for use in communal gatherings, celebrations, lessons and games. Representing ideas of difference, community and co-operation the sculpture will be cared for by the school children who will ultimately decide the sculpture’s meaning and purpose through their use of the object.
_a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_ is accompanied by Counsell’s second work for the school – the publication Rhyme for a Rolling Puzzle. Created in direct dialogue with Counsell’s mobile sculpture, Rhyme for a Rolling Puzzle is a nursery rhyme exploring ideas of form, design and movement through a simple but witty ode to a snail. The publication creates a web of associations and possible interpretations for Counsell’s sculpture to spark the imagination of the pupils.
This project has been made possible through funding from Bristol City Council, with additional funding from Arts Council England and Henry Moore Foundation. The work will be permanently housed at Oasis Academy Marksbury Road, Bristol.
This project has been made possible through funding from Bristol City Council as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme.
Melanie Counsell (UK) has built a considerable reputation over the past twenty years for her films, installations and sculptural interventions. Notable for her economy of means and material sophistication, Counsell has created numerous critically celebrated installations in gallery environments and disused buildings that created new psychological environments through intense manipulation of time and space, architecture and object.
Recent exhibitions and commissions include Return Journey, Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno (2014), Cairn Gallery, Fife; Some Undisclosed Points of Remove, Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (2013); Lutecia (Works|Projects, Bristol) (2011); HH, a lightbox commission for Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff (2011), In All Ways and Places – Ollerplex Un-Pex, at Oriel Sycharth Gallery, Glyndwr University, (2011). In 2007 Melanie Counsell was awarded the Sargant Fellowship at the British School at Rome, and has undertaken major residencies in recent years at FRAC Corsica (2008) and Cove Park, Scotland (2009).
Based in Frome, Somerset, Foreground brings new art to new audiences across the South West of England. We deliver an ambitious program that spans commissioning new temporary and permanent artworks in the diverse social and physical structures of communities, consultancy and development projects that explore the connectivity between the critical, social and economic aspects of contemporary art.
Marksbury Road Primary School
Bristol City Council
Primary Capital Programme (BCC, Skanska, LEP)
Bristol City Council