Barnwell Country Park
Barnwell Road

5th November 2022 – 28th February 2023

Free Entry

Parking charges contribute towards upkeep of the park. Beginning at £3.20 for up to 4 hours. Annual parking permits available. Blue badge holder parking areas situated near accessible toilets.

Treewilder is an exhibition of site-responsive interventions, sculptures and video work set in Barnwell Country Park aiming to encourage visitors to explore the woodland space throughout autumn and winter. Guest curated by Angela Kingston, the exhibition features work by Denise de Cordova, Delaine Le Bas, Kim L Pace, Jennet Thomas, Danny Treacy, and Johannes Zits.

Suggestive of both the words ‘bewilder’ and ‘rewilding’, Treewilder invites audiences to take a step into the woods and the world of contemporary art, addressing our current theme of Xylophobia (or fear of the woods) head on. As guest curator Angela Kingston suggests, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, perhaps discovering what might be called ‘xylophilia’, or an attraction to nature, along the way.

The exhibition features sculptures by Denise de Cordova, based on her time spent alone in the deep woods and forest spaces of British Columbia. Look out for Kim L Pace’s hybrid personages suggesting plant, animal or mineral combined with human characteristics, occupying trees in the park. Video work by Delaine Le Bas looks at the places where memories live within Britain’s Romani Gypsy culture, and Jennet Thomas pairs the terrifying rate that bat habitats are being destroyed with the potent image of the bat super-charged by the origin story of Covid-19. Danny Treacy presents new work made during the park annual burning, from social rituals and signs of affection and devotion left in the park.

Preceding the exhibition Johannes Zits was artist in residence at Barnwell Country Park, working with local people to develop a guided experience through and with selected trees. This culminated in a performance on connecting both the human and nonhuman in a lament for nature, with documentation included in the exhibition.

Read the interpretation sheet here.

Funded by Arts Council England as part of Xylophobia, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art’s two-year programme from 2022-2024. Named from the fear of wooden objects or forests, Xylophobia addresses issues of place and belonging, which go to the heart of community feelings of exclusion from both the art world and woodland space. With special thanks to Barnwell Country Park Rangers and volunteers, the Active Parks Project and North Northants Council.

Images: Assemblages Part 6, # 15, (LN+JP) at Barnwell Country Park, Danny Treacy 2022, photo Andy Eathorne; Assemblages Part 6, # 16, (J) & Assemblages Part 6, # 15, (LN+JP), Danny Treacy 2022; Collective Territories The Woods, Assemblage 8, #1, – Danny Treacy, 2022, photos Andy Eathorne; Night Warbler at Barnwell Country Park, Kim L Pace, 2022, photo Andy Eathorne; Woodland Spirit & Barny, at Barnwell Country Park – Kim L Pace, photo Andy Eathorne; The Winter Watcher at Barnwell Country Park – Denise de Cordova, 2022, photo Andy Eathorne; Wheatear, Goldfinch & Thrush at Barnwell Country Park, – Denise de Cordova, photo Andy Eathorne; CHUVIHONI (still) – Delaine Le Bas & Damian James Le Bas, 2014; Not Yet Out of the Wood (still) – Jennet Thomas, 2020; A Gathering With Young Birch Trees, Johannes Zits, photo Andy Eathorne.

For several years, artist Denise de Cordova has been walking, often alone, in the deep woods and forest spaces of British Columbia, visiting First Nation and Settler communities as part of an ongoing preoccupation with wildness and remoteness. Using a range of techniques and mediums she imagines characters that might inhabit the spaces between the trees, whether bird, human or other, which evoke a sense of wildness. Trained in sculpture at Brighton Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, Denise was awarded a Rome scholarship in 1983, is a fellow of the Henry Moore Foundation, Stanley Picker, and of the Royal College of Art, where she currently teaches.

Delaine Le Bas is an artist from a large family of English Romani Gypsies based in the South of England. Delaine’s work consists of various sized installations and includes the use of sound, film and performance, dealing with issues of exclusion and stereotypes that are far-reaching and ingrained into the human consciousness. Untold histories, exclusion based on difference and misrepresentation loom large in the works, which explore cultural symbols that make reference to ‘others’ whoever they may be and how one way of ‘inclusion’ of difference has been by destroying the culture of ‘others’. Delaine has exhibited her works extensively both in the UK and abroad, including the first Roma Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Berlin, Gwangju, Prague and ANTI Athens Biennales, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare; and Transmission, Glasgow.

Kim L Pace recalls the shakiness of identity from being unrecognised as a child on a carnival float dressed as a bear. Themes of transformation and change stem from this experience, developing families of diverse, hybrid personages embodying identity as something fluid and undefinable. Look out for suggestions of plant, animal or mineral combined with human characteristics, blurring the boundaries between the human and non-human. Kim has shown her distinctive works in numerous exhibitions, including Danielle Arnaud, London; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; Limerick City Art Gallery, Ireland; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield; McLean County Art Center, USA; Northern Territory Gallery for Contemporary Art, Australia and Domobaal, London.

Jennet Thomas makes films and performances that are darkly comic, using fantasy and the absurd to explore how we deal with the sense of impending doom. Her films take the form of warped folk-tale narratives that seek new ways to find hope and meaning. They often feature songs and bizarre costumes. She sometimes makes sculptural video installations with live performers that are characters from the films. Her works have shown widely, including solo shows at Matt’s Gallery, London; Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool; PEER, London; film festivals including IFF Rotterdam; European Media Arts Festival; New York Underground Film Festival; and museums such as Tate Britain and MOMA New York.

Danny Treacy is interested in territories where people gather because there is nowhere else to go, where communities exist in a fragile state as a result of social exclusion. Often these places are overlooked and not perceived to have a positive function, yet through human interaction and intervention act as a collective for those who are dislocated or marginalised; gathering the material for his work from these ‘Fertile Grounds’, social rituals and signs of affection and devotion. Danny has won various awards including the inaugural Jerwood / Portfolio Photography Award and the Photographer’s Gallery Award. His work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions including Galleria Jardin, Mexico; Joye Gallery, Belgium; Blue Sky Gallery, USA; and Manchester Central Library, Manchester.

Johannes Zits’ multi-disciplinary practice focuses on the many meanings engendered by a body, both human and non-human; extending the notion of the performer to include nature itself. Based in Toronto, Canada, Johannes has presented work both across Canada and internationally since the mid-80s. In 2019 the Copenhagen Contemporary Museum commissioned him to create a performance score for their permanent collection and he performed at the International Biennial of Asuncion, Paraguay. In 2020, Johannes was the artist-in-residence at Western University’s McIntosh Gallery in London, Ontario, presenting the exhibition Listening To Trees.

Angela Kingston is a curator and writer whose previous group exhibitions include 3am, The First Humans, Is this planet earth? and Underwater, which took place at the Bluecoat (Liverpool), Chapter (Cardiff), The New Art Gallery (Walsall), Towner (Eastbourne), and many other galleries throughout the UK. She is interested in fantasy literature, the natural sciences and the sub-conscious.