Ways of knowing

Brixworth Country Park
Northampton Road

19 August 2023 – 29 October 2023

Free entry

Car parking starts from just £2 for 1 hour, increasing incrementally by £1 per hour. Annual parking permits available. Blue badge holder parking is free of charge in designated spaces when blue badges displayed. No charge for 2 wheeled vehicles. Accessible vehicles available for hire for £2.50 per hour, subject to availability. Pre-booking is advised. WCs are open from 7am until 7pm, with accessible and changing facilities available. Car park gate open from 9am until 7pm.

Featuring work by Yukio Fujimoto (Japan), Heywood & Condie (UK), Krzysztof Maniak (Poland), Poppy Nash (UK), Alyson Shotz (USA), and Sarah Taylor Silverwood (UK)

And Counterpoint, a playlist of sound work by Professor Chill (UK), Atilio Doreste (Canary Islands), Daniel Garcia (UK), Yagi Lyota (Japan), Matti Palonen (Canada), Russick Smith (USA), Tosca Teran (Canada), and Zimoun (Switzerland)

Guest curated by Yasmin Canvin

In contrast to the urban environment, with its hard surfaces, predetermined routes and clear boundaries, the rural environment consists of indistinct pathways, ambiguously defined and often shifting boundaries.

The many differences, together with insufficient opportunities to acclimatise ourselves with the natural world, can lead to feeling vulnerable or exposed when we encounter woodlands or large open spaces. To feel familiar or comfortable there, we need to gain tacit knowledge.

Unlike factual and data driven information, tacit knowledge is subjective, informal, and internalised, such as how we learn to ride a bike or speak another language. Tacit knowledge is gained through our personal lived experience and informed by our context. Sensory experience generates insights and understanding that is unique to the individual involved. Experiencing art in the natural environment can focus attention on individual senses, which in turn affects our perception of the natural world.

The artists in this exhibition employ sound, human-made and natural materials to create physical and intellectual spaces that explore how and where we as individuals fit in the natural world, making connections between the environment and our physical bodies. As a result, these alternative spaces – literally or within our imagination – make the world feel a little less alien.

Click here to download the location map.

The sound works for Counterpoint have been created by artists and musicians engaging with and amplifying natural forces and elements. Headphones have been installed to create a listening circle, inviting visitors to focus on a single sense, and imagine the physical presence of the sonic landscape as its individual components are revealed through the aural textures of plants, wind, water and wood.

Yukio Fujimoto creates objects that capture sound as form and evoke human perception. Through installations, performances and workshops he develops activities that open up new perceptions from the experience of sound in space. At Brixworth we are invited to experience the sudden change in the sound of the wind as we move from wide open spaces to the shelter of the trees.

Heywood and Condie’s work concerns new ways of engaging with and representing landscape and nature by setting up dialogues between natural and human-made worlds. They are presenting two works that seem at first glance to be unconnected, still the presence of The Oak, with its soundscape of trees being felled, and the seductive, jewel-like Micro Organisms bring the unseen and overlooked into view.

Krzysztof Maniak uses simple gestures and gentle interactions with nature to simulate communication with the landscape of the Polish wilderness. His actions performed for the camera include lying motionless as he balances a branch above him, crawling through the roots of a tree, kissing the soil and sitting immersed in nettles, creating a subtle and meditative series of vignettes.

Poppy Nash draws on a history of female storytelling within textiles, using it as a means to create work that moves between domestic and public spheres. In her installation for Brixworth visitors are only able to view the natural world by engaging with an inverted protective suit, one that functions as both barrier and shield, encouraging us to rethink the relationship between the external and internal, enclosure and exposure, safety and hazard.

Alyson Shotz manipulates materials to investigate modes of perception and experiential boundaries. For her outdoor performance Reflective Mimicry, Alyson wore a suit made of mirrors, effectively blurring the boundaries between the limits of her physical presence and the surrounding landscape, highlighting the relationship between the artwork, its location and the viewer.

Sarah Taylor Silverwood uses drawing as a means of telling stories and collaborating with others. Sarah is working with the Friends of Brampton Valley Way & Brixworth Country Park to create a Risograph zine, revealing resources hidden in the woods, including the trees, plants and fungi that can be foraged for food or other uses such as making natural dyes.

Professor Chill’s Tito Bustillo Lithophone Performance is a recording that was made by playing musical stalagmites and stalactites in caves in northern Spain that are part of the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art World Heritage Site. The caves have remarkable acoustics, and there is evidence that the choices of location of paintings nearby were influenced by acoustics and sound. Some of the paintings are 43,000 years old.

Atilio Doreste is a walker, artist, photographer and phonographer, based on the Canary Islands. The video work Alisio Eléctrico depicts a scene devoid of human presence; within a rugged, arid landscape, a wiry tree is playing a guitar. The melancholy sound seemly reflecting its surroundings.

Daniel Garcia is an experimental musician who collaborates with dancers, artists, musicians, and the natural world. As a DJ he builds haunting electronic ambient soundscapes. Daniel is presenting Glass Harp at Brixworth, which is full of ethereal and intense harmonies and melodies that can heighten our sensations.

Yagi Lyota’s Vinyl (Claire de Lune & Moon River) begins with the sound of a needle being lowered onto the grooves of a record. Gradually the music becomes more and more indistinct, until we hear the sound of water as the ice the record has been made from melts away. The music has evaporated and we are left with the sound as a memory.

Matti Palonen is a Toronto musician and luthier. Together with artist Jurgita Žvinklytė, Matti builds Tree Harp sculptures in harmony with their surroundings. For their first project they installed strings into the burned cedar trunks in his parent’s woodlot. The improvisation presented at Brixworth was inspired by a Blue Jay.

Russick Smith is cellist, multi-instrumentalist and composer known for his performances in natural and non-traditional locations. He has created a simple Water Harp, using three strings and tuners, and dampened the upper order harmonics, which is played by the movement of water in a river.

Tosca Terán is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is a confluence of art, ecology and craft. From the Midnight Mushroom Music archives and the Mycelium Martian Dome to fungi-controlled VR experiences, Tosca constructs installations collaborating with nonhuman life, asking people to consider nonhuman sentience and how humans move within and impact the shared environment. Working with purpose-built circuits which detect micro-fluctuations in conductivity, Tosca places electrodes into fungal mycelium, translating the biodata in realtime to control synthesisers, generating enigmatic musical patterns of sound.

Zimoun’s work explores the mechanical and the living, and exists between order and chaos. He uses simple and functional components to explore the rhythm and flow of vibration and sound. For the work presented at Brixworth Zimoun has focused on the acoustic hum of the natural phenomena of 25 woodworms eating wood.

As a curator, Yasmin Canvin brings artists and audiences together through art. Her approach is informed by her interests in cross-disciplinary practice, social and environmental issues, and meaningful interactions. She collaborates with arts organisations and other partners to develop strategic programmes that are founded on artistic practice. Until recently she was Director of Leicester Print Workshop and before then the Director of Fermynwoods Contemporary Art.

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 Brixworth Country Park Rangers and volunteers, Friends of Brampton Valley Way & Brixworth Country Park, West Northants Council, Nico Kos Earle, and The West Collection.

Images: Before Monet, Heywood & Condie, 2023; The Oak, Heywood & Condie, 2023; Glovebox (interior), Poppy Nash, 2023; Glovebox (exterior), Poppy Nash, 2023; Glovebox (detail), Poppy Nash, 2023; Glovebox (detail), Poppy Nash, 2023; Reflective Mimicry, Alyson Shotz, 1997; Untitled (selected films) (still), Krzysztof Maniak, 2014-19; Counterpoint, various artists, 2023. All photos Elizabeth Blackie, except Krzysztof Maniak