This summer, eight international artists from the world's five continents, are exhibiting newly commissioned works in the grounds of the Sainsbury Centre at the UEA in Norwich.
The plans for the Out There exhibition come from a desire to keep collaborating with artists during the gallery's closure and to extend the world art focus of the renowned Sainsbury Collection.
"We were facing about a year of closure at the Sainbury Centre for a major refurbishment, but it was really important to us that we continued working with artists," said Amanda Geitner, head of exhibition and collections and co-curator of Out There.
"We decided that if we were going to lose our building, we should do something 'out there' and the name kind of stuck," she added.
Out There is showcasing artists who work with their materials and processes in a specific way. As the art sits under the gaze of Mother Nature, the works will change and evolve with the elements.
Norfolk's changing seasons, unpredictable weather and local wildlife in the UEA woodlands provided inspiration for Indian artist Ranjani Shettar.
|Ranjani Shettar installing at the UEA|
"It's a piece that will change with the light, with weather. When I did my research there were bluebells growing here. I saw how you could see a bit of blue and then more and more and I wanted to show my work in that way," she said.
"I planned it in such a way that when people walk here they get a glimpse of it, but then they get, more and more.
"I wanted to engage with all the creatures that are here. I wanted to feed them through my work, with the runner beans that are growing through my work. It's about transformation. You can see it turning from red to green.
"It starts off red and it might keep the animals away when the plants [runner beans woven into the installation] are still growing - but when it becomes green it should attract the creatures. That's the theory, it will be interesting to see how it works," she added.
Artists in residence
The artists commissioned for Out There spent three weeks in residency at the UEA, exchanging their ideas and experiences as they transformed the parks and woodlands surrounding the Sainsbury Centre with their new works.
"It was important to us this project involved a residency. We put them all in a flat together for three weeks, so it was a bit like Big Brother but without the cameras," said Amanda Geitner.
"We've brought together eight artists who in age span 40 years.
|Turning by Chris Drury (detail)|
"Some are leaders in their field in their home country and internationally – other have just recently graduated. It was important we brought people together who not only had a range of cultural contexts, but people who were at very different stages of their career.
"They've talked about ideas, about migration and borders, about working internationally, about working on site. Most important they were just so incredibly nice. You can't plan for that, for them to get along and they did," she added.
The artists contributing to Out There come from Australia, West Africa, Brazil, Japan, India, Poland and the UK.
El Anatsui is the head of sculpture at the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. A leading figure in contemporary art in Africa, Anatsui has exhibited internationally over the last 20 years. His work is now becoming more familiar with British audiences.
He made his first visit to the UEA campus in October 2004 and then returned for his site visit around six months later. He has created two works for Out There - a half keel and a log pile - based on an earlier piece called Signature.
"Each log is an object of contention. In effect I'm trying to reference all the conflict situations you have in the world, in Africa, in Europe, wherever – where by people are contending for land and all kinds of things. That's basically how the idea came about," said El.
"The contrast in the logs is quite marked, so nobody can mistake the front for the back. They are to emphasis this idea that when things exist, they have two meanings. It's like the idea you could decide to burn the wood from either end.
|El Anatsui, Untitled (detail)|
"I'm a product of my generation. A generation that has seen colonisation come to my world. I speak English in addition to my own language. I have conflict in myself… sometimes it is easier to say things in English, sometimes in my own language - it's like, to which end of the wood do I turn?
"When I started to look at Out There, it actually meant I needed to start looking from the inside. You're starting form yourself and an environment that you're used to – which can then extend to link up with the rest of the world.
"When you come to my school, we encourage our students to take their artistic material and ideas from the environment. So much so when you see artwork from Europe, India or Africa – you have some idea where it has come from.
"I think the world is made richer that way, than for everything being uniform. I would want a situation where every part of the world is contributing something particular to the stream, so the stream would then have so many colours and textures – otherwise it would be boring," he added.
For the staff at the Sainsbury Centre, they hope Out There will make art accessible to a new audience.
"We're outside the Sainsbury Centre, but we're in a parkland that's not only used by visitors to the UEA, but by a huge group of people in and around Norwich," said Amanda.
"It's not at all an audience who gets up and thinks we'll go and see some art and the Sainsbury Centre, it's an audience that is just passing through. I think that's a very different kind of encounter," she added.
Out There can be viewed in the parkland around the Sainsbury Centre at the UEA until 29 August, 2005. It is advised visitors wear insect repellent when visiting the works installed in the woodland areas.
Please call the Sainsbury Centre for detailed advice on wheelchair access to specific installations. Telephone 01603 593199.
The artists contributing to Out There are Bogdan Achimescu, Machiko Agano, Elisa Bracher, Chris Drury, Fiona Foley, Claire Morgan, Ranjani Shettar and El Anatsui.