I was invited to exhibit some work in this beautiful and historic building, along with other artists.
Closes on 24 April 2022
I have two pieces of work in this exciting show at the Newmarket Horse Racing Museum. www.nhrm.co.uk Thirty artists have been selected from Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, with over sixty artworks on display, all for sale. They are being exhibited in a stunning new gallery space, which is part of the museum’s refurbishment and rebuilding a few years ago. Well worth a visit.
Here I am with my two pieces, one a limited edition paper cut, entitled Moon Dance, and the other a felted landscape called White Sky.
The original wizard’s hat.
These textile explorations are based on a most wondrous exhibit in the Neues Museum in Berlin – that of a ceremonial conical hat, of thin gold leaf, made during the late Bronze age, hammered out of a single ingot of gold and incised with concentric circles, bands and crescent moons.
It would have been worn by deities or priests as part of a solar cult widespread in Central Europe at the time, permitting them to calculate dates and periods in both lunar and solar calendars, useful for anticipating important events, such as the summer and winter solstices.
It stands at 745 mm high, made from 490 g of gold, and would have been worn as the outer covering to a substructure, probably made of an organic material.
There have been only four such hats found, all from central Europe, all slightly different in size, form and ornamentation.
Please see Full Catalogue of Works for other pieces in this collection.
My two prints, Palimpsest I and Palimpsest II, have been selected for the 2020 Leicester Print Workshop Small Print International online exhibition. https://www.makeprints.co.uk/
Artists were invited to create work inspired by the first aerogramme, which was introduced into the Iraqi postal service in 1933. My work explores the notion of writing with fountain pen and ink, blotted many times, causing layering of sentences illegible on the blotting paper, a mirrored memory of what was written.
With Soraya Smithson and other artists, architects, musicians and poets, we explored the correlations between the writing of poetry, the putting on of exhibitions and the architecture of the written word and space.
Co hosts: Soraya Smithson, Victoria Smith, Tom Ebdon, Naomi Frears, Ella Frears, Blair Todd
We started with a blank canvas – an empty , white gallery space. We invited the public to help us fill the space with text, stories, memories, drawings, words, notations, sculptures, plaster casts, weavings, peepshows, poems and music. A new theme was developed each day, building on the makings and doings of the day before, so that by the final day the space was alive with new objects and poetry, the results of the week’s work, layered and collaged into the space.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
This exhibition looks at the impact of the artists’ forbears on the landscape of South India and examines the relationship we have to objects that speak to us of home, especially when we are foreigners in another land.
Victoria Smith and Bay Lees’ family were planters in India where, for three generations and seventy years, they lived and worked. The Browne family left India in 1947, suffering irreversibly from the disasters of two World Wars and the collapse of tea prices during the 1930’s. The estates then passed into Indian hands and continue to be expertly managed by Badra Estates.
Read and see more: https://victoriasmithart.site/portfolio/
Jacob Mammen, managing director of Badra Estates, India, standing with me in front of the landscape that he bought, “Sunset from Elephant Hill”. Behind us, at the top, is the picture of the same view painted by my great grandmother, Ellen Browne.
It is thrilling for me to think that my landscape is being taken to India to be hung in the sitting room of the estate bungalow built by my great grandfather, Charles Herbert Browne, in the 1890s. This is now Jacob’s private house, and has been in his family for 70 years – almost as long as it was owned by the Browne family.
An exhibition at Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury
15 September – 15 December 2017
Felted landscapes by Victoria Smith, paintings by Gabrielle Nesfield, prints by Bay Lees, photographs by Oliver Smith
The Red Earth of Kerkiecoondah, Karnataka, India
When I, together with my sister Bay Lees and my husband Oli Smith, visited India in 2016, we took a trip up Elephant Hill to seek out this view that had been painted by our great-grandmother, Ellen Browne, over the ancestral coffee estates. I was unprepared for the intense emotional impact that this would have on me. Our father and his forefathers, who had known this land so intimately, stood alongside us as ghosts in this very particular place, as we looked out over this, their landscape.
This heritage forms the basis of my textile explorations.
The Great British Cuppa
The industrialising Victorians were a thirsty bunch and a cheap source of tea was needed to fuel the factory workers in the second half of the nineteenth-century. Tea, with milk and sugar, had replaced beer as the beverage of choice – it was non-alcoholic, therefore safer for machine operatives, nutritious and refreshing. Thus was the Great British Cuppa born.
The Tea Trade
By the mid-nineteenth-century, due to British involvement in the opium wars, things had become tricky with China, who controlled the tea trade. An alternative source of tea needed to be found quickly and the mountainous districts of India provided just the right climate and soil. Thus was the Indian tea trade established.
Nineteenth-Century Pioneer Planters
In Mysore State, South India, enterprising young adventurers from Europe were encouraged to seek their fortunes by becoming planters. Whatever land they had under cultivation within three years was theirs to keep for one rupee an acre, payable to the Maharaja of Mysore. This is how the Browne family came to be in India.
Seventy Years of Browne Family Planters in India
In 1876, our nineteen-year-old great-grandfather, Charles Herbert Browne, set sail from Ramsgate for Bombay, to learn planting from a veteran planter and to build a life for himself. Ten years later, with the help of elephants and many local people, he had cleared a thousand acres of jungle, laid roads, built a smart bungalow for himself and planted millions of tea and coffee plants. His estate, still known as Kerkiecoondah, prospered and developed.
CHB, as he was affectionately known, was a charming, energetic and enterprising young man, unafraid of hard physical work. When he was thirty, having been in India for only eleven years, he was considered old enough and wealthy enough to marry, so he came back to England to find himself a wife. Ellen and Charles were married in Walmer, Kent and returned together to India, where Ellen gave birth to six children in their bungalow at Kerkiecoondah. Four of these children stayed on to become planters themselves, raising families of their own, and, in the case of our grandmother, dying and being buried there.
India became their home. For three generations and seventy years they lived and worked there. The Browne family left India in 1947 after Indian Independence, suffering irreversibly from the disasters of two World Wars and the catastrophic collapse of tea prices during the 1930s. The estates then passed into Indian hands and continue to be expertly managed by Badra Estates.
I was invited to show papercuts and artist’s books at Elspeth Owen’s Open Studios in Grantchester, July 2014. This series of books, cuts and prints celebrates the blue moon during August 2014, when I took a blue photo everyday for a month between the full moons and mounted them into a concertina cut-out book. I also made a series of prints and some little concertina books using the blue insides of envelopes.