Approved: 16.08.2006

Chris Drury

Approved: 16.08.2006

Concepts I am categorised as a land artist or someone who works with art and nature. In reality my work explores nature and culture, inner and outer. As an artist I am interested in the connections between different natural systems. As a result my work gets infinitely more complex as these webs of connection grow.
In nature, pattern and order arise out of complexity. My work is neither decorative,

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  • Location: Lewes, South East
 

Biography

Concepts I am categorised as a land artist or someone who works with art and nature. In reality my work explores nature and culture, inner and outer. As an artist I am interested in the connections between different natural systems. As a result my work gets infinitely more complex as these webs of connection grow. In nature, pattern and order arise out of complexity. My work is neither decorative, conceptual nor minimalist, although it contains elements of these within it. In the past I would walk in out-of-the-way places in the world and make small interventions in the landscape: shelters, cairns, etc. These would be photo-documented and presented along with baskets, objects and bundles made from the materials of the place. Making shelters and baskets was a way of connecting landscape to culture. My commitment to this aspect of landscape led me to site-specific commissions, often for small rural communities in Europe and Japan. These took the idea of making shelters into cloud and wave chambers, where in a dark, mysterious inner space, clouds or water drift across the floor. It also took the idea of turning the basket into large, woven, and sometimes growing, domes, and other structures. Because early on I came to the conclusion that 'man is nature', I have gone on to explore microcosm and macrocosm, the body as a microcosm of cosmic processes and art/science crossovers, in particular flow systems and the human heart. Influences Initially my influences were the Land Art, and Art in Nature movements in Europe and the US: Smithson, Hiezer, Long, Fulton, Beuys, for example; also cultures that have a close relationship with the earth and their particular landscape, their way of life, architecture and artefacts; individuals who have had a close association to wild places on the planet, e.g. climbers, explorers. In the case of, say, the architecture of an indigenous culture, my interest would be based more on 'how' and 'why' they reached the solution of what materials they used, than to try to emulate them. The process those people use in choosing a readily available material in the most practicable way so that the structure sits well within its landscape is one that I would also apply to a given situation. I read a lot of science, anthropology and ecology books. I am interested in language and how it defines how we see the world. I read widely to explore all connections but ultimately I make my work through intuition. Only afterwards or in tandem do I make these links. Career path I studied figurative sculpture at Camberwell School of Art in the late 60s at a time when Gilbert & George, Richard Long, etc. were at St Martins. After leaving college I scraped a living making portrait heads of managing directors, while living a rural existence in an old pigman's cottage in Kent. It was here that I was introduced to Hamish Fulton by my dentist. We formed a close friendship and I went on a walk with him in the Canadian Rockies. That walk persuaded me that I wanted to make art about nature and wild places. It took me 10 years to work the figurative element from Camberwell out of my work. Hamish Fulton introduced me to Simon Cutts of Coracle Press Gallery in London, who exhibited "Medicine Wheel" at Coracle, in New York and then at The Serpentine Gallery, London. Simon Cutts then went on to put the show and book together called "The Unpainted Landscape" with The Scottish Arts Council. In 1975 Simon introduced me to Declan McGonagle who gave me my first big one-man show at the Orchard Gallery in Derry, together with a book/catalogue: "Shelters and Baskets". This show travelled through Ireland and then came to Leeds City Art Gallery and then Paul Nesbit toured it through Scotland. In 1982 when Declan had moved to The Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, he gave me a one-man show there with an installation "Cloud Chamber" in the famous courtyard. In 1979, because of "The Unpainted Landscape", I was offered a deal and a show with a gallery in Los Angeles. The show and the space were amazing as were the reviews, but the offer of reliable fixed income was a dream because the dealer was an unscrupulous crook, and I was much relieved to emerge from it 5 years later with most of my work back and some of the money owed. For a whole decade this experience soured me to commercial galleries and the art market. Fortunately people began to commission me to make works in their landscape. This has slowly snowballed and I now rarely have to search for work as people come to me. I have been scrupulous in extending a network of connections out into the world and responding to all leads and enquiries. Artists who work in Nature are, by and large, a very nice group of people and we all help and recommend each other for work. A lot of work is artist-generated. It was also at this point where I made the decision never to make a sculpture unless it was paid for at the point of making, and the work stayed in the place for which it was made, ie no storage, no need for exhibition space. My work, however, has become very diverse and I use many ways to explore similar themes. Most of these new works are on paper and can be stored or shipped, or can be reproduced photographically, or digitally, or can be drawn on the wall or simply installed in a gallery. This all makes economic sense when you have to exhibit your work around the world and freight is very expensive. It also means I can now once more show work in museums and galleries and have dealers in London and elsewhere, while not being totally enslaved by the system. You can always say no to things you don't want to do if you have enough work from another source. Public Collections Arts Council British Museum Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Contemporary Arts Society Government Art Collection Henry Art Gallery, Faye G. Allen Center for the Visual Arts, University of Washington, Seattle Leeds Art Gallery Nevada Museum of Art, Reno North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee Victoria & Albert Museum Wellcome Trust, London Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

CV & Education

Solo exhibitions 2010 - Land, Water and Language, Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Gallery, Lochmaddy, Western Isles, Scotland 2010 - Mushroom Cloud, Malga Costa, Arte Sella, Italy 2008 - Chris Drury - Antarctica: A Heartbeat of the Earth, Beaux Arts, London 2008 - Chris Drury: Mushrooms | Clouds, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, USA 2006 - Inside Out, Outside In, Vanderbilt University Fine Art Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee 2005 - 'Chris Drury' installations in the gallery and outside in the redwoods, Villa Montalvo, California 2005 - Whorls, Villa Montalvo, California 2004 - 'Heart of Stone' Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno , Wales, Stephen Lacey Gallery, London 2003 - 'Heart of Stone', Aberystwyth Art Gallery 2002 - 'Chris Drury', De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill 2000 - Chris Drury, Stephen Lacey Gallery 1999 - Holding Light, Installation at Fabrica, Brighton 1998 - Silence Art Espace, FNAC Bookstore, Les Halles, Paris 1998 - Silent Spaces, Janus Avison Gallery, New York; Fnack Bookstore, Les Halles, Paris 1995 - Vessel, Travelling exhibition, Arts Council of England, South East Arts, Scottish Arts Council; Towner Art Gallery, Rochdale Art Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh 1993 - Stones and Bundels, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, St James's, Piccadilly and Cloud chamber and fire cairn in the garden of St James's Church, Piccadilly 1991 - Adharc, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin 1991 - Chris Drury, Ace Gallery, Los Angeles 1991 - Chris Drury, Prema Gallery and Cairn Gallery, Gloucestershire 1988 - Shelters and Baskets, Travelling exhibition organised by Orchard Gallery, Derry, in association with Henry Moore Centre for the Study of Sculpture, travelling to Foyle Gallery, Derry; Powers Court Crafts Gallery, Dublin; Limerick Art Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery; Street Level, Glasgow; Seagate Gallery, Dundee; Peacock Artspace, Aberdeen; Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh 1983 - Medicine Wheel, Coracle Gallery, London Group exhibitions 2011 - Eco-Art, Pori Museum of Art, Finland 2011 - Menerbes (Philip Hughes, Chris Drury, Nicolas de Stael), Galerie Gimpel-Muller, Paris 2011 - Rhine Mosel Slate Whirlpool, Bundesgartenschau Koblenz, Germany 2010 - Les Environnementales 2010, Tecomah, Jouy en Josas, France 2010 - Window to the West, The Rediscovery of Highland Art City Art Centre, Edinburgh 2009 - Polar Dispatches, Portland Museum of Art, Oregon, USA 2008 - Moving Toward a Balanced Earth, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington 2008 - Shake Before Using, ARTIUM of Álava, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain 2007 - Geumgang Nature Art Pre-Biennale, Yeonmisan, South Korea 2005 - Browngrotta Arts at Palmbeach SOFA 2005 - 'Out There', Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich University Campus 2005 - 'Vinyl' Cork City - City of Culture 2005 - curated by Coracle 2004 - 'Eco photo Show', Dorsky Gallery, Long Island City, New York 2004 - 'In praise of Earth', Salisbury Festival 2004 - 'The Tender Landscape', Agnes Scott College Gallery, Atlanta USA 2003 - 'Defying Gravity* Exhibition to commemarate 100 years of flight, North Carolina Art Museum 2003 - In Praise Of Trees, Salisbury Festival and Stephen Lacey Gallery in collaboration with English Nature 2001 - From Across The Pond Browngrotta arts, Connecticut + catalogue 1999 - Works from There, Here, Refusalon Gallery, San Francisco, USA 1998 - European Art Nature Triennial, Osherreds Kunstmuseum, Denmark 1998 - Out of Town, Blains Fine Art, London 1998 - Stephen Lacey Gallery, London 1996 - Trilogy, a confrontation with creation, Kunstallen Brandts Klaedefabrik, Odense, Denmark 1995 - The Edge of Town, Joseloff Gallery, Hartford, Connecticut, USA 1994 - Differetes Natures, La Defense Galleries, Paris, Barcelona 1990 - Beelden Buiten, Tielt, Belgium, Woodlands Show, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham 1990 - Distant Echoes, Chris Drury and Aase Goldsmith, Scottish Arts Council Travelling Gallery, Orkneys, Shetlands, Hebrides 1987 - Unpainted Landscapes, Victoria Miro, London 1986 - Land, Victoria Miro Gallery, London 1986 - Landscape, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge 1985 - Land, Air, Sea, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth 1985 - Landscape Interior, Coracle Gallery, London 1984 - Repeat, Coracle Gallery, London 1984 - Salon D'Automne, Serpentine Gallery, London 1983 - British Art - New Directions, Coracle Gallery, Puck Building, New York Residencies 2006 - Artists and Writers program, British Antarctic Survey, Antarctica 2002 - Time Capsule Competitions, prizes and awards 2004 - University College London 'Art in Health Award' for work on systems in the body and systems on the planet 1998 - Commendation, Annual Awards of the Association for the protection of Rural Scotland, for 'Hut of the Shadow' 1997 - Natures Prize: Scottish Environmental Award for 'Hut of the Shadow' 1995 - Pollock-Krasner Award