Exhibition at Bray Leino, North Devon

I have an exhibition of some of my recent taxidermy assemblage art at Bray Leino in Filleigh, Devon (EX32 0RX).

The show is set up in ‘The Roost’ for the next two months or so. Please view by appointment by calling Scott Franklin on 01598 760700.

The Bray Leino company is one of the shining beacons of cutting-edge creative work being exported from here in rural North Devon, and I'm delighted that they're displaying my art.

Grace and mobility

This assemblage piece is simply called 'Swan'. Placed upon the prow or stern of a boat, the nautical figurehead of the swan was used to represent grace and mobility on the water - particularly in northern Europe.

The swan was a favourite figurehead by the 13th Century, and sailors also believed that the swan was the most fortunate bird in omens.

The piece comprises an 18th Century Carved Wooden fragment, redecorated using silver leaf and earth pigment washes, a vintage sailing boat, 19th Century handmade bone Die, an early 20th Century Swan's egg, a late 19th Century pearlescent hat pin and early 20th Century Nautical maps along with a Vintage Sherry Glass & perfume bottle.  

The handmade glazed wooden box measures 340mm wide x 500mm high x 190mm deep.

The artwork is sold.

A memory in time

A major influence on my assemblage art are Marcel Proust's writings about involuntary memories and senses being triggered by objects.

This piece 'Jonah Hawk' represents the loss of a loved one and the journey of their soul.

It features an antique taxidermy pigmy hawk from South America that was given to me by a friend who worked at the British Museum, pyramids built from 19th century bone die. The inside of the case is water gilded in gold leaf

The bird standing on the movements of vintage pocket watches is a direct reference to Proust's seminal work 'In search of lost time'.

The handmade glazed wooden case measures 500mm wide x 670mm high x 210mm deep.

This artwork is sold.



Natural art

I love working with nature, and it never ceases to amaze me on so many levels.

My friend Simon Swallow is a keen beekeeper here in North Devon, so we tried a little experiment. We took a small piece of fresh honeycomb, placed it in a vintage bowler hat and put it back in the hive.

A week later we came back and found that the bees had created their own stunning natural art! You can see the results in the gallery below.

I plan to use this in a new piece of taxidermy and assemblage art, and also look at future 'collaborations' with these wonderful little creatures!

Bees play an essential part in our ecosystem, and along with many other species are being threatened by human actions. We're doing our bit here in rural Devon to encourage bees to flourish, and we urge you to do the same.




Swan song

The swan is one of nature's most majestic creatures and is steeped in history. From fossils in caves and the crusades of Richard I, to Arthurian Legend and Greek mythology. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates all believed that the swan's singing prowess was heightened as death approaches, giving rise to the idea of the 'swan song', or the final performance.

During the Middle Ages, the mute swan was considered to be a valuable commodity and was regularly traded between noblemen. In the early medieval period, like most wildfowl, swans often found themselves on the dinner tables of both rich and poor.

The owners of swans were duty bound to mark their property by way of a succession of unique nicks in the beaks of their birds. It was the duty of the Royal Swanmaster to organise the annual swan-upping, a tradition that survives to this day. 

Today, while the crown retains their right to swans on the Thames, it is purely ceremonial. 'Swan Upping' still takes place in July each year, and the Queen's keeper of swans oversees a count of all swans. However, the swans are no longer served as a meal, but counted as part of a general census of wildlife and monitored for health problems.

I'm currently working on a new swan taxidermy piece. It's thought the bird died when it flew into overhead cables near Crow Point here in North Devon. When I first saw its carcass I thought it was a dead sheep, such was its size.

As someone who is deeply committed to conservation, I only ever use ethically and legally sourced animals or re-use vintage pieces in my taxidermy and assemblage art. I hope my completed work will be a fitting tribute to this beautiful bird in its swan song.




Nancy Fouts - inspiration & surrealism

I had the pleasure of meeting modern-day surrealist Nancy Fouts recently and the privilege of visiting her London studio (see gallery below). She truly is an inspirational person and her art encapsulates a genius that's rarely found these days.

Her work frequently explore themes of time, religious iconography, nature and humour. Typically working with everyday objects, injecting them with unique wit and manipulating them. Born in America, Nancy has lived most of her life in the UK, graduating from Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art in the 1960s.

Sir Peter Blake said, "I love the work of Nancy Fouts, she makes the everyday object extraordinary".

In the 1960s Fouts co-founded the pioneering design and model-making company Shirt Sleeve Studio, creating ad campaigns for the Tate Gallery and album covers for significant bands including Jethro Tull and Steeleye Span. Examples of her works are to be found in private homes and established collections across the globe, including that of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Her work has been exhibited alongside the likes of Damien Hirst, and praised by Banksy. In an interview with The Independent she said: "My father was a beachcomber. He used to find driftwood and drag it back and say 'Look you see these charging horses?' So my inspiration came from there - that and his way of talking. He'd say: 'That kid's legs are short, but they're reaching the ground'. You see how that's Surrealist? Then kids and the beautiful things they say. They have a fresh way of looking at things. So I try to be naïve all the time. While being sophisticated at the same time, of course."

I recently had the honour of exhibiting my taxidermy assemblage piece 'Remembrance' alongside Nancy Fouts' work at the Contemporary Vanitas exhibition curated by Lee Sharrock and Hamish Jenkinson at the Lights of Soho gallery.

You can see a selection of Nancy's recent work in the gallery below, and she is exhibiting in the 'Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick' show at Somerset House in London alongside Polly Morgan, Sarah Lucas, Haroon Mirza & Anish Kapoor, Joseph Kosuth, Nathan Coley and many others until August 24th.

North Devon Arts - an evening with Paul Broomfield

A massive thank you to North Devon Arts and Broomhill Art Hotel for inviting me along as their guest speaker last night, to talk about my work as a taxidermy & assemblage artist and painter.

It was the first time I've done anything like this, and I couldn't have done it without my good friend and former ITV News reporter Pete Robinson who interviewed and guided me with a calm, reassuring style.

I think more than 50 people came along, and we started about 8pm and went on for more than 2 hours with questions from the floor after the main interview and showing my film - then chatting to some really interesting folk before we all headed off into the fog-bound North Devon countryside. If you'd like to see my short film again you can watch it on YouTube here.

A selection of my work is currently on display at Broomhill should you want to take more time to look at it. Thanks again for having me, your support really is appreciated and it's an experience I'm glad to have got under my belt!

Remembrance, revealed

I'm excited to be exhibiting in London later this month alongside some of the UK's leading contemporary artists; to be selected to take part is very cool.  I've created a new illuminated assemblage piece of taxidermy art called 'Remembrance' for the Contemporary Vanitas show in Soho which starts on May 26th (full press release below).

'Remembrance' contains a 19th century human skull & padlock, antique whale vertebrae, Macaw parrot wing & head. In the detail you'll find red sealing wax, antique engraved sherry glasses, old bone dice and clay marbles. The box itself is covered with water gilt silver leaf burnished using a piece of polished agate, while the inside is verre eglomise with 23 3/4 karat gold leaf. Dimensions of the handmade wooden box are 995mm high x 995mm wide x 300mm deep.

You can see 'Remembrance' in the photo gallery at the bottom of this page, with pictures taken by the incredibly talented Gemma Varney.

Press release

London’s leading light art gallery is pleased to announce their next show in collaboration with Lee Sharrock, Contemporary Vanitas, a look at vanity and mortality. Featuring 16 contemporary artists, the exhibition, which launches 26th May, will showcase the artists own interpretations of the Vanitas and features iconic memento mori symbols such as skulls, butterflies, and fruit, as well as more abstract interpretations in the form of celebrity portraiture and the written word in the form of neon.

Contemporary Vanitas will feature new artists and Lights of Soho favourites including: Alexander James, Alt-Ego, Derrick Santini, Hannah Matthews, Jeroen Gordijn, Jimmy Galvin, Kalliopi Lemos, Lauren Baker, Nancy Fouts, Paul Broomfield, Pure Evil, Rebecca Mason, Sara Pope, Soozy Lipsey, Tom Lewis and Toni Gallagher.

Playing on the Latin word for vanity, Vanitas is a metaphor for the meaninglessness of earthly life and transient nature of earthly goods and pursuits. Vanitas artworks were common in the 16th and 17th Century Dutch and Flemish still life painting, and were often created as metaphors for human achievements, as well as serving as reminders of human mortality. Memento Mori symbols of death, materialism, spirituality, earthly pleasure, temptations and corporality often featured.

Curator Lee Sharrock states, “I’ve always had a macabre fascination with the Vanitas paintings of the 16th and 17th century, and was intrigued to see how contemporary artists would interpret the enduring themes of mortality and vanity.”

Each artist’s contribution provides an individual interpretation of the Vanitas theme; Alexander James’ beautiful C-Type print evokes Old Master Vanitas still life paintings; Alt-Ego has created a bespoke skulls series reflecting upon mortality and vanity, whilst Jimmy Galvin’s witty ‘Death Disco’ features a skull and disco ball in a contemporary reworking of the traditional Skull memento mori.

Nancy Fouts’ ‘Exit Jesus’ features the reincarnated figure of Jesus embracing the cross of the ‘x’ in Exit; Fouts states: “Vanity of Vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity” quoting Ecclesiastes 12:8. She continues, “My Exit sight represents corporality and the idea of Jesus being reincarnated in a modern era of neon signs and overwhelmingly constant communication.”

Pure Evil’s new ‘Angels Never Die’ portraits of departed screen idols crowned with neon halos is inspired by Marle Dietrich. Pure Evil commented: “After 1945, Marlene Dietrich's attitude towards her native Germany remained shaky and it was not until after the fall of the Berlin Wall that she began to warm again to her homeland and especially her home town, Berlin. Shortly before her death, she expressed her desire to be buried in Berlin, in the very same cemetery as her mother. Her funeral, on 16 May, 1992, broadcast live on German television, was attended by thousands of fans. Her grave overflowed with flowers and wreaths from fans and admirers from all over the world. One of these wreaths, given by Wim Wenders, the director of Wings of Desire read, "Angels Never Die”. 

The show, curated by Lee Sharrock and Lights of Soho founder and curator Hamish Jenkinson, will bring together their two different eyes for art in a singular show which narrates the vanity which has overtaken our digital world.

“It’s great to work closely again with Lee, whom is a great friend to myself and the gallery, and bring together this new show which will certainly impress members and guests,” states Hamish Jenkinson. He continues, “The show will be a fun play on today’s society who are embracing their own vanity with selfies, social media and the art of oversharing.”

Contemporary Vanitas will be on from 26th May – 25th June at Lights of Soho.

London calling - new TAXIDERMY ASSEMBLAGE ART for major exhibition

My art has been selected for the prestigious 'Contemporary Vanitas' show at the Lights of Soho Gallery in London from next month. It is an honour to have been chosen by exhibition curator Lee Sharrock, director of Global Creative PR for Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, to take part alongside an esteemed array of leading contemporary artists.

The theme for the event is 'memento mori' - the Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, related to the perceived vanity of earthly life, our possessions and pursuits. This is one of the veins of creative thought that runs through all of my taxidermy and assemblage art.

I'm putting together a new piece called 'Remembrance' for this prestigious exhibition that runs from May 26th to June 25th 2016 - you can see a preview of some of the elements making up this assemblage box below. It will be revealed in full nearer the time. It contains parts of an antique taxidermy Macaw parrot that I'm re-using, a 19th century human skull, ancient whale vertebrae, along with an antique lock, sherry glass & bottles with 24 karat gold leaf decoration.

Other artists taking part are; Iain Shepherd, James Ostrer, Jimmy Galvin, Kalliopi Lemos, Karl Lagasse, Lauren Baker, Nancy Fouts, Pure Evil, Rebecca Mason, Romulo Celdran, Samantha Roddick, Sara Pope, Soozy Lipsey, Tom Lewis & Toni Gallagher.

You can also see a selection of my latest work at the Broomhill Art Hotel this year, which is currently playing host to the 2016 National Sculpture Prize.





An interview for Elephant - the art & culture magazine

The online edition of Elephant Magazine features a new interview by writer Rachel Meek about my taxidermy and assemblage art.

It is one of the leading art and culture publications, so it's an honour to have my work highlighted in '5 questions with Paul Broomfield', which you can read here in full.

There's a lot going on in the next couple of months, with my work exhibited at Broomhill Art Hotel; Mikey Corker's mini documentary about my work at the Ilfracombe Film Festival this month; I'm giving a talk to members of the North Devon Arts group in May; and I'm creating a major new piece for the Contemporary Vanitas exhibition in May at the Lights of Soho Gallery in London curated by Lee Sharrock, Director of Global Creative PR for Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide - more on that soon. Busy times, all good!



Get 'The Point'

I've written before about the amazing pool of talent here in North Devon where I live and work; Mark King is the editor and publisher of The Point magazine - an annual, limited-edition documentary photography publication now in its fourth edition.

I'm humbled to have 11 full pages dedicated to my taxidermy and assemblage art in the issue that's just hit the shops. Mark's eye for layout clearly comes from his skill as a photographer in his own right, with clever use of white space, minimal text and the photos close to full page.

Like me, Mark is a surfer with a passion for our environment; he often tackles issues such as marine litter and the protection of our oceans and beaches. He lives in Croyde with his partner Caroline and son Eli. Only 1,000 of each edition are printed, and they are hand numbered collectors items.

Do the right thing, and make sure you get 'The Point'!

You can read more about my recent media coverage here on my Blog.



Paul Broomfield artist - in the media

My taxidermy and assemblage art is featured a two-page spread in this month's Woolacombe & Mortehoe Voice magazine, the first edition of 2016.

It is great to have the support of local publications like this in my home area of North Devon. You can read it below, or pick up a print copy at outlets in the Woolacombe area. The piece is written by journalist & media man Peter Robinson.

Also coming up soon, a feature will be in the April edition of Devon Life magazine out later this month, and I'm delighted to say the short film about my art shot by Mikey Corker has been accepted in the inaugural Ilfracombe Film Festival which runs from April 22nd - 24th.

Parrot After Dürer - tribute to an icon

Albrecht Dürer was a painter, printmaker and theorist from Germany (1471 - 1528). While his watercolours mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, he became renowned for his woodcuts that had a darker edge and took art in a new direction.

Parrot - After Dürer is a hand-made wooden assemblage box (480w x 670h x 250d mm), featuring vintage taxidermy parrot wing and head, antique bottles, antiqued glass, gesso, paper, metal and stone.

This piece is inspired by Dürer's stunning 'Wing of a Roller' watercolour and gouache painting from 1512, which exhibits vibrant colour & detail of a European blue-bellied roller's wing. The original is held by the Albertina Museum, Vienna.

New film documents work of Paul Broomfield taxidermy & assemblage artist

I'm delighted to release today the first short film by award-winning documentary maker Mikey Corker that follows my work as a taxidermy and assemblage artist.

The film is available to watch and share on both Vimeo and YouTube, and it examines where I find inspiration for my work, and why I started out on this creative journey. The featured piece towards the end of the film is a new work 'Conscious while the world sleeps', which was created as a tribute to one of my favourite paintings by Mary Krishna.

North Devon based filmmaker Mikey Corker has won awards for his work at the prestigious Waimea Ocean Film Festival in Hawaii for a documentary about the British big wave surfer Andrew Cotton, and from the National Trust at the annual London Surf Film Festival.

Bury my heart at wounded knee (II)

This is the final piece in my trilogy of tributes to Native Americans & their fight to preserve their lands and culture.

'Bury my heart at wounded knee (II)' is a bespoke assemblage box containing one of my original sketches, behind verre églomisé treated glass to give a distressed look, brass gun shell cases, parrot tail feathers, with antique glasses, shelf and mirror behind (535mm wide, 790mm high, 245mm deep).

It is titled after the 1970 book of the same name by author & historian Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans from their perspective. It describes a series of betrayals and injustices by the US government, who are depicted as destroying indigenous culture.

Wounded Knee is where the last major confrontation took place between the US Army and Native Americans. It is where Crazy Horse's parents buried his heart and some of his bones after his death in 1877.

You can read about the other two pieces in this trilogy by following these links:



Bury my heart at wounded knee

This week's featured piece of assemblage art is the first of two entitled 'Bury my heart at wounded knee' - after the 1970 book of the same name by author & historian Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans from their perspective.

My work follows the theme of the book, which describes a series of betrayals and injustices by the US government, who are portrayed as destroying Native American culture through warfare, forced relocations and persecution.

'Bury my heart at wounded knee (1)' is a 470mm x 610mm x 190mm assemblage box featuring one of my original pencil drawings, antiqued mirror glass, bird skull & vertebrae with vintage frame and antique bullet, billiard ball and brass plaque.

Wounded Knee was the location of the last major confrontation between the US Army and Native Americans. It is also the place where Crazy Horse's parents buried his heart and some of his bones after his death in 1877.

Crazy Horse - a native American inspiration

This recent piece of assemblage art is inspired by the memory of the legendary warrior Crazy Horse. He was leader of the Lakota Sioux, celebrated for his battle skills as well as his efforts to preserve Native American traditions and way of life.

It features a horse skull and antique taxidermy Kingfisher, a symbol of giving a horse speed into battle; a 19th Century ink pot and blue parrot feather represent the hollow words of the treaty with the Americans.

Crazy Horse resisted efforts to force the Sioux on to reservations, and fought alongside Sitting Bull and others in the American-Indian wars, and was instrumental in the defeat of George Armstrong Custer’s forces at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. After surrendering to federal troops in 1877, he was killed amid rumours of a planned escape.

Outsider art - Ian Sherman

One of my good friends and fellow artist is Ian Sherman - he gave a ground-breaking talk at the Royal Academy of Arts on 'outsider art', the first time this revered body has looked at this area of the art world. The panel in London was chaired by the Editor of Raw Vision magazine John Maizels, and featured Thomas Roeske, Director of the Prinzhorn Collection; Marc Steene, Director of Pallant House Gallery and Founder of Outside In; Jane England, Director of England & Co Gallery and Ian Sherman, an artist associated with the 'Outside In' project. The point of bringing them together was to consider the inclusion of Outsider Art in the commercial art market and the impact this has on artists, collectors and collections.

As a taxidermy & assemblage artist and painter, I consider myself to be an outsider artist because other than my apprenticeships & mentoring, I didn't have any formal training after I left school. Ian himself prefers to call himself an 'idiosyncratic' artist because his work is often split between two or more styles. I'm proud to have a few of Ian's assemblage pieces in my own art collection (see the gallery below).

He lives and breaths his work, and is massively prolific - with stunning oil on board pieces sitting alongside his quirky and intricate assemblage and sculptural work (like me often using found objects). His creations have been widely documented and exhibited by Pallant House gallery in Chichester.

Ian is a great inspiration to me, and I urge you to check out his work and support those of us who are creating art on the outside of an inside world. A belated happy new year to everyone on my team, family, friends and supporters.