Save the date - Art Around the Child

I've taken a bit of time off from the Blog to concentrate on work, but I'm back with an important 'save the date' - November 16th 2017 for the 'art around the child auction' in London, fundraising to help build a home for HIV+ orphans in Jaipur, India.

It is a project that I'm humbled to be involved with - the money raised will help transform the lives of many disadvantaged children. You can read more about our trip out to India to work with the kids last year here on my Blog. Check back for regular updates as we get nearer the big night.

Massive thanks goes out to curators Lee Sharrock with Monica Colussi, and Ellie Milner from the charity Arms Around the Child, for bringing together what promises to be an amazing event, with the power to change lives.

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.



Broomhill at 20, and the 2017 National Sculpture Prize

Broomhill Art Hotel just outside Barnstaple have been incredibly supportive of my work over the last few years, and 2017 marks their 20th anniversary - congratulations! They will be having various special events and offers throughout the year.

They are exhibiting my taxidermy assemblage art and paintings in their gallery. As well as selling work through them, I've created a couple of commissions for new clients which has been a great experience.

2017 also sees entries open for the acclaimed National Sculpture Prize, which takes place every year in the venue's wonderful, rambling gardens. We're so lucky to have this here in North Devon - not only as an event, but as a year round art gallery and top class hotel/restaurant right on our doorstep.




Thanks supporting my art in 2016!

Happy New Year from me, and my merry band of helpers here in North Devon!

2016 has been such an incredible year, with two London exhibitions and giving a talk about my work to the North Devon Arts group to mention a few - take a browse through my Blog to find out more about what I've been up to.

Of the many highlights was our inspirational trip to India with the international charity Arms Around the Child, to create art that will become the focus of a major fundraising initiative next year.

Have a wonderful 2017, and thank you to everyone who has supported my art in so many ways in 2016.


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.




Don't drop in - a shark's tale

One of my latest taxidermy art pieces is titled 'Don't drop in' and it features a gilded mako shark head with its jaws wide open - both the name and content are directly linked to one of my lifelong passions, surfing.

A 'drop-in' is when a surfer takes off in front of someone else who's already up and riding the wave, and it is a 'red card' act in surfing worldwide. Why? Firstly it's dangerous because you could hurt someone (including yourself) or even kill them if board and bodies collide, also you've most likely ruined someone else's wave - so it really is frowned upon.

Surfers in many countries are entering the shark's natural environment when they paddle out to enjoy riding a few waves. Inevitably this brings the risk of shark attacks, which although incredibly rare, are reported with such hysteria that they have helped to demonise the shark (along with movies like 'Jaws').

The reality is you're much more likely to be injured or killed in the home, or in many other ways that might be perceived as mundane (cows, mosquitos, vending machines, coconuts!), not to mention cars and guns. One of the sad realities of modern life - it has been reported that more people died taking selfies than through shark attacks last year.

All of the animals I use in my taxidermy art are ethically sourced, I don't want nature to be exploited by taxidermy. Where possible I re-use antique taxidermy. In this case the complete shark head, with its skin, flesh, tongue and teeth, came from a fisherman who had caught it off the coast of Cyprus and had already sold its meat to local restaurants.

The population of the mako, along with many other species of shark is declining and I actively support their conservation and that of other marine life through organisations like Sea Shepherd.

For 'Don't drop in' I have gilded the skull in 23.75 karat gold leaf, but left the jaws and teeth in their natural state. It's mounted on a steel rod set in an antique alabaster plinth and surrounded by antiqued mirror glass, with a bespoke wooden box and glass front (430w x 430h x 250d mm).

I hope this piece will help to raise awareness of the human impact on our precious marine life and the environment they live in. Without them, we are nothing.




77Art - Darren West's new art gallery opens in Sussex

77Art is a new gallery being opened later this week in the West Sussex seaside town of Worthing by internationally acclaimed neon artist Darren West (pictured below) and curated by his partner & co-owner Lisa Melendez.

I've known Darren and admired his work for many years, so I was truly delighted to have two of my taxidermy art pieces selected for the opening - 'Holy Water' and 'Kingdom of Heaven'.

He has brought together an amazing array of artists for the launch, including Tracey Emin, Sir Peter Blake, Tom Freer, Henry Hate, Darren Macpherson, Inkie, Sally Kendall, Mason Storm, James Cashmore, Mr Ben, Iain Alexander, Horace Panter, CLS, Robin Coleman, Mr Brainwash, Pam Glew, SR47, Aroe, Edu and Tim J. Fowler.

Darren West is a gifted craftsman and iconic member of the British art world, who has been creating neon masterpieces for 30 years - his work is in discerning collections all over the world. He runs The Neon Sanctum as a base for his eclectic glass art which investigates and challenges contemporary belief systems and dissects the tensions and uncertainties at the heart of human experiences.

77Art has a private view this Friday from 6pm and is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 5pm at 6 Warwick Lane, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 3DP.



In search of lost time - Proust's influence

Each of my works makes reference to a memory of an experience of a moment in time that has captivated me - beliefs, involuntary memories, fantasies and imaginations. Recurrent themes such as myths & legends, the natural & spirit worlds and the passage of time are distilled within each ethereal tableau.

My principle inspiration is the thinking of Marcel Proust, the acclaimed novelist who wrote À la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (In Search of Lost Time), which examines the concept of a memory triggered by an object.

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

Consisting of seven volumes and 3,200 pages, it was begun in 1909 with the final three volumes being published after his death in 1922. Graham Greene called Proust "the greatest novelist of the 20th century" and W. Somerset Maugham described the novel as "the greatest fiction to date".

It is intrinsically linked to art; in it he names more than 100 artists including Bellini, Monet, Whistler and Vermeer and he directly references their paintings as themes in his stories. His work has of course influenced many writers and artists since, myself included.

One of the most famous sections of Proust's novel is his description of when he tastes a madeleine dipped in tea; it is this that inspired my assemblage piece 'The Episode of the Madeleine'. As if it is moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell, the humble madeleine invokes a memory in my childhood - as it did for Proust.

The box I have created contains an antique French madeleine baking tray, magnifying glass and watch mechanism, vintage print block pieces. It measures 970mm high, 495mm wide and 200mm deep. It has a bespoke glass-fronted wooden box, with antiqued mirror glass inside (see the gallery below).

You can now buy my art online

I have now launched an Etsy shop so that you can buy some of my art and other related products online. It features mainly smaller items like my book of taxidermy and assemblage art, sets of greetings cards and limited edition giclee prints.

There is also a range of mini taxidermy and assemblage boxes, which are a great way of starting or adding to your art collection. There are a dozen items in the shop for now, but more will be added in the coming weeks.

We've also embedded the shop in my website here, so it's easy to find. It's a first for me, so I'd really appreciate it if you can help me spread the word - thanks!

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.

Remembrance - creating new memories in the selfie age

A fascinating 'selfie trend' with a curious irony appears to be developing with my taxidermy assemblage box 'Remembrance', that I created for the Contemporary Vanitas exhibition - running at the Lights of Soho gallery in London right now.

As curator and Saatchi PR guru Lee Sharrock explains in the short film about the show, the Latin meaning of Vanitas is vanity; "It's interesting in a selfie-obsessed, social media obsessed society that we live in, to take a look at the idea of vanity and also the idea of mortality and see what contemporary interpretations these artists come up with."

The work that I created has antiqued and gilded mirror glass surrounding the inside of the case, meaning that most snaps of it will contain a picture of the photographer & those around them, and it seems that people are embracing this and creating their own photographic memory - or selfie - which of course is shared on social media. You also get a snapshot of the other artists' work in the gallery captured in the frame.

Even Lee herself and pro photographer Maximilian Clarke, who was documenting the launch party, are featured in the selection below.

Due to popular demand the exhibition now has an extension and will run through until Saturday June 25th, so do go along and see the fantastic array of art - and of course, take your camera or smart-phone with you & tag any images with my social media pages...



Paul Broomfield in print

My taxidermy and assemblage art is in print again this week, with a two-page spread in the culture section of Devon Life magazine, written by top media man Pete Robinson. It is great to see comprehensive coverage of my work in this high quality county magazine, and good to know that they support new art being created in the region.

The magazine is on the shelves now, and don't forget if you're out and about over the Easter holidays you can drop in and see a selection of my work at Broomhill Art Hotel. With the stunning Spring weather we're having it's a great place to visit as you can wander round the sculpture gardens and grab a bite to eat.

You can now find the print version of Woolacombe & Mortehoe Voice magazine in local shops which also features my art, plus limited edition copies of my self-published book of work are available to buy at Broomhill - you'll receive a complimentary copy when you purchase my art.

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.

Textile talent - Emma Cocker

We're lucky to have a huge pool of talent among our friends here in North Devon - earlier this month we launched the short film about my work by fellow surfer and award-winning filmmaker Mikey Corker; now we've commissioned the textile artist Emma Cocker to create a bespoke piece for us.

Emma creates what she describes as; "quintessentially English characters, fabric sculptures and illustrations inspired by the coast and countryside here in North Devon."

Her work is crafted in knit & stitch, combining antique, vintage and reclaimed textiles with British wool. From ethical textile taxidermy in the form of stags' horns and a dapper fox dressed in his best hunting suit, to a crew of salty seadogs - Emma likes to create pieces that surprise and question.

Emma is creating a portrait box of our four dogs that we're looking forward to having in pride of place in our home - Black Labradors Pablo, Lola and Modigliani (named after artist Amedeo Modigliani), and our Jack Russell girl Winnie.

Emma works mainly on commissions, so if you're inspired please get in touch - you can find a selection of pieces for sale on her etsy shop and at a small number of UK stockists, plus key exhibitions around the country.

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: