David Blandy presents new exhibition at Towner Eastbourne

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David Blandy presents new exhibition at Towner Eastbourne
The Edge of Forever, 2022, David Blandy. Film still ©the Artist.

EAST SUSSEX, UK.- A new exhibition by David Blandy will open at Towner Eastbourne this Thursday 29 September, encompassing new video works and an immersive cardboard installation created in collaboration with fine art students from East Sussex College Lewes.

“The Edge of Forever” (2022) is a new video work that will premiere at Towner that centers on two questing children seeking to unravel the mysteries of a damaged world in a landscape loaded with symbolism. Their journey begins at Cuckmere Haven, Sussex, with its cliffs formed from the remains of plankton from 100 million years ago, continues to a Cold War era observatory and concludes with their visions of the cosmos.

In this work, Blandy investigates connections between specific sites, personal histories, and geopolitical events to reflect on our place in the world. These ideas are tackled through the lens of his grandfather’s experiences interred in Japanese POW camps during the Second World War in Singapore and Taiwan, merging the personal with larger shared histories.

These histories are intimately tied to the South Coast of England; from the abandoned telescopes of Herstmonceux Observatory in Hailsham and the winding meanders of Cuckmere Haven, a landscape steeped in the history of World War Two; to the sci-fi of HG Wells that preempted many of our technological advances.

“How do we come to terms with the past? And how do we build a better future on a broken planet? Scientist and writer Rachel Carson implored us to see the beauty in moments of nature, but we also have to find ways to reconcile ourselves with the world as it is, to find ways to live and die together as the world changes and, as author and philosopher Donna Haraway says, to "Stay with the Trouble". That's why I want to surround the viewer with multiple types of realities, from science fiction to collage poem to cardboard monoliths, to create a multidimensional set of stories that repeat and resonate with each other” says David Blandy.

Soil, Sinew and Bone (2022) is a second new video work that features in the installation. Working with film footage from Screen Archive South East, spanning the 1930s to the 1970s, Blandy charts the protracted revolution from the age of horse power to the Atomic cold war era. The film reflects on how humanity has now found itself on the brink of environmental collapse. Mechanization and increasing industrialisation, in the field and the factory, becomes a shadow of the automation of the present age. Much of the archive footage was shot around the Eastbourne area, and in the South Downs in Sussex.

The work has been created as part of the artist’s residency at Towner and alongside the two video works, Blandy will present his research into the relationship between food production and weapons development, space exploration and ecological disaster.

The exhibition also includes a collaboration with Fine Art students from East Sussex College Lewes. The students worked closely with Blandy to create an outsized children’s fantasy. Together they reimagined key scenes from the film, enlarged and built out of cardboard, from observatory domes, mangrove roots to figures, all rendered in the style of theatre flats, that will populate the ground floor studios.

The Edge of Forever is supported by Arts Council England, Screen Archive South East and The Elephant Trust. This project will continue to be developed for a solo exhibition at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton in 2023.

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