The new exhibition from artist, maker, educator and climate activist Bridgitte Jurack at HOME is something of a balm for our overstimulated minds – Fieldnotes is a meditation on the natural world and its animal inhabitants.
The show brings together works created locally in the UK, as well as Spain and India over the last four years. Jurack’s oeuvre spans multiple mediums, from ceramic sculptures to drawing, as well as video. She is an artist who reveres the natural world and her interest in ecology and sustainability is apparent in her practice.
Visitors will find Jurack’s signature sculptures of foxes, monkeys and birds from the series Scavengers (2018-21). All of these animal forms hold symbolic meanings throughout different cultures and religions. The artist highlights that these are animals who are known for their ability to adapt to what are often urban settings. This is perhaps a suggestion that we too will need to adapt to the rapidly changing climate situation and the changes that this brings. There are 40 curious animal sculptures dotted around the gallery, some in ambiguous poses between escaping danger and a friendly encounter. Their clay bodies are wonderfully animated despite the frozen composition.
Craft is utilised in the exhibition as a key element, with a focus on skep making, a somewhat endangered craft, in the work Best done in winter (2021). The programme includes regular workshops where visitors will be making straw beehives used in medieval farming.
On the subject of traditional craft, the display also includes gorgeous pencil drawings done by Jurack during the COVID-19 lockdown. From distance you are so beautiful (2021-) is something of the artist’s diary, inspired by biological specimen drawing. Closely observed rocks and fungi turn into abstract forms when presented outside of the context of the wider landscape. The drawings are careful and tender, their clean edges separating them from the organicness of the subject matter.
Another element of Fieldnotes draws attention to water scarcity. The series of photographs Spring (Los Gázquez), (2018) and Wadi Walks, Cities can Dream (2022) all document the lack of water in the very different locations of Manchester and Spain. Intuitively-choreographed actions done with the help of students are documented in large-scale photographs where the human subjects dance and move around the arid landscape in bright clothing contrasting with the parched ground.
Visit Fieldnotes and rest your eyes and mind – you can admire the intricate artwork but also make the most of the breathing space that the show offers.