BROWNFIELD - Andrew Burton

27th June to 23rd July, 2014

brown·field (brounfld)
A piece of industrial or commercial property that is abandoned or underused and often environmentally contaminated, especially one considered as a potential site for redevelopment.

An intensive 2 week residency at AirSpace Gallery, developing a series of ‘proposals’ or suggestions for a kind of landscaped park that could occupy the brownfield site, reclaiming the bricks currently strewn about and reforming these into a series of sculptured structures. The residency would be spent making drawings and small models exploring what the park could be like.
A 1 week Residency Presentation in the gallery space and, to develop the idea of collaboration and partnership, a workshop where local people would be invited into the work space to play with the bricks and to suggest ideas and forms for the structures that could inhabit the revitalised state.

Andrew Burton's recent sculptures are process-based temporary structures made from brick components which are later dismantled and broken up, the constituent fragments forming part of the artist’s next body of work.
Burton’s works are made and unmade simultaneously, gathering evidence of the previous works they encapsulate.

The Site

The Residency Outcome

Back on site, Buddleia Vale seems quite bucolic today, the yellow pea is flowering like crazy and the ripening grasses and branches of tawny sorrel remind me of harvest time in India. There, in places, the harvest is still brought in by hand, with the heads of corn laid out on rocks to dry before being winnowed. And then the exotic buddleia is like graceful bamboo on the Li river. Strange that a place like this becomes laden with nostalgia when so much detritus lies around. Yesterday I was digging, a shamefully random archaeology. Scratching away at the hard brick strewn earth every meagre trowel full throws up a wealth of worthless scraps – broken plates and saucers, handles (lots of handles), tiny clay cones that are sometimes mysteriously embedded in lumps of clay.

The work I’ve been making is about the space, and it’s about the nature of the material I’ve gathered. What it reminds me of. The simple rule is only to use the stuff I find on site: growing, buried or dumped. (Glue is the exception, though given time and knowhow even that could have been stewed up from roots or leaves, or spirited out of the tar.) I’ve collected a lot, with worryingly little time to take precautions - according to Richard Mabey’s book ‘Weeds’, some of these intruders are so toxic a couple of doses could kill a man. Trouble is, I don’t know which ones. Certainly not much to forage here unless you’re into beetles and ants - the resident cat has licked the crisp packets clean and tins bare and the sorrel is long past being tender.

But all in all, the place is a delight. That old cliché of the pastoral idyll in the city rings true. Pity Tesco is selling it off. There’ll be a car park here soon
- Andrew Burton

See the AirSpace Gallery Residency Report here

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A 3 week residency carried out by Andrew Burton, looking at the future possibilities for a particular site in Stoke-on-Trent City Centre.

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AirSpace Gallery is a collaborative, artist led project in Stoke-on-Trent, providing professional development opportunities, studio and exhibiting space and support for artists.

Through a dynamic and evolving programme of exhibitions, events and activities AirSpace Gallery brings critical, high quality contemporary art to the region and provides opportunities for a broad range of artists.

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4 Broad Street
City Centre

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