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In 1998 Siân Bowen undertook an artist's residency, funded by Arts Council England, in Grizedale Forest, Cumbria, the UK’s first forest for sculpture. During the residency she made a body of around fifty drawings, Seal, many based on insects. She worked on papers that had themselves been subjected to various natural processes - some she buried in the forest floor and exposed to insects which left marks, holes and other physical traces, all of which became part of the drawings and the life cycle of the work. A form of dialogue was established between the drawn images of insects and the physical impact that insects had had in the making of these works.


The work from the residency was exhibited in Grizedale Gallery in 2000, and a portfolio was published in 2 versions as a catalogue to the exhibition. A copy of the limited edition version containing an original lithograph, as well as reproductions of six of the drawings, and an essay by Hugh Stoddart, is in the collection of the V&A, London.

"Her freakish, humourous shapes are ambivalent: on the one hand the six-legged spiders that crawl aroiund her Grizedale drawings look like spores (germinatory) or they could be be compared to Redon who drew his spiders as ten legged making them likewise into grotesqueries or mutants. In Grizedale she revealed a proclivity for small ragged forms like horse chestnuts or burrs or pine cones that are like the benign cyst in Margaret Atwood's story 'Hairball'."

Tony Godfrey


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