During lockdown, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announced the artist Alec Stevens as its first remote Artist-in-Residence. With funding from Arts Council England and support from the Pervasive Media Studio at the Watershed in Bristol, Alec will be working from his studio to develop new work in response to West Dean. Read on to find out more about Alec’s process and plans.
Over the course of the residency I’ve been playing with the notion of West Dean being a place where surreal interiors are kept but also developed. Behind closed doors, mostly in the past but almost always tied to a fantastically brilliant, queer man.
My research has led me to stories about Edward James in extravagant situations with extraordinary people throughout the 21st century. Obtained through conversation with West Dean staff and online research the scope of this project is currently quite wide as I’m pulling at strands, rumours and implied subtext which is making for an exciting, whimsical and revealing project.
Based on what I think Edward James might like, I’m developing a way to tempt this man into investing into a floor full of arranged wooden sausages that he can walk, tip-toe, roll-over and most likely stub his toe on. A Sausage Fest specifically designed for him, to impress his guests but also relish in an absurd sausage-feat!
I’m presently polishing five of my favourite sausages that will then be 3D scanned, manipulated and eventually displayed in a way so any floor could be full of perfectly arranged 3D sausages through the use of digital technology and augmented reality. The purpose of which is not only to showcase the sausage installation but to tell the stories that I have obtained through my research.
The physical sampler of sausages will be formed into a square metre of herringbone parquet flooring for people to enjoy at West Dean House in 2021. Feast your eyes and follow my progress!
To test the concept of a floor full of 'Sausage Fest' parquet I looked into the West Dean Archives to discover places where Edward James existed in history. The collages use the interiors of his 35 Wimpole Street townhouse in London, and Monkton House on the West Dean Estate, which are known for their extravagant interiors.
West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has been running residencies for the past 10 years, offering professional artists, writers and makers the opportunity to work on site for a period of one to three weeks.
Find out more about residency opportunities and the School of Arts here.