Each month one of our Directors chooses an member to become ‘Artist of the Month’. What follows is a conversation with that artist, together with some examples of his or her work.

Angela Davies

This month’s selected artist is Angela Davies ( selected by Richard Povall (March 2019).

Angela Davies: Birds on the Moor (in progress)

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working across three bodies of work and I owe extreme gratitude to Arts Council of Wales for enabling this period of experimental inquiry and inter-disciplinary exchange as part of my Creative Wales Award.

Birds on the Moveis a developmental piece that has evolved from a period of experimental enquiry with scientists from the School of Biological Sciences at Bangor University, Wales. The inquiry explores the challenges faced by wild birds living amongst our growing human populations and the direct and indirect effects of the Anthropocene. Emulating an experience of flight and the fragility of ecosystems was important to capture within the structural and performative element of the piece and throughout its development Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring strongly resonated.

My process involved observing footage of an X-ray reconstruction of a pigeon’s moving morphology to visualise skeletal movement. I compared this to other avian sources to understand the biophysics of birds in flightand began mapping and reconstructing patterns of wing motion. Prototyping the kinematics evolved from sketches, digital drawings, and paper prototyping to several iterations of engineered programmable robotic sculptures with integrated gears and motors.

Systems of interaction are being explored to reflect upon demographic and environmental changes currently impacting natural ecosystems. The data has been applied by reading sound levels in an environment, where the increased movements of the kinetic sculpture are affected by noise. The physical presence and noise seeks to emulate cumulative influences of pollution and unstable weather systems that are currently disrupting bird migration routes. The work carries associations to both the direct and the indirect effects that human presence and industry may have on bird populations.

During the early stages of development I created platforms for public engagement and feedback. A symposium was organised with representatives from the British Trust for Ornithology, North Wales Wetlands, the School of Biological Sciences,School of Psychology Bangor University.The aim was to stimulate Knowledge Exchange through presenting different perspectives of how birds may be affected by potential environmental change in the future, as a direct or indirect influence of climate change.The piece was shown at V2 Rotterdam as part of Balance-UnBalance New Value Systems exhibition last autumn and further iterations are in development for new public art opportunities.

I am in the early stages of a new inquiry Reading the Skies, where I amexploring the sensorial experience of air. The project interfaces with the ecological and political readings of air. I have begun to explore traditional meteorological methods alongsidedigital citizen sensing and remote sensing technologies as a way to read the environment.

I have been exploring the poetry of the parachute alongside methods of communicating air quality readings and constructing sensing technologies with light systems. Aerosol readings from the urban and rural landscape within my locality have been obtained and these have been mapped to different light waves.Early stage prototyping is underway where parachutes embedded with light systems have been deployed from UAV drone technology above the Welsh landscape.

Recently I have revisited the sculpture Light Choreographies to develop how the robotic light sculpture can be used to map, animate light and project climate data specifically in relation to Reading the Skies.This ongoing inquiry is supported by National Theatre Wales and creative conversations with scientists at Manchester University’s Atmospheric Laboratory. Future applications will involve larger scale campaigns within Walesto further develop the research and creative inquiry.


Angela Davies: impermafrost

What would you say are the primary motivations for your work?

My work is interdisciplinary in nature and I am driven by the potentials of new limits of materiality and experiences. My methods border between traditional processes and the exploration of creative technologies to consider the material and immaterial, real and virtual, presence and absence.

I have become increasingly concerned with delicate ecological structures. I have been considering how I can make stronger associations between environmental research, the poetics of data with reflections upon communication and interaction. A strong factor is the motivation to connect people to an experience allowing a sense of agency for interrogating and illuminating abstract ideas.

Meaningful exchanges across disciplines play an important role within my practice and I often seek out ways to engage in creative inter-disciplinary dialogues that expand upon ideas formed and gather new perspectives. My process relies upon a synthesis of these approaches.

Angela Davies: Light Choreographies

Art there any particular artists or others whose work has had a profound effect on you or whose work you would care to highlight?

Of recent shows the playful interrogation of fragile ecosystems within Tomas Saraceno’s On Airat Palais De Tokyo was wonderfully compelling.

I continue to return to TS Eliot’s Burnt Norton…
‘Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.’

I am currently reading and reflecting on the following:

TJ Demos – Against the Anthropocene
Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
James Thornton and Martin Goodman – Client Earth
Naomi Klein – This Changes Everything
Junichiro Tanizaki – In Praise of Shadows
Jennifer Gabrys – Program Earth
Sean Cubitt – The Practice of Light
Nic Crompton – The Shipping Forecast

Artists who continue to influence my work include:

James Turrell
JMW Turner
Robert Wilson
Marcel Duchamp
Joseph Beuys
Antonio Tapies
Cy Twombly
Leonardo Da Vinci
Mario Merz

Angela Davies: impermafrost (detail)