Opening reception with the artist, Saturday 18th February, 2-4pm
The philosophy of circularity is central to Anthony Stevens' practice. A self-taught artist who embroiders fabrics both found and gifted to him, it is the elemental concept of causation and rebirth that is central to his Buddist practice, along with a wicked sense of humour, that plays out through his work. A deep thinker, he effects optimism as he comments that it is us and our choices that frame our experience of life.
In this series there are to-do lists, 'smileys', black holes and naval flags. There is bountiful writing supplied by Anthony, each piece has its own comment. Some examples include The Night Bloom Series which he says are “an ongoing investigation into how the processes of human life are reflected in the world around us. Growth and the creative space in its many facets are often dark, whether it be the womb, the earth, sleep or the limitless bounds of inner and outer space. These spaces and processes can give a sense of appreciation and awe to the mystery of life. In the dark, we can develop new aspects of ourselves, we can learn to see in new ways that were previously unknown to us. We can’t rely on the usual senses of the daylight world and something new has to emerge. Without darkness there is no newness, no fecundity, only eventual depletion. It is as essential to life as the sun in the sky and the air we breathe.”
Of the To Do Series Stevens says "These are an ongoing series of works around the ‘To Do’ list, my ambivalence towards them, their restrictive, yet useful nature, how they are doodled on, ripped up and scribbled on and ultimately, how they mark the passage of time like diary entries, sometimes dull, sometimes thrilling, but usually somewhere in between. They are a document of how our time is spent, the actions taken to maintain, and build our lives, dreams and futures. Maybe there is a certain sort of practical magic hidden in the mundane?”
The Mickey Mouse inspired character has for Stevens “become a symbol of feeling stifled. I imagined how it must be for the human being inside the mouse costume, all that heat, the weight, the discomfort, constantly being jostled, demanded of and all anyone can see is a big grinning mouse! I would think we all can relate to this experience in some manner, feeling trapped by the roles and tasks that are inevitable in life. Perhaps these uncomfortable commonalities, these shared experiences can foster a little more kindness in our day to day dealings with each other?"
As art historian and author Jo Baring wrote in his 2021 exhibition essay “Too often we look elsewhere for love and validation, here Stevens is reminding us that everything we need is within us, that it just requires a change of perspective, an ability to look at oneself closely, in order to see that. . . . These textiles are beautiful, hand-crafted creations which guide us towards an understanding of our shared experiences as humans. They encourage us to slow down, and lead us towards a realisation that rather than being apart, we are part of something larger than ourselves. Perspective is key.”