West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is pleased to announce that Alec Stevens will be its first remote Artist-in-Residence.
The residency, which has come about as a result of lockdown, will run throughout the summer and see Alec explore digital technologies to make a new body of work.
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 look at how technology can make the viewing experience more participatory and interactive for an online audience.
Earlier this year, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation welcomed Alec Stevens as maker-inresidence. Alec spent two weeks at the College, working alongside students in the College’s Fine Art and Furniture workshops, to create a new body of work that referenced the College’s collection and Archive.
As Alec explains: “Having attended a Queering Surrealism conference held at the College a number of years ago, I was already familiar with the highlights of the Collection and was keen to combine this with my observation that food is a recurring theme in the Collection: from Dalí’s Lobster Telephone to a pair of 16th century School of Arcimboldo paintings.
Fusing surrealism’s underlying sexual connotations, my ’sausage-fest’ artworks offers a renewed surrealist notion of being well fed and encourages the coming together to revel in the absurd.”
Alison Baxter, Head of School of Art, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, commented: “We invited Alec to be artist in residence knowing he would engage with the Collection in an exciting and original manner. Securing Arts Council Funding has enabled him to continue his research and uncover some of the lesser-known items in the Collection and Archive.
Alec will now be our first remote artist-in-residence, with all artworks made during this period available to view online at www.alecstevens.co.uk.”
Stevens goes on to say: “I’m super happy to continue working with the talented team at West Dean.
West Dean has a wonderful collection of significant items linked to the life of Edward James and the fascinating people he has encountered. Drawing on the success of my ‘sausage’ Maker in Residence position in March of this year, I will be continuing to develop a piece of artwork exploring Edward James’ commissioned surrealist interiors combined with West Dean’s more recent tradition of being ‘feeders’.”
As part of the residency, Alec will join the Feminism and Queer Histories Reading Group at West Dean College. Set up by students studying on the Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (DACC), the reading group will discuss Alec’s publishing house Polari Press, which specialises in artist books, zines and objects exploring LGTBQ+ themes and histories.
Alec Stevens’ arts practice is specialised in the creation of highly detailed sculpted objects in wood with strong ideas behind them. The projects he undertakes are rooted within the research regarding a particular location and the presence of people over the course of history. He creates crafted artworks within places with rich pasts such as museums, archives and the historic urban environment.
Revealing stories that explore the past in his own mischievous voice, Stevens’ approach plays with the notion of past histories and questions their authenticity. The results of which are humorous, revealing and thought-provoking.
The West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international reputation for excellence and is a full partner of the University of Sussex. Students get to view or work with material from the College’s amazing Collection and Archive. For conservation and fine art study opportunities see www.westdean.ac.uk.
At present, students are completing their academic year remotely, however the College aims to welcome Fine Art students back into the studios at the start the academic year in September with social distancing in place.