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Johann Arens ‘100 Arches’ - St John’s CE VC Primary School

As part of the Primary Capital Programme series of art commissions, London and Amsterdam based artist Johann Arens will develop an art work for St John’s CE VC Primary School, Clifton, Bristol.

Artist proposal:

Johann Arens’ work employs the language of both sculpture and film and set in motion a direct comparison between visual culture and actual social space. He merges elements of a seemingly incongruous nature; domestic interiors alternate with stylised film props; institutional and scientific work environments transition into exhibition facilities and found memorabilia is reconstructed in computer-generated landscapes. The arrangements function as a systematic analysis of the mechanisms of spatial transformation, the rhetoric of museum display and audience behaviour at large. Through a body of work produced in different material and media, visual artefacts are framed in a non-hierarchical order; the object is not approached as a monument but as a public situation. 

The project ‘100 Arches’ is an archival installation for the new and existing premises of St John’s Primary School, situated either side of Whiteladies Rd. Based on the simple concept of an arch connecting two points, a multitude of gestural artworks in different media and sizes will be conceived and installed all across the two buildings. Set in an educational institution the project taps into the pupils open-minded approach to culture. Rather than representing one form or medium, so not to favour one approach in particular, it will consist of sculptures, vitrine displays, architectural add-ons, scripted activities, photo wallpapers, scale models, conceptual gestures, books, murals and 3D prints. Varying in scale and pitch, 100 Arches will be a playful intervention that shuns a singular formal approach in favor of a subtly connected collection of artworks whose inherent mutability should provide pupils with a spring board for their own ideas.

This commission is funded by Bristol City Council and is due for completion in mid 2014.

Johann Arens

Johann Arens (b. 1981, Germany), holds an MFA from Goldsmiths College, London, 2011 and is currently in residence at the British School in Rome. Recent solo presentations include ‘Internet Centre & Habesha Grocery’ at Paradise Row, London, 'Apple and Pear' at ASC Gallery, London and 'Effect Rating' in De Service Garage, Amsterdam, both 2012. Group exhibitions include 'Institute for Mathematical Sciences', Flat Time House, London, 2013; 'Members Show', Outpost, Norwich; 'Young London 2012', V22; 'A useful-looking useless object', Sierra Metro, Edinburgh; 'I'll explain you everythiinnngggg', Chert Berlin, 'New Contemporaries', ICA London, 2010 and 'No Soul For Sale' Festival at Tate Modern, 2010. Arens will be attending the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, in 2014. 

St John’s CE VC Primary School


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St. John’s school is a voluntary controlled Church of England Primary school. Their foundation church is All Saints on Pembroke Road, Clifton with members of the church forming members of the Governing body along with parents and staff. The school was founded in 1851 in buildings which remain standing at the top of Blackboy Hill. A second separate school, The Board School, was built in Anglesea Place in 1886 and the two schools eventually amalgamated at the turn of the century. The present building was completed in 1979 and incorporates part of the original Board school which provides accommodation for an After School Club, a music room and a custom built computer room. In September 2013 due to high demand of school places at St John’s Primary CE VC Primary School, St John’s Primary expanded and increased its intake from 45 pupils per year group to 75. All infant aged children are now taught on the new Lower Redland Road in what was formerly Redland Police Station. Junior children continue to be based at the larger, existing Worrall Road site.

This commission is part of a series of public art commissions curated and managed by Arnolfini for the Primary Capital Programme (PCP); a Bristol City Council and LEP,(Local Educational Partnership) initiative designed to transform aging primary schools across England into state-of-the-art learning environments over the next 15 years. More information on Arnolfini’s involvement here.