As part of the Primary Capital Programme series of art commissions, London based artist Tom Dale has developed an art work for Ashley Down Primary School, Bristol.
In order to produce his commission ‘Aztec Collider’ Tom Dale started with a number of workshops with a year 2 class, to get an idea of what the children knew of the world beyond their school, the furthest they had travelled and their conception of the world. From these workshops Dale decided that his commission should allow children to think about where they might want to go or who they might want to be in life, albeit in a playful way. It seemed that the most appropriate vehicle - not just in terms of a ‘flight of fancy’ - but in terms of what could be sourced for the sculpture was an actual plane; with a real history that could fuel the children’s excitement and imagination.
Although central to the art work, Dale was keen to present the plane in a way that would bring other ideas into the play. To allow this a geometric steel structure was developed to encase the plane, which are in turn, inset with tinted Perspex screens. Based loosely on Sol Lewitt’s ‘incomplete cube’ series the structure functions as a metaphor for minimalist sculpture, often based on very rational and logical rules, but which in this case, is fused with a structure that has a velocity and excitement to it. The coloured Perspex panels accentuate this, whilst allowing for children to view their surroundings through different colours suggesting the excitement of impossible trajectories and exotic destinations.
This commission is funded by Bristol City Council and was completed in Summer 2013.
Recently named the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Artist of the Week’, Dale’s work regularly appears in publications such as Flash Art, Art Review, Time Out, and Dazed & Confused. A Graduate of the Goldsmiths College, London he has been nominated for a number of awards most recently the Latitude festivals Contemporary Art Award. He is currently completing his PhD at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions include CAN, Neuchatel (2012), NIMAC, Cyprus (2013) Poppy Sebire, London (2013), and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2014)"
Dale’s work is witty, diverse and is concerned with grand gestures and contradictions. Sculptures inspired by Evel Knievel: twisting stunt ramps emblazoned with stars and stripes , a series of photographs probing the history of contrasting ideologies on a Polish housing estate and recently his installation at Ham House, ‘Banquet of Sound’, which traces the contradictory, tangled branches of culture to do with learning, democracy and instability.
Dale's most witty expression of the empty grand gesture is an early work from 2005, in which a large grey ball is attached to the wheel from an office chair. Instead of becoming more effective, both objects are rendered lame and immobile. It's a case study in absurd overstatement.
Ashley Down Primary is a split site school federation that brings together Ashley Down Infant School and Ashley Down Primary School, including the new Brunel Field site. The original Infant and Junior School buildings on Downend Road and Olveston Road have been serving the community of Ashley Down and Horfield for over 100 years and currently have two classes in each year group from Reception up to Year 6. The new Brunel Field site, off Ashley Down Road and next to Gloucestershire County Cricket Club and City of Bristol College, can also accommodate two classes in each year group from Reception up to Year 6. The new site has been open for three years and is filling up classes from Reception year on year.
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.