Incidental Imagery – who are they, and what are they? As the group’s Newton Abbot exhibition approaches, we find out.

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A group of artists called Incidental Imagery will be showing their work in Newton Abbot, Devon, from Friday, November, 27 to Sunday, December 6. We got in touch with artist Luci Coles from the group to find out what Incidental Imagery is all about.

Who is Incidental Imagery and why was it set up?

We all knew each other – or of each other through various networks – primarily TRAIL, the annual recycled sculpture trail which takes place on Teignmouth seafront and surrounding areas. Vicki and Gill had received an Arts Council grant for a collaborative piece for the Art Farm project previously, Jan also exhibited at the Art Farm in 2006 and is a long standing TRAIL member. Gill and I had worked together for workshops – and had great fun developing an idea for ‘the doggy bag’ project (details kept secret in case we revive the idea one day). Jane and Ruth joined us in 2008 to exhibit as a group for Devon Open studios.  
Is there something similar in your work or your approach?

We do not have a manifesto or even a formal ethos for fear of inhibiting direction or creativity in any individual. We do have similar values, however. We all see the environment and the issues we currently face concerning it of major interest and concern and while this does not form the entirety of what we do as artists it is a running theme in much of our work. I think there is something similar in our approach to life – one of the things that works really well when we exhibit together is our combined love of the quirky and ridiculous. Last year that came out in the form of Wellington boots and imaginative baking. When someone comes up with an idea that some would consider silly or even, dare I say, clichéd, we all get straight to work on it with enthusiasm – we are all children at heart. You will have to visit the exhibition to see what we come up with this year.

What’s the benefits and pitfalls of creating an artists’ group?

As a group we work well together, which is why, along with shared sentiments, that we continue to collaborate. We retain our own identity within the group and very much work as individual artists who come together to exhibit rather than work closely together all year around.

One of the main benefits of showing together is, of course, the shared cost and workload. There is a lot to do from publicity, curating and invigilating, to organising the space. We often exhibit in ‘non gallery spaces’ which require a great deal of cleaning up. Most of us have ‘regular day jobs’, which means that our we cannot physically man a space for nine days – as this exhibition runs for.

We all have different and complementary skills, which we use and develop through each other (I will be emailing this to everyone for a re-write and spell-check before submitting it!). It is great to have people who share your enthusiasm to discuss things with and believe in the importance of art’s place in communities and the world. We are all individually members of a number of artists networks many of which, as Incidental Imagery, are committed to bringing art to the wider community – making it more accessible and less ‘exclusive’.  I can’t think of any pitfalls – we all encourage each other.

You’ve got a show coming up, what’s it all about?

Our exhibition opening on the Friday, November 27 is headlined as Incidental Imagery Goes Green. This is the first time we have ever discussed a ‘theme’ when we exhibit together, but as I have mentioned previously all of the artists involved have a deep concern for the environmental issues which face us in today’s world, so this fits what we all do as individual artists every day and the work on show is marvellously individual and approaches this theme from  many angles.

Jane Baker – also simultaneously showing work at Newton Abbot station (on the bridge between the platforms) in a sister exhibition named Platform Art – is exploring the issue of climate change and transience in her work Because You’re Worth It, her transition poster and edible sculptures. Gill Greatorex, shows her concerns for the climate change issue by exploring the ‘incidentals of life’, the everyday objects which are so important in the way we live today. Jan O’Highway uses discarded toys and plastic packaging in her high resolution scans and assembled sculptures, creating work that displays stunning use of colour and form. Vicki Gardener is displaying her new book Devon Rarities (endorsed by the Devon Wildlife Trust), which documents beautifully many rarer local species & environments. I, Luci Coles, use my ‘little bird’ persona to create a world of ‘civilised’ wild life – recreating habitats and environments from the things the human race may leave behind.

What projects do you have planned further in the future?

Lots! Incidental Imageries group exhibition for 2010 is being held in Birdwood House, Totnes in 2010 (November 13-20). We always ensure to show new work, so if you like what you see in Newton Abbot, put in your diary for next year. We have very loose plans to cross the channel and exhibit in France in the reasonably foreseeable future – watch the Incidental Imageries website for details.

As individual artists you will see our work as part of the Teign Artists group –a new artists network in the Teignmouth area will be organising an open studio event in the spring of 2010. TRAIL indoor exhibition and sculpture trail. TRAIL also have a new ‘wearable art’ show in the summer. Gill has set us all a challenge by winning ‘best in show’ in 2009’s performance, so you may see some interesting and imaginative wearable sculpture appearing here. Luci Coles will also show with North Somerset Arts in June 2010, and Jan O’Highway will be in Totnes Open Studios in April 2010. Bishopsteignton Outdoor Art group – of which Gill Greatorex is a driving force – currently have an impressive piece ‘the hub’ a futuristic encampment made from hundreds of discarded hub caps, showing at the Eden project.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Incidental Imagery’s Going Green exhibition is open from 10-5pm daily from the Friday, November 27 to the Sunday, December 6. Late night opening till 9pm on Wednesday, December 2, to coincide with late night shopping in Newton Abbot town centre. Come and see for yourself… and check out the Incidental Imageries website



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