Major Project: ‘A Summer of Love’ at Portsmouth Guildhall, 20/3/17 – 21/6/17

‘A Summer of Love’

You can see all the illustrations here in the Daff Gallery

An exhibition of illustrations by Caroline Misselbrook, celebrating generations of her family’s love of nature and creativity.

To mark the 50th birthday of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) at the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Cultural Trust (PCT) invited CCI students to submit a proposal to showcase new creative work as part of our ongoing exhibition programme to enrich the visual and cultural experience of visitors to the Guildhall.

The aim is to offer students and alumni an opportunity to showcase their work to a broad public audience, developing their professional creative practice. For this exhibition students submitted proposals responding to the theme: ‘Summer of Love’.

The selected student was Caroline Misselbrook, an MA Illustration student at the School of Art and Design, who was awarded £250 towards materials and display. This show will be part of a series of Summer of Love celebrations in Portsmouth. Talks, exhibitions, performances, film screenings, live music and other events will shine a spotlight on the history and legacy of the sixties counterculture.

The selection panel looked for creative excellence, originality in response to the theme and clear method of display. The judges were Simon Brooks (Interim Dean of CCI Faculty), Andy Grays (CEO of Portsmouth Cultural Trust), Eva Balogh and Oliver Gruner (Art & Design Visual Culture), Tony Spencer (Aspex Gallery Manager) and Denise Callender (CCI Faculty Promotions Manager).

In this series of 10 illustrations, Caroline gives a new lease of life to the birds from her father’s egg collection, which he started as a child in the 1950’s during walks in the Westwood Local Nature Reserve and along Weston Shore in Southampton.

While organising the box Caroline found a complete copy of the Daily Express from 1961 underneath the sawdust. Adverts and articles form part of the watercolour and ink illustrations and highlight the juxtaposition of animals that continued to live happily around us while we focused on our materialistic lifestyles and had unhealthy expectations of men and women. It was this post war culture in the U.S, Canada and Europe that eventually lead to hippies or ‘flower children’ during the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967, rejecting these consumerist values and turning to art, religious or meditative practice and politics.

Caroline accentuates the expressions and characteristics of each bird to create satirical and humorous illustrations. These artworks challenge the audience to ask whether values reflected in a newspaper from over 50 years ago have really evolved, or have they just become more deeply ingrained in everything we read and watch?

Richard Louv’s book ‘The Nature Principle’ in which he discusses his theory of ‘nature deficit disorder’ has been a key source of inspiration for this project. He believes that stepping away from screens to discover and appreciate the wonders of our ‘nearby nature’ can improve wellbeing and creativity. This exhibition is a celebration of the variety of birds within the haven of the Westwood and Weston Shore, which is less than 4 miles from the bustle of Southampton city center.

‘Creative Block’ by Danielle Krysa helped to inspire a daily challenge called ‘Blockvember’, leading to the development of a more distinctive and expressive style. Caroline describes her choice of media as a natural progression towards materials that forced her away from a safety net of precision and perfectionism. Ink and watercolours are difficult to control and embracing mistakes, drips and splashes gives the composition a more dynamic quality.

The series closes with a photograph of the artist’s father and his mother. Caroline’s grandmother raised a family centered on creativity and a love of nature. She continued to watch the birds outside her window until she passed away in January.

 

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