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tillage – John Newling

25 April - 18 October

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Sat 25 April – Sun 18 October 2020

John Newling (b. 1952, Birmingham, UK) is a pioneer of public art with a  social purpose. He is known for site-specific work that explores the relationship between nature and culture and the transformative power of incorporating nature into everyday life. This major exhibition features many of his acclaimed works spanning the past 40 years of his career alongside a specially commissioned, site-specific sculpture and new works inspired by society’s need to evolve in the face of the climate emergency.

Newling worked with local allotment holders and gardeners and was influenced by the history of Ditchling and the village’s craftspeople. Locally collected leaves gilded in copper and soil made into books will form part of the exhibition. Eventually, they will be returned to the local community, drawing conversations on ecological issues from garden to gallery and back again. The artist often works with gold and copper to guild natural materials in his work, transforming nature’s ephemera into a kind of currency that explores notions of time, money and value.

Newling also presents a new sculptural installation that sits seamlessly amongst the village green’s natural habitat, in a beech tree adjacent to the museum. A Letter to the Soil is a large steel text that reads ‘…so sorry…’, offering a direct apology to nature.

In addition to these new commissions, Newling’s studies of the natural world and the social and economic systems of society will be displayed alongside work from Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft’s permanent collection.