Artist in Residence at The Observatory on the Lymington Sea Wall

Artist in Residence at The Observatory on the Lymington Sea Wall


The Observatory is an interesting social project which has caused much discussion in the community.


By Trina Hart of Coastal Gallery, Lymington


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Katie Surridge has completed her residency at The Observatory on the sea wall in Lymington. Her sculptural work often includes found materials, and these are used in conjunction with prefabricated parts to construct large structural forms. Using these elements in the sculptures gives them a new place in the world. Her aim is to show the viewer items or materials that might otherwise be overlooked or discarded.


Last year Katie was working in Denmark, making a sculpture to celebrate the opening of a UNESCO heritage site. The area was called the Wadden Sea, and this was the first time she had worked with sand, using it to fill double glazing units. She drove along the coast and collected 36 different sand samples, which each filled a different triangular double glazing unit. These were then set in to a steel frame.

This was what had influenced her work during her residency in Lymington:


"When I came across the Observatory project I had decided I wanted to use this idea again, and wrote about this in my proposal. However, I didn't think that I would be filling the cavity between the double glazing glass with stripes of sand, this really references the local area in that this is one of the main attractions of Alum Bay, filling little glass bottles with sand. This is where I got all my sand from, and is a tradition has been going on since Victorian times. I enjoyed putting my own modern twist on this practice."


KS Sand


The rest of Katie's work was really driven by her direct experiences and adventures on the residency. She drew a lot from travel, and being in a new situation as it gave her a chance to explore new materials which is why residencies are so valuable to her practice. In particular she spent a lot of time working with shells at the observatory, something she had never used before, but as there were so many readily available this seemed like a great material to work with.

"One of my other main works whilst at the Observatory was making six charred wood shapes, using the same techniques as used for the outside of The Observatory. These were inspired directly by The Observatory building itself and ended up being quite special to me. The memorial bench ( to be replaced once the observatory moves on) where the observatory was located, I discovered through meeting the family, was for someone who also loved the place where these charred works were finally positioned. This was also my favourite spot."




The shapes were only allowed to go up for one tide change , although it is hoped that they will be allowed to go up again for the exhibition next year in St Barbes:


"It felt a bit frustrating to do so much work just for one day, I am quite used to working like this, the large scale nature of many of my earlier installations mean that most just exist in photos now."


Apart from the installation, Katie also incorporated shells in her work as part of her ‘Sinister Sea Side series’. These included a boy being engulfed by winkles and various charity shop ceramic pieces with amusingly placed shells. These pieces reference the naff sea side shell art which you often find , and are her humorous take on these.





During Katie's residency, she engaged with local community projects to encourage participation, and introduce a sand painting workshop to visitors, which was held at St Barbes in Lymington. During the workshop the participants helped to colour one side of a pre cut wooded square each; this was split diagonally with a line to create a shape inspired by semaphore flags. They were asked to colour one side with sand . Katie then had the mammoth task of joining these all together with hoops to make a large flexible mat which could be shaped and manipulated and became a moveable sculpture. The effect was quite spectacular, and remarkably flexible.




To learn more about Katie's time in Lymington, please watch this video, where you will get a further understanding of what this project offers:


The Coastal Gallery in Lymington is proud to be a sponsor of the Observatory launch in Lymington.


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