Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Art, science and mischief on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast

HIVE BEACH at Burton Bradstock near Bridport will get public art in 2012, possibly on cafe menus and National Trust parking tickets.

London-based creative studio Proboscis have been commissioned by the Dorset visual arts collective Big Picture to respond to the Jurassic Coast.

Proboscis describe themselves as “pioneers of pie in the sky – makers of mischief”.

They’re getting £6,500 and production costs of up to £1,500 to – in the words of the brief - ”engage with users of the Hive Beach Café at Burton Bradstock and explore the human story of the Jurassic coast, and how the physical and the social influence and impact upon each other.”

The cafe is described as “a real-time social networking site directly on the coast. Its clientele varies greatly through the year, which provides an interesting scope to foster engagement with and between different social groups who are interacting with the coast – influencing it and being influenced by it.”

Amateur and professional scientists are also expected to feature.

The Hive Beach Café, the nearby National Trust car park and the beach will be “the main site of activity”, but art could spread around Burton Bradstock, over to the Watch House Cafe at West Bay and into Bridport.

Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock, with the cafe and the car park to the right. Photograph by Eugene Birchall, reused under Creative Comons Licence.

More from the brief: “The commission managers Bridport Arts Centre and PVA MediaLab are interested in socially engaged artistic practice, engaging with a non-arts audience and presenting art in non-traditional spaces.

“Possible outcome and location suggestions include:

“Content for café surfaces [e.g. table menus], information spaces [menu boards, NT parking tickets etc] and packaging [food labelling]

“Projections in Bridport Arts Centre windows

“Audio-visual [live] performance on Bridport Arts Centre forecourt

“Possible Gallery exhibition after the main project time.”

That was the come-on. How might the project actually develop?

Carolyn Black, producer of the new Ex Lab (Exploratory Laboratory) project, said: “Proboscis will focus on the social science of the area and how people relate to this very particular place.

“They are inspired by the rich mix of physical and social history, folklore, scientific knowledge (amateur and professional) and contemporary stories unique to the area.”

The Hive Beach scheme looks to me like it will slot into a five-year programme called Public Goods, recently begun by Proboscis with the aim of “making and sharing tangible representations of the intangible things we feel are most precious about the places and communities we belong to, such as stories, skills, games, songs, techniques, memories, local lore and experiential knowledge of local environment and ecology.”

Personally, I’m looking forward to this very much indeed. Could it be like one of Common Ground’s old projects – I’ve always been a fan of Common Ground – but with more of an edge? Next summer, we’ll see.

(I’ve been idly wondering what the reaction might be if Proboscis turned out to be disciples of Mr Tourette, Master Signwriter, but that level of mischief seems extremely unlikely).

Anyway, more than 200 artists and organisations submitted proposals to Ex Lab.

Aside from Proboscis, four were successful.

Again in the words of Carolyn Black: “Portland Bill will engage artist Simon Ryder in an exciting challenge to address the variety and complexity of Portland, dealing with the many layers that coexists there – geological, historical, ecological, military.”

And: “Painter Simon Callery will work on a commission that links the geology inland with that visible on the coast. Simon will follow a geological journey from Sherborne to the sea, creating an artwork that reflects the experience of walking these landscapes and engaging with people who live along the route.”

The other two winners will be based in the eastern half of Dorset. Sculptor Mat Chivers plans to work with the National Trust on Purbeck to create art for Bournemouth town centre. Multi-material artist Zachary Eastwood-Bloom will collaborate with the Applied Science department at Bournemouth University on a project at Durlston Country Park that – according to Ex Lab – will explore “the diverse possibilities of using scientific data and instrumentation to stimulate form creation”.

All five Ex Labbers now intend to conduct research and development with scientists and the public.

Various events and activities will give people chance to follow what they are up to.

If you want to get involved, see

Ex Lab is funded by Arts Council England, National Trust, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and additionally supported by Bournemouth University, Exeter University, Aberystwyth University, Creative Coast 2012 and the Jurassic Coast Team.

Big Picture members are Artsreach, b-side, Bridport Arts Centre, Dorset Visual Arts, PVA MediaLab, Sherborne House Arts and Walford Mill Crafts. Their aim is to work with Dorset County Council “to sustain and develop vibrant visual arts in Dorset”.

Information about Ex Lab 2012 artists

(Details supplied by Ex Lab)


The artists Proboscis (Alice Angus and Giles Lane) Gary Stewart, and Stefan Kueppers (designer and technologist) most often work outside galleries and like to work with local people and communities and in collaboration with scientists, technologists and architects. They blend craft with technology, video, sound and public art.

On Twitter @proboscisstudio


Originally trained as a zoologist before turning to art, Simon Ryder’s work investigates how we interact with the places in which we live and work, and how they, in turn, shape us. He adopts ideas and methodologies drawn from science, art, natural history and geology in his work, often using one to transform another; so for one commission he turned birdsong into landscapes, and for another crystallized horsetail ferns as a form of keeping memory alive. Simon Ryder has produced work for a wide range of places, including Gloucester cathedral, Southmead Hospital, the National Wetlands Centre Wales, and is currently working in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve North Devon and the Cotswold Water Park. People will be able to follow Simon’s progress on Portland through his blog which can be found at


Simon Callery is a painter based in London. His work has been shown widely in the UK and internationally. Exhibitions include: Art Now 19, Tate Britain, Paper Assets, British Museum and Sensation, Royal Academy of Arts, London. He is currently included in Within/Beyond Borders, selected works from the European Investment Bank Collection, Luxembourg; at the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens and will be showing in a group painting show at Galerie B55, Budapest, in February 2012.

In developing new approaches to landscape based art Callery has worked in collaboration with archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology and the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, over a number of years. This has resulted in the development of new forms for contemporary painting, which aim to engage the viewer on a multi-sensory level, akin to our experience of the material landscape.


Mat Chivers is a sculptor and visual artist who lives and works on Dartmoor in Devon. His work as an artist combines traditional approaches to making, like carving by hand in stone and drawing on paper, with contemporary digital and science based technologies to make normally invisible processes visible.

He has works in private and public collections nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include ‘Fascination’ a solo exhibition curated by James Putnam at Maddox Arts, London; ‘The Knowledge’ at the Gervasuti Foundation, 54th Biennale di Venezia; ‘Eleventh Plateau’ at the Historical Archives Museum, Hydra and The Athens Biennale, Greece and ‘Biliteral’ at Pertwee Anderson & Gold, London. He will be showing work in ‘Material Matters’ at the Courtauld Institute, London in 2012 and is currently involved in an ongoing project with research scientists at The University of Bristol.


Zachary Eastwood-Bloom is a multi-material artist working with and exploring materials such as concrete, ceramic, bronze, wood and resin. He combines both traditional and contemporary processes such as casting, CNC milling, 3D printing and laser cutting, making objects that question the delicate balance between the material and the digital. After discovering the possibilities of making and the three-dimensional form, Zachary went to study at Edinburgh College of Art where he began experimenting with 3D design software. He further explored digital processes and fabrication at the Royal College of Art graduating in 2010.

Zachary is a founding member of London-based Studio Manifold and has recently exhibited with British Ceramics Biennial, The V&A Museum and The Royal British Society of Sculptors and his piece ‘Information Ate My Table’ is currently touring with the Crafts Council’s Lab Craft exhibition.