A visitation to my Studio

May 06, 2022

A few  evenings ago I was working in my studio, the door was open. In a moment a very large Tawny owl flew in, flew about, landed on the back of my computer chair, then flew up to the beam above my head, stared down at me, flew around the room again and then out of the door — gone. I spoke to it- “what are you doing here? Aren’t you beautiful etc”

I was left stunned and felt that this had been a special moment. We hear them here in the woods behind the house, but rarely see them. It was a very large and beautiful bird. I felt somehow honoured, and since my health is not good — protected. Actually wildlife seems to come in an out of the studio. A robin often visits and hops around under my feet. Not so long ago I was on the phone and a pipistrelle bat flew in — flying around my head and the room and then eventually out again.

Throughout my life I have had encounters with owls. I even once made a sculpture from a real live Tawny owl which was tethered to a post and who watched me walking around him — swivelling his head as I went around the back. I once discovered a baby Little owl in the field behind my friends house. I crouched down and tickled its breast with my finger and he hopped on — staring at me with big eyes all the time to make sure I didn’t try on any funny business. I left him under the bush.

Early on in my career  I was beginning to doubt what I was doing and it was very hard to make a living. Just at this time I had a very powerful archaic dream — a dream which seemed to come from the history of the human race.

‘I was sitting with my back up against an old twisted pine in a kind of Cezanne landscape. As I looked out over the landscape I became aware I was not alone. I looked up and on the branch above my head were two huge Eagle owls sitting impassively. I thought to myself I have been here all this time and had no idea these two were here. At this moment a third owl flew down, grabbed me and flew off with me. Then cut to and underground cavern with tree roots, sitting across from me were several children and the owl in the centre of the space was explaining to the kids the significance of the intricate painting on a very large egg.’

Over the years I have found deeper meaning in this dream — like leaving the parental nest and becoming an artist, but mainly this is a shamanic dream where the trainee shaman is grabbed by a large bird of prey and either taken up into the heavens or down underground. The tree is the tree of life and the underground dark space is closely aligned to my cloud chambers where the images of clouds and sky and tree branches are brought down into a dark earthy space and re revealed in a dream-like way. The painting on the egg is the art that comes from these experiences and they may be shown in whatever way to the wider world — in particular to children, who regularly write to me from all over the world to ask about what I do.

Not long after this dream I decided to use the imagery in a basket (see below – Dream Basket). It is a coil basket made from green sticks bound in white willow and bramble. It has four handles in the cardinal directions. Owl feathers hang from each of the handles. The image woven into the basket is of two owls with outstretched wings facing one another.

About the time I made this work, I was cycling back home across the Romney Marsh from my studio at dusk. All of a sudden a beautiful and ghostly white barn owl flew down and in front of the bicycle. It continued to fly a 3 or 4 metres in front using the movement of the bicycle to put up any insects which it would swoop upon and grab. This went on for the best part of a mile. An owl makes no noise as it flies so enhancing this transcendent experience. Eventually two crows flew down and mobbed it, so it left, leaving me to cycle on feeling that I had been deeply honoured, as I did the other day when the Tawny came visiting.


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The Energy of a Stone Row

May 02, 2022

The Energy of a Stone Row, Les Jardins Des Arts, Chateaubourg, Brittany, France

This is a garden connected to the hotel Ar Millin with the La Villaine river running along its border. Gisele Burel has been running this annual sculpture exhibition in the garden of their hotel for 20 years. This was her last year as president and she chose to invite land artists, some international and some local. My brief was to use materials which were present in the garden. I know Brittany very well and have always been fascinated by the stone rows of Carnac, which seem to me to be like an acupuncture line of the Earth. In both the body and on the Earth these lines represent energy. All energy is born of and dies back into energy, which is manifested as the spiral or vortex. You can see such vortices in rivers, clouds, within the human body and in the formation of galaxies – in the microcosm and the macrocosm.

The materials to hand in the garden were a large pile of granite stone which had come out of an old castle and which remained after the building of the hotel by Jaques Burel’s father; so they have a history. After the storms of the winter many trees had come down close to the site I chose, so these were cut and split and I used these new logs as the way to draw the flow of energy around the 7 upright stones and into the vortex, charring them black as they went down into the earth. Carbon here is stored in the earth, not released to the atmosphere. The stones were placed first with a JCB, the turf then cut out and the logs laid, starting in the centre of the vortex, charring the logs in a fire bowl close by.

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Iron In The Soil

January 10, 2022

1995 Iron in The Soil woven map of Oxfordshire iron workings and ochre soils from around the world -66 x 87

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Pica d’Etats

1995 Pica d’état’s Ochre and wax rubbing of a stone in the Pyrenees with a map of that area woven into it – 93 x 62 cm.


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Natures Mysterious Networks – Mushrooms, Mycelia and Yeasts

November 02, 2021

This is a group show with some fascinating and experimental artists – apologies for not having more images but details can be found on www.groundworkgallery.com     or




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October 01, 2021

A new work for the organisation Causes Aux Balcons,  Villard de Lans in the Vercors, France

In 2019 I was invited by Jerome Aussibal to make a work in this stunning limestone region in France. Jerome is a sculptor, a climber and an acrobat; a  man with a huge drive and energy.

I made a site visit in September and was all set to start the following year, but because of the pandemic it was postponed until September 2021. At this point a new site was established at Chateau Julien high up in the mountains with a clear view to the conical Mountain; Le Moucherol, which dominates the landscape.

Because the limestone splits into slates, it seemed the ideal place for a whirlpool, but with the edition of an oculus which would as it were bring the energy of the mountain down through the oculus/portal, into the whirlpool and down into ground and away down into the valley under the cliff on which Chateau Julien is sited. Limestone is also a liquid: it originates in a sea, is compressed and lifted up. Water dissolves it into rivers and caves underground. So water becomes rock which dissolves back into water, hence the title of the work.

A small ritual and offering was made to the site before work commenced. Work began by excavating the circular site flat with a JCB and a small digger. Surprisingly just here was mostly deep earth. On a daily basis we had 10 – 15 volunteers working under my instruction. The digger brought stone to us daily and Jerome became a site manager and oversaw most of the major construction, including the oculus, which was something new for both of us. We used some very big heavy stones in this and it was quite an undertaking.

Each day lunch was brought to us from the cafe at the base of the trail. So French; so civilised.


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Five Kanji Collaborations

September 01, 2021

These works were made in Collaboration with Myujin OK in Japan. He sent me five Kanji plus the brush: Tsochi/Earth, Kazu/Wind, Hi/Fire, Miss/Water and Kokoro/Heart, Soul, Mind. I responded to each in a work of the same scale – 795 x 725 mm. It is hoped to show them in both London and Tokyo

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From Mountain to Earth

A new work to be made from Limestone in The Vercors France – this is just an idea

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The Pollock Krasner Show

June 11, 2021

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“Seeing Past the Future” online exhibition opens June 10

May 26, 2021


Seeing Past the Future, an online exhibition of works by 2019-2020 Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant recipients, will open on June 10. The project was conceived by Shimon Attie, the inaugural Charles C. Bergman Endowed Visiting Professor of Studio Art at Stony Brook University’s College of Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center.

The digital exhibition will be hosted on the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center and Pollock-Krasner Foundation websites: pkhouse.org and pkf.org.
In consultation with Norman L. Kleeblatt, a former curator at the Jewish Museum in New York, and with curatorial assistance from Talya Feldman, Mr. Attie has chosen a group of 29 artists who received Pollock-Krasner Foundation grants since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing firsthand the vulnerabilities and needs of living artists, Lee Krasner established the foundation to offer them vital assistance. Through the presentation of contemporary works by grant recipients, Mr. Attie hopes to underscore how Pollock and Krasner’s legacy remains vibrant and relevant and continues through the practice of numerous working artists today.
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Art in the Time of Coronavirus

April 05, 2021



I had been wanting for some time to make  a hanging mushroom piece made from lichen covered Blackthorn. It grows everywhere in the hedgerows around my home and is prevellant in the wet winters. I suggested the idea to Chantal Colleu-Dumond at Chaumont sur Loire and she readily agreed – pointing out that the best place would be in the main barn.

I sent her drawings of how to make the top and the bottom and a date was set to make it in February when three students would be available. Then we went into lockdown and there was no way I could come over and make it. Instead Kay and I collected all the material – nearly 4000 pieces and we strung these in the studio. There were 456 strands with 3743 pieces of lichen covered thorn to be tied on. Each 4 m. long strand was placed on the full scale cross section drawing and the thorns tied on at the correct intervals. Each strand was wrapped around a numbered piece of card and placed in a numbered boxes – about 20 in all. It took us the best part of a month. We shipped the boxes labelled sculpture material and held our breath that they wouldn’t be opened and impounded. They got through without a hitch

Each number represented one of 14 circles which matched the cross section circles top and bottom. So in theory if the students started in the middle they could hook on top and bottom working out to the edge. There were video and written instructions but things get lost in translation and it took Thibault and Camille longer than anticipated, but they did it. Despite Covid and Brexit we made the piece.

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February 18, 2021

A Zoom talk for institutions, colleges and groups on 40 years of making art, travelling the globe and working with diverse people. Around one hour long with questions. Please contact me if you are interested.



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ART IN THE TIME OF COVID – Revised Utopias

December 11, 2020

Two years ago I was asked if I could come to Alaska and give a lecture in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau to the Alaska Design Forum. I said maybe we should do it on Skype to keep carbon in the ground, but then there was talk of doing a commission, so I agreed to come and spend some of the time looking for a site and working with scientists and indigenous communities. So, in fact I have always wanted to go to Alaska – so it was on until Covid struck, so we were back to Zoom. My talk was the last in the series for 2020 on the subject of Revised Utopias and took place on last Tuesday 8th. It was open to people all over the world.

Normally with a live audience, I put up images and just talk in a kind of performance, but with Zoom you talk to a dead screen, so for the first time I actually had to have a detailed script, so I could stay on message and to time.

Here is my opening statement:

Revised Utopia

 Sir Thomas More coined the word ‘utopia’, in 1516 from the Greek ou-topos meaning ‘no place’ or ‘nowhere’ andeu-topos; meaning ‘a good place’. This is a contradiction in terms because to have no place – no home is a catastrophe and has happened to many peoples in the history of the human race. A good place suggests a feeling of belonging – a home

 Utopia is also a state of mind and we have been living in a dystopia where we take from the Earth more than we need to live. We burn fossil fuels stored in the earth for millennia. We deplete our own and others environments to the point that biodiversity is diminished and we face the biggest species extinction since the last ice age or even the era of dinosaurs. Everywhere the Earth is going into meltdown – we push up against nature and provoke new viruses so that thousands of our own species are dying. We may never be able to go back to the old normal and we badly need to find a new way of living in harmony with the earth. Indigenous peoples throughout the world have been telling us this for more than 300 years.

The richest nations take everything and the poor suffer. Even within our own nations the poor, people of colour, indigenous people, trans and others are all disadvantaged and live in poverty and discrimination. The Gig economy stresses us all out and mental illness is rife. Our Utopia where we have what we want when we want it based on economies of greed and acquisition, based on an idea of continual growth at the expense of the planet itself is destroying us, and we seem incapable of turning this around because we are wedded to this utopian idea of the good life which has turned into a nightmare life. I don’t have any answers to this – only that a revised Utopia will not cut it. More Utopia means we wont have a planet to have a utopia on. Instead we need to live in reality and we all need our sense of place, we need to belong.

These then are the works I talked about in reference to this theme:

Two days after the zoom talk I received a box of objects through the post which represented the three areas I would have visited.



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Damascus Philadelphia

November 01, 2020

Commissioned for James and Sharon who were born in those countries. The Earth border is from Notting Hill, where they live and Sri Lanka where they got engaged

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Commissioned Woven Maps

July 17, 2020

Over several years I have been making woven maps for friends and family, but have decided to open it up to anyone. These map works take two places which have resonance for someone and I cut them into strips and weave them together in a pattern that helps to unify the two places. Situations for this could be a marriage or a partnership that brings together the places where the two people were raised. Or it could be two places which have much resonance in peoples lives. Some maps have a woven border of soil colours from both places. Below are some examples:

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Artnet News – Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement award

May 20, 2020

Pollock Krasner have just announced my Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award2020 05-2020 05-18 Artnet News

2020 05-19 Artnews Newsletter

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Lee Krasner Lifetime’s Achievement award

April 29, 2020


With Cloud Of Thorns in the studio

This is my third and last year of the Lee Krasner Lifetime’s Achievement award funding and I am so grateful to The Pollock Krasner Foundation – #PollockKrasnerFoundation –  for nominating me and then awarding me this award – #PKFGrantee. It has been totally life saving. In the first year I was able to take a year out to research and defeat metastatic prostate cancer. Guys Hospital mainly told me I should go home and die. But I was having none of it and my journey into and through cancer is the material for a book and touch wood I am in remission, or I may even have got rid of the cancer. My PSA is virtually undetectable.

That was the first year. Towards the end of that year; 2018, having applied for and being given the commission for a site on Morecambe Bay by The Morecambe Bay Partnership for Horizon Line Chamber, this was researched, designed and finally completed in January 2019. It was the culmination of a 16 year idea to make this work.

Meanwhile in the studio I was making Cloud of Thorns which was shown at Salon Vert in Geneva in June 2019 after a show called Wave at Avivson in London in April. This work is on Artnet now.

Later that year I made my second work for TICKON (Traeneker International Centre Fore Art and Nature) in Langelande, Denmark.

In this my last year of this three year award I was long listed for the Aesthetica Art Prize and am showing the video of Horizon Line Chamber ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bYYIfbJfZM&feature=youtu.be) in York Art Gallery. Now during the coronavirus virus lockdown, as all other projects abroad have been cancelled or postponed I have the chance to work on a retrospective book which, if there are still publishers at the end of this, will be designed and published by Actes Sud in Arles. The book will be called Chris Drury – Edge of Chaos.

So I am incredibly grateful to the Pollock Krasner Foundation for this award. It has not only saved my life, but has enabled me to realise so many projects and ideas. Thank you.

#PKFGrantee,  #PollockKrasnerFoundation  @PollockKrasnerFoundation

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April 02, 2020


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Art in the Time of Coronavirus – LAND

March 31, 2020

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Art in the Time of Coronavirus – LAND 1

March 29, 2020

Arctic Fox, Arctic Turn

 May 1988, I have moved up to Hammerfest in Northern Norway with my family. We have driven for 3 days up through Sweden, Finland and into Northern Norway. Starting in a heat-wave in England and driving North back into winter. The trees get smaller, there is snow on the ground, then there are no trees – rolling tundra and finally the Barents sea. We will be here for two months on a British Council artist’s exchange. I chose Hammerfest because it is the most Northerly town in the world.

I drive off Soroya and on to the mainland. I park and walk out into the tundra.

Sixty nine degrees North, Just North of Karasjok, Northern Norway.

Camped on a lake in early June

The snows have gone, the stunted birch are not yet in leaf

Too early as yet for mosquitos

My tent is a canvas Lavo –a Sami tipi, with a big smoke hole in the roof, designed for short stunted birch poles

The sun never sets – goes round and round in the sky. It dips low in the North at Midnight.

I am here just to be, for five days. I watch and observe what is around me.

The landscape is rolling stunted birch forest with lakes. It all looks the same. Easy to get lost, few landmarks. One lake looks like another.

I have a fire going inside the tent and out. It is still very cold at night.

I wander around picking up objects; pieces of silver wood, discarded antlers and bones, small stones. These I will tie to the flattened canvas of the tent and their shadow shapes rubbed into the soot from the fire which has coated the inside. The land itself will make the work (Canvas Lavo)

Birds nearly feed from my hand. A lemming runs over my foot. Time passes, the sun circles the horizon.

The lake in front of me is narrow and long, the further shore is a stone throw away. There is a dead birch close to the edge –a place for a bird to fish the lake from.

It is close to Midnight so I walk up the hill behind me to watch the sun at its lowest point.

It glows a glorious orange, painting the land around me an in unearthly light.

I stand watching it all. There is a movement to my left. About 30 metres away is a short birch stump which moves again and becomes an arctic fox. He is watching me. He is the same colour as the white birch bark.

I turn away to look back into the sun. The fox barks. I turn and bark back. The fox replies.

This continues for a while.

Eventually I turn and make my way down the hill to my tent. The sun is just over its lowest ebb. All sound has ceased. No bird calls, complete silence.

The land in front of me is painted in horizontal stripes:

the pale blue of the sky,

bright orange,

dark charcoal brown,

a double line of pale flecks,

dark charcoal brown,

bright orange,

pale blue

Not a ripple in the lake. On the dead birch is a single arctic turn. As I watch it flies, hovers above the lake, the only movement within stillness; a white bird hovering above an image of itself.

I turn in to sleep burying myself into the down of my arctic sleeping bag, my head close to the canvas fabric of the tent.

As I drift into sleep I am woken by a sharp bark, close to my ear. The fox wants to continue our conversation.


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Art in the Time of Coronavirus

March 27, 2020

‘Medicine Wheel’,
16th August 1982 – 15th August 1983 One natural object for each day of the year. twelve segments of paper, one for each month, made during that month from the pulp of particular plants. a mushroom spore print.
230 cm. diam. x 8 cm. deep – collection Leeds City Art Gallery

This piece has recently been up on Facebook, posted by Douglas Park, and someone wrote to me from Australia about the effect this piece had had on her work.

It was a critical piece for me made at a difficult time of my life, my wife and mother of my two small children had moved away leaving me on my own in a small cottage in rural Kent. I missed my children. In some ways the isolation was similar to the self isolation going on now but more acute because of the separation to my children. However I was beginning to work again and was using what was around me – nature. As I said in Silent Spaces “Walking in the Stubble Fields, looking down. Waiting for the first lapwing feathers of the year – two feathers lie together – 16th August 1982. As I bent down to pick up those two lapwing feathers, I realised instantly that I should make a work by doing just that: picking something up off the earth every day for a year to make an object calendar.”

I worked out the structure for it and made the frame: this gave me an idea of the size of object I could choose as it had to fit between the spokes of bamboo. I started on that day in August with those two feathers. I would collect objects during the week, keep them on a tray and tie them on at the weekend. In the beginning it seemed like a daunting task but as time went on I learned to let go and allow objects to come to me. One day for instance I was walking across the field in front of my house, as I did most days, and there was a swan’s egg. I guess rats had found it but were unable to break the shell. I learned also that crows moult their primary feathers in June. My children found objects for it and became very involved. I would also invite friends to choose a day and find an object. the work intimately followed my year – my father died during that time and there is a special object for him.

It did not know it at the time but it took me down into a state of mindfulness where everything became connected. My wife returned and we moved into the town of Lewes in Sussex and the half completed work came with us. Later Simon Cutts showed the piece at Coracle in South London in a show called Repeat. Then at the Serpentine in a group show called Salon D’Autonne with Richard Long, Andy Goldsworthy, Bill Culbert amongst others. Later he took it to New York to a show at the Puck Building under the title British Art, New Directions – Assemble Here, with artists like Bill Culbert, Anthony Gormley, David Connearn and Yoko Terauchi. John Russel gave Medicine Wheel a glowing review. When the work returned to London it was found a home at Leeds City Art Gallery, where it still is.

So with its slow meditative mindful connection to nature this was very key piece for me


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Coronavirus Blog 1

March 26, 2020



This is a blog for the time I have to self isolate for 12 weeks. I am 71 and I have metastatic prostate cancer. I developed this in 2014 – had radiotherapy at Guys and St Thomas for 7 weeks, then in 2016 it came back and went into my bones and the consultant at Guys said “it is in your bones and there is nothing you or your wife can do about it” With that he stalked out of the room leaving us with a rather startled registrar. Kay burst in to tears and I became furious. What he was saying was there was nothing he could do about it. In fact he sent me home with a totally ineffective hormone pill.

I changed doctors and came back to Sussex under Dr Savage who gave me a new drug called Enzolutamide – basically it blocks any testosterone not already blocked in the prostate by a slow release 3 monthly injection. This new pill made me feel terrible; dizzy, tired, and made my mind woozy. I refused to take it. Dr Savage rang me from a car park at the hospital and said this was my only chance – I had to take it or I would die. Words to that effect anyway. So I took it.

I then did a lot of research, changed my diet, took a year off (funded by the Pollock Krazner)’ and contacted all sorts of research doctors around the world, one of whom, Dana Flavin in Germany said she could reverse it. I did what she said – got the drugs and herbs, supplements. Juiced carrots, weekly enemas, meditation etc. I went to a psychotherapist in a shed in a wood who gave me the psychic tools to deal with the shock. I discovered there was a link between the mouth and the prostate, so had my dentist change all my amalgam fillings and remove a root canal which turned out to have an infection underneath. I took part in a research program into resilience at the University of Westminster and found out I was in fact highly resilient and I went to a spirit healer who has since been imprisoned for abusing 60 women. However my experience there was mind blowing to say the least. More recently I found Jane McLelland’s book ‘How to Starve Cancer’ – read that and went to hear her speak in London, joined her Facebook page and found a huge amount of help. Jane cured herself of stage 4 cervical cancer by treating cancer as a metastatic disease, which allows the cancer to mutate along several different pathways in the body- basically through the pathways connected to sugar, fat and protein. If you block all these pathways using off label, cheap, repurposed drugs, herbs, viatamins etc the cancer can go nowhere, so if you also take medication which kills the cancer – creates apoptosis, and boost the immune system, the cancer will die.

There is a clinic in London called the Care Oncology Clinic that does assessments via Skype and is not too expensive, they prescribe the off label drugs which are cheap and so I am taking something like 50 pills a day – the entire protocol was given me on the phone by Jane McLelland who is so generous with her time and she has followers now from all over the world who are turning their cancers around. I take plenty of exercise, I eat mostly vegetables with a minimum of sugar, eggs and dairy – no red meat. I have cut the enzolutamide down from 4 to two pills a day and for the last 6 months my PSA (cancer marker) is at 0.01. You can’t get any lower than that. It started at 45.

Up to the time of Coronavirus I was working again full time with projects here and abroad. I had a project in Germany, one in the Vercours in France and one in Alaska in the Autumn. I also have a book deal with Actes Sud in Arles, which has also shut down for the duration. So I am putting this book together slowly over the coming weeks, the sun is shining and there is a garden to plant, vegetables to grow – time to be, time to reflect. As I make this book I shall post a daily image.

The book will be called The Edge Of Chaos. This is really about Complexity Theory which says that as systems become more complex, instead of edging into chaos, they tend to form coherent patterns, which is how we get such incredible diversity on this planet. Biodiversity is Complexity theory in action. Factory farming is the complete opposite. We have been disrupting these patterns and the planet is sorting it out by giving us viruses and a pandemic.

The work is in two parts: on the left is a pattern of a cardiac twist from a cross section of the human heart, and on the right is a complex pattern of wood grain in a redwood tree found washed up on the shore of the Lost Coast of California. Each section is made up of densely hand written and repeated text – on the left:  all the names of winds in the world from different cultures – hurricanes to zephyrs, Foens to Mistrals etc, and on the right the names of ocean currents. There is an intimate connection between the two and that interaction is what gives us the climate that we have. Melting ice in the arctic and Antarctic may radically alter these currents and disrupt our climate. It is happening already – witness the El Ninos.

The Edge of Chaos is both the title of the book and the first image.

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Tuscany/East Sussex

August 21, 2019

A woven map work for a client who has lived in both places most of their lives. The two maps, with added border of rubbed soil from the two places, are cut into strips and woven together using the pattern of a Roman tile.

size: 93 x 100 cm.

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Linden Cloud Chamber

July 16, 2019

Linden Cloud Chamber – Tranekaer International Centre for Art and Nature, Langeland, Denmark. On the invitation of Alfio Bonanno I was invited to make another work here in the Park, 26 years after Covered Cairn https://chrisdrury.co.uk/covered-cairn/, made in 1993.

That first work was destroyed and eaten by deer. This work, an underground chamber set in a ring of mostly Linden trees is the first work commissioned by TICKON in several years and it is hoped will lead to a revival of this unique park dedicated to Art and Nature.

The work comprises a circular chamber with a log roof, set partly underground. There  is a stone pathway spiralling down and a small door. Outside the whole chamber is surrounded by granite boulders, the largest of which came from the site of Covered Cairn. The whole structure is then covered in earth and seeded, so if the resident sheep allow it, this work will become something that lives and grows.

Inside once the door is closed, the image of sky surrounded by trees is revealed, projected via a small aperture onto the floor and walls.

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Lee Krasner Lifetimes Achievement Award

April 19, 2019

My Lee Krasner Lifetimes Achievement Award from PollockKrasnerFoundation has been awarded for the second year running. I am hugely grateful for this.

PKF FY18-19 Release Final


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April 10, 2019

WAVE – CHRIS DRURY  Avivson Gallery, 49 Highgate High Street, London 3rd – 30th April 2019

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April 03, 2019

t/here: a poetic glossary of human and non-human migration

A collaborative small book of poems by Kay Syrad and images made around Chris Drury’s Horizon Line Chamber, at Sunderland Point, Morecambe Bay.

Published to coincide with Chris Drury’s exhibition at Avivson Gallery, Highgate, London.

edition of 150

£12 (including UK postage)
£14 (including rest of Europe postage)
£15 (including USA and rest of world postage)

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March 12, 2019


An exhibition of echograms from Antarctica, mushroom works and Earth Waves

Book Launch 

Kay Syrad and Chris Drury


A poetic glossary of human and non-human migration, with images from Chris Drury’s Horizon Line Chamber


3- 30 APRIL

Address: 49 Highgate Street, London, N6 5JX – tel. 07582 558944

email: avivson@gmail.com    website: www.avivsongallery.com

open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 12 – 18, Thursday 12- 20


Horizon Line Chamber – Sunderland Point, Morecambe Bay

Commissioned by the The Morecambe Bay Partnership will be open to the public from 30th March

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CLOUD OF THORNS – Salon Vert, Carouge, Geneva

March 04, 2019

This is an installation prepared in the studio for Salon Vert in Geneva. It comprises some 6000 stripped blackthorn tied to strands of nylon fishing thread. It is arranged in 12 concentric circles and can be re erected anywhere.

Cloud of Thorns runs from May 11th – June 29th 2019



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Mortality beckons

January 15, 2019

Staying at the Royal Heysham while completing the work on Horizon Line Chamber at Sunderland Point. Heysham has this wonderful reminder of our mortality with several coffins carved into the rock. The way we are abusing the Earth may hasten our demise all the quicker. Brexit is a good example of displacement activity while the ship sinks. Brexit is one big displacement activity while the ship sinks

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Horizon Line Chamber – capped off

January 06, 2019

With the dry, cold weather the Horizon Line Chamber is going up steadily, despite having to do without the digger which would not start. The interior is now capped off and we have an idea of the height of the building and the length of the ridge line. photos are Andrew Mason’s.

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Horizon Line Chamber – Under Construction

December 21, 2018

Yesterday I was able to see the progress on the Chamber as I was up at Sunderland Point for a Day of slow art with Radio 4, Front Row, which will air on Boxing Day at 7.15 pm. The program will be devoted to The Horizon Line Chamber and Sunderland Point. Andrew Mason and his team have done a stunning job, it is truly beautiful – incredible I would say. Each stone has been cut by hand to sit in the right place and the two colours of sandstone are lovely. On this the last day of work they are 3 rows up into the ceiling and roof which will be capped by one massive stone. Work will resume in January.

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Horizon Line Chamber.

December 15, 2018

Under construction and going up fast with Andrew Mason and his team working on it.

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Horizon Line Chamber, Sunderland Point, Morecambe Bay

November 22, 2018

Horizon Line Chamber, a work for Morecambe Bay.

This is one of the ‘Headlands to Headspace’ Heritage-Lottery-funded commissions for Morecambe Bay, due to be completed by the end of October. The proposed dry stone work will be shaped like an upturned boat or oratory and will have a small lens in the sea-facing wall which projects a meditative, ever changing image of sky, horizon and sea/mud flats onto the opposite wall, upside down.

Having waited all of the hot summer, now that winter is here and we finally have planning permission, work has begun and the footings are down.This really is a stunning site and everyone in the community is so helpful and pleasant. At this time of year the bird life is phenomenal.

By the end of January the work is complete apart from more coats of lime wash needed for the wall inside and landscaping outside. It is due to open by 28th March.


A short film by Richard Shilling @richardshillingartist, of Sunderland Point and the making of the chamber can be seen here.

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Sri Lanka 2018

September 19, 2018

This project for a new Tea House in a small tea estate in the Southern province of Sri Lanka was conceived and made in 2018. The commission was for a piece outside the new house being built in the trees and tea plantation. A bridge from the first floor library and veranda stretches over and into the tea. My idea was to make a portal work which made a transition from house to tea at the end of the bridge. Originally I wanted to split a granite boulder and carve a tea leaf on both revealed surfaces, like a revealed fossil. But we could not find the right size boulder to split, and the one we chose broke. So instead I chose two quarried stones and placed them upright by the bridge.

twenty one granite boulders were chosen and placed in a vortex around one sitting stone, with pairs of standing stones at both ends. The path was then laid in thousands of small pieces of granite slices, laid on edge and swirling around the central sitting stone. I made a rubbing of a tea leaf and projected this enlarged image onto tracing paper which I then transferred to the bridge standing stones. I also cast a tea leaf for the Sinalese carver to use as a guide to the eventual carving – one concave, the other convex.

This carving was to be mirrored with a paper work inside made from the rubbing tea leaf image and text. I also proposed a woven map of Great Britain/Ceylon to go with the work Ceylon which hangs on a wall in the main house, made in 1999.w

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Tea Stones, The Tea House, Puwak Watta, Sri Lanka

August 05, 2018

This is a commission for David Grigson and Rosalind Pomeroy, for their new Tea House, within the tea estate at Puwak Watta. The new House was being built at the time I was approached to make a work. I went on a site visit in January 2018 when the house was very partially built. It is sited adjacent to their current house and is set into the trees. David and Ros already own a map work of mine inside their main house, but they wanted to put their own stamp on the new architect designed Tea House which comprised two bedrooms and  a library and open veranda upstairs with a bridge leading out into the tea.


Drawing of rhythm of path

I had decided that the place for a work was at the end of the bridge as a portal between house, bridge and tea. In effect this a spiral path lined with boulders with standing stones at each end; where the bridge ends and where the path joins the main earth path within the tea. The two bridge standing stones were to have a  tea leaf carved on them. Originally I had wanted to split a boulder and have the carved tea leaf revealed, like a fossil. However it proved to be impossible to find the right stone which would split, so we chose two quarried stones. On my first site visit I proposed this work with two works for inside on paper, one a woven map, the other a text work for the library. All of them were to be linked.

On the second visit in March,  I was able to locate the main boulders and they were brought on site. On my return in July, the bridge was in place, but it turned out that the stone I had asked to be split had shattered, so we returned to the quarry and chose two standing stones.

These were then brought on site, the area marked out, tea bushes removed and the stones placed.

I was able to meet the man who was to carve the tea leaves on the Granite standing stones before I left and to give him detailed instructions along with the cast of a leaf which I had made. Then I had to return to the UK. David and Ros have been overseeing the laying of the path, partly by WhatsAp with me.

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July 23, 2018

plan from bridge into tea

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Awards, projects, exhibitions and workshops for 2018-19

April 21, 2018

Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award 2018 – 2020

I have this week received a Lee Krasner Award for a lifetime’s achievement in ‘recognition of a long and distinguished career as one of Europe’s foremost artists’.


Tea Stones – Puwak Watta, Nr Galle, Sri Lanka

A private commission in 3 parts for a new pavilion within a small tea estate in southern Sri Lanka. A bridge from the first floor veranda and library reaches out into the tea plantation. The work, involving 19 granite boulders, one split and carved, forms a transition from pavilion to tea. There are also two connected works for inside: one a woven map, the other a text work.

Horizon Line Chamber, a work for Morecambe Bay.

This is one of the ‘Headlands to Headspace’ Heritage-Lottery-funded commissions for Morecambe Bay, due to be completed by the end of October. The proposed dry stone work will be shaped like an upturned boat or oratory and will have a small lens in the sea-facing wall which projects a meditative, ever changing image of sky, horizon and sea/mud flats onto the opposite wall, upside down.


An exhibition is planned for the new Janus Avivson Gallery in Highgate, London for autumn 2018. The work will be sculpture and works on paper.

A second exhibition will be mounted at Salon Vert, Geneva, spring 2019, comprising a strung mushroom cloud installation and works on paper.


Kay Syrad and I are running a short residential course at Dartington on Context and Form in Art and Writing, 7-11th May. A few places are still available. I will also give a public lecture at 7.30pm on Wednesday evening, May 9th. bookings through www.artdotearth.org

Short Course: Chris Drury & Kay Syrad

We will also be offering new workshops from our VERT Institute in Sussex in the next few months: http://www.kaysyrad.co.uk/vert-institute.php  Dates and details will soon be published on Facebook & Twitter.





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January 10, 2018

A new article for The Earth Issue: https://www.theearthissue.com/news/artist-highlight-christopher-drury

A private commission in Sri Lanka for a tea House and a work for Morecambe Bay – Horizon Line Chamber

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Shelter Stone, The Artist and The Mountain

October 31, 2017

This wonderful publication will be in Bothies in Scotland, Iceland and the Alps over the next year or so.

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SHELTER STONE, The Artist and the Mountain

October 02, 2017

Shelter Stone- The Artist and The Mountain

This is a great project, where if you are walking in the mountains of the UK, Iceland or the Alps and you stay in a mountain bothy, you might just come across this publication in a polythene bag, to pique your interest during the long dark night.

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Land: Context, Material and Process

April 26, 2017



Apr 25

‘LAND: Context, Material, Site and process’ – the excellent #art #sculpture of @Chrisdrudrury in latest issue interaliamag.org/articles/chris…


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April 20, 2017

Farm art
Cape Farewell and The Arts Development Company present

An exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre’s Allsop Gallery
22nd April – 3rd June
Preview Invitation
Friday 21st April
6pm – 8pm
Exploring food, farming and our relationship with the environment
Food is fundamental to life. The way we produce it is the most pressing issue of our times. This exhibition at Bridport Art Centre will feature three projects:

EXCHANGE by artist Chris Drury and novelist Kay Syrad who spent a year collaborating on Cape Farewell’s ‘Rural Residency’ programme, focusing on sustainable agriculture. The artist’s residency with six Dorset farmers culminated in a set of prints, a map work, photo/text portraits and a large hand-made, leather-bound book using paper buried in the earth for 10 months

Bristol based project ‘The Milking Parlour’ by artist Nessie Reid – a topic of discussion on Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show. Read more here

‘A Field of Wheat’ by artists Anne-Marie Culhane and Ruth Levene with Lincolnshire farmer Peter Lundgren and a collective of 42 people invested in and grew a 22 acre field of wheat. From sowing the seed to harvesting they explored the cultural, environmental, historical and economic significance of this global food commodity.




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Below Ground and Foreground:

April 19, 2017

Wyoming Coal, The Mountain Pine Beetle and the Removal of Chris Drury’s Carbon Sink 


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March 21, 2017


Two works in The RSA annual Exhibition – opens on 1st April 2017




LAND AND LANGUAGE II Looking South From Eaval, North Uist

Looking South From Eaval, North Uist

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October 24, 2016


Made for the Jirisan International Art and Nature festival in Hadong, South Korea, the work is about balance. The mountain connects heaven to earth. Water from the Jiri mountains flows down into the Seomjin River. The river gives life and biodiversity to the region. The line of twelve stones aligned with the mountain peak is like a meridian acupuncture line, which in the body creates balance and health, so in the landscape the line creates harmony and biodiversity.

The soft living snaking line of tea plants energises the hard immovable line of stones. The tea bush connects earth, sun and water. When we drink tea we embody the same processes in the landscape. We become the landscape. This work is a living growing changing thing and for it to survive in this landscape it has be tended by the people who live here. In doing so people connect to mountain, water, river, earth, sun and life.

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Jiri Mountain Tea line, week two

October 20, 2016

At the end of week one we were introduced to the remarkable Mr Yang Jong-ho, who for most of his life has been a deep sea fisherman, but who longed to work as a gardener in the earth. Six years ago he teemed up with his friend to start a landscape gardening company. He arrived with his friend and he negotiated with JHK, never once even looking at me. The long and short of it was that he said he knew how to transplant those tea bushes which were about to be destroyed by the council to build a car park. He said that each bush must be dug out being careful not to damage the roots, then wrapped in hessian to protect them and had to be planted into a ditch 60 cm wide by 70 cm deep, and this would all have to be done by hand. He said that he would not give us a price for this, but we would have to tell him what we would pay.

Negotiations were carried out on the phone by Mr Lee, who purposefully kept Professor Kim out of it, as he would have panicked. Anyway much to our surprise a very reasonable price was negotiated, provided we all mucked in and helped. It turned to that Mr Yang really liked the whole project and very much wanted to be a part of it and to work with me. So his diffidence was in fact shyness. So this week, with his 3 workers, all in their late 60s and seventies we dug out 60 odd tea bushes, wrapped them in hessian, hefted them up an 8′ bank into two small pickups and brought them to the site where we dug this very deep and long trench by hand in what was relatively hot weather, and planted the bushes – in two days! Every inch of my body aches, but the work looks great.

At the weekend we will cover the flat area with a membrane and granite gravel – all to be done by hand again. Then we will be finished.


Meanwhile JHK got his car stuck in a ditch while trying to manoeuvre it around a hairpin bend – a small diversion in proceedings


finally we cleaned up the site.




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Jiri Mountain Tea Line

October 13, 2016

KOREA 2016

Back in December last year I was invited by Dr Choi, through Isabel Langtry at the Hampstead College of Art to take part in the Jiri Mountain International Festival of Art and Nature in Hadong in the south of South Korea. The Festival was the brainchild of Professor Kim Seong Su who is in the process of setting up a craft college and residency program in Hadong. Construction of the buildings is underway and they hope to open next year. I was commissioned to make a work outside and to exhibit some works in an exhibition.


Dr Choi Won



Professor Kim

In July this year I visited the area and chose a site on an old terrace on the side of the mountain directly above where the college buildings are under construction. The terrace was revealed when we strimmed the bracken. It may have been an old trackway through the chestnut forest, of which a few trees still remain lower down the hill. The line of the terrace points directly to a nearby triangular peak and immediately suggested a linear work pointing at the mountain.


revealed terrace line

During the three days I was in Hadong in July I was given a tour of the area and taken to the valley where there are famous tea plantations along the river and on the sides of the mountains. We were served the beautiful and sweet tasting tea at an organic plantation. It was this experience, along with seeing the low rows of tea bushes that gave me the idea of planting a snaking line of tea bushes to animate the line of proposed stones. This would then make a growing piece which would have to be cared for by the college into the future and would further link water from the mountains, and soil from the earth, so that these elements could be imbibed through the drinking of tea by students, as a way of embodying the landscape. Further, the line of stones pointing at the mountain peak resembles an acupuncture meridian line in the body and is another way of connection from people to landscape, much as the ancient Ley lines and stone rows of Britain act in our own landscapes. This in essence links to similar confusion ideas in the Korean landscape. The first tea seeds were brought here to Jiri Mountain from China in the year 828 and planted under the kings orders. The Zen master Jingam bred the tea in 830 and spread the growing of tea throughout Korea. My own family’s connection on both my mother’s and may father’s side is rather more modest and goes back a mere four generations of tea planters and brokers in Ceylon. All this makes me very happy to incorporate tea into a sculpture here in Korea.

My idea first idea was to make a thick rice straw rope and have this snake between the stones. The tea bush saplings planted through it. In time the tea bushes would replace the rope.


Drawing of the line of rice straw rope with tea bush plants.


In 4 years the tea bushes replace the rope

We returned on Monday 10th October to Hadong and revisited the site hoping that the preliminary excavations of the terrace would be complete, but alas the site was as we left it.



However, we spent the first day choosing boulders from the building site, researching straw rope and looking at young tea plants. It rapidly became apparent that it would be almost impossible to make a thick enough straw rope in the time available, and that the tea plants were very small. Fortunately someone from Hadong council took us to an area near the river where excavations for houses were about to uproot a whole mature tea plantation and we were told we could have as many of these plants as we needed.


the lines of tea bushes offered to us

On Wednesday Mr Jeong Wigi arrived with his truck and digger. We promptly loaded 11 boulders from the building site, including a potential large standing stone onto the truck and then Mr Jeong clawed his way up through the chestnut trees and onto the site in his digger. By the end of the day he had escavated the site, and as he did so it became apparent, when we created a long terrace aimed at the mountain, just what that shape had to be and in so doing we were able to do away with the need for retaining walls. Mr Jeong was so expert that the arm of the digger became an extension of his own arm. We had with us the expert landscape designer Mr Lee Kyeok Jeong and Mr Kim Yeong Hwan (YHK). Both YHK and Dr Choi speak English, so with their help and expertise we were able to communicate with mr Jeong.


Mr Jeong Wigi


Mr Lee, Dr Choi and Mr Kim




Excavations begin


Excavations complete

On Thursday we started placing stones and by lunch time we were done. We are off to Seoul for a break tomorrow, staying with YHK and his wife and next week we will start planting tea and make provision for seeding the banks and decide on whether to plant grass around the work (which will need mowing) or use a membrane and aggregate surface.


placing stones in line with the mountain


placing the last standing stone


Stone Mountain Line

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Ponderosa Whirlpool

September 30, 2016


Ponderoas whirlpool has been made for Blackfoot pathways, Sculpture in the Wild in Lincoln, Montana and is the 8th work here to be made in place. It is 46′ in diameter and made entirely of beetle killed pine and fir with stone pebbles in between and one boulder at the bottom of the vortex, to allow viewers to climb down there, stand on the stone and look up at the big skies of Montana. In a sence this was the point of the piece as the sky here in Montana is a big feature of the landscape and I wanted the work to seemingly pull the sky down into the earth. After all that effort of peeling the bark off, we burned the Ponderosa bark pattern back onto the loggs, getting closer and darker and more complex as they approached the dip in the centre. In some ways they look like dappled sunlight or ripples in water.

My thanks go to Kevin O’Dwyer, the director and all the board members for their help and support. Also to Steve Woodhouse for preparing all the materials and tools needed for the work, to Mark Smith for digging and clearing the site and for so accurately making the hole, placing the boulder and for delivering the stone pebbles. To all the people who came and gave their time peeling the bark off the trees, in Particular Wendy Gehring, who organised it all. Most of all I must thank Caleb Fey who gave his time to help us throughout the laying and moving of the logs, with his expertise on the vaious machines we used to do this. And lastly I would like to thank the two interns, David Turillo and Beth Huhtala who were so brilliant in their help on this piece and who made my job so much lighter and more pleasant.

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Ponderosa Whirlpool

September 27, 2016

Having stripped the bark off the tree trunks we are now burning those same patterns back on, and in doing so I have decided finally to call this work for Sculpture in The Wild in Lincoln Montana – Ponderosa Whirlpool.


We are nearly complete.


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Snow in the Whirlwind (Twister)

September 17, 2016

By  the end of the week we are half way done laying the logs. Each log has to be peeled – a herculean task carried out by local volunteers and the odd high school class. The first day we finished digging the hole with Mark Smith on the digger and we place the boulder at the bottom. Then the logs are cut and placed and fixed with sleeper screws. When the dip is complete we start on the outer logs which are all brought round by Caleb in the tractor ( who is also keeping the peeling crew supplied with logs) and cut and lowered into place. I have two interns from Missoula college helping me – Dave and Beth and they are both brilliant. Dave is slowly doing his back in using the chain saw. When we are done on Friday evening we reconvene to the wilderness bar to take on the locals at Pool. Suffice it to say we are outclassed.

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Blackfoot Pathways, Sculpture in the Wild

September 13, 2016

Kay and I arrived here in Lincoln, Montana on Friday evening. I am here to make a work for Sculppture in the Wild – an international Sculpture park, set up by Kevin O’Dwyer four years ago to use the potential of what was an industrial site (logging) to provide an environment for the creation of significant artworks, both permanent and temporary, inspired by the environmental and industrial heritage of the Blackfoot Valley while fostering an awareness and appreciation of the arts through community participation and education.  http://www.sculptureinthewild.com/home.html

We spent the weekend greeting friends and acclimatising so I could begin work today on a sculpure called Twister – a log whirlpool set amongst the Ponderosa pine – which to a degree, the work will mirror.




The weekend was was warm and sunny, but this morning there was a blast from the arctic and the Rockies were plastered with fresh snow.



The site had been cleared and dug and the logs were stacked nearby – mostly beetle killed pine all of which need peeling. People from the community  will start to do that from tomorrow. Today we placed a stone in the eye of the vortex and laid the first two of several hundred logs.

I have the expert help of Steve Woodhouse, Caleb Fey and Mark Smith on the digger, plus two interns and of course the local log peelers of Lincoln under the direction of Wendy. Later in the week there will be various activities in the local bars – like snooker and throwing the horseshoe. It all is sure a lot of fun. The area was immortalised by Norman McLean in his book The River Runs Through it.


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Earth Library

August 05, 2016

Earth Library is a collection of over 100 labelled jars containing soils from all over the world, collected over 35 years. The jars are displayed on glass shelves within a steel frame.

86 cm x 20 cm x 206 cm high.

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June 02, 2016


He saw the whirlpool from the air and came over to check it out.


The structure is now complete. We have a planting plan for the wall – indigenous, hardy plants, and this may happen at the end of July when the irrigation goes in. The whole area has to be landscaped with paths, grassed and planted with trees and shrubs – It is hoped that it will be opened to the public in 2018, perhaps before the stadium opens. Only then will this work be truly complete.

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May 25, 2016

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THE WANDERING – the first eight days

May 22, 2016

These guys are the best in the world, they build fast (12 m. /day) and beautifully.

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May 21, 2016



A work commissioned by the State of Western Australia for the site of the new Perth Stadium, sited on the south bank of the Swan River, overlooking the city to the west.

The wall was made by three Cornish hedgers from Roger Clemens Ltd, Cornwall: Dan Murray, Alan Wherry and Jamie Merrick. Alan worked on my Eden Project cloud chamber fourteen years ago. These three guys are world-class in their expertise. The team was completed by Billy from Nerw Zealand on the excavator. They made the wall in 3 weeks, moving 450 tons of stone. Myself with Jason and Jordan made the stone whirlpool.

The commission had already been eight months in the preparation, with a site visit in January for discussions with the teams I would be working with: Form – the creative company overseeing the commissioning process; Hassel – the architects for the Stadium; Brookfields – the stadium builders; and Deep Green – the landscape architecture company working on the Stadium’s landscaping.

The work is a meandering dry-stone wall which emerges from a stone whirlpool on the isthmus of the lake to the south, winds its way north in a series of loops, and descends again into the earth on the higher ground. It appears to have no beginning or end, arising from the high ground in the north and plunging into the stone whirlpool to the south (or vice versa). The wall is 190 meters long and covers a distance of 90 meters as the crow flies.

This structure, however, is no ordinary wall, for it will be built as a Cornish dry-stone hedge, which is a growing, living thing: a miniature ecosystem and biodiverse habitat. In the UK some of these walls have stood for a thousand years because they are constructed with an earth infill, allowing plants to grow and give rise to habitat for insects etc, eventually binding the structure together. Here in Perth, I adapted the work to the Western Australian climate by planting the wall with indigenous drought-resistant plants, which will be irrigated

The rock structure also defines the lie of the land, seems to sculpt the land itself. It is serpentine, mirroring the river, emerging and disappearing into the land and dipping beneath a path. Being close to the river, it treats land as both solid and fluid, giving an ambiguity to the land and river-scape. The river here is a snaking movement of water; a snake moves across land or in water in a wave motion.

Within each of the five meanders, a gathering space is created – a place to sit under the shade of a tree on a seat built within the wall: a place of contemplation, a place to explore and to picnic – a place to wonder in a wandering space. This was also the ancient Whadjuk use of this shield-shaped piece of wetland, known traditionally as the Wandoolier: a river crossing place, a place to meet, a place to gather.

At the southern end, this living, writhing rock/hedge rises or descends into a whirlpool or vortex. The vortex is a manifestation of energy in the Universe and is found in the microcosm, within fluid structures in our bodies, for example, and in the macrocosm: in the movement of water in rivers and in ocean currents, in weather systems, and in the formation of galaxies. All matter arises and dies back into this energy. It is the fundamental creative aspect of the universe.

Here in the Perth area of Western Australia, the Whadjuk people have intuited this, for their Dreamtime spirit ancestor is the Waugul, the giant Serpent-being who has created the Derbal Yaragan (Swan River), and must be acknowledged by all peoples living on these river lands. The Swan River was once a prehistoric serpentine canyon, and you can see the scale of it from Google Earth, where the ancient canyon is clearly visible beneath the sea. The power of this image and its connection to the Waugul is tangible. My role as an artist is to connect nature and cultures – here I can only just touch on what I perceive to be something very deep and beyond my comprehension. I don’t want to appropriate this powerful story, only to make a connection to it.

Within 18 months when the Stadium opens the area around the work will be grassed and trees planted. Paths will run through and around it and the wider landscape will be planted with shrubs and the work lit at night.



The work has been under wraps all this time, yesterday these were removed and it looks from the photos taken that all the plants are growing well and now that the landscaping and trees are in, the work is well bedded in.

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April 16, 2016

Here is a link to the podcast of Lewes’ Rocket FM interview with Kay Syrad and myself on our Exchange project back in September last year. It gives a wonderful idea of the project with some great readings by Kay.


Our Thanks to Rocket FM: www.rocketfm.org.uk/

Our thanks to  http://freefsx.co.uk  for the intro & outro music bed


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March 11, 2016



Opening this March, ONCA is delighted to host EARTH, a new commission plus selected artworks by internationally acclaimed land artist and ONCA patron Chris Drury.

Renowned for his site-specific, natural world sculpture – including patterns cut into fields, stone cairns on hill tops, raked designs in dried-out lakes and giant whirlpools made of slate – Drury’s work makes connections between nature and culture, microcosm and macrocosm.

His EARTH works explore themes such as the endurance and survival of organisms in hostile environments, and mushrooms as a metaphor for life, death and regeneration.

In recent years, Drury has experimented with soil as a pigment for his paper-based works and EARTH includes examples of this such as Rhone Carmargue and Mani/Ouse. A new work commissioned for ONCA’s window features soils collected over 30 years of travelling the world, displayed in labelled jars and arranged in colours. The jars include rock from the lava fields of Iceland, schist from Antarctica, red ochres from Central Australia and the white chalk of Drury’s Sussex. One of the artworks is interactive – a whirlpool on the wall created by each gallery visitor adding a single muddy fingerprint to the evolving spiral.

The exhibition also features installations including Destroying Angel Nevada (pictured above) – made from desert plants collected from Nevada’s nuclear testing site; Cloud 9, a sculpture comprising 1,760 mushrooms suspended on nylon thread and gene sequence works such as the Life in The Field of Death series.

Complementing the themes and tone of EARTH is RANE-CHAR, a project by Falmouth-based environmental artist Daro Montag. In RANE-CHAR, biochar (charcoal) is produced and distributed to raise awareness of, and to mitigate, climate change. Inspired by Montag’s participation in the 2009 Cape Farewell expedition to the Peruvian Andes and Amazon, the project has since evolved to consider species extinction and carbon’s life force.


EARTH | Chris Drury

 11th March – 3rd April 2016

Free admission. Gallery opening times: Wednesday – Friday 12pm – 7pm / Weekends 11am – 6pm

 ONCA Gallery, 14 St. George’s Place, Brighton BN1 4GB.

 www.onca.org.uk  / 01273 607101 / info@onca.org.uk



  •  Thursday March 10th, 6pm. Special preview tour of the show with Chris Drury. Tickets: http://bit.ly/1ZYlWI7. (Limited availability.)
  •  Friday 11th March, 6.30 – 9pm: Private View by invitation.
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February 29, 2016


Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 15.06.43

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 15.07.12


Chris Drury: Destroying Angel, Nevada


Opening this March, ONCA is delighted to host EARTH, a new commission plus selected artworks by internationally acclaimed land artist and ONCA patron Chris Drury.

Renowned for his site-specific, natural world sculpture – including patterns cut into fields, stone cairns on hill tops, raked designs in dried-out lakes and giant whirlpools made of slate – Drury’s work makes connections between nature and culture, microcosm and macrocosm.

His EARTH works explore themes such as the endurance and survival of organisms in hostile environments, and mushrooms as a metaphor for life, death and regeneration.

In recent years, Drury has experimented with soil as a pigment for his paper-based works and EARTH includes examples of this such as Rhone Carmargue and Mani/Ouse. A new work commissioned for ONCA’s window features soils collected over 30 years of travelling the world, displayed in labelled jars and arranged in colours. The jars include rock from the lava fields of Iceland, schist from Antarctica, red ochres from Central Australia and the white chalk of Drury’s Sussex.  One of the artworks is interactive – a whirlpool on the wall created by each gallery visitor adding a single muddy fingerprint to the evolving spiral.

The exhibition also features installations including Destroying Angel Nevada (pictured above) – made from desert plants collected from Nevada’s nuclear testing site; Cloud 9, a sculpture comprising 1,760 mushrooms suspended on nylon thread and gene sequence works such as the Life in The Field of Death series.

Complementing the themes and tone of EARTH is RANE-CHAR, a project by Falmouth-based environmental artist Daro Montag. In RANE-CHAR, biochar (charcoal) is produced and distributed to raise awareness of, and to mitigate, climate change. Inspired by Montag’s participation in the 2009 Cape Farewell expedition to the Peruvian Andes and Amazon, the project has since evolved to consider species extinction and carbon’s life force.

Press are invited to an exclusive preview tour of the show with Chris Drury on Friday, March 11th at 4pm. Please contact alice@onca.org.uk <mailto:alice@onca.org.uk> to be added to the guest list.

For interview requests or other media enquiries please contact press consultant Nione Meakin on nionemeakin@hotmail.com.


EARTH | Chris Drury

11th March – 3rd April 2016

Free admission. Gallery opening times: Wednesday – Friday 12pm – 7pm / Weekends 11am – 6pm

ONCA Gallery, 14 St. George’s Place, Brighton BN1 4GB.

www.onca.org.uk <http://www.onca.org.uk/>  / 01273 607101 / info@onca.org.uk


·  Thursday March 10th, 6pm. Special preview tour of the show with Chris Drury. Tickets: http://bit.ly/1ZYlWI7 <http://bit.ly/1ZYlWI7> . (Limited availability.)

·  Friday 11th March, 6.30 – 9pm: Private View by invitation.

·  Saturday 12th March, 7.30pm: Meet the Artists. Drury and Montag in conversation about
their work
. Tickets: http://bit.ly/1PEt9
<http://bit.ly/1PEt9> .

*  Thursday March 17th, 7.30pm: Talk by John Cooper – Senior Curator, Booth Museum. £5 +bf in advance, £7 on the door. Tickets: http://bit.ly/23Cimbg <http://bit.ly/23Cimbg>

·      Friday April 1st, 6pm: Bronwyn Preece workshop – earthBODYment response to EARTH. Free. Tickets: http://bit.ly/1Sv46vy <http://bit.ly/1Sv46vy>

Notes to editors

About ONCA: Since opening in November 2012, ONCA has rooted itself within Brighton’s thriving arts community, becoming an indispensable resource for vibrant discussion on art and ecology. ONCA’s influential patrons include Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas and land artist Chris Drury, and most recently award winning writer Ali Smith has joined.  With the opening of the ONCA Centre in May 2015, ONCA expands into new territory, reaching and engaging with more businesses, creative individuals, start-ups and charities with a concern for sustainable business practice, art and ecology.

Charity number 1150539.  http://onca.org.uk <http://onca.org.uk>   T: 01273 607101 E: info@onca.org.uk

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November 23, 2015

1 was born in Ceylon in 1948, the year of independence. Both my parents families worked in tea. My mother’s great grandfather set up Mackwoods – the famous tea growers, still producing world quality tea now. My parents left Ceylon in 1954 when I was 6 and I didn’t return until 1987 when I was 39 and came back to walk from Adam’s Peak to Anuradhapura – retracing childhood memories of place and landscape.

Ten years later a private client who saw some map works of mine in an exhibition, and who both knew of my connection to the Island, and who also knew it well herself, asked if I could make her a work on a map of Ceylon. We searched for an appropriate map to use, and visited the National Geographic Society in London to see if they had something we could appropriate, but it was only when my aunt showed me a map that she and Charles Mackwood had from their time in Ceylon, that I realised we had the perfect thing. The map had been folded and refolded so many times that it was in 25 pieces, held together by the fabric backing. My uncle Charles, my mothers brother, had drawn in biro several trips they had made throughout the island, and the whole document had a wonderful patina of mould, acquired through the damp tropical atmosphere.

I was able to have this map scanned and copied, and with a mushroom spore print placed digitally in the centre, the whole document was printed out onto an artists rag paper, cut into 25 pieces and re-glued to a fabric backing. The hand written text in radiating lines, mirroring the lines of the gills, is in fine black ink, written with a magnifying glass. Even though it is hard to read, it is possible. So the text is both invisible and visible – both secret and revealing, much as a diary is.

The text is of childhood memories and memories from the 1987 walk, connected to the coded landscape of the map. You could say that the map acted as a mnemonic devise to draw up  memories from the unconscious. The spore print and the text resembles an eye so that in a sense this is seeing into the unconscious. The pattern is also a mandala, which in Indian Buddhist culture, is used as a visual medium for focusing the mind.

Before delivering the work to the client, I had it scanned again and enlarged so that it could be printed out and mounted onto aluminium panels at an altogether different scale – which I felt would make it, at 2 m. x 3.3 m, an altogether different visual experience. You can also now clearly read the text, although when it is on the wall much of the text is upside down. This work was subsequently shown in a number of museum exhibitions, but ultimately came back to my own store.

A few years later Penny Johnson, from the Government art collection saw this work and asked if I could remake the small version for the collection. So I went back to the same map but used a different, more evenly round spore print and started the mnemonic process again. This work, Ceylon III is now in The British Consulate in Colombo.

That is how things stood until April this year when I re visited Sri Lanka with my family. We stayed in the beautifully renovated planters house which my cousin David Grigson has lovingly restored, along with a small tea plantation. The main room of the house has the second floor removed so it has a wall which is 5 metres tall, and when we stayed this wall was empty and blank. I immediately felt I had just the work for it.

David is an astute business man and my second cousin, both through his father and his mother. His father was my fathers cousin. His mother was my mothers cousin, although his father and mother were unrelated. So we are well related on both sides of the family and both his parents were my godparents, plus  his mother was a Mackwood, so that map had great relevance to his family. Ceylon II was destined to go on that wall. We did the measurements, and mocked it up in Photoshop, and David bought the work on condition that I would come out and hang it. This we did last Friday – a 4 day trip to Sri Lanka to hang a work which looks like it has finally come home.

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October 01, 2015

Vert Institute

for art events and writing

Kay Syrad & Chris Drury


Making a journal

 diurnalis jurnal diurnal

Using examples from both writers and artists, this course will explore the ritual of making a journal, which could be anything from writing haiku at 5pm each weekday to gathering an object every day for a year. We will start with an afternoon looking at an exciting range of historical and contemporary journals, and then meet more or less fortnightly between November and March, continuing to explore different styles and forms whilst supporting you in starting and sustaining your own winter journal. All welcome.

Chris Drury from Medicine wheel

Chris Drury from Medicine wheel

    Erica Van Horn

Erica Van Horn

Introductory session: Sunday 1st November 2.30 – 6.30pm

 then 8 sessions on Sundays, 4.00 – 6.30pm

(starting with afternoon tea)

 15/29th November; 13th December; 10/24th January; 7th/21st February; 6th March

 With Guest Speakers on 15th November & 21st February

 Cost for all 9 sessions: £130


+Day retreats for writers

We can offer you a room with a desk in our peaceful house for the day. Here you can write and think and daydream, have refreshments and lunch brought to you, plus the option of an hour’s mentoring. Weekdays or weekends, between 9.30 am – 6pm, by arrangement. £40


Vert Institute, established in 2015, operates from our house and studio on the edge of Vert Wood near the village of Laughton. The aim of the Institute is to offer unusual and stimulating art and writing events and workshops based on the creative ideas and experience of poet-novelist Kay Syrad and world-renowned land artist Chris Drury. Events and workshops will be offered at various points throughout the year, always with a basis in ideas about and embodied experience of inside|outside, microcosm| macrocosm, and nature|culture. The programme may include walks and opportunities for making work outside, small exhibitions, talks and performances, and a variety of writing workshops.

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August 22, 2015

EXCHANGE  – Fine Foundation Gallery, Durlston Castle, Swanage, Dorset, UK

August 15th – 31st, 2015

The Exhibition is the result of two years collaboration between myself and Kay Syrad about 3 farms in Dorset for The Art and Climate Change organisation – Cape Farewell. The work is centred around a Leather bound A2 sized book, of which there are 3 copies. Text is from Kay Syrad and the visual element is mine. We buried 100 sheets of 300 gms Snowden paper in the soil of one of the farms for ten months. This mineral encrusted and battered paper was then mono-printed with images of 60 plants taken from a cubit of turf from the same farm. The book sits in a case and it is possible to leaf through the pages on screen. A paperback version published by Cape Farewell and Little Toller books is available for £12 from: http://littletoller.co.uk/bookshop/new-books/exchange-le/

From this book six framed works on the same paper with the same plant prints emerged, together with the the top several sheets, which welded together, look like the earth itself. These and a woven map work are the framed pieces from the earth. The people; the farmers are visible in the four large hanging portraits, made up from the photographic images and layered handwriting.

A paperback version of the book is available from Little Toller books for £12:    http://littletoller.co.uk/bookshop/new-books/exchange/ plus a a hardback version in a limited edition of 60, each with a unique framable art work by Chris Drury: http://littletoller.co.uk/bookshop/new-books/exchange-le/




A podcast from an interview with Kay Syrad and myself at Rocket FM is available here. It went out at the end of 2015 and gives a wonderful idea of the project with some great readings by Kay.  Our Thanks to Rocket FM: www.rocketfm.org.uk/ and to to http://freefsx.co.uk for the intro & outro music bed.


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August 16, 2015


After two years of work, Kay Syrad and I finally opened our show of the work we have been making, about 3 farms in Dorset for The Art and Climate Change organisation – Cape Farewell. The work is centred around a Leather bound A2 sized book, of which there are 3 copies. Text is from Kay Syrad and the visual element is mine. We buried 100 sheets of 300 gms Snowden paper in the soil of one of the farms for ten months. This mineral encrusted and battered paper was then mono-printed with images of 60 plants taken from a cubit of turf from the same farm. The book sits in a case and it is possible to leaf through the pages on screen. A paperback version published by Cape Farewell and Little Toller books is available for £12 from: http://littletoller.co.uk/bookshop/new-books/exchange-le/

From this book six framed works on the same paper with the same plant prints emerged, together with the the top several sheets, which welded together, look like the earth itself. These and a woven map work are the framed pieces from the earth. The people; the farmers are visible in the four large hanging portraits, made up from the photographic images and layered handwriting.

The Fine Foundation Gallery has to be one of the most beautiful spaces in the UK and one of the best kept secrets too. Perched on Durleston Head and integrated into Durleston Castle, It is a light and beautiful space, where visitors can wander out to the clifftop and stare out to sea,  to the white cliffs of the Isle of Wight and see Peregrin Falcons gliding by.

The show runs for two weeks and ends on 31st August. It is hoped the show will travel elsewhere.

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Working Outside The System – An article in Elephant Magazine

July 15, 2015

Here is the article, written last year and published today in Elephant Magazine – online



Chris Drury: Working Outside the System
Text by Chris Drury
Can artists survive without gallery representation? Land artist Chris Drury looks back on a long and successful career working outside the system.

Not long after I had left Camberwell Art School, when I was living in a small cottage a mile down a rough track on the edge of the Romney Marsh, my dentist introduced me to his nephew Hamish Fulton who was living nearby. We became friends and in 1975 Hamish invited me to accompany him on a walk in the Canadian Rockies. It was October and we walked for two weeks in the snowbound mountains of Alberta. This experience was seminal for me because at that time, having been classically trained in Sculpture at Camberwell Art School, I was scraping a living making portrait heads in bronze of managing directors. I made the decision then to try to make work about the landscape I was living in and to try to make sense of what it means to dwell in a particular place at a particular time.

However, the world of Art and Nature, Land Art or Environmental Art is small, and what market there was in the 1970s in this country was occupied mostly by Fulton and Richard Long. Anything that looked remotely like it was considered second division. But in 1982 I made the work Medicine Wheel, a work that was a radical departure for me, as it was made over the course of a year, during which I picked up one natural object every day. Each object was strung between the spokes of a large wheel and at its centre was a mushroom spore print (mushrooms are something I have continued to be fascinated by ever since). The work plotted my connection to a place and time, following the threads of my life and the changing seasons.

In 1994, a small London gallery called Coracle, run by the poet Simon Cutts, showed this work. Simon had a very good eye for emerging artists and in one way or another was showing all the major artists of the time—Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor to name two. Most of these artists used the gallery as a stepping-stone to larger and more commercial galleries. That year Simon took a number of his artists to New York for a show he put on in a new space. He took Medicine Wheel and although it received critical acclaim in the press it was considered unsaleable because of its ephemeral nature. In the end Medicine Wheel came back to the UK where Coracle showed it at the Serpentine in London in 1985. Later we gifted give it to Leeds City Art gallery where it remains in the collection.

Coracle continued to show and promote the work I was doing in large group travelling shows such as The Unpainted Landscape in 1987 and later through Declan McGonagle at the Orchard Gallery in Derry with a solo travelling show called Shelters and Baskets. The mood at the time, however, was for a new spirit in painting and conceptual art, and although my work received a great deal of attention both here and in America it did not fit with the current trends, so as an artist I continued to find myself at the periphery of the art market. Although my work has always had a conceptual element, it was never the driving force; my work encompassed something much wider, which often included an element of the hand-made, which at the time was considered to be outside the conceptual framework and was therefore labelled decorative. In such a climate, dealers, galleries, museums and the art market were virtually closed to me, and the work was difficult to sell. So as an artist in my 30s I was having to teach and do all sorts of peripheral jobs to survive financially.

I knew that what I was trying to do was important enough not to just give up on, but I did need money to survive. In 1988, I met the artist Alfio Bonanno at a conference in Manchester. He had a dream of opening an art/nature park near his home on the island of Langeland in Denmark. So I asked him to let me be one of the first commissioned artists if he ever realized this dream. Five years later I got a phone call from him asking me to come to Denmark and make a work in the grounds of Dragsholm Castle for TICKON, the organization that Alfio had set up. At first I was sceptical: what had a sculpture in a culturally conceived landscape to do with the experiences I had been having in wild landscapes around the world?

In my various walks in relatively wild places I was beginning to talk about inner and outer experiences, by marking time and place with hand-built stone cairns, which I photographed, destroyed and then walked away from, and with more permanent shelter structures that said something about dwelling in a place and about both exterior and interior landscapes. These were made out of simple materials, which were immediately to hand. I would also collect plant material from these sites, which I would later weave into baskets—containers for an experience. At TICKON I put all these elements together, working with a limited budget, using cheap materials that were easily available, and made a marking cairn using huge glacial boulders deposited by the last ice age, and enclosed this in a large upturned woven basket/shelter structure, using green hazel sticks in an open weave. This was a structure that could be seen as an object from outside but could also be experienced as something different inside.

This at once set an ongoing precedent: the work was simple and fast to make, without recourse to a studio, it had a low carbon footprint, it could be experienced at first hand by a public who were not necessarily gallery visitors, it did not require an art market and I would be paid at the time of making without having to store the work and show it in a museum/gallery setting. It is something I have continued to do ever since, allowing me to live and explore a connection to the world. Amazingly, from then on I began to be regularly asked to make works in landscapes throughout the world. At first fees were small, but enough to get by on, coupled with lectures and some teaching. But as time has gone on fees have increased and I can make a good enough living. Each new opportunity is treated with integrity and I take what comes towards me and somehow things have worked out.

Over time I have worked with many small communities, allowing me a unique insight into how people from different cultures and landscapes, both urban and rural, see the world from different viewpoints. The Paiute tribe of Nevada, for instance, see the world as an unfolding story. In many ways this has much in common with the Native Australian view of landscape which is closely tied to their creation myths, and which condenses time into an ongoing story of now. Like the Paiute, their native animals, rocks and plants are all animate beings closely allied with themselves.

In Western science, doctors working with the human organism see many links to patterns of flow in weather systems and the dynamics of climate, growth and decay. Japanese gardens intimately reflect aspects in their mountain landscapes. While in Kochi Province, I made an installation of four spheres on a ledge above a mountain river gorge made from local plant materials. I had just completed this work when I was approached by a man who wanted to show me something. He took me to a Buddhist shrine nearby where there was a large stone river sphere at the entrance gate. The stone, he explained, had been taken from the river beneath my sculpture. Another incident occurred where someone invited me to come to his house for a massage on a stiff neck; his technique had been acquired in India and involved a gentle stroking of the body’s extremities. Miraculously it cured my stiff neck. His comment afterwards was that what he did was to put people in touch with their bodies, while what I was doing was to reconnect people to their landscapes. In a sense that is true of all that I do. I also understood that the Japanese landscape tradition has much in common with our own. English landscaped country parks are a reflection of the Romantic English landscape idyll, in much the same way that Zen stone and moss gardens reflect another idealized view of nature.

My work has taken me to seven different continents and given me what has been a really interesting life, with no constraints as to how the work should be marketed. The work has been simply about place, culture and connections across disciplines, and I have not had to be at all concerned with style and current trends in art. My work is if anything style-less.

As part of my ongoing practice, these experiences in landscapes and communities have spilled over into further works made in a studio on paper, installation, video or digital media. As a principle of practice, I have removed all constraints and allowed place and context to dictate what and how I produce. This in turn has allowed me to collaborate with people from all sorts of different disciplines, including scientists, astronomers, farmers, ecologists, clinicians, digital technicians, filmmakers, printmakers and fabricators. My one regret is that this large body of interior work has as yet no reliable outlet to the world of art and a bigger audience. That said, I am still often invited to make work and installations in museums and art spaces worldwide, despite being unrepresented by any one dealer or gallery. These experiences have been seminal, both exciting and humbling.

In 2008, I was invited by the Nevada Museum of Art to make a show about Nevada itself, in collaboration with the Forsite Foundation in San Francisco. Having just returned from making work in collaboration with scientists in the cold deserts of Antarctica, it seemed like a good idea to look at a hot desert. The idea was that I should make an element of the show in the gold-mining area of California and bring aspects of that into the museum. In the end because Nevada is home to the Nuclear Test Site and because of the ongoing mistreatment of indigenous peoples and the landscape that has been theirs for millennia, I decided to make a show about the use and abuse of land. It was called Mushrooms | Clouds and made use of my own continuing fascination with mushrooms as a symbol of life, death and regeneration. All of the work was researched and made in three weeks and involved collaborations with soil biologists and cloud scientists of the Desert Research Institute working on the Test Site, the small gold-mining community of Nevada City, the Paiute peoples of Pyramid Lake and the museum community of Reno. I was even invited on a tour of the Test Site itself led by former nuclear workers. This experience eventually brought me to the deserts of Central Australia to talk to a group of Native Australians about how it might be possible to use art as a way of protesting about the devastating effects of uranium mining on land, water and people.

The one thing I have discovered is that if you make work about land you are making a political statement as well as an aesthetic one. It is a point of contact and conflict with how we live now on a fragile earth. I know that there are many artists working within the dealer/museum system who have had many such experiences as I have, but wherever I go the practice of working within a wider culture has thrown up many experiences that I would never have had if I had continued within narrower confines. For that I am truly grateful.

I am now in the late phase of an art practice. I am still invited to make large works outside. With these I still have to be physically involved because they are mostly organic works and decisions have to be made on the spot. They are, however, physically draining and my hunch is that this practice will inevitably have to wind down. I still have two cloud chambers I want to make and I would like to work more with scientists. But in the place of public works outside I would like to make more reflective two-dimensional works—works on paper and video and installation. For this I need art spaces inside, so I sense that my practice will have to come full circle and I may need to re-enter the art market.


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June 16, 2015

With Little Toller Books, we are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of a beautiful, limited edition hardback version of our hand-made artists’ book, EXCHANGE. This book, which comes with a unique frameable artwork by Chris Drury, is the result of a two-year collaboration with Cape Farewell, an arts organisation concerned with climate change, which is also the subject of an exhibition at the Fine Foundation Gallery in August. Full details about the book and exhibition are below.

Chris Drury and Kay Syrad








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The Birth of Energy

June 12, 2015

At the weekend we opened the Birth of Energy at Neddernhof, the last in a trilogy of works for the Edmund Siemers-Stiftung. There is a small exhibition of drawings in the gallery close to the house. The trees are planted and the work is on its way. I predict that in 60 years when the trees are mature it will begin to look as I imagined it – with the clump of trees as the predominant feature and the stones and whirlpool a focus within the clump. But that will be when the young 3 year old Fried is an old person. If anyone would like to  visit these works, please write to:

Edmund Siemers-Stiftung, Am Schmokbach 9, 21244 Buchholz-Sprötze, Germany

Also doing well, in the park are Equinox and Videndomes

Equinox - 2008

Equinox – 2008

videndome - 2002

videndome – 2002


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More from Big Coal

May 25, 2015

This is just more from big coal and continues from where the row about Carbon Sink left off. These fossil fuel companies are really running scarred.



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The Worm Forgives The Plough

May 15, 2015


Made for the exhibition – Exchange. The work is comprised of a line drawn map of  Europe, Scandinavia and Greenland with John Morris’ fingerprint superimposed in Sydling earth. In the centre are two woven maps of Sydling St Nicholas and Europe pushed into a bowl. The fingerprint is plough furrow, weather isobars and a the close touched link of farmers to soil, land and food.

90 x 120 x 8 cm.

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Ecological footprints

April 23, 2015

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March 16, 2015

Exchange was produced in collaboration with Kay Syrad and was commissioned by Cape Farewell to look at sustainable ways of living and farming in relation to three farms in Sydling St Nicholas and Godmanston, West Dorset. The two farms in Sydling St Nicholas were Huish sheep farm and Dollens organic dairy farm. The other organic dairy farm was Manor Farm which is the other side of the downland watershed in Godmanston.

There are three copies of the book which is is A2 size (60.3 x 42.5 cm.), printed by Four Graphics, London and bound in cowhide by Wyvern Bindery, London.

The text is by Kay Syrad and uses words, ideas and information given us by the farmers. It takes the form of poetry, prose, lists and quotations.

100 leaves of 300gsm Snowden cartridge paper were buried in Lower Dairy field on Dollens Farm and left in the ground for ten months. A square cubit of turf, with its green fronds and yellow flowers waving in the early summer breeze, was lifted from Crown Point on Dollens Farm. The paper was dug from the ground – changed by time, minerals, moisture, enzymes. The sheaves were then soaked, gently separated and pegged up to dry. 60 clumps or single plants from the square cubit of turf were scanned flat and printed directly on to acetate, then transferred to the paper while the ink was still wet. A square of paper has been made from a 50/50 mix of pulped hay and cow manure. The leaf of paper that met the earth at the top of the sheaf has been copied and printed for the book’s end papers.

One copy of the hand made book is owned by ourselves, one by Cape Farewell and one is for sale. Proceeds from the sale of the third book will go towards the construction of a thatched cloud chamber on Dollens farm. To thatch it we will use the tough and ancient wheat straw (Maris Widgeon), which Will Best grows on Manor farm. Meanwhile the book and related works will go on show at Durleston Castle, Swanage, Dorset from 15th – 3o August 2015. It is hoped that we will publish an affordable pocket version of Exchange.

For enquiries about the third handmade book, contact David Buckland – davidbuckland@capefarewell.com

This work could not have been made without the generosity, time and information offered by the farmers at Manor Farm, Huish Farm and Dollens Farm. We would like to thank Will and Pam Best, John and S-J Morris, and Chris and Suzanne Legg. Thanks are also due to Philip Hansford, formerly herdsman at Manor Farm. The artists were commissioned in 2013-14 to make a series of artworks inspired by the work of the three farms by Cape Farewell, a cultural organisation concerned with climate change. Special thanks are due to the Director of Cape Farewell, David Buckland, and also to Marente van der Valk and Yasmine Ostendorf.

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Interview for spacecraftprojects3 with Gillian Parish

November 30, 2014

Here is the link to a very in-depth interview:  http://spacecraftproject.wordpress.com/chris-drury/

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The Birth of Energy at Neddernhof

September 10, 2014

The Birth of Energy is the third in the trilogy of works by myself, commissioned by the Siemers Stiftung at Neddernhof, South of Hamburg in Germany. It is constructed out of 30 tones of white/grey sandstone laid in a whirlpool pattern within an 18 m. diameter circle, with 15 glacial boulders spiraling into the circle and out again and with a 28 m. circle of 7 trees: 5 oaks and two pines, planted around the inner whirlpool. The site is perhaps the highest point at Neddernhof, close to the entrance of the property, the land drops away from it to the Schmokbachtal, a small stream that arises close to the road, runs through the land East to West, forming 5 lakes on its way before it joins the river Este to the West of the property. The first boulder in the work points towards the entrance to Neddernhof, while the last boulders links in a site line to the next work – Equinox (commissioned in 2008), which is two thirds of the way down the land. Widendomes, the first work commissioned in 2002 is situated close to where the Schmokbachtal joins the Este.

map of Schmokbachtal, Neddernhof

map of Schmokbachtal, Neddernhof

the big lake

the big lake

The vision for this beautiful piece of land, with its forest, trees, heath land, fields, lakes and river was the work of Hans Edmund Siemers who purchased the house and land in the 1970′s adding more land over the years. Hans Edmund was an architect who helped rebuild Hamburg after the war. A remarkable man with a very clear vision. The land was conceived as an Art/Nature park, where art is not placed in nature, but rather the art and the nature are interwoven so that one inhabits the other in a co-dependent relationship.

With each work which has been placed here, and there are many, there is a watching and waiting to see how things develop and an adjustment both to the works and to the nature as the years go by. These then are not objects; they are an ongoing process where the next generation in the family have to take on that responsibility of stewardship. As well as the art and the park there are also the Icelandic ponies which roam the fields and which Hans Edmund had a passion for; a passion shared by his daughter Anna Siemers who manages and breeds them today.

Hans Edmund died in 2010, aged 89, but his vision lives on and he always wanted another land work at the Eastern end of the park, so it was his widow, Gabriele Siemers von Loper who invited me to return and complete the vision. The Stiftung, which is the trust set up to manage the land, commissioned the work.

My instinct for this piece was to make something which generated a quiet and robust energy at the start of the Schmokbachtal Art and Nature park. I wanted to use a whirlpool as this is what indicates pure energy in the Universe and can be found in the microcosm – say as blood flow in the heart, or in the macrocosm as whirlpools, whirlwinds, weather systems and the formation of galaxies. To mediate the energy of this big stone vortex, I proposed putting it within a circle of trees, which would draw the visitor across the field to the site where this whirling energy would be revealed. The cover of the trees would give it a sense of mystery too. Spiralling and drawing the visitor into the trees, would be a line of boulders which would be partially embedded in the whirlpool, and would then spiral out again and lead the visitor towards the big standing stone at the edge of the next piece: Equinox. So in the three works at the park you start with a spiral/vortex energy which moves on through the Equinox in a line of power and direction, through to the Widendomes at the end where the energy moves into infinity with the figure 8.

The initial idea was proposed in 2013 and constructed in September 2014. Knud Knabe and Gabriele, chose the sandstone from a stone yard near Hanover and we tried to estimate how much we would need. Knud also selected the 15 glacial boulders from a farm close by and all of this was brought to the site and a circle excavated on the spot which we had marked out the previous year. I have worked with Knud on all three sculptures and he is a genius at selecting and placing stones. There are five of his own works in the park.

It was decided that the site would not be fenced off from the horses, rather that they would be kept out of the field until the work was well established. Icelandic horses are always very suspicious of recently moved boulders. We also brought in a Landscape Architect from Hamburg, to advise us on trees and planting. These were eventually purchased from the world-renowned company Lorenz Von Ehren, 20 minutes drive away. When I arrived the family had seconded two Polish workers, Martin and Arek to help me make the work. They turned out to absolutely brilliant and worked to the punishing schedule of 7.00 am to 7.00 pm! The work was made in 8 days, and the trees will be planted in late October. In 40 years it will begin to look like the drawing.


Willow Domes on The Este  (Widendomes) – 2002

This was my first work made here in 2002. I was recommended to the family by my late friend Herman Prigann, who I first met at Arte Sella in Italy in 1994. The idea was based on a figure 8 around a standing and sitting stone, and was sited at the far end of the Western boundary of the land close to the river Este and in a rather waterlogged field. The boulders were chosen and placed by Knud Knabe  in January during a hard frost and I came in March to weave the two domes over the stones. We got very long (4 m.) recently cut willow sticks from a nearby growers and pushed these into the ground as crossed uprights in the figure 8 plan. The horizontal weaves were from sticks which would die, but the uprights would grow. I gave instructions for the new growth on the smaller dome to be woven in, and on the tall dome, to be pruned on the lower sections.

As a result the smaller dome grew very dense and dark and tangled, while with the tall dome, the strength of the growth went into the stems and this dome has really become strong and healthy. As a result we are now pruning the smaller one to strengthen up the stems. In many places where the uprights cross, the two trees have fused together and in time it is hoped the whole figure 8 will be one tree. The work has to be tended every year and the question asked, ” What does this work need now? Where is it going?” A few years ago it was felt that the South West area of it was not getting enough light so neighbouring birch trees were cut down. Over the last 10 years this piece has gone from a very geometric and architectural shape to something which is much more organic and unpredictable.


 Equinox  2008

In 2007 Hans Edmund asked me to return to Neddernhof to make another proposal for the park. He indicated that he was interested in the area around the most Easterly lake, which he had recently excavated from its original rectangular tank-like shape to something more organic. Every time I come to Neddernhof it is either in the spring or autumn and my visit on this occasion was in the autumn. I noticed that the high ground close to this lake was very beautiful and was clad in tall pines. It has a site line running East West towards the house connecting through to the Eastern entrance. The site line was partially obscured by the trees. East West is where the sun rises and sets at the equinoxes. Hans Edmund was born around the spring equinox, so I felt there was a connection here.

In this area of Germany and in neighbouring Denmark there are many historic long barrows and chambered tombs made with glacial boulders. I had a hunch that an oval mound, cut in two by an East West path and sited along the East West axis by two big standing stones would draw the walker towards the house and lakes and at the same time mark the Equinoxes and Hans’ birthday. I suggested to Hans that we might need to cut down a few trees to achieve the site line. He enthusiastically agreed and said that he had long wanted to do this to let more light into the area so that it would revert to heath vegetation and increase the biodiversity. When I returned the following year to make the work, I was quite shocked that he had taken down a whole swathe of trees. But in fact his hunch was right and all sorts of heath-land plants have established themselves and the place has the feeling of great lightness.

My initial idea was to have quite a high mound with a 2 m. stone lined cut through it, but that height was thought to be too dangerous for children and we reduced it by half. Six years on it is amazing to see how this piece has become integrated into the landscape, how it is much used by the local community and how even horse riders gallop through the gap.

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Stone Whirlpool – nearly complete

September 09, 2014

Tomorrow, the whirlpool will be complete. As this land was originally heathland, we may encourage heather to grow around it. In October we will plant 8 trees, 5 metres out from the circle: 5 oaks and 3 pine. In time the crowns will grow together forming a complete ring around the whirlpool which will slowly attain a bit of a patina of moss and lichen.

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Neddernhof – day 3 and 4

September 05, 2014

Progress is fast because Martin and Alec the two polish guys helping me, work long hours and incredibly hard. They start at 7.00 am and finish at 7.00 pm with an hour for lunch. Not only are they fast but they have got the hang of how to make it and are becoming very skilled. We will probably be done by Wednesday evening, providing we have enough stone. In the beginning it looked like we had more than enough but today we have ordered 9 more pallets. making it 62 tons in all, without the glacial boulders. Knud had selected these and they were all placed yesterday using a small tractor which could lift a ton. For one of the stones that was pushing it. We needed one more stone which we collected from a local farm and placed on Friday.

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Back to Neddernhof

September 04, 2014

In 2001 I was invited to come to the Siemers family house – Neddernhof, outside Hamburg with a view to making a work there. So began a wonderful relationship with this family and their amazing house and land with woods, lakes, river and fields with Icelandic horses. The vision for this land was the work of Hans Edmond, the father, grandfather and patriach, The house and land was turned into a trust and it was in fact the trust, composed of family members who commissioned the works over the coming years, even though it was Hans who was calling the shots. The first work I made in 2002 was a growing work known here as the Videndomes (see http://chrisdrury.co.uk/willow-domes-on-the-este/) Six years later on my return from Antarctica, I made Equinox Line, another growing work ( see http://chrisdrury.co.uk/equinox-line/). In 2011, at the age of 89 Hans Edmund passed away, but his enormous vision is still clearly visible at Neddernhof and last year his widow, Gabriele Siemers asked me to return and make the third work which her husband had always wanted, so here I am in 2014 making the last of the the three works in this magnificent landscape.

In each of the three commissions on the instigation of Hans Edmund I have collaborated with the artist Knud Knabe. Knud is a genius with stone, there is a dialogue going on between him and the ancient glacial boulders deposited by the glaciers covering Scandanavia in the last ice age. Before I came on to the scene Knud had placed many extraordinary stones here at Neddernhof, and they have come to define the place. In each of my three works which have all involved glacial boulders, Knud has chosen and placed the stones.

The Videndomes are at the far end of the property, close to the river Este, The Equinox line is half way down the land, aligned towards the house and the rising and setting sun at the equinoxes (the Spring Equinox is on the day of Hans Edmund’s birth). So the plan was always to have another work nearer the entrance, and I am honored to have been asked to make it. The first work is based on a figure 8, the second on an oval with a line through it, and the last – Stone Whirlpool, is a circle with a spiral vortex within it. This work will also have planted trees so will grow and develop over time.

But first lets take a look at how these three works are doing. Last year I came to make some adjustments to the Videndomes and we pruned it hard in the Autumn. Because of that it is doing magnificently now.

The Equinox is doing well also, Hans Edmund had agreed that we should clear a number of pine trees to let in light for other species and so that the work would command a bigger space. As a result the heather has grown back along with many other plant species and the whole area is looking amazing.

Last year I located a site on the highest piece of ground on the land in the first field you see as you enter the property and we staked out a position for a possible work. I went home and made drawings and plans with an idea of creating a stone whirlpool within a grove of planted oaks and pine with a line of boulders spiraling into the whirlpool and out, leading you towards the Eastern standing stone of the Equinox. So here I am in Autumn 2014 on day 2 of construction.

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Plant 53

September 01, 2014


Plant 53 – 2014

A mono print of scanned plant.

A cubit of turf was taken from near the escarpment on Dollens farm, Sydling St Nicholas, Dorset. Out of the many thousands of plants within this cubit, 60 clumps or individual plants were taken and scanned in black and white. This is the 53rd plant out of 60 scanned. A monoprint is then taken from the scan in an edition of 50.

The Sydling valley is almost entirely farmed organically. Dollens farm is a dairy farm and it is these plants, grown with no fertilizers or insecticides which feed the cows who produce organic milk rich in omega 3 fats; beneficial to people and the environment. It is a sustainable way of life, which before the wars was how Britain was farmed. The change to factory farming has brought environmental degradation and ultimately climate change. The print is part of an on going series of works about 3 farms in the Sydling valley, commissioned by Cape Farewell.

26 x 36 cm Ed. 8/50 Unframed – £76


Unframed £83.50 (including UK postage)
Unframed £89 (including rest of Europe postage)
Unframed £91.50 (including USA and rest of world postage)


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Dust to Dust


Dust to Dust – 2014

A screen print in dust and ashes through a hand painted negative image of a mushroom spore print.

Mushrooms can feed you, kill you or cure you. They break down dead matter back into soil in which new life grows. As such they symbolize life, death and regeneration, hence the title and pigment.

26 x 26 cm Ed. 27/100 Unframed – £74

Unframed £81.50 (including UK postage)
Unframed £87 (including rest of Europe postage)
Unframed £89.50 (including USA and rest of world postage)

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Icewaves Print


Icewaves print     2014

Digital print on archival rag paper from the original drawing which was hand drawn in pencil and ink over a detail of an echogram from flight G23 over East Antarctica.

Echograms are made by radar, beamed from the undersides of small aircraft, down through 4 Km. of Antarctic Ice to the land beneath, and bounced back up into a computer, a similar technology to ultrasound imaging of our bodies. The image in the computer is a cross section of the ice and landmass beneath the flight of the aircraft. The image is made by sound but the result reminded me of Chinese landscape painting.

96 x 49.5 cm, including 10 cm border, Ed. 1/20 unframed £600

Unframed £600 (including UK postage)
Unframed £630 (including rest of Europe postage)
Unframed £650 (including USA and rest of world postage)


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Everything/Nothing III


Everything Nothing III    2014

An inkjet print on archival rag paper.

Echograms are made by radar, beamed from the undersides of small aircraft, down through 4 Km. of Antarctic Ice to the land beneath, and bounced back up into a computer, a similar technology to ultrasound imaging of our bodies. The image in the computer is a cross section of the ice and landmass beneath the flight of the aircraft. The experience of Antarctica is one of vast expanses of nothingness, but in fact scientist can read in the ice the history of the earth over the past 900,000 years and it can give us a picture of mans effect on the planet. So in effect the ice itself contains everything.

90.7 x 68 cm, including 100 mm border, unframed, Ed. 9/20 – £650

Unframed £650 (including UK postage)
Unframed £680 (including rest of Europe postage)
Unframed £700 (including USA and rest of world postage)

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Installation for Oppland Artcentre, Lillehammer, Norway

June 15, 2014

Landscapes, The Social Construction of Nature and The Environment

Curator – Patrick Huse

The opening show of this new artist run gallery in Lillehammer.

Inside: Chris Drury and Svein Flygari Johansen

Outside around the town: Jannecke Lønne Christiansen, Anna Widén, Marit Hosar, Marit Arnekleive, Egil Martin Kurdøl, Ådne Løvstad.

The Exhibition runs from 15th June – 14th August 2014


I met Patrick at the Pori Art Museum in Finland and he asked me to take the main space in this new gallery, to make an installation, some works on the wall and to do an archive room to explain to the Norwegians what my work has been pursuing over the years. Kay Syrad and I put this together and she installed it. Here is what I said about the ideas around the show:

Coming Full Circle – Chris Drury

Putting together an archive of the last 30 years of work has been interesting and I realise that the four works in the main exhibition room cover most of the themes that I have been exploring over these years. These are best summed up by something I wrote in 1995 and which Kay Syrad quoted at the beginning of her introduction to my book Silent Spaces:

The edge is the division.

What is known is always from the past.

Through knowledge the new is a reworking of the old.

The sum total of knowledge is culture.

Culture is the veil through which we describe nature.

The process of nature continues despite our analysis.

Our analysis is part of the process of nature.

The process of nature must include the actions of man

whether or not they are destructive.

Man’s description of ‘nature’ as something separate –

out of town – where the edge is the division

between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, is an illusion.

‘Nature’ and ‘culture’ are the same thing.

There is no division.


  1. The work Looking North from Eaval was made in 2009 when curator Andy Mackinnon asked me to make a canoe journey with him across the island of North Uist on the Western Isles of Scotland and to create an exhibition about the journey at Taigh Chearsabhagh, the gallery and art centre which he runs on the island. I readily agreed: North Uist from the air is more water than land and historically boats are the way to get about the landscape. We started our journey by climbing the only mountain on the island – Eaval, which rises in a classical pyramid from the flat flow country and which I first saw in 1988 when I walked the length of the Outer Hebrides from north to south. The photograph which is the basis to this work was taken from the top of that peak as we tried to see just where we would meander our way through the myriad lochs that lay beneath us. This very landscape has been inhabited for thousands of years and has experienced both prosperity and famine. It looks wild but it is a landscape that is intimately known: each loch, hill, pasture, burn or crag has been named. There is even ‘a place of the dragged boat’ (an activity we were about to do a lot of)! On the map the languages are English, Gaelic and Norse from the Vikings, so here all these names have been densely typed and repeated and overlaid in a veil over the image: English – Gaelic/Norse – English – Gaelic/Norse – English. Culture (language) ‘is the veil through which we describe nature’.


  1. The video piece Breath/Anail is a collaboration with Andy Mackinnon and it was made for that same original show – Land, Water and Language. The word anail is Gaelic for breath and has a resonance with the English word inhale. The continually breaking wave is like a breathing in and a breathing out. The work is echoed in the two other works in the exhibition, which have connections to science. The obvious connection to the breaking wave is sound and light waves. In Quantum Mechanics light is composed of either particles or waves depending on how the viewer sees it at the time – this is wave-particle duality.



  1. The background to Double Echo was my residency in Antarctica in 2007 with the British Antarctic Survey. I was deep in the interior with a group of scientists who were looking at the structure and flow of the ice beneath us – some 4 kilometres of it, built up over 900,000 years. By using radar fixed to the undersides of small aircraft they would fly on a predetermined course for four hours. The radar pulse would be sent down through the ice to the Antarctic landmass and back up into a computer, giving an amazing cross section of ice and land beneath the flight of the plane. One of the scientists, in showing me these images and knowing of my interest in the patterns of the heart, said that these echograms were looking at the ‘heartbeat of the Earth’. For Double Echo I persuaded the pilot who flew these echogram flights to have his heart read by echocardiogram at a London hospital where I knew the doctors on the cardiac ward. An echocardiogram shares a similar technology to echograms except that it uses sound rather than radar. The resulting image here is a superimposition of both the human and Earth heartbeat: waves of sound, waves of ice, waves of water, waves of time, waves of breath and the waves of a beating heart.


  1. The installation Wave Particle takes Double Echo and turns it into a 3-dimensional experience. The floating, semi-transparent rectangular prism is made up of approximately 4000 strands of hanging nylon thread, stretching from ceiling to floor and taking up an area 3 m. x 1.5 m. x 4 m. high. It creates a veil for the whole room, partially obscuring and changing how both people and art works appear while at the same time catching the light and reflecting it back. It is an attempt to combine waves and heartbeats in three dimensions. The wave is both vertical (a curtain of 864 blue nylon threads) and horizontal (strung fragments on the threads), re-drawing in three dimensions both the Antarctic mountain range and the human heartbeat, moving horizontally across the vertical curtain wave, delineated by the blue thread. The mountain range is composed of folded fragments of printed ice layers on acetate, from an echogram strung onto the threads, and the heartbeat is made up of fragments of reindeer moss tied to the same threads on a lower level. The blue threads are stretched taut between hooks on the ceiling and floor and surrounded by a veil of loosely hanging clear thread to complete the prism. The work took two weeks to construct with many around 6 people a day helping to tread and hang threads. In a way the work was a kind of endurance performance whose outcome was never certain. Thanks goes to Ragnild, Ruth, Kristin, Frederick, Britt, Halvard, Ramesh, Alexander, Jorid, Anne Lise, Frøydis and Randi. A special thanks goes to Eli Kongsshund, the director of the gallery who masterminded the whole process.



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Unveiling Ashland Water Snake

May 30, 2014

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Log Wave, Ashland community project, Milton Keynes

This work was made for the Ashland housing development community project in Milton Keynes. The project started in October 2012 and was finally constructed in May 2014. The idea was to make something which kids and adults in the community could use and to look at the whole piece of adjoining Parks Trust land. The project was funded by Milton Keynes Council in collaboration with The Parks Trust and was to be in two parts; the first which was funded, was for a sculpture, and the second part was a way of using what had been done to extend the project further into community gardens and amenities. I therefore designed a work which would eventually snake through the whole land and could be made from sculpture, planting, floating islands etc. For the first phase I looked at a wild piece of neglected scrub land which could be used for wildlife exploration, habitat, picnics and play. So I designed the log wave to snake through a part of it and draw people in. It acquired the mythical name of the Asland Water Snake around which stories could be told.


The work itself was constructed of 550  randomly curved, coppiced Chestnut logs, pinned together with Timberlock screws. It is 120 m long, the largest sculpture to date in Milton Keynes. On the construction I worked with Second Nature and 4 of us made the work in a month. The process was akin to dry stone walling in that once the backbone of the snake had been laid down, you had to look for logs with the appropriate curve to fit with the one beside and below it. Each log had to follow the next. The shape snakes around a pond and the loops provide meeting places, and picnic sites, while the construction is robust enough to be a play and climbing structure.

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Cradle of Humankind

May 28, 2014

While doing a residency at The Nirox Foundation, within the Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg in 2012, I asked nine people I came in contact with, to either write something about themselves,  hand written or typed, or  I interviewed them and transcribed the interview from notes. I took a photograph of each of the nine people.

These stories were either densely typed and repeated or the hand writing was layered into a dense scribble. By placing these over the images in Photoshop, the text becomes the pixels for the image, so that each individual is veiled by his own story or to put it another way: each person is revealed by the veil of his or her story.

Below are the five typed interviews followed by the images and the hand written images.


I grew up with day-dreams in the high veld heat dependable afternoon thunderstorms steam rising from soaked tar roads West of Johannesburg. My father deprecated school quoted Nietszche and filled the air with Wagner. My mother was all Wordsworth, Byron and Alice in Wonderland. He died and I went astray seduced by women and the materiality of being for three decades emerging scathed but free to return to dreaming. The dividends from a difficult time. Now my dreams take shape in the secret of my studio in the shaping of the land and the abundance of trees West of Johannesburg.



From a conversation with Lee Berger in the Canteen at WITS University, Johannesburg.

 My father wanted me to be a lawyer so he sent me to an Ivy League university to study law. After a term I was bored stiff, just couldn’t bring myself to do it, but my peripheral subjects were Geology and Anthropology and they interested me. So I quit the Ivy League and reapplied to a local minor university in Georgia to do Geology and Palaeontology. There I found a really enthusiastic teacher, who literally fired me up. I ended up doing a PhD in the bones of the shoulder – the clavicle, scapula and humorous.

Afterwards I headed to Africa because the one area, which was wide open, was early hominids. Hardly anything had been found; you could count them on two hands, so I went to Kenya, Olduvai and Leaky. Leaky soon advised me to go elsewhere as the Rift Valley was more or less sewn up and palaeontologists were still looking in the same old places. He advised me to go to South Africa which was still wide open and nothing new had been found there for decades.

So I landed a job at WITS University in Joburg, and everyone was looking in the Karst caves nearby and nothing significant had been found in 70 years. I had funding from the University and started looking again, but found nothing. Then the economy crashed and I fell foul of the University who withdrew all research funding from my department.

I wasn’t about to give up though, the sites were too good and the area wasn’t called the Cradle of Humankind for nothing. At the time early and very expensive GPSs were coming into being along with a rudimentary version of Google Earth. So I bought two military maps for $10,000, plus a GPS. Using the maps I visited the sites and plotted the coordinates into Google Earth, but when I did that I wasn’t getting the right sites. This was because the military put in a large margin of error. So I disposed of the maps and just used Google Earth. In this way I was able to locate several new cave sites, close to the old ones but which had never been looked at.

So in my own time I went out there with my two kids and the dog. When we reached the first site I was amazed to see that the sink hole at the bottom of the hill had barely been touched.

In the late 1800’s they would take mules, jackhammers and dynamite with teams of people. They would drill the rock, place a charge and bang – blow it apart to remove the limestone stalactites and ship it all out for lime mortar. They would carry on going deeper and deeper into the Karst.

Here however they seemed to have just done the one blast and then left. Why I don’t know, perhaps the higher caves looked more promising. So anyway there was just this small hole. So I said to Matt “let’s go look for fossils”. Matt was nine years old at the time and three minutes later he yelled that he had got something. He was quite a way off from the hole so I didn’t really take it seriously, but thought I should at least encourage him. As I walked over towards him everything seemed to go into black and white mode and in slow motion. From five yards away I could see a hominid clavicle sticking out of the lump of rock he was holding. Remember I did my PhD on the bones of the shoulder. I knew it was a hominid clavicle because it is the only bone which is shaped like an S and I could see it from five yards away.

As I held the rock I turned it around and there, protruding from the stone was a complete jawbone, teeth and all. It was the jaw of a young child, maybe thirteen years of age. So we drove back to the University and got everyone interested to come out. Of course everyone and everyone was eager to help. About sixty of us went back out. With that many people we shouldn’t have had a problem placing the rock back in the wall and so find the rest.

Could we do it, no, for three hours not a thing. I was so frustrated, so we took a break so I could think. We had some tea and I stood quietly in the hole on my own and I lined up the sight line with the tree, or the remains of a lightning hit tree, charred black with a hole in it, beneath which Matt had found the fossil. As I was lining it up, the sun had dipped lower and the play of light and shadow was in sharp relief. Suddenly I saw a clavicle at the top of a humorous. I picked up the rock and fitted it into place. As I was doing so the earth above it crumbled away and several teeth fell into my hand. We had not one but two skeletons.

Someone else began to clear beneath, and in a second there was a femur. At this point we stopped. What we had was two complete hominid skeletons, something that had never been found before. Never in my wildest imaginings had I expected to find one, let alone two complete skeletons. It was something out of the bounds of possibility. Later we were to discover other skeletons in the cave – a sabre toothed tiger for one.

The find was between two layers where the radio isotopes had reversed, meaning that these two layers were pole reversals. So we could date the finds to two million years old. It must have been a time of colossal climate change, probably with a massive drought, every living creature would have been going down the caves in search of water. There may have been an earth quake or they could have just drowned in an underground lake. In any case what we see from the skeletons of the two hominids is something very close to homo sapiens; the cranium a bit smaller, the arms longer. But here was a creature that walked erect on two legs with a hand structure identical to our own which was capable of all the dextrous movements we employ today.

It is too soon to be sure but these remains seem to represent a new species of Australopithecus that is probably descended from Australopithecus africanus. Combined craniodental and postcranial evidence demonstrates that this new species shares more derived features with early Homo than any other australopith species and thus might help reveal the ancestor of that genus.



Petreus, Farm worker at Bosworth Farm and stud. Petreus has San blood.


Yes, I have been here working for twenty years. My parents were here before but they have gone now.

The San drawings are religious pictures. They show the San relationship to his world and they re used for power and healing. No one really knows exactly what these drawings mean, sometimes you can guess, but most likely you would be wrong. Some of the animals are emerging, as if from another world.

The man and the woman together, some say they are dancing, others that they are doing something else.

The abstract symbols designate this place as a space where healing was done. The drawings are on a slope facing where the river used to be. This is a place where lightning strikes because there is iron in the rock. Many years ago three children were killed up her by lightning. When the Koi replaced the San they tried to copy their drawings, but they were hopeless artists; they were herders and their drawings are crude and primitive. Sometimes they drew over San pictures, sometimes they put them next to them. Many people and students come from WITS University come up here to study the drawings. They say we should leave everything just as it is, but the trees are growing up and their leaves drop acid water onto the drawings so they are now brown and fading and you cant see them. I think we should cut the trees from around the drawings.

On the cobra snake: I was once cleaning out the swimming pool, it had been a long day, I was tired and walking home in a dream, not thinking. I looked up; a cobra was rearing up a few feet from my face. I froze, the cobra froze. The cobra has very poor eyesight. I was terrified as it could strike at any second. It is the most venomous snake. Very slowly I backed away. The cobra did not move. Inch by inch I backed up until I felt a tree at my back. I spun round behind it and ran like hell. Later others came to find and kill it, but it had gone, vanished.



Text taken from notes made after a day spent with Roger out at Vredefort Dome

I did my PhD at Cambridge on the effects of heat on rock, but when I returned to South Africa the thinking was already in place that Vredefort was an impact crater, despite the incumbent professor at WITS insistence that it wasn’t.

The impact happened 2 billion years ago. At the centre, ground Zero, an asteroid 10 Kilometres long and travelling through space at 25,000 mph slams into the earths crust at this point, travelling some 40 kilometres into the Earth. Like a pebble falling into water, it throws back up a bubble. In this case a mound of debris 40 Kilometres high. What we see in the distance, that semi circular line of hills, is in fact all that is left of the edge of that dome of destroyed rock.

So at the impact point here at ground zero, the bedrock granite, laid down when the Earth was formed four billion years ago, melts into a kind of plasticine. Within in this mush is every melted rock in the area, including the asteroid itself. Looking at a rock pebble here, it is flecked with pseudotacholite. Its even distribution means that this is a re-melt rock.

At the point of impact everything is vaporised. A massive cloud of debris is thrown into space and scattered for miles around. What little life there is, singled celled stromatolites etc, go up in smoke. The dome at the centre is some 40 kilometres across and the crater rim reaches to Johannesburg making it 300 kilometres in diameter. This is the largest impact crater by far that we know about on the planet. The Moon and Mars have many that are bigger. There is a smaller one in Yucatan, which wiped out the dinosaurs.

A few seconds after impact, off to the side of the dome the rocks are violently shaken up, causing massive friction. It is here that the rock melts and runs into cracks and seams forming a rock, which we call pseudotacholite, a glass like conglomeration of all the rocks. It has been heated violently and cooled rapidly. It is nearly the oldest rock on the planet, melted by the biggest impact event. We will look more at that later. For now we will go to the edge of the dome.

As we approach these hills you can see that all the rocks have been upended and shaken violently. Here we can see huge slabs of pseudotacholite, these have been polished to a glass finish. We cross the Vaal river and see Quartzite, which makes solidified sand beaches under pressure, here upended by the impact. But these layers are beaches of sand dunes and you can see the direction of their flow.

We are looking at a peculiar phenomenon of impact rocks – shatter cones, a pattern seen in the rock which looks like a drawing of mountain ranges.

We return to the dome – off centre to see a line of boulders stretching across the flat plain. The sun is dropping in the sky as we approach the boulders. They are in fact all that is left of a huge seam of melted pseudotachalite, over the intervening two billion years they have eroded into blunt stubs. At some point a forest has dripped acid rain onto the rocks, dissolving the rock and forming eroded cups. These cups hold water when it rains.

Thirty thousand years ago the San moved into the area. They noticed the water holding cups, which prompted them to designate this site for rain-making. This is where they went into trance dances to bring rain, which would replenish the grass on which the big mammals would arrive to graze. All essential to survival for the San, both practically and spiritually. All over these rocks you can find San drawings of these animals. Here in particular is the most sacred Eland, drawn around a depression. So we have a site which is a place of destruction, transformed by people into a site of creation. Destruction/creation/destruction, creation.



My mother died when I was very young, I was seven years old when she died and my father died soon after. I was looked after by my grandmother, there were four of us and I am the third child. There were too many of us for my grandmother, so I was sent to my uncle. This was a bad situation. I had to help in the home and I could not go to school because at that time you had to pay and there was no money.

I have two languages: my mother was Xhosa and my father was Tswana. Tswana was my first language. I never learned to speak Afrikaans as that was what was taught in schools. Under apartheid you could only get a job if you spoke Afrikaans. So I left where I was living and moved to Johannesburg where there were more jobs. Here I got a job as a gardener and I learned about plants and gardening.

I have only my brothers and sisters. My uncle died and his family dispersed. I am saving, I would like to come to the UK to earn more money, so I can have more of a chance in life. I am someone with lots of bad beginnings.

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Last Day in Milton Keynes

May 22, 2014

Today we finally finished the Ashland Water Serpent. The title of the work gives this piece of common land a kind of imaginative mytholgy, but for me it is a wave work, which adds to the number of works about a fundamental energy felt through the body, rather than the mind, as such for me it is a log wave.



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Fourth and Last week on the Ashland Water Serpent

May 20, 2014

This week we have had two more guys working for us, Adam and Robbie and we are all set to finish by the end of the week. Today was an amazing day, the thunderstorms held off and we got a lot done.




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Ashland Water Serpent – Third week

May 17, 2014

Finally the weather cleared up and there is less mud. We are still one man down but on target to finish at the end of next week. I look at the pile of logs left and wonder if we actually have enough. It will be a close run thing. Next week there will be five of us.3_1


27 m. left to go








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Third week – Ashland Water Serpent

May 14, 2014

Into the third week, it has been raining a lot and we are wading in mud, which means moving heavy logs is hard and quite dangerous. As a result Will looks to have slipped a disk in his back, so we down to 3 of us. However today the sun shone and we are getting there – but we miss Will, mainly because he cooks for us in the evening.



Working on the far end




Coming round the near end of the pond – over halfway complete.

laying out the line towards the beginning

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Opening for Carbon Pool at Chaumont-sur-Loire

May 12, 2014

On the May Bank Holiday Monday Carbon Pool and all the gardens opened at Chaumont-sur-Loire. This was a 2 day event with champagne receptions, dinners for VIPs and a day for press with more champagne and cordon bleu cuisine. Brilliant organisation and great fun.photo

lunch, 2nd course

lunch, 2nd course



The theme of the 2014 gardens was the 7 deadly sins. Out of 250 applications 25 get made. Here are some of them


An all synthetic garden


With hens




The volcano garden

/ IMG_2762


The forbidden garden of psychotropic plants

IMG_2766/ / IMG_2773

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Carbon Pool, Chaumont sur Loire

May 11, 2014

Carbon Pool, was commissioned by Le Domaine Chaumont sur Loire for the area of the Pres du Goualoup. It is situated close to Jujiko Nakaya’s Japanese garden. The site was chosen because of the clump of pines which present a living circle of trees. What was sensed was an idea of entropy – the trees dying, falling, being sucked in a vortex down into the earth. Rather than burning carbon and putting it into the atmosphere, it is stored in the earth and is reborn as new living trees.

The work is 18 m in diameter and is made from pine and poplar logs, sourced from fallen timber 2 km. away.

Chaumont sur Loire is famous for its garden festival which is similar, but more innovative than Chelsea. However the director, Chantal Colleu-Dumond has expanded its range to include permanent international gardens, art and nature/ land art, installations in the Chateau and outbuildings, as well as exhibitions of photography, sculpture and video installations and digital works. If you were to see everthing you would need a day, possibly two. Chaumont attracts something like 400,000 visitors a year.



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Ashlands Water Serpent

May 01, 2014

After two years of planning we have finally started constructing this giant log twisting snake in Milton Keynes. I am working again with Second Nature – Drew, Will and Ben and we are staying in the land of many roundabouts during the week.  The work is designed as a community project and is the largest work in Milton Keynes to date. It is both sculpture and play object for kids plus a place to picnic and hang out in what is a relatively wild piece of land. It may also be the cornerstone of future community projects on the land to make the environment more stimulating and green with more habitat for other species.

After two weeks work we are roughly half way, but are awaiting the second delivery of logs, delayed because of bad weather.








IMG_2513more images on:  http://www.simpsonandashland.co.uk/the-ashland-water-serpent.html


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Monday 24th – Last day at Chaumont

February 25, 2014

Monsieur Lenoir moving the tree trunks with great finesse.

Monsieur Lenoir moving the tree trunks with great finesse.






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Carbon Pool, Chaumont-sur-Loire

February 22, 2014

Finally finished the work this evening. There are more very big logs to go in which connect to the clump of pines, and there is more burning to do, but basically it is done. Today was really wet and dangerous so I am relieved that we are all in one piece. We can go out tonight and celebrate, then have a day to look round the area.

the last big log going in.

the last big log going in.

More burning - the flame is too small so it takes forever

More burning – the flame is too small so it takes forever



Us four

Us four



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Friday – Chaumont

February 21, 2014

Day 5 and we are 5/6 done. Today the sun came out so we really made some progress. Here are Fridays crew:

Drew on digger

Drew on digger






Monsieur Nicolas Lenoir

Monsieur Nicolas Lenoir

We never did quite get his name but he was great.

We never did quite get his name but he was great.

We lifted and placed more big logs. Monsieur Lenoir kept bringing them. We infilled and started on burning. In the evening there was a rainbow.

Sun on mud

Sun on mud








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We are making a work here called Carbon Pool which is made of many large logs in an 18 m. circular vortex going down into the earth. There are 7 of us making it, 5 from the UK: myself, and three guys from Second Land in Lewes – Drew, Will and Ben. Kay is also here to lend much needed female balance and moral support, but it has to be said she spends all day working on her novel, but gets in vital supplies and booze when required. Then there is Monsieur Nicolas Lenoir who is supplying and bringing the timber, and his worker David, who is excellent in all things related to moving and cutting timber. He is very disdainful of my small chainsaw while he wields his massive Stihl. He is a great addition to the team and as we teach him English, he attempts to teach us French. Monsieur Lenoir however shouts in French, and even if you were fluent in the language, you still wouldn’t understand a word he was saying. For two days we waited for him to bring us logs, while the message was always – he was on his way. Finally someone got irate as we were standing around at £1000 a day and he brought logs and has been doing so ever since.

As well as us 7 there are others who have a hand in making it all happen. Laurent looks after our lodgings in the stables and brings in plumbers when the hot water packs in. Benjamin and Catherine in the office relay messages about equipment we need and smooths the way between all of us. Usually requests for tools and materials goes to the excellent Christoff who in no time appears in his van, or dumper truck with whatever we need – usually with a huge grin on his face. He loves his job and it is because of him we have a circle dug before we arrive, at the right scale in the right place with a 2 m. deep hole in the middle in which a pump is installed to drain water away, as we are on clay here. Then there is Leighton (English) in the office who doubles up with Benjamin and relays most thing to Chantal Colleu-Dumond who is the boss of the whole outfit. Chantal has a very complicated job as she manages the garden festival, the Chateau and the art installations, as well as dealing with local and national politicians. She has been an incredible success here and has brought in 400,000 visitors a year. Before this she managed the whole of France’s cultural affairs in Berlin, then Rome. So she is a force to be reckoned with, and she does it all by a unique attention to detail while delegating most jobs to her excellent team.

So the five of us drove down on the Sunday 16th in beautiful sunshine and started work on Monday when the weather began to deteriorate. They have had the same atrocious weather here as we have in Britain so it is wet and very muddy, made worse by the clay soil, so we know that we are in for a mud bath and we have 7 days to get it done. A tall order!IMG_2288







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Works for 2014

February 12, 2014

FebruaryCarbon Pool – a work for Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire Centre d’Arts et de Nature


Carbon Pool

March:  Ashland Water Serpent – A community project for Ashland in Milton Keynes.


March 19th -a show of small works at the Lloyds Club Gallery in the City, curated by Stephen Lacey.

May 25th Coin – a performance collaboration with Clare Whistler on the nature of money

June: A mini retrospective for a new gallery – Oppland Art Centre, Lillhammer, Norway, with archives and an installation.

Up to October –  Exchange – A Research collaboration project with Kay Syrad for Cape Farewell working with 3 farms, 2 organic, around the valley of Sydling St Nicholas in Dorset. We are trying to get a unique view into a sustainable way of life and farming. It is hoped that we will produce two A1 hand made books and several works on paper, together with plans for a sculpture in the valley for 2015. We hope that the works we make will travel to Corn Exchanges throughout the country.

SeptemberStone and tree whirlpool – The third and last work for the Seimers family at Neddernhoff near Hamburg. To date I have made one work in the middle of the long stretch of land running East West – This is Equinox:


Sunrise through the Equinox line at the Vernal equinox
Sunrise through the Equinox line at the Vernal equinox


At the far end is Willow Domes on the Este – a growing changing work




Now I will make the third and last work towards the entrance to the land – Stone and Tree whirlpool.  The direction of flow within the work will lead people on towards Equinox.


drawing_stone_whirlpool S




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How to draw the Wind

December 12, 2013

How to draw the wind …

Tuesday, 10 December, 2013 by Niccola Shearman

Frank Davies Memorial Lecture Series, Art and Vision Science

Double Echo: Exploring the Resonance Between Art and Science, Chris Drury, Tuesday 3 December 2013

Trace the flight of an Albatross circling the Antarctic over a period of eighteen months and use this to frame an ice-blue knot of continental wind patterns registered on one day;  rake a spiralling trail based on Native American weave patterns in the Nevada desert only to see it blown away again overnight. These are some of the ways in which artist Chris Drury maps the complex patterns that govern landscapes and climate, and repeat in the rhythms of the human organism. ‘Double Echo’ was the title for a discussion of drawings and sculptural works which respond to scientific studies with an embodied experience of place as well as a conceptual concern with the language applied to the conjunction of imagination and understanding: the repeated phrase ‘everything and nothing’ captures an overwhelming encounter with the vastness of the Antarctic; and perhaps the difficulty we all have in connecting our own lives to the big picture.

Chris Drury, Mushroom Cloud, 2010. Installation at Malga Costa - Arte Sella Italy – of over 3000 suspended dried mushroom pieces. © Chris Drury

Chris Drury, Mushroom Cloud, 2010. Installation at Malga Costa – Arte Sella Italy – of over 3000 suspended dried mushroom pieces. © Chris Drury

Introducing his talk with a suitably big event, Drury described how the landscape formed by a meteorite landing billions of years ago triggered a fascination with life’s patterns of destruction and regeneration that has inspired work on all scales from the geophysical to the thumb-sized. In this context, a study of the tenacious processes of bacterial and fungal growth that can both spell death and survive a nuclear wipe-out have resulted in fragile mushroom clouds that hang in an interior space, and glass etchings that trace patterns left by a drop of deadly spores. A related video work reflects on the shattering effect of the explosions at Nevada’s nuclear test site. Registering the vibrations of a column of smoke when hit by force of sound, the silent film also memorialises the spiritual-cleansing rituals of Indigenous practice based on the burning of desert sage brush. And a technological encounter with climate-change monitoring resulted in a series of layered drawings which combine physics with an individual’s physiology. Hearing the pilot of the survey plane describing the wave-like echogram of a cross-section of Antarctic ice-sheet as being like ‘taking the heart-beat of the earth’, Drury introduced him to cardiographers working at a London hospital, in order then to combine images of the blood flow in this man’s own heart with those pulses registered in the iced-over mountain range.

Drury’s works demonstrate a political engagement with climate change grounded in scientific research that already challenges comprehension when it extends into limits of particle physics and chaos theory. Exploring the aesthetics of such complexity, the art responds imaginatively to fragile habitats while also playing with contrasts of scale which -as pointed out during the question session – evoke a metaphysical fascination with the microcosm and the macrocosm. The key to this appeal lies in a delicate balance between immersion in an environment and the objective study of universal patterns. The result is an image of a whole which complements the research scientists’ atomized view of detail. And this rounds up the series rather neatly by bringing us back to the first Frank Davis lecture on perception and visual wholes, and yet also leaves plenty of complex paths still untrod.

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Double Echo – Courtauld Art and Vision Science Lecture.

November 17, 2013

poster - Chris Drury lecture 3dec13_compress[1S]

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September 24, 2013


poster - Chris Drury lecture 3dec13_compress[1]

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Landscapes of Exploration

Landscapes_invite_finalA5-1[1]_Page_1Art From From the British Antarctic Survey Artist and Writers Programme 2001 – 9

3 October, 10.30am. Exhibition Tour by curator Liz Wells

Start at The Polar Museum: Admission free

29 October, 6.00pm. Artist in Conversation: Chris Drury

The Polar Museum: Admission free

Exhibition opening times

The Polar Museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10.00am – 4.00pm

Ruskin Gallery, Monday – Saturday, 10.00am – 4.30pm


Scott Polar Research Institute

Lensfield Road, Cambridge, CB2 1ER

Tel: 01223 336540 Email: dam66@cam.ac.uk

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