Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Exhibition Review: John Newling in the Studio at Beam

15 January 22 words: Katie Green

In this online exhibition, John Newling explores the Earth and ecology through the medium of soil, followed by a short essay. We discuss some of the most poignant works on display…

School, 2020. John Newling

Mound; Surrender to The Earth, 2021
This work has an interesting title, but as I look closer, I begin to understand the meaning of it. The pile of small logs made from soil immediately makes me think about how large and powerful the world around us really is. Despite humans making up the majority of the globe and having inhabited the Earth for millions of years, there is still so much we do not yet understand.
A drop quote under this first artwork states: “I have long been absorbed by the thought that under our feet is soil of such complexity that we have yet to understand all the effects and affects of the earth; it is a material that carries a language in and through nature.”
This mound represents the Earth, its size, impact, power and abilities; its complexity resonates with me and I realise how miniscule humans really are.

School, 2020
Compared to the other pieces in the exhibition, this work appears neater and more unified; it shows the representation of school through the medium of soil. The three additional props used in the piece, a ball, a book and two pencils carved from wood, show us the three fundamentals that make up the idea of ‘school’. We go to school to learn how to read, represented by the book; we learn to write, represented by the pencils; the rest of the time we build social skills and play, represented by the ball.

Ultimately, this exhibition opens our eyes to the real power the world has, and reminds us that there is still much to discover about our own environments

In a way, this piece resonates with the theme of ecology the most, as it is at school where we learn to interact with our environment. As an adult viewing this piece, it reminds me of a much simpler time in my childhood where I learnt new skills that would shape me into the person I am today. Delving even deeper, this work suggests that all we are from the soil - it is the Earth which shapes our lives and the people we are and will become. 

Essay: New Works – 2020/2021
After you have made your way through visuals of the exhibition, there is a short essay written by the artist to conclude. In this he explains his connection and the process of how the artworks are made: “We live in a world of many forms of communication that we have yet to translate.” 

What comes across as remarkable in this essay is that all the materials used in Newling’s artworks were collected from his garden. This shows his creativity and also highlights that the art is made from Newling’s own environment. His ecology is at the heart of everything.

Ultimately, this exhibition opens our eyes to the real power the world has, and reminds us that there is still much to discover about our own environments.

John Newling in the Studio is available to view online now

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now

You might like this too...


You might like this too...