Chantal Powell – Artists Blog

Tag: collaboration

Collaborative Site Specific Work Unveiled in Crypt Gallery

Melissas Design

Next Wednesday marks the opening of MAKE/CREATE exhibition at the Crypt Gallery in London. A collaborative venture organised by Griffin Gallery and the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust which pairs contemporary artists with skilled craftsmen. The spirit of the exhibition lies in the desire to demonstrate the contemporary nature of craft, and the craft involved in art – changing the perceptions of both.

Artists were selected by a judging panel that included Julia Robinson of QEST, Director of Griffin Gallery Becca Pelly-Fry, and Visual Arts and Craft Lead for Arts Council England Richard Edwards.


I have been working with QEST scholar Melissa White. Melissa specialises reproducing Elizabethan wall paintings and painted cloths. She has produced work for numerous museums and heritage sites including Shakespeare’s birthplace and The Summerhouse in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

Together we have created a site specific work that references imitation, illusion and fakery, and challenges us to consider our relationship with value and authenticity.

6-10 May 2015
Private View: 6pm-8.30pm | May 6
The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BA
I will be in the gallery myself on Wednesday afternoon between 1-3pm as well as at the private view from 6-8.30pm so do drop me an email if you can make it during those hours as it would be lovely to see you.

Collaborating across distance using digital media

The core team from The Fall Of The Majestic project

The ongoing collaborative project The Fall Of The Majestic, (core team – curator Anneka French, artists Dean Melbourne and myself) was featured in this months a-n magazine in an article about the use of digital media in contemporary collaborative practise. You can also read the article online here.

We discussed with a-n how our geographical separation means face to face meetings are infrequent so we rely heavily on social media and a three-way blog to communicate.

“(the blog) allows them to record and discuss thoughts and ideas, post images of influences and work in progress. The blog not only allows discussions in the form of comments but provides a useful digital record of the development of the project. When more artists are introduced to the project it will become an even more essential way of keeping everyone connected with progress”.

The Fall Of The Majestic has been speaking to a number of exciting venues recently and we look forward to developing the unique, tailored shows to these spaces over 2012/2013.

Coffee and Planning in Birmingham

meeting with artist Dean Melbourne and curator Anneka French

With just over three weeks to go till the first showing of The Fall Of The Majestic Elk it was great to get to travel up to Birmingham for a couple of days to meet with Dean and Anneka to properly sit down together and really work through some of the logistics.

I’m based in Southampton so most of the time we communicate our thoughts via phone or a 3 way project blog we have set up on Posterous specifically for sharing ideas, images and work progress on the show. Its very useful in terms of being able to scroll back and see how things have developed over the months or revisit ideas we may have forgotten about but nothing beats the opportunity to sit down all together with lots of coffee and really work through stuff together.


It was fantastic having a curator on board to help with the selection and placement of works and I’m really excited about the future exhibitions and ideas she has to grow the Majestic Elk in alternative spaces. By the time we finished we had a good idea of how this show would be curated, a good long list of things we need to work on in the next 3 weeks and we even managed to fit in shopping for the fabric we will be using to dress some of the space.


New Work – “Pilgrimage”

Pilgrimage, 2011. Antlers, religious jewellery. Chantal Powell.

This new work was made for the collaborative project, “The Fall Of The Majestic Elk” which I am currently working on with artist Dean Melbourne. 

The Fall Of The Majestic Elk, 2011. Oil on paper. Dean Melbourne.

This is a really exciting project in which we are creating our own narrative that will run through the exhibition. Think adventure, romance, a visual crossover between the the underground world of Phantom of the Opera and Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. A journey that is of mental or spiritual discovery as well as the physical passage through space.

Our plan is a loose, almost dream like narrative, where there is not a sequential plot but a coherent flow and repetition of imagery and themes. The aim is to create an experience that reflects a journey with encounters, in which Dean’s large scale paintings reflect “chapters” or “scenes”. The overlap between Dean’s paintings and my objects/installations will be quite direct with Dean literally painting in some of my objects into his scenes (or painting onto the objects themselves) and with me creating works from aspects of his paintings.
I am excited about the opportunity to create theatrical style installations to dress the gallery which immerse the viewer, as well as stand alone objects/sculptural works.

Brittany & The Ebony Tower

On Sunday I am going to Brittany for 2 weeks, staying in a woodland gite near the village of Langourla. As well as looking forward to a great family holiday, I am especially excited about the opportunity to really reflect on The Ebony Tower project that I’m currently working towards.

Paimpont Forest, Brittany - setting of The Ebony Tower

Paimpont Forest, Brittany - setting of The Ebony Tower

Dean Melbourne and myself have plans to hold a joint exhibition of our work which will be heavily influenced by the John Fowles (1974) story, The Ebony Tower. It is an immensely stimulating story, rich in imagery, exploring the nature of art and the individual. A young artist visits a celebrated but reclusive painter and the two beautiful young women who share their lives with him. There is a conceptual clash with ideas of the nature of art (Williams and Breasley) and this is paralleled with a battle of the mind and body (Williams and Anne). The story is set in Manoir de Coetminais in Paimpont Forest, Brittany, which is only 50 minutes from where I will be staying.  Dean and his family will be visiting us for part of the holiday so we will be able to take photographs and soak up some of the backdrop to the story.

165 feathers down - a mere 135 to go

165 down -135 to go

As well as ongoing sketchbook thoughts and ideas for this collaboration, there are a number of pieces that we are currently both working on that will hopefully be part of the end product. The bird nest piece within the glass box, for example, and a piece that I have been patiently working on for a while that involves sewing 300 peacock feathers together to form a blanket for an antique cast iron bed that I found. Dean is currently working on some paintings using the darkness and intensity of the story’s nighttime orchard walk and some photos he found of Bonnards nude models.

Bonnard's Garden, 2009, Dean Melbourne

Bonnard's Garden, 2009, Dean Melbourne

I’m really excitied about the thought of showing our work together. Our work has common ground in the area of emotional impact, and I think the combination of his paintings and my objects will create a rich and layered narrative for the viewer to explore.

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