Out with the family on a sunny May Sunday, at Lickey Hills Country Park, we spotted three people and a ladder, sticking brollies in a tree.
Curious, we wandered over to discover the installation was part of an outdoor exhibit of art works by Out Yer Tree which was to run in the park throughout June.
Out Yer Tree was established by four artists in 2008 and is now run entirely by two of its founder members, Taz Lovejoy & Mark Biddulph of Rednal, Birmingham. The project enables emerging artists to get their work out into the open air, mainly into country parks, where the public may be surprised to spot them during a sunny Sunday stroll! To open exhibitions, members of the public are invited on a walk where they can discuss the art works with their creators.
I asked Taz what it’s like being an artist living in Rednal.
We recently moved to Rednal after living in Smethwick for a year or so, the area is fantastic for me and my practice as I need to be near the great outdoors for inspiration and the Lickey Hills are just perfect for that. Me and my partner, Mark Biddulph (another artist and partner in OYT) would have never contemplated moving if it wasn’t for the first time Out Yer Tree exhibited at the Lickey Hills. It was such a fantastic environment and the area seemed so receptive to the arts that it wasn’t long until we were packing up our stuff and moving. The move also worked out well for me working at Newman as the distance wasn’t any further but much quicker roads.
What do you do at Newman University College?
I am employed at Newman as ‘Graduate Assistant in Creative Arts’, I provide technical support to art, media, music and drama and also an aspect of my job is my independent research. Newman fund me to attend my MA at Coventry and although originally I intended to take a typical Fine Art MA, I later decided to push myself in a slightly different direction. I am not sure now on reflection this was the best step, as the course appears to be very digitally/ film focused although it wasn’t stated as this when Iapplied. They do support me to continue working with my outdoor sculpture, but it has been a bit of a struggle to convince my tutors that this was were my practice and focus lay.
Who else runs outyertree with you and are they from the area?
OYT is run by myself and my partner Mark Biddulph originally we had 4 members which included another couple from our home town, Kettering but they moved to Wales in the summer of 2009 and wanted to settle for a quiter more relaxed life. So now OYT is entirely based in our home in Rednal although we exhibit countrywide.
What inspires you and what would you like to pursue in the future?
Within my practice I am inspired by many things but most importantly the natural environment. When I discuss this with people, many point out that none of my artworks are really environmentally friendly and I often use materials such as plastics. This is a real conflict for me as although I appreciate the environment and wish to do my part in saving it, within my artwork I thrive on using brightly coloured objects, which you don’t get with natural materials. I do try to use recycled materials which can be seen in my most recently shown sculptures at Lickey Hills called ‘Hybrid Infusions’, within which I have used old unwanted plant pots from a local garden centre and the same can be said for my umbrella artworks.
I am currently working on some sculptures to be exhibited in connection to The Herbert Gallery in Coventry and an OYT exhibition in Coombe Abbey Country Park, Coventry (28th August to 17th September 2010 with a free walk and talk event on Saturday 28th of August at 2pm). Beyond this my real ambition is to continue to showcase my work in alternative venues across the country.
We hope to see more from Taz in the coming years, and look forward to the prospect of an Out Yer Tree exhibition in Lickey Hills Country Park in 2011!
Taz Lovejoy – Artist
Out Yer Tree – Outdoor Art Organisation