Synthetic Landscapes

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery are delighted to be hosting our new exhibition, Synthetic Landscapes which features work by up and coming artist, David Bethell.

Synthetic Landscapes is part of an ambitious exhibition of international artists coordinated by Meadow Arts, and is open until Sunday 3 September 2017.

Staffordshire based artist Bethell, was commissioned by arts organisation Meadow Arts to create a new piece of work in response to the landscape of Shropshire and the museum’s historic collections of art and objects.

Bethell was asked to investigate how, almost simultaneously, two radically opposed types of landscapes emerged in this area of Shropshire.

An image of David Bethell pulling a contraption through the countryside surrounded by tress with a pond in the background as part of Synthetic Landscapes at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery

Up and coming artist, David Bethell, whose work features in Synthetic Landscapes at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Galler

At Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, emerging Midlands artist David Bethell has curated elements of the collection and responded with his own work: Contraption: After Telford and Brown (From Boat, Carriage, Plough and Harrow to Bridge). This idiosyncratic construction was pulled around the gardens and outdoor spaces of Weston Park with great effort: Bethell made an artist’s film of the process, which will be shown in the balcony gallery at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, in an installation of film and sculpture.

The artist planned that the contraption would disintegrate as it progressed on its journey, part of it re-assembled to be exhibited in the gallery, while the rest was remade into a bridge in two halves. Half of this bridge is at the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, while the other half is displayed, along with with other artists’ work, in Weston Park’s Walled Garden, creating an imaginary ‘bridge’ between Capability Brown’s Weston Park landscape designs, James Paine’s architecture and the influence of Thomas Telford. The latter, a visionary and principal player in the Industrial Revolution, left behind an impressive body of work, some of which is referenced in selected historic paintings chosen by Bethell from the museum’s collections, to be displayed alongside his own artwork.

David Bethell is interested in the two faces of the Shropshire landscape: he says, “Shropshire can be seen as a rich county in terms of its wealth of stately homes, their gardens and grounds, its richness of landscape and the history that has formed what it is today. Many of the fine art paintings on show at the museum have an idyllic feel until closer inspection, which reveals a working landscape: a landscape that is divided between wealth and poor.”

At the Weston Park venue of Synthetic Landscapes, David Bethell’s work is joined by new commissions by Pablo Bronstein and artist duo Heather & Ivan Morison, with installations and artworks by Edward Chell, Ged Quinn, Helen Maurer, Hélène Muheim, Julian Opie, Jasleen Kaur, Ryan Gander, Dafna Talmor and Salvatore Arancio. This part of the exhibition takes place in the Granary Art Gallery and the Walled Garden of this stunning stately home until 3rd September (Weston Park is closed 16-23 August, when it hosts the V Festival).

Meadow Arts bring unique contemporary art projects to places where art is not usually shown, supporting artists by commissioning new work and creating inspiring events and exhibitions for new audiences.