Image: Jeffery Camp, Laetitia and a Cornish Tin Mine, 1967.
The exhibition Chicken Nuggets was organised by students at Pool Academy and Ben Sanderson. The show was inspired by a beautiful small painting found by Ben in the Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection. Ben and students then started to plot a conversation between Jeffery Camp’s work and that of contemporary painters working in Cornwall today. The show consisted of works by eight artists; Finlay Abbott Ellwood, Simon Bayliss, Nicola Bealing, Romi Behrens, Naomi Frears, Nina Royle, Lucy Stein and Ben.
The exhibition developed through a series of workshops held at the gallery for the students. Ben asked, ‘If you could do anything in the gallery, what would it be?’ The response was ‘Trash it’. Ben wanted to find a way of harnessing this energy. The conversation led to vandalism and graffiti, so painting the walls of the gallery became the first workshop. Ben prepared the space, mixed lots of paint 50/50 with water and gave the empty gallery to the students. There were only two rules: no writing, and respect other people’s work. Ben was there for encouragement, though they didn’t need any.
Next, they curated the hang, unwrapping works and carefully placing them in relation to the murals they had painted. The students were amazingly unfussy and demonstrated a short circuit approach that Ben found totally fascinating. They never spoke of it again once it was done.
Participating artists were asked to lead weekly workshops for the students, suggesting ways in which their work might be connected with Jeffery Camp’s painting, and creating a wider understanding of their artistic practice. There were workshops with oak gall ink and pigments made from clay, a landscape painting session from a live webcam feed, and paper-making from the gallery’s waste paper bin. Ben also reached out to chef Jack Bevan to create a food menu responding to the themes in the show. The menu consisted of pea and bacon soup, seaweed focaccia, rainbow chard and squash salad. The food was all seasonal and grown near to the school. Working with food in this way turned out to be a great way to think about colour, process, and painting.