The World After, 2018-2019
New Geographies Commission
Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea
New Geographies and the East Contemporary Visual Arts Network (ECVAN) selected artists to create ten major site-responsive visual arts commissions across the East of England. The artists selected are: Maria Anastassiou, David Blandy, Cooking Sections, Ian Giles, Krijn de Koning, Taylor Le Melle & Zadie Xa, Susan Pui San Lok, Studio Morison, Stuart Whipps and Laura Wilson.
David Blandy is working with Focal Point Gallery on a project inspired by the nature reserve of Canvey Wick on the south west corner of Canvey Island, Essex. The new work will be shown at the gallery in 2019.
Blandy is interested in the post-human environment of Canvey Wick, formerly the site of an oil refinery, which has since been reclaimed by nature and is now described as a "brownfield rainforest". It has a nationally important population of invertebrates, including many endangered species.
He plans to use these species as inspiration for characters and creatures for a new Dungeons & Dragons style table top game.
New Geographies is a three-year project, funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, to create a new map of the East of England based on personal thoughts, reflections and stories of unexplored or overlooked places, rather than on historic or economical centres. The first phase of the project invited members of the public to nominate locations for the map in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, over a three-month period in the Summer of 2017.
This resulted in over 270 nominations, including the Petrified Forest of Mundon (Essex), the Concrete Pyramid off Great Yarmouth’s coast (Norfolk), an abandoned Tesco supermarket in Chatteris (Cambridgeshire) and Cardington Airship Hangar Site in Bedford (Bedfordshire).
Via an international open call, artists were then invited to submit proposals for artworks inspired by the nominated locations. The final commissions were selected by a panel made up of ECVAN’s partner organisations.
‘The World After’ table-top roleplay game
There was a successful Kickstarter Campaign to help realise an exciting new phase for David Blandy's collaborative New Geographies project with the Essex Gaming Community.
‘The World After’ is a new fantasy table-top roleplay game inspired by the wildlife and landscape of Canvey Wick; an abandoned oil refinery turned nature reserve, now recognised as one of the most bio-diverse sites in the UK. The project imagines a game space where community is created through diversity in a post-human world, with much of the monsters and creatures inspired by wildlife from the site.
To be published alongside the exhibition there will be a full-colour hardcover book for the game packed with rules, setting, art, bestiary and a starting adventure, developed in collaboration with a dedicated group of local artists and gamers.