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David Bethell - Contraption: After Telford and Brown

Installation of wood and plants with a film at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery

David Bethell - Contraption: After Telford and Brown

Installation of wood and plants with a film at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery

David Bethell - Contraption: After Telford and Brown

Installation of wood and plants with a film at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery

Contraption: After Telford and Brown

(From Boat, Carriage, Plough and Harrow to Bridge)

Wood and plants

Meadow Arts commission 2017

David Bethell has been commissioned to make a new body of work, to be shown at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, with one part of the work in the Walled Garden.

While Capability Brown and James Paine were sculpting and adorning Weston Park’s vast pleasure grounds, over the hills and only a few dozen miles away, the first furnaces of Coalbrookdale had started to produce huge quantities of iron. The instigators of the Industrial Revolution were looking at the landscape too, but with an eye for engineering and productivity. Soon brand new enterprises would flourish, such as the very first iron bridge. These two essential models, the Brownian idyll and the industrial one, stand in perfect opposition in this particular corner of Shropshire.

David Bethell's latest contraption takes the form of a barge, carriage and agricultural machine all at once. Referencing both Thomas Telford, a leader of the Industrial Revolution, and Capability Brown, he refashions part of his unwieldy machine to build one half of a bridge. The other half is shown in an exact alignment at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery where it is surrounded by other parts of the contraption, selected works from the Museum’s collection and a film retracing the original contraption’s journey.

David Bethell

David Bethell graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in 2017.  His work can be associated with the construction of wooden sculptures.  These constructed objects often represent makeshift machines or contraptions. These are then tested by the artist or performer/s even the viewer in attempt to go beyond their own capabilities. A test that is measured by the limitations of space, materials and an ambition to do something beyond its own expectation. There is a sense of ‘becoming’, change within the material and its surrounding to reach the far fetched goal. And as a result these attempts often end in failure.  The works manifest themselves with an oddness that can relate to the imaginative and real a like.  A sense futility, disbelief, humour, hope, magic, endurance, imperfections and empathy can all be seen within his work.

He has had solo shows at Home in Manchester with ‘Fleeting Flights’, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and various site specific commissions that included ‘The Weight of Things’ at Keele University. After Graduating in 2017 he was selected by Charlie Smith Gallery in London be included in the Young Gods Exhibition. Other selected group shows included the Spheres 7 in Paris, Bluecoat Gallery, and Synthetic Landscapes with Meadow Arts. He won the Worcester open in 2013 with his short film ‘Stacked against all Odds’.

He graduated from Staffordshire University in 2005 with a First Class Hons degree in Fine Art. After graduating, he cofounded AirSpace Gallery with Andrew Branscombe. giving Stoke-on-Trent its first Contemporary Art gallery. He co-curated, and worked with over 500 artists, from 2006 to 2012. He also founded Conjunction, co-curated Stoke on Trent's first Contemporary Art Biennial and ran this in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012.

www.davidbethell.com