After a summer-long residency at Hestercombe Gallery, St Ives-based artist Simon Bayliss has produced an exhibition entitled Arcadia which will run from 24 October 2015 until 28 February 2016.
During his time at Hestercombe, Simon has responded to the gardens through painting en plein air and writing poetry. The resulting exhibition presents Bayliss’ idiosyncratic vision of Hestercombe as an Arcadia, a pastoral utopia, accelerated using wit and fast-paced imagery.
Simon Bayliss came out as a landscape painter earlier this year to a discerning audience of contemporary artists. By describing his conflicting feelings on the subject, and some of the problems with romanticising the countryside, he hoped to challenge the unspoken notion that landscape painting is now a provincial pursuit. During his time at Hestercombe, Bayliss produced daily watercolours of views within the gardens. Many of these were made from the follies, designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde as picturesque viewpoints inspired by Arcadian landscape paintings.
Bayliss first came across the notion of Arcadia, not from landscape painting however, but gay literature, an idea historically described in books, such as ‘Brideshead Revisited’, as an Eden for affectionate men away from the scrutiny of society.
Over the years Bayliss has worked in gardens, a garden centre and an organic smallholding, so it seemed natural to explore the refrain ‘queering the garden’ at Hestercombe. Bayliss’ erotic tea towel, for example, features the phrase ‘Paradise Haunts’, which comes from Derek Jarman’s remark ‘Paradise haunts gardens’.
Bayliss was selected as the second artist in residence, in an ongoing series of residencies at Hestercombe offered to artists working in the South West. During his time here he has also developed an ‘Arcadia Workshop’, which will take place in spring, gathering creative practitioners in the fields of art, writing and garden design to explore landscape themes. Bayliss is also currently co-writing a play with poet Damon Moore, based on the Gertrude Jekyll garden at Hestercombe.
Bayliss studied at Falmouth College of Art and Burren College of Art, Ireland. Recent projects include ‘Landscape Painters Anonymous’, a performative lecture, CAST, Helston, and ‘A Coastal Climax’ a poem commissioned for ‘The Wise Wound’, a night of music and performance curated by artist Lucy Stein with Tate St Ives. Under his alias swimonbaybliss, Bayliss also produces the biweekly radio show ‘Squirming the Worm’, hosted by Coco de Moll (Lucy Stein), on NTS. With Stein, he also co-curated the painting-centric group exhibitions ‘SS Blue Jacket’ at KARST, Plymouth, and ‘The White Hotel’, Gimpel Fils, London. Bayliss is currently a student on The Syllabus, a year-long experimental education programme convened by Wysing Art Center in partnership with Eastside Projects, New Contemporaries, S1 Artspace, Spike Island and Studio Voltaire.
Find out more about Hestercombe Gallery at www.hestercombe.com