I work using the medium of painting with specific materials and processes to examine interconnected ideas surrounding the changing environmental conditions underway in the contemporary landscape. Landscape is explored directly through earth materials forming at a particular site. In a current body of work this is expressed using waste materials found in ex-coal mining regions across the UK.
The research, involving a collaborative relationship with the Coal Authority, a non-departmental public body of the UK government, demonstrates how waste ‘ochre’ materials and their contexts can be perceived as culturally valuable materials by using painting as a vehicle to reposition the processes of their formation as waste in the contemporary landscape as an historically significant event. Recycling mine water waste ‘ochres’ as usable coloured pigment for paint aims to directly connect the contemporary cultural and industrial landscape with the formation of a new historically potent landscape colour material.
Europe After The Rain2019
Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall, UK
In 2019 I was invited to curate a large group exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery to run alongside my solo-show at The Exchange, Penzance. Max Ernst’s painting ‘Europe After The Rain II’ depicts a haunting future landscape where things seemed to have evolved, or possibly devolved, into a new strange state. The painting was made in 1942 during the height of the Second World War and yet the painting is ambiguous - it doesn’t depict scenes of destruction but portrays a landscape that might come after. ‘Europe After The Rain’ was a group exhibition that I curated for Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall and features the work of 13 contemporary living artists and one surrealist masterpiece. With permission from the artist’s estate, Max Ernst’s small oil painting was reproduced for the exhibition as a 7-meter wallpaper print that filled one end-wall of the main gallery space. The group exhibition uses Ernst’s surreal painting as both a starting point and a backdrop for a show that imagines future landscapes that have evolved after the world has changed. The exhibition creates a surreal and imaginary universe that is extrapolated out from the current world around us. The current tensions between humans and other species or landscapes are here amplified to create an unnerving alien terrain. Some of the works by living artists are themselves dreams of strange futures - such as Larry Achiampong’s video: ‘Relic’ that depicts the relics of English landscape and culture as seen from a distant post-colonial future or Nick Laessing’s sculpture/machines that offer utopian living solutions for a world in collapse (I am also primary supervisor for Nick’s PhD research project at the Slade). Other works in the show look at normal things from our current world - like Karin Bos’ uncanny paintings of old caravans rusting in scrubland, or Melanie Manchot’s video of an explosion shaking a mountain as it is cleared from avalanches. When framed, however, within the wider context of the exhibition even these depictions of ‘normal’ things from our current world become artefacts within a strange collective dream – a dream of imagined futures to come.
Landscapes of the Future2018
Helsinki Contemporary, Helsinki Finland
Landscapes of the Future Helsinki Contemporary Group show curated by Beaconsfield Art Works including David Burrows, Anna Bunting-Branch, , BAW (aka David Crawforth and Naomi Siderfin) in collaboration with Bruce Gilbert, Onya McCausland, Kieth Piper, Ioana Marinescu and Philip Thompson.
Anima Mundi Gallery, Cornwall UK
Solo presentation of artworks based on research into contemporary landscape. Specific waste materials are generated in the landscape as a result of the end of coal mining. The materials are used here as a conduit to explore interconnected ideas surrounding the condition of the contemporary landscape.
Five Colours Five Landscapes2018
Exhibition of wall paintings installed throughout UCL's main cloister that sees the production of ochre material resulting from mine water treatment brought into use as pigment for paint for the very first time. The exhibition is the result of innovative collaborative research between Onya McCausland, UCL and the Coal Authority.
Horizon: Against Nature2017
Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi
Griffin Gallery London
The Edge of Printing2016
Celebrating the developments within contemporary printmaking practice including etchings, monoprints, lithographs, woodblocks, silkscreens and three-dimensional digital prints, this collection explores the way in which traditional techniques have evolved and examines some of the new technologies which are offering artists ever-changing methods of producing work.
Hardwick Gallery, University of Gloucestershire
harcoal Works is an exhibition of commissioned artworks that have been produced with the charcoaled remains of the iconic oak sculpture ‘Place’, that stood on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail for 29 years. In October 2015 a charcoal ‘clamp’ was built on the same location in the forest where the oak sculpture had stood. For three days and two nights, beneath a huge earth covered mound, an intense heat steamed, smoked and slowly carbonised the wood. The exhibition at Hardwick Gallery brings the recycling of a single artwork into multiple elements full circle, and Onya McCausland has invited 16 artists to produce new work from the charcoal according to their diverse practices. The exhibition includes works by Edward Allington, Sophie Bouvier Auslander, Jess Bryant, Marcin Gawin & Malgorzata Lucyna Zajac, Joy Gregory, Tess Jaray, James Keith, Sam Llewellyn- Jones, Lisa Milroy, Onya McCausland, Jayne Parker, Lotte Scott, Joy Sleeman, Andrew Stonyer, Kay Tabernacle and Jo Volley.
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England
En Plein Air2015
Fold Gallery , London, UK
Camden Arts Centre, London, UK
Turning Landscape into Colour investigates the origins of earth pigments - ochres - in the landscape and considers their significance as contemporary cultural materials. This project will explore the variations between different colours collected from separate sites across the mid Pennines. Onya McCausland has invited researchers from different disciplines and institutions to contribute. McCausland will bring the collected earths to the Artists' Studio and begin processing the raw material, turning it into ochre pigment and finally paint.
The Edge of Painting2013
The Edge of Painting, an exhibition curated by Tess Jaray. The Edge of Painting brings together 12 artists who all work at the margins of painting. A variety of mediums are explored. Painting - in the traditional sense of applying paint to a surface - has not been used in any of the exhibited works. Instead we encounter sculpture, print, film, metalwork, and digital media - an extensive array of works that show ‘painting’ in its contemporary forms, marking how far painting has come, and celebrating how it continues to transform.
John Moores Painting Prize.2012
Walker Gallery Liverpool.
St.Peter's Church Kettle's Yard
Installation of paintings and film
Deep Material Encounters, a symposium coordinated by Onya McCausland which brings together researchers and artists from across the arts and sciences will be held at Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean, one of the country’s oldest iron ore mines, on Friday 15th April 2016. The symposium brings together researchers and artists from across the arts and sciences to discuss ways that knowledge is developed, and perceptions altered, through encounters with particular materials, in the context of current ecological conditions. The event will include formal presentations, screening/installation of video/film works and performance.
Turning Landscape into Colour includes an essay 'The Names of the Earths' by Dr. Spike Uglow, geological/historical texts by Dr. Ruth Siddall and a set of handmade silkscreen prints from pigments by Jo Volley and Onya McCausland
symposium at UCL organised to coincide with exhibition in the UCL cloisters: Five Colour Five Landscapes; Including speakers Spike Bucklow, Isla Smail, Ruth Siddall Onya McCausland. Followed by panel discussion with invited guests; Jon Aumonier and Peter Thorn Coal Authority; Gareth Bell Jones Flat Hime House the John Latham Archive; Joy Sleeman and Jo Volley from Slade School of Fine Art; Eric Oelkers UCL Earth Sciences; Neal White from the University of Westminster.