Foreground launch first Primary/Bristol commission: _a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_ by Melanie Counsell

Image Credit: Melanie Counsell, _a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_, 2016. Oasis Academy Marksbury Road. Photo: Jamie Woodley © Melanie Counsell, courtesy of Foreground and Bristol City Council.

We are delighted to release documentation of the first commission by Foreground in the Primary/Bristol programme – 2 new works made by Melanie Counsell for Oasis Academy Marksbury Road, Bristol.

Framed within the parameters of Bristol City Council’s innovative public art strategy, Primary/Bristol has been commissioned by Bristol City Council and is the most extensive programme of commissioning contemporary art for school environments in the UK.
Foreground are lead commissioning partners in the programme working alongside Arnolfini, Bristol, with both organisations delivering separate but complimentary programmes of commissioning for a wide range of primary schools across socially diverse neighbourhoods in Bristol.

Oasis Academy Marksbury Road will eventually be one of the largest primary schools in Bristol, but when first opened in 2015 was occupied by only a single year group of approximately 60 children. Counsell has made 2 related works for these early custodians of the school – the mobile Perspex sculpture _a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_ and the bookwork Rhyme for a Rolling Puzzle.

_a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_ functions as both a communal object and a symbol for the school’s celebration of difference, community and co-operation. Reminiscent of previous Perspex works by Counsell, where the artist has deployed the material to manipulate colour and light to create a heightened awareness of space, the interactive sculpture is a greatly enlarged, mobile version of a three-dimensional puzzle cube made from fluorescent amber Perspex and encased within a sealed cube of the same material.

The sculpture will be cared for by the school children who will ultimately decide the sculpture’s meaning and purpose through their use and relationship with the object. The object’s mobility invites the sculpture to be moved and placed throughout the school building for use in communal gatherings, celebrations, lessons and games. 

_a_m_b_e_r_m_a_z_e_ is accompanied by Counsell’s second work for the school – the publication Rhyme for a Rolling Puzzle. Created in direct dialogue with Counsell’s mobile sculpture, Rhyme for a Rolling Puzzle is a nursery rhyme exploring ideas of form, design and movement through a simple but witty ode to a snail. The publication creates a web of associations and possible interpretations for Counsell’s sculpture to spark the imagination of the pupils. 

View full documentation of Melanie Counsell’s works for Oasis Academy Marksbury Road here.

Explore Foreground’s full programme of commissions in the Primary/Bristol programme here.

Explore Bristol City Council’s extensive programme of art commissions in the public realm here.

Primary/Bristol is funded by Bristol City Council as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme in line with Bristol City Council's Public Art Policy, with the support of Skanska and the Education & Skills Funding Agency with additional funding from Arts Council England and Henry Moore Foundation. The work will be permanently housed at Oasis Academy Marksbury Road, Bristol.

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