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Stephen Nelson

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Timur The Lame, 2017

Stephen Nelson makes strange and highly personable objects and constructions, using a wide variety of salvaged materials selected for their colour, texture and character. Working with anything from sea worn plastic toys, clay pipes, wire, painted drift wood to cloth, carpet and leather, Nelson’s sculptures have an improvised and makeshift attitude, forming part of a curious world of ‘possible objects’ which defy critical context by reaching out through their physicality. He has recently been working in bronze.


Stephen was born in Liverpool and lives and works in London. He gained his BA in Fine Art at South Glamorgan Institute (1983), followed by a Masters in Fine Art at Birmingham University (1985). 

In 1999 Nelson was appointed the Arts Council of England Helen Chadwick Fellow in Sculpture, during which period he developed a series of works about wolves that related to his time spent at the British School in Rome and at Oxford University. 2013 saw him selected as the first solo artist to exhibit in the Projects at the Contemporary Art Society.

Stephen is also part time curator of Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Cogliandrino in Basilicata,Italy a not for profit artist run space.

Selected Solo Exhibitions 

Skin falls apart, Projects Francesco Panteleone Gallery, Palermo, Italy (2015)

Project 1 Contemporary Arts Society, London (2013)

It’s a Soft Hard World, Space Station Sixty Five, London (2008)

Tepuis, Camden Arts Centre, London (1996) 

Wax, Adam Gallery, London (1994)

Bronze, Mario Flecha Gallery, London (1993)

Untitled, Adam Gallery, London (1992).

Selected Group Exhibitions 

Poor Art/Arte Povera Italian influences,British responses, Estorick Collection, London (2017)

Students, Patients, Paupers, St Phillips, LSE London (2011)

Rhizomatic, Departure Gallery, London (2010)

Walls Have Ears, Man & Eve Gallery, London (2008)

Thy neighbours ox, Space Station Sixty Five (2005)


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Head, 2017

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Work at Contemporary Art Society, 2013. Photo Joe Plommer

Time At Hogchester Arts

Residency period - August 2019

The first thing that springs to mind about my Hogchester arts residency is generosity, generosity of spirit, of sharing, materials and of time.


Until recently most of my work has been made in London studios I wondered what a residency in the Dorset countryside would be like would it be useful, beneficial or inspirational?


I decided to arrive with an idea in my head and a physical project I could enact when I got there.

The first went ok with some found materials some ordered online I made a long wooden plaque piece called “no tugs “ it was bigger than anything I could accommodate in my studio so a good start.


The second idea went awry as I had bought a metal detector to discover things buried in the landscape. It was inspired by a newspaper article about a hoard of coins found in rural England  the week before my residency. If it didn’t work out artistically I could always make my self rich with one lucky find.

In the week it slowly fell apart, I was blessed with beautiful weather but with no rain the ground was so hard I couldn’t get a trowel through it and in the first two days I just encountered endless disheartening rocks I think the detector I bought should have been called “pebble detector”

So I decided to drop that and do what so many of the great artists had done “en plein air” and draw trees, I chose a huge fallen tree and spent three days just looking and putting on paper,something I hadn’t done for such a long time. 

I had always loved the story of Arshile Gorky sitting near his home drawing the space between the trees 


The discipline was good, get up eat breakfast, walk to field, look, make a mark,look, make more marks, eat lunch walk back to field look, more marks, in a strange way it became quite romantic.

On other days I took photos of goats on plinths, cast pewter with Chantal’s help and started a collaborative collage which we never finished.


As with many of my experiences they often filter into my work years later so as yet I don’t know it’s lasting impact.


It’s too brief but in that space I managed to breath, invent, fail, be curious and be welcomed 


What more can an artist ask for?

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