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BIG is beautiful in new exhibition by city artists

Date Posted:09/09/2014

MK College Boyd and EvansInternationally-recognised photographers and painters, Boyd & Evans, are to exhibit some of their biggest works to date at Milton Keynes College’s Silbury Campus, Gallery 200.  The exhibition will be dominated by an enormous photograph of a tree which will cover the walls on two floors and measures 8.5 metres high by 2.6 metres wide (28 feet by 8½ feet).

The artists, who live in the city, have works in the collections of a number of top international galleries from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art both in New York to the Tate Gallery in London.

Fionnuala Boyd says, “We’ve been talking to the College for five years about exhibiting but when we first saw the wall at Silbury Campus it inspired big ideas of what could be done there.  It looks like two sides of a canyon, going up through two floors and we wanted to be able to use that.  We’d been looking at big trees and it struck us as an ideal opportunity to go from floor to ceiling.”  

Les Evans says, “The idea came as a reaction to the space.  The layout of Silbury Campus allowed us to think of things at scale so there are four other photographs in the exhibition including a 6.5 metres (21 feet) long North American landscape image.”
They found the tree in Cannock Chase near Birmingham and have visited it many times.  The photograph is actually about fifty different pictures stitched together in a grid system.  It had to be produced like that to maintain sufficient image quality when it was blown up to such an extraordinary size.  To do this successfully meant a lot of visits as they were dependant on taking pictures in roughly similar light for the idea to work.  

Fionnuala says, “It just seemed so very interesting to look at.  The tree is clearly dying; the roots are exposed and out of the soil which may be one of the reasons it’s beginning to lose branches.  It has fungi growing on it and carving on it that looks like scarring in name shapes.  It has a piece of wood nailed to it fairly high up on the trunk as if someone’s tried to make a house on it.  At the same time it’s still producing new branches so it’s living and dying all at once.”

Boyd & Evans believe that with the main exhibition area at Milton Keynes Gallery closing for eighteen months it is more important than ever for alternative spaces like Gallery 200 at Silbury Campus to be used by artists to display their work.  They are also pleased to be putting up their pictures in a place habitually frequented by students.  

Fionnuala says, “For students to have ready access to exhibitions and artists of a good quality is good for everybody.  Not only do they realise that they’re worth it but they’ll be able to look more closely and ask questions of the artists and make that part of their education and daily life.”

College Principal, Dr Julie Mills, says, “It’s wonderful to have such celebrated practitioners as Boyd & Evans living and working in Milton Keynes and it’s a real coup for us to be able to display their images in a student space.  The potential benefits for our art and photography students are obvious but it’s actually wonderful for everyone to have access to beautiful pictures.”

The exhibition at Gallery 200 opens with a viewing by invitation on 11th September and will be free to the public from the next day until 19th December from Monday to Friday.