pete newell

Pete Newell, Neoprene Helmet, 2014Pete Newell is particularly concerned with the production of neoprene wetsuits, for which tons of oil and limestone are used each year. Whilst wetsuits are often patched-up, handed down or sold on, eventually they will go to landfill. Considering the natural resources used to produce neoprene are millions of years in the making their short life-span as a wetsuit before going back, into the ground as landfill seems disproportionate. Newell’s art installation of wetsuits for the Beyond the Board exhibition was formed to create a strata referring to the geological processes that helped create the fundamental minerals that neoprene is made from. The artist’s aim is to encourage surfers to not take their wetsuits for granted, but consider it is a great privilege to be able to use these resources.

After leaving the Slade in 1981 Pete Newell ran a commercial sculpture studio for about twenty years. In the last few years however, within his sketchbooks and journals he has generated ideas that have been explored through a large body of work consisting of paintings and drawings, embracing a series of personal icons which are then used as compositional devices. He finds the act of painting, in all its forms and the use of colour provides him with the drive and motivation to create new work. He deliberately avoids mimesis and implied space and depth, preferring to generate a whole image through the composition of the work on the surface, possibly meaningless stimulating. Most recently Pete has been working with his son, the audio-visual artist Tom Newell, making work that involve paintings and installations upon which a mapped film is projected, revealing over time new possibilities in terms of meaning and compositions. This work has been accepted for the Bristol Bienale.

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