b.1986, Birmingham, England
Thomas Bush is an artist and designer. During his residency he developed his ongoing project Men Scryfa which examines and imagines “records of environmental and personal transformations” through histories of stone engraving, paying particular attention to typographies.
He sourced local stone and developed his expertise in the dying art of hand-cut stone engraving. He also researched the history and culture of Umbria through an understanding of its geology. The Iugibine Tablets in Gubbio, which offer an important insight into the script and laguage of the Umbrii, who gave their name to the region, provided fertile grounds for research. He brought together his research in a narrative, reproduced here, which became the improvised script for a performance in which he displayed the stones he had been working on and baked bread in an open oven according to imagined ancient customs.
A text by Thomas Bush describing how his Men Scryfa project progressed whilst on residency in Spoleto
A term I have been using recently is ‘geological stimulus’ – I wonder how you interpret that? It was the intense presence of the granite in west Cornwall that prompted me to try to identify it. It is a very difficult feeling to try to put into words. It touches the part where dwell the primal wonder (a point not too far from fear) and a kind of deep confusion about the earthly processes on which we are grown.
It is much smaller than this at the same time.
What really got to me was the shells. The fact that this healthily-sized mound at the end of a large valley on which a significant fort has stood for a couple of thousand years, is largely made of the compacted armour of molluscs. To compound this, many of the buildings on this mound are made of the same layers of crunched-up and decomposed shells.
Two crucial things there: LAYERS & DE-COMPOSITION.
Whatever this stimulus prompts within us is the subject I am trying to identify. And yes you are right, it is a culture, possibly in itself – possibly down the bottom, where it has been long-grown-on.
In a small courtyard between Casa Mahler and the LeWitt studio, I created (I realise in retrospect) two ovens. One in which I baked bread, and the other – myself. Trying to comprehend what had happened there before, since the land was inhabited by the Umbrian people, before the Roman colonisation effectively eradicated the culture and language they had developed. Looking at how I was cooking, similarities between myself and what I knew of this culture became apparent, informing the series of works produced.
For details of a performance that Thomas Bush made at the close of his residency click here.
Thomas’s recent exhibitions include Fermentation as Model, ArtsAdmin Imagine 2020, South Downs (with Karin Bähler Lavér), 2014; Landing Strip 4, STRCamp, “Ereliukas” near Moletai, Lithuania (as L-v-L), 2013. He is a founder of the group Top Nice, a club night and record label, for which he is also responsible for the visual direction. He co-runs Brickhouse an artist-run programme of exhibitions and events. L-v-L is an ongoing collaborative project focussed on the social conditions in—and political situation around—the Kowloon Walled City, an ungoverned (and now destroyed) area of Hong Kong. To date the project has manifested itself as a fictional bar, a script for television with accompanying soundtrack, and a publication. This multi-medium approach to making is typical of Thomas’s practice.