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Upcycling can be a very expressive way of creating fine art, says Jeff Scofield
Artist Jeff Scofield.
Jeff Scofield, 59, is the art director of Gallery 76 at the Dubai International Art Centre, the oldest public art facility in Dubai.
This year, his work has been displayed at World Art Dubai, as part of the International Emerging Artist Award and also at Sikka Art Fair.
He tells us why sustainability is a recurring theme in his work, and reveals upcoming projects we can look forward to.
What does your role at the art centre involve?
My role is to curate art exhibitions for emerging artists in the Middle East, following the gallery’s mandate to promote modern contemporary art.
You studied architecture and fine art. How does this inform your art practice?
I develop artwork on a large scale and create installations that occupy and redefine the spaces in which they are exhibited. My artwork involves repetition of basic elements, expressions of physical space, explorations of light and shadow, as well as evocations of gesture and movement. While these themes are architectural in nature, it is fine art that I focus on creating. My main endeavour is to create beautiful artworks, and hopefully imbue them with sustainable themes that touch the viewers’ hearts and emotions.
Why did you choose sustainability as a recurring theme in your work?
A few years ago I started working with recycled paper and this led me to upcycling wood furniture into art objects. Now I make a whole range of original creations, which cross the barriers between painting, sculpture, public installations and conceptual art. Upcycling can be a very expressive way of creating fine art, and the public responds well to sustainable ideas.
Some notable works include your sculpture Fred and Ginger – tell us about this piece.
This artwork was created during an Artist in Residence programme at the Liwa Art Hub. I made it from salvaged wood and copper wire. These are two warm, natural materials that marry well, because they are complimentary – the wood is grainy and matt, while the copper is smooth and shiny. Woven together, the wood is compression, while the wires are in tension, and they need each other to stand up. The artwork is about growth and motion, and I arranged the two pieces like dancers to emphasise their dynamic quality.
You installed a large piece at Sikka during Art Dubai 2016 called Conversations.
Conversations is a kinetic artwork evoking the universal necessity of dialogue, which requires listening and understanding. I gathered recycled pages from paperback books and hung them on the wall – their varied natural colours created a golden glow. In the natural air currents, the pages danced like wheat waving in the fields, and they emitted rustling sounds like autumn leaves. This moving installation expresses conversations conducted quietly like whispers or even secrets.
How do you decide upon your material for each piece?
My art practice is focused on the exploration of natural materials to reveal their intrinsic nature in terms of light, texture, colour, movement and space. Sometimes the simple act of finding an object will inspire me to create an artwork. Other times I might take some time to discover what I wish to create. But I only collect materials that have some intrinsic value and that I believe can be transformed into sustainable art.
Where else can we expect to see your work this year?
I have a number of exhibitions and events coming up, including one in Brussels with the International Emerging Artist Award recipients, and one in Italy. I am also part of the Made in Tashkeel group exhibition, which runs at Tashkeel Art Centre in Dubai until September 15. I am also applying to universities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to exhibit my work because I believe academic venues fit well with the conceptual nature of my art. @ For more information, visit www.jeffscofield.net.

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