Spend any sort of time with Sam Peacock and it is likely that two topics will be raised, Rugby and Fracking! Rugby, as in the town and not the sport, because that’s where Sam is from and he never shirks an opportunity to pay homage to the place and fracking because, well, it seems to frack him right off!
A landscape painter, it would seem that the inspiration for the show stems from Sam’s love of the countryside and the impact that the process known as Hydraulic Fracturing could have on it. The 52 pieces of work he is producing have all been inspired sites around the country that have been earmarked for fracking. Some don’t have names, only grid references to indicate their locations with many says Sam “being in beautiful areas of the country.”
“I truly hope there is never a day where we don’t question” says Sam when I ask him about what it is about Fracking that concerns him. “The reason why I wished to apply Fracking to my work was simply due to an artistic responsibility we all share as creatives to explore, digest and open up a dialogue, in my case a visual dialogue to discuss this process.”
Sam is known for his use of many different materials. He creates landscapes on metal by what is essentially a process of burning. It’s a hot, complex method but one he has honed over the years and for which he is becoming ever more well known. “The main material you are likely to find in this collection” he says “is dental plaster to deal with the landscape and copper wire to replicate the horizontal bore hole needed to extract the shale gas.”
But with Sam there is always something more. It’s not just about the fact that fracking is taking place, it’s also about trying to capture the essence of the location, whether it be a field represented only by a grid reference or the town he is portraying. For Sam it’s the myths, legends and colours that “contribute to our heritage” essentially creating art with a direct link to the area.
He tells me about one town, a place called Shotts in the central belt of Scotland between Glasgow and Edinburgh. He goes on to tell me about a local legend he had come across whilst researching, “Shotts once had a giant called Bertram de Shotts living in the woods surrounding the town”. The local giant by all accounts was a bully who would terrorise local traders as be passed through. The art he says takes folklore like this into account “I have envisaged the collection to be a fractured mass of colour, text, legend which would be tied together by the fact that all these places were earmarked for fracking.”
But all this aside what about the realities of life on the ground? Isn’t fracking a necessary means to secure the country’s energy mix for the future? For Sam the future is quite obvious and is is one with renewables at its heart. “Governments are ever changing, ideologies are forever developing, energy, the storing of energy and the distribution of energy however is something that needs to be looked at as a long term project which will benefit the environment as well as the populous which utilise it.” he tells me,
And in terms of the best way forward for the UK to meet its energy needs? “Investment in creating a way of storing renewable energy” says Sam. “Owned by state, not to be sold off to the highest bidder. Whether its realistically going to happen, it will ultimately depend on the calibre of government we vote in next and the science behind making it happen.”
“I think this show the gallery are hosting seems to be quite controversial” he tells me. “I can imagine people either agreeing with Fracking, coming to the show and thinking, this guy doesn’t know what he’s on about, or people coming along, not knowing about fracking and leaving with an idea behind some of the dangers involved in it.” Either way he hopes, it will leave an impression.
‘Fractured’ by Sam Peacock will show at the Curious Duke Gallery on Whitecross Street from 5 March 2015 to 15 March 2105. Sam can be contacted via instagram at SamPeacockArt. He was interviewed over email on 2 February 2015 and visited at his studio in Merton on 14 February 2015.
Sam Peacock Gallery