SELECTED BRITISH PEBBLES – A Celebration of Aesthetic Superiority

Responding to Richard Hughes exhibition in Firstsite’s main halls, ‘Time is Over, Time Has Come’. Thinking partly of childhood as Hughes has done with this work- my own as well as childhoods to come, and also that I am essentially in the corridor. Perhaps taking a more scolding tone.

selected british pebbles-1

I sat on the gallery floor frantically rearranging pebbles to accommodate for  the new votes coming in. I felt a little of visitors’ initial distaste or concern within the prestigious setting of the mosaic space, but once they began to engage with it most shared in the obsessive nature of the task. As a child I would wile away day after day on the beach in this way, there is absolute and pure clarity in one’s own judgement in these matters.

Once the winner was decided I went away and started the process of mass producing it.

I only had a week so it was necessary to set up a production line. I returned to Firstsite the following Tuesday with 100 pebbles in tow and prepared for the hoards to descend.

The idea was for visitors to arrive at the gallery with a pebble which they have saved themselves, to then recount the story of why they had kept it, and hand it over to me. I exchanged it for a replica of Britain’s best pebble along with a certificate of authentication.

(Plynth text)

1st Place: Large Abstract Pebble

This pebble has been voted by the public to be aesthetically superior to all others, and going forwards shall be the benchmark against which all future pebbles will be measured in terms of good taste.

It was found at Cromer beach on the Norfolk coast during a road trip taken by the artist Holly English and her partner artist Dan Rawlings along the East Anglian coastline. Its superior qualities were immediately obvious to the both of them, who were drawn to it’s painterly lines and wide palette, as well as it’s good solid stature.

The final selection of 24 pebbles was curated by English, who had this to say,

“There were lots of outstanding contenders each with their own unique merits, and so condensing the long list down to the final shortlist was an agonizing task. I put together a panel to assist me in the selection process, and after a few sessions we finally had a selection we were happy with, which we felt fairly represented the wide breadth of pebbles which can be found across Britain.”

The vote took place at Firstsite on 30.04.13.  Members of the public were asked to give their top 5 pebbles in order of preference, and over 60 votes were cast throughout the day.

photo by artist Dan Rawlings, taken somewhere on the Norfolk coast