Visual Arts Biog

Toni Spencer Biog

Toni is a socio-ecologically engaged artist, facilitator and lecturer working in Devon. She is a Creative Associate of Encounters, a visiting teacher at Schumacher College and an Associate at Embercombe. She works in the field of art, ecology and social change.

“I am interested in how we perceive the world and how we relate with it. What are the stories, the habitual patterns, the frames through which we connect – or not – with whatever and whoever we encounter? What is our experience of being human at this time? and how that is mediated through cultural artifacts, aesthetics and sensory awareness? There is an intimacy of experience that I’m interested in, within a global and political context. My work invites or expresses this through different media, different invitations and different provocations, always inviting the personal.

I have worked mainly with a participatory arts approach, with embodied relational practice and with Social Sculpture. Here I am often focused on inviting the voice or responses of others, or hosting an experience as an offering. Recently I have been exploring my visual arts practice as a new opportunity to work more personally with my direct experiences of and responses to the world. This work allows for a more raw and spontaneous offering and challenges me as an artist to step in to new realms of visibility.

Exploring my visual arts practice offers both a form of inquiry and expression for me and is a liberating practice from where I can explore responses to the world in a more pure form without the ongoing translation involved in participatory work.

I’m working primarily in 3 mediums / media? Chosen as part of an ongoing inquiry in to ‘The Wild and The Mundane’:

  1. Materials (ink, color, mark making objects) gleaned from ‘nature’ as a way of deepening my relationship with that tree, place or soil.
  2. Everyday materials from home and office (tags, staples, chalk, string) revealing and elevating an expression of ’normality’ while engaging in complex and emotive inquiries.
  3. Photography

Woven in to the work I explore risk of sharing spontaneous responses through that arrive in words – allowing the clumsy, the tender and the provocative.”

Recent projects include:

Acorn Hammocks Mixed media installation at Re-Economy Centre, Totnes, 2013-14 Part of ongoing ‘Acornucopia’ project

Acornucopia stories, Performance at The Manor House, Devon, 2013

Acornucopia Performance Lecture, Schumacher College, 2012

The Encounters Artists’ Lab, ongoing series with Ruth Ben-Tovim at Dartington, 2012

Inquiry Bunting Installation at St Pauls for Occupy London, Collaboration with multiple artists from Encounters Lab, 2012

Radical Nature of Gratitude and Grief, 2012 Participatory workshop at Arts Admin 2 Degrees Festival, London (with Ben Yeger) and at Tent City University, St Pauls, London (with Ruth Ben-Tovim).

Acorn Salon for Encounters, Dartington Space, 2011

Luxury By Other Means Collection of work in different media in collaboration with Shelley Castle for ‘Art, Ecology and Economy’ show at The Centre For Contemporary Art And the Natural World, Devon, 2010

Wild Salon, with Shelley Castle, Dartington 2009

Acorn Appreciation Day, Dartington, 2009

Acorn workshops, feasts and journeys – ongoing. Embercombe, Devon; Red Tractor Farm, Kea, Greece; Canticle Farm, Oakland, California 2009-2013

Deep Play and other events and arts practice within work as Faculty at Schumacher College

An Ecology of Making: A community of things. Talk for Transition Town Totnes; Lecture at Plymouth University

Professional roles have included:

Lecturer, Facilitator and Course Leader, Schumacher College

P/T Faculty March 2007 – March 2011. Freelance March 2011 – present

Lecturer in Eco Design and Course Leader , Goldsmiths College, University of London            September 2001 – Jan 2006

Programme Leader for BA Eco Design, also teaching on MA Design Futures, MA Design Theory and Critical practice and BA Design

Design Editor, Wallpaper Magazine 1995 – 2000

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