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