I have been awarded an AHRC Research Fellowship for 2012-2013 for my ‘Soft Estate’ project which explores landscapes which have been made accessible and also transformed by car culture. While urban in nature, paradoxically, these motorscapes are fragile, yet extremely self-sustaining and hard environments, changing landscapes that embody both beauty and survival.
While my practice is rooted in painting, I also work across media, making combinations of objects and text and exploring the site specific. My work foregrounds conflicting storylines within the spatial environment, aiming to capture the collisions between values and meanings we bring to our experiences of place, with a particular focus on borders and peripheral places that present a form of ‘Terrain Vague’.
For example, my series of paintings, the Garden of England, draws on the 18th century English Landscape tradition to investigate the motorway verges of Kent. Tourism, with its roots in early tourist guides by William Gilpin and William Wordsworth, has led to the exploitation and even despoliation of places Wordsworth and others wanted to protect.
I have exhibited these paintings in Little Chef restaurants, arguably the modern equivalent of the network of 18th Century watering holes, which catered for the Grand Tour, with a view to prompting questions about the relationship between our experience of landscape and the ways in which we pass through it.
Edward Chell is represented by Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, Düsseldorf, Germany.