Artist-in-Residence – George Charman

Artist-in-Residence, George Charman, is working with the Visual Arts department at West Dean College to develop and realise his design for Artichoke House, a large-scale sculpture based on an original design by Edward James. During a 4-week residency Charman developed his plans for the project and engaged with students through tutorials and an artist talk. As the project develops he will further engage with students, staff and visitors through workshops, tutorials and public lectures. A publication will also be produced to accompany the project.

George Charman, scale model
George Charman, scale model

The Artichoke House

“This residency-based project will see the realization of the Artichoke House, a pavilion based on an unsigned architectural plan conceived by Edward James in collaboration with Christopher Nicholson and Salvador Dalí. Plans for the pavilion, designed to resemble a giant globe artichoke, were produced by James in c.1936, as a gallery to house works from his extensive collection of Surrealist art. The project was never realized and in 1944 James left West Dean Estate (now West Dean College) for Mexico. He would spend most of the remaining forty years of his life constructing the monumental Surrealist garden of ‘Las Pozas’, its enormous concrete follies inspired by the surrounding flora and fauna of the remote tropical jungle of Xilitla.

One could argue that the concept behind the Artichoke House was one of the seeds from which the Xilitla project grew. Yet the ambition, speed and inventiveness with which James built in Mexico is in no way mirrored within the vast estate of West Dean. Although the interiors of West Dean House are peppered with Surrealist objects and paintings, the grounds bare relatively little evidence of James’ passion for Surrealist sculpture or architecture.

By constructing a version of the Artichoke House in the grounds of West Dean, based on my own interpretation of James’ original sketches, I hope to produce a structure that in some way reflects the genesis of Xilitla, arguably the most important and elaborate example of Surrealist architecture still in existence. Visitors will have the opportunity to freely explore the Artichoke House in the location where it was originally conceived.” George Charman

George Charman, scale model
George Charman, scale model

George Charman is an artist who lives and works in London. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2008 and has since exhibited nationally and internationally, with exhibition including: A Straight Line to the Touch, Centre for Recent Drawing London (solo, 2013); Bemis Open, Bemis Centre for Contemporary Art Omaha Nebraska (2013); Creekside Open APT Gallery London (2013); LONDON/BERLIN, fruehsorge contemporary, Berlin (2012); Once Again and Always New, ACME Project Space London (solo, 2012); Play/Game/Place/State, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London (2012); And Then Again, Lisbon City Museum, Lisbon (2010).

Charman has been the recipient of a number of awards for his practice including: Acme Fire Station Live/work residency 2010/15, Arts Council England ‘grants for the arts’ for his solo exhibition at Acme Project Space and 2nd prize in the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2009.

His work is in national collections including: Victoria Conran Collection, The British Museum print collection, Victoria & Albert Museum print collection, British Airways Collection, MAKE Architects and the Royal College Art Print Archive. www.george-charman.co.uk Print