HAPPENSTANCE: by Russell Mills
With a new immersive soundwork by Mills and Mike Fearon

2 September – 6 November 2019
at Brantwood, home of John Ruskin 1872-1900
Created for Brantwood’s series of events celebrating the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birth, and informed and inspired by ideas of contingency, chaos and order, surrender and control, Mills will exhibit mixed media works and a new multi-channel sound work..
Contextually anchored and process-driven, Mills’ work uses metaphorically charged materials and alchemic-like processes of slow and unknowable transformation. Shaped by evaporation, sedimentation, crystallisation and chemical reactions, they celebrate the weave of order and chaos, as diverse matter is either broken down into entropic confusion or necessarily arranges itself into a cohesive order.
Following Ruskin’s advocacy of close observation, ‘imagination by combination’ and ‘accidental association’, Mills creates works that, being analogous to the ceaseless flux of nature’s generative processes, mirror and explore many of Ruskin’s most significant ideas about the natural world: as matter, as force, as school, as metaphor for transformation, and as being profoundly political and economic. Using Brantwood itself as its source, Mills and Fearon’s new sound installation transforms Ruskin’s world into the sonic. In the spirit of Rimbaud’s synaesthesia, layered recordings made in the house, its surrounding landscape, and from above and within Coniston Water, augmented by melodic patterns derived from the prelude to Elgar’s ‘The Dream of Gerontiius’ and Ruskin’s own ‘airs’, the work telescopes time to create a uniquely evocative portrait of place.
Russell Mills (born Ripon, Yorkshire, 1952) studied at Canterbury and Maidstone Colleges of Art, and the Royal College of Art. Mills’ pioneering practice spans media, encompassing mixed media painting, site-specific installation, sound, film, design, visuals and lighting for contemporary dance and music, and writing. His interdisciplinary approach has also led him to work with some of the most influential cultural figures of our time, producing album covers for the likes of Brian Eno, Nine Inch Nails, David Sylvian and Peter Gabriel, and book covers for Samuel Beckett, Ian McEwan and Milan Kundera, amongst many others. He has exhibited and created his immersive multimedia installations internationally. Juxtaposing traditional art materials with chemicals and organic matter, his work, morally and philosophically, exemplifies rare integrity. Mills lives and works in Ambleside.
Happenstance opens on Monday 2 September, then every day in the Severn Studio at Brantwood, 10.30 am-5.00 pm. Admission is included in the house or garden ticket. For further information please contact Brantwood, Coniston, LA21 8AD, Cumbria.  T: 015394 41396. Email: enquiries@brantwood-org.uk www.brantwood.org.uk
A limited-edition 80-page full-colour catalogue will also be available at the exhibition priced at £15.00 and can be ordered from Brantwood – Email: enquiries@brantwood-org.uk or via this website. There are also 25 signed copies at £25.00 each, which can also be purchased through this website.

A limited edition 80 page full-colour catalogue will also be available at the exhibition priced at £15.00 and can be ordered from Brantwood – Email: enquiries@brantwood-org.uk or via this website.
There are also 25 signed copies at £25.00 each, which can also be purchased through this website from 1st September



"During the prolonged period of enforced Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, I suspect like many others, I spent some time in reflective mode. I found myself returning to the set of 30 works I’d made towards possible uses on the Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks release of 2013. All of these works were subsequently published in the Cargo In The Blood limited edition multiple that was released following the album’s release. I’ve had and continue to receive enquiries about the possibility of some of these pieces being made into limited edition prints, so decided to go through them with this in mind, selecting those that I think will make good prints.

As well as considering the original works, I was also intrigued as to how a set of prints could be made using some of the pieces from the second half of the book, which is titled The Reverse Is Also True. This section features all the artworks subjected to various negative treatments and printed using the four-colour process over a fifth base printing of metallic silver ink. I chose to explore this five-colour process because I was intrigued to see how the unpredictability of this process would affect and work with the overprinted full-colour images. It also mirrored how my work evolves out of experiments with prepared chance, combining chemicals, solutions, man-made and organic materials. The results from such experimentation are always unpredictable, and while there are the occasional disappointments and failures, for the most part, they are surprising and often revelatory. Working in this way ensures that control is surrendered to the unpredictable nature of the materials, thereby avoiding the known and removing any ego from the work.

Having started life as mixed media works, they were photographed, then converted into the digital, after which they became the source of potential new works in their own right, works that could only have been achieved in the computer, the ultimate collage tool.

I’ve chosen a few of my favourites, which, instead of using the five-colour lithographic printing process as used in the production of the Cargo In The Blood book, are to be printed using the digital eight-colour process, onto a very beautiful iridescent PhotoRag Metallic paper produced by Hahnemuhle, the paper manufacturer whose paper is used for all of the Limited Edition Prints.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to emulate metallic inks on a computer so it’s impossible to show what the finished prints actually look like. You’ll just have to take it on trust that they look wonderful; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be being offered for sale.

Both sets of these new series, in signed limited editions of 150




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Russell Mills

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