Between 2006 and 2008, The Arts Catalyst and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with Gunpowder Park and SPACE London, commissioned Ballengée to undertake a study of deformities in UK toad populations. Collaborating with ecologist Richard Sunter and groups of the public (intrinsic to his practice), the artist focused on the study of a population of toads with high levels of deformities that he discovered near to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and he has worked over two years to study possible causes of these deformities. During 2007 and 2008, the artist led numerous public field-trips and workshops at the park, in 2008 setting up a public laboratory to continue the study. Nearly 800 people participated in these activities.
Artist Brandon Ballengé led a series of art and ecology fieldtrips and ecology study days, 'bug parties' and a public bioart laboratory in Yorkshire, London and Essex.
During 2007 and 2008, artist Brandon Ballengée led numerous public fieldtrips and biodiversity walks, projects with schools, workshops, study days and events, and ran a public bioart laboratory, as an integral part of his UK amphibians study and residencies at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Gunpowder Park and SPACE London, organised by Arts Catalyst.
More than 1000 people participated in these many events and activities.
Brandon Ballengée at Gunpowder Park & SPACE, 2007
In Summer 2007, artist Brandon Ballengée led a series of art and ecology field trips and study days in the fields and marshland at Gunpowder Park, a new country park in the Lea Valley, on the boundary between London and Essex, exploring the present species of insects and amphibians. The projects were organised in collaboration with Arts Catalyst and SPACE, a gallery in East London. Urban ecologist Dusty Gedge, and wildlife photographer David Cottridge also joined Brandon to lead a study day of particular interest to artists wishing to develop their ecological-art practice and ecologists interested in working with artists to raise awareness of ecological issues.
The artist also set up installations, Love Motels for Insects, at Gunpowder Park and SPACE, sculptural works that use ultra-violet (black) light to study and photograph spiders, moths, beetles and other nocturnal creatures, and ran a popular 'Bug Party' at SPACE, a drawing workshop for all ages which incorporated music, graffiti art, and an urban bug hunt to discover the insect life of Hackney.
Ecoventions Art & Ecology Study Day, Sunday 15 July 2007
Ecoventions Fieldtrips, Sunday 22 July & Sunday 29 July 2007
Projects with Mulberry School for Girls and other London and Essex schools, 2007
Bug Party, Sunday 30 September 2007, SPACE, 129-131 Mare Street, London
Love Motel for Insects: Gunpowder Park Variation - Commissioned by Arts Catalyst & Gunpowder Park
Love Motel for Insects: Hackney Variation - Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst & SPACE
BRANDON BALLENGÉE AT YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK, 2007-8
Brandon was resident artist at Yorkshire Sculpture Park during summer 2007 and the lived and worked at YSP in June and July 2008, collecting samples from the ponds and lakes in order to research rates of deformity and mutation in the park's resident frogs, toads and newts. During both summers, he led field trips and projects involving school groups and the public in collecting samples and conducting aquatic surveys. Throughout his stay in 2008, Brandon worked in a studio at Longside Gallery and set up a public bioart laboratory there, inviting visitors to drop in and talk to him about the project and to participate in his research.
Biodiversity walks, June & July 2007
Artist's talk, Saturday 14 June 2008
Open bioart laboratory, Weds-Sun, June & July 2008
Biodiversity walks every Saturday, June & July 2008
Bug Party, Saturday 16 August 2008
Love Motel for Insects: Yorkshire Sculpture Park Variation - Commissioned by Yorkshire Sculpture Park
In the exhibition, The Case of the Deviant Toad Ballengée presented variations of his sculptural series Styx which display cleared and stained specimens of deformed toads, each tiny animal presented in a precisely illuminated glass dish. In a gallery context, the specimens resembled translucent gems; enchanting, terrible and other-worldly. Framed watercolour prints of detailed vibrant specimens scans are reminiscent of x-rays, presenting large-scale images of fragile delicacy to invoke viewers' empathy.