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Posted 06.04.18

Cold Art on the BBC – Dr Stephen Felmingham on Cold War-inspired art

By Phillip Buchan

Dr Stephen Felmingham, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking Programme Leader, is appearing on the BBC Radio 4 show Cold Art, speaking to visual artist Louise K Wilson about making artwork inspired by the Cold War.

Airing on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 12 April 2018 at 11:30am and available online shortly after broadcast, Cold Art documents Louise’s travels to three very different sites with Cold War connections to explore their artistic appeal.

“Whether it's childhood memories, the background hum of the threat of nuclear armageddon, or the futuristic architecture, many artists are creatively stimulated by the imagined possibilities of a war which never turned hot.”

Dr Stephen Felmingham is Programme Leader on our acclaimed BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking programme. He is a visual artist with a practice that engages with contemporary drawing and its expanded possibilities. He works with ideas of place, perception and memory: his current research interests are focused on societal trauma through the remains of the Cold War, its sites, bunkers and social memories.

In Cold Art, Stephen meets Louise at the South Creake Royal Observer Corps post, near Bloodgate Hill in Norfolk. Having been fascinated by the Cold War since he was a child, Stephen remembers the presence of the American airbase near his home. This dank, underground shelter is the first ROC post that Stephen became aware of (it overlooks his former primary school) and it began a six-year practice of him visiting the national network of tiny, monitoring posts where he draws using his peripheral vision.

Dr Stephen Felmingham exhibited The Violet Club in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art in 2014, a body of work made in response to the Cold War bunkers of the Royal Observer Corps that still exist, abandoned, across the UK. He speaks regularly, both on drawing and art and design pedagogy, and his work is represented in collections nationally and internationally and he has exhibited widely in the UK and in Europe.

Stephen has lectured extensively in drawing, painting, print and contemporary art practice on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across the UK. He was nominated a member of the LAND2 Research Network in 2009, was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in the same year and was a finalist in the Celeste Art Prize, New York, in 2010.