David Bethell is a UK artist based in Leek, Staffordshire Moorlands. Using a range of media, Bethell constructs functional objects that operate in their natural environment so much so they’re tested to its material limits until it ceases to function. This process is documented and exhibited.
These wooden objects are often representations of working machines, such as steam trains and sailing boats, and exist by design within both the past and present; revealing contrasts and conflicts of human influences on the landscape as they break down in situ.
The site of these performative acts is crucial, forming narratives underpinned by history and place. Bethell’s meticulously crafted objects function until their inevitable failure; wooden panels crack and splinter as he hauls them along rough terrain.
The detritus from the failed objects are then made into other objects, that relate to the surrounding of the where the attempt took place.
Bethell’s attempts are infused with humour and a sense of futility; with the slight chance of success and hope thrown in for good measure.