Background

In 2013, I began work on – what was later titled – Perimetri Perduti. The project’s title translates as ‘perimeters lost’, and explored the history of Florence’s 1966 flood. Those artworks illustrated the changed shape and lost boundaries of the flooded city. Florentines described to me a feeling of betrayal, that their beloved river Arno could have turned so. By way of painting, writing and the eventual production of a book, the project drew contrasts with contemporary examples of environmental extremes, whilst also discussing the lost sense of place the city’s residents experienced.

The artwork itself was – as in all my projects – self funded. Painting sales go straight back into the studio, and in this manner I progress. But in order to elevate that project, the book and eventual book-launch exhibitions were funded by generous sponsors – who had followed developments – backing by way of donation. Their support allowed me to present the work at its very best, in prime locations and to a wide audinece: in the British Institute of Florence alongside an exhibition to mark the 50th year since the flood (2016), which opened on the same evening the floodwaters entered the city 50 years previously; and shortly after, in Florence’s twin city of Edinburgh, the book was presented in The Fruitmarket and Italian Cultural Institute.

 

May 2021

I am once more reaching out. The success of Perimetri Perduti was thanks to the support of sponsors. The richness of that experience is still with me today. Vital connections were made and endure, and important stories shared.

Over the last year – behind the scenes – I’ve been working on a proposal for a new exhibition during the Venice Biennale of 2021. I’ve kept this under wraps for now, while the concept established and the application process progressed. I’m delighted to announce that my proposal has been confirmed, and that I will be presenting a small solo exhibition in the principal Biennale district of Castello, opening at the begining of the Biennale and running for one month.

Since 2014 I’ve been visiting Venice: having been led there by my Florence-flood project to investigate the impact of the city’s frequent episodes of Acqua Alta (high water). As time has passed, and work developed, my focus has centered principally around environmental change. Given that Venice is Europe’s first clear victim of rising sea levels, this topic will be the principal under discussion.

Of late, collaboration has been a key element of my artwork. My aim is to make my work accessible – offering entry points – presenting topics that touch us all. This exhibition will be a potent example of that, and while I don’t want to give too much away right now, I can say that the project is participatory in nature.

 

I


All donations are welcome and appreciated; each donation of £50 or over carries something in return. Donations of £50—£149 will see you listed as a sponsor of the exhibition. This listing will appear online, and in any associated printed material – which you will also receive copies of.

 

II


For donations of £150—£299, you will be listed as a sponsor of the exhibition as stated previously, and you may also pick from one of the six Venice paintings below (worldwide postage included). These framed oil paintings were created in 2016–2017 (many whilst actually in Venice) upon found papers and wooden panels. More can be read here.

 
 
 

III

 

For a donation of £300—£499, you will be listed as a sponsor of the exhibition as stated previously. You may also pick from one of the twelve larger paintings below (worldwide postage included).

 
 
 

IV


For any donation of £500—£699, you will be listed as a sponsor and will also be kept updated personally on progress. You will receive an artwork from the 2021 series in advance of the exhibition opening, created in discussion with myself.

 

V


For any donation of £700 or more, you will be listed as a primary sponsor. You will be updated personally on progress, and may choose a seascape painting from my Rising Horizon series, or other recent artworks. Upon indicating your wish to select this option, a choice of artworks will be emailed to you.

Please use the below form to indicate the sponsorship option you are considering. You may also use this form to contact me to find out more about the project. Read more on the Venice sponsorship paintings below.

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To make your donation now, click here
To make an anonymous donation of up to £50, click here

The paintings presented here as sponsorship companions offer an alternative take on Venice. These exclusively front-facing works present an exaggerated two-dimensional aspect and feature no glimpses of sky, nor do they describe grand façades. Many are paintings upon paintings — their previous brushwork, marks and details evident under the surface — echoing the actual textures of the city’s layered hide. The majority of the pieces aim to reflect what is most fittingly labelled ‘everyday’ Venice.

Fernand Braudel described a city’s history as ‘often present in a detail’. These oil paintings (many of which are painted upon aged papers, pasted onto board) examine a complex city through a lens that focusses on the smallest elements and components. For it is by way of the minutiae — the fragments of Venice’s skin — that the city’s story might be told and the layers of life revealed (as illustrations of doorplates, street-signs, and buzzers demonstrate). Bricked-up doors, signs upon signs, nameplates over nameplates, an erosion spreading from the water up, and salt-assaulted bricks: 'Venetian houses as we see them today are the product of countless transformations, reflecting the cultural, social and historical mutations of The Serenissima' (Giulia Foscari: Elements of Venice). What period in the history of Venice are we witnessing now, as Venetians rapidly leave their home city?

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Venice is the antipode to modernism, a place of peeling surfaces and eroding thresholds, balanced precariously on those unseen and untrusted wooden piles, pounded into mud by the first settlers, refugees from the mainland. Now its inhabitants flee back to the mainland, while the Adriatic threatens to take back what it once had lent. Brigadoon-like, Venice has both travelled through the centuries as though preternaturally shielded from modernity, and has now reached a point of particular danger. Cass’s work heralds the deterioration and, in subtle ways, highlights the plight of the sparse natives, their names still affixed to many of the doorbells and their starkly simple protests against the cruise ships inscribed on the walls. His paintings both acknowledge Venice’s timelessness and accede to Venice’s status as highly endangered—though primarily they allow us to see the city, a city so freighted with the memories, as a place where art can still be made, on the basis of seeing rather than remembering, and moreover, where art can be made in a distinctly contemporary mode, finding abstract qualities in the empirical world and empirical qualities in abstraction.
— Patricia Emison · Author of several books on the Italian Renaissance, most recently The Italian Renaissance and Cultural Memory (Cambridge University Press) and Leonardo (Phaidon Colour Library)
 

Note that each work in Set I above is valued at (and has previously been listed at) £525. In Set II, each is valued at £575. In cases where donations do not meet those valuations, I will gladly cover the balance for the benefit of the ultimate goal. This is a not-for-profit exercise.