… the fossils grow slowly

Jo Naden

Commissioner: Wrens Nest National Nature Reserve, Dudley.
Funded by Arts Council – Year of the Artist.
Fossils Grow Slowly - Jo Naden - visual artist

Fifty types of trilobite have been discovered at the Wrens Nest National Nature Reserve. The trilobite is one of many fossilised creatures found there, although extraordinary in many ways, its development of a crystal eye set it apart making it, perhaps, the first creature to look at the world. This facility to see, may be the distant beginnings of our own seeing, our own objectivity.

In the knowledge of this I began my enquiry with the question: – What would the trilobite have seen?

It seemed obvious that I would need to engage in an objective understanding of the best record of the site – fossils. Dudley Museum and Art Gallery hold a superb collection of fossils from the Wrens Nest, and it was in the museum’s basement that I spent many hours making detailed drawings of these.

Jo Naden - visual artist
Jo Naden - visual artist

Of the many fossilised creatures, it was the crinoids that particularly attracted me. Also known as sea lilies, they are anchored to the bottom where rises a stem, or column to a crown of arms, similar to the feathery venous forms often seen after the tide has returned from the shore edge. The waterline is, for me, a powerful fluid boundary between above and below, and below and above, depending on our perspective, and exemplifies the adage ‘as above so below.’

With this in mind I began to explore the drawings through reflection. Within each fossil drawing are found the reflected possibilities of many other life forms.

Jo Naden - visual artist
Fossils Grow Slowly - Jo Naden - visual artist
Jo Naden - visual artist

Working specific to sites has taught me the lives of past live on in the present. Perhaps it is no accident that glass making is found in the area today. Was the trilobite the first glassmaker? Or is it that the inherent qualities of form, and maybe colour, as experienced in the crinoid fossils come to life through the flamingos at Dudley Zoo.

Perhaps as these most ancient of birds stand and gaze into the waters below they catch sight of their own historic reflection.



See more commissions here

Jo Naden - visual artist

Time Spent

Commissioner: British Art Medal Society affiliated to B.M.
Lost-wax process bronze-cast. 82mm.
Casting foundry: Castle Fine Arts Foundry

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Jo Naden - visual artist


Location: Lidl Finchfield, Wolverhampton
Commissioner: Lidl UK. Gmbh
Stone, bronze-cast h. 1350mm x 600mm square
Casting foundry: Pangolin

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Moon Bowl - by Jo Naden

Moon Bowl

Location: Peace Garden, Russell Hall Hospital Dudley.
Commissioner: Women’s Royal Voluntary Service.
Stainless steel and bronze.
W.1200 x H.600 mm

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Jo Naden - visual artist



Location: Bournville Place, Birmingham, reception foyer

Commissioner: Cadbury.
Bronze, polished granite. H. 1620 mm
Casting foundry: Castle Fine Art Foundry

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Marking Time - by Jo Naden

Marking Time


Location: The Severn Valley Country Park. Shropshire.

Commissioner: Highley School, Bridgnorth. Bridgnorth D.C.

local stone & pebbles

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Boat Form - by Jo Naden

Boat Form

Location: Leukaemia Centre Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
Commissioner: Cure Leukaemia
bronze and Welsh slate
Casting foundry: Castle Fine Arts Foundry
Stone cutting: Malcolm Sier

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Jo Naden - visual artist



Location: Park Central Gardens, previously, Attwood Green, Birmingham

Commissioners: Crest Nicholson PLC. Birmingham City Council, Optima Community Association.

Fabricated steel, cast stainless steel, polished granite. H. 2.70m
Apollo Engineering /Formcast, Dudley.

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Jo Naden - visual artist

A Ring for Baldur

Location: Park Attwood Clinic, Trimpley, Worcestershire.
Fabricated stainless steel and sand-cast bronze
Text design: Malcolm Sier

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Water - Jo Naden - visual artist

Hot Water

Location: Castle Vale Birmingham
Commissioner: Groundwork
Fabricated steel, with aluminium patina
Developed with 12-14year olds.

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Jo Naden - visual artist

Shining Stone

Location: Shenstone near Lichfield
Commissioner: Staffordshire County Council
Sand-cast stainless steel
Catsing Foundry: Formcast
Text design & cutting: Malcolm Sier

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Jo Naden - visual artist

Midland Sculpture Trail


Location: Spring Gardening Show, Malvern, Worcestershire
Curated by Rose Garrard
Funders: West Midlands Arts, Worcester C.C. Royal Horticultural Society, Three Counties Agricultural Society

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Jo Naden - visual artist

The Very Young At Art

Locations: Castle Vale Nursery School, Adderley Nursery School, Woodhouse Primary School
Moonstone I: bronze – water hollow of our hand
Moonstone II: bronze and aluminium – the water bole, tides and the moon
Water Spout: cast stainless steel – form in dripping water.

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