I’m pleased to announce that I am returning to the New Mills Festival, taking part in the Big Weekend – 22nd – 24th September.
The last weekend of the two-week festival –
The Art Trail includes a “Big Weekend”, timed to coincide with the hugely popular Lantern Procession finale, which attracts an audience of more than 14,000 to the town. The Big Weekend sees artists and venues across New Mills open their doors to host pop-up exhibitions, open studios, workshops and demonstrations, and arts and crafts markets.
More information coming soon!
For me The Centrifugal Soul was going to be hard to top in terms of the effect it has had on me. There’s not a day goes by that I play my phone recordings, which I know is not the real thing, I have some incredible memories of that show at Blain|Southern. We moved onto a smaller show over at Beaux Arts to see Jonathan Leaman, a collection of old and new surrealist self-portraits. I found the later work a little hit and miss. There were pieces that were a little too obvious, whilst others were throwing everything at you. All externalising his emotions into these hyperreal paintings.
Whilst the later work had was far stronger, a more cohesive body of work, a visual style and iconography much like Salvador Dali. I could feel a sense if anxiety in the work, a man overburdened by later life, its all still happening for him. Honestly is at the centre of these paintings, even quite formal too. I feel the earlier painting which were hung downstairs really don’t help this series which are bold and imaginative, highly detailed paintings of wonder and worry.
We had to wait a few hours for the final show of the trip – Hockney at Tate Britain which was more for my sister than myself. Not being a painter I wasn’t as interested. After some refreshment we were let into 12 room show that began with his early work from the 1950’s before slowly moving through time and his work. I was personally quite taken by the portraits from the 1960’s. Far larger than I expected. I guess years of photos and seeing them on TV never prepares you for the real thing – the art itself. Reminding me of the importance the original and the aura of the work.
I must admit I was ignorant of his medium, switching from Oils to acrylic for a time, before reverting back to oils until very recently when he also introduced to his practice the digital, both cameras and iPads. Of course not forgetting his photo-montages. I found the most affecting, those of his family, you can see more attention to them, making the individual stills marry-up to create the figures, most prominently his mother.
As expected the show was packed throughout – the further round you got the more viewers of the work were lost to them. The 4 seasons room, I could have stayed there far longer than I did. Before moving onto the iPad room where we saw a combination of multiple slideshow and his latest works being built up in time-lapse videos. Making the most of the latest technology, something that Hockney has never been afraid to do. I came away with a greater appreciation for his work. After years of printed images I have finally seen the real thing in a show that celebrates a 60 year career.
Hockney rounded off a great weekend of art and more importantly time with my sister. What more can you ask for, family, inspiration and plenty of art.
I am pleased to announce that part 6 of my animation Playing with Plastic (2016) will be exhibited online as part of a new archive UN[dis]CRIMINATE with the Unstitute online gallery.
Located in courtyards of the Unstitute – in between spaces, between other structures, temporary or otherwise – is a network of diverse encampments serving any number of uses; political or otherwise. In these digital encampments you can see the building of a new archive: UN[dis]CRIMINATE.
The outlying buildings of The Unstitute are not guarded by anyone in particular, and often entrances sit wide open for anyone to see. But mainly the nomadic eruptions in disused or otherwise vague areas of The Unstitute appear of their own determination, and deterritorialize as long as they please.
My second day continued at a pace, we decided to stop for a bite before going to the second gallery, Blain|Southern which turned out to have the highlight of the weekend for me. Mat Collishaw’s Centrifrugal Soul (2016). The last time I was at the space it was over a year ago for another piece that relied on tricking the eye. We were first greeted by a holographic tree – Albion
“…a new installation that takes as its subject the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, which has an almost mythical status. This centuries-old tree has at its core a hollow rotten trunk, and since the Victorian era its vast limbs have been supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding. Collishaw’s monumental, slowly rotating image of the oak is a ghost-like apparition generated by laser scanning. The image represents a living object that is trapped in perpetuity to present the illusion of life. As with the tethered birds in Collishaw’s paintings, it presents a tension between the beautiful and the abject.”
I was drawn not so much to the movement of the tree, more by its sheer presence in the space and how it was created. A projector and a pain of glass at an angle. An old technique in terms of optical illusion. The work was surrounded by a series of painting, colourful birds all perched in front of graffiti, trying their best to stand out from the urban markings, its a fight between Nature and the urban environment.
The next piece actually moved me to tears the first time I saw The Centrifugal Soul
“…a sculpture in the form of a zoetrope, a pre-film animation device that produces the illusion of motion through rapid rotation and stroboscopic light.
The zoetrope animates scenes of bowerbirds and birds of paradise as they perform elaborate mating rituals. The work offers a captivating demonstration of how aesthetic diversity has evolved through sexual selection and also reflects the artist’s ongoing examination of our insatiable appetite for visual stimulation. Collishaw’s sculpture embodies Miller’s idea that evolution has created an inescapable drive to be noticed above the visual competition, feeding our need for self-promotion.”
I noticed flashing light and the whirring sound from another space. I decided to go in closer to see a structure that housed colourful objects, flowers and birds, all slightly different yet the same, running in a series. I couldn’t make that out at first. Then it started up again, the lights dimmed, the motor started up, lights flashing, motion was coming from the bright object. Flowers opening and closing, humming birds taking nectar, birds in full display for attract a mate. I was enthralled and in love with the work. A live animation, true it was limited but it was beautiful and breathtaking. The same motion repeated in around 2 minutes flat before drawing to an end. The 3D zoetrope had stopped, the illusion was over. I was on tears of joy at what I had seen. What usually takes hours, weeks, months even to capture alone happened before my eyes. An old trick that feels so very new.
Moving onto complete the Sadie Coles shows – Riverboat song which had a few more pieces at Davies Street. We were greeted by a figure that we found in the video, jet black, Black sculpture (2017), all the joints are replaced with lengths of chain, creating a very loose and horrifying puppet suspended from chain above. Is this a modern darker Pinocchio, or the remains of a child who has lost their soul to the virtual world of cyberspace, no need for a body, just an identity.
The next piece in the space House with face (2017), a resin based house, that takes a while to work out. As we investigated it, the face started to appear on the roof. It’s hagged and old, something out of a fairy tale, like the house that it covers. I didn’t feel welcomed to it, more interested in it’s constructed. Covered in chain, as it begins to cover the house, more hoops are found, ready for chain to link and pull the house away. It’s lost it’s fairy tale innocence – I know that doesn’t quite make sense. And that’s how these two piece are connected, not so much the visual connection of the chain, more so the loss of innocence that comes from both of them. A child that has lost the colour from it’s body, whilst what could easily be a kids playhouse is being transformed into a house of horror.
Finally upstairs we found a Virtual reality piece, Real violence (2017) I had an idea of how these work, as there’s a show on at my studio’s gallery that has one at the centre. However the this is no game, it’s more simple and darker than that. After waiting a few minutes I placed the head-piece on and head phones. Advised to hold onto a bar fixed to the plinth, I was taken into a city scene, empty at first, thrown 180 degrees to face a man being beaten up, I’m forced to stand there and watch, everywhere I turn I see a man being pummeled, it’s an intense piece to say these least to be confronted by this violent act in the artificial space, which I ultimately agreed to enter.
My next stop was not planned as I found myself running ahead of schedule, still in the Bethnal Green area I decided to pay a visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood. I’d had only been there previously for an opening whilst on a Uni trip, I had the good fortune to see Alan Rickman who opened the show. Yesterday I went into a space filled with nostalgia, plenty of toys that my sister and I played with, looking back further too. I also found an impressive model miniature of a tower block, architectural in aesthetic on the surface. Tower Block on Holly Street Estate (1998). A document and memorial for two tower blocks on Lomas and Cedar Court. Looking closer at the model I saw within some of the flats photographs of the residents who used to live there. Either seeing a residents or going into empty rooms.
The piece was made by three artists – James Mackinnon making the model itself, whilst the interior photographs of the residents and empty spaces were by Tom Hunter. And the exterior shots were captured by Mike Seaborne. The piece reminds me how both photography and model miniatures can be combined to create more authentic pieces.
I stayed a little longer at the museum before taking the Overground to Camden Arts Centre, home to one of my favorite spaces to see work. This time by Paul Johnson – Teardrop Centre who has filled the space with what appear to be relics of a future dystopia, of concrete and various structures.
“…work is anchored by an enquiry into the way objects and images can transition historically, mentally and physically when filtered through the hands of the artist. Gathering images and objects from diverse sources, he then creates small, labour-intensive sculptures, collages and large-scale installations that stimulate imaginary associations for the viewer to decode. Notions of the outsider, rituals and belief systems are often a point of intrigue in his work.”
The space split up into a few areas, I was first drawn to concrete coffee cup lids on A4 – A2 size paper that made up a concrete pavement, as if they lifted as artifacts freshly dug and starting to be arranged before. Behind that is Tower, a structure which runs almost the width of the space, plastic crates placed on-top of each other. In the window parallel Unselfishness an server rack that has been transformed into a totem, the cables have all be severed, so no connections can be made, no information can be stored. There’s a sense of real freedom in the work.
The next day I started over at Sadie Coles for a show in two parts for Jordan Wolfson’s – Riverboat Song, which I went to as part of my research for violence. The first location being on Kingly Street where a short video on large screen built up from 16 smaller. It was the only piece in a room thickly pink carpeted space. We came in as an animated guy was displaying himself, urinating like a sprinkler and playing with it. There’s a real sense of freedom in the work that doesn’t fear to probe into the dangers of modern life. Just from the video
This was only the first half of the show that was still yet to come.
It’s been just short of 6 months since my last proper gallery trip, I’m now back in London to see whats on offer in the smaller galleries. Yesterday I planned to do 4 shows, however I was running ahead of schedule so I made a stop at the V&A Museum of Childhood, which was both nostalgic and inspiring.
My first stop was over at the Lisson Gallery on Bell Street for Natalie Djurberg & Hans Bergs show Who am I to Judge, or It Must be Something Delicious (2017). Initially when I was researching potential shows to visit I was unsure about this one, even with all the mixed media figures. It was the content of the work, the sexual overtones, was that too much for my taste. The more I thought about it, I knew it was going to be fun. Plus after watching The Greasy Strangler (2016) a crude and weird comedy about a father and son, and their dark activities, which as much as it was down-right disgusting I couldn’t stop watching. I still have it stuck in my head, says a lot really.
There’s no real text on the show, which leaves it open to interpretation which for me is great, as I don’t like being told, it spoils the exploration of the show on a personal level. I found the work overwhelmingly funny. So much debauchery in one room. Moments of unadulterated pleasure with faeces, sticks, bananas, My Little Pony’s and moons. It was pure madness in a small space. repeated quotes that question what it going on top of this platform. Balancing out all the insanity before is.
I also watched a portion of one of the animations – Delights of an Undirected Mind (2016), from which these model miniatures are from. Crude in content, with less regard for the skill of the animation, essentially it’s loose allowing the content of innocent fairytale and childish imagery running rampant in the bedroom. Just as disturbing and funny, if not more so than the first space.
My next stop was at Josh Lilley to see Nicholas Hatfull – Tofu Dealer (to kill my hunger in daytime wander). I came mainly for the larger sculpture that combines oversized rubbish with other found urban objects – Ludovis/Weltschmerz (Easter in Milan) (2017). The combination of oversized and out external objects complement each other well. Emphasising the dirt we create and blatantly ignore on daily basis. Driving home what is around us.
The majority of the were his painting, which mixed media pieces, depicting food taken to an abstract level at times. A bold use of colour, emphasising the form of the food, which in-turn expresses the passion he has ir had at the time. All these are yearnings for what is on display, we are seeing his eye wandering over the food, longing to devouring it all.
My next show was over in the Bethnal Green area at Space Gallery to see Jonathan Baldock’s My Biggest Fear is that someone will crawl into it. If I’m honest I was expecting more, as in space for a gallery under that name. Moving on I did find the work inside inviting. A four-poster-bed covered in a hand sewn cover, with whispered audio coming from within. After watching the accompanying video by the artist explaining the bed piece it to be a very personal piece. Inviting the audience to lay on the bed and listen to a recording of his mother retelling her life. An autobiography for personal digest, and family record, to pass from one generation to the next. I found in inspiring as I am considering a documentary piece which looks at how past generations have grown up with Westerns, it’s how to exhibit those recordings that brings them to life. I felt even though I have no personal connection to the artist that I was in a warm loving environment, If I laid on the bed I would be recounted a family history from the mother with no prior judgement, a mothers unconditional love.
Two Queens 5 year anniversary show Happy to be Here at the Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester.
Exhibiting Iron Horse of the Studio (2015)
Exhibiting alongside past and present studio members –
Gino Attwood, Mateus Domingos, Colette Griffin, Jack Halford, Tom Harding, Alice Hicken, Andrea Jaeger, Daniel Sean Kelly, Khush Kali, Nick O’reardon, James Parkinson, Emma Price, James Poyser, Sam Francis Read, Luke Routledge, Leon Sadler, Mita Solanky, Jack Squires, Robert Wilson, Callum Whitley, Tom Van Herrewege.
Debut performance, part of ImpFest (2016), at Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre, London 17-19/11/16. Performed 19/11/16.
Expanding on an impromptu performance during crit of 53 Postcards/Do You Understand (2015).
Photograph and video courtesy of Rachel Neath
My last full day in London was admittedly more stressful, considering I had my performance debut later that night. However I didn’t let it overshadow the work that I took in over the course of the day, leading up to ultimately a very successful night. (ImpFest Post coming soon!).
Starting the day at Matts Gallery to see the work of Leah Capaldi – Lay Down which was video sculpture, that was a combination of a two channel video with an rather odd performative element which I couldn’t work out its connection to the film. Capaldi was “inspired by her time in the deserts of the American West. Here, Capaldi met a Utah cowboy and his horse, a film exploring their relationship and the vast, performative landscape that surrounds them forms the core of the installation. Lay Down asks how power is constructed and understood, this question arising throughout the installation, in the iconic figure of the American cowboy, the influence of the sublime landscape and the authority of the screen.“ I spent a good time with the piece, we have the cowboy working with the horse, not quite that of a horse whisperer. He literally knew the animal inside out, he was working on a psychological level with the animal, working them the horse in order for it to relax and lay down, almost therapeutic you could say. I just felt the addition of the performer who at one point was laying behind the projection (on a structure that allowed him to lie down and rest his arm through a specially cut hole brought nothing really to the piece. Even when he moved position to have both his legs resting on the other side of the projection. Was the performer supposed to be channeling the energy that the cowboy was emitting towards the horse?
The next show was at a rather unconventional location, on a row of residential house on Kennington Road in the South East of the capital. A converted house with 3 spaces for work to be exhibited. At Danielle Arnaud I found the most beautiful work of the weekend by Helen Maurer – re Composing, a series of light pieces that really gave me a boost after a somewhat problematic piece that linked to the roots of my practice. These works showed me how simple and low-fi work can really be and still produce such inspiring pieces that leave you speechless. I wanted to take photographs of the work but I really though this time, even if I asked permission (which I always do) would be stealing it’s aura. These pieces I just can’t really describe how powerful and delicate they are, you can to see them for yourself. Produced with simple lighting, OHP’s in some cases that project across the room. Please find below a selection of promotional stills from the website (as I have for all of these shows). You could say that this is an indoor garden of light, or a cheaply put together show. You can’t deny these are all carefully composed pieces that excite, and take you into a world of wonder. I want to go back there.
Lastly we went over to the Serpentine Gallery for Helen Marten – Drunk Brown House a show that Combines “sculpture, text and screen-printed paintings, Marten’s practice comprises images and objects, often playing with two and three-dimensionality. Her installations employ visual and linguistic ambiguity in order to explore the potential for misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
Marten’s sculptural installations often serve as repositories for disparate material combinations, resulting in an exhibition that calls into question our changing relationship to the readymade. Underscored by a process of collaged abstraction, her assemblages resonate with associative meaning. Creating a string of hieroglyphs or a kind of archaeological anagram, the work’s encrypted sequences are nevertheless driven by their own internal logic.
“I’m really interested in the point at which things become husked down to geometric memories of themselves, where a house, for instance, a pair of legs or a cat could be communicated with huge economy and speed via just a few lines. The vector can become a mechanism of delivery. As incorporated extensions, even a simple nod towards a shape that might be reminiscent of a readymade form is quite literally a vocaliser of external things – an agent of the world outside art-making. And this is the point where you can use recognisable authority, the obstinate fact of a universally existent thing – an arm, a teapot, an alphabet – and extricate it from its own sense of intentionality.””
I was more interested in the sculptural work which were all very well crafted. Combining model miniatures into nonsensical contraptions which have the potential to do something, just what I can’t really fathom. Combined with ready-made pieces that have been adapted so they loose their original function to become part of something bigger, larger than their intended use. They have the comedy that has been inspired by Fischli and Weiss’s The Way Things Go (1987). These are more bright, colourful and definitely not going to explode.
All rounded off with three performances at ImpFest (2016) which in terms of personal performance got better, with the aid of my sister who also documented ensured I gave my best. I received some positive feedback which has given me the confidence to repeat the performance at a later date and even take on variation of this performance model. Does this mean I am now a performance artist?, I’d say its becoming another aspect of my practice but I wouldn’t define myself that, as its too restricting when I produce work in other mediums.
Before I make my performance debut at ImpFest (2016) at Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre on 19th November. I’ve decided to take in a few shows, starting with a very impulsive show at the O2 Arena – Star Wars Identities which allows to take a look a mass of props, costumes and concept art. Honestly I wanted to see the models after seeing a few articles online, I was sold.
After a rehearsal at the venue for tonight’s performance I went straight over to the O2, brimming with excitement and humming the soundtrack. During my time there I was given a few pieces to wear, an ear-piece for wireless audio to videos that explore how we are different and what defines us as individuals, all related back to Star Wars (the first 6 episodes). I had 10 steps to complete, using a wristband that kept track of my choices and decisions, building up my overall characters in the Star Wars universe. Anyway enough of my talking, and time to share some of my photographs.
Another highlight was the last gallery of the day at T.J. Boulting Gallery to see the work of Stephanie Quayle: Jenga who explores our impact of the natural environment. Using reclaimed wood designed and displayed like a Jenga tower, where we find clay monkeys sitting all over the main piece that confronts you as you enter the down-stairs gallery-space. Another confrontation that is more powerful is the 4 orangutans on crates. Who stare at the visitor. I’m reminded of Twelve Monkeys (1995) when Bruce Willis escapes via time travel from a future when the planet has been reclaimed by nature, with a tiger in New York.