Archives for the month of: July, 2013

My visit to the Venice Biennale was marked by my receiving news that I had a place at the Royal College of Art for the Autumn.  A great start to a very inspiring few days.

It does feel a bit like I am going to be launched into space. Exciting and an amazing opportunity but also not knowing what to expect with anxieties that I will be lost or unable to cope.

Bedwyr Williams ‘The Starry Messenger’ and Sarah Sze’s Triple Point both explore feelings of place within the universe. Very apt for my frame of mind.

Wales in Venice

Wales in Venice

‘The Starry Messenger’ explores the relationships between stargazing and the individual, the cosmos, and the role of the amateur in a professional world.

Inside the former church and convent in a darkened room there is a small observatory with a door ajar through which we can see the starry cosmos. There is the sound of a man weeping, just like Kevin does when he thinks about the vastness of space and his own insignificance. Moving through the installation you walk under glass with household objects placed on its surface above your head which I took as a possible reference to Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing ‘A cloudburst of material possessions’. Maybe it is space debris.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

There is a film with a Mighty Boosh style protagonist who represents a character trapped within a mosaic mural.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

From the geological formation of stone out of oozing mud through its journey and subsequent use in a mural to the demolition of the building and its return to the earth. From looking out at the stars through a telescope to ‘staring into space’ the outer and inner worlds collide in a wonderfully amusing narrative encompassing the life the universe and everything dialogue.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Sarah Sze explores the desire to locate our place within a disorienting world.

Sarah Sze Triple Ponit

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Her fragile sculptures echo the balance and chaos of the world around us.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

They appear to spin or be in the process of expansion, beautifully mysterious like the working of the atom or the universe they are full of wonder.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Playing with pattern, order and taxonomy she creates a laboratory busy in its own pursuits which makes us feel we are close to understanding something great.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

I was excited to see she had used moss a lot throughout this installation, even turning its image into wallpaper.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Triple Point refers to the phase when gas, liquid and solid form of a substance are all in equilibrium, her use of natural forms keep our ideas grounded in our surroundings while drawing us into the mysteries of evolution.

The extraordinary collection of stones once owned by artist Roger Caillois were on display in the Central Pavillion.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

Caillois believed that nature should be examined as something other than as the utilitarian force that Darwin purported and that aesthetics and the need for decoration should be considered integral to our understanding of the natural world.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

He considered the beautiful patterns within ancient natural forms were a sort of cryptic ‘universal syntax’, a unifying aesthetic language.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

He wanted to understand the mysteries of the subjective experience through its relationship to factual reality.

I find it fascinating trying to understand the aesthetic experience.

Gerhard Richter’s tapestries at Gagosian, Davies Street emanate pure aesthetic pleasure, colours and form coalesce erupt and fade.

These works are based on Abstract Painting (724-4) (1990). The visual effect of the tapestries is a Rorschach-like multiplying of the forms and colours of the original canvas.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

Like entering a hypnotic state, like staring into space both literally and metaphorically you are transported to a place where it feels familiar and strange at the same time.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

Venice was a perfect location to think about mysteries, the sacred and the wonders of the world.

1307 Monastry

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I have been getting up close to mud and matter and thinking about the makeup of the environment around us.

It’s hard to look at a cup say and imagine the structure of its atoms. To think about the solid and then the squishy and how it all works.

From thinking about the origins of things, like the first plants and forests. Evolution and yet how all matter existed from the beginning and it’s just a huge process of recycling.

Deptford creek

Deptford creek

A great place for a new perspective on your surroundings is the Deptford Creekside Centre where you can join a low tide walk.

Low Tide Walk

Low Tide Walk

Equipped with thigh length waders and a long stick you are led down to the creek and given lots of insight into the history and wildlife of the creek.

Deptford Creek Crab

Deptford Creek Crab

It is stunningly beautiful and feels a real privilege to enter this world below the horizon.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The river has carved intricate sculptures into the wooden posts along the banks.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The look posts look totemic and hung with vibrant algae quite primordial.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The creek bed is thick with mud and slime creating wonderful patterns as the water recedes.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

There is the possibility of finding treasure swept along and revealed after each tide but you must ask if you want to take anything away. They have quite a collection of finds they like to add to at the discovery centre.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

On a previous trip artist Lizzie Cannon had been lucky to find a wonderful rusty object which she has since embroidered with threads and beads to continue the growth of the rust giving the object a new organic dimension

Lizzie Cannon - Corrosion

Lizzie Cannon – Corrosion

A Matter of Substance exhibition and salon curated by Caroline Lambard and Elizabeth Murton at APT Gallery encouraged their audience to look beyond the surface of the material to the very structure of the crystals, atoms and particles that form them.

1307 A Matter of Substance

Catherine Jacobs beautiful photographs show tensions of surface sometimes broken by an indeterminate object that works as a disruption to the surface and our perceptions of what we are looking at.

Catherine Jacobs Uncertainties

Catherine Jacobs Uncertainties

Elizabeth Murton’s scroll flows out across the floor in symbiosis with the marks upon it like a cascade of data presenting itself as a record of the inks journey.

Elizabeth Murton

Elizabeth Murton

Cool work for a hot day.

Phillip Hall-Patch

Phillip Hall-Patch / Caroline Lambard

There were salt crystals that sparkled like snow in magnified form like Icelandic landscapes and in salt block form eroded by a constant drip of water.

Phillip Hall-Patch Salt LIcks

Phillip Hall-Patch Salt LIcks

Caroline Lambard’s ethereal sculptures help to imagine 3D form from all perspectives through their delicate drawing in thread to delineate a space.

Caroline Lambard

Caroline Lambard

I have started on a new piece of work, the idea of an oasis, an escape, a view through to another place so it has been interesting to think about form and space.

A solid outer that hides a world inside.

1307 Oasis collagraph 1

It starts with the construction of a collagraph which I am slowly building up from cut card and carborundum.

1307 Oasis collagraph 2

Once made the idea will be to rip a section out to reveal an internal space.

Tumbling through time
1307 Tardis-in-Space

Space has been a bit of a theme in my recent excursions – in a sense of delineating a space architecturally as Charles Avery does in his precise drawings of an imagined world; in the exploration of space examined through Cristina De Middel’s photographs of ‘Afronauts’ which also play into ideas of sci-fi as does Jess Littlewood in her fictional landscapes; in attempting to make the unknowable palpable, Luci Eldrige has used radar imaging of Venus undertaken by NASA and translated it into richly coloured etchings. Then there is the space where the making takes place – the art institution.

The RCA SHOW has come around again.

RCA SHOW 2013

RCA SHOW 2013

This year the experience was heightened by the possibility that I may one day get the chance to participate in the creative dialogue of this institution.

Look at that amazing space for making.

RCA printroom

RCA print room

Since my application and interview in March I have received some really positive feedback from Jo Stockham the head of the printmaking course.
I have been encouraged to apply again next year if a place doesn’t become available for me this year so I was keen to see what the current graduates were exhibiting and if I could see progression from the exhibition they had in spring at Café Gallery Projects.

A favourite was Luci Eldridge. Fascinated by the ‘invisible visions’ acquired through the use of science’s cybernetic eye, she is captivated by images of lands we cannot empirically experience.

Luci Eldrige - four colour photo etching

Luci Eldrige – four colour photo etching

I also identified with the work of Jessica Wallis ‘The History of the End of the World’

Jessica Wallis - Book Cover Series

Jessica Wallis – Book Cover Series

Jessica Wallis - Formula for disaster DVD

Jessica Wallis – Formula for disaster DVD

Jessica Wallis - Formula for disaster dvd

Jessica Wallis – Formula for disaster dvd

I was intrigued by the films of Nicola Thomas – ‘Imitation’ and ‘ Dancing with Monk’ and her etched prints from The Look Series were captivating.

Nicola Thomas - Carole #3 etched print

Nicola Thomas – Carole #3
etched print

Bee Flowers work has a feel of the mausoleum

Bee Flowers - plaster acrylic

Bee Flowers – plaster acrylic

Alice Hartley must have had some upsetting school reports

Alice Hartley - screenprint on blue black paper

Alice Hartley – screen print on blue black paper

Elizabeth Hayley’s prints on brass had a wonderful quality of time passed

Elizabeth Hayley - silver gelatin on brass

Elizabeth Hayley – silver gelatin on brass

Yanna Soares - Loom of Neith - silk embroidery on etchings, cotton thread, wood

Yanna Soares – Loom of Neith – silk embroidery on etchings, cotton thread, wood

Liz Lake - run aground

Liz Lake – run aground

Hannah Thual - between exposed and concealed

Hannah Thual – between exposed and concealed

I realise I must have missed some of the printmaking exhibits.

From Painting I really related to the work of Zoe De Soumagnat

Zoe De Soumagnat - Al Fresco

Zoe De Soumagnat – Al Fresco

Zoe De Soumagnat - Black Painting. tasty

Zoe De Soumagnat – Black Painting. tasty

Tomie Seo - All in a vision and Court of Regulation

Tomie Seo – All in a vision and Court of Regulation

Lian Zhang - oil on board

Lian Zhang – oil on board

From Sculpture discipline I really liked how the paper constructions of Yana Naidenov looked like concrete

Yana Naidenov - rammed paper pulp

Yana Naidenov – rammed paper pulp

The materiality of Virgile Ittah’s sculptures were also intriguing, and rather unsettling

Virgile Ittah - For man would remember each murmur - fabric, mixed wax

Virgile Ittah – For man would remember each murmur – fabric, mixed wax

The Lilliputian sculptures of Sun Lah stood out

Sun Lah - wood and pastel

Sun Lah – wood and pastel

Observing from a distance

Sun Lah

Sun Lah

Loved this little projection from Lucy Joyce

Lucy Joyce - Gold House - video

Lucy Joyce – Gold House – video

Lina Lapelyte - Candy Shop

Lina Lapelyte – Candy Shop

I liked photography student Julio Galeote’s work

Julio Galeote - excess

Julio Galeote – excess

The Charlie Dutton Photo and Print Open Salon had a really strong selection of work, it was tightly hung but as the work was all so strong it wasn’t a case of your eye skimming the wall and only taking in one or two pieces.

I was fascinated by a lot of the work showing and noticed Luci Eldridge had a couple of pieces in the show.

Luci Eldridge - The Invisible Sky

Luci Eldridge – The Invisible Sky

Hannah Williamson

Hannah Williamson

Adam Dix - Be As One - screenprint

Adam Dix – Be As One – screenprint

Frances Disley - Little Boy Lost - reduction lino cut

Frances Disley – Little Boy Lost – reduction lino cut

Alex Lawler - Celestial Navigation  - print on chiffon

Alex Lawler – Celestial Navigation – print on chiffon

Harry Meadows - Medallion

Harry Meadows – Medallion

I have often found that in the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize show there is one clear winner for me but this year all 4 candidates drew me in and inspired me.

No Man’s Land is shot entirely with Google Street View. The coordinates for prostitutes operating in remote locations were picked up from internet chat rooms.

Henner’s method of online intelligence-gathering results in an unsettling reflection on surveillance, voyeurism and the contemporary landscape.

Mishka Henner - No Man's Land

Mishka Henner – No Man’s Land

Chris Killip documents the disintegration of the industrial landscape through the people that live there.

Chris Killip- What Happened - Great Britain 1970 - 1990

Chris Killip- What Happened – Great Britain 1970 – 1990

‘War Primer 2’ reimagines the pages of Bertold Brecht’s 1955 publication ‘War Primer’. Brecht’s book was a collection of photos and newspaper clippings that were paired with a four line poem.

Broomberg and Chanarin have layered google search results for the poems over the original images. The results are extraordinary.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin - War Primer 2

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin – War Primer 2

In 1964 Zambia started a space programme to send the first African astronaut to the moon.

Cristina De Middel - The Afronauts

Cristina De Middel – The Afronauts

Through photographs, manipulated documents, drawings and letters  De Middel presents a folkloric tale which blurs myths and truths. Great costumes and funky fabrics.

Cristina De Middel

Cristina De Middel

Jess Littlewood’s prints showing at BEARSPACE have a wonderful sci-fi quality without them being too unbelievable. There is a common motif of a pentagon, a makeshift habitat and an opening through to a stellar sky. They speak of new beginnings from dystopian endings.

Jess Littlewood - The Dissolution of Mother Island

Jess Littlewood – The Dissolution of Mother Island

Central to the exhibition, The Dissolution of Mother Island maps the inevitable collapse of the founding commune and the emergence of a new epoch, defined by five new derivative sects. Each sect inhabits a new island, and looking to the future each attempt to establish a unique society whilst never achieving true autonomy.

The further five exhibited works act as chapter headings, describing each sect and their specific obsessions. All maintain a fixation with the shrine like shelters of their past, highlighting futility in their attempts for individualism. These five new islands will now act as anthropological testing grounds in which Littlewood can explore the parameters and tendencies of human behaviour.

Littlewoods otherworldly landscapes are the product of extensive collecting, collating and archiving of images. Working digitally Littlewood builds layer upon layer of found imagery, the final outcome a window into an alternative world.

Jess Littlewood - Island Folly

Jess Littlewood – Island Folly

Wow, what a mind Charles Avery has.

Charles Avery View of the Port - from The Islanders

Charles Avery View of the Port – from The Islanders

He talks at a fast pace about the world that he describes through his expressive drawings, writing and sculptures. He has considered so much more about his imaginary world than most people ever consider about the one they actually inhabit. He has models of the island in his studio so that when drawing a new scene he is aware whether there should be a tower in the background or not. He knows where the toilets , the kitchens, the lifts are in buildings that are never more described than as background facade in a scene. This world is built on mathematical principles and animated with philosophical debate. Space is mapped out precisely in both the built environment and the geographical relationships but time in the concept as we understand it does not apply – events happen, time is not linear.

It was fascinating to hear about his process of creation at Whitechapel Gallery as part of the To Make A Tree programme.

Charles Avery

Charles Avery

The trees in jardindagade are based on a mathematical formula.  He told us how hard it was to devise a formula for a willow tree to be well balanced and the leaves not to fall and tangle with each other. He decided to go outside and see how a real tree coped with this problem and found that it didn’t, it was messy and tangled, but it didn’t fall over.

He has ambitions to build the whole of jardindagade as an immersive installation –  let’s hope someone with some money was listening.

Saw Chimerica, an amazing new play by Lucy Kirkwood. It is a powerful exploration of two cultures – China and America.
We are taken back to the student protests of 1989 in Tiananmen Square and follow the search of an American photographer, who took the iconic shot of the student standing with his shopping bags in front of the tank, as he tries to discover the identity of  ‘tank man’.

The fate still remains unknown of the unarmed man who blocked a column of tanks as they moved along Chang’an Avenue towards Tiananmen Square.

1306 Chimerica 3

The script is very tight, funny and moving, playing out  a touching relationship between the photographer and his Chinese contact as they question their roles in history.

There are questions about cultural identity and personal responsibility.

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Who is a hero and how can one voice rage against the machine.  I found it a little scary to contemplate the future in this context as China is such a hard country to relate to and it’s influence is spreading quietly across the world.

In China there seems little compassion for the individual.

Yet obviously there are individuals who raise their voices, people we can relate to in their desire for justice, for free speech and for clean air.

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Chimerica explores the courage required to step outside the control of the state and the security of a job.

It also makes us wonder about the dramatic changes to the landscape, the explosion of consumerism and urbanisation and the sources of energy to power this explosion in growth.

1306 China coal

The ideas behind Chimerica can be found at  http://headlong.co.uk/work/chimerica/explore/

1306 smog

I have always loved the work of Antii Laitinen since being introduced to his work by Nettie Horn Gallery.

I went to listen to him at the ICA in conversation with Elizabeth Neilson, Director of Zabludowicz Collection, and Harri Laakso, a co-curator of the Finnish Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

He undertakes extraordinary feats of endurance to make his art such as building his own island from bags of sand, only to have it swept away by a storm and then starting again.

Antii Laitinen 'It's my Island'

Antii Laitinen
‘It’s my Island’

In his talk  he stressed that he uses nature as his material and his studio space and what he is exploring is the nature of human existence. He questions the value of effort which stems from his native Finnish culture and its Lutheran attitude to the benefits of hard labour. In ‘Sweat work’ he constructed a human sized hamster wheel and ran until he was dripping in sweat, he then removed his clothes and laid down onto photographic paper.

Antii Laitinen 'Sweat Work'

Antii Laitinen
‘Sweat Work’

The photographs were then hung on the wall where the image of his body slowly faded and disappeared.

Antii Laitinen 'Sweat work'

Antii Laitinen ‘Sweat work’

Each of his pieces has required physical exertion in often futile exercises. Originally training as a photographer he moved into performative work which he then documents himself through photography.

He likes to be in control. He prefers if possible to perform all the hard labour himself.

There was an interesting discussion on the reaction of different cultures to his sawing up of a tree into many pieces and then trying to fix it back together again like a puzzle. In Finland where there are vast forests and there is a pragmatic relationship to a tree and he had no problem getting any number of trees to chop down. In Vienna he caused an outcry at the stupidity of his endeavour. In Bristol he had real trouble getting a tree at all, and the tree he was finally given was a very small tree, barely a tree at all, weak and diseased. What is it that makes it hard for us to chop down a tree. The shortage of trees or the love of the old, a national instinct to preserve maybe.
What was it that mobilised the nation into protest recently – the threat to the forests. We might never visit them – but it’s good to know they are there. Our cultural history is tied up in the forests not as a source of fuel and income but as a refuge, as a source of myths and legends.

Antii Laitinen

Antii Laitinen

For the project “FOREST SQUARE”, new work made for the Venice Biennale 2013, Laitinen chopped down a ten meters square section of forest and sorted the entire found material such as the soil, moss, wood, pines, etc into various categories. He then reorganized the forest according to different colours – the composition referring to the pure abstraction and utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order from the De Stijl movement.

Antii Laitinen 'Forest Square'

Antii Laitinen ‘Forest Square’

I am still working on the collagraphs  ‘return of the forest’ and still not entirely happy with the way it is going.

I have been painting trees with sublimation inks to print onto organza which I will then cut onto the iceberg collagraphs I have made.

The thing about sublimation inks is you can’t quite tell what colour they will print until you put them in the heat press.

130701 (2)

I was upset to find out that London Printworks Trust had closed in February.

It is so sad that such a great resource is lost. I did think it bad though that as a paying member I hadn’t been told it was closing, I guess as they were in financial difficulties they weren’t going to refund memberships.

Now I have to find another large heat press to use.

The Ochre Print Studio Summer Exhibition had lots of good feedback. Shame I had to miss the Private View this year.

Susan Eyre 'Yellow Sky'

Susan Eyre ‘Yellow Sky’

‘Yellow Sky’ is about looking for refuge and reliance on a controlled environment to survive

Susan Eyre 'Graft i'

Susan Eyre ‘Graft i’

‘Graft I’ explores ideas about the changing landscape, the urban and the cultivated space, the hybrid landscapes and the empty inbetween spaces where imagination can flourish if nothing else.

Lots to see from other members and guest artists. It’s a good opportunity to bring the community at Ochre together.
Tom Hammick

Guest artists -Tom Hammick – woodcuts

Richenda Court's lino cut

Richenda Court’s lino cuts

Julie Hoyle

Julie Hoyle screen prints on wood

Lockwood Group

Lockwood Group artists with learning disabilities

Anna Hennings - artist in residence

Anna Hennings – artist in residence

Guest Artist - David Dragon - monoprints

Guest Artist – David Dragon – monoprints

 

Susan Eyre 'Subluna'

Susan Eyre ‘Subluna’

 

Sold ‘Subluna’ at Ochre and also some of my ‘Collected Thoughts’ sold at the Surrey Contemporary.
Always a strange mixed feeling of loss and pleasure.