Archives for posts with tag: David Bowie

Thinking about being a part of something, how we view and treat others.

Inclusion and exclusion are themes here.

Starting with the exciting news that ‘Incidence’ had been selected to be a part of the HOT-ONE-HUNDRED show at Schwartz Gallery.


Despite the fact that the gallery quite clearly states the show title is an ironic comment on the trend for power lists to create hype, it does as they also say, perpetuate the phenomenon.

It was a nice buzz to be part of.

1308 Hot One Hundred

‘Incidence’ had been hung at the entrance. I was really pleased with how it looked, hung low against black and the shadows were working.

With 100 artists it could seem packed in but it worked well and with every circuit of the space something new would catch your eye.

1308 Hot One Hundred 2

It was great to find Hannah Williamson also had a piece selected.

Hannah Williamson 'MM Dreaming'

Hannah Williamson ‘MM Dreaming’

Another favourite was a painting by Simone Fontana Reis.

Simone Fontana Reis 'Water Inside the Room'

Simone Fontana Reis ‘Water Inside the Room’

Jeremy Deller representing Britain at the Venice Biennale with his ‘English Magic’ exhibition was very popular.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

He is not afraid to appeal to the masses and to celebrate ordinary people.

It was amazing he managed to pack so much into this pavilion.

Class status symbols, tax injustices, ancient history, Russian oligarch’s, warfare, media corruption, escapism and the idiosyncrasies of the public.
He used the socialist beliefs of William Morris as a motif in opposition to the arrogance and greed of Roman Abramovich who selfishly moored his yacht at the 2011 Biennale restricting others access to the site.

Morris comes back from his grave to cast the oligarch’s luxuary yacht asunder.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

The status symbol of the Range Rover suffers a similar ignoble fate, being crushed to a cube at the scrapyard, and also being subjected to a hen harrier taking its revenge for a pair of these extremely rare birds being shot at Sandringham with all evidence pointing to Prince Harry and his friend.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Tea is free for all and an orderly queue forms.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

A diverse picture of England is presented through film in “English Magic” and is reflected in the accompanying soundtrack; that draws on three episodes in UK music history. Recorded at the iconic Abbey Road studios in London, the South London The Melodians Steel Orchestra were asked to interpret Vaughan Williams’ ‘Symphony in D minor’, UK acid house track “Voodoo Ray” by A Guy Called Gerald and David Bowie’s 1971 pop refrain “The Man Who Sold The World” all songs from different eras and generations but all products of British culture. Listen here.

Birds of prey swoop. swivel and focus their eyes on us,  the public are unleashed on a bouncy Stone Henge, and a ceremonial procession with banners of all trades marches through the city.

We were able to handle a 6,000 year old and 250,000 year old hand axe, to feel the weight and balance and contemplate who spent the 100 hours or so chipping this stone into shape.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

It is believed these axes were for ceremonial use, cast into the Thames as offerings to a god which could signify an ancient sense of community and early religion.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Much of this exhibition is about social justice all woven together with cultural icons, and the British public.

Photos taken throughout Britain on days when David Bowie conducting his 1972 tour map out a country of economic depression, industrial action and IRA bombings in contrast to the colourful escapism that Bowie offered.

Not only are William Morris’s beliefs acknowledged but his beautiful woodblocks and sample prints are on show.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

There is a hands on opportunity

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Only allowed out for 2 hours a day due to the humidity in Venice we were lucky to be able to get up so close and see the detail and craftsmanship.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Definitely came out smiling and proud.

British Pavilion

British Pavilion

The Central Asian Pavilion explored ideas of community and voyeurism. Cultural boundaries and social justice.

The title of the show was WINTER – to describe a cultural climate in which public discourse is frozen but also one that offers the potential to develop into spring.

The yurt is usually a social structure but here it is made into a transitory space for an isolated journey.

Kamilla Kurmanbekova & Erlan Tuyakov 'The Way'

Kamilla Kurmanbekova & Erlan Tuyakov ‘The Way’

The role of the contemporary female and regional identity are explored in the video work by Aza Shade.

Aza Shade 'The Disappearing City' video still

Aza Shade ‘The Disappearing City’ video still

A mother stages a traditional environment specifically to sell to tourists in search of exoticism while the daughter expresses her frustration at being held in stasis and battles to trade her indigenous clothes for short western styles.

The extraordinary development of Astana the new capital of Kazakhstan built in 1997 the second coldest capital in the world is captured in Ikuru Kuwajima’s photographs.

Ikuru Kuwajima Astana Winter Urbanscapes

Ikuru Kuwajima Astana Winter Urbanscapes

Showing the stark contrast of the icy steppe with the tropically themed resorts, recreational facilities and opulent monumental government buildings these Winter Urbanscapes reveal a government with a strong man over nature statement and a lot of oil.

Eva Kotatkova looks at institutions and their effect on social behaviour. The nature of a country’s prisons, schools and mental health facilities are explored in her work.

Eva Kotatkova 'Asylum'

Eva Kotatkova ‘Asylum’

In ‘Asylum’ she collaborated with psychiatric patients to look at the social hierarchies of people who live outside the normal social order.

In the Iraq Pavilion the artists are attempting to establish some idea of normality through performing simple everyday tasks.

Welcome To Iraq

Welcome To Iraq

A determination to make positive use of what they have, and to begin a free cultural exchange with the rest of the world. There is a moving film of young alcohol smugglers risking death on the borders trying to make a living in an extreme and harsh environment while in the kitchen tea is offered.

Maxine Peake’s timely reading of Shelley’s political poem The Masque of Anarchy at the Manchester International Festival was beautiful and passionate.

Stand ye calm and resolute,

Like a forest close and mute,

With folded arms and looks which are

Weapons of unvanquished war.

Maxine Peake The Masque of Anarchy

Maxine Peake The Masque of Anarchy

On 16th August 1819  a peaceful rally of 60,000 pro-democracy reformers, men, women and children, was attacked by armed cavalry resulting in 15 deaths and over 600 injuries.

This was the Peterloo Massacre described in Shelley’s poem that shocked the nation.

As Sarah Frankcom the director of this recital says ‘It continues to be such an uncompromising reminder that collectively, even in the most difficult of times, we have the power to change the world in which we live.’

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number,

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you-

Ye are many — they are few.

Jane Ward at BEARSPACE

Jane Ward at BEARSPACE

Had the opportunity to meet Jane Ward whose work I have always admired at BEARSPACE. She was giving an informal talk about her working methods, how she chooses the images she then manipulates, her sources and inspirations.

She often uses aerial shots as a base from which she builds her imaginary worlds and the end result does have the feel of looking down, spiralling towards the ground as all perspectives are lost in a disorienting chaos. She says it is important that within this chaos there is space to escape and so always leaves an area of light in her work for this purpose.

Noa and Hannah had filled the walls of their beautiful Dulwich house with a wonderful selection of their paintings and prints. Each artist complementing the other as they both have a mystical quality to their work.

Noa Edwards

Noa Edwards

There is lots of space in their work for the viewer to become involved, Noa’s dark photograms have a ghost like ethereal haze making the images indistinct and alluring and Hannah’s colourful assemblages are joyous and expressive.

Hannah Williamson

Hannah Williamson

Marking Time with Debbie Lyddon at the Crypt Gallery.

Debbie Lyddon

Debbie Lyddon

Through the use of materials Debbie investigates the possibility of expressing time passing through process and experience.

Debbie Lyddon  Bitumen Buckets

Debbie Lyddon Bitumen Buckets

Letting the material do its own thing. These bitumen coated canvas buckets filled with salt water had been left  to evaporate for 6 months but were having the process of crystallisation reversed in the damp environment of the Crypt.

Time is not linear.

Lizzie Cannon is also interested in materiality and has used her residency at Bow Arts to explore using porcelain in her practise.

Lizzie Cannon

Lizzie Cannon

Her delicate sculptures look like they might have been formed over thousands of years from dripping limestone, they have the strange forms and translucent quality of stalactites .

Lizzie Cannon

Lizzie Cannon

Creating work that blurs the boundaries between the organic and the inanimate she fuses materials and forms together confounding us with a mix of the unexpected yet vaguely familiar.

At the theatre it has been a mix of the political, politically correct and not.  I enjoyed Stuart Lee’s understated observations on the possibility of him voting conservative at the Loving Linda fundraiser for ovarian cancer. An evening of comedy in the wonderful Linda Smiths memory.

Linda Smith

Linda Smith

‘This House’ by James Graham playing at the National tells the tragic tale of the last days of the labour government pre Thatcher, the like of which will never be seen again – it didn’t seem appropriate somehow to well up at a political satire but it was heart-breaking stuff. All the more tragic in retrospect knowing now what was to come.

This House

This House

I had expected to well up at ‘Joe Egg’ but in fact it never really cut beneath the surface, written at a time when the language of disability had not been reformed it was slightly uncomfortable to listen to but as it was so dated it was hard to empathise and finally feel any real emotion. Top marks for the acting though.

Sally Tatum in Joe Egg

Sally Tatum in Joe Egg

The V&A had gone to town with their Bowie extravaganza – great use of location sensitive headphones adding the appropriate soundtrack.

1305 Bowie

He has wowed us all again this year with his new tracks and another collaboration with Tony Ousler to produce an enigmatic video.

Bowie and Ousler collaboration

Bowie and Ousler collaboration

I was interested to hear about Bowie’s lyric generator which spliced random articles together – a lot of it made no sense but there would be the odd phrase that would capture his imagination and from there he would begin to write. It seems a fun way to work, loving rules and lists it really appeals to me. I could make work from a random starting point each time or follow a method like with my food shopping where I buy the next thing on the shelf to what I bought last week. This removes all tedious decisions about what to cook and throws up lots of interesting combinations for meals forcing us to eat things we might never have tried. However, instead of randomly generating ideas I am trying to keep focused on what I believe to be the nub of my interests –  the cultural impact of our disconnection with nature. Thinking about the evolution of the first trees and what they looked like  I cut some ferns in the garden just as they were about to unfurl – I have scanned them and was really pleased with the detail. I am pressing them and hope to use them to make  monoprints over the iceberg collagraph.

1305 Fern

Have made a good investment in a plan chest – now that I am working on paper a fair bit.

1305 plan chest

So lovely to have tidy studio and somewhere to lay stuff out.

At Ochre I have been adding some more layers to the iceberg collagraphs.

1305 at Ochre

I am concerned that I have got a bit too seduced by the wonderful colours of the inks.

I am not really satisfied with the image  – need to think about this a bit more.

I am planning on adding a layer of printed organza over the trees to give more depth.

1305 dark trees

1305 light trees

I think I need to go back to a grayscale palette.

I have been working on a new stencil image for the forest, something which hopefully disrupts the landscape more  – and have been thinking about adding some beasts of the forest too.

Not worrying too much about historical accuracy but about the feeling of the forest being something menacing advancing across continents.

A more imaginary world.