Archives for posts with tag: Sarah Gillett

Amazing News Update – Laboratory of Dark Matters has been awarded a month long residency at Guest Projects for April 2017. Exciting times ahead.

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Laboratory of Dark Matters is a response by artists to scientific investigations into the unknown nature of the Universe; opening a dialogue between scientists and artists who are each driven by curiosity and seek answers to fundamental questions about matter and consciousness.

“All visible matter in the entire Universe, including all the stars, cosmic objects, black holes and intergalactic gases, amounts to less than 5% of the mass we know to be present.”  

The search for dark matter is a scientific endeavour but also requires a large degree of faith in both the existence of these elusive particles and in the scientists’ ability to eventually detect and identify them. For artists, creating work is often about searching for some unknown and embracing an unexpected outcome.

The participating artists will be Amy Gear, Daniel Clark, Elizabeth Murton, Kate Fahey, Luci Eldridge, Melanie King, Peter Glasgow, Sarah Gillett, Susan Eyre.

Unexpectedly found myself trailing Game of Thrones fans location hunting.

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Visiting Northern Ireland’s dramatic coast and spiritual heartlands. Brooding ruins and primeval earthworks, geological anomalies and wide windswept bays. I was on the lookout for saints and sacred wells.

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breathing it in

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The walls of Dunluce Castle – struck through with the local geometric formations

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mossy glade – moss prohibition

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‘The Armagh Astropark – where Heaven comes down to Earth…’

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faith and ritual

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At Cranfield Holy Well there was no evidence of fine spring water and amber coloured crystals, it looked dank and more pestilent than healing. Still it is festooned with personal items tied to the overhanging branches, each one a little prayer. According to  custom, one must bathe the infected part of the body with a rag dipped in the well, pray and then tie the rag to a large overhanging tree, as the rag decays the affliction is supposed to disappear. Judging from the preservation of these items, for some, the cure is a long way off.

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County Antrim wears its heart on its sleeve.

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Settlements past and present – Downhill House a recent ruin and the grassy banks of Lissenden Earthworks

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The enigmatic nun, dark Julia’s grave stone at the ancient Bonamargy Friary

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The bronze age Tandragee Man brandishing  his legendary silver prosthetic limb

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The even more ancient belly of the earth at Marble Arch caves

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Containment slotted nicely into the Plastic Propaganda curated exhibition Sugar and Spice at St. Katherine’s Dock.

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Made in response to the trade of exotic objects by merchants who journeyed across the globe five hundred years ago when navigation was reliant on the stars.

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Shaped plates, etched using a sugar lift technique, are filled with inks made from ground spices and copperplate oils wafting traces of their origins in to the gallery space –  turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika…

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These operate as markers plotting the spice route from India around Africa to Europe according to the latitude and longitude lines taken from C16th maps of Mercator and Ortelius. The patterns combine ideologies of origins with destinations reflecting the breadth and mix of cultures that came together. I like how viewing becomes a ritual.

Sugar and Spice explored ideas of trade, hybridization and inter-cultural exchange and the legacy of the rich mercantile history of the docks. Looking back informs, educates and gives us the platform for continuous debate…

 …all more poignant post referendum.

Sarah Gillet’s magical show Quarry at Brocket Gallery was in itself a process of quarrying – exhuming material from a forensic analysis of Paolo Uccello’s painting   ‘The Hunt in the Forest (1470). The pursuit of quarry. This inversion of meanings repeats itself in the work as do the shapes and shadows of a forest that extends beyond the boundaries of any canvas into the dark depths of dream spaces where strange creatures abound.

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In such a space where would you turn to escape.

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It’s how I imagine the labyrinths of Venice should be during the carnival. Full of intriguing theatrical creatures appearing out of the void; playful menace.

I have long enjoyed the work of Raqib Shaw and the dazzling paintings he creates with intricate enamelled surfaces glistening with gemstones and gold; the chaos of  battle played out to the personal beat of shamanic drums; the quest for unattainable perfection.  His obsession with self, pitted against the world, seems to have reached a melancholic peak with Self-Portraits at White Cube. This reimagining of old masters heavily laden with references to his own worlds of Peckham and Kashmir appear as premature reliquaries to a life saturated in self immolation.

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Hidden undercurrents of surface beauty are exposed in Victoria Ahrens thoughtful presentation of her PhD research ABSORB. A meditation on the history of the Paranà River in Argentina. From a mystical place of leisure for her Grandfather to the brutal grave of those who ‘disappeared’ during the military junta, thrown to their deaths to be slowly and anonymously absorbed into the landscape.

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By allowing the waters of the river to wash over the plates and images that she creates the alchemical processes continue and those lost into the waters imbue the work with a gentle pathos.

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From shards of shattered time an image is built that hovers between past and present.

Alex Simpson’s exploration of material in Through Viscera at Barbican Arts Group Trust was fresh and almost vibrating with energy.

Like a virus spreading across all surfaces, into the core of matter that lay extruded across the floor, eaten into and vein like, globular and thick with fungal felt, drying and dropping, leaving prints as scars.

 

In Lichtlose Luft, at PARCspace the LCC’s photographic archive resource centre,  Johanna Love’s lithographic prints and drawings on digital prints of tiny specks of matter magnified to reveal the sublime contours reminiscent of a mountain landscape were a very successful exploration of finding the human relationship in a scientifically generated image.

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The technical image is a starting point for the work, either obtained through the electron microscope or the digital scanner. Through the process of drawing and digital manipulation, there is an attempt to bring the image back into the physical, material world of the living and imagination, for as Merleau Ponty (1964) states, ‘science manipulates things and gives up living in them.’

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Isolated like meteorites falling through a grey space that vibrates with the blurred colours we see on the back surface of the eyelid; these drawings capture the imagination.

Super/collider once again brought us a mind blowing yet entertaining talk at Second Home.  Dr. Andrew O’Bannon has been studying Holography for 15 years. He proposes a bold idea that all the information in our 3D universe may be contained in a mysterious 2D image, like a hologram. Promising not only to unite Einstein’s relativity with quantum physics, holography also has the potential to provide us with cleaner energy, faster computers, and novel electronics. Using ideas from string theory he studies holography and strongly interacting systems.

In everyday life, a hologram is a two-dimensional image containing enough information to reconstruct a three-dimensional object. In theoretical physics, holography proposes that some strongly-interacting systems are equivalent to Einstein’s theory of gravity in one higher dimension.

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“Many experiments to detect proposed dark matter particles through non-gravitational means are under way. On 25 August 2016, astronomers reported that Dragonfly 44, an ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG) with the mass of the Milky Way galaxy, but with nearly no discernible stars or galactic structure, may be made almost entirely of dark matter.” From BBC science

There were two talks at New Scientist Live that I found particularly interesting. The first was from Dr Andrew Pontzen a theoretical cosmologist explaining the evidence that dark matter exists and why it is proving so hard to detect. He spends his time working through theories that are then passed on to someone like Cham Ghag, an astrophysicist who will devise strategies to test theories in direct detection projects such as ZEPLIN and LUX.

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It’s not only the calculations from gravitational lensing that suggests way more mass is present than can be seen but also large computer modelling samples of how galaxies form and rotate. Removing a few stars from the model galaxy ends in a chaotic breakdown, but making a few stars ‘dark’ so that the mass remains but we cannot see them does not change the rotation of the remaining stars we can still see. The distribution of dark matter across the universe appears like a fibrous net, imaged from the cosmic microwave background, an echo still reverberating from the first few seconds at the birth of the universe. The second talk ‘Beyond the Higgs’ was from particle physicist Professor Tara Shears who inspects the data produced from the experiments colliding proton beams to create fundamental particles at CERN, for anomalies that might turn out to be evidence of an interaction with a new particle. The search goes on.

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I have had to say goodbye to my studio space and all the other wonderful facilities and people at the RCA.

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Lots of ideas were formulated in this little corner and I will miss it very much.

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I spent the last six months pretty much in the screenprinting room

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working on the mirror circles for my final show.

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There wasn’t much time out but I did try to see some exhibitions that felt were relevant to my own concerns.

I hadn’t come across the work of Michelle Stuart before and I found her exhibition at Parafin Gallery very inspiring.

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

I was drawn to her spiritual aesthetic. The subtle use of colour and juxtaposition of images set within a grid structure bind themes together to create a whole from fragments. I like the way she uses objects, incorporating natural materials and sacred symbolism, referencing alters and rituals.

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

I was excited to see Diana Thater at Hauser and Wirth mostly because of the promise of seven holy ‘kunds’ – or water tanks- and waterfalls that create two tiered pools within her projected installations. I thought this might relate to my own ideas using water in my work giving some insight into water as a sacred medium.

I was disappointed. Due to poor light levels and projected image quality what should have been an immersive experience was frustrated by an awareness of ineffectual technology exacerbated by the front door repeatedly opening and  flooding the space with even more light. There were no ‘kunds’ visible. The gallery assistant thought the pools may be projected onto the floor but with the light levels too high it was not so much that ‘…the pools of water occupy a liminal state between reality and imagination’ but must be totally conjured by the imagination.

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Online you can find an image more akin to the promises of the press release.

Galtaji Temple near Jaipur

Galtaji Temple near Jaipu

For my second year at the RCA I had David Blandy as my tutor. I think we have quite a few crossover interests in our investigation of contemporary society which manifest themselves in very different ways. He works with video and references music trends and gaming aesthetics and is quite performative. It’s very engaging and has a fine humour.

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He screened his video How To Make A Short Video About Extinction for us in the lecture theatre, it was good to see it on a big screen and appreciate the disaster movie genre it plays off though the DIY amateurism invoked does perhaps mean the small screen is its home. Eitherway it’s very funny (while obviously trying to make some serious points too). He put me onto Miranda July, also funny while highlighting some cultural idiosyncrasies , whose book of short stories No-one Deserves To Be Here More Than You I am enjoying at the moment.

I have visited his exhibition showing the video hercules-rough-cut at the Bloomberg Space.

David Blandy

David Blandy

It has huge presence. Ominous and mesmerizing it engulfs you in a kaleidoscopic bombardment of image and dialogue tracing the history of civilisation on its frenzied trajectory to what must be an inevitable implosion. Surrounded by rotating images and screens and immersed in continuous rap-speak that fills your head there is no space to escape.

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

It captures the obsessions that are driving our civilisation over the edge into oblivion employing the same seductions that hypnotise us as we are carried along unable to resist.

I have long been a fan of Gordon Cheung’s work so was excited to be able to chat with him about my work when he visited the RCA on what was described as an artists promenade. His interest in relating ancient mythologies to present day financial trading and historical markets such as tulip mania to current boom and bust economics are fascinating subjects.

Gordon Cheung island

Gordon Cheung Island

We also attempted to discuss quantum and particle physics. He had been key in selecting my etching Forest of Eden for the neo:print prize award that I received last year so I was able to go into more detail about what had inspired me to make this work. Originally it was Giambattista Vico’s story of wild men inventing the gods as they cowered in the forest under thunderous skies that led to my research into the myth of the wild man. This myth stretches back to the tale of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality. In history the wild man’s characteristics reflect topical fears and aspirations, violating the taboos of civilization and symbolizing the repressed desires of society. They oscillate between horror and fantasy.

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

I wondered who a contemporary wild man might be. Someone on the edges of society, both fascinating and repulsive. I had come across images on the internet of this person who posts photos of himself posing almost naked with guns strapped to his body. He had become an internet meme, shared with equal disgust and fascination. In this etching I placed him back in the ancient forest of all our origins.

The most recent of work I made while at the RCA was Sun Factor. This work allows an alternative access point to my ideas about escape from reality and the search for something outside the ordinary. It explores ancient and modern ideas on sun worship and the rituals that are part of these cultures.

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

I used etching for the ancient cliffs and gold pigments on chine colle for the obelisk. The figures are screen printed in high saturation, a reminder of the early days of package holidays and glossy postcards and also of skin damage and loss of connection to the powers of nature. The sun as apocalyptic fireball is a reminder of its true nature which we often forget to acknowledge.

Sun Factor has been selected as a finalist for the HIX award.

I had been experimenting with images printed on translucent fabric submerged in water with a view to using this in my final show.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

This came from the idea of looking through a surface to consider what is there but unseen by our limited senses   Sometimes the images in the water float and sometimes they sink or fold according to the otherwise unseen movement within the water. The activity in the matter of the universe is going on around us unseen – other intangible things like the aura of place and the dream of paradise cannot be pinned down or explained in terms of materiality.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

I spent a long time searching for the right bowls for the images floating in water. I had in mind something you might find in the world of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but ended up using the same simple very shiny ones as I had originally found for Café Gallery – Objects Of.

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I tried giving them a clay outer shell – it didn’t work but the cracked result was inspiring for future work.

I chose to exhibit the water pieces in a cluster for the RCA MA Show rather than each one placed at the base of the individual sculptures as I had previously.

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submīrārī installation

mīrārī  comes from the latin miror whose etymology is to gaze in wonder.

Now that I had 7 sculptures (one for every day of the week) I felt each work had more weight holding their own space.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

There is a similarity in the way an image is experienced as a surface to look through and be absorbed into connecting the pieces in the installation.

The images in the bowls are more dreamlike, idealised landscapes whereas the images on the mirrors come from the everyday locations that happen to be called paradise.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism  - the life)

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism – the life)

In conjunction with the MA degree show I led the organisation of our event WHAT WAS I THINKING. This was a chance to look back at the thinking behind our degree show and the ways in which decisions get made and also the alarm we sometimes feel at what we have embarked upon.

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We invited David Cross as our guest speaker. David Cross has an international reputation as a lecturer and academic. As an artist, he began collaborating with Matthew Cornford, in the partnership Cornford and Cross, while studying at St Martin’s School of Art in 1987, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1991. In addition to producing aesthetic experiences, he maintains that a key function of contemporary art is to test concepts, assumptions and boundaries.

David Cross

David Cross

Looking at global economics and systems of value which govern the art world as well as wider issues of capitalism and our blind commitment to material consumption fuelling economic growth he poses the question  – can we reclaim the vanishing point and reconnect our individual perspective with our collective capacity to envision and plan for a more ecologically stable future?

Early in our first year at RCA we had a seminar with the provocative title Why Print? This caused a lot of argument at the time as we found there were very many opinions on what was and what was not considered print, the value of craft and the place of the multiple or cheap reproduction. As we progressed we learnt to respect each others approaches and realised that the diversity of our group was a strength from which we could all learn.

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles was our MC for the event and gave an introduction which set out the challenges we faced during our MA and will continue to tackle as artists.  He explained that in such a programme as printmaking there are many processes we could choose from to express our ideas and it was through this exposure and interrogation that we found our own individual affinities from digital media to etching and many combinations in between. New reproduction technologies offer opportunities for exploration,  the old techniques feed into the new, and the new reinvigorates the old. To study Fine Art today is to navigate a plethora of possibilities across an ever widening field of possibilities, often dauntingly so but this also offers us a new representational freedom as artists.

Navigating these new possibilities is something we had discussed in seminars which led us to authors who write about the impact of the web, image saturation/appropriation, and new ways in which we view the world that lead on to questions of reality and representation.

As a point of focus for our event we referred to the politics of the image theories of Hito Steryl in the e-flux journal The Wretched of the Screen.
Her comments on the condition of groundlessness in her essay free fall a thought experiment on vertical perspective seemed particularly relevant.
          ‘Imagine you are falling. But there is no ground.
          Many contemporary philosophers have pointed out that the present moment is distinguished by a prevailing condition of groundlessness.
          We cannot assume any stable ground on which to base metaphysical claims or foundational political myths.
          At best, we are faced with temporary, contingent, and partial attempts at grounding.’
Peter Glasgow spoke about ways that material might be gathered, piled up, held onto and left over to form a body of work.
Peter Glasgow

Peter Glasgow

Using American TV series as his research material he used this analogy to look at work in the degree show as a gathering of material.
Peter Glasgow I'm dead in the water here

Peter Glasgow I’m dead in the water here

 Jilly Roberts narrated The Case Study, a story which explores her ideas of how perspectives can get influenced and altered depending on their content and origin.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

Mixing factual accounts with her own experiences out in the field researching architectural landscapes and the invention of the Wardian Case.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

 Daniel Clark discussed his research into the cross section between sound and printmaking
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Daniel Clark

 covering the strange sensations we experience when exposed to very low frequency vibrations  the mysteries of the aquatint box and the sensory drama of the eruption of Krakatoa.
Daniel Clark Volcano

Daniel Clark Volcano

 Amy Gear brought our attention to the link between landscape, language and the shape of words, focusing on the rich history of her native Shetland
Amy Gear

Amy Gear

and how we mimic through language and also through our work.
Amy Gear Stack

Amy Gear Stack

 Meg Ferguson and Maito Jobbe Duval who both work with text and moving image discussed the ideas of French Philosopher Maurice Blanchot to explore their experience of uncertainty in the creative process.
Meg Ferguson

Meg Ferguson

Meg spoke about the ‘leap’ of faith necessary to make work and its value as a catalyst to move forward, letting go of control and falling into the unknown of the unconscious mind.
Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito read from Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure while screening her video work Can You See It encouraging us to think the image of the thought.
Sarah Gillett read a story from her book which accompanied her work in the degree show.
Sarah Gillett

Sarah Gillett

We were transported to a suburban Mum’s night in which was suddenly impacted by the enormity and chaos of the universe both physically as a meteorite hits the conservatory and poetically as we contemplate the points in our lives when new perspectives open up to us.