Archives for posts with tag: sculpture

Midsummer weekend at Allenheads Contemporary Arts. As always it was fantastic to be back in the North Pennines surrounded by the unique landscape and equally unique participating artists. Thank you to Helen Ratcliffe, Alan Smith and co-curator Rob La Frenais for creating such a stimulating event and inviting me to be part of it. Continuum contemplated shared futures and journeys; explorations of the unknown on a cosmological and human scale.

I was privileged to be given access to use the local Blacksmith’s Shop heritage site for Aóratos a site specific installation with fire and film.

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It is not impossible that wormholes exist in our universe.

To traverse space by means of a wormhole would require vast amounts of negative energy.

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Visitors were invited to burn offerings of negative energy to power a ‘wormhole’.

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Using specially prepared tokens visitors could write or draw messages to clear their subconscious of any negative or unwelcome thoughts.

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The offerings were burnt giving out blue and green flames in the forge fire releasing the absorbed negative energy to open the wormhole portal above.

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This turned out to be quite a personal and sometimes emotional experience for visitors who thought carefully about what they would send into the flames before ascending the stairs to enter the portal to the vortex and take the journey through the wormhole exiting at a different point to where they entered.

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Beyond the threshold hidden landscapes and alternative perspectives were revealed.

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It is hoped visitors left the wormhole video installation feeling cleansed and positively charged.

There was a wonderful enthusiastic crowd from Newcastle’s refugee community travelling with artist Henna Asikainen – ” Understanding what it means to be displaced from ones cultural, social and ecological environment and then to establish a home in another, which is fundamentally different, has been the basis for the emergence of my recent projects.”

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Henna shared a practice from her own Finnish culture through her participatory work Omens  – a divining practice from ancient times involving melting metal over an open fire and pouring it into cold water and then interpreting the resulting form. The interaction of metal and water being symbolic of different cultures coming together, making new forms, interpreting the outcomes together, and by sharing these hopes & fears, generating a dialogue about our common futures.

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Annie Carpenter and Alan Smith collaborated on Salvaged Alignment a sculpture activated by the sun at the exact moment of the solstice.

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Annie was also showing Perpetual Apogee  a sculpture referencing Victorian kinetic models of the solar system embracing inaccuracies inherent in such scientific modeling.

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Alan Smith was screening his film 2052 looking at the everyday 33 years from now.

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In the gallery Robert Good presented A New Atlas of the Sublime, a series of panels dissecting the hierarchies and subtleties of language used when attempting to describe the power of a sublime experience.

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Nicola Ellis, referencing algorithms and scientific technologies used in social media, gave visitors an uncanny experience in Watch Yourself Watch Yourself

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Sarah Fortais performing Voyager in her DIY spacesuit arrived from afar, by public transport, to explore the local neighbourhood of Allenheads through the eyes of an alien with accompanying space dog Maddy.

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Great to meet up with Pippa Goldschmidt again and hear more readings from her short stories inspired by past roles as astronomer and civil servant on The Need for Better Regulation of Outer Space.

 

Tracey Warr and Rob La Frenais Writing The Future workshop posted story portals around the village for visitors to discover.

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Much celebration at the launch of Lucien Anderson’s Humble Telescope on the cosmic pond. Come the dark skies of Allenheads, lay back and gaze up through the portal from a watery bed.

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As the solstice sun dipped John Bowers, Tim Shaw, Rob Blazey, Malcolm Conchie and Alan Smith began the annual Midsummer Night’s Drone that continued through to sunrise.

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Aóratos imagery took reference from theories of cosmic strings, space foam and the idea of a web of tiny wormholes connecting all points in space. Video was captured by putting an endoscope down rabbit holes looking for hidden root systems and a microscope was pushed into fibres and foam. The bare branches of trees reflect the branching decay of cosmic particles as they hit the atmosphere and break up.

Space travelers are subject to high levels of radiation from cosmic ray activity outside the protective magnetic field and atmosphere of Earth. As part of this project I worked with students Sena Harayama, Romain Clement De Givry and Medad Newman from Imperial College Space Society supervised by senior lecturer in spacecraft engineering Dr Aaron Knoll in an attempt to launch a cloud chamber in the payload of a high altitude balloon to view this activity.

The students had put a lot of effort into building a cloud chamber suitable to launch over 30km high into subzero temperatures with little air pressure.

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The final launch date pre-booked with the Civil Aviation Authority was upon us and so with just three days notice the team decided it must go ahead ready or not. Unfortunately the chamber had not been tested to see if it functioned on earth and during final assembly on the evening before the launch the chamber shattered.  Disappointed, the students worked into the night to make a substitute chamber.

I had been charged with making a connector out of garden hose, plumbers waste pipe, foam and sealant to pass helium from narrow cylinder pipe to wide mouth of balloon.

The launch took place on disused Oakley airfield kindly permitted by landowner Tom Baxter.

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The balloon reached an altitude of over 37 km and the payload was successfully recovered from a field of horses near Silverstone after an exciting car chase.

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During the violent launch the camera inside the payload to capture activity in the cloud chamber was knocked aside.

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All we have is a short clip before darkness descends and the experiment becomes part of that which is unseen.
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Risograph leaflet for visitors to the wormhole installation, expertly printed by Elliott Denny.

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In the Studio

Put The Forms (aluminium etched with dark matter visualisations) up for Open Studios at Thames-side Studios annual event which was buzzing this year with lots of workshops and activities and a festival feel flurry of food stalls.

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Meanwhile I was creating vibrant chemical landscapes ready to be encapsulated in screen printed tokens for the burning ritual to power the wormhole.

 

Out of the Studio

Carol Wyss hoping for rain to activate her enigmatic steel plates and reveal the codes within the bones in Coming Good: Come Hell or High Water an exhibition in St Johns Churchyard as part of Transforming Being Waterloo Festival.

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Insatiable Mind exhibition opened at Salisbury Arts Centre with space inspired food and a heartfelt speech from visual arts and exhibitions manager Mirka Golden-Hann who writes in the accompanying catalogue;

“I was driven by the overarching urge which is innate to humanity. The urge to break away, the urge to explore, the urge which would force a human to construct a spaceship and the urge of another human to step into it in order to walk on the Moon: the same compulsion behind the collective force to bring down the Berlin Wall and with it the Iron Curtain. It was the power of human curiosity and the dissatisfaction with the familiar that provided the basis for this exhibition.”

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The installation of my suspended sculpture Pentacoronae was surprisingly smooth considering the height of the supporting beams.

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There was a great team to help and although one or two anxious moments when hooks came away from loops it went up very well.

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This work was made to highlight the importance and need to preserve dark sky areas. As powerful technology opens new areas of the universe to our view, generating imagery we could never see with our naked eyes, we are drawn to experience space via mediated technologies. Our ancestors mapped the stars and drew shapes across the darkness which became familiar anchors for navigation, described mythological characters and foretold fortunes. Through this work the viewer is encouraged to seek darkness, stargaze, wonder, and map their own stories across the sky.

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I also had two concertina books installed in the gallery cabinet.

Making these books turned out to be quite a fiddly process.

For the book Unbound I used images from my cloud chamber printed on transparencies cut into pentagons. Cosmic Rays know no boundaries as they pass through us all the time. The twelve pentagons form a dodecahedron, the solid described by Plato as ‘the fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’

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In/Out expresses the energy and randomness of quantum fluctuation as particles pop in-and-out of existence in empty space. At this tiny scale the universe is mysterious and unpredictable.

I has thought I would draw the energy fields in white china-graph pencil but it turned out graphite looked much better

The bright spheres are four colour separation screen prints and act as a series of portals to alternative perspectives.

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It was great to meet some of the other artists in the show whose work was really interesting and beautiful.

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Eunmi Mimi Kim Me Time video installation which uses her own sensitivity to sensory overload to explore sensory deprivation and isolation.

 

 

Katayoun Dowlatshahi  presented work form her series Orbit looking at the former cold war secret rocket testing site West High Down on the Isle of Wight.

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Oksana Chepelyk Collider immersive film screening in the theatre. Throwing significant moments in history into the collider to see what future particles get thrown out.

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I have been meeting up with students Sena Harayama, Romain Clement De Givry and Medad Newman from Imperial College Space Society.

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Supervised by senior lecturer in spacecraft engineering Dr Aaron Knoll they are building a cloud chamber to withstand a journey to the edge of the atmosphere in the payload of a high-altitude balloon. The chamber must be able to withstand the low pressure at high altitude which might make it break apart.

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There needs to be a heat pad controlled by an Arduino processor to keep the batteries running to power the tracking device and cameras and maintain a suitable environment in the chamber to allow alcohol vapour to fall and create a cloud.

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A cloud chamber enables us to see ionising trails made by radioactive and charged particles. Cosmic particles continuously collide violently with the Earth’s atmosphere then break up and shower down upon us.

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Keeping the weight of components down is vital. The payload must not be over 2kg.

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We are hoping to capture cosmic ray activity on video as well as a view of Earth’s atmosphere as it blends from blue into the darkness of space. This footage will become part of the video installation I am creating for Continuum midsummer weekend at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.

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This new work Aóratos will be installed at Allenheads Blacksmith’s Forge.

Black holes were once thought to be pure science fiction but in recent decades scientists have discovered that these extraordinary objects exist throughout our universe in all shapes and sizes and this year astoundingly have even produced an image of one.

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Einstein’s theory of general relativity written in 1915 predicted the existence of black holes and is also consistent with the possibility of gravitational tunnels known as wormholes. It could be that there is a hidden web of planck scale wormholes linking all points in space. Theoretically, threaded through these tiny holes would be filaments of cosmic strings created in the primitive goo of early matter and flung across space when the universe burst into existence.

However, to traverse space by means of a wormhole would require vast amounts of negative energy, not something usually found on Earth yet in the current political climate in no short supply.

Making use of the Blacksmith’s hearth visitors will be invited to burn offerings of negative energy to power a ‘wormhole’.

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Special paper will be provided for people to write, draw or furiously scribble their own symbols of negative energy. These offerings will be burnt in the forge hearth releasing any pent-up negative energy to power the wormhole portal above.

I have been experimenting with chemicals to make the paper.

Really pleased with the results.

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It’s fine. I am sealing the chemicals inside two sheets of paper so no skin contact for visitors.

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In my search to discover how to make coloured fire I did make a visit to Davenports magic shop in a very unprepossessing but not uninhabited pedestrian subway. A dismal setting for a dismal shop where I got no help at all. Felt an absolute muggle.

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The risks and obstacles of entering a wormhole include creating enough negative energy to open the wormhole mouth wide enough to weaken the gravitational tidal forces which would rip travellers apart; keeping it from collapsing so travellers are not indefinitely trapped inside; exceeding the speed of light and avoiding incineration from deadly high radiation.

On Earth we are protected from radioactive particles by the atmosphere and the magnetic field.

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Aóratos translates as ‘unseen’. The videos in the installation will look at hidden landscapes and usually unseen perspectives. For research I have been exploring rabbit holes, bee holes, mice holes and abandoned tunnels with my endoscope camera.
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A fascinating dark world of root webs and filaments interconnecting tunnels.

 

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The reading group is persevering with Geoffrey West’s Scale despite the woolly editing and rambling digressions it does hold some interesting facts. I liked the section about turbulence. Fluid motion is chaotic and objects moving through water or air are subject to very different outcomes at different scales. Froude introduced a scaling methodology used in industry that has become increasingly sophisticated. Lord Raleigh emphasized the primary role of the ‘dimensionless’ number in scaling. This is a pure number such as pi which does not change depending on which unit of measurement is used, the ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter is always the same. “Pi embodies the universal quality of ‘circleness'”

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Visited the impressive sphere Gaia by Luke Jerram in Salisbury Cathedral as part of Salisbury International Arts Festival. Stunning architecture.

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Extraordinary that this majestic building piercing the sky has the most shallow of foundations and unless they keep a regular check on the water level through a little door in the floor the weight of the spire would not only bend the supporting columns but might tumble down.

I was excited to find a dodecahedron at the pinnacle amongst platonic solids topping an elaborate tomb.

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Also the oldest working clock was fascinating to see

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“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”

― St. Augustine of Hippo

Progress is slowly underway on my dodecahedron sculpture. Beginning with a rough mock up in card to gauge the size.

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I was relieved to finally finish screen printing the curse of the obelisk. Never had so many setbacks in a piece of work.

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Made of one single stone, dedicated to the solar gods, an obelisk is a fusion of the earthly and the divine. A symbol of power, piercing entry to the fickle world of the gods beyond the clouds, cursed and desired. Over 3,500 years old, the London Obelisk, raised on The Embankment for convenience sake, snubbed by a state embarrassed to revere a shady political gift made by a country they were about to undermine, fought its removal from the soil it was hewn from stands alone, separated from its twin. The gift to state made in 1811 lay fallen and uncollected in Alexandria until an eccentric Victorian adventurer (Sir James Edward Alexander, Knt.,C.B., K.C.L.S, F.R.C.E.) saw the twin in Paris and discovered that Britain’s prize had never been brought home. He found a fellow enthusiast with money and the pair designed a special vessel to contain the obelisk that could be towed behind a ship. The Olga set sail in 1877 but met a violent storm that broke the tow ropes and cast the obelisk adrift. Six men struck out in the storm to rescue the vessel but were never seen again. The obelisk however did not sink and was later discovered, recaptured and finally towed up the Thames to be set incongruously upon a plinth under the unblinking guardianship of Victorian repro Sphinx’s who traditionally would be outward facing to ward off evil, but spend their days eyeing the needle.

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I had an intriguing parcel arrive from the incredibly helpful Alan Walker from the School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Edinburgh who is giving me loads of advice on building my cloud chamber. He has very kindly had an anodised aluminium plate made for me in his workshops. The plate is the one crucial component that has to be specially made so it was wonderful to find that he had done this for me.

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The black metal plate will sit on dry ice, it will be the viewing backdrop for all the cosmic particle trails and I can now get on with the next stage – making the insulated box.

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I have set up a hydroponics tent in my studio to create a dark space ready for filming once the cloud chamber is fully assembled and ready to test.

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On a very crisp bright day I took the crystal ball a short walk along the banks of the River Wey to the ruins of  Waverley Abbey.

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This was the very first Cistercian monastery founded in Britain 900 years ago by an Abbot and 12 monks from France.

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These images of the crystal ball set in different locations are part of research with a view to making a work about portals in time, space and imagination.

The first work you see at Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA is Kate Fahey’s delicate plumes from a multitude of explosions billowing into one giant cloud – Cumulative Loss.

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Through scale and fragility we sense the dust caught momentarily before it settles over devastation upon devastation. It sets a thoughtful tone to enter the lower gallery.

Lisa Porter’s glazed stoneware Connection X (Thank Finch for That) and Rodrigo Red Sandoval’s installation Satellite reflections were two works I was drawn to.

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Kate Fahey Superficie I

Kate Fahey’s Superficie images developed during a residency on the remote Isle of Coll were included in Reference Mollusk, a beautifully curated exhibition  with some timely concerns at new gallery space Gossamer Fog in Deptford.

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Solveig Settemsdal Singularity (video still)

“We are the goo that slipped out of the oceans 430 million years ago, the goo that changed the earth beyond repair, the goo that will fossilise, leaving only future archaeological relics”

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Justyna Kabala Feel Better

Helen Maurer re Composing at Danielle Arnaud had a delicate touch.

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Transferring from the forsaken voids of the Church of The Holy Trinity in York it brought with it the quiet sense of unease that comes when entering a darkened space on a summers day.

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The gentle chimes sounding from hidden spaces under cabinets added to the undercurrent of something slightly sinister

by exposing the construction of this fairy tale landscape Maurer adds rather than depletes mystery

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This was a captivating transformation of space at the House of St. Barnabus Chapel. Staccato is an audio-visual installation by Evy Jokhova

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exploring the interconnection between music, movement and ceremonial architecture

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featuring three sculptural works and a soundtrack made in collaboration with James Metcalfe.

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In similar vein, I was struck by Dr Rupert Till’s comment ‘architecture and acoustics are the same thing.’ He was speaking on the Radio 4 programme Did Stonehenge Sing? explaining the mysterious hum that emanates from the stones and how much more powerful the sounds would have been 3,000 years ago when all the stones were still standing. Thanks to Dr Till the lost sounds of Stonehenge have been reimagined for us to experience today.

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Finally made it to a meeting of the New Materialism reading group. The text was Veronica Strang Fluid Consistencies: Materiality and meaning in human engagements with water http://dro.dur.ac.uk/19432/1/19432.pdf  Points that struck me were the observation from Tilley that ‘knowledge of a thing is grounded in our bodily experience of it’ and it made me think of Plato’s debate on true belief and knowledge, although a different kind of knowledge it does come back to the idea of being there, of engaging on a physical level. We think of flowing rivers, water carried in clouds but not always of the movement of water around the globe held in a juicy pineapple or mango or even our own bodies. I was introduced  to the work of Samara Scott and her liquid painting Developer created with bio-degradable dyes in the Pleasure Garden Fountains in Battersea Park.

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The reading group meets at the Wellcome Trust Reading Room. On the same evening, another group was meeting to discuss materials as part of an collaborative programme between artists and scientists. I didn’t get to note down the names of participants, but a magician and an expert from the Institute of Materials had each brought along objects to spark debate. 1612 Wellcome Trust debate materials.jpg I liked the relationship struck between that of the magician as performer and the idea that the materials themselves are performing.

Turner Prize visit. Materials were performing here.

I found the materials of Helen Marten (left) difficult – though there were some I could enjoy like this wonderful ceramic disc I felt more of a connection to the materials of Michael Dean (right). It is something very basic about a reaction to the surface and the connotations it brings with it.

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Marten’s sculptures are very busy visually. Like a car boot sale, unexpected juxtapositions and mostly cheap and nasty material. (though I do appreciate the thought in her designs). Anthea Turner offered more open space, albeit surrounded by brick walls and facing giant theme park style buttocks, moving on to the next room offers open blue skies but also disturbing chastity belts. Heaven/Hell.

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Josephine Pryde brought us homely goods; thick kitchen worktops bleached by the sun leaving hazy shadows of random objects. Also painted fingernails. A sit on size train tastefully graffitied encountering leaves on the track.1612-josephine-pryde

Finally entering the space of Michael Dean; smoothly curved walls morph into the floor, a strange unworldly lighting (as in James Turrell light works – the walls disappear)  and you are in a void or maybe underwater.

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The work (United Kingdom poverty line for two adults and two children: twenty thousand four hundred and thirty six pounds sterling as published on 1st September 2016) consists of £20,436 in pennies. This is the amount of money the government states is the minimum that two adults and two children need to survive for a year in the UK.

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One penny has been removed. A family on the shore line/breadline, trying to keep their heads above water.

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This landscape has similarities to the war blasted landscapes of Paul Nash showing concurrently at Tate Britain.

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He too acknowledges the primitive power of single vertical forms.

Enjoyed the playful narrative of Bedwyr Williams’ The Gulch in the Barbican Curve.

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Always intriguing and despite ominous undertones uplifting through the sheer joy of following the surreal twists and turns of his stories.

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The simplicity of his constructions are part of the exuberance in his work, they provide the outlines for the journey.

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Went to see Melanie King’s installation Pulsar Oscillograph as part of SPACE/LCN showcase of projects that have been developed by artists with the support of the LCN programme over the course of 6 months.  

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Transforming audio pulsar data (supplied by artist and former astronomer Steve Aishman), Melanie uses laser beams and mirrors to draw these “sounds” captured from outer space onto phosphorescent paper. The images layering, building and fading to the frenetic beat of the spinning collapsed star. As part of The Laboratory of Dark Matters experimental residency at Guest Projects Melanie will develop an Oscillograph  to visualise data obtained from dark matter research scientists in their search for the missing 85% of matter.

 

Settling in. I have moved into a shared studio right next to the newly branded Thames-Side Print Studio at Woolwich.  I have a great studio partner, Kim Vousden who works as a graphic designer with a foot in the digital camp and hands on in the analogue world of letterpress. I switched to my new location just in time for Open Studios so it felt like a moving in party.

During Open Studios the on site gallery was host to a sculpture showcase from the resident studio artists.

Three sculptures from my everydaymatters series exploring what we can and cannot see in our environment were included.

In my studio space I set up submīrārī – floating images that invite a primordial contemplation of a dreamlike space and hint at the usually invisible molecular movement in water. I would love the opportunity to fill a room with these.

Here Be Dragons– Gordon Cheung’s show at Nottingham Castle is a timely reminder of the fragile structures we build our world upon. The volatility of the market, the inevitability of mortality, façades and fading glory. I visited before June 23rd but it could have been a premonition of the dis – integration we have witnessed since.

The moving image works loop through collapse and reassembly in an infinite cycle so maybe I should take hope from this that we can rebuild our world. Other scenarios are captured in stasis as they fall like sand from the sky. Beauty of entropy.

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There are also magical vistas, the open plains and misty mountains of hopes and dreams. In these works we see how the world is put together and can question what our dreams are built on.

The digital cascading algorithm works give the impression of a world made of sand but in large textured landscapes sand itself is used to create an unstable ground. Grains cling precipitously hanging in crumbling strata from the canvas, dusting the floor with allegory as they fall.

Lumen Studios presented VOID, an exhibition held amid the airy grandeur of St. John on Bethnal Green, a pertinent setting for work exploring the representation of voids, black holes and portals.

There was also a screening of Sarah Sparkes film, Time You Need  which explores the potential for consciousness to time-travel within the material limits of the human body.

Among the works were Black Hole photographs, a typology of voids found in numerous locations around the world from Jane Grisewood.

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There was a fascinating talk from Chris Welch, Professor of Space Engineering at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, about the representation of black holes and voids in space physics and science fiction. Black Holes are Red Super Giants that explode and collapse.

I was particularly interested to hear him speak about tidal forces within a black hole as I have just completed a soft ground etching intertidal looking at the effects of tidal gravity on the earth.

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A human falling into a black hole would experience extreme tidal forces that may cause spaghettification – the stretching of the body due to the difference in acceleration between the head and feet. The smaller the black hole the denser the matter the stronger the force. He put the possibility of worm holes into the world of science fiction saying they would require the unknown quantity of negative energy to pass through a portal from one point in the universe to another. A lot of negative energy has been released lately so you never know, maybe this was the leave EU campaign’s attempt to time travel back to their mythical golden age.

A recent uplifting article from Sam Leith in The Evening Standard praised Stephen Hawking for his ambitious project to put together a comprehensive three-dimensional map of the entire known universe. The Cosmos computer will trace the movements of billions of cosmic objects, using data from the Planck satellite and the Dark Energy Survey. Leith exudes ‘What a thing of awe and wonder! And the stuff that’s not there will be even more exciting than the stuff that is. Think of the holy hush of the Canes Ventaci Supervoid – a region of empty space more than a billion light years across. It makes me think of Wallace Steven’s lines –

"the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is"

Possibilities of parallel worlds were explored by Andrew Schneider in his physical performance piece YOUARENOWHERE staged at Shoreditch Town Hall.

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You are nowhere. You are now here. What if every time you experience near death your life splits in two, even if you just think about death, maybe you did die and another self took off in another parallel world. Setting the scene for tearing the fabric of reality he stumbles and glitches through monologue and dialogue, directly addressing the audience to commit to his unravelling of the physical world. The moment when the backcloth drops and we are face to face with another audience I shuffle to try and catch my own reflection but find no duplicated movement. The character on the newly revealed side of the stage does however mimic Schneider. They play out a dance of disbelief trying to catch the other out to discover who is real. The audience is asked to swop sides and at the next curtain drop our doppelgangers have disappeared. We are left to contemplate the fleeting glimpse of our other selves performing a similar existence.

I experienced the magical journey that is The Embrace of the Serpent in the first few days of  despair over the divided state of our country following the Brexit vote. It seems we are doomed to keep pressing the self destruct button to the bitter end. The film is stunning in its beauty and poignancy for a world being destroyed through greed and ignorance.

As in Complicite’s The Encounter our relationship to stuff is questioned. The heavy boxes of the scientists weighing down the smooth passage of the canoe. Both the Shaman and the scientists giving their own agency to objects be it a sacred necklace or a gramophone record.

 

 

 

The final talk in the Whitechapel Gallery programme ‘To Make a Tree’ was from Ivan Morrison (Heather was busy in rehearsals for their travelling puppet show tour of Wales)
A great raconteur Ivan presented an overview of their practise concentrating on key interests and their overriding belief in the importance of integrity of materials.
Making something have more depth by doing it the long way even if the end result looks the same, he strongly believes that the commitment to an object though a long making process imbues it with a value beyond the visual.
He is also a great believer in the importance of failure –  natural entropy. From the ashes of disaster…

He decided the best way of forming a direct engagement with nature within an urban environment was to become involved in gardening.
This involvement was to become one of his first projects; the documentation of his gardening experience in Birmingham.

Postcards were printed and sent out to selected people stating the progress of his gardening endeavours.

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Ivan Morrison

He listed the colours to be found in the garden at certain times of the year.

Ivan Morrison

Ivan Morrison

As time went on the success and more often the failures were documented in what became an ongoing narrative of the battle every gardener faces in order to maintain control and defy attack.

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Ivan Morrison

The Morrisons are inspired by the passions of other people, the importance of family and ancestors, of staking a claim in the soil by planting an arboretum tended through generations, or the spirit of the idealist who builds an escape vehicle on the back of a truck and heads for the open road.

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Heather and Ivan Morrison ‘Tales of Space and Time’. Converted Bedford Green Goddess, Douglas Fir, books, other media

This idea of an escape vehicle became translated into other forms of refuge.

Heather and Ivan Morrison 'I am so sorry, Goodbye'

Heather and Ivan Morrison ‘I am so sorry, Goodbye’

Ivan Morison explains; ‘The conjoined domes of ‘I am so sorry. Goodbye.’ are inhabited by a guardian whose task it is to keep the stove lit, water boiled and visitors supplied with hibiscus tea. The guardian has the vocabulary of the words: I, am, so, sorry and goodbye. These words were first conveyed to us whilst staying in an old upmarket hotel on Alexandria’s corniche. Late one night I received a call in which the only words that were said, by the slow doleful male foreign voice, were ” I am so sorry sir… I am so sorry sir… Goodbye sir.” After putting the phone down I felt witness to something I didn’t fully understand, but felt that we had been given the task to pass on this cryptic message.’
The refuge is hand built from naturally fallen trees in Tatton Park. Made from its own environment it looks both archaic and futuristic. Dystopian or utopian it could come from any era. An apocalyptic future or the idealisms of a hippy commune. The Morrisons are interested in social architecture and how architecture impacts social behaviour. These thoughts are also influenced by science fiction and dystopian novels such as  J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel, High-Rise. The idea of the building design having a direct effect on the social relationships of the inhabitants was part of the thought process for the Morrisons in creating a site specific structure ‘Plaza’ in Vancouver.

Heather and Ivan Morrison Plaza

Heather and Ivan Morrison Plaza

‘Plaza’ looks about to fall down. It is made of reclaimed dark heavy wood, burnt black. In contrast to the pale linear city it looks like the bones exposed at the moment of collapse.

A reminder of all the great cities that have fallen over time. It is an exciting place because it is dynamic. It creates a shift in perception.

The Maldives are facing a very direct impact on their environment from climate change, not a natural entropy.

Communities come together to build sandbanks to try to keep the sea at bay.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

At the Venice Biennale the art collective Chamber of Public Secrets explored east west views of nature. Where western thought considers nature and culture to be in opposition, eastern thought considers nature as a guide, a source of inspiration and harmony.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

For the pavilion they presented the culture and nature of the Maldives as one aesthetic experience in line with the concept of contemporary Environmental Romanticism.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

The crumbling brickwork of the pavilion was a perfect backdrop to the video projections of nature giving an ethereal ghostlike quality to the images – a disappearing landscape.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

For many the Maldives is synonymous with paradise.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

A place for the western romantic to escape to has become a place that its own people want to escape from.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

Simryn Gill for the Australian pavilion fully embraced entropy in her work.

Australian Pavillion

Australian Pavilion

‘Here art grows on trees’  allows the elements into the Pavilion.

The drawings of insects on paper made from the pulp of decayed plants will over the seasons return to a state of decay, exposed to the rain and sun and insects of the Giardini.

The work is about the passage through time of paper, the artwork, the pavilion, the artist.

Simryn Gill Eyes and Storms

Simryn Gill ‘Eyes and Storms’

Looking at cycles, at circles. Eyes and Storms are photographs of mines. Huge circles carved into the earth.

It will be interesting to see how the work has changed when I return in November with the RCA study trip.

Another artist undertaking a similar project at the moment is Matt Calderwood on the roof of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

Matt Calderwood Exposure Sculpture

Matt Calderwood Exposure Sculpture

The paper covered steel frames of ‘Exposure Sculpture’ will remain on the roof, at the mercy of the elements, over the summer period to be taken into the gallery and reconfigured later in the year.

Terike Haapoja in the Nordic Pavillion at the Biennale questioned the human view of nature and wanted to express the interdependency of all living things, the energy passing between us and through us.

Nordic Pavillion

Nordic Pavillion

By talking or breathing to the CO2 sensor next to a branch on the trees in the Pavilion the visitor can activate the lights and open the glass chambers.

Terike Haapoja

Terike Haapoja

Breathing together.

Nordic Pavillion

Nordic Pavillion

The loss of heat from a body at the moment of death is recorded. It is a poignant witness to the warmth of life slowly dispersing.

Terike Haapoja

Terike Haapoja

Thinking about the natural processes of life and death can lead to thoughts of the spiritual.

Our ancestors had other than scientific explanations for things they didn’t understand and believed in spirits.

Mark Leckey’s exhibition ‘The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things’  looks at the objects we interact with today in a similar vein. As things possessed.

His concept is of ‘techno-animism’ – the blurring of the animate and the inanimate.

Mark Leckey

Mark Leckey

At the Biennale a digital taster was showing of the main exhibition held at the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill on Sea.

Mark Leckey at The De La Warr Pavilion

Mark Leckey at The De La Warr Pavilion

Felix the Cat – the first image ever transmitted on TV

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

The exhibition was presented as a collection of objects that all talk, literally or metaphorically, to each other.

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

I was interested in the backdrop image which is Piero di Cosimo The Forest Fire c1495-1508.

The painting is thought to show the birth of civilization as man gained supremacy over the animals through the use of fire and language.

Concerned with the history of early man, inspired by passages from Book 5 of De Rerum Natura by Lucretius (98–c.55 BC), who traces the origins of life on earth and the birth of community life, emphasizing the role of fire as a catalyst for change.

Roger Hiorns

Roger Hiorns

The machine encrusted with crystals making its original purpose defunct it becomes something else.

Nicola Hicks Maquette for Crouching Minotaur

Nicola Hicks Maquette for Crouching Minotaur

Imposing presence of a minotaur skull, a symbol of the unnatural. A monster created from desire that cannot be controlled.

Doesn’t feel impossible.

William Blake believed he was visited by spirits from other worlds in his imagination.

William Blake The Ghost of a Flea

William Blake The Ghost of a Flea

This is his record of the spirit of a flea which has undergone a demonic transformation inhabited by the souls of bloodthirsty men.

Possession.

At the Biennale in the Belgium pavilion Berlinde De Bruyckere created a mausoleum.

Berlinde De Bruyckere's 'Cripplewood'

Berlinde De Bruyckere’s ‘Cripplewood’

A tree is cast in wax, it is then traced with blood red veins and pink mottled flesh. A process of metamorphosis has begun.

Berlinde De Bruyckere's 'Cripplewood'

Berlinde De Bruyckere’s ‘Cripplewood’

Bound with what appears to be bloodied bandages and laying on its side, the trees limbs take on the fragile nature of the bones of a giant disfigured human corpse.

The circle of life, the exchange of energy is something that Lin Xue wanted to convey in his detailed fantastical landscape drawings made with sharpened bamboo and ink.

Lin Xue

Lin Xue

The “Treasuries of Knowledge” exhibition by Khaled Zaki and Muhammad Banaw for Egypt looked at the two cycles of the universe – the first infinite cycle of nature and the second cycle of humanity continuously walking the earth.

“Treasure of Knowledge”  Khaled Zaki and Muhammad Banaw

“Treasuries of Knowledge” Khaled Zaki and Muhammad Banaw

At the point where the two cycles overlap is the point of creation, of wisdom and where such mysteries as knowledge of the afterlife might be found.

Lara Almarcegui is also interested in renewal.

Lara Almarcegui

Lara Almarcegui

Working at the boundary of urban regeneration and natural decay she filled the Spanish pavilion with builders rubble.

Mirroring the unpredictable power of a landslide the mounds of rock look like they could keep pouring into the room.

There is a strong smell of brick dust also filling the space and adding to the slight sense of claustrophobia, that you might be trapped, or can’t breathe.

Lara Almarcegui

Lara Almarcegui

The mound of smashed glass though is quite seductive, it sparkles like ice. You want to make crunching footsteps over it and gather it up to see the light play on its shattered surface.

The materials of construction are presented in their raw form. Buildings mechanically broken down to be reused and dispersed into other landscapes.

Gina Soden’s painterly photographs on the other hand depict nature slowly reclaiming abandoned and derelict buildings left to ruin.

Gina Soden

Gina Soden

Showing at ‘Natural Selection’ at The Fine Art Society she captures the beauty of decay. There is a nostalgia here, a sense of the past crumbling away before us, returning to the earth.

Where Gina Soden looks at nature reclaiming ancient buildings, Paul Davies celebrates the dynamic juxtaposition of the clean lines of architecture in an organic setting.

Paul Davies

Paul Davies Modern Cathedral Invert

The balance of power between nature and the manmade is explored in his highly textured paintings of modernist buildings in dramatic landscapes.

The forest becomes the cathedral.

I was intrigued to find that the name for the unfurled heads of fern is shared by a Bishop’s staff of office – Crosier.

1308 Succession ve 1 1308 Succession ve 3 1308 Succession ve 6

I have finished this set of prints. The title is ‘Succession’.

As the ice retreats; from first life to ferns to first trees to forests to man to religion.

A few people have seen the prints now, the majority do not spot the embryos tucked in the furls of the fern unless I push them to look harder.

I like things to be hidden so I think it’s OK this is the case.

I also did some with more colour but am happiest with the grey tone ones.

1308 Succession ve 2 1308 Succession ve 4 1308 Succession ve 5

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.