My studio-time is again subject to pressures due to starting doctoral research at Birkbeck while still juggling a mixed bag of part-time work ranging between mural-painting and bookkeeping for an Auction House. Squeezing in a post-work visit to the Richard Tuttle exhibition at the Whitechapel I was reminded about the necessity of keeping a thread in my practice, or as Tuttle might put it, weaving several threads. I was motivated to immerse myself in more of the making processes of my practice than I usually do – processes of collaging, twisting and connecting my shapes together in real three-dimensional space, while maintaining, in my painter’s eye, the visual potential for these forms to translate into painterly processes of image construction. This process of translating physically manipulated form into visually manipulated image seemed to be paralleled in an intriguing tweet by the Whitechapel Gallery itself, as described in the review excerpt below. In the meantime, I’m breaking with previous tradition for this blog, and illustrating this post with an image of three of my own collage-constructions which came out of this Tuttle-inspired process of thought.
‘This publicity idea seemed to say more about the experience of the exhibition’s invigilators, watching layered-up members of the public negotiate their way around Tuttle’s delicately constructed sculptures, than about visitors’ own intentions when they decided what they would wear that day … Primary yellows and reds of mass-produced objects and functional wood/metal tones do indeed combine to create a sympathetic, even domestic environment for the Whitechapel Gallery’s wintry visitors.’
Click here to read the full review
Jonathan Harvey and David Panton outside 117 Devons Road, E3 one of the first two ACME houses and first office. Claire Smith (1974)
Supporting Artists: Acme’s First Decade 1972 -1982 at the Whitechapel Gallery tells the story of Acme’s beginnings as a charitable housing association for artists. The archive on display consists of artists’ own photographs, communications between them, and the more formal paperwork listing artists’ names next to East London addresses which had been granted at low rent to use as studios, as well as a further, more comprehensive history of the Acme Gallery’s six year stint in Covent Garden. I attended a gallery talk given by co-founder Jonathan Harvey on 5th December 2013, and found the attitude behind these early schemes made an interesting comparison with the beginning years of the Bow Arts Trust live/work scheme, which enabled me to live in Balfron Tower as a working studio space, in an expanding community of artists within the same building, as well as other nearby estates.
‘In the period between 1972-82, Acme accrued vast amounts of artists’ housing, some of which eventually dropped off the GLC’s demolition list, enabling artists to purchase and live in them on a much longer term basis – it is tempting to describe such a basis as permanent, even. However, these artists remained poor, and struggled to maintain these properties, where in many cases all the internal walls had been removed to make open plan studio spaces.’
Supporting Artists: Acme’s First Decade 1972-1982 continues until 23rd February 2014 in Gallery 4 of the Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Click here to read the full review
An exchange of favours led to my writing a text for Rab Harling’s press release, for his solo exhibition at Lubomirov Easton in June this year. Neighbourhood, in terms of our acquaintanceship made in the surroundings of Balfron Tower, combined with photography, in services rendered to me, in particular the digital archiving of my old slides. A mutual interest in the architectural history of Balfron has led me to become quite closely involved in Rab’s different documentations of the tower’s interior. I was further intrigued by his anecdotes of various encounters with other residents. Therefore I wrote the text from my perspective as resident of Balfron Tower. An excerpt follows:
‘Hidden spaces of communal infrastructure become absorbed into the comprehensive record, echoing the way our routes in and out of our flats become integrated into our collective experience of home.’
Click here to go to the full press release
An exhibition between research students at CCW Graduate School and at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts was coordinated at the Triangle Space at Chelsea College of Art & Design in April this year. Students on the MRes Arts Practice course, which I have been studying this past year, were invited by Professor Stephen Scrivener to propose a response to the alliance between these two institutions. A group of us decided to select an artist each from the exhibition, about which to write a creative response. Brooke Fitzsimons and Robert Gadie coordinated this, and I assisted with the creation of the Thames-Danube blog, in which all information about the contributing artists is now archived. An excerpt from my piece follows here, a response to Nemere Kerezsi’s body of work testing the geometry of bees:
‘How fruitless is it to impose such contrary architecture on these bees? Machines of transformation, they negotiate their ways around the unfamiliar walls, alien containment, cells of forced unsympathetic uniformity – a correction to their natural inclinations. Oversimplified constructions mimic the scale and function of their daily pattern, but not addressing the intangible needs of each individual, their needs reduced to a formula composed of repetition and game-playing.’
Click here to download the full pamphlet
Brainchild of Francesca Peschier, a co-student on the MRes Arts Practice course I have been studying at Chelsea College of Art & Design this past year, JAWS Journal is a peer-reviewed enterprise to publish art writing by students at the University of the Arts, London. Funded by the Students Union, and now approved for a publishing deal with Intellect in 2014, JAWS has developed into a considerable platform for students as a first step towards publishing in academic journals and speaking at conferences. As part of the editing team, I wanted to contribute an essay for this first issue that laid foundations for the journal’s future profile. Therefore I decided to write my article about the magazine-printed image – the way artworks are treated and perceived in such a medium. An excerpt follows here:
‘The marriage of art and design could not be more evident than in the challenge to contain this sense of art as object within what is primarily an interface for communication. Omar Kholeif[i] proposes that the immediacy of new media might provide a usable solution to contextualizing art in contemporary culture. However, the example of the Millennium Magazines shows that such contextualizing demands more than just the juxtaposition of disparate elements. The physical, tactile nature of the magazine communicates, even within its narrow resources, a breadth of contexts that would be untranslatable to the purely cognitive realm of new media.’
Click here to go to the full article (pp. 68-73)
[i] Kholeif, O, (2012). The curator’s new medium [Article], in Art Monthly 363, February 2013, pp.9-12.
Having known Gabriel’s work for several years through our Bow Arts Trust connections, I was really keen to write something for his solo show at the New Court Gallery, following the Needle’s Eye exhibition which I curated there in January 2013. Gabriel’s painting practice is slow and dogged, everything invested into individual paintings, worked on one at a time. Therefore I wanted to avoid generalising about his practice as a whole, and instead focussed on his motives, and his imagined worlds that are described in the paintings. The whole text follows here:
‘Internal worlds emerge from the depths of Tejada’s imagination, creatures and objects faithfully rendered in brushwork that builds their very substance onto the canvas. Internal references take the helm as well, as very little is given away as to the context of Tejada’s work in the framework he presents – of dreamlike unfocussed drawings and scant explanatory text. The intention here is to communicate sensory imagery: visceral rotting fruits and lurching creatures, ungainly tent structures with overflowing tableaus of superfluous objects.
These worlds are peopled with amorphous organic structures with heads and limbs: ambiguity is in form rather than technique. However, Tejada’s preference for earthy hues and tenuous descriptive markmaking differentiates these creatures from those idealised bodies in Western Art’s history of painting. His experience of the world is coloured by the fertile, mountainous landscape of Peru – of a culture that raises image-making on a different sort of pedestal – influenced by both the ancient indigenous history and colonialisation that led to the creation of a School of Arts in Lima. Combined with an intuitive sense for the tactile quality of both his technique and the materiality he is depicting, these paintings and drawings become otherworldly, not in an exotic way, more dreamlike: imagined, and primal.’
Click here for more about Gabriel Tejada’s exhibition
Students on the MRes course I am currently undertaking were invited to submit written work to accompany an exhibition at Camberwell College of Art, in response to the theme of Breathing Space. Struggling to find spare time to do anything, but keen to follow up the opportunity, I suggested a joint piece with Kat Leach, a fellow student, written via online correspondence.
Both of us feel like we have found ways to sustain our art-brains while working part-time, studying, and maintaining an art practice. Having quite different approaches to research (Kat’s approach is via psychoanalysis, whereas mine is through looking at practical processes), the resulting conversation raced through a range of possible contexts for the art-brain as breathing space, within only a few days.
‘I wanted to bring up a precarity angle as well – as in how can artists work when the unpaid nature of art forces them into other professions? I think we are examples of artists who successfully balance a second paid profession with our respective art practices by splitting our brains.’
Click here to read the full article on Kat’s blog
Click here for further details about the exhibition
I was invited to review this exhibition as a student on the MRes Arts Practice course at CCW Graduate School, based at Chelsea College of Art & Design. I took a combined angle of reviewer and of my awareness, as a student, of this gallery’s place within the academic context. I was intrigued to learn of curator Donald Smith’s interest in presenting the archive in a gallery context. This knowledge cast light on archival intentions behind the exhibition.
‘Curator Donald Smith’s own fanaticism of the British Punk era, supported by the archival example of Mick Jones Rock & Roll Public Library, makes this a very ‘British’ focussed exhibition. But how does this resonate with the expectations of the predominately academic, multi-national, Chelsea College of Art visitor profile? In taking a political/subjective stance, this exhibition allows the document to displace the artwork, and in doing so transforms the gallery into an archive. ‘
Click here to go to the full review
An intimate setting for Gordon Cheung’s ambitious range of work, Edel Assanti offered enough space for several paintings as well as three dimensional work, the installation of which perhaps assisted by the fact Cheung’s studio is only upstairs. The imagery demonstrates sophistication in computer-developed imagery, but my attraction to the work lies in the physical manipulation of material. As much as conceptual and practical aspects of art practice cannot be separated from each other, nevertheless I wanted to focus my review on how the material surfaces of the paintings appear on a painterly level. As a painter myself, I am particularly intrigued by the ways Cheung pushes the boundaries of what paint can do, in terms of various degrees of relief, and how it connects to liquid/active elements in the imagery.
‘In ‘Supercell’, swirling lines describe the watery ground, picked out through sparing painterly intervention. Attention is drawn to the force of the bull’s movement, which appears to cause rainbowed worms of paint to fly into the depth of field of the painting’s surface. Cheung associates the movement of his subjects with the action of his technique, thereby linking the challenge of his materials with the imagined struggles of the paintings’ protagonists, within a setting of materially evocative surrounds.’
Click here to go to the full review
The Searchers Contemporary is a new gallery in Bristol set up by Ruth Piper. I knew Ruth Piper about 10 years ago when we both had a studio in Wimbledon Art Studios, where we found some common ground in our practices, namely a geometric type of abstract painting, and bold graphic use of colour. Discovering recently that Ruth was launching a new gallery venture with an exhibition of predominantly abstract work, I was curious to see the exhibition, despite it meaning a long journey down to Bristol. A pattern is emerging however, in my posts, of the most rewarding exhibitions entailing a journey away from my usual surrounds in order to see them. A beautiful sunny September day greeted me in Bristol, one of the last private views of the year that will begin in daylight. The bright colours and multiple subject matters combined to make a very enjoyable exhibition in the gallery’s temporary space in the city’s centre. The show will continue in a new space at 14 St Michael’s Hill, Bristol from 2nd October.
‘Battled out in the studio through hours of looking and decision-making, Woodrow’s paintings display processes of both adding and removing paint. She layers on the paint so thick and clotted the whole canvas becomes encased, and then more tentatively scumbles and scrapes back in the final stages to resolve the surfaces. In contrast there is a Victorian sensibility at play in Korzer-Robinson’s laborious craft which complements the old-fashioned naive illustrations which he reveals layer by layer in his book sculptures.’
Click here to go to the full review