After visiting the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Ashmolean I took a trip to the top of the building to watch Elizabeth Price's video piece about the collections at the Ashmolean and the Pitt-RIvers Museum which is the culmination of her time spent in Oxford. She had been commissioned to create a piece about some aspect of the museums' collections. The work was two years in the making.
As I dip my toe in video art I'm a bit of a fan of Elizabeth Price and much admired her Turner Prize piece about the fire at Woolworths called The Woolworths Choir of 1979. I love the style of her work in which she is seemingly able to match rhythm with images effortlessly. I know how much work actually goes into getting this effect.
This new piece did not disappoint. It is a 18-minute long video called A RESTORATION shown over two large screens in a darkened room. I found it utterly compeling and engaging. It shares with the Woolworths video that sense of a perfect matching of audio and visual and a beat which keeps the viewer watching. It is intellectual and thought-provoking. It is fast paced but not too much so. It builds up. It takes you with it. I felt it in my stomach. It has a narrative and narratives within that narrative. I won't give too much away: it is very much worth a visit.
I loved the mix of contemporary (almost science fiction) audio with imagesthat were reminiscent of Victorian obsessions with collecting and archiving. The visual text reminded me of the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the bit with the Babel Fish). The voice was synthasized but just had something about it that was odd but somehow completely appropriate.
The video has so many messages played on many levels as well, about collecting, colonization, posession, obsession, history, our relationship with objects and civilization. I haven't stopped thinking about it a week later.
I am currently working on a video for my The Museum of the Lost Balloon project and this has given me a lot of inspiration just when I needed it, when I was stuck in that all too familiar pit of artistic angst.
Last weekend I found myself in Oxford and, while I was there I paid a visit to the Ashmolean (it would have been rude not to). The Ashmolean is currently running an exhibition of the art of Andy Warhol.
Until recently, I didn't feel particularly inspired by Pop Art as a movement generally and the art of Andy Warhol in particular. I admired the philosophy behind Pop Art but didn't feel the emotion of it.
However, a few months ago I came across a story about Andy Warhol that sparked my interest in him, as an artist and as a person. This was the story of Andy Warhol and 25 cats name(d) Sam which I came across completely by chance while googling idley on the Internet. I wrote a blog about this amazing story, and ever since then I've been on a quest to obtain the book he and his mother created about Sam and Sam, Sam and Sam etc. (I haven't been able to yet as it isn't very cheap.)
I appreciate anyone who is quirky. I love quirkiness. And this story showed me that Andy Warhol was quirky. I knew he was quirky but quirky with cats? In my mind, that is someone to admire. I love cats. Artists who love cats are like-minded souls.
Visiting this exhibition, which displays pieces from a private collection and contains an eccelectic mix of video, print, drawing and painting, made me realise that Andy Warhol was a true 'Renaissance' man. What I mean by that is that he was able to dip and delve in all sorts of areas and take advantage of moods and themes of the age. He was a man who loved to play (and he was quite shrewd in what he chose to play with too). He was an entrepeneur but also, and first and foremost, an artist. He was opportunistic and constantly alert (open, and willing) to new ventures. He could morph from artist to printmaker to video maker and film maker.
Art for him didn't just happen in the studio. It happened in undefined social spaces. He helped move art from the studio to the community. He was an observer of society and that is what I think I also have in common with him (besides cats). I would decscribe myself as an observer too. I wish I could have met him (perhaps in a lift somewhere).
The exhibition is well worth a visit. I found much to be inspired by (especially the weewee paintings) on display. The exhibition runs for another month so if anyone reading this finds themself in Oxford with a few hours to spare over the next few weeks, I recommend a trip to the Ashmolean.
So Im aware thst I havent been on here and writing as much as I had hoped or intended.
I understand the scheme is drawing to a close for some, however I was lucky enough to be offered an extension at my interview. Which is a relief as I am still in production of the project I pitched at my interview.
I have had many internal ongoing questions about what I was doing, and if it is the right approach. However I deciede to go with my instincts and carry on as I had decided. See what the end result is when its completed, hopefully a good one.
Becoming reaquainted with analogue photography has been really enjoybale and may well have changed my practice for the longterm. I have been using 35mm for sketchbook purposes, whilst shooting final images on medium format (120) for fininshed pieces. this last week I have commenced a little side project on 5x4 which I will write about iin another post.
I have had some assitance form students with the project, which has been helpful and hopefully useful for them as well. If Im honest there my have been scope for more, but I can be a bit controlling when it comes to my work. So relinquishing that and the inherent quality control can be tricky. Something I need to work on I dare say.
Thats all for now. I will try and visit again sooner!
Hello! So, recently we performed The Chance at Poolsbrooke Farm, courtesy of the lovely CIA in Chesterfield. We had a live stream running to the Kunstt Vardo channel, who comissioned us to create a work with political undertones.
CIA have a dress-up horse parade every solstiuce and equinox, which tied in beautifully with our work. This was not shown on the live footage but it will be included in the edited film.
Streaming live from a rural area was, I think, one of the most stressfull situations we have been in! As luck would have it, ten minutes befor show time our WiFi signal disapeared, we managed to get it back 45 minutes later though! Luckily the University have been fantastic loaning us tech equipment, and our camera man on the day was wonderful.
For the AA2A show we will probably show the film and possibly arrange another performance. It would be good to get into the 3D workshop to make an even bigger pinãta. We made the original the usual papier mache way but coated the outside with cocoon strippings. This is a wonderful natural material and extremely durable. You stretch it out over baking paper, lightly wet it, cover it with another layer of baking paper and iron it. The result is a beautiful, durable, wasp nest like material that is extremely malleable. It is traditionally used to make fancy paper, but it's great for 3D sculpture and costumes as well.
I think we will also show our sketch books, something I've never liked before but am currenly really enjoying. However, I believe two of them may be at my fathers house in in Scotland which we will have to retrieve. We attended the Glasgow International Festival last week, which is amazing. We would recommend visting Transmission, Avant Garde, The CCA,The Savoy Centre, Kelvin Hall and Buzzcut, who aren't listed but have some exciteing live works. The are 73 venues so either be selective or take a week to look around...you won't be disapointed.
Building on our idead of alchemy and the Four Temperaments, I have started looking into The Saturn Cycle. There's a lot of words and themes flying around our heads at the moment, which we need to coalate and form some kind of meaning and central purpose of them all. I feel like I have lost a limb witthout those sketchbooks as they have so much research in them!
Last week, during a short break on the Welsh coast, we paid a visit to the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Every time we are close by I insist on a day there. It is a fabulous venue with book shop, cafe, cinema and art galleries. I can easily spend a few hours there. Last summer I was much influenced by an exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe to the extent that I devoured Just Kids by Patti Smith that summer.
This time we came across a one-off interactive sculpture by Jenny Hall called 'Hollow'. This sculpture consists of a raised platform with a mirrored floor and a huge cave-like construction made up of cuboid cardboard boxes attached together by magnets. The cave-like construction was created to mirror a copper mine and the purpose of using cardboard boxes is that they represent displaced objects or ideas. The aim is to explore the creative destruction that is caused by construction.
On arrival in the gallery, we were advised that so long as we were shoe-less, we could walk on the mirrored platform and enter the centre of the sculpture. The only restriction was no climbing on the boxes. We were told that we could, however, play with the huge pile of boxes to the side of the mirrored platform. These boxes represent the 'ore' from the mine. So my three children and I threw our shoes off with relish and took this opportunity to explore an art work. We walked around, in, around and in and out of it. We loved it. The interesting effect for me was how vertiginous one of my children felt walking on the mirrored surface. As the large box-construction was reflected in the floor, to him it felt as if he was walking on a glass plane above a large drop of boxes on top of each other. He didn't like it and the only way he could move around confortably was on all fours.
What I liked about this exhibition was that it only contained two pieces. We didn't feel saturated by art. We only had two things to look at and explore in a huge art gallery. So as a consequence, we spent almost an hour in there walking around, looking, thinking, and building. The interactive nature of the artwork meant that we felt much freer than we might otherwise feel in an art gallery. We were able to relax and explore. Also, the act of taking your shoes off enabled this further. It felt slightly rebelious at first but then it felt normal.
Art should be about the reaction of the viewer, and in this case, the participant. I wanted to ask whether the staff had noticed any patterns with the way that different genders reacted to the pile of boxes they could move around. My three boys built a building, an igloo and then a wall.
So if you find yourself in Aberystwyth - go to the Arts Centre. There is always something there to see.
I also like to look at what is called 'The Box' which shows a piece of video art, and it shows something different every day.
Last weekend I managed to persuade two of my children to come with me to the I AM ____ Contemporary Art Fair at the Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolverhampton and we found much there to be inspired by. There was an eccelctic mix of art and artistic activity to view and participate in, from the doddles and scribbles of Emily Scarrott to the distorted human scupltures of Keith Gilbert (which my children particularly admired for how odd they made them feel).
My personal favourite was the art and, more so, the artist statement, of Jimmy Lannon which talked about how an artist should just do what comes naturally and not feel that they have to be influenced by or follow a style or movement. His passion for persuing his instinctive need, urge, or compulsion, to create was, ironically, very inspiring to me.
Although the art fair is now over, it is worth checking the Newhampton Arts Centre and the Asylum Gallery websites to find out more about the artists who have exhibited there (and who will be exhibiting in the future - including me!). There are so many creative people around, with lots to say.
An ongoing project we learnt about at the art fair which I will be keeping an eye on is the knitters and crocheters of Woolverhampton who are understaking an ambitious project to knit the whole of Wolverhampton. What a fabulous idea! I told them that they simply must include the Wolverhampton School of Art. I eagerly await the final result.
Ann is a ceramics artist with an AA2A placement at the University of Wolverhampton and as AA2A artist representative’s Rebecca Collins and I were keen to introduce ourselves and find out a little about Ann’s practice. We met Ann in her studio space where she is currently experimenting with printing techniques onto clay. She fuses her practice with her passionate interest in history. Her work with an archaeological site in Szazhalombatta, a Bronze Age tell settlement, over the past four years has informed her current project. This involves printing on to clay motifs influenced by Bronze Age mark making. To progress this project Ann has taken full advantage of the facilities that the placement enables access to, for example screen printing as well as the help and advice that technicians are on hand to provide.
For the past couple of months I've been too busy doing other things to go in to uni - applying for a PhD place and getting it, applying for the funding to do it (waiting for the result now, but suspect I'll have to apply again...), then doing freelance work to earn the money I need to be able to afford to make the most of my AA2A placement at Teesside (access is important, but it isn't everything). The net result is that in March I only had time to spend one day doing AA2A work. It's frustrating, but that's life.
I did make the most of that one day though, using Teesside's fantastic 3D workshops to make a test piece using negatives from a three colour lazer printing process. I stuck each neg sheet onto a piece of thick perspex, roughly lined them up, and cemented them together - cyan bottom, mag centre, and yellow top, so that the front surface has a gold sheen. Unless the thing is back lit you can't see the image, and there's something vaguely holographic about the image when you can see it.
This isn't the only way I could use these neg sheets, but it's a good start? Before beginning I had no idea whether this material would be interesting to work with, what the results might look like, but this test seems to indicate that it's worth pursuing - just have to work out what to do with it now.