This week Young Arnolfini left Arnolfini and went to visit Sanctum, the amazing new project by artist Theaster Gates, produced by Situations. It was an inspiring chance to think about Art within the context of the city.
Last night (20th June 2015) I was coaxed into attending an event by a very curious piece of advertising. Picked up at The Island, Bristol, this flyer, with its sparseness and contrast, was too intriguing to ignore.
What I found, in a small, active industrial yard, was a gathering of people brought together for a performance and a barbecue, on the eve of the solstice.
Sam, the main man of the occasion, put the event together prior to the beginning of what he described to me as an adventurous wander of survival without money, a phone or a map. The idea, to leave of without worrying about how much money you have, who you’re in contact with and where you are, is greatly inspiring as a thing to do, and the fact that there was no pretention in the attitude of the friendly, jovial crowd bolstered the moment.
The event itself is tied to a group of artists in Bristol, CHAMP, whose newly renovated garage studio is as I awkwardly put it at one point, ‘nice’. Which is what it is, a well as more valuable adjectives.
It’s the second time I’ve joined the outskirts of a group shepherded by some leader figure called Sam. The first time being the night of my secondary school prom, in the face of rejection I’d gone off to a gig instead, and while there lied to a group of guys about my age so I could feel less insecure. Sam bought me a drink but I’d had to politely decline.
This time around it was homemade wine that I was avoiding for medical reasons and the barbecue, (from which I had a grilled pepper bun) was a happy addition to the performance. A good move. The details of the performance itself is really only for the performance. That it effectively involved a morning ritual with a much heightened intensity, is enough description to honour intentions I figure.
All of that which Sam took on his sojourn of indefinite length today was lain out on the floor until by the end of the performance it was packed away into his bag. In generosity Sam also provided me and others with a free shirt for our engagement, which was a fine thing to do.
Sam, and the rest of those more of the inner circle, were at the allotment mentioned on the flyer this morning at sunrise, to wave Sam away I guess.
It’s a shame I couldn’t be there, but I was more committed to getting to my bed than hanging around for somewhere to couch/floorsurf with the group. So on this, the longest day of the year, I wish Sam the vey best of luck, and am glad that things like this happen, because, if they didn’t, then just how boring would life be?
Initially the group began with the idea of Welsh folk stories, which we were interested in because of the way that they are communicated. These stories were only passed by word of mouth, and have only been recorded in modern times.
Buying fabric, and constructing the tent in Gallery 1, Arnolfini
The group explored these stories, becoming attached to ‘The story of Gelert’ and the Welsh language, mainly its translation and mistranslation into English and other languages. This lead us to explore translation, which became the centre of the project.
The group wanted to create a den or tent like space to present the story, as we felt that this was the perfect storytelling environment.
After we had decided on creating a tent space, we were given found footage of a family putting up a tent. This coincidence re-affirmed our tent concept, and became a really important part of the work.
The story of Gelert continues to be an integral part of the work and its creation.
Here’s our latest group selfie from last week’s meeting.
For two weeks now I haven’t been able to look at a discarded heap of cardboard without seeing some kind of lusus naturae piece itself together from the rubble and emerge as an animated being.
Lee Mc Donald is a Plymouth based artist who uses sound and movement to make kinetic, sonic and often public sculptures out of recycled or reclaimed objects. Describing his work as quasi scientific Lee’s practice is based in experimentation and testing. I first met Lee when he turned the courtyard of Baggator Community Centre in Easton into an art installation for the 2014 Bristol Biennial.
I caught up with Jen Howarth just after she’d dropped her work off for an exhibition she’s currently in with Synecdoche Art Collective – a group show by recent graduates and current students of Drawing and Applied Arts at UWE – at the Christmas Steps Gallery. (It’s pronounced si-nek-duh-kee in case you were wondering). In the gallery Jen is exhibiting Jetty [above] (and the original etching print inc. metallic spray paint water is every bit as beautiful in the flesh), while in the Synecdoche pop up shop area Jen has prints, badges and t-shirts for sale. I kind of want to own all of her work.
As Part of our Young Artist Series, this month we were fortunate enough to take part in a workshop hosted by the eternally playful Tom Pope.
First he shares with us some of his incredible work along with a handful of peculiar stories that paint him out to be a neighbourhood terror in a comic or something.
Tom Pope’s shirt is the colour of lemons and by his feet is a bag of oranges. These oranges will be thrown with reckless abandon into the path of cameras that are hungry to catch the oranges before they collide with walls and floors, splitting their skins in a shower of orange juice.
If the camera is successful in ‘catching’ the orange the photograph is essentially spoiled by an obscure orange blur.
The next act in the workshop has us locked in photographic combat, our fingers poised on each other’s triggers. Maeve’s lens is pointed at me and mine at her, ready to shoot. But we don’t want to shoot each other, we want to shoot ourselves. I want to capture a thousand of my own images with Maeve’s camera but I don’t want her to snap herself on mine. So now we’re dancing, everyone in the room is dancing! Like a group of couples in the ballroom of a cruise ship that’s hit choppy waters and scattered us about. And all the time we’re going in circles, trying to move our camera away from their faces whilst drawing theirs towards us.
I’m almost as tragic at writing about this as I was in actually doing it. My chaotic brain can’t handle the two actions at once and I unknowingly let Maeve photograph her laughing face over and over and over while I fail to capture my own.
And now (with our cameras still citrus-scented) we are temporarily blinded and guided through the gallery; shakily up and down stairs, awkwardly into lifts, clinging on to walls and sometimes each other, led under chairs and tables until something in our sightless minds tell us the moment is right to take the photograph and open two sets of eyes at once.
My photograph is a white-out because I had my camera on the wrong setting. The camera was as blind as I was and the image is a total nothingness. The outcome isn’t always as important as the process.
In the last part of our first workshop we do what Tom Pope does best: we play a game. Here are the seven rules to live by if you want to get involved and play the YA Game of Photography:
1. Offside rule.
2. No zoom.
3. If someone shouts ‘You!’ And points, everyone must photograph them.
4. Eye contact with the lens makes the picture invalid.
5. Cannot have two feet on the floor when taking a picture.
6. After taking a picture you have to turn 180 degrees
7. Must shout ‘Yes!’ when taking a picture
You can go and peep at Tom Pope’s work here: http://www.tompope.co.uk/
I remember finding Gareth Brookes’ work on my first visit to a Bristol Zine Fair when I had just moved here to start Uni. I’m not sure if I was struck first by Gareth’s fascinating drawings moving fluidly from lino print to embroidery, or by the macabre storyline of his graphic novel The Black Project.
Tell us about your background, how did you get into illustration and start making graphic novels?
A few weeks ago I had the delight of attending Eden 4’s Artist Lab Finishing Party, and thought I would share some of the exciting work created during their week-long residency at Centrespace gallery.
Rosie Dolton, Beckie Upton, Rachel Falber and Amy Higgins are four female artists from the south west who form the collective Eden 4.
Eden 4 aim to explore the darker symbolism behind fairy tales, myth and religion within their work, and it is evident in the work of Amy Higgins and Rachel Falber that they take inspiration from Greek mythology and Grimms’ fairy tales.
On the group’s website they write:
“We propose to make installations, drawings, sculpture and embroidery based on ideas which will challenge the viewers traditional ideas of ‘Happily ever after’.”
It is this variety of work, and the assortment of textures and materials used by the artists that create visual excitement within the space.
The work on paper is sometimes on scrap material or card, and sometimes on pristine watercolour paper. This is altered in Rosie Dolton’s textile work, which sometimes mimics a drawing, where the thread becomes the line of the pencil.
Eden 4 run projects and workshops, and in this exhibition were able to invite the public to have an exclusive look at the artists’ workspace, to see how the work is made and the processes behind its production.
It is in the opportunity to look at artists creating art that the boundaries are broken between the gallery space (and resolved work) and the artist’s studio. Creation is undoubtedly the most important part of the artwork, but is left out of the gallery space, with artist’s studios and gallery spaces being almost polar opposites.
In each of the works presented in the space composition is an important aspect of them all. Each artist has made careful aesthetic judgements ranging from colour to how the work is arranged in the space.
The references the female body, sometimes spliced with animal parts or bird skulls that become new mythological creatures, are prominent, and become the most noticeable subject in the collection of work. The spliced animal drawings of Amy Higgins create a female Minotaur, which subverts the Greek Myth of the male Minotaur unnatural offspring of a woman and a beast.
Sometimes exploring the female body in their work, Rosie Dolton and Beckie Upton Both use text and incorporate slogans, borrowing the aesthetic of fashion magazines, using phrases such as lecherous which confronts the viewer and forces them to question the male gaze and the sexualised imagery seen in the media.
There are strong feminist undertones in every artist of Eden 4, which become more powerful when brought together as a collective.
Or visit their website: eden4.org.uk