14.1.15 Meeting Selfie : We’ve been busy creating content for the new parts of our Arnolfini young people’s gallery guides for the last two weeks, here are some origami flowers (can you guess which part of the exhibitions we’ve been looking at recently…?) Here’s a PDF version of our Young Arnolfini Gallery Guide Part 1 of 3: A response to not knowing, in case you missed it when it was in the gallery.
You know when you’re slapped in the face with what you actually sound like? Well yeah, that happened the first time I heard the final edits of our audio tours. But here they are, and the great thing about them being on SoundCloud is that if you did miss our Young Arnolfini gallery tour in person on December 6th you can head along to the gallery and listen to them anytime (there are also a few mp3s at the front desk so if you don’t have a smart phone you can still join in). There is no excuse not to have us guide you around the galleries now, so what are you waiting for?
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
What do Spike Island’s volunteers do when they aren’t volunteering?
They create an exhibition of course.
So the other night, I headed up to Spike Island’s test space to check out the exhibition run by and created by some of Spike Island’s volunteers.
There was activity in the air as soon as I entered, and as I turned to walk into the Test Space, I was greeted by a wall of people. Wading through the unfamiliar and familiar faces, I began my experience at “Exchange”.
The exhibition aimed to “explore the exchange between volunteers, art institutions and the public” by demonstrating the “breadth and depth of talent and the variety of artistic interests that come together within the group”; and I feel it managed to do just that.
The work exhibited was varying and showcased a wide variety of talent. It included a range of pieces from photography to sculpture to performance artwork, and even more.
One of the best features of the exhibition had to be its interaction with its visitors. One of the ideas that the curators had was to create a physical “exchange” of ideas there. There was a corner dedicated to this idea where visitors were encouraged to create drawings and pin them to the wall, then to take another in exchange.
I feel this worked really well and you could see that the wall was busy with people pinning their own drawings up. By the end of the evening, the contents of the wall had completely changed from when it had started. I have to admit, once I got started, it was hard to stop. I can’t resist a bit of drawing!
What was remarkably simple worked incredibly well as it got people involved with the exhibition in a way that they normally wouldn’t consider.
I was able to interview Fiona Clabon – Young Arnolfini member who was also one of the artists there.
She told me how she was fascinated by textures and she was always “stopping every five minutes on a day trip for a photo”. When I asked her why she wanted to present these images, she told me how she wanted to capture the beautiful details of things that we normally miss.
These images certainly do capture that. Each one of them was incredibly interesting and different. I found myself studying them intently. Perhaps her best photo shows the miniscule ice crystals forming on a wooden post – a detail I would have never stopped to admire.
“Exchange” was a really enjoyable exhibition and it was great to meet the volunteers at spike and check out their work.
For my full review, including another interview, check out my post on the Bristol Art Collective website.
Thanks for reading!
After creating my last post on who art is for, it got me thinking about children and art – or more specifically, creativity. I was drawing with my sister, when I realised she actually had a lot of really creative thoughts. I already knew that children are often more creative than their older counterparts, but it was then that I actually experienced it.
She took one look at the random squiggles and doodles I had drawn for her to colour in and she proclaimed “its a chicken!” At first, I had no idea what she was talking about, but then she explained. “Look, there’s the beak!” “and that’s the dangly bit!” and suddenly, I could see it! I mean, it was a bit surreal, and in no way accurate, but there was a rooster.
We carried on drawing – me with the pen adding the lines, her with the colours adding the well, colours – and we came up with our finished drawing (which looked nothing like a chicken in the end, might I add). But drawing with her made me realise that kids are incredibly creative and its something that should be encouraged. Its something that I touched upon in my last post, but children should be encouraged to be a part of the art world.
My parents have always encouraged me to go along to cultural and artistic related things and places. They even took me to the Tate in St Ives when I was young! I think that its because of experiences like these that I feel so much more comfortable in artistic institutions now than I might have otherwise. That is something that I’m so glad of.
Getting children involved with art is something that I feel needs to happen. This is for a variety of reasons, but mainly, just because children are already so creative and their thoughts can sometimes be more interesting than the artwork itself. Wasn’t it Pablo Picasso that said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Thanks for reading
Jon Aitken recently wrote an article for Rife magazine sharing his thoughts on artist Jake Chapman’s statement that taking children to art galleries is a “waste of time“. Young Arnolfini – in case you hadn’t guessed – is a group associated closely with Arnolfini, and one of the points in our manifesto is that we aim to bridge the gap between young people and contemporary art. Statements like Jake Chapman’s are exactly the opposite of what we are aiming to do.
I spent the last weekend up in london and had a free day, so I did what I always do when I have a free day in London, I went to visit some galleries. I decided to start at the Saatci Gallery because I liked the look of their new exhibition, Body Language.
On arriving to the Saatchi I was annoyed by the usual things, having to pay for a guide, strange layout of the building etc… All was forgotten quickly though. The exhibition itself seems to centre on the ways people are portrayed and the ways in which we like to portray ourselves.
Going from gallery to gallery I was confronted by the eclectic mix of styles I have come to expect from the Saatchi Gallery; ranging from humorous sculptures to vibrant paintings and haunting wooden gravestones. The thing with what’s shown at the Saachi is that, at the same time as covering a massive spectrum of ideas and processes, it still manages to hold classic roots. Painting, sculpture and photography.
Starting in gallery one and slowly trying to make my way numerically though the exhibition spaces, however difficult it may be, I found that the exhibition started somewhat lacklustre. Walls of paintings on paintings in a loose style which try to grasp as much meaning as possible. However, there were some interesting images. I came upon the work of the Japanese painter Makiko Kudo. Surreal colourful landscapes with manga style characters painted into and across them. As I looked at the images it started to remind me of being a child and loosing myself in comics and video games. Creating a fantasy world in which you can be whoever you wish. Your image is yours to create.
I think for me the star of the show was the work of Denis Tarasov, a Russian photographer who takes images of gravestones with pictures of the deceased carved onto them. What I found so interesting about this is, when looking at each person you can get an idea of who they might have been, or at least who they wanted you to think they were. Clearly the people immortalised in expensive stones were of a certain wealth. Some graves boasted this with gold inlays and pictures of their cars and castles, and some played it down. A humble looking woman standing in front of a landscape doesn’t her wealth but rather her power as she appears taller than even mountains. All of these graves acted as a strange neo-egyptican burial tradition, leaving this world with all the things that you believe make you strong and impressive, on a plaque for everyone to see.
Tarasov’s work there was in the gallery with the installation work by Marianne Vitale which echos the photos as well as juxtaposing them. The wooden graves taken from lumberyards act as a physical memories of the factories or warehouses the wood was reclaimed from. The scarring, knocks and cuts across the timber show as battle scars and time marks from their previous lives. The humble wooden graves symbolising the previous jobs and lives offset the high quality prints of egotistical burial markers.
All in all I would say that I definitely enjoyed my visit to the Saatchi Gallery and want to thank the stewards for giving me invaluable insight to the work.
Thanks for reading.
Bristol’s very own Spike Island is featured among this weeks top 21 exhibitions.
David Batchelor is currently showing at Spike, and to quote his words from last week’s opening ‘Spike Island is currently my favourite exhibition space’.
His currently visually stimulating and exciting exhibition, Flatlands, features drawings, paintings and photographs, all exploring colour and it’s intensity and value.
This afternoon I volunteered with Arnolfini, The Architecture Centre and The ScrapStore to create a Family Arts Festival creative event at Junction 3 Library in Easton. Above anything else the event was fun, and we received some brilliantly positive comments from both parents and children.
The aim of the workshop was to encourage families to think of ways to improve Bristol and specifically the area they live in, Easton, and to imagine how it could be tomorrow. Allotments, a man-made beach and flowery bins were just a selection of ideas. The children really used their imagination and I was so impressed with some of the ideas and designs they produced.
In terms of a career path, creative educational workshops like these certainly feature up there for me, as a I really enjoy using my creative skills and interests in an educational and community based environment.
We all went home covered in green glitter, which has got to be a sign of a successful and fun-filled afternoon!
Last Thursday I went to see the latest exhibition at The Hayward Gallery, Light Show, which focused on the artistic use of artificial light. The work was from a variety of different sources, including one of my favourite artists Olafur Eliasson; sadly his beautiful piece Model for a Timeless Garden used strobe lighting which eventually made me feel sick so I couldn’t watch it for as long as I would have liked.
The piece used the strobe lights to trick the eye into viewing a set of water fountains as solid objects by freezing them in the flash. The effect produced was that of crystal-like sculptures that changed every split-second, with streams of diamond spheres hovering overhead. Sadly, like so many of the pieces, the photo doesn’t do it justice, and makes it look like a bunch of garden fountains.
A piece which I felt was overlooked by many in this exhibition was Light bulb to Simulate Moonlight by Katie Paterson. On my second circuit around the exhibition I sat in this room for a time and was struck by how many of the visitors poked their heads around the curtain, saw a bare bulb hanging low from the ceiling, and left. In fact the quality of the light produced was so beautiful, subtle and clever that I found it quite moving. Paterson worked with a lighting engineer to create a “moonlight” bulb to contrast to the popular daylight bulb – and the resulting artificial moonlight produced was truly lovely. The piece also contains enough bulbs for a lifetime; I couldn’t help but think how much I would love to own one to light my bedroom as the current bare bulb is anything but relaxing…
The final piece I’ll talk about by Anthony McCall. You and I, Horizontal is a projected light sculpture which turns light into a tangible, tactile object. A projector beams the slowly moving film through a hazy, darkened room and the resulting cylinders of light encompass the audience who are then likely to spend the next 20 minutes as I did; reaching out their hands like children to grasp the air. What I liked most about this piece was the way that the visual effect was so strong, I could “feel” the light, which was amazing.
Overall I completely loved the exhibition and if you can go, go! There were so many more incredibly clever and beautiful pieces, and these three are merely a fragment. One thing I would recommend if you do go, is in Doug Wheeler’s piece stand in the middle and slightly in front of everyone else!! He does say this in the description but so many ignored it and were underwhelmed. When I did this I had the strangest sensation that my eyes couldn’t focus and the installation became much more striking.
None of the pictures used in this post are my own.