The state of drawing.

Jerwood space talk 18th October

Well attended event with presentations from Jenny Lomax, Mel Jackson, Warren Andrews and Jeremy Darren.
Jenny Lomax, director of the Camden Arts Center talked about her interpretation of drawing from the point of view of the gallery and curator. Recent exhibitions shown at her space cited included Eva Hess, in particular her studio photographs of her work which take on a drawing quality of black marks in a white space. The Anna Marie Maiolino exhibition featured works consisting of multiples of unglazed clay forms, suggesting a process or series of works, which when assembled take on elements of marks made. I think that seeing these 3D works presented in the 2D format of a slide gave a more immediate impression of the drawing elements found in the works.

Student prize winner Warren Andrew talked about his practice primarily concerned with the immediacy of the mark making, and of the presentation of these works giving the observer the opportunity to witness the mark “Art creates a space for dialog to take place in”

As a previous prize winner and current head of sculpture at Slade, Mel Jackson presented her recent works examining the qualities of paper, in terms of its function and also the information is carries and the forms it takes. Engaging with the scientific advances in micro-imaging and DNA manipulation, her works of sculptures representing grains of pollen offer a close up personal experience of the invisible rendered in crude earthy material.

I found the presentations really interesting, and was looking forward to an equally interesting and engaging discussion. I was not expecting, perhaps naively, that the audience would feature such an outspoken selection of unsuccessful entrants, keen to press the panel and Jenni Lomax in particular (she was one of the judges) on their views and definition of what could authentically qualify for a ‘drawing’ prize. These lengthy and disruptive contributions seemed more personally motivated than constructively contributing to the discussion. I was pleased I was present to clarify my own work when it came into question.
It was interesting talking to other exhibitors afterwards, and i don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing a piece of my own work in an exhibition!
I’m really glad I made the effort to attend, and it made me realise how accessible events like this are. There are lots of events to engage in like this, and I’m looking forward to attending more in the future.

Nuit Blanche, Amiens

The University of Brighton and White Nights sent students from Graphic Design, Illustration and Moving Image BA and several of us from the Fine Art FdA to visit Amiens in France, as Saturday night was Nuit Blanche there. It was an excellent trip, and a brilliant experience to have the opportunity to be there not only as a participant experiencing all the art and events, but as an observer, witness to the execution and planning involved in staging such a large event. The event was really well organised, as was our trip. Works were situated at various points around the city, including the local swimming pool, cloisters, parks and squares, along with smaller galleries and clubs.

Highlights of the art we saw include Francoise Genot’s ‘Junga’ (as shown above). Engaging with an ancient stately tree in a green in the heart of the commercial part of town, this work was delicately created in-situ from wood fresh from the sawmill, and lit with a red light that alluded to embers. It was as if the tree itself was swooping to the ground and exploding into matchsticks (although each was over 2m long). It was elegant and powerfully melancholic, well considered in execution and placement.

Eclair d’Instants at the Maison du Theatre was, as name of the venue suggests, a work to be walked through and engage with. Working with the idea of the human interaction between each other and the world around us, it featured a series of spaces. The first was a laundry room with a selection of everyday clothing hung out, lit in a cold light, and the air was heaving with the taste of washing powder. The light was dazzling, and the laundry typically clostrophobic, particularly with the other visitors in the space with us. On it’s own as a piece of work I enjoyed it, the clothes hung out to dry in a dark cramped space, it spoke of the mundane mixing of men and women, yet was arranged with touching care.
The next space was a large dark room filled with transparent mannequins of male and female in various illustrations of interactions highlighted by shifting spotlights. This was accompanied by sound, and the mannequins included a variety of domestic and decorative forms. One wall featured beautifully crafted teardrops falling into a still pool. Independently, I felt that some of these features could be really interesting, but all together they seemed jumbled and overly verbose.
Outside we encountered the lit bottom half of a mannequin with a branch sprouting from it. The simple execution was delightful following the previous room, and being placed on a bench with a backdrop of actual trees was a pleasing commentary on our struggle to reconnect with nature; incomplete, yet illuminated..

The highlight for me was the light and movement installation by Atsara, Monde(s)
Crossing some water on a dark bridge and arriving in a dark square of trees, we found a beautiful display of lights dancing in the air, floating and fleeting, with a deep earthy base of sound. It was sublime and transfixing, and spending time offered a moment of calm serenity from the bustle of the town. Studying how it was produced revealed a tangle of wire suspended below the leaf line, which were lit with focussed light so as to appear to contain the light within. Stunning.

The biggest disappointment was Antigravity by Steve Geliot (with Jean Danile Beauvallet and Andrew Walker). Featuring a huge suspended inflated ball with integrated screen, the work is hung from a crane, and images and film are projected onto it. The work was blown away from the projection by the wind, and so high up all sense of scale was lost. This work has been much anticipated for out White Night event here in Brighton on the 30th October, so hopefully the artists will have some time to iron out some of the technical difficulties. I look forward to seeing it here then.

A big thank you to the organisers and the people of Amiens for their hospitality and hard work.

Tate modern turbine hall about open


See the BBC news report on their website. It looks amazing.

Article on the BBC news site featuring an interview with Ai Wei Wei talking about his ideology and commitment to it.

The sunflower seed. Genius. To find a vehicle which conveys so much in such a tiny kernel really astounds me. I cannot wait to see it, and I’m going this week, before 100,000 pairs of hands liberate 1000 each and soon there’ll be none- a possibility which I suppose is not lost on the artist and would probably please him, as the art and culture gets dispersed, diluted and deleted…… mind you, all those coppers in Cildo Meireles’ show 2 years ago survived so maybe there’s hope……..

On winning 2nd prize in this years Jerwood Drawing competition..

It’s taken a while for the news to sink in, but being awarded 2nd in this year’s Jerwood Drawing Prize is really astounding.
Support, affirmation, optimism. Wonderful.
Observing others referring to it is intruiging. I have posted some links to these observations on my website.

Looking forward to new Tate Modern turbine hall installation

On the 12th October artist Ai Wei Wei reveals what he has been working on for us, and I am rather exited about it.

This is the first time I’ve been looking at an artists’ work and found out that there will be an opportunity to visit something current in person, a nice moment of serendipity.

how I got to October from June.. part 2

Visisting Wolfgang Tillmans’ show in September at the Serpentine in London was really vivid. One of the few exhibitions which I’ve felt compelled to walk round several times- and wasn’t just the portraits of beautiful men that held my attention. Tillmans has spoken about his exploration of light and colour in the abstract sense compared with his trademark images of the mundane. Using his excellent eye for composition and his ability to capture the stillness in a moment, he has translated those traits to the most simple prints of colour. Working with photo printing techniques, he has produced prints who only make up the whole when placed together, and it was really stunning. The light inside the gallery was really perfect to bring the wall to life. The stillness within was accentuated by the outside: Jean Nouvel’s Red Pavillion is an excercise in simple line and colour, yet the vivid hue placed within the green of the park makes for vibrant and energetic veiwing. It was the perfect lead into Tillman’s serene works inside.

How I got to October from June..part 1

Walking into the cool darkened interior of Fabrica, Brighton in the unusual heat of July invoked a feeling of awe and relief which I imagine was not dissimilar to the response of the devoted when they attended the building to worship God in days gone by of churchness of this decomissioned church building. You could say that the divine was present at the ‘A Fine Line’ exhibition by Frederic Geurts: Arching and reaching in the heights of the space was a line of sorts- a solid slender rectilinear shape of a line, blank white against the wood and shadows of the building. This construction was ‘supported’ by a series of pylons – though these were at times struggling to stay rooted to the floor, lending an air of movement to the whole piece (though I felt quite safe). This large simplistic feat of engineering was accompanied in the space by balancing puzzles, which I felt were an unneccessary development on the intention of the work. The ‘Fine Line’ was much stronger viewed on it’s own, and whilst the details of construction were in places a trifle un-holy, the upwards gaze required to appreciate it, and the stillness of the space made me feel blessed.

In San Fransisco at the end of July I visited the Jack Fischer Gallery and saw the exquisite works of Lauren DiCioccio. Her meticulously hand sewn works transformed everyday objects into fine fabrics and threads, somehow capturing the qualities of the objects so clearly that many required a second look to believe. Life-sized, featuring subjects such as slides, water bottles, lightbulbs and playing cards, the works command consideration for the tactile and the looming obsoletion in the everyday for these objects. I was really impressed with the workmanship, and also with how the works were presented in the gallery: the bulbs for example were all piled in a crate in the corner, as if on their way to or from use.

In Berlin in August, I saw Dream Passage- Bruce Nauman’s retrospective presented by the Hamburger Bahnhof. Getting back into large public spaces full of art was a real breath of fresh air from lots and lots of galleries I’d seen in SF. Interesting to notice the contrast in how I felt in each space. Here with the works of Bruce Nauman there was the space to really do it justice and revel in the diversity of the work assembled. Many large scale rooms and spaces accompanied some neon pieces I was more familiar with. I am still trying to process all that I came face to face with here: the range of media, the range of ideas, the consistency in the execution, the fearless drive you could feel the artist experiencing in addressing them all….. Spent quite a while in a piece called Eliptical space, which isn’t usually the sort of experience I go for in exhibitions, I find them really overpowering, but something appealed with this one. I spent a while peering in each end, listening to the person inside at the time- the gap at each end was large enough to glimpse them through but too small to pass through, and it was painted a strangely unoffensive pistachio colour. When I got my turn with the key, I locked myself in and I have to say it was really moving- too high inside to climb, wide enough to turn round in, though narrowing quickly into curves- you couldn’t quite see out but the light could get in… I was won over, and spent the rest of the afternoon in a pink room, a room with mirrors, rooms too narrow to walk down, rooms with security cameras in and then sat on the benches arranged a bit too close opposite each other to leave space for any event to take place there… I came away with the impression of such energy for exploring, it was almost bewildering how much work was there. It inspires me to see that the variety of materials is immaterial, the consistency of the ideas is what keeps it together. Nauman seems always to be laying the ironic out for us, asking why we think it’s normal, seeing what could slip past us if we stop paying attention- reminds me to keep my eyes open.