Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Experiment with lighting

I hung some paintings I have been working on recently in a secluded space away from my studio clutter. Mostly this was to see how they hang together.
The space was small and cosy but lacked sufficient lighting that is needed to display paintings properly. Then I started thinking more about the "proper" ways to hang and light paintings.
Paintings in National museums are often lit very specifically from different angles with varying diffusion in order to highlight certain parts of an image. In a way this means that the lighting is a secondary layer to the painting, akin to glazing in some way.

I had the idea to attach fairy lights onto my paintings, simply because I wanted to see what would happen. The effect of the lights in localized areas of the paintings worked well they added a new depth and reality. However as whole objects they were very scrappy with references to christmas that were just a bit too blatant.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Pipilotti Rist

View of work installed at Hayward Gallery

I can't say enough good things about this exhibition, it was ethereal beautiful and relaxing but also gruesome humorous and humbling.
I was enthralled by a piece called "Suburban brain" which included a tiny replica of a typical suburban house with working lights in the windows that flicked on and off like a home. I just kept watching the orange curtains light up and throw hazy beams out onto the pristine back garden, thinking of the Sims computer game and getting pangs of nostalgia.

"Selfless In The Bath Of Lava" (still shown above) really made me think about problems with my own work and made me a little bit angry too (at myself) because it reminded me of an epiphany I had a few years ago after finding a tiny shard of glass on the floor with my entire kitchen reflected in it. At the time and since then I've only applied what I learned to my painting work and I'm still doing this terrible pigeonholing with most things that I acquire. It's strange how you can think you're suddenly aware of so much and yet still not grasp the full potential of that knowledge.

The exhibition as a whole was strange for me because it had a commanding presence but it was commanding you to be free, to stop acting with normal gallery etiquette. Her individual projections communicate visceral body awareness in their specific content but it is the delivery of them that actually asks, if not forces you to try and recognize that your body is always active and present.

"Selfless In The Bath Of Lava" which you have to crouch to see and "I'm not the girl" where you have to stick your head in a box brings your mind back to your body's exterior actions while the giant mirror screen lounge room displaying "Lobe of the Lung" (which was like a REALLY long shoegaze music video from the 90s) brings your awareness to the passive movement and energy inside the body.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Collaborative installation/performance with Laura Gardner

Using a device of temptation (the cupcake) we wanted to investigate human behaviour in the context of morality and like previous work, etiquette.

We baked and decorated cupcakes and left them completely unattended and unsignposted on a table where we knew a lot of people would traffic between studios while we filmed from a secret position. We also placed a sound recording device under the table to catch the conversation of anyone approaching the cakes.

Our cakes pre-experiment

Every cake from the plate was eventually stolen and this was not the expected outcome for me. I expected people to be much more timid, I expected the amount (if not more) of attention the cakes received but that only one or two people would be audacious enough to take them.

Now that I’m thinking of these as more of scientific or psychological experiments there are more possibilities for the work, particularly it’s final presentation. Should we be drawing up estimated outcomes, should we be documenting more precise predictions than the speculative conversations during a tea break?

Could mock calculations and hypotheses be presented in a more whimsical state?

This piece really tested ourselves and was most importantly about helping to refine the methods we use to perform and install. Technically there were issues with this experiment and some documentation was lost.

Something that is still intriguing me at this thing, this activity, is that I’m not really sure what to call it because while our previous work was easy to label performance today’s “experiment” is difficult to describe. In a sense it seemed like the cakes were the performers and in baking them we embodied in the tray of cakes part of ourselves, or the characters we needed them to play in our theatre.

Also the concept of the cupcakes themselves is interesting to me at the moment. After reading the article in this months Artist Review “Consider the cupcake..” I’m thinking more about how the cupcake has become some kind of cultural icon, that if we used some less popular type of cake there would have been less temptation. A lot of people would agree that apple crumble is far more delicious than a cupcake but the cupcake has become more of a visual icon, very often cupcakes are decorated in a way that makes them look inedible (in fact two people were discussing over our cakes whether they were real or not). It’s beginning to have the presence of some kind of fashion accessory, that being seen eating a cupcake is very trendy compared to eating for example a flapjack.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ann Voelke

"Take a nap" 2005

Just discovered the work of this German artist,

"who creates mixed-media paintings with a penchant for bright colors, geometric shapes, and street-art forms. My work explores the relationship between cultural plurality and a recycling of pop-culture, by layering different motifs from Science Fiction film stills and quotations from an art historical background, like Symbolism and color-field paintings"

from an online interview.

The composition of her paintings are testing the dimensions of the stretched canvas in a way that really interests me. The perspective created by the spray paint over well rendered oil gives me the feeling of distortion in memory that I'm trying to convey in my work.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Family dinner today....

became a heated debate about contemporary art when everyone began disregarding Tracy Emin's work as "crap".

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tracy Emin: Love is what you want

Went to see this exhibition today. It was perhaps the most crowded exhibition I've ever been to, especially considering the show has been open for three months.

Her famous embroidered blankets were the first pieces on display and it made me feel like they were items to be "gotten out of the way", as if people should see her most known work and not be distracted by the thought of wanting to see it later.
I suppose I think about retrospective type exhibitions in the same way as I regard the back of dvd cases for films you have never seen before. You see the screenshots and then you're filled with the anticipation of recognising the shots within the film. I think the same of knowing that famous pieces of artwork is in a show. Of course you want to see them, even if you know in general what they look like and have an idea of their meaning, because you need to confirm that they exist in some way.

My favorite pieces were some small paintings. I have always regarded Tracy Emins work as something great and insightful but the grace of her paintings surprised me a lot. They didn't have the hard visceral elements that her other work does. One painting looked to me like a woman lying with the back of a cat in the foreground. If I were very rich I would inquire about purchasing it so that I could look at it all day. It probably wasn't even a cat but that's why I liked it.

Although Tracy Emin is one of the most well respected contemporary artists in the world, a large portion of the general public seem to really disregard her work. I really hope that a lot of people who don't like her well known work went to see this show and maybe they would understand a bit more like I did.

I looked at a lot of the exhibition before watching the film she made about her traumatic abortion. Then all of the work was different and it wouldn't be the same again. It did horrify me and I was still horrified on the train.

The Age of Reason being the book I'm currently reading is a strange coincidence.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Running a creative workshop....

......is a bit different from what I imagined. Possibly because my vision of failure was that I would be inundated with people (inundated meaning dealing with more than 4 people that I never before met in my life). That my direction in the activities would be weak and HORDES of people would be bored and leave.
The reality of the failure (if it was a failure) is that no people (well there were 2) turned up for me to be scared of disappointing. But I'm not sure it was a failure entirely, of course it wasn't the kind of exciting energetic experience that changes people's entire outlook on life, which was obviously what every artist/teacher hopes to achieve by collaborating with people. However I did learn that I have quite a narrow view on what will be a successful art activity, which is possibly fed from the years spent in art institutions hanging around with other artists.
I've come to the conclusion that we artists are actually really easily entertained. I mean being presented with a huge room with a few plug sockets that is entirely devoid of furniture is pretty much birthday/christmas/new year in one for artists.
It was pretty stupid to assume that people would be as easily interested in creative workshops without persuading.

Some friends helping with setup

My extremely popular (NOT) workshop. Oh well live and learn I guess!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Curating experience

Some of my paintings hanging in the space



This week I've been working on something called "The Big Empty Shop Experiment" with a group of people in Cardiff.
We've taken a space that's used as a halloween/christmas decoration shop in the winter and turned it into a gallery space running art cinema screenings, a swapshop and creative workshops.

Its involved a LOT of cleaning and just general tidying to make the space hospitable for artwork and the general public but my main job has been curating and hanging the work of local artists, most of whom are students.

I've never really enjoyed the actual hanging of an exhibition as much as I have this week, its been busy but not frantic which is what setting up in past exhibitions has been like. I think it's a combination of
1. Having to make decisions without consultation.
2. Being part of a REALLY good team.

It's strange though, because while I've been in curatorial mode I'm constantly looking at pieces of work but I'm not seeing them as I would normally. I'm surveying them more, I'm seeing them as dimensions and colour. I'm looking intently for relationship of form between the pieces and between the environment. Never thought I would say this but I love curating and hanging!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Memory painting

Painting from November 2010

Painting from May 2011

My memory painting has improved a great deal. I've found a more coherent way to compose images using the geological structures and diagrams that have ingrained themselves in my mind and form the foundation of my theories on archiving.
I have increased the scale of my work considerably which has presented me with ideas in paint I never thought possible.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Caerfai Bay

4 of 38 photos taken in Caerfai Bay near St Davids in West Wales.
I intended to use the double exposure technique from my previous photographic work but when I got to the beach I found a mirror in my bag and used it in front of the camera lens trying to create distorted and impossible geological structures.
Yashica and 200 iso film.

I still have another film to process which are double exposures but taken with my diana mini and a black and white film which I have some more experimental plans for. Quite excited about those.

Performance as Propaganda

Raw documentation of the performance I made with artists Laura Gardener and Sara Thormann as part of The Shrine Collective
I used these images along with these comment slips to make a newsletter for the ficticious Winchester Ladies Club.

Performances will inevitably become the material that is archived from them. The effect and perception of the actions will be determined first by its spectators but it is the documentation that endures. The surviving documents and archives the artist is in complete control of the events that took place.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Thursday, 24 February 2011

London visit

Took a trip to London today to see some galleries. Managed to get lost looking for a tiny gallery near Leicester square but to be fair google maps did lie to me.
Anyway I didn't really mind getting lost because I went the entire day not being disappointed by any art which is good! These are the shows I saw

  • Fighting Gravity - Claire Fontaine at the Regina Gallery London. This show was really well thought out, it's simultaneously showing in Russia under the same name at the Regina Gallery Moscow. The piece also titled Fighting Gravity consisted of two films, one documenting a flight from London to Moscow and the other a flight from Moscow to London, projected in real time was genuinely beauteous in delivery and symbolism. It was quite disorientating to watch at first, then I was immersed in the sheer sublimity of it and then I was disgusted at remembering the whole toxic process that makes it possible for people to experience these images in motion. Photographs of the piece below.

  • Allison Jacques- just had a quick look in here to see what was on which was Robert Mapplethorpe with other artist works included and curated by the group Scissor Sisters, which I thought upon reading was very strange but, judging by the show and the fact I don't know a lot about them apart from how much I dislike their music, they seem to know what they're doing. I really liked the Marc Swanson sculptures in this show.

  • British Art Show 7- at the Southbank centre. Which was really amazing. I saw quite a few pieces that were really captivating. I found most beautiful and interesting, huge photograph prints of a piece of pyrite, the ink paintings by Mick Peter, and the enamel paintings by George Shaw, and a breathtaking print by Wolfgang Tillmans. The installation by Charles Avery was also deeply interesting to me, I read a lot of links between geology and time in it. I don't think I really need to elaborate on the perfect demonstration of time and cinema that is Christian Marclays The Clock. It is what it is, just perfect.

  • Artfirst gallery- Dave Price The green fuse and Simon Morley A short history of the 20th Century. Again both really good shows but I was much more effected by the Dave Price exhibition. His paintings seemed to me completely fresh, his painting technique directly references traditional intaglio prints, and the oil paint was so flush with the wood panels. He also uses bare wood panels which made me think of Norwegian crafts. The work took inspiration from a poem "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower"
    By Dylan Thomas (18 Poems, pub. 1934)

Sky painting (After Aldorfer) - oil on panel- Dave Price

The Green fuse - oil on panel- Dave Price

The Berlin Wall- watercolour on paper- Simon Morley

  • Tenderpixel gallery- Scapes by art collaborative group Squidsoup. This exhibition was a single installation, it was a tiny room that took me so long to find, getting lost in the process, but I can safely say it was the most enthralling artwork I saw all day. You should just watch the video underneath. I feel like it gave me my imagination back after all these months of being conditioned by artschool, to recognise symbols and references within artwork. Though it did make me think back to the amazing James Turrell exhibition I went to. This kind of art which creates an entire environment is so interesting to me.

Scapes - Tenderpixel Gallery from squidsoup on Vimeo.

  • Whitechapel Gallery- Bethan Huws Capelgwyn, Claire Barclay Shadowspans and work by John Stezaker. The Bethan Huws was disappointing in a way I suppose, because when I saw the tiny sculpture of a single wheatsheaf twisted into a boat I just wanted to see more of her work.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Lack of direction

I need to have a major review of my work. I'm lacking clarity and direction in my painting work, I've had a lapse in concentration and its beginning to grate on me now.

I feel like it's better to stop and sit down on the side of a road and regenerate the energy to walk with ferocity than to continue lumbering along without the strength to raise my eyes and observe. On the other hand, when your alarm clock in the morning goes off the longer you stay in bed the more tired you are when you try and get out.

So sitting on the side of the road is what I suppose I will have to do. And look down the way I came and think about what happened before I got to the side of the road.
Now, if there was a fork in the road at least my indecisiveness would keep me enthralled for a while.....

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Above is my "Precious Memories" piece, the cabinet of scents I've been working on in the group exhibition that was organised as a part of my course.
The exhibition I was involved in seemed to be a great success on the whole, despite a few issues concerning the space. We used a photography studio in the university building to exhibit work which meant a lot of unattractive fixings remained in the room.

The theme of the exhibition was the senses and so I was showing my cabinet of collected scents. Visually the piece worked really well in relation to the work other people were showing, particularly with the beautiful projection and the eerie sound piece that filled the room. However , the piece seems to suffer because of its dependence on the audience. I'm finding it difficult to initiate the interaction that it requires.

There were about 15 group exhibitions on throughout the campus for one week and these are just a few images of my favorite pieces from other peoples exhibitions. There was a lot of other really good work but I'm really trying not to take photos of stuff lately, particularly digital.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

VHS Nostalgia reflection

The actual process of creating these collaged video's is distorted. To transfer the analogue video recordings into digital coding I have to watch the video tapes on a tiny preview screen in greyscale with no sound. I have control of where I stop and start, rewind and fast forward the recording.
This seems to make references to the physical aspects of memory and the choices we make of what we will remember. The more we replay memories in our minds, the stronger the links between the neurons become.

Concerning the domination of advertisements in the videos, they are seen as the inconvenience of video recordings, the fast forwarded part of a tape collection but these are what I think of when I recollect my childhood memories.

I'm most pleased with the bursts of dialogue that rise from the control of the "deaf" recording, they make me think of the random nostalgia that arises from memory triggers in our everyday lives.

I need to think more about the actual concept of a recording particularly this power to record and perpetuate a physically paused image.
Right now these videos seem very complicated to me.

It seems I'm recording a recording of a recording to induce nostalgia which is the replaying of familiar encoded (recorded) experience in my brain.