Participation in three shows coming up!
Quartz Festival at Queens College, Taunton – a mixed show of a range of locally based artists, curated by Lisa Harty and Sarah Dudman. Opens tomorrow,Wednesday September 30th and runs til Saturday October 11th, 10- 6 daily. I have both prints and small tapestries there. http://quartzfestival.co.uk/
The second show promises to be really interesting; ‘Re-animate, Repair and Meld’ at the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool is being curated by Paul Scott, whose brilliant stapled plates were part of my ‘Nature of Mending’ show in 2013. It will feature the work of artists who are concerned with the re-use and re-animation of existent (often devalued or discarded) cultural material. Other artists include Matthew Harris, Neil Brownsword, Bouke de Vries, and Jenni Dutton and Bridget Harvey, (both of whom will be in my next Mending show in 2016; more on this in due course). There will also be artists from Canada and Scandinavia. ‘Re-animate, Repair and Meld’ will run October 10th – November 14th. http://www.bluecoatdisplaycentre.com/
Finally, Stroud International Textiles (SIT) are mounting a Showcase weekend of stands, exhibitions and events at Cheltenham Town Hall Friday October 23rd – Sunday October 25th. I will have several of my small, block mounted tapestries on show here. http://www.sitselect.org/showcase/index.html
Through all of this activity, I and five other artists are still working on the Discovery Room project, exploring the museum stores and archives of Somerset Heritage. I have been trying out all kinds of new processes from video to casting textiles in bronze! Will do a full post on this before the final show opens in Taunton. More details at http://www.revealthemuseum.com
Finally, a PS. If you read my post about Bologna and Peralta, from June 2014 (still on this page, just) it talks about Fiore de Henriquez. Good friend Charles Mapleston has now finished his very fine film about this extraordinary sculptor, and a trailer can be seen at http://www.malachite.co.uk/films.html
July 10th 2015
Just returned from the extraordinary odyssey that is a trip to the Venice Biennale. Just wandering the streets and little bridges is a visual feast before you start on the art. Here are notes of a few of my favourites:
‘Dansaekhwa’ Palazzo Contarini-Polignac. 7 Korean artists, who have been working since the 1960s. A pool of extreme calm amid the heat and tourist buzz of central Venice. http://www.venice-dansaekhwa.com
‘Proportio’ Museo Fortuny. An astonishing show on four floors of this fantastic building. Restored my faith in the art of curation. The Axel & May Vervoordt Foundation have put together a rich collection of artefacts and artworks from across centuries that are grounded in art and instinct of proportion. Peeling walls, raw linen and antique Fortuny fabrics form the background to work as diverse as Botticelli, Elsworth Kelly, an ancient architectural fragment from the Yemen, Bill Viola, Richard Long and a library of priceless books, to touch on a tiny number of experiences. Beautiful catalogue weighs a ton, but can be bought online from the Foundation website. http://www.axel-vervoordt.com/en/inside/foundation/exhibitions/proportio
And the official Biennale proper? In other words the vast Arsenale mixed show, and the national pavilions in the Giardini. Well, at 25 euros entry for both, each of which can take up a whole day, this is good value. But what you find is patchy. Highlights in the pavilions were Fiona Hall in the Australian, and Chiharu Shiota’s keys and boats and miles and miles of red thread in the Japanese
Enough. But must not forget to mention Sean Scully at the Palazzo Falier, or Cy Twombly at the Ca’ Pesaro. Back now to my own threads and paper.
I love this moment: the warp is on and spaced and tensioned, and the first rows in there. All possibilities now open. There are two on the go here, one for Reveal the Museum, (http://www.revealthemuseum.com) and the other, if finished in time (i.e. next March, and yes, I am serious!) for Mending Revealed (http://www.natureofmending.co.uk)
I have just cut this off the loom – a small piece of weaving made for the Discovery Room project (http://www.revealthemuseum.com) which has taken weeks, thanks to my mad idea of using lots of ‘extra warp’ to create all those little flying pieces and the fine mercerised cotton lines. All about surfaces, and a sense of touch…..you need to read my pieces on the project site and its blog (link above) to find out more.
Meanwhile, I have somehow also got involved in ‘From Lincolnshire And Back’, a project posting unfinished work to a partner artist in Lincolnshire, and receiving one back to work on. I must be mad, like I don’t have enough to do! I have been experimenting with wire, again for the Discovery Room and my ‘surfaces’ ideas, so on the left are the pieces I sent to Lincolnshire. On the right is a new print, very small (85mm square) for the miniprint show that Bron Bradshaw is organising for her Dove Studios Festival this summer. It is taken from the clothing of a Victorian doll in the Somerset Heritage stores. So Discovery Room dominates, but is producing all sorts of different work and spin-offs. And I can’t forget about the next Mending show of course, ‘Mending Revealed’, that I am curating at Bridport next year. There will be more news about how that is shaping up in due course at http://www.natureofmending.co.uk
2D3D Contemporary, The Meeting House, Ilminster March 22nd – April 18th Well, this piece isn’t very new, but has only been shown during Open Studios last year. So this is it’s first really public outing. Small tapestry, about 20 x 15cm. The show looks great, and I have several tapestries and some new prints and drawings alongside work by other Somerset and Dorset artists such as Bronwen Bradshaw, Jenny Graham and Amanda Wallwork.
This is a new print, quite large. My first ventures into aluminium etching. Strange to be doing a normal thing like exhibiting in the midst of the very different experience of working with Somerset Heritage for The Discovery Room project. Visit http://www.revealthemuseum.com for up to date details about that.
My title reflects the mix of different projects I have already been working on this year. A follow on show from my project ‘The Journey: Exploring the Nature of Mending’ held at Walford Mill in 2013 is being planned for Bridport Arts Centre in 2016. More details on http://www.natureofmending.co.uk where you can also Follow the project and receive updates. The tapestry ‘Folded Loss’, that I made for the original show, (and was never quite happy with) has been taken apart. A section is now a black tapestry called ‘Scabard’. Both the original and ‘Scabard’ can be seen on the Tapestries page on this site. The rest of ‘Folded Loss now looks like the photo here, and is in the process of being remade into another incarnation. This, after all, is part of the nature of mending! Along with this studio work, I am also part of the artist team for a new ACE funded project, The Discovery Room. Five of us are roaming the stores of Somerset Heritage in Taunton, and having a great time! A final installation of our finds and new work, including words, sound, video, textiles, sculpture, and all manner of strange installations will happen at the Museum of Somerset in January 2016. Full details of this project can be found at http://www.revealthemuseum.com Again, you can Follow from there for updates, and there is a Facebook page. Finally, here is ‘Mile End’ that was shown in the Black Swan Open in Frome during December and January. Next opportunity to see my work, tapestries, drawings and prints, will be from March 22nd at the Meeting House in Ilminster as part of an excellent mixed show of artists including Amanda Wallwork, Bronwen Bradshaw and Jenny Graham. I may have seen in 2015 horizontal with flu, but a lot seems to have happened already!
A show of prints from selected members of Somerset Printmakers (and yes that includes me!) opens this Friday at the Wine Street Gallery, Unit 10, White Horse Business Centre, Hopton Road, Devizes SN10 2HJ. Great looking gallery, and there are ceramics too. Check it out at www.thewinestreetgallery.com The show is on until January 31st. Above is one of my drypoint prints from 2010, which will be in the show along with a number of other from this series. I am still working with dry point, as I love the directness, but have been finally persuaded by my fellow printmakers at the Dove (we call ourselves Fingerprint….) to try etching with copper sulphate on aluminium, which is a recently developed ‘safe’ way of etching. Have been wrestling with my first plate since October, but am getting there I think! More news soon about other good things happening with projects and exhibiting, but in the meantime, get thee to Devizes and buy everyone prints for Christmas……
November 2nd Last weekend I was in London, going to two workshops run by textile artist Shelly Goldsmith, in response to Richard Tuttle’s ‘I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language’. Starting at the Whitechapel Gallery, investigating the quality of line was a good way into this retrospective show of some of Tuttle’s work, all of which has an emphasis on textiles. We were then let loose in an upstairs room to create mayhem, making and installing our own ‘lines’ out of fabric and thread, and incorporating heat transfer images. Great group of people, with varied backgrounds, and all ready to get stuck in. This is the part of my line that I liked. After the workshop I wandered into Kader Attia’s installation ‘Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder’. Like the Tuttle, how could I resist a title like that?! Just great, fascinating, intelligent, many of the things I was groping for through my Nature of Mending project were articulated here.
I can’t really describe either the Tuttle or the Attia, so I won’t try, but got a great deal from both, visual and cerebral. Sunday the workshop re-convened at Tate Modern, to contemplate Tuttle’s installation in the Turbine Hall, which I think is pretty horrible, and I wasnt totally alone. But we got to create chaos again in another upstairs room, this time deconstructing a garment we had brought, and creating something. All very art- collegey but great fun.
Here is a detail from my black silk piece (I abandoned the heat transfer, a technique Shelly uses to brilliant and thought provoking effect, but I was hopeless). The woven ‘name-tape’ is a section cut from a whole long length of text that Shelly brought, left over from one of her pieces, and again, finding the phrase about repair, just had to pounce on it. (Hope it’s visible) One of the extra treats of the day was being in the Tate’s education room, high up at one end of the building, with extraordinary views Home on Monday, then on Wednesday a visit to Museum of Somerset as part of the Discovery Room project which is now well under way (more about this v. soon) and another extraordinary treat, looking at and holding very very ancient ceramics. This one is about 2,500 years old….What a week!
Moving into autumn, and dates finally set for ‘Mending Revealed’, a new Nature of Mending show which will be at Bridport Arts Centre in March 2016. Picking up from ‘The Journey’ at Walford Mill last September, the new show will feature my original team of artists, plus others yet to be announced. Details of the full Nature of Mending project can be found at http://www.natureofmending.co.uk and you can follow the blog on that site.
Meanwhile, work begins on ‘The Discovery Room’ project with Museum of Somerset (see previous post!). My obsession with small eccentric pots continues, boosted by two unexpected presents I was given during a visit to France in early September. The one above is a present from French ceramicist Pascal Lacroix, which came after he had already given us a fantastic impromptu lunch of fresh sardines, melon, charcuterie and the kind of tomato salad one rarely tastes in this country. The little pot below, which is all of 3 inches high, I found at a carboot south of Moissac, and was given it by the 2 charming gents manning the stall….
My work with Taunton museum (there will be a project blog for this, details shortly) will begin with an exploration in the Heritage Centre stores of Bronze and Iron Age pots, plenty, I hope, of wonky pots there! No I haven’t forgotten textiles, but would like to build on the work I did with paperclay last year, and the surfaces will come into my prints, I am sure.
Overall I’m really excited by the opportunities this coming year is offering so far. More soon!
Friend and painter/printmaker Jenny Graham has been successful in her bid to Arts Council England for her project ‘The Room’. I will be joining her, and Chris Dunseath, (sculptor), Ralph Hoyte (poet) and Richard Tomlinson (photographer/moving image) to spend the next year rootling around in the stores and archives at Somerset Heritage in Taunton, alongside their great team of curators. The rootlings will culminate in an installation at the Museum of Somerset in 2016. There will be a project blog soon.
SO, I have been ruminating about collections. I don’t think of myself as a maker of collections, but I realise, I have unconsciously put together a collection of wonky pots over the past 15 years, which live on the windowsill in my studio. There are one or two things which are not pots, but which relate somehow, (and there is one bowl which is anything but wonky but makes a great foil for the others). Here is my windowsill.
You can’t see the individual objects in any detail here, but the reason I wanted to post a picture of my collection was more to do with their background stories than to show them off and say why I like them. Makes a change from always being primarily visual. So here are the stories. The numbers start with the little bottles along the top, and go clockwise and then into the middle, finishing with the Michael Fairfax sculpture.
1 – 5
Rejected bottles and pot collected from the debris of John Butler and John McKenzie’s wood fired kiln after their final firing at Hurstone Studios in 2004.
Beaker made by Martha Stalkopt at Hurstone studios in 2004. One of the gifts she made to all of us who had studios there when she returned to Switzerland.
7 & 8
Terracotta beakers from India. The LH one is a chai cup, (now holding pins) which I picked up from a pile of rejects next to the potter who was making them, in a small remote village somewhere in Rajasthan in 2005. James Crowden would know the name of it; he took us there to see the most spectacular step well.
The RH one I kept from a train journey from Dehra Dun to Delhi, later in 2005. Extract from my diary: ‘As soon as the train starts boys come round with newspapers. Unfortunately all in Hindi. These are followed by bottles of water and a paper cup each. A while later we get a sort of thin spicy pasty, a cup of tea (from a ‘tea kit’), a packet of crisps, one of those testicle like sweet balls (brown this time) and two toffees. After another pause, we get a carton of mango juice each, which are whipped away rather quickly, (no chance of saving for later) and replaced with a cup of spicy tomato soup and roll and butter. NOW comes the major meal, 3 hot dishes, (curried beans, curried paneer, rice & 3 chapatti) a paper bag of salad, pickle, and a terracotta pot of beautiful yoghurt’. This is the very same terracotta pot, and now holds a painted easter egg.
9. 1960s vase from car boot.
10 & 11. Two experimental fired paperclay objects, made by me at UWE Bristol whilst studying for my printmaking M.A in 2002
12. A small beautifully imperfect bowl by Japanese ceramicist Kaori Tatebayashi, bought this year at the Leach pottery shop in St. Ives. It now contains a handful of iridescent green beetle wings from my grandmother’s sewing things. They were presumably for applique, like sequins.
13 – 16 More experiments with fired paperclay, made last year for my Nature of Mending project, using nails and metal washers, with a view to incorporating into tapestries.
17. A piece of circular slate. Cannot remember where I found it.
18. Four rusted antique nails found whilst gardening.
19. A beautiful, serene, perfectly symmetrical and balanced celadon bowl with raku fired pedestal by Devon ceramicist Tim Andrews, bought 2 years ago at the Marle Gallery in Axminster.
20. As 10 and 11
21 As 1 – 5 except this was not a reject and I bought it from one of the Johns. John Butler now making green buildings in Bridport, so he would know.
22 Five pieces of fabric stitched/wrapped with metal dipped in porcelain slip then fired, by textile artist Debbie Smyth. Bought this year from the Taunton exhibition of work made during the Somerset Artworks project Z Twist.
23 Wood and lens sculpture by Michael Fairfax. A much loved 50th birthday present from the artist.
So, a rich mix of pieces by artists, some friends, some not, incidental finds and my own experiments.
Applying this process to museum collections won’t of course be possible, but maybe with imagination, making collections from within their collections can be brought to life in a similar way. Can’t wait!