Exhibition News – Small World

Delighted to announce that I have a piece of work selected to be part of PS Mirabel’s 2017 Open Call for their ‘Small World’ exhibition.

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My piece, ‘Untitled 3’, forms part of an early exploration into the properties of expanding foam and its qualities when combined with other materials.

‘Small World’ showcases the best of tiny artwork with no piece exceeding 20cm in any direction.

Exhibition preview is on the 7th July 6pm to 9pm and open every Saturday 11am to 5pm until 13th August and will be part of the MANIFEST programme which coincides with the 2017 Manchester International Festival.

Mirabel Studios, 14/20 Mirabel Street
Manchester. M3 1PJ

Exhibition News – Engage in Colour

Thrilled to announce that my piece ‘Mekewāp’ has been selected for exhibition as part of ‘Engage in Colour‘ at Mirfield Arts Hub.

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“ENGAGE IN COLOUR’ IS AN ABSTRACT COLLABORATIVE EXHIBITION, IN WHICH WE INVITE EMERGING ARTISTS TO SHOWCASE ALONGSIDE OUR MEMBERS AT CREATIVE ARTS HUB IN MIRFIELD, WEST YORKSHIRE”

‘Mekewāp’ dates back to 2011 and is a recent return to old work, rediscovered whilst clearing out a childhood home, and stumbling across several works each with the ‘wigwam’ motif the artists questions the purpose of the dwelling and the home. Can the home be spiritual? Do we carry our ideals of the home and the dwelling like snails carry a shell?

Exhibition dates Fri 7 Jul – Sat 12 Aug 2017

Opening Times Weds – Fri  10am–5pm | Sat 10am–3pm

Opening night Fri 7 Jul, 6pm – 8pm

Address Creative Arts Hub CIC, 1st floor, 51-53 Huddersfield Rd, Mirfield, WF14 8AB

Hope to see you there.

 

In The Studio – June Update

At last! An update! Things have been a bit busy behind the scenes since my last studio update and now its time to share with it you.

After the Constellations show had finished and the installation went on to Swansea’s ‘Elysium Gallery’ as part of ‘THE END IS BY YUR’ I turned to what was next for my work. I wanted to make bigger and more disgusting work.

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Sculpture work before painting.

I returned back to phallic imagery, as this was already a recurring theme in my work. With this new piece I was determined to make it bigger and more grotesque.

In my usual making process of forcing foam into objects I also began adding previous foam experiments into the setting foam to add both length to the sculpture and more bulbous ‘tumours’ to the piece.

I also came across a red foil whilst in my local art shop, it works in a similar way to gold leaf and I thought that it could lend itself to being a metaphor for blood or provide connotations of danger in my work.

I had also been thinking about the use of hair in my work, in the previous pieces I had used my own hair but, obviously, there is only so much of that you can cut off! I opted instead to use hair extensions. Previous uses of hair in my work weren’t quite hitting the right chord with the level of disgust I was going for. After a while I realised that one of my biggest hates in life is having cold, wet hair, so why not try and replicate that?

The wet look was created with varnish, I found that the hair would often just soak it up giving little coverage to the whole sculpture. To combat this I used a spray varnish on dry hair which provides a seal and gives further coats of varnish a surface to sit on. One unexpected element of the spray varnish was that it would dry in ‘droplets’ (pictured below), giving a weird sense of beauty amongst the grotesque.

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It was after this piece that I began to wonder if that the phallic imagery was perhaps a bit too obvious and so I returned to using other objects and really exploiting the abstracted body.  I love the way in which the foam collapses onto itself in this piece.

 

In my work the plinth is becoming a vital part of my work and whilst moving away from the text based element of my work I still want to be clear as to what my work is about, hence retaining coloured plinths or bases for my work to represent chat boxes. As long as I retain the same two colours (blue and yellow) then I would hope the idea of chat boxes can still ring through. I was clear that I wanted to move away from the paper used in my early installation piece, opting to use wood instead. I found that thick ‘slabs’ of MDF give the ‘chat box’ base a real presence.

The foam was applied directly onto the MDF board. Once set the two pieces were given an undercoat of red and orange respectively. Each piece was then dry brushed with light, fleshy tones until each looked like a slab of processed meat. The bases were then painted and the entire piece varnished heavily.

I felt that something was missing from each piece and experimented with using hair again. The hair comes from hair extensions and is seen appearing to ‘sprout’ from craters on the surface of the sculpture. I think they work particularly well as a pair, the colour combination of the bases plays strongly into the impact of the piece – they fall a little flat when separated.

Alongside everything else I had also been keen to make bigger and bigger work. The piece in the pictures below, “Show Daddy More Of You”, has been built up in layers of expanding foam over a five month period and stands at just over 4ft tall. With this piece I really wanted to push the notion of body horror and force viewers to react to the piece.

The foam was painted a mixture of reds and then dry brushed with various pale and fleshy tones before clumps of hair were added. Layers of varnish were then built up; which not only adds further to the grotesque nature of the piece but also gives a high sheen, giving a sense of quality – as if it were a high end product.

In playing around with different sized boards as plinths I had created this quite elongated piece, seen below in its undercoat.

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I opted to use blonde hair this time after seeing a recent exhibition at Caustic Coastal (Salford) and wondered if the use of blonde hair in my work might alter projected connotations. I think the use of such a platinum blonde (which has its own associations with female figures and beauty) projects some of those onto the sculpture. This contrasts nicely with the body horror and pools of varnish that have formed to look like puss.

 

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So what next? Pictured above is the start of my next piece which I intend to be the start of a grotesque archway (watch this space). Other work I may return to are the symbols of the hearts and (as incredibly relevant to my work) work on condom wrappers.

 

Exhibition News – Middlesbrough Art Weekender

Today marks two weeks to go until the opening of Middlesbrough Art weekender and my return to exhibiting in Middlesbrough. From the 19th – 21st May work of International and Regional Artists will be shown across forty locations alongside public events and workshops.

Alongside work in pop-up galleries there will also be shows opening in Mima, House of Blah Blah, Felix the Gallery, Platform A and Teesside University’s Degree Show.

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Linking all of these shows is an art trail along Albert Road, which is where my work will be shown.

You may recognise this piece from an earlier installation piece (as shown in Manchester and Swansea). Due to space constraints the whole piece cannot be shown.

I am thrilled to be showing work in my old stomping ground after a four year absence alongside some incredible artists.


“JOIN US FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE MIDDLESBROUGH ART WEEKENDER @ MIMA FROM 6PM TILL 8PM , FOLLOWED BY FOOD AND DRINKS CATERED BY THE SMELTRY.

OPENING NIGHT PERFORMANCES FROM HAROLD OFFEH AND OMSK SOCIAL CLUB.

PICK UP ONE OF THE 300 LIMITED EDITION CATALOUGES FOR THE WEEKEND AND CELEBRATE WITH US THE FIRST OF AN ANNUAL ART WEEKEND IN MIDDLESBROUGH.

THE MAIN EXHIBITION INCLUDING WORKS BY: AMANDA BEECH, SHIRIN FAHIMI, BENJAMIN BUSCH, MILOS TRAKILOVIC, ORAN OREILLY, AINE ODWYER, WOLFGANG BITTNER, ADAM GIBNEY, RICHARD FORREST AND FIONA KELLY

ART TRAIL ACROSS 30 LOCATIONS

THREE POP-UP GALLERIES

AS WELL AS SUPPORTING PARTNERS PROGRAMME INCLUDING TESSIDE UNIVERSITIES DEGREE SHOW ‘SUBLIME’ AND EXHIBTIONS AT PLATOFRM A, HOUSE OF BLAH BLAH AND MIMA.

MIDDLESBROUGH ART WEEKENDER 2017 IS HAPPENING 19TH – 21ST MAY. SHOWCASING INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL ARTISTS ACROSS FORTY LOCATIONS, AS WELL AS HOSTING PUBLIC EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS

WE WELCOME EVERYONE TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR PROGRAMME AND THE WEEKEND.”


 

Armageddon Stereo – Rise Again EP

A while ago I was asked to document the video making process for Armageddon Stereo‘s new music video, ‘Hunt the Wolves‘. Filming took place in an infinity room, hidden away in a corner of Salford an elusive part of the Unit26 studio.

Behind the camera was Rob of Natusro Video, who filmed and edited the video and has a rather enviable collection of equipment!

Considering that I was there to document the video making process I am thrilled that one of my images made it onto the cover reverse for their new EP (pictured below right). Rob also is responsible for the awesome EP front cover.

Rise Again is available for digital download via Bandcamp at: https://armageddonstereo.bandcamp.com/album/rise-again

Limited physical copies of the EP are available direct from the band. For Gig dates and more info check out https://www.facebook.com/Armageddonstereo

 

Exhibition News – 100 Years of OUI

Thrilled to announce that my work will be appearing at Kimberly Clark Gallery as part of ‘100 Years of OUI’.

Kimberly Clark is a dispenser gallery situated in an undisclosed UK public toilet. Distributing high art on low quality paper hand towels to unexpected users, KC attempts to dismantle the institutional framework, forcing art into our everyday lives.

‘100 years of OUI’ invites artists to reflect and create innovative, original pieces that celebrate Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ 1917. Situated in a gent’s public toilet, Kimberly Clark provides a platform for dialogical exchanges, aiming to create unique viewer experiences.

The gallery setting, I feel, is perfect for my work, partly because of the subject matter of my work but also the effectiveness of its delivery in this gallery environment. Forcing art into our everyday lives through the unsuspecting use of a paper towel dispenser prevents the viewer from escaping the message behind my art. Through my work I aim to highlight the immense pressure put upon social media users to drop their morals, standards and their pants with little regard for their own sexual health – accepting that unsolicited requests to send nudes is part of normal use of social media sites and apps. Users who do this may be able to sit behind screens, protected by their blank profiles and anonymity but through 100 Years of OUI I am able to hit back at users of that mindset and let them know their actions and attitudes are being brought into question.

Included in the show are examples of my sculpture work (pictured top of page); two hearts, one representing a traditional love heart whilst the other is more accurate to the human heart  – a metaphor for head vs heart. Picture Message 1&2, abstracted body sculpture work in response to unsolicited photo messages sent daily by strangers to strangers

Pictured below are examples of digital painting, recreations of screenshots taken on social media sites and messaging apps that I found alarming and feel need further questioning in our over sexualised and vacuous society.

Exhibition News – Hand In

*EXHIBITION NEWS*

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My  has been chosen to be included as part of “Hand In” this coming weekend at 36 Lime Street in Newcastle upon Tyne.

‘Hand In’ is a show curating a compilation of 191 submissions of artist documentation received through an open call. Exploring how to overcome limitations of collaboration across space, the exhibition attempts to develop and implement methods for a cross-pollination of practices.

Preview: 6-8pm – 24th March
Open 11am-5pm – 25th and 26th March

In the Studio – January Update

It’s all been a bit quiet on here recently so I thought I’d update you all as to what I’ve been doing. My accidental phallic sculpture caught me quite by surprise and really influenced the next stage of this line of enquiry.

Whilst trying to find where my work fits in the world of sculpture I found similar work of abstracted bodies by Robert Gober. Gober’s work about sexuality and loss of artists and friends around him due to AIDS in what was, perhaps, the darkest point of the wide-spread epidemic in the 1980’s. The Guardian’s Jason Farago describes the work of Gober as “a collection of memento mori, of burning relics from an era when boys like me didn’t know if they’d live another year”(Farago, 2016), encouraging us to reflect on our own personal loss, our actions and how we can better ourselves. This reflection manifests itself through disembodiment, intricately replicated legs (Untitled Leg, 1989-1990) are no longer attached to a body, they float on alone as if the body they were once attached to has faded from memory. Reproductions of male lower torsos and unlit candles (Untitled 1991) offer the viewer a “sobering re-acquaintance with recent history and unfathomable loss…. and in the silence and vulnerability of so much that Mr. Gober has done, dwells the theme of redemptive love and the all too real effect of its absence, which is poisonous hate”(Farago, 2016), the abstracted body in Gober’s work seems to haunt the gallery space.

This had me thinking, perhaps I should make work along similar lines but update it to provide commentary on the modern age of social media and the forever quickening world in which everything is instantaneous has served to desensitise people from social taboos, resulting in an unrelenting barrage of messages with unsolicited requests to “send nudes” or to accept an invitation into a faceless stranger’s bed as the norm. I want my work to highlight the immense pressure put upon social media users to drop their morals, standards and their pants with little regard for their own sexual health.

As you can see, I have started to create malformed body abstracted bodies to bring about a sense of disgust and body horror. You’ll see as time has gone on I have included things in my work such as real hair and a glossy finish to really hit home and deliver a wake up call to social media-addicted society.

 

This piece (above) was created using a pizza tray!

 

 

 

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Above: I did try to take this further with a clockwork mechanism to create spinning hair but unfortunately the hair kept getting caught in the mechanism and clogging.

Although I was determined that I wanted my work to be grotesque I also wanted it to reflect the commodity status that sex has degraded to, to make it so sickly-sweet, as if I were offering a high-end, high quality product. I wanted to have high-sheen finishes on my sculptural pieces, similar to that seen in the work of Jeff Koons, in which the self-merchandising and kitsch nature of the work is reflective of our consumerist culture.

The images below document the installation period of my latest co-curated show, ‘Constellations’.

The installation piece depicts two phone screens, both using an app like Grindr or Tinder. They are separated by a love heart, a message of irony considering the lewd circumstances and the direction of their conversation. The heart is shiny but almost in a thick and gelatinous way, there are craters on its surface too. The conversation continues onto the floor, one asks the other if he can see his “love stick” and so they exchange pictures, in doing so they expose their malformed manhood.

I have created this piece so that if you read the piece collectively it plays out much like a conversation on one of these apps but if you read each screen on its own it reflects the lonely nature of the realities that these lewd message senders face.


References

Farago, J. (2016) Robert Gober opens at MoMA: Sober, haunting and genuinely affecting. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/oct/03/robert-gober-moma-retrospective-review-sculpture-art (Accessed: 14 January 2017).

Rogue Artists’ Studios – Oct 2016

 

Apologies for another belated recounting of my art visits. October 2016 was host to Rogue Artists Studio’s open weekend.

The open weekend showcased the entirety of the massive, warren-like  building and its artists in what was a wonderful celebration of talent tinged with sadness. 2016 would be the final year that Rogue studios would exist and the building prepared for demolition.

There were so many artists in the studios that it took me an entire weekend to view all of the artists showing work. Among them, I found the work of Abraham Emajaro to be particularly gripping.

“Abraham Emajaro, born in Bradford Yorkshire, is a self taught Multimedia Artist whose array of work includes the exploration of the subconscious and the hidden recesses of the mind, such as the hidden symbolism within dreams.  His work draws inspiration from the works of C.G.Jung’s, ‘On the Nature of Dreams’ and Freud’s. ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’.

His idea of employing materials he has found on travels, is an eclectic mix of domestic and commercial junk of everyday life, and has become and all consuming passion.  An array of Box Construction, Assemblage, Sculpture, Painting, Photography and Video has been created.

In his box construction entitled ‘A shrine for the Nocturnal Poet’, for example, he employed materials culled from junk shops, flea markets, car boot sales, rubbish skip and the streets and alleyways of Manchester” (Emajaro, 2016).

Other work from the show can be seen here:

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All in all the show provided the perfect send off for the studios, thank you Rogue.

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References

Emajaro, A. (2016) Abraham Emajaro multimedia artist. Available at: http://www.abrahamemajaro.com/statement.htm (Accessed: 13 January 2017).