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).

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John Moores Painting Prize – Oct 2016

My next outing in Liverpool took me to the Walker Art Gallery to see the John Moores Painting prize. Before looking at the painting prize exhibition I had a mandatory perusal of the permanent displays on the ground floor, a visual trip through time from classical design to designs of the near future.

I particularly like the strained expressions in old paintings where discrepancies in body proportions make for some amusing figures, much like the piture above right.


ZOO LOGIC/FEELINTHECAT

On my ascent up the rather grand staircase I was immediately confronted with ‘ZOO LOGIC’, a large, inflatable Felix the Cat. ‘ZOO LOGIC’ is one of two installation pieces in this space, both of which are the product of Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey.

Leckey’s fascination with moving image and technology are in evidence in both pieces but particularly more so with ‘FEELINTHECAT’, a two screened video piece showing the artists own transformation into Felix the Cat shown inside a dome shaped like Felix’s head.

I think of the two pieces Leckey presents here I was far keener on ‘ZOO LOGIC’ (pictured above). ‘FEELINTHECAT’ felt a bit overwhelming, the combination of unrelenting video effects and the close proximity in which character dress up comes to the edge of clown-like and the way in which they are now asscoiated serve to make the viewer feel uncomfortable. There is something almost eerie about the Felix character who, outwardly, still appears to be not from this era. ‘ZOO LOGIC’, however feels much more approachable and cartoon-like.


John Moores Painting Prize 2016

The John Moores Painting Prize is part of the Liverpool Biennial and brings together some of the best new painting in the UK. Subjects, mediums and themes covered in this years painting prize were hugely diverse but the qaulity of the work on show was of the highest standard.

First Prize went to Michael Simpson with his piece ‘Squint (19)‘.

Visitors Choice Prize went to Donal Molony with the busy piece ‘Cave Floor‘.

Other prize winners include: Talar Aghbashian, Gabriella Boyd, Benjamin Jamie and Selma Parlour.

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I had two favourite pieces in the exhibition which were as follows:

Graham Crowley’s ‘Blue Drift‘ – A mesmerising and tranquil water scene where deep, steely-blue water is only broken by the brightly coloured boats that float along the mirrored water surface.

Lee Marshall ‘Midnight I‘ – This piece absolutely glows when one stands before it, the deep red glow is unlike anything I have every seen in a painting. One cannot help but feel a sense of sorrow or loss.

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Other paintings from the show can be seen in the above slideshow.


Food for Thought

Finally, on the way out of the exhibition there was a rather amusing wall, the Musuem asking visitors what question they would ask an artist. The rather amusing answers can be seen below.

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References

Walker Art Gallery (2016) Artists for the John Moores painting prize 2016 – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums. Available at: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/johnmoores/jm2016/artist-list.aspx (Accessed: 22 December 2016).

Walker Art Gallery (2016) John Moores painting prize 2016 – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums. Available at: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/johnmoores/jm2016/index.aspx (Accessed: 22 December 2016).

Walker Art Gallery (2016) ZOO LOGIC by Mark Leckey, Felix the cat based installations – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums. Available at: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/exhibitions/arts-council-collection/zoologic/ (Accessed: 22 December 2016).

Tate Liverpool – Sept 2016

Apologies for (once again) providing a belated documentation of my travels but time is only now allowing me to do this write up. 2016 saw Liverpool Biennial return to the city for it’s ninth incarnation with an exciting, city-wide arts programme.


Dazzle Ship

My visit to Albert Dock saw me immediately greeted by the World War I ‘Dazzle Ship’, a co-commision between 14-18 NOW, Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool (not to be confused with ‘Everybody Razzle Dazzle‘ by Peter Blake) that has transformed 1953 built Pilot Vessel ‘Edmund Gardner’ (National Historic Ships UK, 2009) into a Dazzle Ship representative of those seen during WWI. Dazzle Ships, the brain-child of Norman Wilkinson, were painted in striking colours and patterns to confuse German Submarines and make them harder to locate and attack. The design of the Dazzle Ship livery was heavily inspired by Cubist painting techniques (Liverpool Museum, 2016). The livery that ‘Edmund Gardener’ currently wears (pictured below) is the work of Paris-based artist Carlos Cruz-Diez (Jones, 2014).

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Dazzle Ship, Albert Dock, Liverpool, 2016.


Liverpool Biennial – Tate Liverpool

“Liverpool Biennial 2016 explores fictions, stories and histories, taking viewers on a series of voyages through time and space, drawing on Liverpool’s past, present and future. These journeys take the form of six ‘episodes’: Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children’s Episode, Software, Monuments from the Future and Flashback. They are sited in galleries, public spaces, unused buildings, through live performance and online” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).

Tate Liverpool’s first floor played host to the Ancient Greece ‘episode’ of the Biennial, a reimagining of worlds in which Ancient Greece and modern day collide and emerge as a single reality, a reminder of neoclassical architecture of the 1800’s (National Museums Liverpool, 2016). Classical sculpture stands alongside newly commissioned artworks.

Many of the classical sculptures on display are part of the Ince Blundell collection, a marriaging of various classical sculpture parts to other sculpture that does not neccessarily belong. The Blundell collection sees female heads attached to male bodies and extremities attached to the wrong side of the body, almost as if the coupling of Ancient Greece and 2016 is not without consequence.

“Alongside Blundell’s figures and fragments, Koenraad Dedobbeleer has made a series of display structures to support the classical sculptures in their new context. Andreas Angelidakis’s new film looks at Ancient Greek vases, and how they were used to spread news and myth, comparing this dissemination to the internet. Jumana Manna’s work draws parallels between Athens and Jerusalem to relate how their stories both contributed to the West’s self-construction, which in turn mirrored and partially shaped the economy and politics of the Middle East. Betty Woodman’s mural depicts a domestic scene, complete with three-dimensional ceramic objects” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).

Andreas Angelidakis’ work (pictured above) beautifully brought together the ancient greek arcitecture into our world, little models of fantastical dwellings seem more familiar to our world with the inclusion of (mass produced) books.

This linking of our two worlds was further enforced through the scattering of litter throughout the gallery space. This, I felt, was highly efective in keeping the idea of a combined reality in our thoughts.

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Vase with Festoon of Flowers and Dictionary, 2016′ (pictured below) was a  standout piece for me by artist Jumana Manna. “Weaving together the methods of historian, anthropologist and performer, Manna’s films and sculptures question the limits of the body in relation to historic narratives of nationalism” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).

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Learning Centre

A trip anywhere is not complete without passing through the learning area! Although this area is aimed to engage young children with the act of art making it does provide an artist with area to escape from their own strict studio practice. Pictured below are examples of some of the creations made when I was let loose in the Learning Centre.


Tracey Emin and William Blake in Focus

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At first glance, Emin and Blake might not seem to be likely bedfellows (if you’ll pardon the pun) but dig a little deeper and parrallels begin to appear.

My Bed (1998) offers the viewer an intimate glimpse into the life of the artist during a particularly messy period in her life, it is a portrait of truth and and pain not unlike the work of Blake.

“Blake stood against the hypocrisies of his age championing liberalism, sexual freedoms and above all freedom of expression. This new display affirms Blake’s Romantic idea of artistic truth through existential pain and the possibility of spiritual rebirth through art, shared in the work of Tracey Emin” (Tate, 2016).

For me, this was the first time seeing ‘My Bed’ in person. I had seen it thousands of times in reproduced images but the only way to truly experience this piece is to see it in person for there is one sense that cannot be reproduced – smell. I was quite taken aback just how potent ‘My Bed’ actually is.


Constellations

‘Constellations’ presents pieces from Tate’s collection in a new light. The Exhibition space here can be thought of as an astrology map, major artworks take on the role of constallations that act as a trigger and are surrounded by other artworks that take inspiration from the constallation (Tate, 2016).

Selected artists include Barbara Hepworth, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Rachel Whiteread, Grayson Perry and Grayson Perry.

One of the stand out pieces here is Enrico David’s 2002 ‘Untitled’ piece (pictured above and below).

 Anther piece worthy of note is ‘Painter’, a 1995 video piece presenting a satire of an artist’s life. A very clever piece and a must see!


References

Jones, C. (2014) Gallery: World war I ‘dazzle ship’ is transformed on Liverpool’s waterfront. Available at: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/gallery-world-war-dazzle-ship-7246865 (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Liverpool Museum (2016) Dazzle ship – Merseyside maritime museum, Liverpool museums. Available at: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/exhibitions/dazzle-ship/ (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

National Historic Ships UK (2009) Edmund Gardner · national historic ships UK. Available at: http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/444/edmund-gardner (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

National Museums Liverpool, N.M. (2016) Liverpool biennial: Festival of contemporary art. Available at: http://www.biennial.com/2016/exhibition/about (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2016) Constellations highlights from the nation’s collection of modern art. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-liverpool/display/constellations (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2006) Painter, Paul McCarthy 1995 | Tate Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mccarthy-painter-t12606 (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2016) Everybody Razzle dazzle. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/everybody-razzle-dazzle (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2016) Tracey Emin and William Blake in focus. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/tracey-emin-and-william-blake-focus (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Paper Gallery – The Cat Show

Tucked away in the shadows of Manchester Victoria Station/Manchester Arena you may find Paper Gallery, a charming micro-gallery with some serious cat-titude.

Their current exhibition, The Cat Show (12th November – 17th December) will paws-itively brighten up the day of anyone familiar with the true purpose of the internet – cat videos.

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Cathy Lomax – It woke him up because it was hungry (The Long Goodbye)

Over twenty artists have delved into all aspects of feline life and are showing their work in The Cat Show, an impressive feat considering the space available and the work is displayed in a playful and topical way; the use of Cat accessories as a display method (see below image) is litter-ally a stroke of genius!

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What is most telling about the work in The Cat Show is that you can identify those artists who own and live with cats and those who experience them through meme‘s and video’s whilst procrastinating. The rhetoric of those who own cats is perhaps slightly more jaded and long suffering!

The Cat Show brings together such a rich and diverse collection of Cat Art that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most hardcore of cat enthusiasts and procrastinators.

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Lisa Wilkens – Three Nights

In a world that takes itself too seriously, The Cat Show is the perfect remedy. Allow your spirits to be lifted through  new look into the world of our feline friends.

The Cat Show runs until December 17th at Paper Gallery, Mirabel Street, Manchester and is free entry. Its Purrfect!

David Spriggs

Contemporary artist David Spriggs has, for over a decade now, been mastering his chosen medium for making artwork. Spriggs works heavily with acrylic paint on plastic and ‘His works tread neatly along an unusually blurred frontier between sculpture and painting, greeting viewers with an all encompassing vision that powerfully touches on the ethereal(Starr, 2013).

09. Spriggs 2010 STRATACHROME

Stratachrome, image copyright of the artist.

 

Sprigg’s work is hugely expansive too, many being made up of hundreds of large sheets of acrylic, layered upon each other and toying with our vision- Stratachrome for example.

Spriggs told Visual News:

My method uses both painting and sculpture. I found that painting had certain qualities that allowed me to represent certain concepts, and sculpture allowed others, yet each method had their own inherent limitations. I wanted to find a way that I could paint in the space between the two and three dimensions in order to bring new ideas and ways of seeing. It lead me to develop a new type of space in which I could represent what I find most fascinating: the notion of the immaterial form.” (Starr, 2013).

14.  Spriggs 2010 VISION_detail

Vision, Image copyright of the artist

Sprigg’s work certainly does play around with how we see it, within each layer his work appears to gain mass and take on a physical, three dimensional form as if it is somehow living within its own confines.

In 1999 I developed an original system of painting onto layers of either transparent film or glass and hanging them specifically through space. I refer to these works as stratachromes, meaning layers of colour. For the last 13 years I have used transparency as an important conceptual device and as a material in my work to explore the relationship between perception, space, the immaterial form, colour, and the symbolism of power. My techniques of making my installation artworks emerged alongside my interest in these subjects and in my practice of painting and sculpture. At the time I developed the first stratchromes, nobody else I knew of had done anything that explored the potential of transparent layering to represent form in space. The closest thing to the layering system was found in science with the cross-sections of the human body project, and in design with the layering process of CNC machines. Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage had made some works with layers of printed glass but these focused on different concepts. The result of my experiments was interesting as I could create ‘immaterial’ forms in new hybrid space between 2 and 3 dimensions. I was excited by the possibilities of the medium and intended from the start to make work on a large scale. It took a lot of testing with materials to develop a system that gave any results, and almost 10 years to reach the large scale I wanted. Each artwork I produce requires very different techniques to achieve the results I want. The technique always follows the subject, the most important element of the work.” (Starr, 2013).

05. Spriggs 2009 AXIS OF POWER

Axis of Power, image copyright of the artist

Although the scale of Sprigg’s work is powerfully humbling it only goes some way in dispelling the sense of delicacy that I was experiencing within my own work in transparency. The outer layers of acrylic act as a container, keeping and stabilising what we perceive to be a three dimensional object in existence, as if it would dispensary should it ever get chance to escape. This use of space plays with the viewers own imagination, we question why the forms are trapped in stasis. We are captivated and unable to look away, we then form the ‘how’s and ‘why’s surrounding the objects but we cannot contain them in stasis. It is our own fault, we maintain our stare at the objects and the longer we do the greater the chance for the object to slip away as we step to the side and ruin the illusion for ourselves.

Check out a video of Sprigg’s work here: https://vimeo.com/19453267

 


References

Starr, B. (2013) Immersive 3D paintings on layers of transparent film: An interview with artist David Spriggs. Available at: https://www.visualnews.com/2013/09/25/immersive-3d-paintings-layers-transparent-film-interview-artist-david-spriggs/ (Accessed: 30 August 2016).

 

Julie K Holt Walsh

I recently visited Ordsall Hall, Salford, to see ‘Ordering the Chaos‘ by Julie K Holt Walsh.

Fascinated by natural objects discarded by nature, which land randomly on the ground. Walsh collects seeds, insects and other organic objects and arranges them carefully and systematically into groups, creating order from the chaos(Salford Community Leisure, 2016).

The show was an exhibition of natural, harmless objects given a new and playfully dark role; their purpose seemingly reinvented, seed pods become the heads of carnivorous plants desperate to escape their confines, thorn-studded rose branches become a prison, bird skulls become masks reminiscent of African tribal masks under witness to unexplained rituals. We are transported to another world.

Perhaps this reinvention of objects stems form Walsh’s continual questioning of definitions and her keenness to understand art through the eyes of her students, some of whom have testimonials on her website.

The re-use of the natural was a theme that continued within the exhibition space, the natural forms of Walsh’s work, coupled with the minimalist qualities of the restored Hall building were a striking contrast to the white gallery walls and man made elements of the artwork.

In using objects of nature in her work Walsh does seem to leave an overriding sense of emptiness in her work, despite filling the exhibition space one cannot help but feel that they are but empty vessels – perhaps best evidenced in the empty seed pods. This could perhaps be linked to issues of family tragedy and childbirth which have been the driving force behind Walsh’s studio practice for many years.

Larry


References

Salford Community Leisure (2016) Exhibitions. Available at: http://www.salfordcommunityleisure.co.uk/culture/ordsall-hall/exhibitions (Accessed: 23 August 2016).

Rachel Goldsmith

Whilst undertaking my sporadic and inconsistently timed survey of what was happening in my own field of work I was genuinely humbled and awestruck when I stumbled upon the work of Rachel Goldsmith, a New York based artist who works predominantly with a 3D printing pen. Yes, Rachel is also well versed in water based paint and ink but her career skyrocketed through her work with the 3Doodler 3D printing pen, even being commissioned by 3Doodler themselves to produce work for the MoMA design store (Goldsmith, 2012) and is now featured on the company’s artist blog –  Rachel is perhaps the ‘go to’ person when it comes to 3D printer pen art.

Image copyright of Rachel Goldsmith

3Dprint.com‘s Hannah Rose Mendoza was also impressed with Goldsmith’s work as far back as 2014, writing:

Goldsmith’s work takes sketch and pattern making in a beautiful direction and her facility with the medium is clear as she changes the textures and tensions of the strands of quickly hardening plastic while making them look organic and naturally generated(Mendoza, 2014).

Goldsmith is so at ease with the 3Doodler pen that not only the forms she produces appear organic but the material too! I must admit that I was genuinely speechless at seeing Goldsmith’s work and for some time feared that I would never be able to write this post for not knowing what to say.

Image copyright of Rachel Goldsmith

Goldsmith’s control of her pen is now developed to such a level that she is now defining the future of painting, vivid coloured plastic strands are masterfully forged into shapes of almost organic nature with such ease that it is impossible to comprehend how such an object can come into being. Goldsmith manages to create objects that suggest a flow of movement from something so categorically man-made – every piece seems to flow and carry movement.

Image copyright of Rachel Goldsmith

 

Aware of her influential status, the first lady of 3D printing is leaving no stone un-turned in her exploration of the capabilities and limits of her pen:

“Not only is this still a relatively new medium, but I’m at the cusp of the wave in utilizing it in general, as well as in fine art specifically. I have spent the last few years experimenting, developing and now refining an arsenal of techniques that I can employ to create fine art. I’ve been using a technique a lot which I call “Anchor Pull”. This is when I use the pen to make an anchor, and then drag the melted plastic to create long webs in layers. You can see this in my Kelp series, my Webs, and my Squares series, as well as my more recent Triangles” (Matisons, 2016). 

Goldsmith is even bringing in ‘foreign elements’ to the 3D printing technique, elements that cannot be made with the printer pen alone such as recolouring the plastic with spray paint or goldleaf in order to fully exploit the materiality of the 3D printing medium and deepening the territory in which it encroaches. Such experiments have also seen her paintings come full circle with 3D printed elements inhabiting the canvas space in which they had been freed from with the creation of the 3Doodler pen.

Image copyright Rachel Goldsmith

Goldsmith told 3Dprint.com’s Clare Scott:

the art world needs to embrace the endless possibilities that this new technology presents. Amazing creations are coming down the pipe line and I have no doubt that new ideas will continue to pop-up. I have been crusading for the understanding that the 3Doodler can and should be used for Fine Art (#3Doodler4FineArt)… and my conversation with President Clinton along with my observations of the tool in the hand of other artists reaffirms my belief. Although some contemporary art galleries have already opened their doors to this new medium, I am hopeful that many more will follow suit” (Scott, 2016).

Goldsmith has created the hashtag #3Doodler4FineArt so that other 3D printer pen artists may share ideas and work.

I, for one, cannot wait to see more of Goldsmith’s work!

https://www.facebook.com/artistrachelgoldsmith/

Larry

 


References

Goldsmith, R. (2012) Bio & CV « Rachel Goldsmith. Available at: http://rachelgoldsmith.com/bio/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

Matisons, M. (2016) Rachel Goldsmith makes fine art by ‘painting in plastic’ using her 3Doodler. Available at: https://3dprint.com/131239/rachel-goldsmith-fine-art/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

Mendoza, H.R. (2014) Rachel Goldsmith: Artist in 3Doodler. Available at: https://3dprint.com/29174/rachel-goldsmith-3doodler-art/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

Scott, C. (2015) Artist Rachel Goldsmith continues to take 3Doodler 3D printing pen to new levels. Available at: https://3dprint.com/103279/goldsmith-3doodled-flower/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

Mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art)

A recent visit to Middlesbrough saw a return to an old stomping ground in MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. This was my first visit to the gallery since 2013 and, more importantly, since the day-to-day running of the gallery was transferred from the local council to Teesside University.


Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology

 

I was pleased to discover that on ‘surface level’ the gallery seems very much the same, the main gallery space was occupied with an exhibition entitled ‘Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology‘ . This exhibition occupied all four rooms of the ground floor gallery space and is “an urgent reaction to the recent closure of Redcar’s steelworks and a bid to make a positive contribution to the future of industry in the North East region” (MIMA, 2016).

Each of the gallery spaces is interlinked, documenting the history of the regions industrial landscape and heritage from the mid-nineteenth century to present day and features the work of Aikaterini Gegisian, Adrián Melis, David Mulholland, David Watson, Eva Fàbregas, Farid Rasulov, Goldin+Senneby, Hackney Flashers, Mikhail Karikis, MVRD, Norman Appleton, Philip Boville and Len Tabner.

I found that the most effective way to view the exhibition was in reverse going through Gallery 1, 4, 3, 2 and finally back to 1.

‘Gallery 4’ centres around the industrial heritage of the North East, in particular steel making, and is highly charged with political pieces that are still sore from the recent steelworks closure. They are emotive and totally succeed in pulling on the heart strings of the viewer, one cannot help feeling as though they have also suffered loss through the demise of the industry.

‘Gallery 3’ takes this suffering and magnifies it onto a global scale, here issues of mass production, mass consumption, inequality, human rights, gender equality, pay gaps and corporate mentality are explored. The piece that stands out here is ‘Gem Machine‘ (2016) by ‘Unknown Fields‘, or rather the accompanying sculptural piece (pictured in the image cluster at the top of the page) to the video which is a visualisation of the financial gap between “poorly paid labour and the luxury market” (MIMA 2016). A handful of rice grain, representative of the daily quantity of rice consumed by labourers in the jewellery mining process, have been subjected to extreme heat and pressure and lay heaped around a single golden (and elevated) jewel. This piece is perhaps the most humbling of all in this exhibition, we are reminded just how much we have and how unfair the world actually is. Suddenly we are sheepishly shamed about our daily groans and our lives slide into perspective.

‘Gallery 2’ presents a collection of historical documentation, mostly on fairly positive subjects such as creation of ports, industries and times of expansion.

This brings us swiftly back to ‘Gallery 1’ which plays host to the regions current developments in science, technology and education. I feel it is much better to have experienced this exhibition in reverse, to be outward looking. To view the exhibition in the intended order would see us look out to the suffering on the global scale only to brush it aside in favour of suffering closer to home on an arguably (and perhaps controversial to say so) lesser scale.


The Office of Useful Art

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“Developed in collaboration with artist Tania Bruguera, the Van Abbemuseum and the Internationale confederation of European museums as part of the Uses of Art programme funded by the European Culturefund and Arts Council England” (MIMA, 2015), ‘The Office of Useful Art‘ plays host to ‘The Arte Útil archive’. It is not an exhibition but rather a working space for the public to make art for social change.

It was interesting to note that this particular display of public interaction centred around the recent EU referendum. Surprisingly for a town that voted 65.5% to leave the EU the rhetoric in this political installation was undeniably on the side of remain and sought to shine light on the false truths promised by ‘Leave’ campaigners. This also links to the closure of the steelworks and the feeling of abandonment felt by the electorate in the region.


If All Relations Were to Reach Equilibrium, Then This Building Would Dissolve

If All Relations Were to Reach Equilibrium, Then This Building Would Dissolve explores the tension between free circulation and border control as well as the experience of exile and displacement, and focuses on human rights, governmental policies, xenophobia, identity, and trauma, among other themes” (MIMA, 2016).

I did find this particular exhibition to be the most alarming, it highlights the high level of xenophobia, racism and euro scepticism in one of the areas the benefited most from being in the European Union. New buildings for School’s and Universities in Teesside have been funded through the EU alongside redevelopment of town centres that Downing Street has long forgotten (Blackburn, 2016).

Figures show that Teesside was due to receive £162m in EU funding between 2014 and 2020 (as the third highest beneficiary of the UK’s EU funding behind Cornwall and Wales)   (Ellis, 2016) which might have proved vital to future generations of Teessider’s who have been unable to see past the end of their noses due to sensationalised tales of an impending migrant crisis, a high case of regional self entitlement and the trend of gutless politicians shifting blame onto others in what I shall call scapegoat-ism. 

The exhibition’s title is a piece by Gillick, a text he originally proposed as part of his commission for the Home Office’s new London headquarters in the early 2000s. According to the organisation’s website, the Home Office is the government department responsible for immigration, counter-terrorism, police, drugs policy and related science and research. Gillick’s expression suggests that in a world in which all people are truly equal, or at least treated equally, the Home Office would not need to exist” (MIMA, 2016).


Centre for Social Making: Middlesbrough Collection display

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The Middlesbrough Collection display is a bringing together of art, design and craft with a holistic view and encouragement for social use as learning tools.

The Middlesbrough Collection was inherited from the former Cleveland Crafts Centre, Cleveland Gallery and Middlesbrough Art Gallery. It holds approximately 2,250 works from around 1900 to the present time, with strengths in post–Second World War British and international drawing, twentieth-century British ceramics and contemporary international jewellery” (MIMA, 2016).


The Caravan Gallery: Jan Williams & Chris Teasdale

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extra{ordinary} is an exhibition featuring a collection of photographs taken across the country over the last fifteen years. These works capture the extraordinary ‘reality and surreality’ of the way people live in contemporary Britain” (MIMA, 2016).

In many ways, this particular exhibition reveals the grotty reality of life in present day Britain and dispenses with the ideals we are presented with in glossy magazines and fairy tales.


I felt that each of the exhibitions gelled well together and told a complete story as one journeyed through the entire gallery, this was much more noticeable with the gallery under its new custodians than it was under any of my last visits, I look forward to returning.

Larry


References

Art Rabbit (2016) Teesside world exposition of art and technology. Available at: https://www.artrabbit.com/events/teesside-world-exposition-of-art-and-technology (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

Blackburn, M. (2016) Would Teesside be better off if the UK stays in Europe or leaves? Available at: http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/would-teesside-better-out-europe-11505345 (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

Ellis, M. (2016) How much EU funding could Teesside lose after Brexit? Available at: http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/teesside-could-lose-tens-millions-11568964 (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

MIMA (2016) Teesside world exposition of art and technology – mima – welcome to mima – mima – welcome to mima. Available at: http://www.visitmima.com/whats-on/single/teesside-world-exposition-of-art-and-technology/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

MIMA (2016) If all relations were to reach equilibrium, then this building would dissolve – mima – welcome to mima – mima – welcome to mima. Available at: http://www.visitmima.com/whats-on/single/if-all-relationships-were-to-reach-equilibrium-then-this-building-would-dissolve/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

MIMA (2015) The office of useful art – mima – welcome to mima – mima – welcome to mima. Available at: http://www.visitmima.com/whats-on/single/project-space-1-the-office-of-useful-art/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

MIMA (2016) Centre for social making: Middlesbrough collection display – mima – welcome to mima – mima – welcome to mima. Available at: http://www.visitmima.com/whats-on/single/centre-for-social-making-middlesbrough-collection-display/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

MIMA (2016) The caravan gallery: Jan Williams & Chris Teasdale – mima – welcome to mima – mima – welcome to mima. Available at: http://www.visitmima.com/whats-on/single/the-caravan-gallery-jan-williams-chris-teasdale/ (Accessed: 20 August 2016).

Hawkshead Grammar School

Whilst in the Lake District I took the opportunity to visit the Hawkshead Grammar School Museum, the museum is located in the Old Grammar School building in the village of Hawkshead, Cumbria, and houses a unique collection of historic artefacts relating to the ancient School, some of which date back to the sixteenth century. Famous attendees of the school include William Wordsworth, whose name has been carved into a desk – though impossible to say wether or not he did the carving.

The museum is definitely worth a visit, the staff are incredibly helpful and informative and the desks alone provide a wealth of artistic interest for any photographer.

The museum is bright and open despite the deceptively small appearance of the building and visitors are given almost free reign to explore.

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Wordsworth’s name carved into a desk.

The museum is open 1st April – 31st September, 10:30 am – 1pm and then 1:30pm-5pm.

Martin Creed / Dub Vampire / Moderate Realism / Sally Gilford

Martin Creed

I recently attended a live performance event at Islington Mill, Salford. The night saw 2001 Turner Prize-Winner, Martin Creed (and band) preform a live set of frequently politically charred songs such as “Left is the direction that love is in” and “Fuck Off”, songs for Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron respectively, interspersed with far more personal songs about friends, family and his inability to say no to his own mother.

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Martin Creed performing at Islington Mill, Salford (19/07/16).

“Creed’s visual art has often embraced sonic elements, such as the 1998 installation Work No. 189: thirty-nine metronomes beating time, one at every speed and 2009’s Work No. 1020 — a ballet, no less. Music, he believes, is a medium that offers something that art alone does not. As a glance at the biographies of John Lennon, Syd Barrett, Pete Townshend, Brian Eno, David Byrne et al will confirm, groundbreaking pop musicians have for decades cut their creative teeth in the world of visual art.

“I got into the music because the visual work wasn’t enough… you hear things as well as see them… I like that you can make music in your head and carry it around with you. You’re freer. You’re not tied down by the burden of physical objects.” (MARTIN CREED / Dub vampire / moderate realism / sally Gilford, 2016).

Creed’s songs were, even at their most confrontational, warm and inviting; attracting a large audience who lapped up every song Creed could throw at them – the atmosphere helped possibly by the shiny gold pillars in the event space!

I enjoyed Creed’s performance immensely, witty songs were broken up with annecdotes and stories that carried on the performative element of Creed’s work – annecdotes that might not appear of coherant thought if told outside of this setting. The entire band were outstanding, incredibly tight and obviously well versed in their roles.

Dub Vampire

The opening act for Creed was Dub Vampire; hailing from Salford and fronted by Brian Turner, Dub Vampire invited the audience to question the current political, social and technologically dependant climate we find ourselves in with Turner’s assertive, smokey vocals piercing through and commanding our attention. The set began as a solo act with band members gradually joining in to build up their impact.

Vocally Turner was complimented on stage with a young lady by the name of Trix, who provided backing vocals. Whilst it was impossible to fault their on stage chemistry their differing vocal styles did, at times, seem to jar with each other – Turner’s gravelly voice set against silky-smooth tones of Trix. In many ways this jarring gave greater impact on the messages that Dub Vampire want to convey.

Moderate Realism / Sally Gilford

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The evening was rounded off with an exhibition of works by Moderate Realism and Sally Gilford. Gilford is based at the Islington Mill studios and was showing textile work in the form of a dress.

Sally is currently working in collaboration with scientists from The Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research based in Manchester, England, making work in response to their bio images.  These particular scientists are interested in the ageing process and how changes in cells and ageing contributes to a wide range of common diseases such as arthritis and cancer” (Gilford, 2016). 

Gilford’s work was in compliment to the accompanying work by Moderate Realism which allowed one artists work to seamlessly blend into the other.


References

Gilford, S. (2016) Sally Gilford. Available at: http://sallygilford.com/about-2/ (Accessed: 12 August 2016).

MARTIN CREED / Dub vampire / moderate realism / sally Gilford (2016) Available at: http://www.islingtonmill.com/events/martin-creed/ (Accessed: 12 August 2016).