October 12, 2012
We made the short hop across into Yorkshire for the Leeds Light Night last week. An evening of activities, exhibitions, installations, films and general liveliness which took place well into the dark of night across the city. The map of events was full of things to see and do, far too many for us to get around them all, so we planned some activities and stumbled across others while en route.
I was keen to visit Leeds City Art Gallery‘s ‘Drawing Sculpture‘ exhibition, which displayed work which presented a link between the act of drawing and creating sculpture. It was an interesting exhibition, supported well by the accompanying essay by Anna Lovatt in the exhibition catalogue. However, before we even stepped foot into the grand gallery building we came across a group of Indian musicians and dancers playing outside the entrance, drawing a crowd of visitors keen to have a go. At one point, when there must have been at least 100 people dancing, it felt as if we had stepped into a peculiar new type of exercise class with everyone following the moves of the main dancers.
After an autumnal soup break in the decadent tiled cafe, we put our names down for some light painting with artist David Shearing. We timed it perfectly as it was particularly popular and they had to stop admitting visitors shortly after our turn. Armed with a plethora of glowing toys we created some light drawings via projection and computer software, which mimicked the action of light painting on a camera with the shutter left open for a few seconds. Our effort wasn’t the most artistically thought out, but it was fun nonetheless!
We exited through the inflatable dome, squeezing out of the tunnel like Ace Ventura out of the Rhino’s backside. Fun, yes. Flattering, no. There was no time for embarrassment however, as we ran (responsibly) through the gallery to the showing of ‘Turning at Right Angles to Midnight’ by Andi Noble and Matt Collins. It was a beautiful glimmering delight of sound and lights.
Other highlights of the evening were the video and animation projections strewn across the walls all over the Leeds College of Art building, showcasing some exquisite talent from the young artists. Ending the evening we came across some ladies dressed in some strange attire, looking rather like beautiful zombies who were on their way home. We stopped to ask what they had been doing that evening and they told us that they were singing as they are an a cappella quartet and offered to sing us a song! They did so, and by the end of it we found that a crowd had joined us in bopping about to their smooth, smooth sound. The perfect goodbye and end to the evening.
October 14, 2010
This is the start. Or what appears to be the real start of the course. This week we were given an inspired talk on the Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Glossop Project, which will be inspired by his thinking. More on this closer to the spring; let’s just say we’ll be ‘flying’ the mind…
The second project that I have signed up to is the Mary Greg Project, which will focus on coming up with ideas for a special exhibition at Platt Hall which holds the majority of Mary’s weird and wonderful collections of things. Next week I’ll visit Platt Hall to get a fuller measure of the woman and her collection so will write more on this then. For the meantime, go to the Mary Mary Quite Contrary website for more information.
The third project is a personal project on whatever I wish to do. I only started brainstorming yesterday so my ideas are still fairly scattered. I’ve decided to start from light, or rather, return to light as a lot of the work I did on Foundation used light. So far I’ve been brainstorming ideas regarding the projection of light and its qualities through glass or other materials. I’ve been reading up on artists that use light, such as Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin and James Turrell, amongst others.
James Turrell is opening a new exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in London. It includes a perceptual cell called ‘Bindu Shards’ which you need to reserve a place for a light-incited experience of what has been described as ‘weightless imagery’. This sounds like incredibly exciting and inspirational work that I’d love to go and see. Such a shame I’m in Manchester!
July 15, 2010
The conclusion to the Foundation year was the final show at MMU, for which I achieved a Distinction. Foundation are lucky enough to exhibit as part of the Degree show, and have a reputation of producing a standard of work that often is not far off some of the Degree work. The show took place across the School of Art buildings on the All Saints campus. The show was open to the public from Saturday 19th – Wednesday 23rd June 2010.
I designed and built my space (with the help of a technician) to create an installation rather than purely showing my film, “Beware the Table” on a screen. I wanted to create an atmosphere and also to give the film some context by exhibiting the table. I decided on a small space in a purpose-built structure to create a dark tunnel-like view. The table was positioned lengthways with black walls on either side with the TV screen showing through a hole in another wall at the end of the table. On one of the side walls I hung a UV light to bring out the glowing elements on the table marks, directly opposite this I hung a mirror that I had sandblasted with shapes from the table and treated to glow under the light. The positioning of the mirror meant that the film was reflected in it also, adding another dimension. The mirror represented themes of reflection of creativity dealt with in the film and echoed the mirrored set that I had used in the animation to create a slightly different landscape for the table “world”.
The exhibition itself was a peculiar experience. The whole School of Art was exhibiting so there was a huge amount work on show. The preview show was full of people, it was hot and you could barely move from one place to another, let alone properly view the work. I decided it was best to stand outside in the sunshine instead of hanging around my piece – there was very little space to do this anyway. The days after the preview were less busy so I had the chance to see people going to watch my work. Comments were positive and I particularly enjoyed people’s gasps of delight when they turned the corner to find my glowing table; I hadn’t seen the use of UV light anywhere else in the show so I think it was unexpected amongst more traditional lighting.
I really enjoyed the experience of exhibiting; it’s a great feeling to show people what I’ve been working on for so long. It also felt like an appropriate conclusion to the project and the year.
Overall, what I’ve learnt from this project is to reconnect with themes and interests I have had for many years. It has allowed me the freedom to explore, learn and refine techniques I had always been interested in (film, animation, music with visuals and sandblasting glass). The whole process has served to find a visual aesthetic to match my written work from before and throughout the course; an aim I’d hoped to achieve this year and will explore and continue throughout my further study and future career.
July 12, 2010
“Beware the Table” is the film for part of my final show in Foundation. As you can probably guess, this is another offshoot of my art school table obsession.
I’d been brainstorming ideas about other ways to develop my table project so that I could create a final piece that really exhibited all that I’d learned throughout the year and bring to the fore a final piece that showed this and was a step up from my previous work. I had a storyline that had been floating about my head for a long time but I’d never felt confident to tackle, so decided that this was the best opportunity to do it and really bring the year and project to a conclusion (I say conclusion, but I still find my table inspiring so may use it again in the future!).
I wanted the table to come to life, similar to how I’d made little creatures grow and crawl out of it in my first stop motion animations, but to really develop it into a longer piece. My storyboard is rather sinister, but joyfully so if that is possible.
I spent a lot of time designing different stage sets for the action to happen on the table, but none of them really worked, so I took a bit of time out from this and did some reading into psychoanalysis and artists’ connections to objects. Artists are thought to often project part of their psyche onto objects that they become fascinated with, something that I could understand; I’d developed a knowledge of, and an affection for this object and really wanted it to live, in a similar way to how children make dolls and objects come alive during play. It’s an uncanny experience and I wanted to reflect this in the final piece (I found Freud’s essay on the “Uncanny” particularly interesting as part of this research). The only way that I could really envisage making this transformation would be to use film and animation and accompany it with some sort of music/sound effects to create the eerie mood.
The film in brief (I’d like to keep a little bit of mystery for future showings) is dream-like and sinister. It is about a literal take over of creativity, the table comes to life, its heart beats and the paint blobs move about. They change from normal paint to neon under UV light to reveal a life within the life and get sucked in to the heart. A girl working on the table also feels the effect of the creative infection…
I took rather an unconventional approach to the sound of the film, in that I decided on the sound after I had made the film. Yet it only took a few tiny tweaks to be able to match the musical beats to the visuals without changing the storyline or much of the original edit. I simply knew that I would be able to find the right music for the piece as I have a lot of electronic instrumental music. I found a tune by Lackluster called “Haloaw (xx/07/09)” from the album Showcase. It had just the right sinister quality about it and progression in the music to match the progression in each section of the film. I then mixed some of my own sound effects in to give the blobs a voice (of sorts).
A special thank you should be given to my long suffering model/actress, Anna Jordan, who happily let me apply paint in the style of the table all over her body for the film!
July 6, 2010
This is an exhibition that I and 6 other Foundation students put on in the Link Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University in March 2010; the first student initiated and organised Foundation Art exhibition in the space. We had to submit a proposal and have an interview about the work we were going to exhibit and how we intended to manage the set up of the space. We were in competition with other degree student submissions so we didn’t know if we’d be taken seriously as Foundation students. We submitted a well thought-out proposal however, which included artist bios, images, list of equipment, a design for each space and marketing strategy, so I think this must have helped to dispel any reservations as we were given the exhibition.
We decided to call the exhibition “Future Foundations” for, I think, obvious reasons. The work included had a 3D element in common but had been approached in a myriad of ways to showcase work from students on one of the best Foundation courses in the country.
My space exhibited my Snow Table project entitled “Snow Days” together with quality prints and the book documenting the progress. Alongside this I showed the two stop motion animations I’d done on my table.
The other students exhibited on themes of preservation, tumours, obsessions, death, breath and personal exploration. These were explored through textiles, film projection, illustration, body painting and sculpture.
The exhibition was well received with many wonderful comments. We had a comments box to help to get feedback from people other than our immediate peer group which was of great use to our artistic development and to see what people liked about the exhibits.
A couple of quotes from feedback my piece received:
“I found the development that you observed in ‘Snow Days’ to be really interesting. It was cool how you had limited control over the outcome and how you embraced the results”
“I really liked the honest, genuine approach to the work. It feels as though someone with a genuine spontaneous streak has created from nature and man-made to create a piece which has its own life and growth and spirit!”