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A ball hangs in the corner of a room in Magritte’s painting ‘The Secret Life’ (1928) recently shown at the Tate Liverpool exhibition. The spherical ‘thing’ appears to be in a state of being/existing in the space, whether we are there to view it or not. Although it was hung in a room full of people, I felt as if it was very much alone and I had intruded on its quiet existence, like coming across a ghost. This was the starting point and inspiration for this exhibition. The work on show is varied to say the least, but within each piece there are intriguing characters within dreamlike or surreal situations.

Starting with my own work ‘Phantom’, the sculpture is the conduit for the light phantom, giving the ephemeral being a place to exist and become whole as the light passes through the layers of fabric. Roger Bygott uses light trails in his film ‘The Photographer’; he came across the anonymous photographer while walking in North Wales and filmed the man absorbed in his own world, conjured up as if part of a dream. James Ackerley’s ‘A Brief Memento of an Intangible Dreamscape’ could almost have come from the place Roger filmed his photographer and is presented as a surreal souvenir.

The middle hexagon holds the eerie photos of Anna Heaton’s twins, blankly staring out of the picture. Matthew Barber’s photos, ‘Stranger Danger’ are based on the fear of walking home at night and how the mind plays tricks on you. The photos are similar and their repetition and placement is to make the viewer look twice at each to see the differences, to pick out where the man in the picture has moved to next. These photos frame Karol Kochanowski’s ‘Self Portrait with Elephant’, an absurd situation in a beautiful landscape to symbolize the burden of everyday life, and his ‘Breadcycle’ a piece exhibited two years ago as part of his Foundation course, which has changed with him over the years.

John Brindley’s ‘Echoes’ and Caroline Whitemore’s surreal paintings use doors and pathways as symbols in their work, which I have placed together as quite literally the doorways to the next section of the exhibition within the Foyer.

Amy Lawrence’s piece ‘Mushroom’ shows a woman pregnant with thought and imagination. Helen Wheeler’s etchings create an intangible dreamscape. Both artists invite the viewer to make their own interpretation of their work, however I feel that they are both reflective of the artists themselves, Amy’s imagination literally growing from the image, and Helen’s layered with depth of meaning.

The show reel of films from Liam Healy (‘Pray’), Fabian Beickhorasani (‘Signon’) and Exposure’s nominee Michael Scott (‘Alice in Space’ and ‘Tastes Better’) are set on two projectors to continue the ‘look again’ theme of doubles running through the exhibition and to wonder why the images are not quite the same.

Finally, there are two very different boxes which can be entered into, one is Roger Bygott’s ‘Shaman’, an ambiguous character who is difficult to decipher, keep an eye out for him as he may be in and available to give divinations, or his spirit could be left guarding his home. The other box is Robert Grundstrom’s ‘Cubicle No.2’ the dark part of the psyche which can be entered into at your own risk.

Many thanks to Roger Bygott and Paul Tutty for their help in setting up the exhibition, and to the participating artists whose work was a pleasure to curate.

Elisa Artesero

Curator

‘Colouring Light’

October 26, 2011

Leeds Victoria Quarter by Flickr User jo-h

Leeds Victoria Quarter picture by Flickr User jo-h

I watched the brilliant BBC programme on painter and stained glass artist Brian Clarke called ‘Colouring Light’, currently available on iplayer here.

I was amazed by his beautiful stained glass, but even more impressed by his attitude to making art and how he functions in the art world. His insistence on working only on commissions he really wants to and only doing work he feels he has not compromised on is admirable.

In an interview in 1977 he said:

“I’m often being told by people that I ought to compromise. That these days you can’t afford to lose commissions, that you can’t afford to upset people. I think that you can’t afford to compromise. If you’re making a statement, artistically, then when you’re making that statement, as far as you’re concerned it’s absolute; and any variation, or dilution, or subtraction from an absolute, makes it less than absolute, and therefore makes it untrue. Therefore, by definition, a lie. And I am not a perpetrator of visual lies.”

I think this statement is as applicable today as it was then. The economic climate is such that the emphasis (I feel anyway) is on making money, or leading towards making money, at pretty much whatever cost artistically. I was speaking to an artist at some studios recently and asked him how he felt people functioned in the studios as artists; and he admitted it was often quiet during the day as most artists had day jobs and found it very difficult to make a living as a full-time artist. This, I didn’t find surprising and fully expected; however, what did make me think was when he said that if there was someone in the studios who had found a particular style or theme that was popular with the buying public, that everyone would bend their practice towards it in an attempt to sell.

I’m not so idealistic as to think that artists should not sell their work to make a living, of course not, we cannot live on air alone, and talents and skills should be rewarded financially. However, I found the suggestion that artists would readily bend their practice towards the market rather vulgar and anti-artistic. To bring it back to Brian Clarke, he made the point that as an artist he finds himself battling with clients as they often only really want to have something they’ve seen before, the banal, but it is up to artists to be the alternative and to fight it, both for themselves and to progress the artistic medium. I hope there are more artists with this attitude around.

Saturday 2nd July is the preview of an exhibition with work from some artists in the recently formed Miscellaneous Network. Misc.1 at the Mooch Gallery at Blyth Art Store in Manchester is part of the Manchester Art Crawl and Not Part Of Festival. The exhibition is split into two weeks in order to showcase more artists in the Network; I will be exhibiting in the first week (2nd- 9th July) with Darren Murphy and Tinkeke Van Boven, and the second week (10th- 16th July) will showcase work from Amy Lawrence and James Hasker. Expect an eclectic mix of work from the conceptual to the graphic, drawn and photographic. I will present some of my Wire in the Glass series, lovingly framed to make the best of the work.

Luminous Man

May 2, 2011

Here is my Luminous Man projected onto a wall. I filmed him before my Creeping Light series but hadn’t got round to doing much with him, he just appeared one day during my initial light film tests and started to dance in front of the camera, swirling around and morphing into different shaped luminous men. He’s a mystical being and has a life of his own even though I technically ‘created’ him. I intend to show the film at my next assessment exhibition, it doesn’t have sound at the moment, but this is something I will work on over the summer.

I have used the still of the luminous man to draw over and to use as a motif over other work – painting, collage and furniture. I think he’s going to become a bit of a muse to me this summer as I develop work around him; I may even get my writing skills back into gear and write a story about him as he fascinates me!