I’m really excited to announce that I will soon be starting on a new project ‘Light Holds Me Here’ to create a new body of work which will fuse my two creative backgrounds in light art and literature. This project is made possible by my successful application to Grants for the Arts, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The resulting work will be exhibited at a solo show at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces, Federation House, Manchester from 24th-28th September 2014. One of the pieces will also be exhibited at a light art and literature festival in the Faroe Islands in November with the support of Curated Place, who have been instrumental in developing the application and project plan allowing me to undertake an international commission.

I will be updating this blog with my progress and lots of other exciting developments as I go, but in the meantime, here’s some more information about my supporting partners:

 

Arts Council England

 

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Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. More information can be found here.

 

Curated Place

 

 

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Curated Place is a creative production company that delivers unique events in galleries, museums and venues across the UK, Europe and the Middle East. They’re always interested in working with new artists on financing and running projects and can be contacted at info@curatedplace.com or go to their website here.

 

Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces (NAS)

 

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Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces (NAS) is an initiative to create dynamic project spaces for artists, artist collectives and artists development agencies. Making use of temporary vacant retail, office and light industrial units, NAS provides opportunities for emerging creatives to incubate their practices, produce work and showcase new art to local communities. Currently CG runs New Art Spaces in Leigh, Widnes, Salford and city centre Manchester. More information can be found here.

 

Light Up Lancaster

November 7, 2013

City of Colour close up

City of Colour close up

I was recently commissioned by Green Close Studios to create a site specific piece of work for the Light Up the Streets event as part of Light Up Lancaster 2013.

I had been drawn to the architecture by the river Lune on a trip to Morecambe Bay days before I saw the advert for the expression of interest. I decided to use this scene as my inspiration, creating a smaller version in the style of a stage set to fill an empty shop window.

In my practice I use light in various different ways. My more recent work has focussed on natural sunlight to create effects and develop certain themes, so it was nice to have a change and work with artificial lighting once again. I think I’m going to work fairly seasonally from now on, working with sunlight during the lighter months and going crazy with brightly coloured artificial lights in the winter!

View to the river

View to the river

Back to the work: the buildings are made into a screen to give an interesting shape and take it away from an all too literal recreation. They are however, all hand-drawn and to scale, which believe me, took quite a while to do! I made an abstract paper sky to be lit up with a brightly coloured aurora dancing above the buildings. I wanted there to be a kind of new magic to the scene so many locals will be familiar with seeing daily.

I also had the good fortune to be able to choose a line from a LitFest commissioned poem by Sarah Hymas, “By the Mouth of the Lune”. I partially cut the words out of the silver card I was using as the representation of the river, and stood them on end to reflect the bright blue light and into the silver as if ripples on the water. The line read:

A slivering luminescence and a flatness

that slips and transmutes through

the music of a blue man’s riddle

(From S. Hymas’ poem “By the Mouth of the Lune”)

I felt that these words gave an abstract, yet visually descriptive, quality to the scene and helped to tie it together.

City of Colour

City of Colour

Feedback on the night from visitors was really positive. Many took pictures or had their picture taken in front of the work, others gazed at it for quite a while, looking at the aurora dance of the sky; and children in particular were excited by the scale of the work (the buildings often being their height).

The aurora in the sky

The aurora in the sky

Apologies for the cafe logo in some of the pictures. The piece was housed in a shopping arcade, so light from other shops reflected onto the window.

Castlefield Gallery at the Manchester Contemporary

Castlefield Gallery at the Manchester Contemporary

I recently completed an internship with Castlefield Gallery. The gallery invited me to work with them at this year’s Manchester Contemporary, a large art fair which showcases numerous well-respected galleries. It was an opportunity too good to miss and I was delighted to be asked.

Castlefield Gallery is a vibrant cultural hub of Manchester, it has been going since the 1980s and prides itself on continuing to support emerging artists, as well as showcasing national and international artists. The gallery recently, and rather controversially, lost its Arts Council funding and was put in the difficult position of having to re-think its business model and way of working. The gallery faced the challenge and has come up with new plans, yet has maintained its cultural ethics and continues to support artists from the North West and beyond. It also raised an unprecedented £33,000 in an auction of artworks donated by artists it has supported, and bought by patrons of the arts who did not want to see such an important cultural centre in Manchester disappear. I think this demonstrates not only the robust nature of the organisation, but also the cultural sensibilities of the society in and around Manchester, one which recognises its assets and fights to save them.

This leads me onto the internship experience. I learned much about about representing the gallery at the Manchester Contemporary (all of which was very useful to me), but instead of listing this here, I will merely offer an observation about the function of the galleries and cultural organisations that were represented. Each and every gallery I encountered, whether they were new or more established, were supportive to each other. They were open and interested in discussing their artists and the general cultural concerns facing arts’ organisations today. This was also supported by an interesting programme of talks by the galleries and organisations, well attended by those visiting the Contemporary.

Jumping forward a couple of months, I attended a panel discussion about the future of the arts in the North. This was held at the Whitworth Art Gallery and was in aid of the complete bound edition of Issue 3 of Corridor8, an extremely insightful journal currently focused on art in the North. Presentations were given by the Workplace Gallery in Gateshead, Project Space Leeds, Ian Rawlinson (artist and academic based in Manchester) and Maria Balshaw, the Director of the Whitworth and Manchester City Art Gallery.

Each of the presentations gave a view of the North as a thriving place for artistic development and the positive plans for now and well into the future. One thing which was addressed was the comparison to the art institutions in the South of England, and the differences and challenges faced by those in the North. What quite clearly came through was that not only is the North flourishing with the artistic talent it produces, but it is also fully connected with the ‘art world’ as a whole. This can be highlighted by the commercial success of the Workplace Gallery, and the critical acclaim reached on a world stage by the Manchester International Festival. Despite these achievements, Maria Balshaw made an interesting point about the flexible nature of working here, that it is possible to take huge risks which might not be conceivable elsewhere; and that the North should not focus on growing bigger, but only more interesting.

As this panel discussion went on in front of a packed audience, there were numerous other art openings and events around the city. These included Castlefield Gallery’s “Tatoo City” and the residency at the newly formed Lionel Dobie Project, a place which supports  emerging curators; along with many other events too extensive to list fully. It was not possible for me to get to all of these, but to be able to have the choice on a cold Thursday evening in late November, shows that there is a lot going on, and it certainly isn’t showing signs of slowing.

For more articles about events, exhibitions, talks etc. please browse the rest of my blog.

 

‘Happiness II’

I showed my work in the Haecceity Project at Nouvel Organon Gallery in Paris this July. It was a wonderful experience to show my work outside of the UK and to reach a new audience.

I designed ‘Happiness II’ to create a temporary projected document on the pages of the book using sunlight. I re-appropriated a line from a Stephen Dunn poem to visually highlight the transience of happiness. This meant that sometimes it would ‘work’ and other times it would not, depending on the lighting conditions. The first day it rained, but in the evening the light from the street lamps activated the work, which surprised everyone, including myself, as I had only really designed it with sunlight in mind.

The sun came out over the next few days, which made the piece work as intended. This certainly pleased me, but as an artwork that highlights the transience and intangibility of an emotion, it would have fulfilled its conceptual purpose whether the sun came out or not.

One thing I did not anticipate was that the graffiti acid-etched into the gallery window, which also projected onto the work at times. At first this frustrated me, but then I realised that I had created a piece which was ephemeral and relied totally on outside factors to work or not work, and this was something I had to accept. The graffiti was a part of the city, and that was literally becoming part of the experience of my work, for better or worse. Not unlike the experience of happiness.

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I exhibited ‘Happiness I’ at the HIDE exhibition at Piccadilly Place in Manchester 1st-6th June 2012. Hidden for most of the time it’s meaning came out only once in the sunlight but, alas, was not caught on camera.

Almost hidden, view from outside

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!

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It’s not often that I feel compelled to quote an article on this blog, but I’ve been thinking about the funding cuts to the arts recently. I fervently believe in funding the arts, so many great things are made, opportunities created. I feel that good art is good for your health, I don’t always know why it is ‘good’ but if it brings me some sort of joy or makes me think about something which is hard to express in other ways, then I feel it is serving a purpose. It is often difficult to then argue for the arts when someone poses the rather crass either/or question of would you rather pay for NHS equipment or buy a painting for a gallery? Of course you would want to save a life; however I think that Grant Gibson‘s editorial in this May/June issue of Crafts Magazine is rather a succinct rebuttal to this question as he points towards the importance of cultural identity through art:

The truth of the matter is, set against the backdrop of human tragedy (both micro and macro), the arts may well appear insignificant, but they are more than mere frippery. For proof I generally point people in the direction of The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, the brilliant book by Robert Bevan that vividly illustrates how the eradication of architecture and culture has been used over history to gut a nation’s identity – from the Romans razing Carthage and Hitler’s burning of the synagogues to contemporary atrocities. As the Czech author Milan Kundera wrote: “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then you have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was.”

I don’t intend to discuss the rights and wrongs of Arts Council England‘s funding strategy here, but merely to point out that the arts (and crafts) genuinely matter and must be nurtured like any other sector of society.

I know there are many facets to this argument, I just thought this was a valid point made and worth repeating.

I recommend giving Crafts Magazine a read to any contemporary artist. I have found many an inspiring piece of work within this publication, not only that, I have been informed of interesting new materials and technologies that the more traditional fine art magazines do not normally address.