Art of Youth Group Photo

Art of Youth Group Photo

I was recently selected as a UK artist representative for the Youth in Action, Art of Youth European Commission programme held in Montenegro.

The programme brought together participants from across Europe to learn about different contemporary art practices, European Citizenship, and to create collaborative pieces of artwork to be exhibited in the open air amphitheatre in Old Bar, Montenegro.

One of the things that took me, and the other three artists from the UK and Ireland, by surprise was that not all the participants were professional artists. From the selection process we had been through here, we thought it was a prerequisite. In fact, the participants from the other European countries (mainly from the Balkans) were from many different disciplines. Some were studying and others were professionals in fields such as architecture, computer science, cognitive science, art history, graphic design, law, and youth work. This turned out to be a wonderful mix, revealing knowledge, skills and different perspectives that might not have been present had the whole group been full of fine artists. It worked for lively and interesting debate about the topics concerning European Citizenship and the politics affecting each country and collectively.

The training part of the course took the form of lectures about contemporary arts practice and seminars about sense of place and European Citizenship. Details of these and the structure of the programme can be found on the blog set up by Ion Creative’s Nancy Barrett: Same Difference.

I’m still reflecting on the full experience of my time in Montenegro and the people that I met. I came away with a feeling of such happiness with the experience, the group had gelled so well, and considering we had many strong, vibrant characters among us, there was never any conflict, just sharing and understanding.

I learnt much about the different customs in each country and the passion everyone had about keeping their own national customs and identity, but also being part of the European Union as a whole, and that this was never viewed as a dichotomy.

I’m writing this on the day of the European elections with many anti-EU parties campaigning to take the UK out of the EU, precisely because they feel the UK is somehow restricted, our culture threatened and at a disadvantage by being in the EU. The main topic that came up in the Youth in Action programme was the freedom of movement, exchange of ideas and cultural experiences that being part of the EU could afford us all. To restrict that again, in my view, is to take the UK backwards, cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Unity sunlight

Unity sunlight

The group I worked with were keen to learn about using light as an art form, and so we made two pieces of work, the first a sunlight performance piece, and the second a night-time light photography made one evening on the beach with us all running around with torches probably looking possessed to any passers-by who wouldn’t necessarily realise that we were ‘drawing with light’ to 15 second exposures.

Unity

Unity is a two-part piece of work. The first is a performance using sunlight and mirrors. Five people transmit a beam of sunlight to each other in a star pattern, finally reflecting the word ‘unity’ onto the ground of the space. The unified action shows the positive effects of collaboration and understanding between EU countries. The second part is night-time light photography which addresses differences and obstacles faced through lack of understanding and knowledge of other countries. The result is a highly stylised and abstract interpretation of these issues.

Artists: Elisa Artesero Danijela Kojic Aleksandar Dragas Marta Garcevic Natasha Jordanova Genc Hani

Other pieces of work were dancing and painting performances, installations, stop motion animation and Christo-inspired tree-wrapping.

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There were many other facets to this experience; for instance the intercultural nights, where we were introduced to the strangely popular musical genre of “Turbofolk” in the Balkans, awesome fast-food pastry dish of Burek, the fact that Bulgarians nod when they mean ‘no’ and shake their heads when they say ‘yes’, and some great ska and punk from Croatia. We also ate a lot of Montenegrin cheese. A lot of cheese.

A wonderful experience that I’ll cherish for many years.

 

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Blue Link Exhibition

April 5, 2011

The Blue Link Exhibition opened last night, all the work put into it certainly paid off as there was a great turn out and lots of good feedback. The exhibition continues until Friday 8th April.

My inspiration for the Blue Link was a desire to cover the gallery space with work of one dominant colour theme to make a visually impacting exhibition. The work is a range of submissions from across the faculty and although together in a colour theme, the individual style of each artist creates a varied and interesting collection.

The foyer space contains work which is primarily of a ‘real’ or physical nature progressing to more abstract pieces within the Link itself. Each artwork has been positioned in a particular order to pick out similarities in theme, colour, size or pattern.

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The Blue Link Exhibition is the final exhibition of the term, I’m really pleased with the outcome and would like to thank all the exhibitors for their artwork which has made this exhibition so good.

I’ve really enjoyed curating the gallery this year; next term is almost exclusively going to be used for assessment shows, so although I will still be involved to a certain extent, I will take a bit of a step back. This year has been an opportunity to really take control of the space and show my organisational and curatorial skills and to publicise the gallery through the blog I set up. I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far, but I have also learnt so much that I would like to put into practice next year.  I intend to push for even more ambitious shows to build upon the standards set so far.

Blue Link

March 23, 2011

I am putting a call out for submissions with a blue theme for an exhibition at the Link Gallery from 4th – 8th April. The work can be of any medium but must have a dominant blue colour to it. Please send photos of the completed work you wish to install, together with dimensions and any special install requirements you may need by the submission deadline of 26th March to mmulinkgallery@hotmail.co.uk.

I will curate the exhibition but you will be required to install your own work, so must be available to do this at midday on Friday 1st April. I look forward to receiving your submissions for what I hope to be a brilliant end to this term at the Link Gallery!

 

An Interactive Start

October 2, 2010

This summer has whizzed by, I haven’t had much chance to work fully on any major projects, just a few things here and there – mainly experimenting with shadows and doings a few stop motion animations. I’ve also made some new jewellery, of which I hope to post some pictures up soon.

Most of my time has been taken up with working; I was lucky enough to be asked to write the Property pages for the London Metro newspaper for a large chunk of the summer months. It was great to get my teeth into the full-page articles; I enjoyed interviewing a range of people including architects, directors of football teams, trendy movers and shakers of Kensal Rise and (of course) estate agents. I’m happy to be writing again and hope to do some more newspaper and magazine work throughout the rest of the year.

Now to the start of university; a couple of weeks ago I started the Interactive Arts course at Manchester Metropolitan University. It’s still early days yet, but so far I’m happy with the enthusiastic tutors, my fellow students seem gregarious characters and I can’t wait to get on with some art work!

Last week we went to the Imperial War Museum North, the most memorable part was going up in a rickety lift to the ‘air’ section of the impressive building by architect Daniel Libeskind. At the top of the lift we were greeted with a long passageway flanked by metal sheets and with a floor made from some sort of grill with a view right through to the ground very far below. I didn’t think I’d be too scared, but I have to say that my knees did have an involuntary wobble at the sight and walking along was a strange experience with the wind whipping around and nothing to hold on to, even for the psychological aid! Views from the main platform were great though.

 This week we got into groups to create a themed party, my group had ‘astronauts party’ for which we covered a blacked out room with tin foil, projected a film of the moon on to one wall, played space-themed music and hung flying saucer sweets from the ceiling to play gravity-free UFO bobbing. We dressed as astronauts and baked away in the room we’d unwittingly insulated…