Category Archives: News

Art Car Boot Fair, Brick Lane, Sunday 14 June 2015

Art Car Boot Fair 2015

This Sunday 14 June I’m taking part, along with my Turps Banana Studio Programme peers, in the Art Car Boot Fair just off Brick Lane.

We’d love to see you there for this fun event where you can snap up incredible art bargains as we raise funds for the bar for our end of year show next month. Other bargains can be snapped up from amazing artists including Gavin Turk, Sir Peter Blake, Tracey Emin, Polly Morgan, and Bob and Roberta Smith among many others. It’s well worth a visit!

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015

I’m proud to announce that my quirky painting ‘Norman’ has been selected for this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Norman hides in plain sight. People walk past him and don’t realise who he is or what he’s been through. But when people see him, he reveals his secrets. He shows the fragility trapped behind his hard, masculine, weathered exterior. Is he just a workhorse, a utilitarian object or do his battered ribs show the life he’s led and survived? A badge of honour. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Once discovered, Norman has stories to tell from all that he has learnt, all that he has seen as a fly on the wall whilst the world acts out oblivious….

It was selected by art heroes Bill Woodrow and Alison Wilding for the Sculpture Room located in the Royal Academy’s Lecture Room, the first gallery on the right as you enter.

Varnishing Day, Royal Acedemy Summer Exhibition 2015

This year’s theme of colour devised by Michael Craig Martin gives the exhibition a joyful atmosphere. Perhaps some of the works compete against their colourful backgrounds but I like the invigorated atmosphere of the show.

I like how my almost monochromatic painting sits rather surreally against the sky blue walls of the Lecture Room. When I showed it in Turps Gallery for our interim show, I displayed it incredibly subtly, near the toilet door, and very low. It was tucked way below one of the ventilation grilles that inspired it. Many people didn’t notice it as a work on display but I was playing with observation and realisation.

'Norman' at Turps Gallery

I’m thrilled that it’s been placed so prominently in the Royal Academy and given such space in a generally jam packed salon hang! That the audacious humour of the piece was appreciated and for it to be hung with such prominence in such an establishment is an honour and a delight.

Just to the right of me are further art heroes Cornelia Parker and Richard Wilson!
The Summer Exhibition opens tomorrow until August 16th. If you go, please keep an eye out for Norman #1029

Varnishing Day, Royal Acedemy Summer Exhibition 2015

If you can’t make it along to the exhibition, then you can see everything in the exhibition on the new browsing feature on the RA website. You can find my work by it’s catalogue number 1029.

Turps Spring Show at No. 4A Gallery in Malvern

Each of the Turps Painting Programme participants will be showing a painting in this warm and intimate space in Malvern. If you’re in the area, we’d be delighted if you come and see the exhibition.

Private view 23 April 6.30-8.30
Exhibition 24 April – 15 May
Weds 12.30-4pm
Thurs/Fri 10am-4pm
Sat 10am-1pm

No, 4A Gallery
4A North Malvern Road
Malvern
Worcestershire
WR14 4LT

Turps Interim Show 2015

Our Interim Show for the Turps Studio Painting Program 2015 opens on Thursday 19 March 6.30-9.30pm. Each of the 16 painters will be showing selected work from our year on the Programme so far.

The Turps Studio Programme, affiliated with the wonderful Turps Banana Magazine, provides a dynamic structure of: mentoring, peer-led learning, talks and visitors within an open studio environment.

This intensive and supported one year programme stimulates conversation and debate, through discourse and practice, advancing individual development.

– See more at: http://turpsbanana.com/art-school#sthash.UaHdKNkd.dpuf

Surface Views

I suppose that with my interests in art and psychology, it’s natural that I’d be fascinated by how people move around an art gallery and how they engage with the artworks. I love noticing things that hide in plain sight and noticing how people react to things they’d usually ignore in the context of an art gallery where one it attuned to observe and contemplate.

Estate of Serenity, Oil on hinged board, 2014, 70x60x20cm

I decided to make a body of artwork encouraging the viewer not just to look but to see.

The scale and nature of the paintings encourages a private, voyeuristic experience of the erotically banal. Rather than hitting the viewer’s peripheral vision with a large painting I wanted to create structures that encourage the viewer to come closer and engage with the painting one at a time.

Invitation, oil on hinged board, 2014, 60x20x20cm

These “Surface Views” explore surface through form, inviting the viewer into a personal space in order to contemplate memento mori through urban decay. Where nature attacks the city, we are reminded of the transient beauty and the poetic beauty of imperfection.

Opening, Oil on board in found frame, 2014, 50x60cm

They create a paradox of entropic layers of paint depicting old paint affected by time and nature through trompe l’oeil. The depth of these layers is further distorted by the three dimensional form.

The implied use value of the visible hooks and hinges deepens the paradox.

Pipewerk, 2014, Oil on hinged board, 70x60x20cm

I investigate the way in which the banal and everyday can be humorously elevated through laborious scrutiny. My paintings playfully challenge our expectations of the urban environment and investigate the psychology of space. With attention, the most ordinary details can become magical or disturbing observations.

Pipewerk installed in it's site specific location...

Cascades: past, present and future

As part of the Art Licks Weekend POST Artists invite you to

Cascades: past, present and future

at Studio 180, 180 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JY

Private View Thursday 3 October 18:00 – 21:00

Exhibition continues Friday 4 October – Sunday 6 October 11:00 – 18:00

Curators: Samantha Penn and Olga Koroleva

Artists: Marco Cali, Catalina Garces de los Rios, Heather Jones, Matthew Kay, Olga Koroleva, Pippa Kozserek, Rebecca Leach,ilka Leukefeld, Fiona Long, Paula Morison, John O’Hare, Samantha Penn, Matthew Roberts, Jenny Rolfe Herbert, Melanie Russell, Natasha Vicars, Mary Yacoob

A Cascade is triggered, sequential, rational and irrational. In the framework of social theory, it refers the ways in which information is spread, often like wildfire, and sometimes unwittingly. It can refer to a trending hashtag or a collapsing ceiling; subtle and sweeping, all manner of transformation is within reach of the cascade. Cascades erode a mountainside, wipe clean and redefine landscapes, synthesise separate elements or trigger social change. A starting point is determined and often accidental, results unpredictable.

Distorting perceptions of structure, situation and narrative POST will postulate futures for the space, affecting the next weave of the Cascade and enforcing an artificially incurred progression, thus bringing under scrutiny the notion of space in contemporary society. The development of online spaces and communities and the growing impact of artificial venues have triggered exponential distortions of our use of space. Disembodied communities, portable cinemas and augmented reality are now common notions; POST will investigate how these notions can be married to concrete, dust and metal.

Studio 180 is a unique and challenging space and is a perfect experimental platform for POST Artists. Originally a residential building, later the railways communication hub, and now a creative space of three years, it bears a combination of original features and an eclectic collection of vintage and contemporary objects and artworks. During the Art Licks weekend POST will respond to material and ephemeral aspect of the space with a selection of new and existing works.

Studio 180

POST Artists Network

Curators’ full statement and exhibition image can be downloaded from our Art Licks Weekend page

Private tours can be booked via http://artlicksweekend.com/tours

I do hope you can make it along to see this extraordinary place and our show of course! I’ll be there on the Sunday.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Urban Fox/Rural Fox

I’m currently exhibiting some of my ‘Concrete Poetry’ series of paintings, including some that I’ve never shown before. They are on display at Broadway Studios in Tooting, just a 1 minute walk away from Tooting Broadway station. The exhibition is there to compliment Tooting Arts Club’s latest wonderful theatrical offering. Their current show is ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and although I haven’t seen it yet, it’s likely to be immersive with some sort of contemporary twist. Their shows are always brilliant and I can’t wait to see this one myself. So if you fancy a truly unique night out, then get yourself a ticket, and you can look at some of my paintings whilst drinking wine in the interval! It runs from Wednesdays to Sundays until Saturday September 7.

Cordoba Residency

I had a truly incredible time on my residency in Cordoba, Spain. ‘Orange and Green II: Skills for Sustainable Futures’ was organised by Beam in Wakefield and funded by the Leonardo Da Vinci lifelong learning programme. We were hosted by Academia Cordoba and my host organisation was Escuela De Arte Dionisio Ortiz, Cordoba. Cordoba has to be one of my favourite places in the world now and I feel I’ve made some life-long friends. I loved experimenting with ceramics, exploring Cordoba, experiencing Spanish culture, and meeting great people. It actually was a life changing experience.

I began my work wondering how I could explore sustainability through making ceramics. I have always been interested in bushcraft and have recently returned to my fascination with shelters. During our ‘wave’ there were seven participants in Seville and seven of us in Cordoba, four artists and three architects. Spending time with architects also made me keen to explore built structures further. I love anachronisms so thought it would be fun to make something that was in some way modern and in some way primitive. This brought me back to my fascination of the imagined puzzles that an archaeology of the future could provide.

Using the geodesic dome as a starting point seemed the obvious choice since it is almost a symbol of sustainable living with its minimalist design and the social, environmental, and political ideals attached to its philosophy. My plan was to make the structure from natural timber and cordage and to suspend ceramic tiles within the triangular gaps. Whilst I wanted to make it large enough to crawl into, so as to explore it from the outside and experience being inside it, this design was never intended to be a solution, but a work of art. I have difficulty with the pressures of art and activism. Whilst I would love to promote sustainable living, I don’t personally think it’s the artist’s responsibility to do so. I find art made to directly try to influence people can be preachy and unconvincing. Some people differentiate art from craft as art having no use value. I do like to challenge that notion but I wanted to make something poetic and beautiful, a site for experience and exploration.

Unfortunately I immediately hit a stumbling block. Whilst I’ve frequently made sculptures in parks and woodland in Britain with natural abundant timber, in Cordoba, at that time of year, all the pruning had been done and the wood had been disposed of. My mentor Valle kindly offered to bring me bamboo from her garden since the bamboo in the art school’s grounds was protected. Before I was permitted to make the large structure anyway, I had to make a scale maquette. The teaching system is very different in Spain. They teach craft techniques strictly and properly. It is a long apprenticeship and both learning art history and learning your craft come above self-expression or contemporary approaches. As such, the students make technically excellent work but the conceptual side can be lacking at times. In Britain we have more freedom and contemporary contextual knowledge but very little teaching, especially of technique, and little knowledge of old art history. If only there could be some compromise between the two!

On my first day I was given some cardboard, a ruler, a craft knife and tape to make my first rough maquette from. It was fortunate that I had sketched a geodesic dome the night before since I had none of the complex mathematical angles and measurements to hand, no internet, and no protractor. I love a good spatial logic problem though and managed to work it all out by cutting and folding circles. My cardboard structure was not proof enough, however, and I was still encouraged to make a ceramic version. I was happy to do this so that I would have a smaller sculpture too.

IMG_0575

Things happen slowly in the south of Spain. Work began at 9.30am and at 11.30 we could have a half hour break for second breakfast (bliss) before then finishing the working day at 2.30pm when the seven of us would reunite for lunch. Add to that all the delays of waiting for kilns and despite my manic productivity (except for post fiesta days) progress was a little slow. It became clear to me that my plans of making the larger shelter were looking a little unrealistic in the 10 week time frame. I made the decision not to pursue this initial plan. I loved the idea of leaving the structure in the grounds of the art school but I also knew that I could make the wooden structure anywhere and having made the small tiles, the process would have become somewhat routine. I had more exploring to do!

I love the aesthetic of decay and was massively inspired by the wonderful peeling and crumbling walls all over Cordoba. I was really enjoying experimenting with ceramics and to my delight, I was allowed to just play and make mistakes in my making of these ‘ceramic paintings’. I think that making mistakes is just as important a part in the creative process as the successes.

Embracing mistake making, process, material, and my new surroundings led to more creative discoveries. At one point, it was suggested that I make my geodesic sculpture entirely from ceramics, since I was there in the ceramics department and had the facilities and technical guidance to do so. The string element was important to the aesthetic but I liked the idea of making the structure from bone-like ceramic pieces along with the ceramic tiles as originally planned. This would make the structure both more rigid, and ridiculously fragile, and I enjoyed the poetry of that.

I made these ‘huesos’ (bones) from a ‘paperclay’ cocktail of paper mulch and porcelain. Of course they were much more difficult to fit together than wood, would have been. The lashing techniques I used to fit all the structural lengths together required a calculated excess at each end. In natural timber, these lengths could have been forced and bent into shape. It took some calculation to fit the porcelain hexagons and pentagons together. I had always intended for there to be gaps to create a shadow pattern inside the structure. The brittleness of the porcelain just added to this. The sculpture did not come together as the perfect, strong, geodesic dome but I was no longer intending this anyway. It looked vulnerable, natural and primitive, despite its mathematical beginnings. I was very pleased with the hauntingness of this outcome.

Upon making the huesos, I discovered that one of their most beautiful qualities was the sound they made as they rattled together. Another of my recent artistic obsessions has been pigeon scaring. I like the make-do-and-mend aesthetic of the weird pigeon scaring contraptions in cities, the countryside and particularly on allotments. In Cordoba, however, where nearly everything is ornately crafted and there seems to be no such thing as too much pattern, I wondered if I could make a beautiful bird scarer.

I had been keen to make sculptures which somehow used the elements, so using the wind and light to play off the porcelain seemed perfect. I set to work making hundreds of ridiculously fragile clay sausages which would form my ‘tree necklace’. I planned to tie them together and form a crazy wind-chime like piece to hang from the bottom of a branch. Many of them broke in the first firing, many more in the second, and more in the assembly of the sculpture. I enjoyed this fragility and the idea of these delicate white spear-like fragments falling to the ground when the wind blew in Spain’s bright sunshine. I enjoyed playing with the material and testing it to its limits, and beyond.

The by-product of this, of course, was hundreds of porcelain shards that didn’t make it into the pigeon scaring sculpture. Thinking again of fragile environments, both cosy and threatened, I was reminded of all the incredible stork’s nests I’d seen in the area. I wondered if a human could make one from tension and balance alone from such a delicate and rigid material. It turns out that I could! It felt like a performance just making it and I was pleased with how it looked. There was talk of glue, glazes, or just firing it to make it more permanent but in the end, I just left it on a wall in the school grounds, abandoned to the elements. I prefer the honesty of that.

I enjoy this process of not being too rigid about my ideas in order for new discoveries to be made. When I was about to photograph my bird scarer in one of the trees in the school grounds, I saw the stone sculpture of a female bather in the old empty swimming pool and thought I’d try it on her first. It felt so perfect, there it stayed. And I did get to leave a legacy in the school’s grounds after all.

Cordobananza

Cordoba

I’m currently away from the UK on a ten week residency in Cordoba in Spain among a group of seven artists and architects. There are a further seven in Seville.

We’re here as part of the Orange and Green II project – Skills for Sustainable Futures managed by Beam in Wakefield, and partner organisations here in Spain. It’s all funded by the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme.

My work placement is at the Cordoba School of Art “Dionisio Ortiz” in the Ceramics department. I have a lovely mentor who is helping me to realise my project and teaching me loads about ceramics.

I have been asked to create and album of photographs for the School, of the workshops, final pieces, and documentation of trips we take around the region, visiting ceramics workshops.

The overwhelming things I notice about Cordoba are the beautiful aromas of orange blossom, the labyrinthine streets, geometric patterns everywhere both ancient and modern, and the sense of contentment of the people.

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I’ve started a project blog on a-n to provide a self-contained story of the trip. To see more pictures, videos and hear stories of the parties and misunderstandings, please click here to check it out.

Apart from getting to know Cordoba, we’ve been getting to know each other. The seven of us are staying in a couple of apartments close to Academia Cordoba who are organising our meals, trips, and activities. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of a really lovely group of people. We’ve had an awful lot of laughter already and have a surprising bond after only 6 days!

We all seem to be Instagram addicts and are enjoying our #cordobananza hashtag. It’s a fun way to capture our experience of the place.

Whilst not expected to collaborate, we’ve already generated a couple of pages of collaboration ideas and below is a video of our first playful little intervention whist visiting the Alcazar. I’m sure there are many more to come!