Tag Archives: Art

Tannery Arts Group Show 2017

tannerygroupshow2017

I’m very pleased to be showing some work in the Tannery Arts Group Show 2017 at Tannery Projects

A group show of work from Tannery Arts studio holders and staff

Anja Aichinger, Frank Ammerlaan, Michael Armitage, Andrew Bick, Tom Brown, Marcus Cope, Chris Daniels, Mahal de Man, Benjamin Deakin, Howard Dyke, Laura Eldret, Jamie George, Nick Goss, Fiona Grady, Adrian Haak, Fiona Long, Hannah Luxton, Anna Lytridou, Alice McCabe, Sarah McDonald, Jacqui McIntosh, Robert Montgomery, David Musgrave, Roger Phillips, Ellie Pratt, Nell Sully, Nadine Talalla, Nicola Wallis, Alison Wilding

Private view Friday 27 January 6.00-8.30pm

Show continues Saturday 28 January – Sunday 19 February
Tues – Fri 11am – 6pm
Sat / Sun 12 – 6pm
Closed Mondays
Accessible through Drawing Room

Drawing Room
Unit 8 Rich Estate
46 Willow Walk
London SE1 5SF

Metro-Botanic

Metropolitanical and detail

My new art practice utilises biofilms to create sculptural paintings. I’ve been developing this since 2014. I grow microbial cellulose surfaces from probiotic good bacteria and yeasts.

These intricate surfaces, resembling skin, are translucent and beautiful. I aim to make artworks that draw the viewer into the surface yet show a sense of decay and the visceral, intrigued by the slightly uncomfortable.

Mushroom Cave

Drawn to the Japanese ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetic of beauty in the transient and imperfect, and how we react to the abject, I feel that these artworks can subtly convey themes of sustainability. Life-cycles, decay, ruin, and human relationships with nature are intertwined. I incorporate my interest in survival, bush-craft, and making-from-scratch into my practice, creating works which reference the past, and the now by using this alien yet seemingly familiar material with established art conventions like stretcher bars.

'Mother and Daughter' (2015) symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts, each 60x150cm

I consider my ‘Metro-Botanic’ works to be paintings in the ‘expanded field’ since they don’t use paint, brush, or canvas. They have a painterly sensibility and are very much about surface, colour, and allowing the glitches within the material to help drive my compositional decisions.

Beetroot dye on biofilm details

I’ve been investigating the utilisation and display of these intriguing films and have a wealth of ideas I still want to explore. I’m discovering ways to sculpt & collage the material and colour it with pigments which cling in a marbled fashion or natural dyes which impart intense translucent colour. I love exploring materials, testing them to their limits and using their unique properties.

Elbow Room

I learnt about these biofilms from my brother, who did vast amounts of research into kombucha, a health drink made from fermented tea, rich in probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. He used this knowledge to launch his skincare company Biomic, and here is its Facebook page. I used it to explore the culture which ferments the liquid, and grows as a by-product of the process, and how I could harness its properties to make art.

Turps Goes West

I’m taking part in a group show entitled: ‘ Turps Goes West’, curated by Marcus Harvey and Phil Allen at Edel Assanti Gallery.

The exhibiton runs from the 25 August – 1 September 2015 with the closing party on the 1st September.

This is the final show of the Turps Banana Studio programme I have participated in over the last twelve months.

Please note that the gallery is closed on bank holiday Monday.

Turps Goes West

Blake, Cornell, and Marlow, all in one evening!

I had a glorious evening at the Royal Academy of Arts last week. After a busy week, I had the pleasure of starting my Friday evening in the splendid surroundings of the Reynolds Room for an in conversation with Sir Peter Blake and Tim Marlow. They were discussing the work of Joseph Cornell and relating Blake’s interest in collecting to that of Cornell. The event was part of a programme of events running alongside the fantastic exhibition Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust.

Sir Peter Blake and Tim Marlow in conversation

I have long been an admirer of Blake’s work and also fascinated by his collections. I loved the Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector at the Barbican Gallery earlier this year in which a sample of his collection and artwork featured and The Museum of Everything’s collaboration with Blake back in 2011, also displaying some of his magnificent collections.

I’ve always been a collector, or perhaps more accurately, a hoarder. Both of my parents are hoarders so I don’t think I stood a chance! I believe that there’s a correlation between hoarding and creativity. The reason I can’t call myself a collector is that none of my gathered categories are large or precious enough to really call them a collection, except for my obsession with masks. I’ve made bodies of artwork about collecting but on the whole, I can justify most of my strange accumulations (and behaviour in general for that matter) by saying “it’s for an art project”. I’ve even got my family involved in the madness, collecting flies from windowsills and saving pepper seeds for me.

I was therefore very interested to hear Peter Blake describing the distinction between his and Cornell’s collecting. Blake collects things that appeal to him for the sake of making a collection and having them. They may well inspire and artwork and he enjoys appropriately appropriating the work of those he admires. And of course, one of these artists is Joseph Cornell. Cornell was also an avid collector of objects and maps and things but these accumulations were for the purposes of making things from them. They were carefully categorised but so as to facilitate his making.

Sir Peter Blake

I’ve loved Cornell’s work ever since I encountered it many years ago. I love it for it’s immediacy and accessibility. You don’t need to be an art-world aficionado to understand it, in fact that might even hamper someone’s appreciation of it. One simply needs to look and allow themselves to enter the world he’s created for them to explore.

Sir Peter Blake first encountered Cornell in the mid 1950s. He talked about acquiring his first Cornell box from a dealer or ‘procurer’ as he put it! It was a swap for a painting from Blake which he never quite got around to doing. Cornell’s work rose greatly in worth and the box was taken back. Apparently the plaster at the back had begun to crack a little and Blake wasn’t sure what to do about that anyway.

With their timeless quality, I can’t help wondering if they look even better today with a bit of decay.

I learnt that Cornell never studied as an artist and worked as a textile salesman before losing his job in the Great Depression. He made work through collage and his own unique assemblage that came naturally to him.

Blake described his own artistic practice as tree-like. The trunk is a figurative painter, and the branches follow explorations into engraving, etching, sculpture, and so on.

Blake talked about Tony Curtis who was a fan of Cornell and collected 6 of Cornell’s boxes before starting to make his own! Blake has also been inspired by Cornell but his versions are more subtle appropriations. He showed us an example after the talk which was a real treat to see.

I took delight in visiting the exhibition after the talk. It was amazing to see so many examples all at once. I felt transported into Cornell’s imaginary world.

Joseph Cornell 'Pharmacy' 1943 at the Royal Academy of Arts

How amazing that Cornell never travelled. He knew the world and beyond so well through his extensive reading and fascination with maps and star charts. It feels as though his art making was his exploration, escaping so far beyond his local streets with his own imagination. He cared for his mother and brother and it seems as though there’s a sense of yearning, nostalgia, and oppression in his art. Expansive worlds confined within restrictive boxes.

Cornell’s intuitive and poetic way of making art shines through. On exploring the exhibition after the talk, the sense of these being little Wunderkammer or Cabinets of Curiosity shone through. Not big, show-off displays but little private universes. Cornell achieved everything I hoped to in my ‘Surface Views‘ series but didn’t, perhaps because I was thinking too much or even because I was attempting to cast grey magic…

Cornell enjoyed the surreal art of the time but denounced the ‘black magic’ of it’s subversive and erotic elements. He, instead, wanted to cast a ‘white magic’ with his work of the innocence and games of youth and that sense of discovery with open eyes.

The whole evening made me feel transported by white magic.

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.

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...

Entropy (sketch)

Here is a video sketch made in 2008 in Tokyo on a residency at Tokyo Wonder Site. Our group decided to go out onto the streets and make some video interventions. Robyn Minogue noticed a man sweeping meditatively near the temple so she devised a sweeping performance which I built on here. We were asked to focus on the theme of Waste. There was a lot of discussion on entropy and how, for the issue of waste management, entropy should be controlled! This is my response to that premise and it’s futility. Starring Robyn Minogue, and myself (Fiona Long). Camera: Cradeaux Alexander.

As you can see, it would need some rehearsal to be a polished performance but perhaps the relative chaos suits it anyway! I noticed from a photo of an exhibition in Tokyo that this was shown on a huge screen after I’d left the country. I guess that’s good?

Concrete Poetry

My “Concrete Poetry” series is an exploration of how it feels to live in the city. These chaotic images investigate the fast-paced lives we lead both visually and almost viscerally. An archaeological approach to painting shows the contrasts of the impact that both people and nature have on the manmade structures we are surrounded by. The Eastern aesthetic of the beauty of transience is contemplated to interpret the ever-changing urban landscape. A fascination with material is coupled with areas of representation using personal street photography and collages from free London newspapers as source material.

POST 1st Thursdays event in Hackney Wick

Exchange Project Space

POST Artists have kindly been invited to take part in the Exchange Project in Hackney Wick in conjunction with the education and community programme of the Hackney Wicked festival.

POST Artists will be showcasing the results of their collaborative practice to the local residents and artists of Hackney Wick to highlight this rewarding means of making work. They will meet the artist in residence at the “Exchange” space on Saturday 27th August when they will continue a collaborative exchange which began with four members going to Athens last year and meeting with collaborative art group OgreAttend. Documentation of the show will be sent back to Athens for the next leg of this collaborative fractal.

The overriding theme of the show is that of “Broken Telephone” a Greek term with a similar meaning to “Chinese Whispers”. With each stage of the collaboration, the message metamorphoses and the journey continues… So far we have covered Byron, death, concrete, geometry, the Atrocity Exhibition, fetishisation of celebrity, triangles, buried hearts and oversized brains. Where will this take us next?

Exchange Project Space

Private view 1st Sept. 7 till 9
Exchange Project Space, Unit 14, Queens Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN
(almost opposite Elevator Gallery)


View Larger Map

moon shadow

Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures

Floral Burial ("Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures" series)

Some paintings from my latest series. I am often intrigued by the collections of objects I encounter in the street, placed unconsciously or accidentally in what could have been a formal arrangement. If placed in a different context like a gallery, how would they be perceived differently? By painting these banal collections, I hope to highlight the way that people perceive the arrangements of objects that surround them. These collections are painted rather than literally re-displayed in order to humorously elevate them through the sheer laborious attention they’ve already been paid. It also questions the history of still life painting, street art, and the “found object” in sculpture.

Chasm ("Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures" series)

Blue Ocean ("Formal Paintings of Informal Sculptures" series)