INTERFUSE

IMG_1466

A week ago today I attended INTERFUSE, an exhibition held by fellow students in the Gallery North Project Space. Art students host exhibitions all the time, but what was special about this one was the fact that it blended the work of both Northumbria and Newcastle University students together. To my knowledge this has never been done before, which is a shame as it seems like such a waste of two such creative communities that are right on each other’s door step. At the same time however it made INTERFUSE all the more exciting.

IMG_1468

As if the concept of a collaboration wasn’t exciting enough, the content of the exhibition was even more so! It was really dynamic, a blend of all sorts of mediums ranging from audio, installation, performance, video, painting – you name it, it was all there. It was a really strong combination of works, probably one of the strongest and most interesting blends I have seen in a very long time. 

IMG_1458

One of the key elements that made INTERFUSE so effective was audience participation. You had pieces like the one above which people were welcome to crawl into (and trust me we did, we had quite a party in there!) Then you had ones like the one below which was so temptingly tactile you had to remind yourself touching artwork is not acceptable!

IMG_1463

Sadly I did not see the performance piece, it drew such a big crowd that I literally could not leave the little room with the tent installation (not that I’m complaining, any extra time I get to spend in the company of fairylights is absolutely fine by me!)

IMG_1473\

When I say this exhibition had everything, I am not lying. The above was definitely the funkiest piece, it was like walking into a mini disco! Music was blaring, lights were flashing, colours were going crazy. I’m not usually one for conventional club music but in this instance I was entirely fine with it! Maybe if we set up some hip arty club consisting of installations like this I wouldn’t feel the need to drown my sorrows over the terrible music that gets played in most places!

IMG_1476

In contrast to the energetic club-like room, you had pieces like this. The moment you put headphones on you are choosing to shut out the world and immerse yourself entirely in the piece. And I really like that element; in a way it almost gives the work total control over you which I think is very interesting. Sound is definitely something I want to look into working with, especially given the fact my video works really aren’t functioning for me, yet the audio in them all somehow still appeals. 

IMG_1467

Another thing that I thought made INTERFUSE such a strong exhibition were the details; it was just the simplest things such as tape outlines on the floor, but it just brought everything together and really demonstrated the thought and time that had gone into all this.

IMG_1481

It was probably one of my favourite exhibitions so far this year. It is the first of four and let me tell you, I will definitely be going to the next one. I have no idea what to expect next time, as I really don’t know how they are going to top this one. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Advertisements

Auction Preview Night

IMG_1515

So last night was our Preview Night in preparation of our Fine Art Auction next Tuesday. One week to go (drum roll please!) The team did a brilliant job of putting the work on display. Having been one of the people to run around collecting multiple artworks from all over the place I had kind of lost sight of them all as pieces themselves. Seeing them all arranged so beautifully brought back the ability to view them as artwork and not just number five on my list for collection! It’s strange how putting work in a certain setting can completely transform your view of things. I think that’s why taking your work out of your studio is such an important moment, you really get an idea of how it functi0ns without the safety net of a studio.

IMG_1504

I think what I’m most pleased about in terms of the work we had on display last night and in our Auction is the variety. It perfectly demonstrates the expressive abilities of art.

IMG_1519

I was really impressed with the arrangement of things, it was so well thought out. Items leaning against the wall creating interesting shadows, easels all lined up like soldiers, plinths in the centre of the room commanding the space, etc. Makes me feel like I really need to step up and start thinking more about the display and presentation of my work. Definitely not a strong point of mine…

IMG_1512

We have some really strong pieces as well. The above piece, ‘Andria’, is definitely one that’s going to cause some conflict on the night I reckon. This is just a work that says straight out “you need me in your life”. Yes I do you beauty! This is just one of many really strong works. With less than one week to go, feel free to view them at:

http://nuartauction.tumblr.com/

Auction Piece

IMG_1434

‘Sail Away’

So that is my piece finally done for the auction. With all the other preparation I’ve put into this I hadn’t actually had much time to think about what I was going to submit. I always find whenever I try and make art for a purpose, it adds a different kind of pressure which more often then not makes me produce pieces that aren’t up to scratch. A highly irritating quality of mine. 

IMG_1436

So after three trial runs this is what I came up with. You just can’t go wrong with pen and paper. It allows me to be loose and fluid the way I am on canvas but on a far smaller scale. 

IMG_1437

So tonight we have our auction preview night, a week in advance of the actual auction. If you are in Newcastle today feel free to head down to the Gallery North Project Space at Northumbria University. Works will be on display from 6-8pm. We’ve got some great pieces and it’s all looking really exciting! Feel free to check out our auction website: http://nuartauction.tumblr.com/

IMG_1435

Performance Art

IMG_1306

Fourway‘, Daisy Cockle

Last weekend I attended ‘ATTEMPT’, a live art event organised by fellow students at The Stand, a local comedy club. Performance Art is something I had never truly experienced up until now. Yes, I’ve read library books, heard all the big names, watched countless videos and even dabbled in it slightly myself. But never have I sat through an entire day of it. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’d never even been to The Stand before but the fact their toilets were painted in primary colours instantly had me sold! The event began with a live stream of the first performance ‘Fourway‘ which showed the artist walking through Newcastle carrying a giant canvas. And when I say giant, it really did eclipse her – what muscles she must have to carry that thing alone! Not only that, she was braving the cold wearing merely a dress. Simply watching her walk through town without more clothes and a scarf on had me shivering (but then again, I do have an unhealthy attachment to wearing scarves)! It was a brilliant start to the show though, it brought the outside space inside and utilised technology in a way I would never even think of (or be capable of given I can barely use my phone!) Instantly I knew I was in for a very creative afternoon.

IMG_1311

‘Explored Persona’, Dan Graham & Alan Barrett

The performances varied greatly which made the event a really dynamic one. Even if you were familiar with performance art you would not have been able to guess what came next. I definitely didn’t guess how much the audience would be a part of it. We were asked to move from our seats for several of the performances. At first I was nervous about this invitation to participate. Normally when you’re asked to leave your seat at an event like this you end up with everyone looking and laughing at you (yes, memories of my experience at The Edinburgh Dungeons where I was called up and put on trial for being a witch were running through my head! Motto of the story, never EVER sit at the front!) But I needn’t have worried. In this case it was merely to give greater attention to the performance, to really be able to look and move as you pleased. In Explored Persona‘ we stayed in our seats but this time the performers approached the audience (and yes I got nervous again!) But it was nothing too daunting, merely comedic interaction involving high-fives, amusingly prolonged eye-contact and giggles from the audience. 

IMG_1318

‘Habbit is a great deadener’, Ciara Lenihan

‘Habbit is a great deadener’ was a very interesting performance to me. It began with a pile of potatoes. They were there from the beginning; as soon as I walked in I noticed them. And I suppose it was this anticipation, this curiousity as to their purpose, that provided a very effective build up for the piece. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe consumption or something strange like that (not that eating a raw potatoe appeals to anyone but you never know). It was far more peaceful then that though. The performer, Ciara Lenihan lay on the floor; her feet, hands and mouth were covered in dirt. And for a while, she just lay there, completely still. And it was very silent, and very peaceful and very tranquil. It made me think of all the times I’ve done meditation in yoga. She then began to reach out for the potatoes and one by one place them over her face. A lot of the time, they rolled away. But she kept repeating the process. For some reason it was very soothing to watch. I think everyone else was just as mesmerised as me. It was a simple but very powerful piece. I suppose sometimes the best art is the art without all the flash. The best art is the most pure.

IMG_1330

‘Protest’, Dean Wilson

For the most part, the performances were silent, but not in the case of  ‘Protest’ which to me was one of the most powerful performances. There was audio playing in the background for this piece which I thought was a brilliant idea (why didn’t I think of doing a performance with that?!) It was not just the fact Dean had audio playing, but it was what the audio that was playing. It was very intense stuff. And when I say intense, I mean intense. And it was truly brilliant. It made you sit there and think, it made you sit there and feel something, it even made you sit there and squirm. For some people it would probably have made them want to leave the room which in my opinion completely defeats the point of attending a performance event, as by walking through the door you are essentially agreeing to open your mind to anything. But even if that were to happen, I suppose it means the performer got a reaction. And isn’t that what performance art is all about, not really knowing what’s going to happen until you do it? I think that’s why I could never perform infront of an audience. Behind a camera it is  reserved just for me, like a secret performance.

IMG_1345

IMG_1344

‘Untitled’, Matthew Young & Nikki Lawson

When I talk about how every performance was different, the contrast between ‘Untitled’ and ‘Habbit is a great deadener’ highlights this perfectly. Whereas in Ciara’s performance she was predominantly still except for a few rolling potatoes, in ‘Untitled’ the performers were running about all over the place like hyper children. They were juggling  tennis balls painted white and the circular motion of the juggling was hypnotising! There were only two performances consisting of a duo act and I don’t think this one would have functioned as well as it did if it had been a solitary performer. Given that the performers of ‘Untitled’ tended to occupy opposite sides of the room, you were left wondering who to look at. So your eyes flicked constantly between the two. Coupled with the movement of them darting after their ball every time they dropped one, the piece ended up with quite a strong sense of momentum and energy. I was actually quite jealous of them juggling by the end of it – I almost wanted to magically conjure some more tennis balls and join in!

*

This experience of Performance Art has made me thirsty for more. I suppose again for me it comes back to that sense of body and self that I like to be present in my work and art that interests me. So although watching performance art won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, it’s definitely something worth trying out if you ever get the chance!

 

Studio

IMG_1426

Every year Northumbria University holds a Fine Art Auction to raise money for our Degree Show. Normally, this takes place in March, however this year we are holding it in December. I am part of the team organising the auction and my role within that team is to gather artwork. This means getting in touch with not only local galleries but also with individual artists themselves. And trust me, there are a lot in this city! It has been very time consuming, but also very rewarding. Normally if the artists are willing to contribute an artwork, I go and meet them to collect it. This involves visiting a lot of artist’s studios, particularly the ones at Newbridge Street. This was where Alexandra Searle held her exhibition (you can see my post about that by clicking here) It’s really interesting to see an artist’s portfolio online and formulate an idea of them and their work in your head and then to actually meet them in person. It’s even better seeing their studios where all the magic happens! So I thought it would be interesting to show you some images of what is currently going on in my studio.

IMG_1429

To be honest, I don’t really know what’s going on in there half the time! I don’t tend to plan things. Yes, I am an organised person but when it comes to art for me there is nothing organised about that. Art is entirely about what is felt. And some days I go in and I just don’t feel it, I don’t feel anything. I practically start to question the point of it all! But then the next day I might come in and have the biggest creative explosion that leaves me as excited as a child at Christmas time! It’s very unpredictable. And I have a love/hate relationship with that fact. I love that you sometimes stumble upon something really unexpected and exciting just by chance. But I hate the days where you are completely dried of inspiration and feel as useless as a chocolate teapot! It’s all just very hap-hazard. But overall it is a very enjoyable experience. It is a whirlwind, it is exciting, it is experimental. 

IMG_1428

I am doing things I never thought I would do with my art. I am discovering artists whose work I have such an affinity with I feel like the book I’m reading is talking directly to me. It’s fantastic and definitely a time I am going to remember. It’s not just the creative explorations you have yourself, it’s the creative energy you have by being surrounded by like-minded people. The studio is never dead. Yes, it’s often empty, but by simply wondering around and looking at everyone else’s work, you can be inspired. Or by running into someone in the corridor, you could have the most simple exchange, but it leaves you reeling with new ideas you feel compelled to instantly scribble down in your notebook. 

IMG_1430

I really don’t know what I would do with my life if I wasn’t creative. Having a pen and a notebook in my handbag is as natural as carrying a purse and mobile phone to me. It can be draining at times to have so much creativity, so many ideas and thoughts swimming round your head, but that’s also the best thing ever. In that moment where you put pen to paper and start to really express yourself, that’s the best moment for me.

*

*

*

If you fancy checking out our auction website, it’s: http://nuartauction.tumblr.com/

Ken Currie

IMG_1367

Last week I attended a talk followed by a preview of Ken Currie’s work in The University Gallery. Ken Currie is a Scottish artist who’s work predominantly focuses on the human body (yes I know I go on about the body in art a lot, deal with it!). For those of you who are not familiar with his work, prepare to be amazed. His work is haunting, it is eery, yet it is beautiful. It explores themes such as mortality, illness, death, politics, you name it, it’s all there! I have loved his work for years, so when I found out he was doing a talk, I got a bit excited. I lie. I got VERY excited! Not only did I get to hear one of my favourite artists talk about their work, I actually got to talk to him myself and ask all the questions I’ve ever had about his pieces in person! (Yes, I was maybe a little star struck!) I did have this slight fear of meeting him though. What if he didn’t live up to my expectations? What if he as a person affected the way I thought about his art in a negative way? I need not have worried. He was witty, incredibly Scottish and very interesting! 

IMG_1373

The work in this exhibition is very different from what I’ve seen of his previously. It’s more printer then painterly based which is not like Currie at all. It was however very interesting to see his painterly mindset translating across into the realm of print. The way he talked and spoke about his etchings and monotypes was a mindset I could relate to – normally printing is an alien world for me, but Currie made it accessible. As well as discussing everything he had learned in the Glasgow Print Studios, he also went into a lot of detail over who he had chosen to depict in his images. Political activists such as Rosa Luxemburg featured (see below). Currie has always had an interest in history which I think is another reason I am such a fan of his work (yes, you guessed it, I am a history nerd). When he spoke about who was in his portrait, he was also talking how he’d arrived at that particular image. It was purely through repetition. By producing print, after print, after print. Whether he chose the first or last one to display didn’t matter, what mattered was that he had pushed that one image to its absolute limit. When asked how he selected which print to display he said “I think they’re all surprises, that’s why they’re here” Again, a very attractive feature of his art. Pushing it to the point of exhaustion. I in a sense do this too, not to the extent Currie does, but I do drawings repeatedly, just to see what happens as they change every time. As Currie said you have “absolutely no idea what’s going to happen!” Which is the excitement of making art of course. 

IMG_1371

Another thing I find so intriguing about his work is the motif of death. A lot of people shy away from this and treat it as a taboo so it’s refreshing for an artist to address it so directly. Currie’s basically saying ‘shit, we’re all going to die’. Yet he’s also saying that this eventual event, the event of death, is what makes us live life the way we do. If we were here forever would we push ourselves the way we do? Would we enjoy ourselves and value everyday? As Currie did actually say, the inevitability of death “forces us to live in the present”. When I asked him what he was trying to convey through this focus and exploration of such a morbid motif, he said he supposed it was an appreciation of how “fleeting our lives are”. 

IMG_1366

The monochrome colour palette only adds to this sense of the macabre. It’s dark and it’s gritty. It’s haunting. But it evokes something in you. Even if it is just an incredible appreciation for his skills as an artist (seriously, the way he has manipulated ink – stunning!) When I visit an exhibition I want to feel something. I want to walk round and leave thinking about the work. Currie’s does not fail me. I felt uneasy, like every piece was watching me. But I also felt peaceful, because all the works were beautiful despite their dark connotations. And I suppose it’s that delicate balance of beautiful and ugly that make Currie’s work so incredible.

IMG_1372

The Power of The Image

186A0860_resultSometimes I think people go to too much effort to explain themselves and their work. Sometimes it’s better just to stand back and let a piece be itself. After all, isn’t this what art is all about? Allowing people to formulate their own ideas and interpretations? What kind of art are you making if it can’t speak for itself? I suppose everyone works differently and I’m not condemning any particular working method. I’m just saying you have to believe in the power of your piece. To me, these photographs don’t need any justification or explanation. However that may just be because to me they are loaded and they are current. They are part of what I’m exploring now so they carry a lot of personal connotations. 

186A0861_result

I like to think they can stand without all that however. These in themselves are about the way the light shines and the shadow falls. The way the body bends into slightly unnatural shapes. The creases of the material and the blurring in the foreground. They don’t need the research and the meaning behind them to be beautiful. They are images that can be solely appreciated for what they are. 

Painting Digression

DSCN2555

It’s strange when I think how I used to consider myself as an artist. I was adamant painting would always and forever be my one and truly love. How wrong I was…As much as I love painting, it really does have it’s limitations. Not in the sense that all painting is bad, it’s just sometimes not the right means for what you are trying to express. Sculpture often offers an expansion painting cannot. It offers the three-dimensional, the play with space and where you put it. Nowadays I like to bring sculptural elements into my paintings. I like to play between the two realms and have overlap and interplay such as in these paintings. Here I am using cling film as a barrier. I am arranging it across the canvas as a blockade whilst I lay down paint in the revealed areas. I then allow this to dry before I rearrange the cling film and repeat the process. I do this in layers and layers until I finally reach a point where I am happy. 

DSCN2557

It’s a good technique as it allows me to reflect on the piece; think about the colours, think about the shapes I want to create. It also allows me to work in my favourite painterly medium, inks. I absolutely love ink! It gets everywhere, it’s absorbent, it’s uncontrollable. When I use ink I feel like I am going on a journey with an unknown ending. Ink is perfect for layering up as well as you can choose how dense or faint it is. Layering and repetition are elements I can’t get away from. I like to exhaust a drawing by repeating it multiple times until it is dead and I am sick of it! Working on canvas is another favourite of mine as well as I have the stretchiness spring back at me whilst I’m working it and it absorbs my ink in an incredibly satisfactory way. Large scale is also best for me as I feel it gives me the breathing space to work that small scale cannot. Although I’ve taken a step back from all of this for now, I know that painting will be calling me back soon. 

Those Days

041

I’m going to be using art as a metaphor here. And yes, it’s a metaphor for life. For the real world. For being scared and growing up. To me, the ultimate is doing what you love everyday. There is no point doing what you are doing if you are burdened by it. Of course, we all have those days where we wonder ‘what the hell is going on here?!’ What am I doing with all this crap in my studio?!’ Well, us art folk wonder that. Sometimes though you need those days. Yes, they are pretty shit and I drink even more tea then I normally do, but at the same time they act as a turning point. They really make you sit back and think about what it is you are trying to articulate in your work. Stale periods force you to step outside of yourself for once and I think that’s a really healthy thing. Sometimes you can get so carried away in the making of an artwork that the momentum sweeps you off your feet and leaves you to fall hard on your bum! 

015

Falling flat on your ass is all part of the learning experience though. You fail at something, but you learn and something else comes from that. This kind of thing doesn’t apply just to making artwork, but to life and everyday. We have bad days, we have Mondays and we have good days. And it all balances out. Sometimes I have inspiration dry spells that last two weeks! Trying to get an idea out is life trying to squeeze water from a rock! It’s tough, but once you get over that milestone, you have the world at your feet! And once you are at that stage, the fun begins! A fun day for me getting messy in the studio. If I leave for the day with ink stains on my hands and charcoal smeared across my face I am happy. It will have been a good one. 

133

A lot of the time I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have a plan. Things just happen. I experiment. Accidents occur. Paint tubes explode in my face and all over my clothes. I say this mostly in reference to art, but as with all my art, a lot of it translates into real life. Who knows where you are going to be in five years, ten years? Who cares? Do we really need to pinpoint every single thing? Personally, no. If I can apply an art metaphor again here, I would far rather mix two colours together and see what happens when I apply them to canvas!

002