Pop Up Pink (Part 1)

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Tuesday night was the Pop Up exhibition of Pink inspired by and a result of the ‘Pink’ talk for Colour Studio Northumbria (http://colourstudionorthumbria.weebly.com/). These are weekly conversations mostly led by fellow course mate Rebecca Gavigan. Having led one this week myself on the topic of ‘Time’, I am even more in awe of how she puts them together – especially on a weekly basis with everything else we have to contend with as final year students. Other students and tutors have also led talks  and it’s a really interesting mix of topics that are discussed including things like laughter, material, chance, etc.

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So it was really exciting to see one of the talks mould and shape an exhibition. One of the primary focuses of the exhibition was the motif of ‘shifts’ due to the development of our conversation during the Pink Talk. We covered and shifted across so many different topics that it seemed appropriate to incorporate this aspect into the exhibition. Whilst researching in preparation of the talk I kind of hit a wall. As I have an incredibly girly girl sister, it is difficult for me to look at pink in a way that surpasses my sister’s excessive use of it! I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I love that when I think of her a colour instantly springs to mind, I think that’s a beautiful way to visualise someone you love. However, it did mean I had to try really hard to distance myself from those associations in an attempt to research more broadly.

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‘Transfer’, Sue Spark, Highlighter and oil on paper, 2016

The Pink Talk was mainly questioning the ‘art pink’ that is so present in the art world today. If you look at art thinking about pink you really do start to notice it’s presence everywhere. Whether it’s a pastel pink, a funky neon pink, or a muted dirty pink; all sorts of variations can be found in different places and across artistic practices. Even in catalogues and publications, pink really is the ‘in’ thing! I can’t tell whether or not I’m surprised it has become a trend, I suppose given the conventional associations of the colour all of these interpretations are an attempt to redefine what pink can be. 

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‘Untitled Slants’, Charles Danby, Acrylic, oil, pencil, ink, magazine, highlighter, paper, linen, 2008-16

What I love most about the Colour Talks is they take something simple and expands it into realms you had never even considered. In my reading of pink I was thinking about gender, feminine elements, flesh – those kind of associations. Of course in the talk we did discuss these. It turns out pink was historically more of a boy’s colour, as it is a diluted version of red which of course symbolises male strength. This is something I would never have guessed myself given all the pink baby girls clothing we are constantly bombarded with! The talk also covered things such as pink in the natural environment and how this colour  can be really striking in that context. The discussion had so many components to it that I don’t think I will ever look at pink in the same way again!

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‘Jawbone’, Projection, Matt Young and Nikki Lawson, 2016

It was interesting how for the most part, those of us who exhibited a work were drawn to the use of a more high frequency pink. This was completely accidental as nobody had discussed the exact tone they would be using in their piece prior to exhibiting. We only realised once all the works were placed in the room. It therefore perfectly demonstrated exactly what we all felt was ‘art pink’. 

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‘Oh Sorry’, Rebecca Gavigan, PVC and highlighter, 2016

We were also all free to choose what we submitted in terms of media, so there was a good range as a result. The mix included installations, video, paintings, drawings, work in situ – there was a bit of everything. Eclectic textures were present too which evoked tactile sensations. Each work had been carefully placed and hung in order to allow the eye to travel across each piece. Placement was key to how the pieces were all viewed and navigated so I found having work on the floor as well as the wall added a dynamism to it all. It was curated in a day and although this was a very brief time period, it was long enough to let me see the thought and process that goes into curating. Something that I currently have little experience of!

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‘No Sexual Connotations Intended’, Samuel Johnson, Timber, mesh voile, gloss, oil and iridescent paint on canvas, 2016

Following this exhibition however I am intrigued by the idea of curating. There’s a responsibility to assembling works effectively; not only to the pieces themselves, but also to the artists who made them. I’ve never done it before but having seen how thoroughly Rebecca considered the hanging of each work, I feel it could be a really exciting thing to try!

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Close up of ‘Rizzo’, Camilla Irvine-Fortescue, Acrylic on canvas, 2016

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Empty Walls

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For me presentation of work has become a slight struggle. When I was a painter it was simple, easy. Grab a nail, grab a hammer, make sure your canvas is straight and voila! The piece is hung, the piece looks perfect. With photographs you need to put a lot more thought into it. I was debating for ages about how to hang these works. I didn’t want to frame them as it made them seem too much like a final work, whereas my practice is still very much in the experimental stage. I didn’t just want to stick them to the wall either however, as I felt that was too flat and took away from the movement depicted in the image. 

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So then I started contemplating material such as foam board. If I were to spray glue the images onto that, they would then stand approximately a centimeter off the wall. Again however, it felt too fixed, too held in place. So then I came up with my final mode of presentation; using bull dog clips to hang the photos from nails. This worked well because it allowed the photos to protrude from the wall meaning that when anyone walked past the photos fluttered and danced as a result of human movement. 

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I really like this aspect, the fact that the photos moved in sync with the viewer. It ties in nicely with my concepts of the body and its relations in space. Someone also pointed out to me that this method of hanging reverts back to old analogue photos and how they were hung in the dark room.  I thought this was a very interesting reading and one I had not even considered myself. Quite careless of me if you think about it, yet I was simply fixated on this idea of moving instead of static images. It’s interesting when someone notices something completely different in your work. 

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In fact that is one of my favourite things about making art; when someone takes something of yours and re-interprets it on their own. When they draw their own conclusions and interpretations, which sometimes are the furthest thing from the concept I was working on! Yet there’s nothing more exciting than someone coming to me and talking about how they’ve seen or read something in my pieces and I get to say back to them “I hadn’t even thought of that!” It brings in a whole new dimension for me to consider as I continue on with my experiments.

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After all the debate that surrounded the hanging of these images, it’s nice to have empty walls again! Not for long however as I am completely buzzing with ideas to the point that I can’t create or write them up fast enough! I have been so busy the past week making and editing work that I haven’t even had time to reflect on it all properly!