Archives for posts with tag: Surrey Contemporary 2013

I have been looking at moss. It gets everywhere.

1306 mossy trees

I found an interesting blog that puts moss in context historically…

‘This soft plant pre-dates just about everything that surrounds it…older than ginkgo, older than Turtle Island, older than the very first tree, quite possibly older than the dirt itself.

The moss pre-dates the very notion of history.  Because the moss comes from an Earth that would be completely unrecognizable to you and me, completely alien even to the trees themselves.’  Read more…

1306 mossy wall

Then thanks to Giovanni Aloi Founder and Editor in Chief of Antennae, the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture my attention was brought to the news that ancient mosses are returning.

‘Frozen mosses that were buried under glaciers 400 years ago have now been regrown. Surprisingly, the hardy “bryophytes” required no special techniques to regenerate. That means they might be candidates for colonizing extreme environments — even in space.  During the Little Ice Age, which occurred between the 16th and 19th centuries, massive glaciers moved in and covered various regions in the Northern Hemisphere. These glaciers slowly retreated throughout the 20th century, and the rate of ice melt has sharply accelerated since 2004. The substantial glacial retreat is now revealing beautifully preserved vegetative communities, says Catherine La Farge, a bryophyte botanist at the University of Alberta. “It’s kind of like a blanket being pulled back, allowing you to see what the Little Ice Age was like.” ‘ Read more…

1306 Moss

So maybe my work should be looking at ‘Return of the Moss’ not ‘Return of the Forest’.

It’s not quite such a dramatic image. I have been looking at some impressions of the first trees, there were a bit fern like.

Fern looks so primordial. I have been working on making stencils to screen print over the ice collagraph. Using the scans from the ferns I pressed I have added an embryo as a harbinger of what is to come.

1306 Embryo

Every summer Ochre Print Studio opens its doors for an Open Studio Exhibition and I usually help curate this.

Lots of work arrives from all the members. We line it up and start looking for connections.

Ochre Print Studio

Ochre Print Studio

Also need to fit my own work in.

Yellow Sky

Yellow Sky

Subluna and Graft i

Subluna and Graft i

Went to see ‘Disgraced’ at the Bush Theatre. Set in New York. Today. Corporate lawyer Amir Kapoor is happy, in love and about to land the biggest career promotion of his life. But beneath the veneer, success has come at a price. When Amir and his artist wife, Emily, host an intimate dinner party at their Upper East Side apartment, what starts out as a friendly conversation soon escalates into something far more damaging.’

Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar

Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar

This blog from Paul in London sums it up nicely

‘Over the course of 90 minutes everything that is civilised and awfully respectable about two New York couples is gradually undone and at times the conversation is so frank and uncomfortable ‘. ……Read more

The characters reflected a fast retreat to their roots when under pressure, to the lessons of their parents to shared histories and a sense of belonging.

It seems origins are very important and potent.

Look at the moss slowly spreading, changing the climate and allowing new growth and eventually the advent of man.

It was a good exercise for me to give a talk at the Robert Phillips Gallery in conjunction with the Surrey Contemporary 2013.  Time to think about my own origins and how they influence my work. I dragged out old sketchbooks and notes to refresh myself on the ideas that have led me to this point.

I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to talk for. I started by talking a little about my own background – growing up in the countryside – living in the city and how this has made me very conscious of the difference between my contact with nature then and now. Also the influences of the ecological call to arms on my feelings about the natural world and my love of the urban landscape.

Binformation

Binformation

 ‘Binformation’ always provokes lots of discussion so that was a good piece to be able to discuss. Rubbish is remarkably personal, it’s something we all produce relentlessly and often harbour guilt about. So it can be comforting to think that maybe in millennia that layer of plastic will turn into something beautiful to be mined.

While doing a bit of research for my talk at Riverhouse I went back to some old sketchbooks from Goldsmiths days and pulled out his quote that I had come across at the time. Those feelings that once everything was better go back a long way.

 “One thing is sure. The earth is now more cultivated and developed than ever before. There is more farming with pure force, swamps are drying up, and cities are springing up on unprecedented scale. We’ve become a burden to our planet. Resources are becoming scarce, and soon nature will no longer be able to satisfy our needs.” Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus Roman theologian, 200 AD

I have been falling in love with Angela Carter again. Reading ‘Nothing Sacred’ and marvelling at her insight of 40 years ago.

1306 angela carter

Writing on the discovery of the idea of the Sublime she looks at the industrial landscape of Bradford and notes the seductive attraction of grit and grime heralded by the art-house films of the fifties appealing to the romantic who was not born and bred in a back to back house.

‘The history of taste may well be that of the obscure and probably warped predilections of the bourgeois romantic intellectual gradually filtering down through the mass media until everybody knows for certain what they ought to like. After all, only a handful of eccentrics enjoyed mountains until a mountain got up and followed Wordsworth across a lake’.  New Society 1970

Despite the urban growth and industry of the northern city she finds there is still a direct contact with nature in the markets of Doncaster – ‘It’s cold and wet underfoot, here.’

‘Outside, among the fruit and vegetable stalls, it had started to rain in earnest and the cabbage stalks and shed lettuce leaves were turning to soup in the puddles. It’s very tiring, not being alienated from your environment.’

New Society 1976

Binformation and Collected Thoughts have been selected for the Surrey Contemporary 2013 which will be at River House Arts Centre in Walton on Thames from 29th May until 30th June.

1304 Binformation

‘Binformation’ considers what new geology might be formed from the cocktail of ingredients disposed of in our landfill sites.

This work was originally completed for an exhibition about pattern. I was thinking about patterns of behaviour as well as creating a pattern from the imagery.

I cycled round to all my friends and neighbours knocking on their doors and asking to photograph their kitchen bin.

I hadn’t realised beforehand how personal a request this was. There was a lot of offers to see the recycling instead and excuses for what was in the bin at the time.

Things have moved on a bit since those days – not so long ago really but the amount of recycling we do now has increased dramatically since 2008.

There will still be that  layer of plastic under the earth for future generations to mine. I used the photographs to create an idea of rock crystals forming from our waste.

We have all participated in a global experiment with unknown consequences.

1304 Binformation detail

The kitchen bin is a surprisingly private space often laden with guilt and there is a certain amount of voyeurism in seeing what other people have put in their bin.

‘Collected Thoughts’ draws on ideas of preservation and references the Victorian enthusiasm for creating romantic tableaux of the natural world held in glass domes.

1304 Collected Thoughts

A contemporary plastic food packaging tray replaces the glass dome distorting the view of an apparently idyllic scene caught against a grey urban backdrop as in a moment’s hazy daydream.

Something else fast becoming history as plastic trays are used less and less.

I went to hear Anya Gallacio talk at Whitechapel Gallery as part of the To Make a Tree series.

Anya Gallacio

Anya Gallacio

She was in conversation with Jon Thompson an ex Goldsmiths tutor and Phyllida Barlow.

The most memorable thing about the talk for me was the number of times she started her reply to a question with ‘I don’t know…’

There was little discussion about trees which I didn’t mind as I found the topic which the conversation  kept returning to of teaching methods at Goldsmiths and other art colleges to be interesting.

It seems even back in the YBA days things were harsh at Goldsmiths – Richard Wentworth told Anya to throw her work out of the window as it was rubbish.

Phyllida reminisced about having to pick up the pieces of emotionally destroyed students who had been locked in the notorious Room B at St Martins but escaped to Chelsea. I wish she had been my tutor as she sounded keen to develop a student not crush them.

Maybe it was all for the good and in Anya’s case gave her good grounding to stand up for herself at Damien’s Frieze when feeling sidelined with limited space to exhibit she poured lead directly on the floor. Since then she has enjoyed making work that lets the material speak for itself. Flowers that dry up, fruit that rots. She has recently completed a new work in Edinburgh ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’. An amethyst lined grotto cut into the earth and surrounded with black stone and the green of the woodland, she wanted it to be something people would stumble across and wonder whether they should enter. Enticed by the beauty but fearful of the jagged edges.

'The light pours out of me' Anya Gallacio

‘The light pours out of me’ Anya Gallacio

Laure Provost won the Max Mara art prize for women and has her work showing at Whitechapel Gallery.

Laure Provost

Laure Provost

It is an incredible sensual piece of work made during her residence in Italy and inspired by the rich history of the female bather.

The centre piece is a pink mouth opening repetitively to a soundtrack which suggests both orgasm and the gasp of entering cold water.

There are circling motions, direct eye contact, demure slipping into water, fresh raspberries proffered from large sculptural spoons, bounty and pleasure.

Laure Provost Swallow

Laure Provost Swallow

Back in the studio I have been continuing work on ‘Return of the Forests’.

I made relief plates for the iceberg collagraph and made new carborundum collagraph plates of the forest.

1304 forest collagraph
This time I sprayed the carborundum with Polyurethane varnish before coating with Shellac.

1304 iceberg
I made some prints with the iceberg collagraph and relief plates – the main problem was getting the inks pale enough. You only need a tiny bit of ink to extender.

1304 trees on iceberg

I test printed tree collagraphs, the detail wasn’t as fine as I had hoped but the murky atmosphere was quite effective.

1304 return of the forest

I also continued work on another collagraph – collaging two images together. The same background as I used in Graft i & ii of a gated car park entrance.

I spent some time drawing a shadow for the fantasy tree which I wanted to take root here. I wanted the shadow to be menacing and in the end went for it outright.

I drew the outline of a devil beast into the shadow and made a relief plate out of thin card.

1304 Shadow

I printed this over the collagraph and mounted it onto aluminium.

1304 mounting on aluminium

I kept looking at ‘Yellow Sky’ in different lights and decided that it really did need lighting from inside.

Yellow Sky

I tried testing the LED strip lights I have to see if they would light from a battery and found they did using a 9v
I trawled eBay for a switch for this and amazingly found someone who wires up LED strip lights to a 9v battery with a switch to a specified length of wire and all for £6.60 battery included!

1304 Yellow sky battery

The LED strip was only 20cm in length but this was perfect for the inset piece.

1304 yellow filter

Felt very clever when I fitted this. I had to cut a hole through the frame for the switch which took me all day with a small chisel and various dremel attachments.

I cut a small plate out of rigid plastic for the switch to sit on and so it is all very neat and no wires and plugs to deal with.

1304 switch

I gave the LED’s a yellow filter with film over acetate to match the yellow sky.

1304 Yellow sky back

I am excited by this whole process and what possibilities it offers. I need to find out how long a length of LED’s can be lit with a battery.

1304 Yellow Sky inset

I feel the work is more balanced now the inset piece is lit.

1304 Yellow sky lit

Had a super evening at Great Western Studios Private View.

An exhibition focusing on prints based on photographic imagery curated by Sumi Pereira and presented by Printmakers Council.

The exhibition aimed to show both traditional skills and innovatory printmaking techniques.

Lidija Antanasijevic

Lidija Antanasijevic

Lidija Antanasijevic explores raw emotion and inner energy seeking to give form to senses and experiences.

In this instance the wires add to the work.

Looked a vibrant place to work and show work.

Particularly enjoyed Chris Mercier’s work here.

Chris Mercier 'The Unraveler'

Chris Mercier ‘The Unraveler’