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29 June 2010

Coming to you live! From Langport!

It's sunny, it's raining, it's sunny...but whatever the weather, I'm coming to you live from the Hub a.k.a the SAW offices live from Langport! Exciting news to report regarding the blog is that it now has a flickr account so I will be posting lots more images! Good news for all of us visual-minded people. I will be uploading as many images as possible from recent SAW events and future ones. To get it started, however, I've put some images from the visit to the Tithe barn at Cotley. Please check them out!

On other blog related news, I am beginning to comprise a set of lovely links down the right hand side of your blogs. Please check them out and if you have a blog then please send me a link via the following email:

25 June 2010

Tithe barns are all the rage!

Spent this Thursday with Zoe from SAW who took me to see this Tithe barn at Cotley near Chard. We were going to have a look at the space in preparation for using it as an open studio space for the fourth coming Somerset Art weeks in September. My grandparents are farmers so I am used to finding farms down little winding country lanes that are seemingly in the middle of nowhere. However, I did not expect the tithe barn on this farm to be very big and I suppose you can kind of see in the photo that it is actually quite a large space indeed. It is also incredibly beautiful in the rustic sense of beauty that is. That's where my interest comes in as my work features rusty tools found on the farm so potentially I was hoping this would be a great location for my work. I was not disappointed and hope that I can use this as an opportunity to present my work in a different context from the white walled gallery space I am used to.

In the photo is Zoe and artist Liz Fathers who creates environmental based installations that often reflect the context or surroundings they find themselves in. She had recently exhibited at Appledore arts Festival in North Devon with a piece about pollution in the sea. I actually studied my degree alongside Liz and I know she is an artist who researches her subject deeply. When we actually arrived at the barn she had already found out from the farmer about the history of the barn being used for threshing corn and making cider. In fact the venue is going to have several artists who would be suited to this space exhibiting and working here throughout the weeks in September.

I will keep you posted at how my experience with helping to put this exhibition together progresses in the run up to the art weeks.

14 June 2010

There's no business...

The early summer months of May, June and July, I feel are the most dynamic and exciting months in the art year. I am of course referring to 'show time' when degree students and artists from all art practices open up their studios or hold exhibitions for the public and the wider audience to see and perhaps buy work. Whether it is the first time as an artist you have work shown in the public context or even if you have shown work many times before nothing can quite match the excitement and nervous trepidation that comes from unveiling your work and having it subject to debate, applause or scrutiny by an outside audience.
I recently visited Jamaica Street Studios in Bristol for an open studio event featuring around 43 artists (illustrators, fine artists, graphic artists, textile design) across three floors in an amazing building that used to be a carriage works (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE). I would really recommend checking it out as it was really inspiring to see how the artists worked together to maintain the funding to stay in their building and the kind of work they produced there. Open studios offer a contrast to the more polished and professional exhibition style that I am more used to and whilst exhibitions are very rewarding, open studios offer a different set of perks that you don't get through finished exhibitions. There is a different atmosphere to an open studio event, naturally as you would expect it is more informal and invites more easy conversation about work but in particular about processes that artists use. From an artist point of view there's a lot less cleaning and 'dressing' of your work that you would need to do if you had an exhibition. So all the debree, tat, pots and eccentric collections of images and nicknack's that adorn the walls and spaces of are studios can in fact add to and enhance the meaning of work. For example the artist Karin Krommes has an immaculate studio space which is very tidy and ordered. This is reflected in her paintings which feature highly precise and detailed machine parts and engines. Through having an open studio event these connections can give you an insight into the 'person' behind the work and make art easier to relate too. I therefore think I will look forward to seeing what spaces artists use for the upcoming Somerset art weeks as it too is an open studio event this year. Especially as it is a lot more spread out and diverse than the Jamaica street studios so it will be interesting to see how artists have been influenced by the environment they find themselves in.
On the other hand you also have the slick Summer Shows at the Royal Academy and the equally if not more so prestigious (in my opinion) art shows from colleges and universities at this time of year. I have to say that it is a great experience to be involved in the hanging/organisation of any art exhibition. I found it particularly useful as a way of learning how to edit and curate my work. Learning that the saying, 'less is more' often rings true when hanging a show and is something I struggle still to do and came out of experiences hanging work on my degree. As far as viewing work goes the benefits of a well hung and curated show are invaluable and should be a chance to show and promote your work as intended. As someone who normally paints on the floor to lift my work off and out of the mess and put it onto a clean wall is wonderful and immensely useful. The downsides to exhibitions are that whilst they are often better at presenting and selling work they can also have the affect of being intimidating and alienating some people who view them as they have a much more formal nature. It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes exhibitions grouped together in the form of a festival like, Appledore Arts Festival in North Devon for example can work well at taking away some of the pretentiousness of exhibitions and make art included in a festival setting with activities and fun that make the art more accessible to a greater variety of people.
To conclude, it goes without saying that both open studios and exhibitions are equally inspiring and present different challenges and benefits to artists and their audiences. What makes work interesting to view is having a mixture of both. If I could have visited Picasso's studio whilst he was alive I undoubtedly would have wanted to but at the same time you can still appreciate and take much from viewing his work in galleries. Both add to what makes a better understanding of an artists work.
So whether you are exhibiting, hanging or viewing any of the upcoming shows this summer I hope you have a good time and use them successfully to sell, promote, educate or celebrate your work. I don't think it is easy to show your work to an audience in a studio or gallery and takes confidence and self belief to pull it off well. I do know however, that 'To bestow one of our creations is the surest way to invoke the next.' So that is inspiration enough to keep going for me.
There are some very interesting blogs about hanging degree shows on: if you want to read some different opinions.

8 June 2010

Welcome to the blog!

Hello! The person in the photo above struggling to hold a giant wrench that's grappling an equally giant spider. That's me.

I suppose it was inevitable really...that I'd end up involved with an organization called 'SAW'. Pretty ironic I think. After all I had spent the last two years of my degree drawing, painting, printing and collecting the things. Saws, that is. Well, not just saws but the whole box of tools to put it more correctly. My interest and fascination with them became quite obsessive which is just as well because it got me my degree. I studied a BA in Fine Art at Somerset College graduating last year and have been left to venture into the 'big world' of the arts outside ever since.

A few murals, some sketchbooks (and maybe a drink or two) later and I find myself here setting up and posting what is to be the first of many blogs on this, titled 'SAW blog' (I hope you like the name, I know its not entirely original but it keeps it straight to the point). I don't know if sitting in a modestly sized office in the small town of Langport was exactly what I pictured when I originally 'ventured into the artworld outside' but it is one of the many things I have come to learn and experience and is why I write this blog today.

To clarify, I am twenty-three years old and I have lived in Somerset my entire life. I am now in the presently discovering what it is like to be an artist in Somerset, perhaps more specifically, an emerging artist in Somerset. In my practice I enjoy taking the ordinary (in my case tools most of the time) and trying to make it extraordinary. I aim to represent and re-present the ordinary and make it more dynamic and interesting exploring different means of achieving this through painting, drawing, printmaking and collage (see images in this blog of my work). Since leaving the academic setting I have thrived in for the considerable majority of my life I have had to make new networks of people involved in the arts, apply for commissions, develop my portfolio and many more skills needed to become a more professional artist. This is an ongoing process and one that I thought might be useful to other artists.

Hence this blog! It aims to be a source of information, events, debates, opinions and happenings within the artworld in Somerset. I hope you'll find it useful or entertaining and as a different way to interact and 'get involved' with SAW and see examples of how Somerset through its art and artists also relates to current contemporary practice in the arts as a whole.

If you have any ideas for blogs, if you want to write a blog, if you have any news, images please let me know. You can contact me on or comment on any of the posts directly on here.

So stay tuned for more posts coming to you from me, Natalie Parsley your new blogger in residence for Somerset Art Works.