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30 March 2011

White space - Nick Gray

Very retrospectively I couldn't pass by on the opportunity to mention that Wednesday the 16th March saw the private view of an all new exhibition of Nick Gray's work at the 'White space' gallery within Somerset College art block. Hmmm, should have mentioned it nearer the time methinks, but life and love and laughing intervened so you're hearing about it now -better late than never so please don't complain! Anyway, the show! Great. Firstly though, no one does a private view like Scat does Private views, you just have to go to one to know what I mean, so before you even get around to seeing the work there's the festivities that need to be addressed. And appropriately for Nick's work, perhaps festivities and joy is a good place and a good context to start off from, after all there is something inherently joyful about the colours and moods that arise from his work.

I remember seeing Nick Gray's first show at Scat back in, um...2006, I think when I had just started my first year on the FDA in Fine Art also at Scat. Whilst the new work is still distinctly Nick Gray; the very meticulous, busy coloured and layered lines and colours remain the same; I think the new work is more colourful, there's less white now and if I had to articulate it merely in words and in terms of form, I'd say these new works are less about line and more about colour (as is my view). In my own opinion, I have always felt that they [Nick's paintings] have been about space. The space within all the abstract shapes and forms created within the painting, the space that colour creates within the space of the painting and gallery and the space that these seemingly busy up close, yet peaceful from a distance paintings create between you the viewer and the physical painting itself. If that makes sense? It would be worth having a look yourself to see what you think?

So five years on from that first time I saw Nick's work and its inspiring to see yet even more new work that has been met with the same energy in its display and execution as before. In terms of my own practice and thinking around the arts, a lot, a lot, a lot has changed in those five years and its a real pleasure to see new work and who'd have ever thought write a blog about it. Here's to another five years when I hope to see yet more new work again.

The exhibition of paintings and lots of brilliant fun drawings is on display and to buy until the 1st of April, every week day from 9-5pm. Check it out!

(above) 'The beach' -oil on canvas

(above) 'Autumn' -oil on canvas

For more images of Nick's work and more please check out the following link:

On the eve of the super moon, sees the launch of The Crescent Contemporary

Not last Saturday, but the Saturday before (the 19th to be precise!) saw the launch of the Crescent Contemporary in Taunton. 'Good stuff', I find myself thinking as this was yet more proof that there is ever increasing amounts of contemporary art to be found on my doorstep. So, for those of us who weren't spending the evening of the 19th howling at the moon or watching England vs Ireland in the rugby we were at number 19, The Crescent, Taunton drinking wine, celebrating, chatting and doing whatever else you normally do at private views (as well as looking at the art of course)! I am amazed at the quick turn around of this space, that my friend Liz Earley has moved into and transformed into a gallery in such a short amount of time. After all, setting up a gallery isn't just about painting a few walls white, there's the website and all the business sides of things to juggle with as well. Its exciting to have another contemporary art space in Taunton, after the week before having gone to the Recessionists opening at the Pear Tree Gallery, put this together with Somerset College, The Brewhouse, Ginger Fig, Quartz festival etc etc and you begin to have quite a healthy variety of venues to exhibit work in Taunton (mainly focusing on Taunton particularly because I live here). The first exhibition and one currently still on at the Crescent Contemporary features mixed media paintings and drawings by Gordon Faulds (please see images below). What I particularly liked was the way that the some of the original objects (which Gordon's drawings are made from) were in the window on display in the exhibition. Being able to recognise and relate the drawings to the original artefacts was a fun addition to looking at the work. Personally, after my recent exploits into looking through Taunton Museum's tool collections (more to be revealed about this soon) I can relate to both the appeal and style Gordon uses in taking objects and drawing them, making them look aged and creating layers. Whilst our work is different in style there are similarities in subject matter which is always exciting to see any artist who enjoys taking banal objects and re-presenting them in their work. Whilst we unfortunatley lost the rugby that evening, I did have a really good time looking at Gordon's work, seeing the new space and meeting the usual, but charming suspects. Great to see you if you were there that evening and I look forward to many more exhibitions at the Crescent Contemporary -just don't go when there's a full moon....
(above) 'Duppy Ducky' 2011 -Mixed media on paper on board 44.5cm x 57cm

(above) Portmanteau 2009-10 - Mixed media on paper on board. 85cm x 122cm

For forthcoming exhibitions and to find out more info about the gallery, opening times etc. click on the following link:

For more images of Gordon Faulds work click on his website below:

....and in other news...

So...just because your artworks in the garage doesn't necessarily mean you can't have some fun with it... At Parsley headquarters we recently had a clear out in the garage, as you do, and with the house bursting with my creations already it seemed like a good idea to put the left overs in the garage. To be honest, in many ways my work could probably never be more at home in this context. A painted fork alongside the garden sheers, a fishing net, the lawnmower, a cut out hybrid of a hammer mixed with what could be a radiator key are just a few of the surreal delights that now make having to take out the rubbish or find the garden tools all the more fun (if not confusing!). That's all. I promised I would post these images for my family who were very pleased with their cleaning up efforts and hanging the work, and I'm really chuffed to, so here we are. So, I figured whilst I still like white walled gallery spaces, for now, if some of my work is going to be in storage then it might as well be in 'style' (ha ha, well sort of)!

13 March 2011

'Out with the hammers' in Exeter!

'Out with the hammers' is the recent solo exhibition from Edwina Ashton and has been comissioned by Animated Exeter and Exeter Pheonix (where it is also on show unitl the 20th March). When I saw the title of this exhibition, 'Out with the hammers', could you blame me for getting quite excited and as a result heading on the train to Exeter Pheonix to check it out. Afterall, it had 'hammers' in the title, so it had to be good, right? So this Wednesday myself and a friend disembarked on a train from Taunton to find out.

Ashton's work in this exhibition includes a series of videos, animations, drawings and a few mixed media sculptures. The first room of which we entered being a moss green painted room with the crude and niave bird-like sculptures in. The sculptures had been made from bits of plastic/bottles/junk/tape and sat on perches around the room whilst on the walls were delicate little drawings (of the kind of style you can see here). I've always thought drawings on walls are quite interesting, especailly as you know they cannot be bought or taken away which makes them temporary. This temporary-ness can make any drawing more interesting as you know its not going to be there forever, so for some reason no matter how good or bad the drawing it makes you want to look at it longer. Anyway, these creatures in this space, I read from the blurb on the wall are supossedly gathered around a rockpool. The text and drawings inspired from 19th century natualist, Philip Henry Gosse who studied marine life in Devon's rockpools. "Ah, ha!" I find myself saying, "now its beginning to make sense." There is something sensitive and intriguing about the little drawings on the walls that does almost whisper to the viewer, to come closer and investigate. You can begin to understand that this is similar to investgating rockpools themselves, often rockpools at firstappear empty and it is only after further and closer inspection that we begin to see the tiny and often unusual looking forms of life living within them. The fragility and delicateness of the exhibtion space possibly (it doesn't say) also echoes the fragility of these tiny ecosystems and habitats.

The video next door featuring shrimp and other creatures is not without humour in the way it is quite child-like in its visual style but watches like a very knowledgable scientific documentary (admitedly I didn't watch the whole thing through, due to a noisy group of children and the fact we really needed a drink round about the time we got here!). After the weridly isolated experince of seeing the plastic constructed ganets and 'elephant looking' figures drawn on the walls in the previous room, where everything was still and silent; the animation next door was much more of an immersive experience and demanded more attention than I gave it. Such is the way of viewing exhibitions sometimes.

There were even more werid videos in the other rooms of the Pheonix which I won't go into now, in order to keep this blog from becoming an essay. However I will say that on viewing the whole show I didn't think I was 'blown away' by any of it at the time, but funnily enough after writing this and having to put down my thoughts in words, I actually now think it wasn't so bad after all. In fact, for the reasons and things I talked about around the drawings on the walls and the way the project was linked with the kind of biological sciences/natural history I am liking it all a lot more. Its been interesting in seeing how this artist, Edwina Ashton has used that research to create her work. Most contemporary art requires an active audience so whilst this exhibition may have required more thinking than others, I think it was worth it.

The only question that remains is that, 'what do hammers have to do with it?'

Writings on the wall

I was thinking...After reviewing the '1000 journals project' book, that some of the images in that book reminded me of the graffiti wall that people created/added to during the 'Exhibition of the teenager' at the Brewhouse last month. The wall acted like a huge sketchbook that anyone could look at or add to, which resulted in a mixture of doodles, song lyrics, political rantings and a whole bunch of random chatter! All, of which is not unlike the '1000 journals project'.

Below are three images taken from the wall:

For the rest of the images of the madness, that is 'The Exhibition of the teenager' wall please visit their facebook page on the link below:

The local artist, Scott Walker who set up workshops for this graffiti wall also creates graffiti/doodle walls, murals and more... Scott has worked on projects with Spaeda in the past and uses 'Posca pens' (which are more like painting, but with a pen) to create his community based work like seen here. Check out his website below for more:

10 March 2011

Book of the month for February: The 1000 journals project by some guy

At last, here it is! February's long over due 'Book of the month' and this one doesn't require reading for it to be enjoyed. This book is a visual feast for the eyes! In fact, if you want to look at the book itself (for free!) and to get a 'taste' of it, please click on the link at the end of this post.

The 1000 journals project is 'some guy's' idea in which in the year 2000, 1000 blank journals were unleashed into the world. If you were one of the people to find one of these journals you'd discover instructions inside asking you to use the journal to create personal pages in it and then pass the journal on to other strangers. It made me wonder if I would ever pick up a journal someone had left say in a park or would I not notice and walk past? Or what would I put in a journal if I actually found one? Would it be similar to my own sketchbooks? And how would I pass it on for the next person to find?

This book features copies of the journals that arrived back to 'some guy' (its not clear but I'm assuming they include an address or someway of sending them on?) or have been published/posted onto the projects website online. Those journals have been scanned and printed in glorious colour inside this book and some of the pages are actually stitched making this book tactile and a work of art in its own right. Not only is it fascinating to see how many different countries the journals ended up in (Japan, Canada, Spain, Germany and Australia to name a few) it is even more fascinating to flick through and look at the collage, doodles, poetry, adverts, photographs and diary entries that those who owned a journal created. To anyone that has ever kept a sketchbook, you'll understand what useful tools they are for documenting a vast array of people/places/experiences, expressing thoughts and creating ideas. Often more casual and more intimate than any other work produced by an artist, I feel that sketchbooks open up the window of the intention behind an artists work. Whether as an artist you're a musician, a writer, a performance artist, or whatever the sketchbooks that creative people keep are often the most revealing and raw parts of their practice. Understandably, not everyone wants to share their sketchbooks with the outside world, so this project is great at providing an opportunity of opening up and revealing sketchbook work to those that are happy to share it. Another point being that when I say 'creative people' I don't just mean artists, after all if Joseph Beuys has taught us anything, its certainly agreeable that 'everyone is an artist', and that therefore everyone can be creative. In fact, the dedication written at the start of this book, is 'dedicated to everyone who's ever said, "I'm not creative." Quite frankly, that's exactly what this book goes on to prove, that anyone can be a part of this project and indeed be creative. Another nice touch to this book is that it adds notes from the owners of the journals, giving details of where they're from, what they used the journal for and who they were passing it on to (whether it was someone they knew of a stranger). This gives a really personal feel to the book and makes it more 'readable' for those of you out there who don't just want visual images but a bit of contextual info too.

To conclude, this is one of those rare books, that you can dive in and out of and every time see something different. From someone like myself who loves keeping sketchbooks (often more than creating separate art works themselves) it's also a very inspiring and reassuring book. I never went to see the 'Blood on paper' exhibition at the V&A gallery a few years back (an exhibition featuring artists books) but I can imagine it was similar in the way it recognises journals/sketchbooks or artists books as an art form in its own right. The wonderful thing (as already mentioned, but I'm repeating it because it's so important) about 'the 1000 journals project' book, is that compared to the V&A show which featured predominately artists, the 1000 journals project works because in it, everyone is an artist. Exactly.

Here's that link I promised, check it out!