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29 January 2012

A look at this week and the weeks ahead.

This eclectic post features just a few of, what will undoubtedly be many more, exciting art events to look forward to in 2012. The Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and maybe even the end of the world (if you believe in the Mayan prophesy, that is) are just a few reasons why 2012 is going to be a year like no other! This very brief list includes the events I am at the moment most looking forward to, some of them local and some not, there will be as well, of course the usual annual open studios in Bath and Bristol, end of year graduation shows and exhibitions in London and further afield that I haven't included here but will equally be things worth visiting again this year. To top the list off, I've included at the very end two things of interest that happened during this week that you can go check out now!

So first things first, and perhaps unsurprisingly one of the things I'm looking forward to seeing this year is.... my graduation! Now into my second and final year of my MA in Fine Art at Plymouth, this September will, if everything goes to plan, see myself and my peers complete the course and exhibit the work from our research and artistic endeavours. And yes, it will still be featuring tools, for those of you who were wondering. The image below is the beginnings of a piece I'm making using mono printing, its at an early stage and there's a lot of evolving to be done before this piece is finished. In principle though, the idea was to create a 'workshop' of tool drawings. If you have seen the work of Lisa Milroy and Jim Dine think maybe those two fused together and you'll get the idea of what I'm working on.

It only comes around once every two years and I wouldn't want to miss it for the world. It's the seventh Liverpool Biennial! This will be the fourth one for myself and whilst it is early days in looking ahead to see what waits in store for 2012 I'm looking forward to seeing how artists have responded to the arts cuts and all the hype of the Olympics in this years biennial. Look out for this from 15th of September until the 25th of November.
Of course! This year is an Open Studios event for Somerset Art Weeks and once again artists throughout the land of Somerset and its borders will be dusting off their easels, unearthing their public liability insurance documents and opening up the doors to their studios as wide as their rusty hinges will allow in order so that we, the public can snoop, pry and explore these wonderful hives of creativity and inspiration. I am always amazed and impressed at the ways and means artists will try to produce work in even the most cramped or cold situations, or have boards jutting out and leaning precariously off of tables designed too small for working at. Alternatively you have the vast and glorious studios, studios with space for light and space for space! Studios with wood burners and heaters, print presses and sofas! If you are even lucky, you might find an artist inside one of them as well!

Ahem. I digress, but you get the idea of why 'open studios' is always a fun event and an opportunity to explore the working practice of artists and makers.

Dates for your diary: September 15th - September 30th
Creating the spectacle, itttsss, Sue Austin!!
From the 29th of August until the 9th of September Weymouth will again host its successful 'B-side' festival that includes contemporary art, videos, installations, performance and sound pieces from a host of local and international artists. Among them will be Sue Austin in her powered underwater wheelchair as she 'creates the spectacle' in the form of a performance in the Fleet Lagoon. I have had the pleasure of studying alongside Sue this last year on our MA and I can not begin to tell you both how interesting and very remarkable this event is going to be. I've seen the development of what started as a very 'Heath Robinson-like' contraption made of propellers, rudders and Pegasus thrusters (!) turn into a very complex, working under water wheelchair that not only looks amazing when in use, but raises a lot of discussion on perceptions of disability and more. I've heard on how good B-side is before, so not only do I want to go this year, I'm even more looking forward to seeing Sue's performance in it.

Give us your wind!

"The wind reapers; they love noise. Greedily they gobble up sounds and gobble stories." -Tim Hill

More from Weymouth and to coincide with the Olympics and Paralympics, the 'Battle for the Winds' event is going to be noisy!

"Unprecedented in scale, this telling of the tale starts in May 2012 in Lyme Regis, travels throughout the South-West and ends with a climactic performance over three magnificent days in Weymouth and Portland. Will the heroic Wind Gatherers succeed in their battle to unshackle the creative breezes and release the wind in time for the Olympic sailors to harness them?" -BOTW webpage

I did mention this post was going to be eclectic didn't I? This epic battle (or you could read as performance) is going to be the culmination of a Somerset Journey collecting sounds throughout Somerset that our wind gatherers will orchestrate at Weymouth in battle with Gloucestershire, Whiltshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the West of England to settle once and for all who is the windiest county of them all!

The journey to 'The Battle of the Winds' starts soon on May 21st at The Taunton torch Olympic Ceremony and will continue on tour until it arrives at Weymouth July 26th -28th.

Please get in touch if interested in getting involved in this event. Do you have a song, a sound or story to share? Let us know?

Ones to watch: (so I couldn't fit in everything that's going on this year but here's some more links of events/groups to look out for..) - Blackdown Hills Artists and Makers - The Recessionists -Thursday 22nd March 'A beacon of sound and light' at The Brewhouse -Celebrate 35 years of The Brewhouse Theatre -Jamaica Street Artists, Bristol - BV Studios, Bristol -Bath Artists' Studios
Well, that covers a lot of the year ahead. For those of you who can't wait and want to see something interesting and inspiring right now then look no further...

Visited Exeter this week and saw this fantastic piece of street art by a Portuguese graffiti/street artist, Vhils who was commissioned to create this work by Urban Outfitters on the side of their building. Fantastic! Why paint onto a wall when you can chisel into it! Seeing this has given me an idea of a piece of work I'd like to try and make, I'll keep you posted how that goes (or you can check out its progress in the 'Art in progress' image on the right-hand-side of this blog).

Running at Spacex in Exeter until the 19th of February is an exhibition of video/interactive media work that documents the participatory, adventurous practice of the art group known as 'Blast Theory'. I have to say, this kind of work has never really been my preference if I had a choice of exhibitions to go and see, that's probably because in order to really appreciate, understand and, in come cases, participate in the work requires more time and patience than I am capable of first thing on a Tuesday morning. That said, once I did make the effort to engage with the work some of the ideas in it were actually quite interesting. Take the piece, 'Kidnap', for example,

"In 1998 Blast Theory launched a lottery in which the winners had the chance to be kidnapped. Ten finalists around England and Wales were chosen at random and put under surveillance. Two winners were then snatched in broad daylight and taken to a secret location where they were held for 48 hours.The whole process was broadcast live onto the Internet. Online visitors were able to control the video camera inside the safe house and communicate live with the kidnappers.
During the run up to Kidnap, a 45 second video - the Kidnap Blipvert - was shown at cinemas around the UK. The Blipvert carried a freephone number, allowing people to register their interest. "

It raised ideas to do with surveillance, the concept of 'big brother', ethics, participation (well, just a few key thoughts upon seeing the work)etc. Whilst I am still fairly stubborn in my own ways of working (preferring the more representational approach like in the street mural above) seeing work like this is always a welcome eye-opener and the whole area of art as participation is an interesting field and is debatable as to whether it has been with us for a long time (in the form of performance, for example) or whether there are new ways it is becoming interactive with new technology and media. I'll think on it for a while...

Get out there!

23 January 2012

When all the art exhibitions finally arrived...

Happy new year! The start of January was actually pretty quiet (in exhibition terms) until the end of the month when loads arrived all at once! Two exhibitions, a project in the High Street and the beginnings of several big exciting projects coming up-soon and during the Olympic torch ceremonies. 2012 has landed!

In no particular order:

Tuesday 17th - Friday 27th Get Creative @ Taunton -

Hosted by Actiontrack, Creative Carnival, Somerset Film and The Brewhouse, 'Get Creative' is a two week series of free events, workshops and debates based in Mendip House at the top of Taunton High Street.

From what I gather the point of having the building is to talk to the public/artists/performers etc. etc. [in terms of what they would want from an arts space] whilst having the opportunity to learn some new skills [film/web based] and take part in some performance pieces one of which includes a gamelan. Confused? Me too, slightly, there's quite a mix of stuff going on there although I think using the empty space, that is Mendip House for anything creative, no matter how confusing, is better than leaving it empty. Certainly I also hope that Taunton High Street can use events like this one to run further exhibitions and activities that will draw people into our High Street. All of this is of particular interest to me personally as it has a natural link to the 'Big Draw' project we held in the same place last October.

These two images are from Simon Lee Dicker's exhibition, 'Show and tell' at 'The Old School Room', West Coker - 18th until 29th January

"This exhibition brings together the work of artist collective OSR projects, established by artist Simon Lee Dicker. The Old School Room has been a place of learning, meeting and gathering for over 160 years and this exhibition works with the social history of the building as a catalyst for creative exploration." -Evolver

I hadn't been to 'The Old School Room' since Somerset Art Weeks so it was great to go back and see how things have changed (the addition of a gold painted wall for example!) and what new art works waited in store. I think its a bold move that warrants a lot of credit, to bring contemporary art of the, what I would call more conceptual nature into a relatively small Somerset village. But as West Coker proves, why conform to the stereotype? Why have landscape paintings and pictures of cows when you can have tartan on the walls and on the floors!(I actually think there's a place for both!) That's not to say its eccentric for eccentrics sake, but there is always a very playful and witty side to all the work that is shown in 'The Old School Room'. Even more appropriate when you consider it was actually a school room and, for it now to act as a place of play and a place to make you think/question is highly relevant. There are a lot of very 'cool' and clever visual elements to this exhibition and if you like art that is reminiscent of the balancing sculptures of Fischli and Weiss then this is definitely for you.

14th January - 18th February Richard Pomeroy 'Landscape: Imprint', Brewhouse Theatre -

New, big and bold paintings from SAW artist, Richard Pomeroy!
"Somerset based artist Richard Pomeroy explores the link between landscape and humanity. The artist lies down in carefully prepared wet paint on primed linen. The resulting image can form either the dramatic centrepiece of the painting or can be gradually subsumed by the subsequent layers of paint. The body's clothing is clearly modern with zips and denim defining the figure as contemporary. Aspects of the landscape are then painted as an upper layer on top of the body print. This physical union between body and landscape dramatises the subject of the paintings and creates a memorable image." -Brewhouse website

Yes! A painter! I'm very pleased that a painting exhibition has come to the Brew, and its an exciting one too! I won't bore you by re-aliterating what the descriptor above states instead I will talk a little bit, from a painterly point-of-view what I thought of the show. Out of the 10/12 canvases there's a wide exploration of colour palettes and techniques that, whilst the subject matter [of rivers/landscapes] remains relatively constant the surfaces and moods of the paintings are very different. It's those different textures and layers or colour that, for me, best reflect the idea of how the landscape in Somerset is connected geographically but is also very varied from place to place. Out of all the work the more subtle, 'white/grey' pieces appeal to me the most because I like the sharpness of the detail picked up from the printed clothing on the top that I feel is detracted by the brightness in some of the more colourful pieces. Overall, I spent a lot longer in this exhibition than a lot of the more 'sculptural' Brewhouse exhibitions which is clear to say that I really enjoyed it.

Really worth a look and if you want to find out more then come along to the 'artist talk' on Wednesday 2nd February from 6pm

So, phew! All of that in a week, and that's without mentioning the upcoming, 'Iluminos' project as a part of SAW's 'Maximum exposure' in which pill boxes along the Taunton stop line will be lit up with projections between, Feb 24th and 4th March. Plus there's a whole load of events happening surrounding the Olympics, all of which I'll have to fill you in on next time!

That's all for now, I'm off to hear a gamelan being played! 6.30pm tonight in the High Street, onwards. See you there!