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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!

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