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22 March 2012

In the news...

Its been another dull week here in Taunton, last Thursday 15th we had the Friends of SAW evening at Woodlands Castle, then a talk by sculptor David Mach at Taunton School on Tuesday, another artists' talk from painter, Alexis Harding at Somerset College just yesterday and now to top it all off this evening there's a beacon event outside The Brewhouse Theatre, where we'll have a musical and visual spectacle as a lit beacon is going to be sent down the river Tone on its journey to Bridgwater. Not to mention the SAW Reveal conference that also took place today in Wells! If you aren't feeling 'arted-out', living in Somerset this week then where have you been?!

I'll accept this post is going to be more like a journal entry whereby I'll (as briefly as I can) summarise some of the wonderful things that have happened this week. Firstly we had a Friends of SAW evening (last Thursday) at Woodlands Castle, Taunton which was organised by Lyn Mowat and hosted by Sir Benjamin Slade. Myself, Jon England and Kitty Hillier were invited along to show and talk about a piece of work, 'yikes' I thought to myself initially, it had been quite a while since I'd last spoken in front of a group of more than 10 people! However, it turned out to actually be a fun experience and in my slightly nervous way I appreciated the opportunity to talk about a piece of work I'd made in public, it always seems to reaffirm or highlight things you may not have known or forgotten about your work. That, and I got to wield a large rusty saw I'd brought alone as an additional visual pun! This was the first 'Friends of SAW' event that I'd been to so it was also a great opportunity to meet lots of new people who share an interest/support the arts in Somerset. Prizes of £100 to be spent during art weeks and works of art were also handed out at this event to people who visited art weeks last year.

Onward now to Tuesday 20th, 7pm at Taunton School and what better way to end the day than with a talk by visiting artist, David Mach (see 'Gorilla' coat hanger sculpture, 2011 below). This was possibly, second to Martin Creed, the most entertaining artist talk that I've ever been to. Maybe its a Scottish thing? I don't know, but if I was looking to critic how an artist talked about their work, I'd say that David Mach certainly knew how to build a rapport with his audience. That isn't to say I didn't learn anything from it or that the talk lacked depth, it was just really interesting because it was entertaining. The comedic affect is helped however, if you happen to be an artist, like David Mach, that happens to use tonnes of magazines, millions of matchsticks or Sindy dolls to make your work. That aside it would be easy to fall into either the complete ridiculousness or over-the-top seriousness in rationalising work made of these kinds of materials, with neither being very preferable. There's an art to talking about ones work with a sense of humour and still be taken seriously enough to be commissioned to make a giant public sculpture of a train made of bricks. David Mach whether he knows/cares or not in my opinion seems to get the balance right.
And, finally, yesterday Alexis Harding came to Somerset College to talk about his paintings, winner of the John Moores Painting prize in 2004, Harding's paintings use a 'wet on wet' technique in which gloss is applied onto oil and then tilted in an upright position allowing the paint to slump and pool and slide off the surface. For what initially sounds like a fairly straight forward thing to do, you'd be amazed at, firstly how tricky it actually is to get it to work and secondly how many variations you can get from one process (well, even though I'd seen one of Harding's paintings before, it still surprised me). Whilst Harding is undeniably a painter there is definitely something sculptural, or bodily about his work (he does acknowledge the latter) and the love of substance and material of working with paint is really the key to what interests and motivates his work. All of which means I cannot help but make the connection between Mach's use of materials and Harding's, one the sculptor and one the painter yet so many crossovers in their interest in material and surface. I've always liked that about art, the crossovers, how you can be a sculptor influenced by a painting, a performer influenced by a sculpture and Harding himself commented on how a lot of his peers at art college were using film and how that filtered into his own interests in time/timings with Harding choosing to use paint instead of film as his medium.

Thus in a very rounded up way, concludes what has so far been another incredibly arty week. I'm still surprised, pleased and humbled that there keeps (for the moment at least) to be a constant supply of art events on my door step. Long may it continue!

I'm off out right now to the 'Floating Beacon of Sound and Light' evening event outside The Brewhouse, 6-8pm. See you there!

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