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20 February 2011

Three exhibitions in one day: Take two and three, Blackmore Farm and Recessionists on East Street

Right, so I get off the train from my first exhibition in Bristol (see previous blog) and now I'm heading home for re-fueling then out again on my three exhibitions in one day splurge. I was, as someone later called me that evening, an 'Art tart' having gone to three private views in the course of five hours. Hey! What did I care, I was in good company and after being malnourished of art during the past month an artistic binge was on the cards!
Second stop of the evening (once my mysterious and glamorous chauffeur, Boz had managed to get us to our destination via the dark country lanes) Blackmore farm (equally dark and glamorous). Featuring a cornucopia work from local artists: Fiona Campbell, Melanie Deegan, Jim Munnion, Diane Burnell, Lucy Brown, Alison Jacobs and many more (apologies for not mentioning you all). I have to say that in terms of location this place was fab! Normally the building is a bed and breakfast/farm shop but it really was built for showing art (or murder mystery evenings? Its that sort of place). Due to its really grand stone interior, Gothic windows, big wooden doors, creepy alcoves, huge fireplaces, suits of armour and cobwebs I think I could be forgiven for being entranced as much by the character of the building as the art. It was a similar case with the Cotley Tithe barn show I was in, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I thought the building itself was the greatest art on show and to some extent does both enhance the work whilst eclipsing it at the same time. Blackmore is a similar example, great artists, in a building that really stole the show. This isn't to say you should only exhibit in white walled galleries so the work has a chance to show through, but there is a double edged sword to showing work in buildings so drenched in their own mystery and beauty without the art. On saying that though, work like Fiona Campbell's spider fitted great into the dark and equally cobwebbed space. Similarly, Melanie Deegan's sculptures of rooks looked very at home inside what I assume was the window of an old chapel. Still exciting to see all the work in a different context and I really enjoyed looking around and discovering it all.
Myself and Boz had made it back to Taunton unscathed via the dark country lanes to our third and final stop of the day which was home to the Recessionists, this time exhibiting in a new gallery on East Street called the Pear Tree and featuring the work of Sam Jeffs and Beatrice Hammond. Despite the size of the gallery (it is quite small, but perfectly formed!) the place was packed and all the usual suspects were there making it a fun and great end to what had been a brilliant day. The Recessionists, whenever they have a show, certainly do it with style and HOORAY! how happy I am to see contemporary work by young artists in this exhibition. We had Bea's drawings and Sam Jeffs' sculptures (see images below) in this show. Dark, edgy and original, I thought to myself, but I really did enjoy studying the work which, for me had two of my favourite interests, in the way of drawing (from Bea) and the use of tools/metal/machinery (from Sam) so there was a lot I could get excited about.
Thus, as I headed home that Friday night I concluded my art binge for the month. On the way reflecting what a weird and diverse set of things I'd been to see, from a performance in a sandwich shop in Bristol, to a majestic exhibition in an old farm house and then to conclude a party on East Street with a gallery that exhibits art in the window under the glow of a UV light. Just another 'average' day in the art world and just the kind of way I'd like it to stay.
(above) Sam Jeff's -Sculptor whose work was in The Recessionists show on East Street
(below) Beatrice Hammond - whose work was also in the Recessionists show on East Street

(above) Lucy Brown -Ceramic artist whose work was on show at Blackmore Farm
(below) Melanie Deegan -Sculptor whose work was also on show at Blackmore Farm

Three exhibitions in one day: Take one, Paul Hurley and H.Ren in Bristol

(below) A painting by H.Ren

When all seemed quite quiet on the exhibition front, four come along all in the same week! Post recovering from Thursday's private view of 'Exhibition of the teenager' that I was curating at the Brewhouse I set out on Friday firstly to Bristol, for the first in a day of three exhibitions.

Now, of course, whilst in Bristol I could have gone to a number of galleries, however the Arnolfini was changing its current show and in previous experiences of visiting Bristol, I would have to say that the best exhibitions have been the local artist ones (or ones independent from the commercial gallery system). So I picked up a signed copy of Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Extremely loud and incredibly close' at the only part of the Arnolfini I could get into, the bookshop, and then proceeded to head over the bridge and up the hill towards 31 Park Street.

Luckily it wasn't hard to find, and I was soon greeted outside what was the former abandoned sandwich shop by Paul Hurley and I knew I had come to the right place. Paul's friend and fellow artist H.Ren had successfully managed to have full use of the empty shop for a week from Bristol Council. "Awesome!", I found myself thinking upon receiving the email from Paul that explained the aim of their project, titled, 'Transfiguration's: object and action' in which they were inviting people to donate objects during the week so that they could produce art works/performances/interventions/mixed media assemblages etc. throughout the week. How, cool as well that it was free to have the space and that it was in a prime location in Bristol with a shop window in which the public could interact and watch any performances from the street. See their blog for more info: . I knew Paul from the Context residency we took part in during the summer last year (see So you can imagine that it was great to catch up and donate an object of my own (a tool, surprise, surprise) that they may use in their work. The former sandwich shop was looking pretty good, and had some of the remains of the kitchen and a drop ceiling which was now being used to hang artists overalls covered in blue powder paint from. Paul and H.Ren had also hung a chalk board, inserted a pink bicycle (not part of the art, but a means of travel and quite eye catching) and other assorted objects (mostly blue) that they'd collected from the scrap store. It was brilliant to meet H.Ren who showed me her abstract paintings which we talked about and equally good to catch up with Paul. I'm not exactly sure what it all amounted to... I'm guessing it was an experiment, an opportunity to play and try new things and I will keep my eyes peeled to see what may materialise on their blog as a result of their week there. I found myself wondering what I would have done with the space if I had had it for a week? Would I have used it as a studio? Or would I use it for an exhibition? In the shop next door there was another group of artists using the space to exhibit in. Good stuff, and yet another example of how the council are providing these free opportunities to local artists.

So, I left my fleeting visit to Bristol, book in hand and headed back to Taunton on the train thinking several things, like, how much potential there is to make interesting art out of so little, how busy it is here on the train, I wonder what I'll have for dinner? And what will the other two exhibitions I am going to see tonight hold in store.....

(above) A performance piece by Paul Hurley

14 February 2011

Extra, extra!

Zut Alors! Did you know that there are Artist dialogue sessions happening at The Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton? If you'd like to meet other artists, show/discuss your work and talk about art things in general then please feel welcome to come join in on the first Wednesday of every month. For more info, to leave comments/discussions or look at work shown by previous artists at these sessions please look at the following blog below:

11 February 2011

"With the light's out its less dangerous.."

So, whilst I am technically not a teenager anymore (by a whole vast five years) I still, somehow gratefully found myself amidst helping out organise the exhibition of the teenager coming soon to Taunton's Brewhouse theatre next Thursday. The project, the brain child of Kelly Smith, the Artistic apprentice at The Brewhouse, was devised to challenge teenage stereotypes by way of asking teenagers themselves to take part in activities such as artistically altering mannequins that express what is their viewpoint of being a teenager in 2011(see lovely photos below). The aim was also to eventually involve a whole array of ages of people in the community as we draw upon their experiences of 'teenagedom'. All of this then comes together in a combined, musical, visual and immerse exhibition experience, that is 'The Exhibition of the Teenager'. I am definitely intrigued to see what responses we have collectively and then in turn the public's responses to the exhibition as a whole. In particular to see if the result really does provide a different perception of teenagers. With the recent student protests that demonstrate teens and students being more politically active, I wonder if some of this will be reflected in works/responses we receive? What is the best way, in terms of art, of expressing that viewpoint? In terms of this project there are opportunities in the form of the live music performed by 'Live 'n up' bands on the opening night, there's our facebook page, vox pops, as well as graffiti workshops during the exhibition.

Enter my involvement in all of this, I'll be helping cart the bodies (the mannequins) around in the Brewhouse, producing an 'environment' in which they can inhabit for their time on display during the exhibition. Exciting stuff and I am interested already in some of the controversy surrounding a particular mannequin, so from a curatorial perspective it will be fun to see what reactions it will trigger. In my own opinion, I think there should be an element of rebelliousness in an exhibition about teenagers, and to some extent the fact that the project was set up to challenge stereotypes in the first place is a sign that it is an important part of questioning, where we, as teens/young adults fit in the world (or don't fit on depending how anarchic you wish to be). Anyway in terms of what this show will look like so far, what we have in mind is a stage-set version of a teenage bedroom based on all the info collected from the public, so we'll have a teen room throughout the ages, in theory...That is, hoping we can overcome a room with a piano, two sinks and a sloping glass roof! Ha ha! Doesn't every teen have a piano in their bedroom?!

So please look out for us next week from Thursday til Saturday, find more details below.

And if you want more information you can always tune in to us live on BBC Somerset from around 10.30 on Monday 14th February when we'll be explaining all in such very close detail.

(above and below) Some of the 'altered' mannequins produced by teenagers, currently on display at Debenhams. (Well, and me in the photo below, but I'm not staying there or nothing)

Details of the exhibition taken from The Brewhouse website

The Exhibition Of The Teenager
Thursday 17 February - Saturday 19 February
Teenager /ˈtiːneɪdʒə/ nouna person aged between 13 and 19 years.THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

Yeah, but isn't there more to it than that?

We all have to be a 'teenager' at some point - and for most of us our teenage years define us. But what exactly is a 'teenager'? And is it really a case of one size fits all?The great mystery of the teenager has long evaded capture throughout the decades, hiding behind hoodies, street corners and strange hair. Gasp as we strip back the stereotypes to unmask the 'real' thing in front of your very eyes.

For a limited time only - music, media and mannequins all come together in this unique, tongue-in-cheek exhibition created by the community, for the community.
For more info and details of workshops please click on the link below:

4 February 2011

Get out there!

We interrupt your normal blogging for this important announcement:

Get your shoes on, get involved and get around here and out there with SAW!

Around Here and Out There - Free Intergenerational Coach Trip to Weston. This is an invitation to be part of a fun and interesting creative project in Langport all about our lives and stories, our public space and our environment. We’re inviting up to 30 people aged 25 and under, or aged 50 and over, to be part of this adventure.
For this SAW intergenerational art project we have organised a free coach trip for people (50+ or under 25) to see the Wonders of Weston (new public art in Weston-Super-Mare) on Saturday 05 March. This fun and informative tour will look at how art and design has impacted on public space and can help us to think about the future creative life of Langport.We are particularly keen to find grand parents and grand children that would like to come together.

This is a free event but obviously we have limited places so participants should book as soon as possible.

Please click on the link below which provides a pdf. document with further details on:

Thank you for listening.

Google a Gallery

Wednesday the 2nd of February saw the launch of the website, Art Project from Google. Now for the first time people wondering around on google street view online can now also for the first time enter some of the great galleries such as New York's MOMA, The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and London's very own Tate Britain and National Gallery. You can virtually view from the comfort of your own home 385 rooms featuring over 1,000 works of art. All the works shown have been scanned in detail and viewers are allowed to 'interact' with the work on show posting their own comments and youtube videos in response to the work. It is certainly an interesting development especially in the way we as viewers view art works.

I was trying to decide where I stood on this new technology and what possibilities it may hold for the future. On one hand I can see it as a great way of engaging a potentially new audience of people, making artworks more accessible and promoting and encouraging debates and responding to work they see. Then on the other hand, I think and I'm sure that many would agree, that nothing beats seeing a painting/sculpture or any work of art in the flesh. You cannot truly appreciate the sublime, awe when confronted with a huge Barnett Newman, or the layers of brush marks on a Van Gogh, or the busy yet somehow still quiet-like reverence of being in the gallery spaces themselves. I also like the surprise element of going into a gallery for the first time, and not knowing if there will be a Francis Bacon, a Paula Rego, a Jeff Koons or a Rembrandt around the corner...The element of surprise is one of the fun things about going!

It is a similar dilemma that is met when people decide to choose an e-reader over an actual book, they are the same thing in content but different ways of experiencing them. Its a matter of preference. However, on the subject of books, I expect artists also had trepidation when first having their work reproduced in books, not matter how high quality the print its never the same as the real thing. To some extent that rounds my argument to a point where I can say that I think its a good thing art can be viewed online in this way, as after all what first got me interested in Roy Lichtenstein, Fernand Leger and Jim Dine was seeing their work in books, I then choose to seek out the real things. I would assume that the web would inspire other people who may be discovering new artists for the first time.

And what of the future? Will we be able to see whole exhibitions from smaller, commercial galleries online? In second life people already do host exhibitions? Why has no one ever had a virtual exhibition as a part of Somerset art weeks? Would anyone want to?? It would certainly be a very different kind of art and audience if someone chose to show their work solely online. In times or recession and with the struggles that are sometimes faced with finding arts venues is a virtual exhibition the way forward? I wonder...

Click on below link if you fancy a parooze around the Tate Britain: