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27 April 2011


20 pph = 20 pinwheels per hour: the rate I can make pinwheels

I have a good reason explaining how I came to find out that unusual statistic, you see after spending the afternoon on the 21st of April and again during the evenings this week making pinwheels you kind of pick up not only a certain amount of skill and speed in what you do, but you also become increasingly aware of how many you've made. Why? You ask. You'd need to look down the page at a previous post about this project to understand fully, but basically it has something to do with the 'England, my England' festival at the Brewhouse (ends May 1st). In particular their indoor beach in the gallery space met with an enthusiasm from my mis-spent youth to make pinwheels, lots of 'em! It was fun, and I promised to share some of the results with you so please see images below...

However, this is not all! Its been a busy few days at the Brew. I attended a workshop hosted by Slingshot (creators of IGFEST) from Bristol in which artists came together and created and played games all day! It sounds quite funny and to some extent it was, after all I haven't really played 'games' as in street based ones since I was 12, so to suddenly have to abandon any self-consciousness I felt about playing again wasn't entirely easy, but it certainly was funny. With in seconds of arriving for this workshop I found myself playing the role of a tree (great! I was always the tree!) in a game where a deer (who was blindfolded) was hunted by a wolf (who has bells on their ankles). The aim being that the wolf has to steal the horns off a belt worn by the blindfolded deer, except the wolf can be heard due to the bells so its not as easy as it sounds. Me, the tree, I was one of many who make up the circle in which the game is played in. Anyway, I hope you get the idea of what we were up to. The end result of which was to take some games we created and play them on St George's day with the public outside the Brew. By the time Saturday 23rd arrived the games had been played, tested and approved.

Lastly, but not least, Saturday 23rd also saw Megan Calver's interactive piece of public art in which members of the public could either wear a dragon or maiden badge handed out by Megan. Maiden's had to hiss at any passing dragons and show 'a little gallantry' by opening doors for people whereas dragons had to roar at any and every opportunity. Naturally, I chose the dragon! This was a really fun and simple way to encourage people to participate in a piece of what essentially could be seen as performance art. People seem less keen to dress up or feel more self-conscious about it anyway, so a badge along with a fun and simple instruction makes for a fun and easy result that encourages participation. It was also fun to interact with fellow dragons and maidens that came into the bookshop where I was working whilst wearing my dragon badge that day (well, I don't need much encouragement or an excuse to roar at people all day most of the time anyway!).

So, its been a busy Easter break and with more still to come soon. I didn't even get the chance to tell you about Simon Lee Dicker's projection tower outside at the Brewhouse that was built during the festival...well, I just did tell you, but expect to here and see pictures of it again very soon because its great and means all sorts can now be watched on the wall outside. Or, see it as a possible opportunity for any of you film makers out there?

The festival's still on till May 1st and there's lots more still going on so please check it out if you haven't already. More details at:

Until next time!

(above) The dragon badge as modelled here, so nicely.

(above) Megan Calver handing out her 'dragon' or 'maiden' badges outside the Brewhouse

(above) "Oh I do like to be beside the sea side"

Welcome to four tonnes of sand in the Brewhouse gallery, featuring: Kites made by local children in a workshop run by Richard Tomlinson, projected beach scene of Minehead and complete with real buckets and spades.

For more info about slingshot click here:

For more info about Megan Calver click here:

15 April 2011

You don't need to be working with a listed building or museum to join but it helps...

During the last couple of months, myself, Jon England, Lucia Harley, Simon Lee Dicker and Hannah Bishop have been meeting up as a part of a professional development opportunity created by SAW. Please read the following extract from the SAW web page which explains why the opportunity was created,

"A recent survey of our artist members confirmed a need for continuing professional development support and increased opportunities for work for post graduates. This programme is threaded through all aspects of SAW's overall programme.Creative Pathway 2011: SAW’s Professional Development Programme for Artists Somerset Art Works is testing a new pilot professional development programme."

In order to part take in this all artists working/lived in Somerset or locally were eligible to submit their proposals for projects and how they would like to use the opportunity and support network to further develop their practice. The four artists mentioned above and myself were then selected for this opportunity in which,

"Creative Pathways aims to provide tailor-made support to artists in Somerset to develop their practice and to deliver high-quality work. Artists in the programme will be offered a 6 month tailor made programme including:- a block of five coaching sessions with external advisers and Reveal partners- a small bursary to develop a project for Somerset Art Weeks 2011- Curatorial support of their Somerset Art Weeks 2011 project/exhibition/event- unlimited usage of digital equipment in SAW hub, including all the film and image editing tools on a 24” Power Mac computer."

As the months leading up to art weeks 2011 draw closer I will be posting more detailed information about each of the artists individual projects, but for now I wanted to give you as concise, yet brief as possible overview of those involved, what we've been up to so far and where you can find out more information.

Myself, (Natalie Parsley) I'm working with The Museum of Somerset, based in Taunton and set to re-open this summer. So far, I've been located in the Somerset Heritage Centre where a lot of the museum artifacts are currently in storage. There, I'm learning from the curators and researching agricultural tools from the local area. My intention is to create work in response to some of these artifacts. In terms of the professional development opportunity, I personally wanted to use it to have a support network with other artists and have the chance to work with other professionals like those at the museum to develop a more local and contextual approach in my work.

Hannah Bishop is currently finishing her final year studying Critical Fine Art Practice at The University of Brighton. Originally from the South West, Hannah is coming home to curate an exhibition titled 'Homecoming' held at the Regal Theatre in Minehead (opening 13th July from 7.30pm). In Hannah's own words,

"Homecoming is a multi-disciplinary event to celebrate the creative endeavours of graduates from West Somerset and illuminate the importance of the arts in the county. Examining the relationship between contemporary and rural, the evening will showcase art, design, fashion, dance, performance and film made by over 15 graduates originally from the area. In exploring where this talent is nurtured, and the potential for imaginative arts projects in the Regal, the event will utilise every space within the theatre. From the dressing rooms to the bar, the stairwells to the balcony, the evening will transform the entire building into a journey through the theatre and the live installations of the inspired work created by young people form West Somerset. Including; Leanne Anderson, Helen Arnold, Elizabeth Banks, Hannah Bishop, Louise Body, Joseph Buckler, Elizabeth Crossman, Jacob Daley, Sarah Dawes, Ben Dean, Theo Hawkins, Jac Husebo, Amy Lewis, Carl, Lewis, Sophie McCarthy, Amanda Quartly, Jennifer Reed, Adam Ridler & Tom Stephens. Curated by Hannah Bishop. Image by Jacob Daley. Event Support, Adam Ridler."

"Jon England’s latest work responds to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Engineering Department’s pioneering restoration of WWII Grumman Martlet AL246. Through a process akin to ‘forensic archaeology’ the team are painstakingly removing the plane’s entombing layer of 1960’s gloss paint, at once unveiling its Chameleon–like wartime camouflage schemes and revealing traces of the accumulated history of people and places associated with it."

You may have read previous posts about Jon's work on this blog such as the 'POW WOW' event held as a part of art weeks last year.

And Simon Lee Dicker's curatorial project 'Under a new sun' for Somerset Art Weeks 2011:

"An exhibition of new work showing the range of creative talent at work in Somerset today, at two venues: Lanes Hotel and the Old School Room. The exhibition's title Under a new Sun relates to the Anglo-Saxon naming of Somerset - Sumorsaete - as 'the people of the summer lands', when farmers would bring their livestock down to the peat rich levels to graze, only to retreat to the hills during the flooded winter months. Although still a predominantly rural county, with flooding and extreme weather high in the public consciousness, this exhibition reveals how contemporary artists make connections with, and are connected to, the world around us. Featuring artists, Simon Lee Dicker, Megan Calver, Angela Charles, Michael Fairfax and Lucia Harley"

No stranger to the SAW blog, Simon is on this project, investing his energy into developing curatorial skills. As he is an artist, from my point of view I think its really interesting to learn how that experience as an artist will translate and feed into Simon's role as curator on this project.

Finally Lucia Harley who is also one of the artists exhibiting at the Lanes Hotel and School Room. Lucia Harley’s work delves beneath the surface of day-to-day life and explores the entanglement of thought, memory and emotion.Her intuitive drawings using objects and mixed-media explore the space in which they are made, creating pathways and plateaus of clarity or reflection.
Lucia has spent a significant amount of time in Brazil, where she has family and studied at the Art School in Sao Paulo. This has influenced both her life and creative practice. She maintains strong links with fellow artists in Sao Paulo. In this professional development opportunity Lucia is returning to her own practice seeking to develop it further.

Ok, essentially that's what everyone is, to put it very briefly, interested in. I hope to soon give you in their own words what they feel about the professional development opportunity and what it is allowing them to do. Already, it has been useful to myself as an individual, but when we meet up as a group its really helpful to have the group to talk to and in beginning to learn about their projects how there are parallels and similarities that help reinforce/challenge our practices. The, kind of, discipline of writing an action plan or a SWOT analysis (as we've done so far) are, on one hand quite tedious exercises done mostly by businesses, but are in actual fact useful means of planning your practice in a way that keeps you motivated and provides goals and aims to strive for. Its these sorts of skills that aren't entirely new to me, but I've never really used them in the past, and that I am now picking up again with reason.

There's really too much to tell about all of this on one post so please keep reading regularly as I keep you updated on the latest meetings and progress from each of the artists involved. For some reason all of us are either working with a museum or in an old or listed building which certainly makes interesting conversation! Look forward to telling you how things develop. Thanks for reading.

Paris, my Paris!

Bonjour mon petite choux fleurs! When I wasn't worrying about what I was going to do for the 'England, my England' festival I was in Paris exploring the Catacombs, Sewers and of course The Louvre (in that order). For a while, forget England and immerse yourself in a few of the highlights that 'Paris, my Paris' has to offer... 1) Palais de Tokyo: Located next to the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Palais de Tokyo a.k.a Site de création contemporaine is a massive space that hosts contemporary art exhibitions. Nothing new there, I hear you say, but take into consideration that it is currently undergoing a major refurbishment/construction on a massive scale it soon becomes all the more interesting and with good reason...It was a complete delight to see the building site of a space being used to project several contemporary videos. So crumbling brick walls become transformed into an interesting surface to project a pair of hands with fingers running over a typewriter's keys, and the vast hollow shell makes great acoustic space to have a violinist playing complete with projected image on another one of the worn walls. Surprising and really great to see a space being used in this way.
2) Montparnasse cemetery: A lively place full of all your favourite deceased artists, poets, philosophers and musicians. Brancusi, Man Ray, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Baudrillard and more. Really interesting in a slightly creepy way.
3)Ponts des arts bridge: A truly brilliant little bridge, it is directly adjacent to Pont Neuf bridge over the river Seine and has all these padlocks all over it. The idea being that couples write their names on a padlock and attach it to the bridge. Sweet!
4) Monet at the L'Orangerie: Pretty self explanatory, these paintings in the flesh really are worth seeing. They're far rougher and painterly than I had ever imagined and equally beautiful and engaging from a distance.
5) Don't ask me where exactly this was? Somewhere around St Germain maybe? However, its proof that sometimes the most simple graffiti is still the best.
6) Musee du Montparnasse: Located very discretely and modestly off a road in Montparnasse is this beautiful ivy clad ally that once was occupied by the likes of Picasso, Leger and Soutine amongst many other famous artists who either had studios here or would socialise in this space. Compared to all the showy and huge 'look at me!' galleries that Paris is famous for, I was really pleased and welcomed this more modest and quiet little retreat away from its flamboyant neighbours. So quiet in its location, in fact that I nearly missed it. I'm glad I didn't because it was one of the more humbling moments during the trip. There was an Andre Masson exhibition on in the gallery and a few studios around in the alley had some interesting work on show, but I think I liked just being there the best and spent (a very rare) few moments just sitting in this space, thinking.

I hope this would all be good research for the 'England, my England' festival....after all you don't really know what England is until you experience someplace else. Here's to you Paris! Its been great!

This was my first visit to Paris, let me know if you have any recommendations of places to visit/things to see in Paris or anywhere and we'll see what we can do? As always leave a comment or email me on:

Wots all this then?

"Pinwheels...pinwheels...pinwheels" I read off the flyer handed to me by a member of staff from the Brewhouse, whilst I was at work in the bookshop today. Can you ever have too many or too much of pinwheels I wondered? The lady handing out the flyers asked, "Would you be able to put any of these in the shop by the tills?" "I should think so." I replied, "I'm running it!"

I acted pretty surprised, because I actually still am! The whole pinwheeling shenanigans was something I concocted months ago back in October as a response to the 'academic-ness' I was feeling upon starting my Masters degree in Fine Art. I've been to the beach as much as anyone and have always liked pinwheels, I've drawn them in still lives back at school and think they're pretty neat things. They'd probably be up there somewhere with umbrellas in the top ten of inspiring things to draw. So, I did what I always do when daunted at the prospect of having to study and rationalise my work, I digressed and made something for fun! I ended up with 133 pinwheels made from every page from a copy of 'Wind in the willows' which I then planted under a willow tree near to where I live much to the confusion of Frodo the dog who had not expected to see 133 pinwheels in the way of his usual route to the willow tree. Hmmm... So, you can imagine, I was delighted when the 'England, my England' festival came to The Brewhouse. Well, specifically because they have built a beach inside the gallery as a part of the programme of events. Perfect! You may have gathered my train of thought here, but basically I thought pinwheels/beach = good combination! Well, at the very least I now have a use for them. Eventually, this brings us back around to me being handed the flyer about these pinwheels at the bookshop. Cool. You see to make the whole process more interactive and exciting, I'm/we're inviting people to come to pinwheel making workshops next Thursday 21st at the Brewhouse where you can make your own pinwheels, plant them on the beach or take them away. I'll be there from 1.00-5.00 planting my ready-made ones and making some more. You can bring photos or any flyers/things you'd like to recycle and we'll turn them into pinwheels. It'd be great to have a whole field of them if possible. I think I was originally excited at the whole Ai Wei Wei installation of seeds at the Tate Modern, in the way it took something very simple (the hand-made sunflower seeds) and took it to a massive scale in which it became something incredible. In a smaller, Natalie, kind of way I thought maybe pinwheels could have a similar affect! Why not?

So please join me on Thursday 21st April from 1.00-5.00pm at The Brewhouse and again on the 26th and 27th (6.00-8.00pm) and make some pinwheels or just hang out on the beach.

There are loads of arty things happening over this festival too which runs from: Thursday 21 April - Sunday 1 May Coinciding with the Queen's birthday, St George's Day, the Royal wedding and May Day bank holiday, England, my England explores the ideas of Englishness, identity and tradition in the 21st Century.

For more details click on the blog link below:

I'll keep you posted about some of the other arty events as they happen so stay tunned.....