Wednesday, 26 May 2010

WORK: Exhibition at HIVE 
Here is the information and poster advertising the exhibition that I will soon be taking part in.
 Fine Art MA students from MMU will be exhibiting their mid semester work at the HIVE from 21st until
25th May.
Opening May 21st 6-8 pm
the beginning of their course these artists have been invested in a
close and deconstructive scrunity of their respective mediums. These
include painting, photography, sculpture, printing, drawing, video.
Frances Blythe, Maire Byrne-Gascon, Clara Casian, Tiago Duarte, Evi
Grigoropoulou, Judith Hill, Victoria Mykytiuk, Jo McGonigal, Pitikasem
Nilavongse, Sarah Redfern, Eileen O Rourke, Hannah Wiles 
Monotony (Series 3)
Continuing with the Monotony Series I worked on the railings that surround All Saints Park. This series has been attempting to address the homogenising forces that result in identical street furniture, paving and railings being implemented in our cities. If we continue with this strategy I would suggest that we are headed for a very bland and boring urban environment indeed. This is not to say that the corporate powers that be should start a production line of bins that are each slightly different. I am not interested in difference for its own sake. It is about recognising the richness that comes organically with heterogeneity, history, culture and ecology.

I cut each of the 210 letters out individually and I like the idea that no two letters will therefore be exactly the same. I returned to the park a few days after I had put the letters up to find that somebody had removed the 'MONO' part of each word, leaving the name 'TONY' repeated around the park. I would like to think that this was carried out by a Tony or somebody who is rather taken by somebody called Tony. Either way, I love the element of interaction that this has introduced to my work.
Manchester's Vacant Space Consultation
I was contacted by Manchester Creative Collective (MCC) and asked if I would take part in Manchester's vacant place consultation. As part of the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement, Manchester Creative Collective (MCC) in collaboration with MMU and the Manchester Architecture & Design Festival, have been commissioned to undertake a consultation project to investigate the current use of space in Manchester.

They required one person from each of the core groups: public sector; development; academia, architecture/design; creative; and community to take part in speakeasy-style conversations around vacant space and place making. Due to my interest in such topics I was asked to represent the creative group.  Their key aim is to understand the barriers to using vacant buildings and to find out what community groups can do to contribute to place making.

The discussion took place in a shipping container in Piccadilly Gardens as part of Future Everything. It was fascinating to talk to people from other disciplines and gain their perspective on the subject. I'm not sure that we really came up with any  answers as such but it was a healthy discussion that I feel could have gone on for much longer then an hour.

The conversation was recorded and will be stored in an open-data audio-visual archive for Manchester, with the data collected being used to highlight the key issues. A blog is going to be set  up to keep everyone up-to-date with the progress of the project. I will post the link as soon as it has been set up by MCC.

Monotony (Series 2)
Continuing with the work I started on the theme of 'Monotony', I have completed a second piece of work which spells out the word Monotony on twenty-four separate bins that all follow each other consecutively down Oxford Road. As you can see all the bins used follow the same standardised design and there are hundreds of these bins all over Manchester.

I have used Photoshop to collage all twenty-four bins onto one page. I felt that this was necessary due to the fact that when you apply for opportunities they often require that you submit up to only 3 images of your work. There is noway therefore that I would be able to submit this piece of work as it comprises of twenty-four different images.

This is the first time I have learned to do this with my images and I am pleased with the result. I am however wary about losing the form of  the work as there is something nice about the images being printed out individually as A5 photographs. I am also interested in seeing the images as one continuous line that you have to scroll across to see.

Place Beyond Place
I attended a one day symposium in Preston called Place Beyond Place. The symposium aimed to analyse the impact of the global on the local, looking at urban design, public art and regeneration. I was particularly interested in attending due to my interest in local distinctiveness.

It was an absorbing day with talks from Loraine Lesson, who has worked on socially engaged projects around the theme of urban regeneration since the 80's, and Paul Goodwin, who has recently carried out a research project on 'Re-Visioning Black History'. A key point for me in Paul Goodwin's talk was the consideration of modernism as dehumanising. He talked about the idea of vernacular architecture, sighting 'shanty towns' as an example of the people's architecture and mentioned a book in relation to this called, 'Learning From Las Vagas', which I am keen to read.

In the afternoon we went on 'alternative' guided tours around Preston, exploring the city through its social, cultural and natural connections to other, global places. I thought that this was a really interesting idea and I was fascinated to see how the four different artists conducted their tours. The two that interested me the most were William Titley's and Rebecca Chesney's.

William gave an experience of Lahore through the streets of Preston, which linked with my interest in how we interpret place through our own personal associations. (Picture Credit Above: William Titley, Road Block)

Rebecca on the other hand gave a tour of weeds around Preston questioning where the plants have come from and examining the ever changing urban environment alongside human activity. This connects with my interest in nature verses the built environment and how the two sit together. (Picture Credit Below: Rebecca Chesney, Dandelion)

You can read more about the symposium here:

Sunday, 2 May 2010

I have begun a series called 'Monotony'. Thinking about local distinctiveness and globalisation in its broad context, I wanted to draw attention to the monotony of the street furniture that we find in Manchester. I have already done a piece of work with a bus stop bench but I wanted to extend this work and highlight further the homogeneous quality of these identical bus benches that line Oxford road.

This piece links directly with point 4 listed below which reads: Work for local IDENTITY. Oppose monoculture in our fields, parks, gardens and buildings. Resist formulae and automatic ordering from pattern books which homogenise and deplete.

Key Ideas: Local Distinctiveness
Common Ground has written a set of 'Rules for Local Distinctiveness'. There are over 40 but I will just mention 10 key ideas that fit in with my work.

1. Let the CHARACTER of the people and place express itself. Kill corporate identity before it kills our high streets. Give local shops precedence.
2. Defend DETAIL. Respond to the local and vernacular. No new building or development need be bland, boring or brash.
3. Our IMAGINATION needs diversity and variegation. We need standards not standardisation.
4. Work for local IDENTITY. Oppose monoculture in our fields, parks, gardens and buildings. Resist formulae and automatic ordering from pattern books which homogenise and deplete.
5. Let NATURE in.
6. Champion the ORDINARY and every day.
7. Get to know your place intimately. Search out PARTICULARITY AND PATINA helps add new layers of interest.
8. REVEAL the past! Decay is an important process. Don't tidy things up so much that the layers of history and reclamation by nature are obliterated. Let continuity show. Personality often resides in SUBTLETY and idiosyncrasy. Look closely and often.
9. USE old buildings again. Find new functions for them. Accretion is better than demolition.
10. VALUE your own values! Democracy thieves on discussion about things that matter to us. Let the experts in on your own terms.

Local Distinctiveness
I have been reading a really interesting book called 'Local Distinctiveness: Place, Particularity and Identity'.

It is published by a group called common ground who have a very comprehensive website at:  I came across this publication after I had been doing some serious thinking about the purpose of my work and where it is heading. After considering my interest in the random markings that surround us on our city streets, decay, the pattern of age, regeneration and modernisation, I began to think about how these interests link in with ideas to do with our sense of place.

I am uncomfortable with 'new builds', corporate areas of the city that appear to have no character' no personality. I think a good example of this can be seen when looking at the city of Liverpool. It has a richness that I think Manchester lacks and yet it is very quickly becoming more corporate as big investors move in.