Tuesday, 2 August 2011

RBS Site Visit
The Royal British Society of Sculptors contacted me to say that they would like me to make a site-specific piece for the exhibition in November. Although it seems a while off, they are already getting the brochure ready and wanted me to travel down to London asap to look at he space and start planning what I would like to make for them.

This is a little daunting as I will have to install a new piece of work over 3 days in November and therefore do not have the reassurance of already having work to install that you know is a success. So the pressure is on but ultimately this is the way I like to work and I am excited about the opportunity.

Here are some images of the space that I took to work from:

Manchester International Festival
I went to the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery to see the exhibitions they were showing as part of MIF.

I was looking forward to visiting the Whitworth as I knew that they were showing Projections: Works from The Artangel Collection, and as a big fan of Artangel it was exciting to have a show of their works in Manchester. In particular I was keen to see Francis Alys' Seven Walks as I have read much about this project but only seen some of the pieces in his solo show that I saw last year in London.

Another work I was excited to see after reading about it but never having seen it in real life was Tony Oursler's Time Machine which was held every evening between 8pm-11pm in the park next to the gallery. 

There was a real buzz the night that I attended, with lots of people milling around in the dark, all seeming quite excited. For me, I really enjoyed how engaging this work seemed to be for people and I know a lot of people who attended this but did not visit the gallery. As an artist who works outside in the public domain, it is this kind of reaction to art that excites me.

At Manchester Art Gallery they were showing '11 Rooms'. Each of the 11 rooms had some form of performance art piece or 'live art' show happening within it. Although I am extremely shy of anything where I may be asked to join in, I found that my confidence built as we walked around and it was a completely unique experience that I think will stay with me in away that perhaps more traditional modes of art may not.

Ruppert Griffiths: Borderlands
I was interested to visit this exhibition at CUBE gallery as the themes and ideas behind the exhibition link strongly with the ideas surrounding my practice. Griffiths examines the tensions at play between the over-determined places in the city and under-determined areas that go under the radar. As with my work, he is therefore interested in the tension that exists between the new purpose built areas of the city and those forgotten and abandoned places that mark the physical infrastructure of our past.

Whilst I appreciated the exhibition and the ideas behind it, I found on a personal level that I was not drawn in and found it difficult to engage with. I think the problem for me was that he utilised materials and processes that are typically used to re-brand failed spaces undergoing re-development as a means to highlight the cyclical nature of regeneration but because it is the decay that I am drawn to, the aesthetic no longer appealed to me.
Royal British Society of Sculptors Bursary!

I recieved the following letter through the post:

I was so suprised, largely because I have only recently started to think of my work as a form of sculpture and had already decided that I didn't stand a chance as they would probably be after more traditional scupltors who have been trained in the discipline. This is therefore a great confidence boost and it will be fantastic to be a member of this prestigious society which will hopefully open up new opportunities and raise my artist profile. It will also be exciting to exhibit with them in a prime location in London come November.

LOOK 11, Liverpool International Photography Festival
I caught some of this at the Bluecoat in Liverpool, but looking at the website for it I wish I had seen more.


At the Bluecoat the photography exhibition was called 'Confined' and there were some really intriguing photographs on show. I was especially drawn to Juergen Chill's birds-eye view of German prison cells. From this perspective you could see how different inmates had adapted and arranged their cells, achieving a personal touch even with such limited resources to work with.

I also liked David Moore's exploration of a high security police station where terror suspects are held under the Counter Terrorism Act. As a place you are not normally allowed access to, it almost felt like you shouldn't be seeing the images which in turn made them strangely exciting but also quite ominous when you think of the fear that must exist in such a place.

Other work I liked was John Darwell's, 'Dogs in Cages' which highlighted the nature and mechanics of captivity and also Ben Graville's penetrating and provocative portraits which captured prisones being to and from the Old Bailey
Pairings Conference, MMU

I attended one day of the two day conference at MMU called 'Pairings: Conversations, Collaborations, Materials'. This two-day conference sought to make a significant contribution to expanding knowledge on collaborative practice in craft, design and art environments.


The conference stemmed from a project called 'The Pairings Project' at MMU which was set up to explore the potential of collaborative creative practice. It was initiated not only to make new work, but also to engage in conversation and establish links with other makers and institutions. The participants came from a variety of backgrounds in the craft, design and art spectrum, engaging with materials ranging from clay, glass, textiles, metal, wood or paper to new technologies such as digital and film media. They were all lecturers (some part time) at a number of educational institutions in the UK.

Paired up across both disciplines and institutions, there was no brief only the deadline of a booked exhibition space in the Special Collections Gallery, where it was hoped processes could be shown, even if there was no finished work produced.


I wanted to attend the conference as I am interested in the idea of collaboration. I think it can be a great way to get you out of your comfort zone and exploring fresh ideas. The artists involved exchanged works with the intention of developing the other person’s art by adding to it in some way. In doing this they were exposing themselves to unfamiliar working practices which in turn lead to exciting explorations and experimentation.

They then had to put their collaborative work within a context; an integral step in all practice, although importantly for me, they talked about this contextualisation not having to take the form of words, but instead suggested it could exist as pictures or objects etc that support the final work. I picked up on this in particular as I often find myself too immersed in books and theories, to the point that the visual research that I used to really enjoy gets forgotten. This is something I would like to try and address in future work.

A blog was set up for the participants to communicate via with the intention being that it would be a good tool to record the progress and development of the collaborations. It was however underused and discussion was had on why this might have been. People spoke of not wanting to put their personal thoughts online in the public domain, especially whilst they are still developing. I think this is a problem I have. Rather than a flow of consciousness as I make work and think about it, it always feels like more of a chore. I am also very selective about what I put on here, and it is nearly always about stuff that has already happened, rather than ideas I want to take forward. For me then, the blog is more of a formal diary of key things I have done. Perhaps my notebook of sketchy ideas would be more interesting but I would not feel comfortable exposing all.

In the afternoon I attended a talk called 'The Making' which is a strategy that has been set up to try and re-address the gap between the way art is taught in schools and the way professionals approach art and crafts. They want to help train teachers and give them more confidence by putting them in contact with arts professionals, galleries, craft workers etc and encourage issue based work. I think that this is a very interesting project and something I would like to keep my eye on and possibly access in the future.