Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year: Blue Moon: Partial Eclipse...superstitious?

Happy New Year!
We have a beautiful view of the full moon over Wales this evening. It's a crisp, frosty evening and the 13th moon of the year has a little bite taken out by the earth's umbra. Here's to 2010!

Monday, 28 December 2009

The Best Made Axe

Best Made Co. axes - Ping, Sam Hain, Joe Mitchell - Seen here

Based in New York, Best Made Co. was founded by Peter Buchanan-Smith and Greame Cameron. They design and make axes. The handles are made of Tennessee Hickory and each one is hand-painted, varnished, and polished. The heads are made of fine-grain steel.
A well crafted, well balanced axe is a beautiful object. I bought a full size axe when I came to Wales in 1995 and still use it, the handle is satin smooth from wear. I'd like to own one of these however!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Maura Hazelden

Maura Hazelden - Eli - Seen here

Maura Hazelden - Holy Hiatus (performance) - seen here

Maura Hazelden is a performance artist based in west Wales, she also takes exquisite photographs - keep an eye on her Flickr page here

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

Kathryn Campbell Dodd - Into the Woods

Happy Christmas and and here's to a top 2010!
Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tacita Dean - Tate Britain Christmas Tree 2009

Tacita Dean - Tate Britain Christmas Tree 2009 - seen here

Tacita Dean has been invited to create the Tate Christmas tree for 2009. It is simple, elegant, melancholy and imbued with subtle signifiers about Christmas, about living in Berlin, about time passing, about 2009.

The Guardian have published a lovely set of images.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Dave Cole

Dave Cole - Kevlar Snowsuit (cut, knitted and sewn from a used Gulf War Bullet Proof Vest) - seen here

Thanks to grrl+dog for introducing me to the work of Dave Cole. I had seen the monster scale knitted American flag he made at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, The Knitting Machine, but there are many other interesting works on his website.

Dave Cole - Trophy Wife #1 (of 7) - seen here

Saturday, 12 December 2009


tactileBOSCH, Cardiff

tactileBOSCH, Cardiff

I had a synchronous moment at tactileBOSCH yesterday, you'll see what I mean when I post more about the work Jake and I will be showing in March at The Last Gallery...

December 11, Cardiff

tactileBOSCH - Building Up Not Tearing Down

I went to Cardiff yesterday with other west Wales friends to join in with December 11, a day of arts events and visits in Cardiff organised by WARP g39 and Chapter Arts. The day marked the end of an experimental collaboration of artists from Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff.

We started the day at tactileBOSCH to see Building Up Not Tearing Down, an exhibition of residency work from Rhys Coren and Fraser Cook (Bristol), Alistair Owen and Jason Pinder (Cardiff) and Sarah Farmer and Joanne Masding (Birmingham).

The work involved subtle interventions into the gallery space - so subtle indeed that we were required to actively search them out. It's the sort of thing that can be quite intimidating if you're not comfortable in 'Artworld' and not a tactileBOSCH regular, there's a lot of scope for staring at details, trying to work out if they are art or not. Once I'd decided to embrace my self-consciousness, I really enjoyed it; the slight tension and discomfort became part of the experience; all part of the ongoing debate about the nature and function of art. The beauty of the experience was to intimately engage with this amazing, semi-decayed space with its peeling paint, cobwebs, buckets for the leaky ceiling (the most prominent objects in the room - and the first focus of enquiry), odd bits of ironmongery etc. I found myself watching other visitors to see if I could hijack their finds. I watched someone discover a really discreet piece involving guitar strings tautly installed along a number of beams and tuned to different notes - and then enjoyed pinging them myself in his wake. Delicately beautiful, intimate and democratic - the show was a gentle, funny celebration of the space and its artful decay.

Next we went on to Chapter in Canton to see their new show (and the second in the newly refurbished space), Fragile Absolutes by Dubliner, Alan Phelan. The artist gave us all a brief talk about the show, but later we were lucky to get a wee personal tour of the works. A very charming introduction to the show! My favourite piece was Death Drive (interrupt the circular logic of re-establishing balance because he is the lowest outcast) making reference to street racing. I really liked the scent that had been specially commissioned in America for the show which was the orangey smell of the cleaning polish used to buff up the car interiors. This is the second venue of three for the show which alters as it shifts home - the first showing was at the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art in Dublin.

Alan Phelan - Fragile Absolutes Death Drive (interrupt the circular logic of re-establishing balance because he is the lowest outcast)- seen here

Alan Phelan - Fragile Absolutes - Seen here

I liked the paper cabbages too - part of an artist workshop with Chapter installed in the gallery. The newspapers are reproductions of stories about industrial and political disputes; nice Art Povera overtones.

Next we trooped off (a weird little snake of artists) through the Cardiff back streets to visit two artist studio complexes, Kings Road Studios and Printhaus...on to The Hayes to watch a publicly screened showing of a Michael Cousins curated series of artists' films outside St. David's stop CAI - a new bar and venue in Cathays, a welcome warm up - it was COLD out there!

Kings Road Studios, Cardiff

Last stop was a visit to g39 for a preview of Richard Bevan's show - the gallery is tiny and it was way too cosy to see the work properly - we headed back west.

g39, Cardiff

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Rupert Spira

Rupert Spira - seen here
I can't think of white, minimalist ceramics without thinking of Rupert Spira. We were lucky enough to have a piece of his (very similar to this one) in the gallery last year as part of our Focus Ceramics show. I don't mind admitting to suffering a severe dose of covetousness!
The lettering artist in me delights in this series of white pieces and also more recent dark glazed work textured with dense scribbled text.

Kirsten Coelho

Kirsten Coelho - seen here
These porcelain pieces are made by Kirsten Coelho. This recent collection was inspired by looking at late 19th and early 20th Century enamelware and the way it ages. Coelho trained in Australia before moving to London to work where she was influenced by the ideas of potter, Bernard Leach. She now lives back in south Australia.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tacita Dean - Still Life 2009

Tacita Dean - Still Life - seen here

I would have liked to see Tacita Dean's show Still Life at Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in Milan earlier in the year; an ambitious project featuring 14 film works.

I am particularly drawn to a new piece made in 2009, Day for Night for which the artist gained access to the studio of painter Giorgio Morandi in Bologna where he worked for over 50 years. She has filmed the objects, including the bottles and vases that the painter spent his life meticulously studying and reproducing as still life paintings.

Tacita Dean's slow, melancholic style of filming is a perfect vehicle through which to revisit the obsessively particular, pre-minimalist work of Morandi. Her serendipitously random approach however brings a contrasting richness to the rigour and economy of Morandi's original studies.

Giorgio Morandi - Still Life (Natural Morta) - 1953 oil on canvas, 8 x 15-3/4 inches - seen here

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Rodney Graham - Rheinmetall/Victoria 8

Rodney Graham - Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 - 35mm film [colour, silent], Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 film projector, 10:50 min. loop - seen here

Thinking about beautiful film and prompted by a recent conversation about the beauty of old typewriters, this piece of work came back to mind. I saw Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 by Rodney Graham as part of An Aside, an exceptional show of works curated by Tacita Dean at The Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea in 2005.

The piece is held in the collection of MOMA, New York and here is their description: 'This film depicts a 1930s German typewriter made by Rheinmetall that Graham found in a junk shop. "It was just this incredibly beautifully made, solidly designed typewriter. Not one key had ever been pressed on it," he has said. His filmed homage is projected with a 1961 Victoria 8 projector issued by the Italian company Cinemeccanica, a mechanical wonder that Graham has described as "very beautiful, kind of overly powerful." "It's these two objects confronting one another," the artist has said of the installation. "Two obsolete technologies facing off." ' seen here

This still image is lovely, but the experience of the film in relation to the noisy mechanics of the projector is sublime.

"The sheer size and loud mechanical noise of the Victoria 8 projector in Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 both diverts the viewer’s cinematic gaze from the strangely seductive and compelling image of the typewriter. On screen, the projector’s cyclical drone embellishes the silent film with a soundtrack appropriating the repetitive, and all but forgotten, noise of a typewriter in use. Looking away from the screen, we are offered a view onto an industrial machine usually relegated to and hidden by a rojection booth located at the back of the theatre so that its sound would not interfere with the power of the moving image and its accompanying soundtrack. Alternately glancing between the typewriter and the projector, the viewer begins to realize a shared trait between the two “duelling technologies”: obsolescence. The recognition of this shared characteristic is not without humour and is typical of Graham’s wry touch". Seen here

Friday, 4 December 2009

Whistle and I'll Come to You

M.R. James story - adapted by Johnathan Miller - starring Michael Hordern 1968

I watched Whistle and I'll Come to You earlier in the week, a beautiful and highly regarded short film adapted by Jonathan Miller for television in 1968 from the original M.R. James story. Originally part of a series of Ghost Stories for Christmas screened on television in the 1970's. Spare and elegant, the film has a grainy, melancholic style. Michael Hordern brings some levity to the plot with his charming characterisation of a Cambridge professor on holiday in Norfolk. The film relies on suggestion and expectation rather than any revealed horror; it is of its time - rather naive to modern sensibilities, but it remains artistically prepossessing.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Rhôd at Melin Newydd

Melin Newydd/New Mill

I am really excited to have been asked to contribute to the second staging of Rhôd curated by photographer Roger Lougher and artist Louise Bird. In May 2009 the first Rhôd was shown over a week at Melin Newydd in Drefach Felindre, west Wales. A fantastic line up of artists (Louise Bird, Liz Waterhouse, Sarah Tierney, Dave Shepherd, Andrew Cooper, Kim Fielding, Carwyn Evans and Rhys Dafis) showed work in and around the mill building.

Here is a really beatutiful film shot and edited by Peter Telfer for Culture Colony, documenting the event.

Watch this space and visit the blog for news of Rhôd 2010...