Monday, 29 March 2010

Absent But Not Forgotten

Absent but not Forgotten from jacob whittaker on Vimeo.

A film made from footage of the opening event at The Last Gallery in Llangadog.

Oriel Myrddin Gallery Garden Party

We held a Garden Party outside the gallery on Saturday as part of our spring show, Reap & Sew. Huge fun! Miraculously, the weather held out for us too. Meg Anthony, Gallery Manager served tea and sold plants in her pinny and green wellies - more than a touch of the Margo Leadbetter's!

Crochet cakes by Louise Bird.

Miniature sewn creatures from Saskia Lloyd Gaiger (10 years old!) - amazingly detailed and beautifully presented in their own origami boxes.

Gorgeous cup cakes from Kirsty Hinks

The bric-a-brac stall - welcome to the dark side.

Thanks to all who came along!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Odd Fellows

The Hastings Jack-in-the-Green - seen here

I've been pondering Nick Cave's Soundsuits and watching him talk with the curator at the Fowler Museum at UCLA in Los Angeles in my earlier post. For me it flags up important issues about the traditions of UK culture too. The idea of the costumed parade is pretty universal but I so often hear people slating our folk traditions; the Morris men et al, but these are our own extraordinary 'soundsuit' traditions. Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane in their 2005 Folk Archive: Contemporary Popular Art from the UK brought the idea of 'popular art' (i.e. people's art) back to the table and posed some interesting and challenging questions about the function of art in our times, and the dislocation many people feel from the institution of art and the 'artworld' (in an Arthur Danto sense) - not least of which being Jeremy Deller's own credentials as a Turner Prize winner.
I remember serendipitously being in Hastings one year during the weekend May Day festival, we had no idea it was happening, we got caught up in the parade and watched the Jack-in-the-Green and his attendants processing down the street. We have many of these fabulous, riotous bizarre traditions in the UK and Ireland; here's a few characters - they fascinate me endlessly.

Y Fari Lwyd (The Mari Lwyd) - Brecon, Wales - seen here

The Padstow Hobby Hoss - Cornwall, England - seen here

The Marshfield Mummers - Gloucestershire, England - seen here

The Burry Man - Queensferry, Scotland - seen here

The Wren Boys - Carrigaline, Ireland - seen here

Jonathan Anderson

Jonathan Anderson - images seen here

Following yesterday's post and thinking about "...a new generation of artists paying attention to process and materials...", Swansea based Jonathan Anderson's work springs immediately back to mind. He has a blog where he posts new work regularly and it's a delight to keep up to date with his (prolific) output. The work has a rare depth and quality, it consciously re-addresses modernist ideas of the art object and the process of making, and with a strong nod to Arte Povera legacies. The brevity of the symbolic language, forms and techniques empower the work; an almost Taoist quality of simplicity.

The sand house installation was shown as part of Ground at Oriel Wrecsam last year.

Jonathan Anderson - seen here

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Dead or Alive

Kate MccGwire - Sluice - seen here
The latest issue of Crafts magazine has been floating around the gallery office this week, and we got quite excited about an article called The Natural Order therein; I was particularly gleeful about the lovely image used of one of Nick Cave's Soundsuits. The piece is about a new show due to open in April at New York's Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) called Dead or Alive described as '...simultaneously beautiful, disturbing and monstrous.' The show brings together 30 artists who use once-living objects in their practice - bones, hair, twigs, insects, feathers, the week leading up to the opening, visitors are able to watch the artists' making and installing their work in situ.

Nick Cave - Soundsuit - seen here

The show seeks to demonstrate the role that craft plays in contemporary fine art practice and the article puts that into context a little, including the strong opposition and resistance to that position within sections of the fine art establishment. It also makes reference to the feminist roots of the current resurgence in 'making' within art and the often notable reluctance for those roots to be acknowledged explicitly. Interesting debates!

I like this paragraph which quotes from MAD's Chief Curator, David Revere McFadden: "Artists are discovering a new thrill from taking the over-looked, unloved and ignored and investing them with new meaning." There's been a noticeable surge of interest in the "magic of making things", he adds, with a new generation of artists paying attention to process and materials. Crafts March/April 2010

Derick Melander

Derick Melander - Flesh of My Flesh - Seen here

I'm catching up with the blogs I like to visit this week. Today, of paper and things posted work from New York artist Derick Melander. Second hand clothing graded and stacked by various criteria into sculptures. They speak for themselves - wonderful!

Derick Melander - Where do I stop, where do you begin - seen here

Derick Melander - Grasp - seen here

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Carolien Broesen

Carolien Broesen - holten - seen here

Carolien Broesen - takken II - seen here

I've also been introduced to Dutch artist Carolien Broesen this week by Hazel Terry at her blog, The Art Room Plant. Constructions made from scaps of nature embedded or secured in various media, they're essentially about pattern and process.

Carolien Broesen - mosell II - seen here

Elisa D'Arrigo

Elisa D'Arrigo - White Shadows (2) - seen here

Thanks to Robyn Gordon for introducing me to New York City artist Elisa D'Arrigo. I like these cloth and paper constructions. The separate patches are laminated and stiffened with various media then sewn together. The process of accretion in the making of each piece is used by the artist to bring physical form to a specific personal memory. There are also many other references layered into the work from sewn artifacts and ceramic processes to byzantine mosaics. The works are unplanned and an attitude of mindfulness to the vagaries of the making allows a spontaneity and responsiveness to the materials which brings a satisfying sense of rhythm and cohesion to the finished objects.

Elisa D'Arrigo - Time and Time Again - seen here

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Nick Cave - Soundsuits

Nick Cave with one of his Soundsuits - seen here

The Guardian ran a photo gallery today of Nick Cave's Soundsuits which are showing as part of Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles. If any one out there is listening - PLEASE bring the show to the UK!

Here's a video of the opening talk by Nick Cave about his work.

Nick Cave Lecture at Fowler Museum, Jan. 9, 2010 from Fowler Museum on Vimeo.

Fright Night at The Last

Photo: Installation shot by Louise Bird

Absent But Not Forgotten opened on Friday evening - it runs until 4 April - open at weekends. Thanks to Jake for the collaboration, Mick and Julie at The Last Gallery for the opportunity, Louise for the gin, the love and the brilliant photos, Kirsty for her abiding support and amazing cakes at the opening...thanks all for coming along too!

If you feel inclined we hope you might like to write us your ghost story or experience in 50 words at the message board of our website, here's a few fabulous contributions to get you thinking:

The television is full of dark men again. Circling, eyeless, mouths are stitched. One time I caught them doing a pentagram and I lost respect. I prise invisible hands from my neck and slap at the remote for Eastenders. If Peggy loses the vic tonight it will not auger well.
By Kirsten Hinks

She lay down to sleep. But the back boiler was burping rhythms into the night. Surrounded by socks and tops, she rolled into her duvet and hid her head. But skeletal trees scratched the window in time and forgotten friends danced ahead. Pass the ectoplasm on the left hand side.
By Dan Anthony

Sitting in the corner of the empty nursery, still here I listen. Tonight no starlight pierces the black rain clouds, but I still hear their static hiss. Mother in their bed, more unconscious than asleep, father downstairs sits with an unopened book in his lap not drinking his cold tea.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Absent But Not Forgotten

My collaborative show with Jacob Whittaker, Absent But Not Forgotten opens on Friday 19 March at 6pm at The Last Gallery, Llangadog, Carmarthenshire SA19 9BR. The show runs until 4 April - but is only open at weekends. You are welcome to join us at the opening if you're in this neck of the woods!

Here's a short documentary piece about the show.

Belief in the paranormal can be controversial; but there is a strong human desire to find pattern and meaning in the unexplained. Absent But Not Forgotten uses video and sound experiments, textiles and technical objects to evoke the world of ‘ghost hunting’. The project considers the associations, clichés and influences of TV and films on the phenomenon.

We're looking for a bit of interaction from you too - we'd like you to photograph or video the show if you visit - you can post to the website through our Flickr group Ghost Watch or send them to us and we'll post them for you - tell us who to credit.

Also we'd love to hear your own stories and experiences - write us a story in 50 words or less and post to our message board - or add to this post and I'll transfer it. We will be developing the project and hope we can incorporate some of your stories.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Fitness for Purpose

Handmade Cobbler's Bench - seen here

I'm really taken with the idea of hybridised and reclaimed objects. I wrote last year about Vladimir Arkhipov's Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts and Jurgen Bey's Linen-Cupboard-House piece shown at the V & A's Telling Tales exhibition.

Recently I found this picture of a home-made cobbler's bench - perfect functionality - it fits all William Morris' Ruskin inspired criteria of Fitness for purpose that underpinned the Arts and Crafts movement and his famous quote; “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Quilts: 1700 - 2010 at the V & A

Quilts: 1700 - 2010 catalogue cover featuring At the End of the Day (2007) - Natasha Kerr - Seen here

The V & A Museum is staging a major exhibition of British quilts from their own and other significant collections, Quilts: 1700 - 2010. Opening from March 20th, the show will feature 65 quilts made from 1700 to the present day. The symbolism and imagery of the designs will be explored as well as the exceptional craft of the pieces in themselves.

There are quilts from contemporary makers and artists as well as historical pieces, Tracey Emin will be represented as will Grayson Perry. The curator of the show, Sue Pritchard came to Wales to open Jen Jones' Lampeter based Welsh Quilt Centre last year and has been writing a blog about the progress of the show at the V & A. I believe there will be a quilt from Jen's collection in the exhibition. I'm really looking forward to seeing the show. Here's a Guardian picture gallery in the meantime.

Grayson Perry -Right to Life (1998) - seen here

Bishop's Court Quilt - 1690 - 1700 - seen here

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Artes Mundi 4

Chen Chieh-jen - Factory - seen here

We went to The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff last night to attend the opening of Artes Mundi 4. This bi-annual competition, with its substantial prize of £40,000, is an opportunity for contemporary artists who are established in their own country but less well known in the UK to gain exposure. The broad theme of the show is 'the human condition' (although that could pretty much include any artist's work when you think of it!). The eight shortlisted artists' work is housed in a series of spaces within the National Gallery, and the winning artist will be announced on 19 May.

This year the artists were selected by Levent Çalikoğlu, Chief Curator at Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and lecturer at the Technical University, Faculty of Arts and Design, Istanbul. Viktor Misiano, both a curator and an art critic based in Moscow and Italy, a former curator at The Pushkin State Museum, and Director of the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) in Moscow.

The selected artist are: Yael Bartana (Israel), Fernando Bryce (Peru), Ergin Çavuşoğlu (Bulgaria), Olga Chernysheva (Russia), Chen Chieh-jen (Taiwan), Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djumaliev (Kyrgyzstan), Adrian Paci (Albania).

We had such a nice time, that we didn't get enough time with the work, so I'll be going back for another visit soon. On first impressions I liked the look of Chen Chieh-jen's films but I really do think one needs a little time to mull it all over and consider the contexts of each artists work and the overall curatiorial vision...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Emmy Lou Packard

Frida Kahlo and Emmy Lou Packard in Coyoacan, Mexico in 1941 photographed by Diego Rivera

I bought this postcard the other day. Frida Kahlo - I saw the retrospective in Tate Modern in 2005, very timely for me, but also generally I think. The other woman in the image I didn't know, so I found out a bit about her today. Her name is Emmy Lou Packard and she was a mural assistant to Diego Rivera, but a prominent artist and political activist in her own right. A painter, but also an accomplished woodblock printer, her work seems incredibly fresh for today's re-visiting of mid 20th Century print designs.

Emmy Lou Packard - Seen here

Friday, 5 March 2010

Milkwood Gallery

Kathryn Campbell Dodd - Birthday Chair and Poem House

Louise West - Common Birds

I went down to Cardiff last night for the opening of the show I am sharing with textile designer, Louise West. It's at the Milkwood Gallery in Roath. The gallery is a fairly new venture set up by Gail Howard and Helen Gubb (lovely people). I was so pleased with the way they hung the work, it looks fantastic. The gallery is a really great space, part shop, part gallery, part artist project space. The shop is delightful; vintage rubbing shoulders with contemporary design, clothes, housewares, books - a real 'flea market' feel. There are two gallery spaces, and in the basement a space which has been given over to selected artists to make and show work.

The current project by a young graduate named Marius Grainger Not Drowning But Waving was also opened last night, he's an very interesting artist. He works with fabrics, clay and found objects; this show confronts issues of loss and death and the idea of the shrine. Very interesting to see a such young man using very feminine techniques in his practice, if I had not met him I think I would of assumed he was a woman, an older woman actually. That's so heartening - it is a wonderful thing when gender stops being a barrier to materials and techniques.

I'm really pleased to have been asked to show at the gallery and interested to see how the space develops in the future.

Marius Grainger - from Not Drowning, But Waving

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Mizuyo Yamashita

Mizuyo Yamashita

Our new show Reap & Sew is now open at Oriel Myrddin Gallery. London based ceramic artist, Mizuyo Yamashita spent two days with us last week to install an especially made miniature town-scape in the gallery. It is an exquisitely imagined and realised piece. Ceramic sections of houses, gardens, tower blocks, cars, parks, ponds and trees have been meticulously placed alongside textiles and found objects with a ceramic church at its centre. A serene scene made rather more bizarre by the dinosaurs and the giant giraffe roaming the streets!

We really enjoyed having Mizuyo with us and are delighted with the result. A strange little world seemingly tranquil but at the same time's too quiet, too orderly - those dinosaurs bring an eccentric tension to the scene that disconcert expectations and introduce quirky little sub-plots to the narratives.

Mizuyo Yamashita (detail)

Mizuyo Yamashita (detail)

Reap & Sew is a light, fun, mixed craft and contemporary design show reminding the winter-weary that the days are longer and spring is just about here.