Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Seamus Nolan

Seen here

We had a visit at the gallery today from Elizabeth and Siobhan from Wexford Arts Centre in Eire. We were really impressed by their exhibition programme and their lovely space! In particular the venue has shown the work of Irish artist, Seamus Nolan. His to-scale, recycled cardboard Caravan, part of a show called Demense, was installed in the main gallery space in 2007. We also heard about a really interesting project headed up by Seamus Nolan called Hotel Ballymun in which an abandoned high rise was converted into a hotel space in which people could come to stay. The rooms were furnished with the reclaimed furniture left in the building.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Prinzhorn Collection

From the Prinzhorn Collection - Seen here

I wrote last year about a piece of work that can be found in The Prinzhorn Collection at The University of Heidleburg. Agnes's Jacket is a remarkable object, stitched inside and out with the words of psychiatric patient, Agnes Richter held in an asylum for the insane in the 1890's. The Prinzhorn Collection is the legacy of Hans Prinzhorn who was tasked in 1919 to expand on an earlier collection of the art of the psychiatric patient at the university. By 1921 he had brought together a collection of around 5000 art works from 450 individuals.

Today the term is Outsider Art, the output of untrained artists who make their work compulsively often, not generally for the eyes of an audience, but as a way of expressing, controlling and exploring inner states of being. So often the work expresses Horror vacui - the fear of empty space - a drive to fill up and occupy the page or the object

I've been thinking about the uncomfortable contemporary dilemma in looking at these sort of works. They challenge the 'Artworld' establishment as defined by Arthur Danto and developed by George Dickie, but in so doing they become another tool of that self same institution - the very term 'Outsider Art' says it all.

These images remain immensely powerful - although the same dilemma exists even in posting such work on a blog like this - it was not made to be contextualised as 'art' or to be 'shown' as such and so the intention is very compromised. The remarkable intensity and energy of the work is extraordinary and salutary I think to the 'Artworld' artist. I guess it's similar to the post-colonial issues we wrestle with in postmodern times - we appropriate and consume with an almost psychopathic disregard for the intentions and function of the object and its origination, we re-assign and re-contextualise to support academic theories, cultural whims, issues of the zeitgeist. Does 'Artworld' dialectic actually create a vacuum - the antithesis of Horror vacui? Is that why we are hungry to see and absorb the work of the 'Outsider'? A kind of theoretical equivalent of Horror vacui - the fear of the void?

From the Prinzhorn Collection - Seen here

Johann Knopf from the Prinzhorn Collection - seen here

From rhe Prinzhorn Collection - Seen here

Monday, 21 June 2010

Louise Bourgeois' fabric sketch books

Louise Bourgeois - From Ode a l'oubli - seen in Selvedge issue 20

I was looking through a few back issues of Selvedge magazine today and I found an article about two artist books that Louise Bourgeois made in 2002 and 2004; Ode to La Bievre and Ode a l'oubli. As always the article (issue 20 Nov/Dec 2007) is beautifully presented with lovely images of the work.

The books contain sheets made of fabric, which function as sketchbooks, Dr Catherine Harper says: "...The Bievre is the river into which she threw herself, enraged with her father. And the other, 'a l'oubli, proposes a lyric devoted to forgetting. The conundrum of the work, however, is the undercurrent of of Bourgeois' creative drive. That is, in celebrating forgetting, trying to forget and to reduce the pain, she in fact re-configures it, creating it anew. She materialises that which she wishes to immaterialise, shows what she wishes to hide and makes real that which she wishes were not so".

"...Bourgeois' use of textiles is calculated - we are reassured by the domestic order and familial familiarity of the tea towel stripes, deck chair stripes, home-made quilt patterns, and nicely turned seams. We are reassured that home is safe, ordered, comforting. The device however, is Freudian: the uncanny is familiar, the homely at the same time unheimlich, the threat often from within the supposed zone of safety". Selvedge issue 20 Nov/Dec 2007

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Terunobu Fujimori

Terunobu Fujimori - Takasugi-an - seen here

Thanks to Hazel Terry on her blog The Art Room Plant for reminding me about another Terunobu Fujimori structure I saw featured a while back in Blueprint magazine. Here's another link about the piece with some great images too.

This image of the V& A tea house was on the Guardian online this morning also, which shows the scale of the piece - must make an effort to visit!

Terunobu Fujimori - Tea House - seen here

Monday, 14 June 2010

Architects Build Small Spaces

Beetle's House - Terunobu Fujimori - seen here

I like the look of these architectural interventions opening tomorrow at the V&A in London. Architects Build Small Spaces features the work of seven architects chosen from a long-list of nineteen who submitted proposals. Built within the V&A galleries, the structures explore ideas of refuge and retreat.

Inside/Outside Tree - Sou Fujimoto - seen here

In-between Architecture - Studio Mumbai - seen here

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Mission Gallery Photography Open 2010

Emma Rylance - Bye Bye B - seen here

The Mission Gallery in Swansea is currently showing the selected work from their 2010 Photography Open. It is a good show, the space seems to really work for photography - something about the light in the gallery I think. The winners this year were Tina Carr and Annemarie Schöne with an image from the show Once We Were Birds about Roma communities in Hungary, which was shown with us at Oriel Myrddin Gallery in 2009. Second prize went to Swansea artist Gemma Copp for an image from a documented set of performances around the theme 'Autonomy'.

I particularly liked the work of Emma Rylance - a triptych of images of bras, Bye Bye B hung centrally in the chapel end of the gallery. I liked the humour and the witty curation!

Jonathan Anderson at Glynn Vivian Gallery

I visited Jonathan Anderson's Wakelin Purchase Prize work again whilst I was in the Glynn Vivian Gallery - and this gives me an excuse to feature this excellent photograph of the work taken by Ken Dickinson.

Galerie S O at The Glynn Vivian Gallery

Christian Gozenbach
- Erasers - seen here

The Craft space at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea is hosting a lovely show at the moment, Contemporary Collections: New Work from Galerie S O. A selection of work from the cutting edge Swiss gallery, Galerie S O which has recently opened a London gallery in Brick Lane, representing some great makers including silver smith David Clarke - I really like his work.

Galerie S O is involved with representing and exploring the cross-over between art and design, an area that often seems to be difficult territory for British tastes: "The gallery's main focus is the contemporary object, which through an inherent grace of form and materials is able to convey diverse narratives to reflect, not trends and styles, but the attitudes and expressive intentions of the artist/maker". Seen here.

Hans Stofer - I have not got a clue - seen here

Helen Britton - Nighttime - seen here

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Elysium Gallery, Swansea

I've been hearing good things about Elysium Gallery's new home in Mansel Street, Swansea. Elysium is an artist led space which began life as Exposure Gallery in 2003 and evolved into Elysium Gallery in 2007. I went to see the first show in the new Mansel Street venue, After the End... today - it was the last day and I was a bit late, so things were already being taken down.

The space is just amazing. I think it's an ex-pub or club, one big space downstairs and then a labyrinth of little rooms and bigger spaces on two more floors, pierced through the centre by an old fashioned lift shaft. My pictures do not do the place justice - it's beautifully shabby and has the patina of it's former life still strongly evident, a great atmosphere and an exciting place to show art.

The show was interesting too, a response to art critic, Arthur Danto's pronouncement that art ended in the 1960's. It's a very interesting proposition - I've thought about it a lot - it's a deeply pertinent question to ask artists' to think about...

The gallery will close over the summer for the upstairs spaces to be converted into artists' studios - this means the showing space will be more limited for future shows, but I'm looking forward to the next phase.

Friday, 11 June 2010

James Plumb

James Plumb - For Richer For Poorer (Concrete Stitches series) - seen here

James Plumb - To Have and to Hold (Concrete Stitches series) - seen here

Thanks to David Restorick on his excellent blog, for introducing me to James Plumb (who is actually Hannah Plumb and James Russell). I like their recycled and hybridised furniture. The use of concrete in these chairs is intriguing and contrary, I like that too.

Here's a couple more of their designs that made me smile.

James Plumb - Sampson - seen here

James Plumb - Cluster Chandelier - seen here

Monday, 7 June 2010

Jayne Pierson

We have a wonderful fashion designer working from a studio here in Carmarthenshire, Jayne Pierson has been getting some exciting coverage in prestige magazines such as Vogue Italia and AnOther recently, not to mention Blown Magazine the baby of our own Ric Bower - Carmarthenshire based photographer.

Jayne Pierson: design - Alice Gibb: Model - Donald Christie: Photographer - seen here

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Louise Bourgeois at the Arnolfini

Louise Bourgeois - seen here

I was in Bristol this weekend, so I made a trip to the Arnolfini to have a look at a series of drawings by Louise Bourgeois that are currently showing at the gallery in response to a site specific drawing 'intervention' by Otto Zitko.

Louise Bourgeois - Je t'aime(detail) - seen here

The show is called Me, Myself and I and explores notions of relationships, intimacy and emotional engagement - "It is in the space between inner and outer worlds, which is also the space between people; the transitional space; that intimate relationships and creativity occur." D.W Winnicott.

Zitko's large scale drawings cover the interior walls and foyer of the gallery - dominating and all-present. Bourgeois' 2005 drawings Je t'aime are shown in a small room on the second floor, a framed series of 60 small works. Opposite these abstract pieces is one drawing from 1946 showing one person consuming another. Bourgeois described the Je t'aime drawings as being "...about the marking of time while waiting for someone special to arrive". What a debt we owe to this formidably intelligent woman, I was glad to have this little chance to say my farewell.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Music for Dogs

Laurie Anderson - Music for Dogs - seen here

Yesterday, musician Laurie Anderson staged a concert outside the Sydney Opera House for dogs. Music for Dogs was especially arranged to suit canine sensibilities and she said it was the fulfilment of an ambition to look up during a concert and find the whole audience composed of dogs. Brilliant!

We had a canine choir here in Wales a couple of years ago, A Song For Swansea Jack, commissioned by Swansea based arts organisation, LOCWS International. Artist, Richard Higlett staged a performance by dogs in memory of the legendary Swansea Jack, a black Labrador who is said to have saved 29 folk from drowning in the sea in the 1930's.

This gives me an opportunity to feature my own lovely dog, Brock who was seen sporting an Adam Ant look at last week's opening of Rhôd in Carmarthenshire after interacting with some of the art. She used to enjoy yodeling along to a little harmonica, or a heartfelt pack howl - but she's really deaf now (possibly a result of her own incessant and anti-social barking habits!).

Brock - photo by Maya Bryden

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Gimme Shelter

Kathryn Campbell Dodd Shelter

This is my new piece of work. It is installed in woods, beside a pond, nestling amongst disused chicken and duck houses. I stopped painting as part of my practice about 5 or 6 years ago, and the old work sits in the corner of my studio. Sometimes I say that at least if I become homeless I can bang them together to make a shelter (I usually painted on mdf board). So that is what I have done. Six feet by 4 feet, the structure incorporates abandoned bits and pieces from the place where I live in the hills of west Wales. After I made the piece I slept in it for three nights to see what would happen; it was so conducive I slept like a babe.

I like this picture - these little folk look like Hansel and Gretel...

Thank you so much to my dear friend Marcus FitzGibbon for his help with the design and construction. He has made it safe for visitors and added his magic to the piece. It came together organically and easily, serendipity was on our side! I met Marcus at art school when we were 16 years old and we've always been friends. We've worked together and shared many many ventures, adventures and mis-adventures over these long years.

Kathryn Campbell Dodd - Shelter (detail)