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By: Bob Gelsthorpe
A documentation of post degree creative projects, practice and pitfalls. Thoughts on Art in Wales/ Meddwl am Celf yn Gymru.
# 24 [6 May 2013]
Last night tactileBOSCH gallery & studios caught fire and burnt down. I went to investigate this afternoon and saw the entire building reduced to charred fragments, broken glass, ashes and dust. The fire team were still at the premises at around 3pm this afternoon and there are still sections of the building smoking just a little, the entire site is due for demolition soon, but this catastrophic inferno has decimated the former gallery, as well as the former visibleart printing studios and woodwork shop. This tragic situation has been treated as suspicious with a number of fires being started in the Llandaff North area recently, obviously if anyone has any information, please report it to the authorities. One of the only remaining artworks from the fire is a collaborative painting on the outside of the building by David J Bull & Dean Craddock from the CITIZEN III exhibition last year, slightly singed.
I spent the day with one of the founders of tactileBOSCH, Kim Fielding who was quite shaken by the whole situation but came out with a morosely amusing statement: "The roof has finally been fixed I guess..."
Old Victoria Buildings Revival an exhibition celebrating the life of the gallery, showing work from its collaborators, instigators and practitioners opens at Fringe Arts Bath 2013, on Stall St, Bath on the 24th of May. This exhibition feels all the more important in lieu of recent events, phoenix out of the ashes comes to mind.
# 23 [2 May 2013]
Diffusion Post #1
This morning it felt that Diffusion, Cardiff's festival of photography was definitely here. Granted I missed the opening at St. David's hall last night, but from seeing the banner's around the Bay and hearing about it on Pitch on Radio Cardiff this morning I think it's safe to say: it has begun....
Not unlike the calm before the storm I can already anticipate an onslaught of through-the-lens media, no doubt resulting in art-hangovers and regular hangovers in the coming weeks. Jennifer Allen put what is coined as 'the art hangover' into context beautifully in frieze a few months ago, half as a bacchanalian lust for art, half as mental exhaustion from saturation. I for one welcome the hangovers. First on my checklist was The Brothers by Elin Høyland at Norwegian Church Art Centre. A queer little space, usually displaying the work of local amateur artists or community artist groups alongside the occasional Roald Dahl show, takes a look at the lives of two brothers living in rural Norway, exploring their routines, their dependency and their idyllic county life. Aside from the romantic connotations there is a beautiful narrative constructed from this exhibition; A very clear exploration of the unspoken love between brothers dependant on each other, for work, for company, for shelter. A very interesting show, the venue's ideals (as a church, a Norwegian one at that) reflect well in the work displayed. As a contemplative notion, one photograph depicts the brothers in their bedroom, sat on their beds opposite each other; then another shot, with the same image constructed, but with one brother missing. Is this the fate of the brothers? Or did he simply go collect more wood for the fire? These questions allow a personal narrative to arrive and with it a long lasting insight into their rural domain.
# 22 [26 April 2013]
So over the past week or so I have starting working at BayArt Gallery again which I am very happy about, they have an exhibition on at the moment entitled Open Books which is a very interesting exhibition of artists working with the chinese folding books that seem to be very popular at the minute, I reccommend it to anyone interested in the book making or book binding field, it's good to see how artists fromt he east and west react to the object. The show is also going on tour to China and Australia, picking up more artists along the way. BayArt Gallery is open Tues - Sat, 12-5. I'm there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, so come say hello then.
On a more mundane note, I now wear glasses after my first visit to the optician, ever. I could see fine before but now everything is in high def. Artists, your eyes are your livelihood, get your eyes checked!
B I T Studios sucessfully hosted Wales' first Bring your own Beamer night, and what a great response from artists we had! Showing were a range of artists from all over Cardiff as well as Swansea, Bristol & Worcester, with a spectrum of slide projectors, animations, visual mappings, video art, lightboxes, light sculptures and a bit of Alan Partridge briefly. I would like to personally thank Ifan & Winf, all the artists and supporters. As well as Jon Pountney for documenting the night with great hilarity.
WARP have been hosting Peer-to-peer sessions for quite a while now, I first had one with Chris Brown shortly after I graduated and recently had one with Mark Gubb, both have been massively helpful, with the first one I think I had alot of 'out-of-art-school' anxiety, and with Mark alot of 'is-my-art-too-tangential' anxiety. I see a theme occouring. I had some fantastic discussions with Mark and I'm very thankful that he had the time to be able to do them, and that WARP had time to put them on. I think one on one time with a more established (whatver that means) artist is very good for early practicioners (whatever that means) like myself. We discussed the trials of having a consistent art practice, if that is even appropriate, and what to concentrate on. I also keep thinking that an MFA needs to be treated like a liferaft, rather than a speedboat (if we consider an artist's trajectory in nautical terms), but I've booked a place on an open day at Slade and I'll be looking around Swansea before too long; a bit of window shopping never hurts..
# 21 [17 April 2013]
New Video works.
These pieces have been long in the mix, the first, titled Address is the second piece of work devised from Davida Hewlett's Introduction to Performance Art Course: Level 2, and began with the brief of performing to camera, to raise awareness of the differences between performing live/ recorded. In response to this brief I made the aforementioned piece, where I read my favourite piece of writing, Sol Lewitt's letter to Eva Hesse. I made a few adjustments to make it either more inclusive or more anonymous (haven't quite worked out what yet) but the piece was shot in a very dark room, one as the text is not my own, and therefore I do not want to attach my face to the text, and secondly as in the past I have read the text to motivate myself somewhat, so it works as a motivational letter to myself and every other artist who was gone through the same pitfalls. This, and I wanted to bring the text to as many people's attention as possible: its a beautiful piece of writing.
The other new piece, Dawning is a more experimental work, which was created a long time ago but only finished yesterday. I'm holding my cards quite close to my chest about this piece, but its a study into the 'exhaustion and enjoyment' scenario. It's a lot more open to interpretation; I'll let people make their own decisions on it. Both these new pieces are self-portraits, but on very different spectrums. I don't know yet whether I use myself in video to be direct, or whether I enjoy the performative side of it, either way; let me know your thoughts.
# 20 [13 April 2013]
A mid-review-writing review.
On my first venture into Newcastle (outside of BALTIC), I was lucky enough to recieve the Interface Bursary to review Matt Calderwood: Paper Over The Cracks at BALTIC39, which I have been currently writing. While I was in toon I went to go see an exhibition called Uncle Vern's Dog at Gallery North, a great little show with a very refreshing aesthetic and ethic, so I decided to write a small review to break up writing about Matt's work: which is just beautiful, I am very much looking forward to my second visit in June. Modular sculpture, large scale prints, exterior installations and a grand projection. Very rewarding.
I think another really interesting factor in the visit was to see the Curatorial element of things, with the nature of Matt's show there are a lot of decisions left open ended, which is quite enjoyable, you get to create your own sort of ficticious past & present decisions. But I'll talk more about that soon. Highly recommended show for anyone specifically interested in Hans Georg-Gadamer's texts on play, or modular sculpture.
Uncle Vern's Dog: Gallery North - http://www.a-n.co.uk/interface/reviews/single/3211866
# 19 [3 April 2013]
Over Easter I went to see my better half's family in what I can probably only describe as the most beautiful place in Wales I have visited in a long time. I'm really looking forward to Gideon Koppel's exhibition as part of Diffusion festival in May now having seen the place.
I took a few photographs while I was out there, I don't know if they have any aesthetic merit, but even if they just exist as 'weekend getaway photos' thats fine with me. If anyone has any feedback on these photographs (granted they are low-res) I would greatly appreciate it.
# 18 [28 March 2013]
Last week I was lucky enough to have a place on the writing surgery workshop with David Trigg, which was an absolute godsend, I have never had any critical feedback on any form of my writing, so to hear his thoughts on my review writing has been great. As a result of this, I have decided to re-write my Artes Mundi Review
As it appears there are a few things that need fixing, if it is to be taken seriously as a piece of critical writing on an international prize and exhibition. So I will be posting the altered review (for my own, and any readers sake) before too long. Need to remember, clarity is key.
# 17 [23 March 2013]
A massive thankyou/ diolch yn fawr to everyone who came to Shaun's opening last night, I'm really glad that there was such a good turn out for such a great artist.
Alot of people were getting involved with the work, keeping it in a state of flux as me and Shaun have been doing leading up to the opening.
Also thanks to Joe and Elodie for opening their touring ceramic exhibiton, aptly titled Fragile! In Transit on the same night There was a great mix of people, I really enjoyed the conversations that risen out of the evening, I really enjoyed the great game of skittles at the pub afterwards. Congratulations to all.
As always, a huge thankyou to Milkwood Gallery for hosting the events, Made in Spring 2013 will be coming up soon so keep an eye on www.milkwood.com for updates on that.
Exhibition closes on the 30th, so hurry up if you haven't already seen the show.
To keep updated on Shaun James' work: www.shaunjames.net
# 16 [16 March 2013]
Firstly it was great to be invited over so cheers Ed & a-n. We all had a great time, it was so good to see so much enthusiasm from all sorts of people, we really enjoyed talking to so many different people from all sorts of places, and it was very uplifting to hear a few people had already heard about either us or the Studios. I think we might have made some really good connections yesterday, and were more excited for future projects, working with new poeple, on or off-site. Diolch yn fawr bawb.
# 15 [27 February 2013]
I.F.F.W. (Ideas for future work)
I have written this little abbreviation in my sketchbooks for years. I'm not sure if I've ever actually gone through with a single one of them. So I got thinking, are they really ideas for future work, or just things I'd like to do if I wasn't worried about continuity? Because these ideas are usually so different from my practice, it's easy to become worried about tangential works, as opposed to a steady stream of intense, well-researched, consistent work. Perhaps they are my stupid works, my dumb, empty unthinking works.
But is that such a bad thing?
Here's a few I.F.F.W.'s
- Selection of cut throat razors, named and painted with the personalities of close friends.
-Film the destruction of my favourite painting I have made to date
- Record cicadas, play once every 13 years.
- Set up wooden chair with noose directly above: attempt hanging and await intervention. (keep sharp knife in pocket to cut noose in case of emergency)
- Move to Colonsay, document life on the island, record sounds.
Maybe one day I'll actually go through will all of them all at once, and call the series: Future works, but that's just another I.F.F.W........