Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Franny Swann
A record of my footsteps as I negotiate the projects that come my way.
# 98 [7 September 2012]
Much clucking in the coop..........an engagement in the family...how about this for my son's proposal to his girlfriend? I wonder where he gets that creative gene from?!
I spent yesterday at the Olympic Park...great events and an extraordinary venue .. but art in all sorts of forms everywhere. Some truly memorable architecture- not just the event arenas but also things like the biggest MacDonalds in the world. Wonderful use of the natural and the organic. Wild flower plantings and planted walls, mirrored bridges and spectacular water.
I was fascinated by a Word Waterfall under one bridge. Sheets of water fall down vertically spelling out random words. Not light projected onto a sheet of water, but a sort of dot matrix - dots of water making the letters with space between. ...and a splash as they hit the river. Silence and then another word [or two or three or five] falling into the river below.
# 97 [6 September 2012]
No idea where the time has gone to....I do seem to be arted out after the solo show....my inclination is to just do something else; so at the moment I am just doing that. Lots of reading and going to PV's and events, meeting and greeting, and enjoying. No making.
I think we all go here at some point. The secret seems to be not to panic but to keep doing something. I have a group show in Hastings coming up in September called Telling Stories:Hastings. This seems now to have linked to another in Margate which is great. So - two shows in September.
The current plan is to exhibit the QCodes that each TS artist presently has up around Hastings and with them any relevant work/research that went into the work on show in Hastings.
I have also had a joint proposal accepted for the end of next year. We are to work with objects originally from a famous stately home that are now in a museum - and then exhibit the work in the Orangery at the end of next year.
Nothing hugely grand or good for the CV but solid and steady and interesting to me....
So - nice to feel something is there to ground me even if it is on the far horizon.
Maybe I will finally take time out to make a new website, organise my images, update my statement, write proposals and learn new skills like Vimeo and Mail Chimp that I am sadly lacking....
Today was just fun. Went to Whitstable to catch the last few days of Jeremy Dellar's inflatable Stonehenge ........just brilliant. Pure unadulterated fun.
The piece is titled 'Sacriledge'. Being among the life sized stones took me back to the days when you could wander lonley as a cloud among the stones...I remember clearly sitting with a boyfriend into the dusk. no one else much about. Sacriledge indeed that now there is rope and barbed wire and a road and no access. Enough to make you convert; to become a Druid.
# 96 [22 August 2012]
Up to London today to the OPEN at Bankside gallery. Our lovely friend Dawn Cole had one of her beautiful pieces in the show so a printer friend and I made a day of it.
Not over enthused...Dawn's piece looked wonderful, but the show seemed all rather safe and sound to me but then I am not a printer - so although the technicals are on the radar for me I am no expert.
Personally I find the work in Margate's Pushing Print more my thing. Conceptual and exciting. Gets better each year.
Did get to the Tate Turbine Hall where Tino Seghal has an installation of people performing in the space. Interesting choreography from above - could be overwhelming if below - I watched one family with a pushchair enveloped as they walked.....
Also took time out to look at the Tate's new Tank performance spaces. All had to be entered through a pitch black corridor - not my forte, so I only ventured into one. They do feel as if they will become a very original and much loved London space.
Loads happening on the South Bank - including a green colander installation outside the Hayward Gallery [Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa] and a baobab sculpture lurking down a side road.
Got home and looked on Google to find I had missed a whole mass of work. All part of the Southbank Centre's Festival of the World.
Was however very tempted by the multi coloured sand pit.
Some great Olympic graffiti around.
# 95 [21 August 2012]
Been a while.
The solo show feels a long time ago - except for my work being in all the wrong places and detrtus all over the house and studio. Some great feedback but no work directly so far.
Am in the process of writing a proposal for a great local gallery within a museum. Have wanted to work there for a while. Recently they have tightened up their criteria in line with the new Arts Council Funding interest in museums. When I first saw it I was disappointed that I hadn't applied before, but I now think it actually helps having tighter boundaries.
I have developed a fascination with Princess Ennigaldi who fashioned the worlds first known museum in the kingdom of Ur around 530 BC. Her museum labels were cylindrical seals........brilliant. I feel there is something there that will simmer for a while....
Since the last blog:
My QCode is up on the Hastings seafront as part of the 'Telling Stories: Hastings' guerilla art project to advertise the show. Need to find time to go and see it now....http://tellingstories.info/home/telling-stories-off-the-wall
I got the TS catalogue proof through. Its the first time I have been in a quality catalogue. Looks amazing.
Ros and I have been invited to a very grown up reception on the back of the Hobby Horse Project and the fact we run Sevenoaks Art Forum unpaid.I will report back.
Looking forward to going to Whitstable for a celebration of the Kent Cultural Baton project. Will be a chance to meet all the other artists and see the final map with our project on it.
Have just come back from Fowell Hall Features V. An artists residency run by Accident and Emergence in a beautiful Kent orchard. My fourth time. Still floating... such a great weekend. Poets, writers, performance, artists...workshops, crits and connections. Nowhere like it.
Sevenoaks Art Forum has been asked to host an Arts Council funded talk by Jon Adams- lead artist for Accentuate - fascinating work. So good to see something you started because there was nothing locally growing up and being appreciated.
so - all good. Need to sort out my website next.
PS Go to soundcloud and search out the poetry of Indigo Williams. We met at Fowell Hall. What a talent.
# 94 [16 July 2012]
I will have to look at my Life /work balance. I am shattered. Bonkers.
Latest thing was the last invited outing for the Farningham Hobby Horse Project. Ros and I took them down to Margate to join in the celebrations for the Lone Twin Boat Project. The boat was out of the water up on the Harbour Arm.
We were a long way away - on the beach. Not much in the way of an audience- put off by the soggy weather I suspect. Still we had a good time until the wind got up and the stands kept going over.
Eventually we cut our losses, packed up and made for the party!
Having taken photos of ourselves with the FHHP wooden horse donation on the starboard side of the boat we then wrote a goodwill message for their bottle.
Then off to greet Nicole Mollet in her silver Kent Cultural Baton airstream caravan. It hardly seemed credible that we started the FHHP 18months ago with the caravan in attandance. Lovely to get a sneak preview of the Kent map that will be the final legacy of the Kent Cultural Baton Project and chat and catch up.
Feeling the need to mark the occasion Ros and I then visited Kim Conway's seaside photographer's portrait gallery. We came out with the perfect daft celebratory photo.
Great fun and a terrific shared memento of a fun day and a wonderful and very special project.
# 93 [3 July 2012]
Well, that was a short space of R& R....!
What is it with us artists? There is a new plot afoot to put together a proposal between four artists who work to [as one artist succinctly put it] create beautiful, delicate, considered work based on and around the death of birds, insects, flowers and humanity.
This morning we struggled with the words to take this idea and progress it to a point where we could articulate the concept of how we all use this to remake that death into future potential within our work.
So now that is all I can think of. Took what? Two days? Amazing. We just can't not do it can we.......its in the artist DNA; and now I am happy. New work to come and a new slant to it and new possibilities.....
This afternoon I took a good friend round the show. One on one...an individual tour..I've never done that before. She is not an artist and we had an enjoyable time and she went away knowing where I was coming from. Now I wish I had used the opportunity to ask her many more open questions about how she - as a non artist-read my work.
Perhaps we should offer artist tours for that reason...listen and learn.
# 92 [2 July 2012]
No longer blogging in the top ten...not surprising as I have been pretty silent. Pretty shattered actually. Exhibition private view was huge fun with loads of lovely people and 28 of us going on to have a pizza down the road.....
Then complete collapse. No more energy. I slept from 12am to 6.30 two days later. Unheard of. I had no idea I was so tired.
My comments on the luggage labels idea was a massive sucess. Need a new spike now!
The show finishes next week and I have just written a short e-mail in an attempt to lure the arts officers from their lair in the local museum down the road to see it. I have wanted to work with the museum for some time, but my 'museum of memorialisation' that I curate in a space each time really doesn't work as an image. You have to be there to understand it. I really hope one of them comes down.
I am taking my elderly mother on Wednesday. It is her Jewish heritage that drives much of the work on loss and memory. I am quite nervous of her reaction. How I see a work may not be how she sees it.
# 91 [24 June 2012]
I haven't found the energy to blog over the last few days.....my mind needed a sit down.
On Friday members of the art forum I run went on an awayday to Margate.
Force 9 gales and that exhilarating smell of ozone permeated everything.
A great exhibition from Tracy Emin in the Turner. Awash in blue gouache; intimate and vulnerable as always.
Having spent time in the exhibition and now with the audio round my neck - having been told it was worth it - [which it was] I looked up and there was our Tracy. A bizarre jolt of recognition and then a 'do I continue into her path or not' conundrum. She proved friendly and engaging , signing programmes and posing for camera phones before disappearing off again.
It was strange to continue meandering on afterwards, peering at depictions of her sexuality. Her work seems to confide her intimate secrets but many have mirror writing - the reveal facing away from her audience.
A group of work done in 2011 around an affair I found deeply moving. I can see some of the work clearly even now. A sure sign that it reached me in some way.
In a later set of work done after the split she depicts them both in bed; she is clutching on to the side of the bed in a foetal position - taking up as little room in the world as possible. In another she dreams he has returned. She is again on the edge of the bed. This time physically closer to what I presume is her cat Docket than her lover.
She says she has given up and now feels free of the need to find a lasting relationship. Sadly her work seems to offer someone unable to commit.
Supper was taken at the end of the Harbour Arm; a wild sea on both sides. Then on to visit the Margate gallery to see if our WinaPrint tickets had won one of the amazing prints on offer - mine of course hadn't.
The gallery had organised a live Arts Council feed from the Turner of Tracy Emin and Stephen Fry in discussion. The tickets had sold in the first ten minutes, so we waited expectantly.
A sad disapointment. He was unprepared - called her bed installation 'Everyone I ever slept with', told her she had lost a lot of work in the Momart fire [she lost two] etc...
He then tried to offer psychoanalysis around her childhood abuse and subsequent behaviour. She, [and we] became more and more uncomfortable until she said with geat dignity - 'I am going to change the subject', and talked about her cat.
The highlight was her charming defence of Margate at every turn, her deft handling of his lumbering inability to give her a platform of any sort and her vision of her home town with the neon signs returned, the lamposts festooned with lights and Dreamland and the Lido as extrodinary as they once were.
# 90 [20 June 2012]
Interesting comments on the label conundrum.Thank you.
In the event I have only labelled four out of 21 works...and I also have a short artist's statement up. I feel very comfortable with it now. Feels right.
Yesterday I finished off the hang - glass cleaner, plinth painting etc. All done.
In the evening a fellow artist and I went to our old college degree show. Some really strong work and a great buzz. My car still wants to turn left when I get to the college motorway slip road. I would be happy as a skylark to be given a space and just settle back into working there again.
We both spent the night chatting to the tutors. Strange how relaxed and easy it now is. No longer the tutor/student relationship but still imensley valuable to talk things over...
Our only sadness was that neither of us won any of the tutors work in the raffle. If only.
Got a preview of the Hastings Museum programme today. I show there in September with Telling Stories and they have chosen to use one of my images which felt good.
Anyone watching Grayson Perry?
Interesting I thought that the last programme didn't seem so productive. I wondered if he just hadn't been granted the same access - maybe people wondering if they would be made to look foolish.
Always watchable and refreshingly without 'art bollocks.'
I love listening to his voice..have heard him lecture and have heard it boom across a gallery...such a deep macho voice for a man with an alternative female persona.
Maybe he should record an inspirational CD for all us artists staring out of the studio window at yet another wet afternoon.
Can't believe its the shortest night/ longest day...where is the year going? I had all these ideas for new work, submissions...
# 89 [18 June 2012]
All hung. I took too much work and had to bring some back. Some of my work is quite powerful - in the sense that it appears quiet but deals with difficult stuff. I always think it needs plenty of think space around it.
Space still has plenty in it. Maybe too much.
Solo show - grown up stuff and makes me feel responsible. I have been doing a lot of group shows and collaborations. Here there is no one else to blame!
Plinth painting and labelling tomorrow - so I am curious to know what my initial feeling will be as I enter the gallery space. I am always trying to catch it out so I feel like a visitor would.
Several art centre visitors wandered in today; seemingly unfazed by the ladders and general work in progress. Still, I was happy to let them wander as I wanted to see how they reacted.
Labelling. Always a problem of mine. Don't and it all looks so much more sophisticated and you know that all will approve. Label and you are immediatley in choppy waters. What and how much information?
I have taken the view that this audience; many coming in from the theatre or the cinema will engage and stay, enjoy and take away more if I label some of the work.
So - it was with interest that I watched two visitors today stop at a work called Postcard from Auschwitz.
The installation piece [on a plinth] consists of two cardboard suitcases, inhabited by an uncomfortably large number of moths made from dress pattern fabric - on folded clothes made up from the dress patterns. Amongst this a postcard sent from Auschwitz.
They both paused to read the following:
Postcard from Auschwitz.
The Nazis engaged in many deceptions to deflect rumors and reports regarding the liquidation of the Jews. One such method was named Briefaktion (Operation Mail). Upon arriving in Auschwitz, the victims were required to write postcards or letters to home indicating that their resettlement was fine and they were in good health. All these cards had the same return address: Arbeitslager Birkenau, bei Neu-Berun, Oberschlesien. In contrast to prisoners in other camps, these new arrivals were not registered or given inmate numbers. Shortly after writing these postcards or letters, these individuals were killed.
The couple sought me out. They talked and the woman asked permission to take out the postcard which she then translated into English...the man shook my hand as they left. They were engaged and moved and are coming back for the private view.
I have no doubt that no label would have been no understanding and no engagment in these circumstances.
I am not advocating always labels , but sometimes labels...
The oft heard 'not sure what all that was about' seems such a sad and unecessary comment and makes me feel like a witholding parent. Like a power play.
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My practice has evolved into interdisciplinary project work and I now call myself a multi-media project artist.
My work tends to be underpinned and referenced by memory and memorial; a citation to family members lost in the Holocaust.
It is important to me that within each project I solicit the freedom to be able to choose whichever media will best offer the viewer a multi layered narrative.