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By: Clare Maynard
This project is based on journeys in Berlin and Wales, supported by the Arts Council of Wales,the final exhibition is to be shown during 2011 at arts centres in Wales and later in a government building central Berlin, Germany.
I was interviewed by Wales based writer and editor -Jane Macnamee.
# 42 [15 June 2011]
The only sheet music I could find yesterday to start the template on which to write poetry was, oddly enough, a 'Bach, Minuet in C' . Drawing the music was interesting because I realised I hadn't done this since I was at school. I remember the difficult experience of trying to get the curves of a treble cleft properly. I think I've improved since then!
The poetry is to be written in between the lines-but I think I'll copy the sheet as A3. I've decided to use tiny bulldog clips with which to hang the sheets at different points throughout the show. but with enough space in between them.
The lines of poetry are quite urban so it'll be hopefully an interesting contrast with the flow of the visuals of the music. It'll be in English and German and I would also like to add some lines of a Welsh poem.
# 41 [13 June 2011]
Sometimes wish I'd created a blog for Memory of Snow, which seems a while back now. I was thrown back into that atmosphere in Wales the other evening when a huge hail storm arrived. I could do a retrospective blog one day.
Back to this project-the ministry organiser in Berlin has suggested I display some lines of poetry alongside the project images.... I had in fact written quite a lot while in Berlin so have some material to hand. Thinking of a way to display which isn't the usual print on blank white board so this morning got inspired in the stationary shop and found a book of blank sheet music, I asked them to photocopy some pages for me, the idea being to write the poetry in the spaces...how this will develop I don't know -but it's fun.
# 40 [8 May 2011]
The exhibition 'Memory of Light' is now up in the arts centre gallery in Brecon. It's a fairly large space so I was able to fit in more than I expected.
I must say a big Thank you to the technicians and other staff in both arts centres for their positive approach and for getting the work neatly onto the walls in a few hours.
A bit of synchronicity in that part of the Berlin Philharmonic are playing there soon so they will see photographs of home!
Next stop- posting it all to Berlin in early June.
# 39 [11 April 2011]
In terms of much longer periods of time in Berlin you are more likely to integrate quickly with artist groups if you can speak and read some German- it sounds obvious at first but very true, it can affect your immediate experience of the city as an artist seeking contacts or events because if you can read the publicity (and there's a lot of it!) of events which occur daily you can see if its relevant to your genre.
As a 'visiting artist' without fluent German I remain outside of certain situations, this can feel somewhat limiting after a few weeks. Arriving from another culture though can have great advantages as was proved when my project was accepted to be shown in a public/governmennt space.
When it comes to offering your artwork to the mix of the international cultural sphere in Germany it feels very comfortably accepted, as though it is no great effort for people to help you. Particularly in the realm of public art, but certainly not exclusively.
Most Germans speak English, but not all, it's not difficult to communicate and make friends, but the real key to settling and working anywhere abroad longer term is to have a grip on the language and the ability to work with the depth of culture and cross culture which this brings, this can be a very rich experience and it is particularly important with local neighbourhood groups, seminars and lectures. and workshops, it depends what you're looking for.
Joining a 'collective' of international artists is a very good way of finding out more about the wider art scene and also for making further contacts.
Having a part time job to support your practice as an artist here even on a casual basis requires some German, there is no doubt of that.
With regard to language and work, English has been viewed and used in business for a good while now as the 'business language' and you hear this when walking through any European citiy. If two or more people don't speak each other's language they will converse in English. Many German organisations are moving into a bilingual sphere with this in mind, with on-line publicity and with some printed matter in the arts becoming more commonplace.
For the resident German artist there are well structured organisations for the profession (BBK for example) But like other European countries many artists work part time in a variety of jobs, casual or otherwise to support their practice.
It's worth exploring the web for oppotunities in Europe, this page from the Trans- Arts site has often given me ideas and prompted me to contact people who work here in Berlin
Also helpful is the BBK artists archive if there is a view to collaborate or find contacts generally in Germany. It is in German but it's not difficult to navigate.
# 38 [10 April 2011]
I have learnt some practical things about working in Berlin as a visual artist....
I am still a visiting artist because I am a UK resident staying in Berlin for short periods of time to re-connect with my projects.
I am currently without a studio because I'm trying to catch up on finances but the good thing about the city is the wealth of temporary studio space which can be used fairly immediately with a decent affordable rent. The same goes for temporary accommodation and some organisations focus on temporary living space for visiting artists.
There are plenty of public instituions to view art or to do research. It is an inexpensive city to move about in, especially good for cycling which cuts down on travel expense considerably.
There are plenty of commercial galleries and art fairs so it's just a case of going around and talking to people and arranging visits to galleries with a portfolio.
An alternative to the gallery space is the cafe space or empty space which is popular here both for selling work and for having wall space for group projects. Berlin is big enough for plenty of land art, and performance outside.
There are thousands of artists of all genres in Berlin alone and lively arts scenes in most areas (neighbourhoods) which you can dip into- whatever suits your practice. There is a lot of international scope and activity here.
In Berlin opportunities are vast for intellectual and cultural life- it has a rich history with music and theatre as well so the visual arts can cross over into these spaces.
a couple of useful links in english (you may have to click on the english icon at the top right of the pages.)
# 37 [25 March 2011]
The exhibition moves on Monday to storage and then later to Brecon. I'm not moving it this time, I have someone to help, which is a relief. It's been quite tricky to organise transport and the timing of things especially as I don't own my own vehicle now. Too expensive.
A lot of emails are back and forth about moving this show and preparing for Brecon where I will use a community car share scheme to borrow a car to get there and put it all up again in late April. It's been quite a long winded process and will ease off when the whole lot is posted to Berlin after June. I am already discovering that photographs are far easier to transport about than individual large paintings. I can see the beauty of being a perfomance artist, not too much to carry! but I'm sure I never will be one so never mind! I still write sometimes and it feels weirdly low maintenance but also more isolating than being out there doing exhibitions, I sometimes wonder how writers cope with that internal life.
It was really nice to have someone offer to write a review and I'm pleased with her interpretation of it all- it makes me feel more connected as does this space here.
# 36 [6 March 2011]
Review of 'Memory of Light'
There is a quote that has stuck with me from Peter Brook’s seminal book on theatre, The Empty Space. In it he explains his ‘acid test’ for the success or failure of performance: for in theatre, ‘when a performance is over, what remains?’ He argues that a play contains a central image – a silhouette – which ‘scorches on to the memory an outline, a taste, a trace… a kernel'.
Clare Maynard’s Memory of Light is the artist’s second collection in a trilogy on memory. Like her earlier 2008 project Memory of Snow, this exhibition draws on the artist’s experiences of travelling around Europe, Africa and her native Wales. Memory of Light combines oil paintings and photographs, with both mediums used to convey a powerful sense of transition: of moving on.
Like Brook, Maynard’s work explores the act of remembering. When a journey is over, what remains? The pieces in this collection work like Brook’s ‘traces’: walking from one to the next, you can’t help but feel that these are raw, distilled images snatched from the windows of trains and cars, little ephemeral pieces of landscape – light, colour, shape – captured in passing. But more than that: these are not places as they are, but rather how they seem to be. These are places that scorch themselves on the artist’s mind as she passes them by, and this in turn is how we access them: through the lens of her memory.
The paintings especially convey a dreamlike, breathless quality, with the landscape often bleached of colour or buried by snow. There are moments of astonishing colour, like the alien blue in Eco House by the River, Berlin, or the green and red splashes of her best work, The Stillness of the Forest. The paintings are cleverly contrasted with the photography, more intricate portraits which depict both the oddities and mundanities of life. Whether the subject is old paint on a wall, a busy urban street, a footprint in the snow, or life-sized plastic dinosaurs tipped on their backs in an abandoned park, the artist manages to render the ordinary surprising, and the surprising fantastically ordinary. All in all, this is an intelligent and thoughtful project which made me want to go outside and take in the world as Clare Maynard sees it: magical, fleeting, and full of light.
# 35 [4 March 2011]
Pictures at an exhibition.
The final photographs were in fact a lot more complete than I imagined.
Someone said that they thought they would be much nearer to background painting reference.
People noticed small things happening within the images. I overheard some people talking about the photographs, on the opening night, about the figure behind the swans, the bit of graffiti on a dinosaur and the pattern of snow on a car bonnet.
I had to do quite a bit of balancing which paintings to show alongside the photos in the final putting up of the show, the end result is fairly light and works visually well.
Being away from the exhibition itself now it'll be interesting to see what people write in the visitors book at the end.
# 34 [7 November 2010]
Aeroplane trails and wind turbines early in the morning, Germany.
# 33 [5 November 2010]
Two more possible photographs for this project in its final weeks.
One shows the vast collection of fish species in jars, in a refrigerated room in the natural history museum, Berlin.
Clare Maynard is a Wales based artist who is currently exhibiting internationally.
Her previous project Memory of Snow was based on the Czech Republic and Welsh landscape through overland travel during the winter, and was exhibited in mid -Wales and in Berlin.
She has focused mainly on painting with various journeys informing her work over a period of time.