‘On Brown & Violet Grounds’

Install Diary

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

DAY 9 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

Today was about those last minute adjustments. I spent the morning at home stapling 100 copies of Jack’s critical text together and printing off the gallery guide.

Then I had the miserable job of sweeping the dirty (probably never-been-cleaned-before) floor of Piccadilly Place – with a dustpan and brush. Yep, idiot West forgot to bring a sweeping broom. So on my knees I cleaning (if you have the image of Cinderella in your mind – it was no where near as glamorous!). Finally I taped down the wires on the floor, scrapped the ugly black-slug cable covers and polished the perspex and mirrors.

Now – the work is up, cables are tied, frames are on the walls, list of works is printed, the essay has been written, video shot and floors swept. All it needs now is you!!!

I will be opening the doors from 1-9pm everyday from 25th September until the 2nd October.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

DAY 8 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

Day 8 of 10 was all about adding the finishing touches to both On Brown and Violet Grounds at Piccadilly Place (Opens TOMORROW – Wednesday 25th) and my studio at Rogue ready for Open Studios (opens Friday 27th).

At Rogue I started by typing out and printing the labels for all the work and then pinning them to the ply table top where all my drawings are laid out in my studio. I have made a separate price list, which is available on request.

Then came a VERY exciting delivery; the documentary film which has been made by Jamie Hyde about my recent practice. With a running time of 11.45mins it is a perfect length to get a full insight into my work.

Everything seemed to be happening today, including the finalisation of a critical text written by Jack Welsh to coincide with the duel exhibition. Visitors will be able to pick up a complimentary copy in both venues. I spent the evening at home printing out the essay and their neat little coloured jackets ready to be stapled together tomorrow.

Monday, 23 September 2013

DAY 7 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

Day 7 of install was all about getting my studio tidy in preparation for Rogue Open Studios which opens on Friday (this week) all continues over the weekend. I must say that I didn’t intend to give it a deep clean – but I feel much better now for doing so!

I moved a few of my storage units and ordered my materials better. I moved my Cornerhouse commissioned work – a 1920’s wardrobe concealing a coloured video work, in order to create more space in the entrance to my studio. It is now nestled in the corner – out of harms way and well wrapped up.

For this years Open Studios I am simply laying out new works-on-paper on a wooden trestle table that have been produced as part of my Arts Council England Grants for the arts funding award. There are two framed works on the outside walls of my studio too, everything is for sale (for the first time EVER).

I have left my studio as it is when I am working in it, no curtains this year! I have left pinned up images on my inspiration wall (you can see below) and not hidden away my wood pile.

My work at Rogue Open Studios acts as duel exhibition to my show at Piccadilly Place. I have never shown works-on-paper so am doing so for the first time, nervously. I use un-conventional industrial and man-made materials, such as: electrical tape, aluminium and mirror in these pieces, which echo many of the materials utilized within my installation work. My two-dimensional explorations are driving new ideas within my practice and signal an important development from the successful colour-drenched Chamber series.

Although not an enthralling blog for day 7 – remember it was Sunday!


‘On Brown & Violet Grounds’

Install Diary

Sunday, 22 September 2013

DAY 6 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

Day 6 of install was super busy and the most productive yet. I systematically went around each work and element of the show to refine and finish it. I started by fixing the banner and hanging it back up. Job done! Lets hope it holds this time…

Next I concentrated on my newest work (the one I talked about in a previous post and the trouble with the cables). We decided to re-make it AGAIN as the black slug of a cable cover interfered with the work too much, so it needed a minor adjustment – all will become clear when you see the piece.

The third work was our next concentration. Without giving too much away, the problem with this piece has been the mass of wires trailing across the space to connect all the light elements. I have been testing this work all week and no configuration looked finished or right. In the end, I started again, repositioned all the cables and moved the work out into the space more.

We ended the day by hanging the framed drawings and lighting them, difficult as I didn’t want the lighting for the drawings to take away from the intense glow created from the installations. Having said that I wanted the drawings to see seen, even when the daylight fades in the evening.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

DAY 5 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

Yesterday was all about cables! An email arrived in my inbox at 9am (before I had got into Piccadilly Place to start work) – turns out the mass of sticklight cables that were entwined in a pile at the foot of one of my works was all too much for the site’s sparky…

He had, in my absence, completely taken apart the whole work, strung up all the cables with cable-ties and put the whole thing back together. At first I was mad! Then I saw what he had done… he had done a rather beautiful job of arranging the work (probably better than my original arrangement actually – although the work was going to be re-made anyway before the show opens). If I had wanted the tightly bound aesthetic then happy days and thank you to the sparky, but alas not! However, it did prove to me that if I was to ever show this piece again elsewhere I could trust someone else to install the work.

I began a debate with the electrician and site safety officer as to what I was allowed to get away with in terms of a pile of cables. It made my chuckle when his answer to the situation was ‘you arty types always want to do something different’… well yes sir, we do! The discussion ended by a compromise – I was allowed to untie the trusts and arrange the wires tastefully how I wanted, as long as they weren’t in a tangled mass (acting like a huge transistor apparently).

It took me most of the day to re-make the whole work, on the fourth attempt I got it right. On the first attempt I realised it was in the wrong spot on the floor. The second attempt collapsed. On the the third attempt the wires didn’t ‘look right’. Fourth time lucky!

In other news, I was able to see how some of the works came into their own when it was getting dark. Above is an example of how the lights in the work bounce around the space and create colour ways and interesting painterly hues on the white walls.

The delight of my day was the framed drawings coming back for the framers in Didsbury. It is the first time I have shown drawings and works-on-paper so I am looking forward to seeing how they work next to the installations and getting some feedback from you guys.

Oh, and just before I left the space, one side of that bloody banner fell down! The bain of my life at the moment. A job for tomorrow?


‘On Brown & Violet Grounds’

Install Diary

Friday, 20 September 2013

DAY 4 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

I started the day painting a plinth I brought with me from my studio at Rogue and positioning a TV on top. This screen will show a newly commissioned video about my practice, my recent Arts Council England funding award and the new works I have been making. The video has been filmed and edited by my good friend Jamie Hyde, who filmed my ‘In Conversation’ as part of my Chroma solo exhibition at BLANKSPACE last July. This short film will also be shown in my studio space as part of Rogue Open Studios – on at the same time as On Brown and Violet Grounds.

I spent a little more time refining and rearranging the new and existing materials I had brought to Piccadilly Place with me. This included a giant mirror that I used in a past work. I may use it in a new piece, but so far it has remained in bubble-wrap:

Another job I had was to touch-up by re-painting my work from Barnaby Festival. While I was in my overalls and with roller in hand I also filled, sanded and painted the walls of the space. I am a real stickler for ‘shit-hot’ walls. It was drilled into me at art school, and for good reason. Beautiful, smooth walls allow there to be no distractions from the work.

The temptation is to hang one of my newly framed drawings on my newly painted walls that I prepared; however the walls will be part of one of my works, brightly reflecting the hues of emitted coloured light.

Colour theory is magic!!!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

DAY 3 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

The first thing I was keen to see upon returning to Piccadilly Place yesterday morning was if the banner was still up. It turns out the sticky hooks I bought did the job and all is well.

Yesterday was all about refining and rearranging what I had laid out and devised the day before. I am literally drawing in the space, moving each element of the installation a foot or two until I am satisfied it works in harmony with the details and feel of the Piccadilly Place unit.

In one particular work, reflections of the ceiling are multiplied when the viewer explores the work and looks into the mirrors laid over the light source. This piece also draws attention to the grimy concrete floor by spreading coloured light outwards onto it. This work was devised from a drawing which I made earlier this summer.

In another work – that I spent a few hours tweaking, the light source is partially covered allowing for a painterly outcome.

The third work has come directly from this years Macclesfield’s Barnaby Festival, where I was commissioned to make a new work through their Arts Council England supported programme. Later in the week I will re-position and re-interpret this piece within Piccadilly Place. So far the three light-boxes have been rewired and plugged in to see how much light they throw out in their new home. It is still to be decided where they will be positioned in the vast space.

The forth and final installation work in ‘On Brown & Violet Grounds’ will take its shape during my 10 day ‘residency’. I have been playing with the sticklights (which make up this piece) making them into different configurations. I am really pleased with how these trials are turning out, but am keeping the outcome a secret, for now!


‘On Brown & Violet Grounds’

Install Diary

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

DAY 2 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

Day two of install was my first full day in the space. Feeling unashamedly undaunted by the space of the empty unit at Piccadilly place I set about arranging my materials. By dropping them in the location where I thought they may be needed would help me start work with a clear mind – albeit an organised one.

I decided to arrange all my sticklights against a wall in order to see the range of colour I had (see above image). Not only did this saturate and illuminate the space – as intended, but gave me a real-life colour chart to pick from when selecting what colours I needed for the installation/light work. As it reached around 5.30/6pm and the light outside became darker, the lights really popped and came into being.

This is exactly why I have decided to open the space to the public on show days from 1-9pm – this will allow people to see how the change in light outside effects the work inside. I would say the best time to come will be early evening.

The biggest problem of the day came in the form of a 13ft banner that I had printed to hang in the most prominent window of the space, hoping that the commuters coming in and out of Piccadilly train station would see. I have to admit that I never thought about reaching the highest point in the tall window to hang the damn thing. After a few inquiries (begging) I found a fellow with a super tall ladder and my worries were seemingly over. I had a wander down to the shops and bought some sticky back hooks to hang the vinyl banner – ideal! It then took a few hours to hang the thing straight and get it looking tidy. Tears were cried…

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

DAY 1 of Install – On Brown and Violet Grounds

Today I hired a large van and drove to Macclesfield to de-install and collect my special commission made for this years Barnaby Festival. It has been in the Grosvenor Centre now for 3 months and seen by over 3000 people. Not bad!

I felt sad and a bit emotional taking it down as I really enjoyed being part of the Barnaby Festival. It was well organised and a pleasure to be part of. I received excellent feedback from other artists, the public and organisers.

I would have been far more upset had I of been taking it apart to go directly into storage. However, instead the work was being packed up and driven to Manchester (by me) to be part of my upcoming solo presentation ‘On Brown & Violet Grounds’ which opens in 10 days time (25th September – 2nd October). My home for the next week (and a bit) will be Piccadilly Place – over the new footbridge as you come out of Manchester’s Piccadilly train station.

I then collected yet more ‘stuff’ from my studio at Rogue in the van – lighting, coloured bulbs, plinths, cables, TV, paint, acrylic sheets, etc ready to be transformed into new work.

I also had a little time to set up some new works-on-paper on my trestle table ready for the Open Studios next week (opens 27th Sept and continues over the weekend). At the end of the day I craved a take-away and had a lovely bath. The delight of install!!!


One Year Since WEYA

Hasn’t time flown?

I can’t believe it was a whole year since 1000 artists (including me) were basking in the Nottingham sunshine.

Although it seems like yesterday, lots of exciting things have happened in the last year for everyone. For Alana and myself it has been especially busy.

Since meeting in Nottingham and returning to ‘normal’ life, we have seen each other regularly and have started a blog together (haveyoureadourblogyet) We began a helpful dialogue about both our practices as and when we need, its so healthy to talk about work in a crit situation; I miss that aspect of Art School.

I felt WEYA brought back that Art School vibe where lots of interesting and ambitious artists being altogether in one place makes for a happy and energetic ambiance. Nottingham was alive with the sound, taste, look and feel of a lively European city. Visual art, music, gastronomy, literature, performance and dance filled the air, enticing passers-by to look further, deeper and dragged them into buildings they might have never explored before. I found it very useful to explore and visit all the galleries, spaces and back streets Nottingham had to offer. As a site-specific installation artist it is imperative to visit said spaces before making proposals or starting conversations with gallerists. I knew of all the larger/council-run galleries and a handful of artist-lead spaces, but I never imagined Nottingham had so much to offer a creative. Bravo!

How I wish we could do it all over again. I regret not having the time or energy (we were EXTREMELY busy indulging in the arts) to talk to more people and possibly start other friendships/collaborations.

Looking back at the past year in reflection always makes me nostalgic. I would never have suspected what was round the corner for me. I was awarded Arts Council England Grants for the arts funding in May. I was delighted to receive money for the research and development of a new body of work: funding my practice for whole year. I have changed the way I work as a result, having a fluid studio-based practice. In May I set myself a challenge to produce a drawing a day, this in turn has helped free my block and allow me to interpret these works-on-paper into sculptural light-works or installations. I will be showing this brand new work at Piccadilly Place, Manchester in my solo presentation ‘On Brown & Violet Grounds‘ (25 September – 2 October) where I will also be exhibiting drawings for the first time next to large-scale sculpture. Further works on paper will be exhibited within my studio as part of this year’s Rogue Open Studios.

I was then invited to make a new site-specific work for this year’s Barnaby Festival, Macclesfield in June. I took over an empty shop unit in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre to create a sensory installation using transparent object to create my largest site-specific installation to date. I positioned found objects on top of red, yellow and blue light boxes all placed within a Perspex museum-like cases, transforming everyday things into new sculptural forms. Finally in October I will be showing new work in Bury Light Night.

During World Event Young Artists Alana installed her solo exhibition at Oriel Davies in Newtown, Wales. Alana was excited to exhibit in Oriel Davies’ testbed space (for new and experimental work) because it is so wonderfully small. She had been looking for a confined space like this for quite a while because she wanted to be able to create a completely immersive experience for the viewer without having to build false walls.

Alana was recently awarded an a-n Magazine re:View Bursary to assist her in pursuing new work. For this she has enlisted the help of Mark Devereux as a mentor and critical aid. (more information about Mark Devereux Projects will follow in a future blog post). In May Alana received an Arts Council of Wales Research and Development Grant to facilitate her ongoing practice. This funded period will result in the making of ambitious new works, pushing Alana’s abilities and allowing her time to question the nature of her work in a wholly positive way.