After a couple of months being away from art by working hard over summer to earn some money, as I’m sure most university students do. I wanted to immerse myself in art again so I decided to plan a trip to London to get myself thinking. I looked into what exhibitions were open first and went from there.
London Analogue Festival, Bargehouse Gallery
I started where I last spent time curating, making and displaying art, the Bargehouse is where my first show with my fellow artists as graduates took place, an amazing experience which you can read about here.
The work that I was most excited by was Camera Obscura by Yaz Norris, a room on the top floor had been completely blacked out except a small hole in the window. When you walk in you can barely see anything but after sitting for about 5 minutes you begin to see the London skyline, upside down. It was amazing, I spent a good 15 minutes in there with one of the volunteers invigilating, he told me about what he had seen in the silhouettes while being there. I think having him there to show me the London eye and various other buildings, really made it special because I could tell how enthusiastic he was about the piece as well.
Another piece that stood out was the Record Player Orchestra, a group who had created soundtracks on record turntables. One of the artists from the group was inviting the audience to create new pieces of music by showing people how to use them, I was there with a couple of German guys who knew more than I did about music so we created some recordings together.
Enrique Freaza had two pieces that I was interested in, the first was Fictional Recall, a collaborative project based on resurrecting forgotten memories after going to a flea market and buying a bag of super 8 film. By writing first person stories to accompany the film, the aim was to give value to these orphaned photographs, this project really interested me as it is something I also did but with still images at university. It was interesting to see it done with film. Secondly the Bacteria series, where the artist used the same chemical process responsible for the rotting of meat to cause deterioration in the photographs. The artist describes this as “a superficial definition of identity and the rotten picture as an index to nature. The series proposes the discussion of a person’s fragility and transience.” I thought this work again reflected a process that I am interested in with regards to identity and how it changes with age.
Nicole Ragan’s work All Our Love is another piece about memory that interested me, the distorted photographs were created in a darkroom and represent the warped way we recall memory as well as the loss created in this process. When I researched Ragan to find out more about this work, I found her other series Beyond the Family Album another work about memory. Finding another artist interested in phototherapy and experimenting with her work in such a different way to how I have been, is always an inspiration.
Beneath a series of photographs by Aliki Komps was a quote that I took note of because for me it was as much a part of the work as the photographs.
“Not the Perfect Square
For me, photography can both record and stir something in our sense of being. Film unhides. It reveals. I value the imperfections that it is organically capable of exposing. These imperfections ruffle me, ground me and allow me a space to catch a glimpse of the real. And real can sometimes be imperfect and unsettling. Film has room to capture this in one moment. And this imperfection is lived.”
Aliki Komps is an Australian artist whose work covers a cross disciplinary background in psychology and philosophy, it still amazes me that upon further research into the work I am most drawn to has roots in what I want to explore.
There were four other artists who’s work really interested me;
Ralph Whitehead’s ‘Technicolor Dreams‘, a series of images with neon lights which he has also made into a book. On the ‘about’ section on his website I particularly like the first line: ‘We all look at the same world. Yet we all see something different. This website is about how I see it.‘
Christophe Beaucourts light painting called ‘So Low‘, shows a figure sat on the sofa watching TV. I found the work quite amusing, the way he elevates the mundane through use of light and I have managed to find more of his work online.
Helen Peart’s series of darkroom prints titled ‘Nothing but Light’, I was drawn to reminiscing about when I worked with analogue photographs and the process that she had gone through to get the final outcome was so perfect, they really amazed me.
And finally, Sam Tibi’s ‘The Waiting Crowd’, I couldn’t find it online and there was no website listed at the Bargehouse but the photograph was of what I believe to be waterloo station. Around a hundred people looking up at the boards patiently, the honesty of the photograph is what I think I liked most, especially as I knew I would be doing the exact same later on.
10 Empty Boxes, The Vaults
I had never been to or heard of the vaults until I was researching exhibitions to go to in London. It is through a ‘graffiti allowed’ tunnel just underneath waterloo station, and walking there alone, not exactly 100% sure of where I was going made me pretty nervous. When I then saw a metal sculpture of a blimp with neon writing saying ‘Art and Ting’ I laughed to myself and suddenly felt a lot more relaxed. You enter into a small dark room with what seemed to be a little coffee bar at the back and in the centre was Alex Tyrrell’s work. The interactive audio installation was presented on a stack of pallets and invited you to come up and open up the boxes. I think this exhibition would have been better if I had visited with a couple of other people as being alone with just a few people in the corner chatting and drinking coffee, I felt like I didn’t want to disturb them, but I hadn’t come down to this exhibition not to interact! The boxes contained surreal pieces I of audio that together could have created an unnerving environment but as was only able to open two at once, I was more focused on trying to understand the sounds, how they were made and what they could become together.
Summer Exhibition, Castle Fine Art
Another gallery I hadn’t been to before but glad that I discovered as I was immediately amazed at the beautiful mixed media piece that was on display in the window. The work was by acclaimed photographer Raphael Mazzucco and the accompanying text there was a beautiful quote from him:
“I feel that life is a circle, it’s a journey that always ends back at home, Montauk is where I live, and where I create most of my work. I draw a lot of inspiration from my surroundings and love being in the moment; but even if the work is photographed in the remotest location, the journey always comes full circle back to my home, back to Montauk, and my paint covered floors.”
Whether it is because I have moved a lot over the past 4 years or the fact that a lot of my work circles back to what I care about most, I thought it was a beautiful quote that matched the beauty in his work. The photographs don’t do the work justice but can at least give you an idea of his work.
Dan Lane, aka Mechanica, displayed some absolutely amazing sculptural metal pieces crossing both beautiful and dark at the same time. To accompany his work he had a leaflet that I took away with me that showed detailed photographs of his work and the more you look, the more you see. He explains that each piece of work can take countless hours as it is the result of months of searching, collecting, arranging and rearranging parts .
Frédéric Daty’s sculptures of environments made out of metal also blew me away, skylines turned into a bird’s eye view. Yet again the photographs do the work little justice, when seen in person you get a real depth perception of the work and when the light hits the work just right, the shadows echo the beautiful detail of the metal cut out, right down to his signature.
Juliana Manara’s light hearted fantasy prints really made me smile, on the front cover of the takeaway booklet for the summer exhibition is her piece The Arrival of Spring, another piece of work where the more you look the more you see. At first glance it looks like falling petals, but looking closer you can see figures; jumping, sitting, dancing or whatever you want to imagine. The fantasy really comes to life, which is echoed in her interview with Castle Fine Art online. She discusses how she imagines what she would be doing in the image and how her audience can connect with her work through their own experiences.
Béa Kayani had a couple of pieces in this exhibition, but the piece that really struck me was All Eyes Are On You, a multimedia photographic piece that almost sends you into a dream. The more you look at it the more you begin to see figures, faces or animals, her other pieces were more architectural and I think this piece just overshadowed them all.
Chris Parks’ work caught my eye as I was drawn to the colour, energy and movement but I couldn’t work out how they had been made. At first I thought maybe they were light paintings, but the colours merged too subtly and looked almost like silk in water. The booklet explains his process as “using mixed media within a liquid medium, he creates microscopic, moving fluid paintings which continually change and develop until the moment is right, at which point he captures them through the use of photography.” It is amazing to know that because these works have captured the attention of Hollywood movie directors!
Christy Lee Rogers’ photographs of people underwater are both beautiful and unnerving at the same time. The softness of the print makes them look almost like a painting and with the elegant dresses and vibrant colours it’s almost like a magnificent ball underwater. But accompanied by the inability to see the subjects’ facial expressions and the knowledge that they are underwater is what makes it unnerving by encouraging thought about the fragility of life.
With this being the First World War centenary year, and the poppies in the moat of the tower of London, Scarlett Raven’s work Poppies and Roses stands out even more so. It is hard not to be moved by fields of poppies that represent not only the bloodshed but also hope in the light of new growth after such a traumatic event, this makes her work particularly emotive. She has also gifted one of her paintings from the series The Eleventh Hour to be auctioned off for the Royal Legion.
Mark Powell’s bic biro drawings show immense detail, he recycles old maps and documents as his canvas to create these realistic portraits. His work was particularly emotive because of the detail in the eyes and wrinkles of the subject.
Overall I was really inspired after visiting Castle Fine Art Gallery and I would definitely go again. There was also a projection showing a film of various work from the exhibition and how it was made including behind the scenes of some photo-shoots by Miss Aniela.
Disobedient Objects, Victoria and Albert Museum
Unsurprisingly the museum was absolutely packed with visitors, so much so that you had to queue to see each piece of work and even when you got to it you would have people pushing you out of the way to get in front. I felt unable to focus and didn’t spend much time visiting but hope I get the chance to go back.
Test Signal, Hotel Elephant
This exhibition was one of the main reasons I went to London; a fellow graduate from Winchester School of Art, Matilda, had just graduated from Goldsmiths in her MA of computational arts. Unfortunately, I struggled to find the gallery and when I eventually did, some of the work was already being taken down. The pieces I did get to see were amazing!
Matilda’s work stood out as soon as I walked in, she had created a structure that displayed an ever-changing view of the sky. On further research, I found out that it is also ‘influenced by people viewing and interacting with the installation via depth data from a Kinect’ which I thought was really clever.
In a corner of the gallery was a makeshift corridor; on entering there is a low rumbling sound, which changes while you are inside to something I can only describe as sonic waves. Angie Fang’s Under the Water really makes you feel just that, along with the sound she has used dry ice to show the laser above creating another ceiling, as though you are under water. I revisited this piece again before I left because the atmosphere was so amazing.
Alexander Brigden’s piece, GAIT/GATE was really fun! Walking through another corridor you hit three ‘gates’ of speakers, as you walk through a Kinect analyses your gait to create a personal, musical composition. It was a completely different interactive experience, to anything I have been to.
The final piece I was able to take note of while it was still up and running, was Matthias Moos’ The Purest of all Sounds, an audiovisual performance of a ‘hologram-like projection as a result of the combination between image and sound.’ It was mesmerizing to watch, although the sound was sometimes difficult to listen to.
Overall I wish I had come to this exhibition earlier in the day to see it fully, but I was still amazed by what I saw!