My practice encompasses installation, object making and live art as well as projects and teaching.  In June 2015 I moved to Enköping (“Sweden’s nearest town”) where I have my studio and also work as cultural pedagog for the council.  Whenever I can I continue as assistant to Scandinavia’s only plume-maker with fantastic creations for theaters and private clients!

Your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated – thank you

www.stuartmayes.com

#stuartmayesstudio on Instagram


2 Comments

Tomorrow Husets Kropp (The Building’s Body) opens. The building is called Källör and is in the small costal resort of Östhammar, it was built in 1885 as a complement to the hot and cold bathing houses and the English park that already existed. It was the place for summer visitors to hold parties, dances and other social activities. From the 1920s it served as a school during the winter months eventually becoming a school the year around until 2005 when it was abandoned. In 2012 a local group convinced the council to let them take it over rather than it be demolished. This very active group of local people are gradually restoring the building to its former glory, and at the same time they are hiring it out for events, parties, weddings and now an art exhibition.

 

I mention this because my piece refers to the history, well the more recent history. Amongst the old black and white photographs of early visitors and the royal visit in 1907 that are dotted about the building I spotted a much more modern though still rather ’dated’ looking colour photo. It looked to be from the 1980s and showed the interior  when a nursery school used the premises. This image stuck with me and after working through several other ideas it suddenly struck me what I should do.

A couple of years ago someone gave me two large boxes of children’s films on vhs video tape. They had seen photographs of Play and thought of me when they came across the stash of videos during a clearing out a store room in the school where he works. The boxes have been taking up space in my studio since then as I did not immediately know what to do with them. I like to have a reason or justification for my choice of material, and children’s films were always going to take a while to work with – to work out what to do with.

So my work in the show is an installation made with the magnetic tape from those video films in the room where the photograph was taken in the 1980s. I like the circularity of films from a school being used in another building that had been a school. I like that the photograph that stuck with me was from the 1980s – the height of videos popularity. I like that film itself is not visible on the tape but it is there, in a similar way to the history of the school being there but also not being visible.

 

The form of the installation is a little maze-like, people are invited to walk through it. By doing so they will experience different aspects of how the piece hangs in the space. There are places where the visitor will be surrounded by the tapes, places where they will glimpse the sea outside the building, and places where they will catch sight of works by other artists in the adjacent room.

The material is black and glossy, it shimmers in the light. It is highly reflective, and can make patterns that simulate bight sun falling on rippling water. Standing where I can see both the installation and the water just beyond the windows I start to think about how the inner and outer landscapes complement each other: the sea’s horizontal ripples matched by the tapes vertical fluttering, the dark of the magnetic bands balancing the pale tones of the water.

Over six months have passed since our first site visit to Källör. Back in February it was bitterly cold and the ground was covered in snow. Wednesday was a brilliant and warm summer’s day and we enjoyed lunch outdoors in the cool shade of the building. I am very pleased with how my piece, ’Lek’ (Swedish for play), looks. Tomorrow I will find out if other people like it.

 

 

 

 


1 Comment

Listened to final installment of Derek Jarman‘s Modern Nature – Radio 4’s book of the (last) week.  I was struck by how it ‘just ended’ – no conclusion, no resolution, no signing off … but of course that is exactly how Jarman’s diaries ended.  A life cut short by a terrible illness – something that I recognise only too well.

 

I listened to the episode twice to make sure that I had not missed something – an editor’s postscript providing the date of Jarman’s death or something else that ‘closed the book’. Radio silence that followed Rupert Evert’s reading was so poignant, so moving – a truly brilliant piece of radio.

 

In those silent seconds I experienced surprise, shock, anger, disappointment, loss, and sadness.  Then came that warm sorrow that accompanies my thoughts of John, Vikki, James, Francois, Peter, Kathy, Jane.

 

The copy of Modern Nature that sits on my bookshelf was Vikki’s.  We visited Dungeness together, it was after Jarman had died.  It was, and hope still is, a special place.

 

I think that it might be a good time to watch Jarman’s film again.


0 Comments

Why glitter: a response (not least for Elena)

 

Elena’s comment on my previous blog and responses from the artists’ statement writing peer support group have promoted me to examine my attraction to, and use of, glitter. Here are pretty much spontaneous thoughts and ideas around my relationship to my material of choice:

It is a material of the dis-enfranchised – children, drag-artistes, the poor

Reflects fractured image/multitude of images, collects images and light indiscriminately.
Does not attempt to collate, order images/light rather allows/celebrates individual aspects while simultaneously being a single surface – multi-facetted – literally.

celebratory
ritual
distracts/attracts the eye
showy, flashy, brash, camp, cheap, aspirational, referential (jewels)

apes/mimics nature:
water
stars
snow/ice
mica/crystal
heaven/earth

macro/micro

Ingenuity to produces something such as glitter – history

Glitter is a material of the poor and disenfranchised, despite occasional appearances as a seasonal trend, an ironic trace of kitch or a knowing nod to camp, its permanent home is amongst children, drag-artistes, second-rate cabaret venues, amateur dramatic groups.

It is the stuff that speaks to aspirations of glamour and riches in nameless suburban housing estates. Purchased in modest quantities in limited colours from newsagents, and since their demise supermarket chains and discount warehouses offering look-a-like brands at a fraction of the price.

It is the stuff of the slightly more expensive bargain boxes of fifty assorted Christmas cards whose envelopes have the quality of newspaper.

It is the stuff primary school teachers bring out to spread delight on rainy autumn afternoons.

It is the stuff left behind with tattered feathers of boas the morning after the excitement of Pride and hen-parties.

It is the stuff of ambition
… of resourcefulness
… of stoicism
… of desperate resistance to greyness
It defies adversity
It offers affordable hope
It gives relief from the tedious and the mundane

 

Glitter is the stars in the gutter* – it collapses distance and offers immediate, if fleeting, comfort to those of us who are too often denied it.

 

*We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan.

 

[I wrote this post in early May but neglected to post it at the time as I was caught up in work, trips, and meetings … ]


1 Comment

I am faced with a moral dilemma: glitter, my material of choice, is ethically (and environmentally) unsustainable.

 

Immanent glitter ban

 

I love glitter but have become increasingly aware that it is at odds with my commitment to recycling, my preference for organic food, my using environmentally friendly cleaning products, my sourcing as much as possible from charity and second-hand shops. Glitter has been my guilty pleasure.

Now though I wonder if I can continue using the wonderfully sparkly pvc glitter jewels that feature in so much or my recent work. While I enjoy the discussions provoked by various interpretations of my installations and sculptures – indeed the interactions between me, my materials, and the audience are the artwork – I do not want actively damaging the environmental to be part of the conversation.

A little research has shown that while the current bio-glitter is perfect for cosmetics and even baking it fails to replicate traditional glitter’s visual allure and qualities that are essential to what I do with it.

 

It seems my glittery days are numbered …

 

 

 

 


1 Comment

 

It is the final weekend for M. On Monday morning I shall drive a hire van over to Uppsala and with the help of Henny, the Art Cube’s artistic leader, pack it up and bring it back to Enköping. It suddenly struck me that I could recreate it at Glitter Ball over the Easter weekend when we might be having Open House at the studios. That could be good fun and give people here the chance to see it (-thank you blog, without you I might not have made that connection)!

 

Being invited to show in the Art Cube has been great. Not only has it introduced me to a range of new people in Uppsala, it has also enabled me to try new materials and ways of working – some of which I will pursue and some of which I may not. The two days installing in the cube itself reminded me how much I enjoy working in specific spaces and creating things in conjunction with particular physical environments. This afternoon at the studio I continued sketching out ideas for a piece Östhammar this summer. I am one of five artists invited to make new work to be shown in a Victorian era community Hall in the coastal and summer resort in the north of the county. To call it a community hall is not quite right but there is no easy translation or term in English as the concept of the societetshus is peculiarly Swedish. It was a venue for afternoon tea, dining and dancing, as well as for playing games and sports. They were often build on the coast where there was bathing in the summer months, and the building themselves were usually financed and run by the town’s regular summer guests – those with summerhouses in the area. The building in Östhammar has recently returned to being run by an association of local residents after years of ownership (and neglect) by the council. We will be exhibiting there for three weeks from the being of September.

 

Through a process of sketching, looking at the photographs that I took there on a ’study visit’ and period photos, and thinking about M I am going to try out some more abstract installation ideas than I had initially thought of. Until today I had been thinking about making sculptural work to place on and around furniture in the glassed in veranda. The veranda is in desperate need of restoration, as are the two floors above it, however this will not happen before out show and it is therefore one of the rooms where we can fix things directly to the walls and ceiling. Having hung camouflage net from the ceiling of the Art Cube, and remembering Play, I am interested to explore possibilities of working on the ceiling at Källör.

 


0 Comments