Manchester Contemporary 2012

I was exhibiting at Manchester Contemporary this weekend with Paper Gallery with a selection of Prints for sale: http://www.paper-gallery.co.uk/70879/635532/paper-artists/alice-bradshaw

Manchester based Paper Gallery specialise in artists working with paper in various ways, as their name would suggest, including Contents May Vary co-director Richard Shields who works with used paper cups, as written about here: http://www.corridor8.co.uk/blog/paraphrase

Other artists working with rubbish presented at Manchester Contemporary include Inguna Gremzde who creates tiny paintings inside the used/found plastic lids of milk bottles.


Inguna Gremzde (Axisweb) – Small World (2011) oil paint on found plastic, 4cm diameter

“My current practice explores human and nature relationship. In my artwork I examine different possibilities in interpretation of human alienation from nature by hinting at consumer lifestyle as a probable reason.”

Luca Bertola also paints on everyday plastics, in this instance large sheets of bubblewrap – the material of art transportation – but not necessarily used/found material in this context.


Luca Bertola (Arcade) – Proof 12#06 (2012) oil on bubble wrap, nails

But my favourite work on display was by Susan Collis – an artist who I have long admired for her use of precious materials disguised as broken, discarded or dirtied everyday objects. The work presented by Seventeen Gallery based in London was new to me and resemble bent carpet plates casually placed on the floor of the booth. Unbeknownst to the viewer unless told so, these are actaully carefully crafted gold leafed sculptures that could easily be overlooked as misplaced rubbish.


Susan Collis (Seventeen) – Untitled (2010) aluminium and 18 carat gold leaf, 85 × 3cm

Speaking to the gallery representative, I find out Collis has a solo show very soon at the Bethnal Green HQ – conveniently when I’m in the capital for a conference of artists working in museums at the V&A, so I’ll definitely be visiting in a few weeks time.

Susan Collis – That Way and This, 4 October – 10 November 2012, Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Road, London E2 8AA http://www.seventeengallery.com/

Conference: Artists work in the museum: histories, interventions and subjectivity, 12/13 October 2012, V&A: Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, http://www.vam.ac.uk/whatson/event/1966/artists-work-in-the-museum-histories-interventions-and-subject-3204/


HOARD: Leeds City West 26/09/12

The year long Departure Foundation project I’m participating in HOARD: Towards an archaeology of the artist’s mind has recently moved from an empty warehouse in Birstall to an empty office in Leeds City West Office Park.

The move has meant that the chronological and aesthetic order I had established in the warehouse has had to be dismantled. Combined with the new space being much smaller, these circumstances have prompted a transition into a categorisation phase of my HOARD.

I’ve used material and previous function to categorise the rubbish into piles as follow:

1: Bin bags

2: Cardboard

3: Paper

4: Offcuts (paper)

5: Plastic packaging

6: Plastic & paper bags

7: Offcuts & rags

8: Offcuts (wood)

9: Feathers

10: Toilet roll middles

11: Card

12: Polystyrene packing chips

13: Exhibition material & artists’ cards (l-r):A3, A4, A4 long, A5, A6, A7, business cards

14: Production materials (miscellaneous)

15: Batteries

16: CDs

17: Receipts

18: Medical packaging

19: Medical leaflets

20: Water, juice and beer bottles

21: Wine bottles

22: Bottle tops, wine corks, coffee jars and food wrappers

23: Bags and clothing

We also held a symposium about the project to date and transition from warehouse to office space. We discussed my HOARD as an archive of the now in present tense. It is an archive of my art practice in 2012 and after this calendar year it will become, increasingly over time, a historical document of my art practice in 2012. The transition instigating the categorisation of my HOARD was likened to an audit or similar administrative process.

We discussed the new office space being like a museum vitrine with the large windows (compared to the warehouse with no windows and even more secluded. The new space is in a large office park complex with probably 50% occupancy currently although not much activity near our space.

There’s a plan to produce a book documenting the project and later on nearer the end of the project/year, a public event too.

More about HOARD: http://hoardexhibition.blogspot.co.uk/


Museum of Contemporary Rubbish: Lincoln Collection

A new acquisition was undertaken at Abandoned at the Exit, Lincoln on 19 September 2012.

10 items were acquired, with Acquisition Forms a new feature of the collection process.

The Acquisition Forms ask the following questions:

Please describe the item (Description)

Where did you get this item from? (Origin)

What did you use this item for? (Use)

Why do you no longer have a use for this item? (Discard reason)

Examples are as follows:

Exhibit #0649

Description: Leaf

Origin: The floor

Use: It donated itself to your cause

Discard reason: It looks untidy

Exhibit #0650

Description: Café Nero cup – paper

Origin: Café Nero at Waterstones in the Cornhill

Use: Drinking tea

Discard reason: I finished the tea and it would look untidy in the exhibition

Exhibit #0652

Description: An empty paracetamol blister packet

Origin: Newland Pharmacy

Use: Clearing my headache

Discard reason:All used up

Exhibit #0653

Description: Bottle cap

Origin: Top of beer bottle

Use: Opening the beer bottle

Discard reason: The beer bottle is open and will not need to be re-sealed


Liverpool Biennial: The Medium is the Medium

The event I was in Liverpool for yesterday was an afternoon of discussion on critical writing billed as, “A day of expert debate around why critical writing is important in a mature and thriving arts landscape” curated by The Double Negative in collaboration with the Biennial.


I wasn’t anticipating much rubbish research at this event but did think it’d be useful for thinking about this blog in relation to my research.

Speakers included: Cherie Federico (Director, Aesthetica Magazine), Edgar Schmitz (Co-director of A Conversation in Many Parts with Lisa le Feuvre and Senior Lecturer in Critical Studies at Goldsmiths), Rachael Jones (Freelance Writer and Social Media Manager) and Miranda Sawyer (Journalist).

Interesting stuff, particularly from Edgar and Miranda, each approaching the subject from widely different perspectives and styles. The fundamentals of why people write, for who, as well as what is criticality and for what (contemporary) purpose, was brought to the surface and this could easily have been a full day conference to really dig deep into these questions.

What was especially useful to this research is Aesthetica had provided delegates with a free copy of their current August/September 2012 issue in a lovely The Double Negative tote bag. One of the articles Defining the Territory looks at the first large-scale survey of land art at MOCA, LA “End of Earth: Land Art to 1974” which led me on to think about rubbish in relation to the movement; a movement defined largely by human relation to the earth and the introduction of man-made elements.

Initially what might seem a tangential line of thought, the traditions of land art and the art historical context might be quite considerable. Richard Long’s practice, for example, of walking in the landscape and collecting/moving found materials could be paralleled with the notion of rubbish collection in urban or rural settings. Many “land art” artists work with the temporal nature of the landscape and thus have a particular perspective on materials and permanence that may be of interest when thinking about rubbish in the landscape.

Vik Muniz previously mentioned for his 2010 film Waste Land is listed on wikipedia as a contemporary land artist. The techniques he uses in the portraits assembled from found/discarded materials bears some resemblance to land art. Furthermore, the materials used in the portraits featured in Waste Land, are sourced from the landscape of huge garbage heaps.



Another Aesthetcia Magazine find is a listing in 10 to See: Recommended Exhibitions this Season (p.25) at number 10: Gabriel Orozo – Asterisms at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, until 21 October 2012.

Comprising thousands of items of detritus the artist has gathered at two sites—a playing field near his home in New York and a protected coastal biosphere in Baja California Sur, Mexico, that is also the repository for flows of industrial and commercial waste from across the Pacific Ocean.


Sandstars (2012) is particularly of interest, baring such a close resemblance to the Museum of Contemporary Rubbish. “This monumental sculptural carpet of nearly 1,200 objects is accompanied by twelve large-scale gridded photographs of images of the individual objects in a studio setting.”


Liverpool Biennial: Thresholds: The Unexpected Guest

Yesterday I was back at the Biennial getting annoyed with the exhibitions programme. It doesn’t list venue opening times, doesn’t list many exhibitions at the venues it does briefly list but above all annoyances advertised both weekend events I’ve been to so far as starting at 12 whilst they have actually started at 1pm and 2pm. Neither did the web booking system say otherwise when I booked yesterdays’ event, and Camp & Furnace (previously A Foundation) is quite a way out from anything else.

So, annoyed, I stomped down to the docks to see if Tate Liverpool could cheer me up. The Biennial show there is a considerably themed and interpretation panel orientated exhibition justifying why this selection of Tate’s collection has been brought out for this year’s Biennial theme of The Unexpected Guest. The enthusiastic staff pounce on you at any given opportunity to check if you’ve read the texts on the walls and offer you more support to using your eyes to encounter what’s on display.

Anyway, irritants aside, I did find some rubbish of note:

Keith Arnatt – A.O.N.B. (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) (1982-4)


Arnatt photographs landscapes in black and white which show traces of human existence, seemingly no longer present. Dereliction, abandonment and decay, from dilapidated monumental buildings to bent signposts to strewn rubbish, are presented against a backdrop of designated sites of natural beautiful.

Sophie Calle – The Hotel (1981)




Sophie Calle’s monumental The Hotel series also deals with traces of human life and closely examines the private object arrangements of guests at the hotel she temped at. In each text describing the scenes she encountered, she concludes with the date and description of what the guests leave behind on their departure.

Thomas Hirschhorn – Drift Topography (2003) http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hirschhorn-drift-topography-t11885

Hirschhorn’s sculpture is made with cardboard, foil, paper and plastic bound together with tape in a roughly assembled box structure. The cardboard cut out figures of soldiers face inwards apparently guarding a landscape card box packaging and detritus of capitalism.

Jimmie Durham – Dans plusieurs de ces forêts et de ces bois, il n’y avait pas seulement des villages souterrains groupés autours du terrier du chef mais il y avait encore de véritables hameaux de huttes basses cachés sous les arbres, et si nombreaux que parfois la forêt en était remplie. Souvent les fumées les trahissaient. Deux de… (1981)


Durham’s long-titled sculptural composition from discarded materials is mentioned because of the use of found materials re-contextualised into an anthropomorphic machine-like creature. The proposition that these materials have not only a second life as art but also a second history as this contraption connote Jean Bennett’s earlier discussed theory of “thing power.”

There is also a sculpture show on at Tate Liverpool and having just started to read Gillian Whiteley’s Junk: Art and Politics of Trash (2011, I B Tauris & Co Ltd), I was interested to see examples of the scrap-metal genre of junk art she notes in her introduction as not covered in her book are on display in this show. Specifically two of the three artists Whiteley cites (Richard Stankiewicz, John Chamberlain and César) are featured in this exhibition, with no other rubbish related works of note.

John Chamberlain – Kora (1963) painted steel http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/chamberlain-kora-t01094

César (César Baldaccini) – Three Compressions (1968) painted steel http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/cesar-three-compressions-t01052

Both works on display are made from crushed cars. César’s simply selected industrially compressed car and Chamberlain’s sculpted in a more abstract expressionist manner.

Stankiewicz (not in the Tate collection) tended towards more figurative scrap metal sculpture which could now quite easily find itself defined as kitsch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stankiewicz