I am a concpetual artist who makes work about death and religion. I am preoccupied with ideas of mortality and the way this clashes with my atheist beliefs.
It’s open studios at my Yorkshire Artspace studio building this weekend (Exchange Place, Sheffield), and I have a pop-up exhibition called The Sea.
The sea is a subject which I keep coming back to. It fascinates me because it is both beautiful and terrible. I miss the sea when I don’t see it (which isn’t that often, since I probably live at the furthest point in the UK from any coastline!). On holiday I can spend hours just staring at it because it is so perfect and beautiful. Yet I’m also scared of the sea. I don’t swim in it anymore because one day I just lost my nerve for no real reason. It seems terribly unsafe and full of uncertainty.
My interest in the sea goes beyond my own personal relationship with it though. I’m really interested in sailing, and particularly with in 1969 Golden Globe Race to circumnavigate the globe single handed. The stories from the voyages those men made were unbelievable; and before this, my interest extends to the terrible conditions of sailors through time. The terrors endured during a sea crossing are almost beyond comprehension, and the conditions and diseases are a stretch of the imagination for someone like me.
It is these conflicts between perfect beauty and absolute terror that inspire me to make work about the sea. It seems like the closest thing to hell on earth; monsters, myths and a reliance on primitive navigational tools to get you though all contribute. The water itself is an otherworldly landscape which forever shifts and changes, at times strong enough to smash a ship, rising as mountains from nowhere, at other times it is so calm and still that sailors pray for a breath of wind to carry them along. It changes perceptions and creates mirages, and it even glows in the dark!
It is little wonder that sailors cling to their faith and their superstitions.
Come along and see my work, including some pieces which have never previously been exhibited.
You can also find out more about my residency with Bank Street Arts at my studio next door to the exhibition.
Stella Maris, Acrylic on canvas, 2012
This year I’ve been working on an exhibition together with Michael Borkowsky. We were looking for work inspired by computer games, and we decided to set up an open call for submissions. Through social media we appealed for venues, and that’s when Access Space approached us. At Access Space, people interested in art, design, computers, recycling, music, electronics, photography and more meet like-minded people, share and develop skills and work on creative, enterprising and technical projects, and so it seemed the perfect venue for our project. They provided us with flyers and have supported the project.
The open call was advertised in various ways, including through a.n Jobs and Opps, and received lots of submissions, so many that we had to turn around half of the artists who approached us down, many of whom we would love to have included. In fact, the exhibition attracted lots of attention, with many people interested in what we were up to.
As for actually curating the exhibition, we had already made a lot of decisions when deciding which work to short list, due to the restrictions of the exhibition space. This meant that we only had a few minor alterations to make when actually hanging, and everything ran very smoothly.
On the day of hanging, when we finally saw what the work that the artists had sent to us, we were blown away! Although we had seen photographs of the work it’s no substitute for the real thing, and the fantastic quality of everything we have in the exhibition is amazing.
I’ll admit that the idea of a computer games based exhibition is more Michael’s area of interest than mine, although I have always been a casual gamer (and a Nintendo girl). For me, the interest lay mainly in organising the exhibition and running a successful open call. My own piece of work is based on a game called Limbo, which I find stunningly beautiful. In keeping with my own artistic interests, Limbo appeals because of the obvious link with Limbo, or purgatory, in Catholic doctrine. Transposing figures from medieval artwork relating to purgatory, I placed them in the setting of Limbo the game. The piece consists of a glass frame in 3 sections (4 pieces of glass) with acrylic paint and cut tissue paper, to recreate the look of the game. My own work was always been a secondary issue for me however, with the exhibition planning taking priority.
The opening night was a great success, with many people coming to see the exhibition, beyond just those interested in art or games. Curious Machine provided us with some ambient Chip Tune music, and James Holden gave a reading of some poetry he had written especially for the exhibition.
We are really grateful to all of the artists who have sent work to be exhibited in the exhibition, and to everyone who submitted work. We are also grateful to Jake Harries and Access Space for their generosity and support, and to everyone else who has been involved and interested in what we have been up to.
We hope that this will be the first of many exhibitions based on the theme of computers and gaming, and we area already planning another exhibition with a bigger venue for some time next year. If you are interested, or would like to be kept up to date with what we are up to, please get in touch, or visit the website:
Personally, I am now looking at working on another open call, based on my own artistic interest in the sea, for some time next year, so I guess it’s time to start the process all over again.
PLAY! runs until 31st October at Access Space, Unit 1, AVEC Building, 3-7 Sidney Street, S1 4RG, Sheffield.
After working as an artist for the last two years I’m finally beginning to feel that I’m making headway. I recently had some of my work exhibited in Tate Liverpool and Arena Gallery as part of the Liverpool biennial (thanks to Soup Collective), and I’ve been accepted for a residency at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield. But when you stop to think about how hard artists have to work to get on, you realise the amount of passion that you must have to keep going.
For example, I have never earned a penny for all my work; on the contrary, usually, when trying to do anything within the art world, it seems to be the artist who is expected to pay. The reason that I haven’t made any money is partly down to a personal choice: I have chosen to retain my work, rather than to sell it, in order to maintain a body of work for exhibition.
I have a part time job to pay the bills, but the amount of unpaid art related work I do far outweighs the work that goes in to my paid job. I don’t just mean making artwork, I mean the amount of work that goes into promotion, networking, applying for opportunities, developing ideas and collecting or buying materials. Thankfully, my fellow artist and partner Michael Borkowsky and I share the workload when it comes to this other kind of work. Even though we make very different work and rarely collaborate on pieces of artwork, we can really help one another with the networking and promotion side of things.
I’ve also found that I have to plan my life far in advance because of the amount of varied projects that I am currently undertaking. I’m always trying to line up the next opportunity and I’m getting used to the amount of planning involved. It does mean that I haven’t had a holiday this year though, because I hadn’t allowed for a planned break in between all of my projects.
I’m not complaining though, I absolutely love being an artist. For me, it’s more than a job, I feel that it’s a calling. I’m happily in the position at the moment where I am getting opportunities for free, rather than having to pay for them, which is a huge step in the right direction. Perhaps I will even have made some money by this time next year!
You can keep up to date with all of my current projects as they progress on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sharon-Mossbeck/173633476019580?ref_type=bookmark
For a long time I’ve been thinking about the thread of life as a starting point for a project. The thread of life comes from Greek myth, and relates to the three Fates, or Moirai; three women who decide on the destiny of each human being. The first of the Moirai spins the thread, the second allots it (or measures it) and the last cuts it, giving a predetermined lifespan. They are even sometimes said to have supremacy over the gods, deciding the fate of all.
The idea of the thread of life lead me to think about DNA, as the idea relates directly to a thread with elements of predetermination. I have spent a long time thinking about how to move this idea forward, but I have now arrived at a project in which the work will take the form of a cross-stitch pattern. I have designed a simple cross-stitch pattern based on a strand of DNA, which will be available to download so that cross-stitchers can copy it and make their own version. The colour, style, and perhaps even the embellishments are all left to the stitcher to decide. I will invite anyone who wishes to take part to send in their finished pieces to form an exhibition. The idea being that each strand of DNA stitched will be as individual as the person stitching it.
I recently put this idea forward as a residency proposal at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield, and I’m happy to say that they are very interested, and my application will be going ahead.
For my own contribution to the residency I will be designing and stitching a very large scale cross-stitch piece, which I intend to be suspended from the ceiling. I have never worked on a cross stitch of this scale before, and I’m very excited about the challenge. My cross-stitch will again relate to the Moirai, and, although I intend to draw inspiration from an earlier cross-stitch piece of mine entitled Labyrinth (pictured here), I don’t know exactly what form it will take at the moment.
I’m hoping to start my residency later in the year, and I’ll be looking at teaching cross-stitch workshops to help to get the maximum number of people involved in the DNA stitching project. If you would be interested in attending a workshop, or if you would like me to host a workshop as part of the residency at your venue somewhere around the country, please get in touch. You can email me [email protected]