Time: 21.45 pm
Mood:In limbo and over-ripe..
So in my last post I spoke about getting out and seeing some art, and indeed I did! Towards the end of last week I met up with my friend from university and together we visited Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, The Ikon and some small galleries in town. Everything we saw was very different; from what I would call the ‘fine art’ of the New Art West Midlands exhibition, to what I’d call the ‘commercial art’ of a gallery we visited in the ICC building by the REP theatre.
I have also made a definite start on a new portrait for my new studio practice. Although it’s still in its early stages I’m pleased with it so far. However I am feeling very much in limbo this week, neither here nor there. I am currently looking for part time (and hopefully creative) work so I am able to work on my new studio practice without pressure. However no luck as yet, and time is already flying so fast – as we’re nearly into March already. I am still at the handmade shop in our city centre and will still have to work and exhibit there until I find work – although I have not spoken to any other colleagues about leaving.
Everything feels very over-ripe to me at the moment. I want to mostly let go of my old artwork that is currently on display there and I know that I need to leave and move on – and feel like I cannot move forward until let go of certain things. I feel It would be best for me to leave this shop – as I have said before it is not the right place for art, and many of my artist friends agree. I also do not want the pressure of selling there, or the stress of working there at the moment. So I hope to find a part time job soon. I will talk more about my latest portrait in the next post too! This post will mainly be about what I saw whilst out and about in Birmingham!
New Art West Midlands:
This was a great exhibition that I really enjoyed. I have to say many pieces tackled the ongoing problems of social media (like the blue piece above) which I was really happy to see. There were pieces that talked about out ‘mindless scrolling’ and being constantly ‘plugged in’ to Facebook etc. One piece from artist Jess Eburne involved a transcript of what appeared to be two robots discussing us ‘homanids’ and how we prefer to be ‘plugged in’ all the time and how humans are afraid of being disconnected from this world of constant updates. This was probably one of my favourite pieces.
I’m really struggling with social media lately: part of it is logging into Facebook generally and just having way too much information come at you from everyone’s lives, and before you know it – you have wasted 40 mins mindlessly looking at feeds. The other half is when you have to advertise things on social media; I still advertise my prints and cards for my Etsy shop and am currently part of an Instagram ‘pod’ of local creatives. So when you post you let them know and they will comment on your post and vice-versa. But I end up catching up on everyone else late at night and commenting on everyone’s posts in the pod – and it leaves you feeling drained and exhausted – and definitely like you I need to ‘unplug’ and de-stress. And this is not even starting on algorithms and the fact that small business’ posts hardly get seen or benefit now – and so this is why everyone is currently jumping ship to new social media platform Vero. The Matrix never ends…!! Lately I feel like extracting myself from it all!
Yet on the other hand..many of my references come from social media! A lot of my female portraits past and in this new work have been referenced from fashion houses, lifestyle bloggers, travellers and vloggers I follow on Instagram etc!
However I’m really happy people and artists are starting to recognise the complex problems social media is starting to present in our lives. But I also think it can only affect you if you let it and perhaps limiting your time on social media is definitely a good thing. Yes creatives must advertise online – but I also think this is just the half of it; the other half is about meeting and talking to actual people. This is something I also have to do.
Other pieces in this exhibition included some walls of brightly coloured pop art style hanging frames, a beautiful installation of lit geometric triangle shapes (another favourite, above) and a very fun rubber fringed sculpture that was great to touch and every so often quivered from a mechanism underneath. There was a lot more too, a great exhibition overall.
The next exhibition we visited was in a following room and was ‘New Art West Midlands: 5 Years on’. This was a smaller exhibition but still has some thought provoking pieces. My first favourite were a series of salvaged stone pieces with coloured wax embedded in them, so it looks like jewels being revealed underneath the stone (below). There is also another large installation again made from mobile phones and iPods! Mounted on the wall in rows in a darkened space. They all have woodland scenes displayed on their screens and birdsong sounds. This piece spoke volumes about how we experience everything within the digital realm nowadays and don’t go out and experience nature and the outdoors for ourselves.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery:
We then had a wonder throughout the rest of the gallery, looked at much of the Pre-Raphaelite Art,(that I’ve always loved) landscapes and seascapes and I was really taken with a modern colourful portrait by the artist Emily Sparkes – displayed alongside classical pieces centuries old. She had painted herself in the style of 18th century portraiture to mimic how women were painted back then but also how they were seen as beautiful and ‘docile’ objects. I found this portrait very interesting as I am also someone who paints mainly female characters and portraits, and I’m interested in how women are seen in social media and also mental health of women and people in general.
We then visited Ikon Gallery in Brindley Place where we saw some amazing miniature portraits by artist Thomas Bock from the 1800s. These were beautifully rendered and so tiny; he was an artist that mainly sketched and painted convicted criminals. There was a beautiful dried flower installation piece upstairs along with a room with TVs and some spoken word performance art. However I was more fascinated with the mental health charts on the walls..again this perhaps touches on issues I may be looking at in my own work.
Finally the last place we stopped at was Castle Galleries in the ICC building near Brindley Place. This is obviously widely known to be a very commercial art platform, and to me it is a place where artists who want to sell – sell their work and many reproductions of it! There are some bold pieces in there but obviously caters for a completely different audience than the IKON etc. I think when you are an emerging artist and are thinking about places to sell your work, you need to be very careful about where you want to sit in the market; although I would like to be a ‘commercial artist’ to a point, I also want my work to have deeper meaning, and make a difference – and don’t think I would go down this route.
As always this has been a very long post – and I thank any of you that take the time to read it! This blog helps me to keep my thoughts in order about my new developing studio practice and artistic journey. Stay tuned for the next post where I will be talking about progress on new pieces.