Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Too Much Art?

"Art does not die because there is no more art, it dies because there is too much". Jean Baudrillard

interesting and probably increasingly important question - no, not because I just asked it but because I wonder about my place as an artist and where all this self-expression is leading me/us? I believe art is a power for good in a social context, life enhancing, embracing, worthwhile for society and should be valued as such. Without the 'arts' we lose the the best that we can achieve as a civilised society.

The article (link below for full text) by Matthew Nash is I think, as relevant to students and artists in the UK as anywhere else. The making of art may well be deeply satisfying but often a frustratingly lengthy process from concept to fruition and artists like everyone else need to survive, have bills to pay and student loans to think about and that is increasingly difficult in a saturated market.

James Elkins

Art department fliers... usually list the famous artists who studied in their department or school. It might be more honest and thought-provoking to go ahead and list famous graduates in the college brochure, but to preface the list with a disclaimer - something like this:

Although these artists did study at our school, we deny any responsibility for their success. We have no idea what they learned while they were here, what they thought was important and what wasn't, or whether they would have been better off in jail. We consider it luck that these artists were at our school.

In general we disclaim the ability to teach art at this level. We offer knowledge of the art community, the facilities to teach a variety of techniques, and faculty who can teach many ways of talking about art. But any relation between what we teach and truly interesting art is purely coincidental. Such a flier might add, in the interests of full disclosure:
We will not discuss this disclaimer on school time, because our courses are set up on the assumption that it is false.

James Elkins is a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

I dropped in to see the Waterhall Modern Art Gallery in Birmingham yesterday on the way back from Ikon. It all seemed a bit disconnected. Some of the work was very good and some not so good. The comments left by visitors echoed this impression. It all seemed a bit hit and miss in a major city gallery. The Art Market is a big puzzle to me!

Review - Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

There are two Ikon Galleries but one is closed until the Spring. A good excuse for a further trip.

I thought New Zealand Artist Darcy Lange's exhibition of 'Work Studies in Schools' was going to leave me cold. A room full of school desks with video screens showing a picture of school life in Birmingham of the 1970's with recordings of lessons and feedback from pupils and staff. His studies of Oxfordshire schools (1977) compared art, history and science teaching in private and state schools.

However, as soon as I sat at one of the desks and put the headphones on I was hooked on many levels and enjoyed flitting between desks to catch the next class and assess whether the member of staff was Mr Nice or Miss Nasty. The link to your own education is obvious and any comparison is made from that social, historical and political opinion. The digitally reworked videos are a great social history of the area and documentary film-making as a genre. It was interesting to see teachers' own opinions or political views being stamped on young minds with the eyes of an adult and the realisation of how much good or damage can be done to our children, often unwittingly but also by design. Fascinating stuff.

The Roumanian artist Victor Man's exhibition 'Attebasile' required a lot more serious reflection and I felt quite lost at first in the stark space containing untitled artefacts, black and white with shades of grey . The paper handout made little sense of the exhibits and I found it annoying trying to match one with the other. The work had a sense of darkness and was embedded in a cultural context that was
at first difficult to interpret. Roumanian folk art, politics and fear expressed through lovingly crafted little sculptural pieces. It was helped by the curator-video tucked away at the back and I revisited the work with a different perspective. I couldn't help feeling that I needed to see this work in Victor's house - it was more personal narrative than commercial venture and although the curator was keen to tell us that he had developed a close working relationship with the artist, I left with more questions than answers.

Oh, and there's a nice little Spanish Restarant/Cafe in the gallery.

For information:-

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Star Blog for Colour Lovers

I have been checking out some addresses that I've been Bookmarking to add to Favourites and this one is a real gem. Amazing...

I have added the home address for the site in the sidebar but the link below
is very interesting. Colour inspiration from artists (Pollock, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Warhol and lots more) . The site is a great tool for artists, website and blogsite designers - anyone really who is interested in colour in any way. Absolutely packed full of information, palettes and patterns and additions from 'Colour Lovers' adding to the blog.

Monday, 19 January 2009

A Sense of Place

I am taking a sabbatical from college for a couple of terms but will continue with the collaborative project A Sense of Place, as there is quite a bit of work already, so I should be able to manage without a problem. Also, having started it, I am more than a little curious to see where everyone's journey has taken them based around this theme. It is very loose, so where the threads will go is anybody's guess. There are some examples already on the a-n Artists Talking, Project Blogs,The Regional Print Centre at Yale Wrexham - A Sense of Place.
I have posted the initial line drawing of the view through the window on a-n blog and the bottle and roses image . I think it will be a good idea to wait and see Kate's image before I move on now with another piece.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Review - New Art Gallery Walsall

I visited The New Art Gallery in Walsall recently, which holds a really impressive collection in a great space. Road signage is good and parking in the town is easy (pay & display).

The gallery holds the Garman Ryan Collection - given
to Walsall in 1972 by Kathleen Garman, Jacob Epstein's wife. It includes work by Van Gogh, Lucien Freud and Picasso. Until 14th October contemporary artists' work has been added alongside in the 'Fresh Out of the Box '- exhibition with Martin Creed, Christopher Le Brun, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Hew Locke and Catherine Yass, amongst others. The whole exhibition was well-curated and the additions to the standing collection were sensitively placed to enhance but not intrude.

The top floor held an exhibition (until 25th January) of 'Outsiders' art- those artists working outside the mainstream. 'Post-graffiti' art is the description in the gallery guide. Conor Harrington's vast mural work painted onto the gallery wall is monumental in scale and questions the spurious nature of men's power. The transience of the work makes you consider your own attitude to work - why you make it, what you do with it once it is finished, ownership in general and the overblown value of much art in the market today. What happens to it at the end of the exhibition, is it painted over? Street Art is by definition left behind for the public to admire or tut at, depending on your standpoint. Selfish or selfless? And what does it become as it moves into the mainstream and gallery space and no longer 'Outsider'?

(Link below to Conor Harrington website. Try Google search for his blog - it does not appear accessible through his website.)

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Change for the better?

After the tussle with the layout of the blog last night, I decided to change things around a bit. I wanted a stretched view so that I can make more use of the sidebars. I am not sure if I like this layout as much as the earlier version but think it will work better for me and as I have a very limited audience(!) now is a good time to make changes.

No doubt there was an easier way to do this but as usual, I did not find it.

The rest of the day will be spent in the studio and well away from this machine - it and I are barely on speaking terms right now.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Fabulous New Work

I wish!...there was an inch of ice on top of a bowl of water left in the studio during the week. After attempts to heat it up and several layers of additional woollies, I managed a couple of hours in there before I gave up for the log fire - so no fabulous new work today.

I have started experimenting with the images that are accumulating for 'A sense of Place' - to mix using Adobe Photoshop - printing them out onto various supports and adding paint to see what - if anything came up as a 'good idea'. I have become quite fond of this little image and it prints out quite well. Some were disappointing when printed when they look great on screen. Lots of recycling for other projects - again.

And then I thought I might change the blogsite around a bit - huge mistake - it was not happy. The header image that I thought was a bit too large vanished and refused to re-load nicely and we had this big row. It is back but something is not right, I will let it have the last word for the evening - I give in.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy New Year

...and so we arrive in 2009. And thankfully, back to creative work.

The piece shown here has a working title of 'Someone to watch over me'. It has derived from the 'sense of place' project and is the combination of images - a winter walk, frost on trees, an iced cobweb on the car and statues on a building.

I am increasingly driven by the sense of time passing and how art functions as an expression of this - giving voice to what you feel about your own small place in the world, an expression of self. How you feel aesthetically, politically, emotionally etc. Otherwise there is no point to it really. Obviously, I have started the New Year with nihilistic tendencies.