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Friday, 6 November 2009

Winners of The Young Masters Art Prize

Contemporary art is really my passion, but I have considerable admiration for the Old Masters, the contemplative nature of this work is incredibly inspiring, so I was pleased to see that the Cynthia Corbett Gallery have launched a new Prize, The Young Masters Art Prize. Great concept - the fusion of the old and the new. This is something that I love to do.



On 3 November 2009 the winner of the inaugural Young Masters Art Prize, Hector de Gregorio and artist duo Ghost of A Dream were announced as the joint winners. The artists were presented with a combined prize of £4,000 at an awards ceremony at The Old Truman Brewery. The winning artists were selected from 16 emerging and newly established international artists who were chosen to exhibit their work, which is inspired by the Old Masters, at the Young Masters exhibition that opened to great acclaim last month at joint venues Sphinx Fine Art and The Old Truman Brewery.



The prize was judged by a panel of high profile artists and historians including Medeia Cohan- Petrolino, Head Curator for the University of the Arts London; Lock Anderson Kresler, Christie’s Contemporary Art Department; Averill Ogden, Outset Art Fund, and Tom Hunter, Artist. London-based artist Hector de Gregorio, a recent graduate from the Royal College of Art, transforms his modern subjects in to fantasy characters, referencing the religious narratives of the Old Masters. In work such as Absinthes (2009) de Gregorio repeatedly paints and varnishes over digital photographs, creating a work, which evolves around theatre and fantasy, raising questions about power and submission and contemporary sexual confusion.



The American artist collaborative, Ghost of a Dream, (Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was) are inspired by the idealised notion of the get-rich-quick dream. Using discarded UK lottery tickets and scratch cards collected over the summer as their primary material, the artists have created an installation of desirable goods. Iconic works of art are represented, including Of the Pinks, In the Red (2009) – a direct reference to Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks in the National Gallery, which was bought with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund.



Cynthia Corbett commended: “The judges choices were all very interesting and we are delighted that the prize will be shared by these three outstanding artists. Both Hector de Gregorio and Ghost of a Dream emphasise the sheer craft and technical skill in homage to the Old Masters, which has often been ignored when bestowing recognition and awards to young artists.”

Upon winning, Hector de Gregorio said: “As an emerging artist it is an honour and an encouragement to receive this award. Supporting the arts helps society to expand ideas and alternatives both in times of stagnation and in times of richness, it consolidates and it breaks through." While Ghost of a Dream said the following after hearing the good news: “We are extremely honoured to win the Young Masters Art Prize. It has been an amazing to be included in this show and have the opportunity to exhibit our work internationally. Working alongside the Cynthia Corbett Gallery and the other artists showing in Young Masters has been exceptional experience. We want to thank AXA for sponsoring the Prize; we are honoured.”

Images © the artists
Absinthes by Hector de Gregorio
Of the pinks in the Red by Ghost of A Dream
Sepulchre by Hector de Gregorio
Beat The dealer 2009 by Ghost of a Dream

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Immersive installation - Anthea Hamilton at IBID

Anthea Hamilton’s new show at IBID includes sculptures and wall-based work following on from her recent exhibitions at Chisenhale Gallery and La Salle de Bains, Lyon. Hamilton produces carefully arranged environments in which each sculptural element is autonomous and yet come together in a way that has been described as “three-dimensional collage.”



Often her environments have taken cues from specific, non-gallery spaces, such as the gymnasium, TV studio or swimming pool, while her sculptures act like players within these stage sets – commonly carrying out appropriate routine tasks and rituals. In this way her immersive installations explore such themes as leisure, attraction and mechanisms of desire, creating delicately balanced situations where the viewer is always placed at centre stage. What is so poignant about her work, is the way that it creates interplay between the concept of the gallery and the power of art - where ever that may be.



Central to an understanding of Hamilton’s work is her use of materials. Some of the found-objects present in the current exhibition are taken from popular TV or fiction, for example are a translation of a 2D character into 3D merchandise. Often, they are strikingly removed from their original context (for example, a pin-up poster that was intended as a symbol of desire seems more appropriate to a teenage bedroom than a gallery setting). While her more idiosyncratic assemblages may seem bewildering at times – including a rubber cartoon mask of a character from The Simpsons, an over-sized wrapped cheese fashioned from leather and foam, or a clear perspex chair made from cut-outs of the artists own legs – each are precisely chosen for the specific senses they provoke and the associations they inspire.



More often than not these associations are to do with the body. Indeed, in previous examples of Hamilton’s work her sculptures often appeared like disconnected bodies – figuration was hinted at but never actually revealed. In her new works the figuration remains but in a form that is abstracted even further. Indeed, her sculptures appear more solidly grounded in the idea that they are inanimate objects that work within a wider environment, even with a use value (a chair, a blind, a table), or that they might be chosen in a similar way to furnishings – integral choices that inform a larger set of surroundings within which the visitor is invited to explore and reveal connections.



Whilst Hamilton’s use of ‘poor’ everyday materials – as well as her overall reductionist style and a retro-store colour palette – clearly connect her to a contemporary aesthetic, the effect is anthropomorphic and less to do with the legacy of Minimal Art than a choreography of different feelings and emotions. Issues of titillation and an overtly sensual mood verging on the sexual come into play, in the same way that curator Francesco Manacorda has written of Hamilton that she “is interested in tracing a personal history of love and attraction … in a mapping of the distance between individuals and the objects of their desire.”

For further information visit www.ibidprojects.com

All images (c) Anthea Hamilton courtesy the gallery.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Wunderbar Festival 2009

A new concept is afoot – performance art in people’s homes? What’s this all about?

Wunderbar Festival 2009 is hosting 12 incredible experiences in 12 homes across the North East this November. This outstanding new commission invites audiences into the homes of members of the public to see incredible new art performances – offering once-in-a-life-time insight into the astonishing diversity of people’s homes.

Tours of People’s Homes is a new commission for the internationally acclaimed artist Joshua Sofaer, who will lead a number of workshops culminating in a series of public performances inside the homes of selected participants. Members of the public have been working with the artist and director over the last few months to develop a tour or encounter in their own home.



What a strange and unique concept. This really is the democratization of the performing arts. If you're in the area, it’s well worth a visit. I’m particularly looking forward to Craig Astley’s “Pop Sandwich” – how fun. We were all young once. A bit of nostalgia for the good times? DIY is rife...and I like it!




Highlights of Tours of People’s Homes include:

Walnuts and Grapefruits
Pauline Frost tells the story of how she discovered her healing powers. Pauline invites you to hear her miraculous story, and to learn why a walnut can be a matter of life and death….

Bath Time
Katy Merrington and her brother Peter welcome members of the public into their warm and friendly home and run a deep bubble bath for you. With tenderness, respect and time, they’ll listen to your preferences and pamper participating audiences.

A Pop Sandwich
Craig Astley invites you to his “Pop Sandwich” in which he will indulge audiences in popular programmes, pop music and fizzy pop. Astley will allow you to share three experiences in three different rooms and indulge in watching, eating, looking and listening and, literally drinking ‘pop’.

Make A Splosh
Katie Fletcher invites audiences to “Make s Splosh” in which she welcomes visitors for a slap up meal. However they will have to decide whether to eat it or throw it. Hurl the hamburgers, toss the tart, pitch the peas, lob the lentils and propel the pancakes. Katie asks that you join her for a feast of pleasures and indulge in playing with your food.

Craig Astley, star of A Pop Sandwich said “It’s been really satisfying being a part of this project as it appeals to many sides of my personality from the d├ęcor-obsessed, proud homeowner to the record collector to the mild showoff to the perpetually, “theming” event host. Tours of People’s Homes has meant I could bring all of this together and devise a really indulgent experience for an audience.”

Wunderbar Festival 2009 will bring exciting multi-art form, contemporary performances and visual art to the North East. The festival will present work by pioneering artists that is challenging, brave, different and thought-provoking, alongside large scale spectacles with a definite ‘wow’ factor and charming, quirky, unexpected happenings that will surprise and delight.

Further Tours of People’s Homes performances will include:• Building a shed with Dan Civico
• Spending an hour in the company Carole Luby and her horses.
• Listening to fireside fables and graveyard tails with Peter Saaremets and Claire Webster Saaremets
• Having a private chat with Nathalie Levi
• Accepting Kate Stobbart’s invitation to tea
• Step into drawers, chests and wardrobes with Nicola Singh
• Unravelling a house history in Hexham with Bob Hull

Tickets can be purchased at www.wunderbarfestvial.co.uk/TOPH or at the Wunderbar box office located at Dance City. Locations will be provided when tickets are obtained. Houses are not open to the public and Tours will take place at allocated times.


Other Wunderbar highlights include:

Performances by Internationally acclaimed artist Alistair Mclennan
Internationally acclaimed performance artist Alistair McLennan will produce one of his infamous pieces for the Festival. McLennan’s work over the past 30+ years has been at the forefront of the international performance scene. A new commission in collaboration with Locus+, who are renowned for creating hugely innovative temporary exhibitions and installations in non-gallery locations.

Dinner with America
A year on from Obama’s election, this works looks at our perceptions of ‘America,’ via historical recordings and sound bites alongside Shah’s own highly arresting visual and performative interpretation. I wonder what this one will be like?

Who wants to be...? - The People Speak
The ‘ask the audience’ game show! Did you know that in the ‘Ask the Audience’ bit of the TV gameshow ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire‘, the audience is right 98.9% of the time? ‘Who Wants to Be...?’ is a live reality gameshow where the audience make up the questions, have all the answers, and set their own rules, using a simple voting system.

Haircuts by Children
Would you let a nine-year-old loose on your hair? Trained to greet, style, chat, cut and colour just as a hairdresser would, a group of children will be offering their hairdressing services to the public during the festival!

From Here on Out
How does this city work? Where does all of this stuff come from? Explore the props, pulleys and power that underlie urban life in From Here on Out, a city walk with a difference. A 45-minute video and sound walk gives you a kind of x-ray vision of the city, layering the cityscape with images of the otherwise invisible processes that drive it. You are invited to experience a city where the back lane is a dairy farm, the shopping centre is a colliery, and there’s a power station on your street corner. Experience the unseen and unspoken substructures of the city brought to life in the centre of Newcastle.

Listening to Leonids
Between the 10th and 20th of November 2009, Earth will pass through a stream of meteors, the Leonids – a prolific meteor shower known as “the King of Meteor Showers” – producing not only a spectacular light show in the night sky, but also the opportunity to hear their progress across the upper atmosphere.

Astronomers have noticed a unique phenomenon relating to meteors, as under certain circumstances, observers seem able to hear meteors as they see them. Technically this should be impossible, as, travelling at the speed of sound, these noises should take around 5 minutes to arrive on earth. However, a phenomenon has been discovered suggesting that certain everyday household objects responding to electromagnetic radiation given off by the meteor can act as makeshift radio receivers. These objects can be as varied as aluminium foil, wire-frame glasses, thin wires, pine needles, old aerials, and even dry or frizzy hair!

To test out this theory, Ed Carter will be spending time in preparatory research at Kielder Observatory during the festival and will be sharing his findings in an online diary you can follow on this page. As part of the Wunderbar Grand Chaser on Sunday 15th, Ed will present his research findings and show you how you too can ‘Listen to Leonids’. The peak time for hearing and seeing the Leonids is on 17th and 18th November, so make sure you’re prepared to be part of this celestial spectacle.

Watch Me Fall - Action Hero“I’m going over in a barrel. I’m leaving the cannon, hitting the ramp at 90mph and clearing ten double decker buses. I might fall. I might break my body into several pieces, but then I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off and do it all over again. This time, I’m going higher, further and faster. Tonight, I will attempt the impossible.”

Action Hero have measured it out, done a few calculations and they’re confident ... it could go either way. Come along and cheer for us, pull for us, pray for us and watch us fall. Watch Me Fall is for the daredevils. It’s our obsession with those who attempt the impossible, the futility of their attempts and their inevitable fall from grace. Set on a DIY runway with a standing audience, Action
Hero pushes the limit in the name of entertainment.

Wunderbar Festival runs from 6th-15th Nov 2009 www.wunderbarfestival.co.uk/

Images (c) Craig Astley

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