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Friday, 12 March 2010

Chic Crafts: Beauty in Repetition

Craft is undergoing a renaissance. I think that for some the word evokes sewing circles and Popsicle sticks, but really there is so much more to it, recently, I’ve even started reading Crafts magazine (published by the Crafts Council), and I find it incredibly inspiring. It makes me want to start creating! So I was delighted to learning about Junko Mori and Jacqueline Ryan’s new show opening in the Lake District at Blackwell Arts and Crafts House later this month.

Beauty in Repetition demonstrates the artists’ commitment to intensive hand working and an innate need to undertake every aspect of the creation of a piece themselves, a philosophy which comfortably links Mori and Ryan to the metalsmiths and jewellers of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Like Baillie Scott (1865 -1945), Blackwell’s architect, Mori and Ryan share a love of nature: Baillie Scott’s epitaph reads:”Nature he loved, and next to Nature, Art.”

Mori and Ryan both collect plant materials, and create drawings and sketches to abstract detail from them - examples of which are included in the exhibition. There is substantial evidence throughout Blackwell of Baillie Scott’s genius for assemblage. In a similar spirit to Baillie Scott, Mori and Ryan use the repetition of elements inspired by nature to create a harmonious whole. The sculptural works of Junko Mori and the jewellery of Jacqueline Ryan, like Blackwell itself, seem to incorporate within them some essence of natural beauty.

Beauty in Repetition offers the first opportunity to view their work both individually and in relation to each other: an opportunity which reveals an exhilarating resonance and meeting points, as well as insights into their differing working methods and processes. Nature may provide a common source, however, they interpret it in very different ways. Whereas Ryan tends to focus on abstraction, Mori focuses on form; and whereas Ryan plans her work minutely in advance, Mori prefers to allow her work to develop more organically.

Mori and Ryan come from diverse cultural backgrounds: Jacqueline Ryan was born in North London in 1966 and Junko Mori was born in Yokohama in 1974, they use different metals and create very different objects in both type and scale, yet they share a great deal in their approach to their work. Both Mori and Ryan find beauty in repetition: the bringing together of countless individual elements, each subtly different, to create a harmonious whole. Their work conveys what one can only describe as an apparent effortlessness of execution, which could hardly be further from the reality. As a result, both artists achieve an awe-inspiring visual harmony within their work. Every piece seems to have found its natural form; each is exactly
as it should be. Such skill has the capacity to produce in the viewer or wearer a feeling of serenity and joy which is surely the result of its maker’s total immersion in the object’s creation.

Artists working at their exceptionally high level of skill and commitment can feel isolated in their working practice. Their discovery of their artistic compatibility has therefore been a source of pleasure for them both. Mori and Ryan consider their work makes them natural soul mates. "We seem to share the same love of nature though we are from two different cultures," enthuses Ryan. "We correspond very closely in terms of our visual language because nature has linked us somehow…Her [Junko’s] sculptures have to be the “soul-mates” of my jewellery!"

Beauty in Repetition opens 27 March and continues until 13 June www.blackwell.org.uk

The exhibition in association with Adrian Sassoon, London.

Open daily 10.30am - 5.00pm
Admission: Adult - £6.50
Children over 5 and
Full-time Students - £3.80
Family - £17.25

Images credits:

(c) Jacqueline Ryan
(c) Junko Mori

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A New Initiative for Art Graduates in London

Imagine being a recent art graduate? I mean the doom and gloom of recent times is like a nasty piece of gum stuck on your shoe, it’s annoying and hard to shake – frankly you can’t even fathom touching it. So, I feel it’s always worth a mention when galleries are doing something different with their programming to support the next generation. I’ve been a fan of the Timothy Taylor Gallery for a few years now, with shows that are not only exciting but also enriching in today’s cultural climate.

The Viewing Room, a new initiative by the Timothy Taylor Gallery launches this month. In association with Domo Baal, Christopher Hanlon, a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art, London will be the first artist to have his work shown under this new umbrella series.

Hanlon's hermetic and tonally low-key paintings appear at first to be fragments of a psychologically charged drama. Typically presented in small installations, Hanlon’s apparently heterogeneous arrangements of abstract and figurative paintings slowly combine to convey feelings of disenchantment and longing, without recourse to a unifying or underlying narrative.

In Broken Vendor (2009) and Untitled (Screen 2), 2008, flat fields of subtly modulated colour situated in empty and ambiguous spaces block and frustrate the viewer’s gaze. In Hanlon’s more Baroque geometrical experiments, a multiplication of folds and attendant shadows confuse the eye, which is further disorientated by unexpected changes in the surface texture and opacity of paint.

Themes of masking and obscuring similarly occur in Hanlon’s figurative compositions. In The Lull, 2010 the artist’s anonymous and mute protagonist averts her eyes, where in other paintings his characters turn their backs towards the viewer altogether. In both his abstract and figurative paintings, Hanlon alludes to the inadequacies and failure of communication and language, whether it be visual, spoken, or expressed in a gesture.

Christopher Hanlon was born in 1978 in the UK and currently lives and works in London. He received his MFA from the Royal College of Art in 2008 and was part of Bloomberg New Contemporaries in the same year. Hanlon recently exhibited at the Renaissance Society at University of Chicago (2009), and Domo Baal, London (2009).

Christopher Hanlon opens 17 March and continues until 9 April. For further information visit www.timothytaylorgallery.com

Image Credits

Christopher Hanlon
‘Untitled’, 2009
Oil on canvas stretched over board
17 1/2 x 13 in. / 45 x 33.5 cm

Christopher Hanlon
‘Untitled (Screen 2)’, 2008
Oil on canvas stretched over board
12 1/2 x 14 in. / 32 x 36 cm

Christopher Hanlon
‘The Lull’, 2010
Oil on canvas stretched over board
23 x 16 in. / 58 x 40 cm

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Final Weeks of the Marcus Coates Show at Milton Keynes Gallery

Marcus Coates' new show Psychopomp, which open at Milton Keynes Gallery in January has been picked up several plaudits along the way with Richard Dorment of the Daily Telegraph saying that Coates is "one of the most intelligent and original artists in this country today." Not bad, eh? I first became aware of Coates during the Altermodern exhibition last year. In fact, he graced the cover of Issue 27, so I've been a fan for a while now. There's even a chance to meet Marcus this Thursday at the gallery during a "Meet the Artist" Session.

Psychopomp, has been the first survey of Marcus Coates’ work in a public gallery in the UK and will include early film pieces, sculpture, sound, costumes and photographs as well as new work.

Coates works in mysterious ways, often assuming the identity of an animal, such as a fox, goshawk or stoat, by simulating its appearance, enacting its habits and appropriating its language. In the film, Stoat (1999), for example, Coates totters around on ramshackle platforms, learning to recreate the animal’s bounding movements; in Goshawk (1999), a telephoto lens captures the artist as a rare bird perched precariously at the top of a tree; while in Finfolk (2003), the artist emerges from the North Sea spluttering a new dialect, as spoken by seals.

Coates has also trained as a shaman and the exhibition includes films of his rituals, where he achieves a trance-like state and communes with the animal kingdom to address social issues. Wearing an array of costumes such as a badger’s hide, a stuffed horse’s head, a blonde wig and a necklace of money (all of which will be on display), Coates has addressed issues including prostitution, regeneration and swine flu for communities worldwide and most recently in Israel, Japan and Switzerland.

"…I feel that my imagination can be put to good use socially, even politically."
Marcus Coates

Dawn Chorus (2007) is a major, multi-screen installation in which human voices re-create the chorus sung at dawn by birds, including a chaffinch, pheasant and yellowhammer. Together with wildlife sound recordist Geoff Sample, Coates recorded individual birds singing simultaneously on a single morning. Each was slowed down to a human pitch, so that people could be filmed mimicking these lower and slower sounds in their own natural habitats, such as a hotel, osteopath’s clinic or even a bath tub. The films were then accelerated until people twitter like birds and their voices precisely echo the original birdsong.

In Peregrine (1999) Coates painted the feathers of this powerful predator onto the carriage of an ordinary starling. This sculpture encapsulates the artist’s exploitation of art for its magical and liberating ability to transpose everyday objects and situations into unexpected, humorous and thought-provoking contexts.

The exhibition includes works spoken in numerous tongues as Coates ultimately addresses his audiences using the universal language of the imagination to highlight the spiritual and social potential of art.

Psychopomp closes on 4 April, so don't miss out! www.mk-g.org

NB: ‘Psychopomp’ means ‘the guide of souls’; they are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly-deceased souls to the afterlife, or to act as mediators between the unconscious and conscious realms. They have been associated in many cultures with animals, such as horses, dogs, crows and sparrows. In many cultures, the shaman fulfills the role of the psychopomp.

Monday, 8 March 2010

A Landmark Photographic Exhibition opens 10 March at Somerset House, London

The must-see photographic event for London 2010, A Positive View, will showcase an extraordinary range of photography on a truly international scale from the 20th and 21st century, under the Royal Patronage of Prince William supporting Crisis, the homelessness charity. A Positive View was first held in 1994 sponsored by Vogue and exhibited at Saatchi Gallery, while the second show was held in 2000 at the Atlantis Gallery in the Old Truman Brewery (London) and sponsored by Getty. The third edition of this fully curated, museum-scale photographic exhibition, to be held at Somerset House, will bring together more than 100 rare and signed vintage works across almost a century of photography; classic and contemporary works will cross a variety of genres, from still-life, fashion, landscape, portraiture and reportage.

Two outstanding masterpieces by Henri Cartier-Bresson will be on show; his renowned Seville (1933) and the magical Queen Charlotte’s Ball, London (1959). Other highlights will include a rare landscape by Elliot Erwitt, Wyoming Steam-Train Press, (1954); Friends of the Spanish Press (1968) by the winner of the 2007 Venice Biennale Golden Lion, Malick Sidibe, a haunting image from Robert Polidori’s New Orleans series (2006) and Corinne Day’s iconic and first-ever seen photograph of the supermodel Kate Moss, Kate (1990). These will be shown along with a stunning still life of Francis Bacon’s Studio (2001) from Perry Ogden’s 7 Reece Mews series and Wim Wenders’ classic Lounge Painting, Gila Bend, Arizona (1987).

For the first time, A Positive View will also feature work from contemporary artists whose creative practice incorporates photography, with geographically diverse representations from Korea, China, Japan and West Africa. With signature works by Seydou Keita, Yum Joongho, Bohn-Chang Koo and Weng Fen among others, A Positive View will provide an unusual and interesting opportunity to consider how practitioners beyond Europe and America are working with photography. In another departure, the 2010 edition of A Positive View will also include works by unknown photographers, all clients of the homelessness charity Crisis who have been studying photography at the Crisis Skylight, education, training and employment centres in London and Newcastle.

Nadim Samman, Exhibition Curator, commented: "As A Positive View benefits people on the margins of society, this exhibition brings together images of a notional ‘centre’ – social icons, home, the West – with peripheral visions. In some cases the display suggests their unsettling interdependence. At the same time, as with previous editions, A Positive View continues to showcase the achievements of leading photographers past and present."

Each of the works donated by the photographers, or their representatives and estates, have been included in the exhibition following a stringent selection process by A Positive View Patrons, who include Philippe Garner, International Head of Photographs at Christie’s, and Tim Jefferies, Director of Hamilton’s Gallery, with exhibition curator Nadim Samman.

Patron Philippe Garner said: “This exhibition is truly international in scope and represents the contemporary vitality and authority of the photographic medium across many genres. I have spent forty years as a champion of photography and I find it very rewarding to be part of such a stimulating project – one that invites us to celebrate the medium for so very worthwhile a cause.”

A 200-page fully-illustrated coffee-table book will be published in March, and will be available from Somerset House, Christie’s internationally, specialist art bookshops and online (£25, March 2010).

A Positive View opens on 10 March and continues until 5 April, with the charity auction of 100 of the most collectible works being held at Christie’s London on 15 April 2010 with 100% of the sales proceeds going to Crisis. For further information please visit www.apositiveview.com.

Image credits

Kate (c) Corinne Day (1990)
Wyoming, Steam-Train Press, (c) Elliott Erwitt,(1954)
Lounge Painting, Gila Bend, Arizona, (c)Wim Wenders, (1983)
Queen Charlotte's London, (c) Henri Cartier-Bresson,(1959)

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