Photography Monday - Frieze week 2013

Last weekend we sampled the Strarta Art Fair in Saatchi Gallery and the Moving Museum in 180 Strand, which are both unexpected in their venues. Who would have expected Saatchi Gallery to host an art fair rather than showing its own collection the week before the prime Frieze period? In case you missed it, we have shared the highlights on our facebook page here. As for the Moving Museum, it successfully highjacks the abandoned office space in West End and turns it into an urban zoo of art lovers. Visit it in person before it closes in 13.12.2013, or view our coverage online here.

Starting the week we decided to focus in Photogrpahy and visited two fascinating shows which symbolises contemporary photography.

Central Nervous System by Wolfgang Tillmans
14.10-24.11.2013
Maureen Paley London

Tillmans' latest show is "both a departure from his recent project Neue Welt as well as an extension of that vision" according to Maureen Paley's press release. In the two floors of the gallery, we see the 'single subject' of portraiture being displayed in various ways, full body or parts.

Tillmans is famous for creating miniature models of his exhibition space and studies how to display his works within it. In this show, he justaposes pieces of extreme body close-ups with photos of half-body or full-body portraits. And with his expertise in advance printing technology, the level of details in each piece is fascinatingly, or scarily, high. 

In viewing a piece of art, the audience usually would step back and forth to obtain different levels of details of the whole piece. However, with Tillmans' extreme close-up large prints, you do not really need to get closer any more because the subject has already been magnified for you. This convenience is brought to all of us by technology. To a certain extent, such convenience from technology is becoming more and more integral and indispensible in the daily life. It is a phenomenon Tillmans presented to us in his show, be it intentional or sub-conscious. And the philosophical meaning of this is probably more intriguing than all the "subjects" of his works people conceive on the prints.

*****

Bracket (London) by Liz Deschenes
4.10-14.12.2013
Campoli Presti London

A block away we found another exhibition opened also in this evening. New York artist Liz Deschenes' show, "Bracket (London)",  Time Out London describes her works as 'Photography is pushed far into abstraction, creating hazy, stark, minimal pieces that are hung in unusual positions, creating a photography-based environment.'

The monochromatic black-and-white space is a perfect backdrop for Liz's works. These works on metal sheets are inspired by the english and french photography pioneers Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot. The way the works are mounted on the wall, together with the monochormatic palette of the interiors has given the whole environment a sterile laboratory feel. And the natural landscapes captured on the surfaces of the metal sheets look so surreal as if they actually grow organically from the metal sheet they are on - like developing a series of oversize Polariods in a top secret facility. This forced combination of nature and man-made are exemplified in Liz's works yet captured and reduced to the very essence of it perfectly.

*****

Further Readings -
Page: Official page for Liz Deschenes' show on Campoli Presti's website
Page: Official page for Wolfgang Tillmans' show on Maureen Paley's website
Video: 2012 Whitney Biennial artist Liz Deschenes discusses her work with photograms, a type of photographic image made without a camera; 2012, Whitney Museum of American Art
Interview: Wolfgang Tillmans' Wandering Eye; Sept 2013, Dazed Digital

Frieze Art Week 2013


It's the time of the year in London when everybody suddenly talks about art. Yes, it's Frieze week (or weeks) coming up. Following our tradition, we have handpicked our favourites from the endless offers in town so you don't have to be frustrated scanning through the listings.

Our top 10 of the week are as follows (in no particular order!) -

1. Catch L’Expédition Scintillante, Act 2 (light show) by Pierre Huyghe in Raven Row's current show “Reflections from Damaged Life” - A great retrospective show spanning decades of works, make sure you stay in the gallery until you see this performance, it runs every half hour.

2. "Tomorrow" by Elmgreen & Dragset in V&A - The Norwegian duo's greatest site specific commission yet in Britain inside the V&A museum's former Textile Galleries.

3. "Beyond the Black" by Idris Khan int Victoria Miro - an important departure from Khan's photographic based works, this show comprises a suite of large black paintings, a monumental site specific wall drawing and a series of works on paper.

4. Tatsuo Miyajima's "I-Model" in Lisson Gallery - the Japanese artist is famous for his zen minimal pieces incoporating LED digit displays. There is a clay chamber room for meditation in the show, only one person to enter at time.

5. Wolfgang Tillmans' solo show Central Nervous System in Maureen Paley - once again Tillmans returns to Frieze week and we couldn't wait to see his latest creations.

6. "A series from Within" by Larissa Nowicki in Man & Eve - intriguing pieces formed from the printed pages of books, sliced and intricately woven to form new works that cannot be read in the traditional sense

7. "Sandra Blow Paintings & Prints" in Kings Place - Sandra Blow is a pioneer of the British post-war abstract movement. Seeing her works in the multi-storey atrium in Kings Place is a joyful experience

8. "Erebus" (film) by Du Preez & Thornton Jones in Londonewcastle Project Space - Du Preez & Thornton Jones have created a new body of work in collaboration with choreographer Russell Maliphant, inspired in part by the work of Auguste Rodin

9. "The Seymour & Milton Posters Show" in Kemistry Gallery - a great retrospective show about one of the most influential designer duos in the 20th century who signature push-pin style has become iconic.

10. Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent's Park - this year's sculpture park is the largest in the history of Frieze, and it's free so how can you miss it?

And apart from the Original Frieze and Frieze Masters, you have the choice of numerous satellite fairs around town. Here are a few we believe most of our followers could find something they like and go have a look -

Sunday & Touch Art Fair in Marylebone
Sluice in Bermondsey
The Other Art Fair in Brick Lane
Multiplied at Christie's
Moniker in Brick Lane

Visit our facebook page over the week to see what we have found in town apart from the above. Enjoy the best London offers in the Autumn!

*****

Further Readings -

Page - Top 10 Photograph Exhibitions in town on TimeOut London
Page - Top 10 Art Exhibitions in town on TimeOut London
Interview - of the Director of Sluice Art Fair Ben Street by Tabius Khan for Londonist

Interview with Dimitri Launder - co-founder of Arbonauts


Cast & Team of Biped's Monitor at the Nunhead Cemetery

We went to see the performance Biped's Monitor 2013 by Arbonauts last month, a unique site-based theatrical experience merging highly-visual, surreal environments with an ethereal operatic score. The audience are invited to wander in the Nunhead Cemetery, and performers and installations are scattered around the venue.

It was an enjoyable evening and offer a freer experience than the traditional theatre performances, though the show depends heavily on the weather in an open venue, and fortunately most of the time it wasn't raining. Without much prior knowledge to The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino, it is a little difficult to comprehend the whole story line. However for a contemporary production, one could argue sometimes it is left for the audience's imagination.

In an environment which allows the audience to freely roam, it is always a challenge to the producer of the show to choreograph scenes which could direct the audience in sequence of thoughts, and the same for the performers to interact with the audience to deliver the message in the manner they wish.

The following is an interview with Dimitri Launder, co-founder of Arbonauts, to share with us a few thoughts for the show and beyond.

Q1: What are the motivations for you & Helen to found Arbonauts? What does the name mean? 

DL: Helen and I created Arbonauts out of a mutual passion for creating live performance and installation. We are inspired by site and text - language and location ~ the initial spark for a performance often starts in reading a surreal text and then as velocity builds around a specific idea we look for a  suitable location. The name Arbonauts came about in a similar way, we enjoy its relationship to cultural explorers, sailors in a surreal sea.



Q2: How did Biped's Monitor start? (or whose idea was that?) And why the Nunhead Cemetery was picked as the performance venue?

DL: Biped's Monitor began by reading Italo Calvino's 'Il Barone Rampante'  - we both fell in love with the structure of the text: the tension between society and nature. Taking inspiration from Calvino's text Helen realized that the title of the Baron's Diary/Manifesto of Arboria 'Biped's Monitor' would be the perfect title for our performance. We wanted to form our abstracted characters from the perspective of the Baron, his surreal narrative memories of his family and lovers. We were drawn towards the romance of the location ~ the stunning Nunhead Cemetery that was left disused for several decades allowing nature to establish itself in the middle of our urban sprawl. Additionally the collaborative space between physical theatre, installation, opera and dance are essential to the transformative process we hope to raise in our audience. 


Q3: How long did it take to produce the show (from concept to realisation)? Could you share with us what are the main challenges in this production?
DL: We spent over 6 months independently negotiating the permissions to use one of London's Magnificent Seven Cemeteries at dusk. Rehearsals with our amazingly committed core cast of 11 began 2 months before. With the additional 20+ cast and crew, including our choir drawn from the local community, we began work a few weeks in advance of being live on site. Helen and I also work closely with composers Louise Drewett and Alex Nikipoenko and soloist Daisy Chute to create specially commissioned works such as Aria Arboria based on a text by William Blake 'Love and Harmony'. We are so grateful to the Mayors Fund for believing in us ~ without their support we would not have been able create this event.



Q4: What is the most memorable moment in the show to you?
DL:  One night as the performance concluded and the cast revealed their skeletal beaks, Daisy Chute's mezzo soprano voice rose into the darkening sky (the disused chapel has no roof) and a light summer rain started. Sublime... That and selling out all our available tickets the weekend before we went live!

video link

Q5: The show was pretty much free from digital components despite the interactive nature with the audience. Is that a deliberate decision or just unnecessary? Would you consider in future to use digital components for similar performances?
DL: We aimed to make this piece with as light a footprint as possible, for instance we took advice on sustainable practice from Julie's Bicycle. We felt that there are threads in the narrative that we wanted to explore with the audience like dwelling in and with natural phenomena and physical experiences/memories. We have no issues with using technology in the future... without giving too much away we are developing a new piece called The Desire Machine.



Q6: Any plans for re-run? And what would be next for Arbonauts?
DL: We are looking for new opportunities at the moment for Biped's Monitor -  new sites / commission are on the horizon. Over the next year we are keen to develop a new project The Desire Machine - a darker and more visceral performance exploring voyeurism, illusion and desire. We are hoping to R&D it this winter - please do check out our website www.arbonauts.org or follow us on twitter @ARBONAUTS for any developments on the piece. Additionally, for 2014 we are hoping to work alongside both The National Trust and The William Blake Society on new, outdoor performances.We are always keen to hear from potential partners and producers, or people with unique and exciting spaces.

*****

Further Readings -

Page: Official page for Biped's Monitor 2013
Page: Surreal World by Emma de Angelis, 25.08.2013
Review: by Hannah Elsy for A Younger Theatre, 29.08.2013

Interview with Laura Facey

by Vanessa Champion



Q1: You were born in Jamaica and you are obviously inspired by your heritage. You are also known for exploring issues surrounding suffering, recovery as well as the natural environment. For you, what makes Jamaica and where you live, such an important part of your ‘voice’?

LF: The consequences of colonialism and the draconian brutality of slavery will play out for centuries to come.  The work of artists, such as myself, is pivotal in creating a dialog that commences a process of healing the psychological trauma that we have  inherited.


Laura Facey with Radiant Comb

Q2: “Redemption Song” is a stunning monument - the figures seem to ‘weigh heavy’ and like two mythological figures, they rise ‘proud’ out of the water. Can you tell us a little about the background and inspiration to this piece?  

LF:  For a society to not only endure but survive the horrors of slavery requires supreme inner strength and psychic fortitude.  I wanted my figures to not only portray the quality of endurance that is part of our culture, but more importantly a pride in the conquering of adversity.   The placement of the figures in water symbolises a psychic cleansing and emergence into a new era.


Redemption Song

Q3: What is your biggest challenge as an artist?

LF: Creating a space within which I can develop a subliminal connection with the forces that surround me.  Maintaining a studio, within the context of a working farm, is a constant challenge, there are many demands that pull my attention away from the thread of knowledge that runs into and through every work that I create.


THEIR SPIRITS GONE BEFORE THEM

Q4: Can you tell us a bit more about ROKTOWA and why you are involved? 

LF: ROKTOWA’s genesis began when Melinda Brown moved her studio from downtown Manhattan to downtown Kingston in 2005.  For decades people had talked about the need to place artists downtown, then out of nowhere, this Australian artist appeared and became embedded in the downtown community. From her experiences and observations of the dire economic conditions experienced by downtown residents, the concept for ROKTOWA emerged.  ROKTOWA is predicated around an Artists Residency program that allows both foreign and local artists to engage with the downtown community; by placing artists with tradesmen we have been able to create export quality products. ROKTOWA’s Mission is to: Plant Artists to Create Growth. We create both Fine and Applied Art, by expanding the visual and design vocabulary of the skilled workers downtown.

Laura Facey at the MAD museum, New York - video link

Q5: You are having a solo exhibition in the UK, “Radiant Earth” at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. Did you choose this title? Why in particular? What will be the nature and feeling of the work on show?

LF: Yes, RADIANT EARTH, is my first solo show in the UK, it’s a retrospective of the last decade of my work and shows my departure from a more literal and figurative style to the metaphors that have appeared to me and emerged in such forms as liquid needles, hovering plumb bobs and yes, combs.  My last show was titled Radiant Combs and I was lucky enough to have a Trinidadian filmmaker, Mariel Brown, approach me to film the sculptures, the footage recorded was compiled under the working title “Radiant Earth”.  The farm where I live is truly Radiant and each day I am compelled to translate and reflect that radiance.

Radiant Combs 2012 - video link

6. What do you hope to achieve with this solo retrospective?

LF: I am excited about the possibility of commencing a dialogue with the Art World in the UK.  Jamaica has allowed me the freedom to explore and create my own
language.  However, given our small population, we do not have Gallery Directors or a commercial gallery system.  I am looking forwards to cementing a relationship
with a Gallery and in the process connect with Artists and Dealers with whom I can engage and commence an on going relationship.

hackney wicked art festival 2013


This year's festival has finished just last weekend and we are thrilled to see so many people turn up and all the activities around.

Bar at the Glass Factory by the Yard

the Cabin Gallery pop-up in Vittoria Wharf Studios

Yörük at Foreman's Yard

Music at the Yard

The crowd at Stour Space

View of the Yard and around from the Overground Station

Group Show in Elevator Gallery

A walking Octopus in the crowd

Check out our facebook page album for highlights of the open studios & else.

20 creations of red

by Vanessa Champion

Red Never Follows

Saatchi Gallery

31.07-01.09.2013

Blood red light seeps across the ash white canvas that is the second floor of the Saatchi Gallery; on entering the exhibition space you are immediately transported to somewhere that feels at once safe and dangerous, the warmth of the colour is almost womb-like and yet the movement on the walls around you disturbs the equilibrium. There’s a symphony of technology, design and conceptualisation that is playing out around you, and you are aware that innovation and creativity are at the root of each installation.

20 years ago in 1993, Hugo Boss was launched, and this exhibition is a collaboration by the brand with 20 urban creatives. I spoke to Christoph Frank of Platoon, the curators based in Germany, who said that in selecting the work and the creators, the importance was “innovation and creativity.” They actively sought those who were taking a “different approach which is in keeping with the ideology of Hugo Boss.” This originality of imagination truly resonates loud and clear through the exhibition. Also it is clear that there is an inventive resourcefulness of those from different disciplines. Again, like Hugo Boss is wont to do, pushing boundaries of expectation and preconception, the art on show here might not necessarily fall into the usual “fine art” disciplines. We don’t recognise the traditional arts of painting, photography, drawing, no we have visuals and installations by designers, film directors, engineers, architects from all over the world, from Germany to Japan, Portugal to LA and that I think makes the richness of the collection unique and pioneering.

This leads to the question, what makes art ‘art’? Not that long ago, photography was criticised for being an almost mechanistic form of representation, not real “art” and then in walks Ansell Adams who one could argue, might blow away even the most cynical sceptic as he used knowledge, analysis and technology to achieve and manifest his own artistic and creative aims. So too, we have here in this exhibition, individuals who “know” what their respective technology can do and are adopting it to originate representative forms. It’s a really interesting concept for a show, and one which I feel the curators have really pulled off.

Güvenç Özel & his work

Güvenç Özel now residing in LA, but originally from Turkey, an architect and artist has created a ‘cave’ of paper, constructed out of folded triangles forming pentagrams which breathe in response to the signals emitted from a headset worn by the listener. Red light bathes the interior. Güvenç told me that it is a wireless device that maps mind waves. Disturbing maybe, but incredibly thought provoking, as he said, the cave breathes in response to our mind, thus we can make manifest thought patterns and control the space around us.

Luke Taylor and Chris Barrett with their vinyls

Have you ever sat and been mesmerised by the sound “heart-beat” patterns on SoundCloud? No? I suggest you take a look, find a track and listen. That’s just what inspired US (Luke Taylor and Chris Barrett based in Kingston, London) as film directors to create a 3D stop motion of a track by hip-hop musician Wiley. A great dumb-bell like row of old vinyl each cut accurately to size to represent the beats and course of the track. They had to film it in “reverse” they told me. Creating the whole track first with the vinyl then cutting it off in reverse time. The piece here they painstakingly have recreated. I love it that the old vinyl which would have likely ended up in landfill has found a new voice in these guys’ hands.

Julian Adenauer & his work

A flat black robot seems to float effortlessly and somewhat determinedly across one expanse of wall, painting red over and over again, like some gothic medical cat’s cradle. I chatted to Julian Adenauer (one half of Sonice Development, the other half is Michael Haas) who explained the science behind the weird anomaly suctioned to the wall of the gallery. The lightweight plastic of “Big Ben” (their nickname for it) gradually will create a dense colour space as it will move for 200 hours, the longest they have run it. Different colours are used including complementary ones to make, enrich and deepen the tones.

Marco Barotti & his work

A big red plastic dome sits in the centre of the second room, it is see through and has a big circular rubber slit you step through (somewhat ungainly in my case with heeled boots and camera slung over my shoulder) and you clip a little black devise to your ear-lobe. You relax and then the technology which is strapped into the big red dome above you, interprets your heartbeat to create vibrations and sounds around you. It’s weird, after stepping through the ‘slit’ it feels as though you have entered into yourself (no, I’ve not taken anything, ed.). “It’s all about human interaction” said Marco Barotti, of ‘Plastique Fantastique’. He’s Italian living in Berlin. I really enjoyed talking with him, his ideas and vision you can almost feel bouncing off of him. He is fascinated by music and architecture, and it is no wonder as he studied percussion at the Siena Jazz Foundation also. He is interested in different forms of architecture and how you can bring human interplay to change and create the space.

Other installations worthy of note were the wall of videos, Armin Keplinger 1:1000 where what looks like a piece of internal flesh is suspended, spikes poke out slowly and then morph into vertical droplets which slip and gloop audibly down the screen. Bart Hess ‘Mutants’ video was mesmerising as a man trapped inside a rubber suit, pushes and stretches his shiny prison which reflects fluorescent lights that cloak him with a dismembered exo-skeleton.

Eliza Strozyk & her work

Not many women featured, in fact one in her own right, Eliza Strozyk from Germany, triangular wood pieces on fabric, which creates a structural blanket of crimson and red fading to almost peach and natural wood.

Jun Fujiwara's work

The exhibition is clearly a celebration of the Hugo Boss brand, the famous ‘red’ sailing through the whole concept, you can’t help but feel, it is an amazing positive idea for creatives to express themselves on an international platform here at the Saatchi Gallery that is renowned for exploring and freeing the wings of the new and original, and after all isn’t that what design, art and creativity is all about? Collaboration and expression? The arts need patronage and I’m all for wherever that spark comes from. It’s opened up a whole new box of ideas for me, and I’m looking forward to exploring these artists’ works some more.

Interview with Davide Mengoli, co-founder of FloatArt London

Davide Mengoli (left) with co-founder of FloatArt Anand Saggar

The co-founder of FloatArt, Davide Mengoli has agreed to give us an interview to talk about his new creation. As an inaugural event in this year's Thames Festival, the show would take place on a replica of a 19th Century Missisippi paddleboat steamer, Dixie Queen, owned by Thames Luxury Charters. Davide is also the founder of GX Gallery.

Q1: When did you first start to have this idea of Float Art in the city?

DM: 4 or 5 years ago, as a result of holding a yearly exhibition called flock, going round to different colleges, namely Camberwell and Chelsea and choosing artists and organising exhibitions.


Q2: What are the most challenging aspects of setting up Float Art? Any unexpected issues in particular?

DM: Climate disaster? I expect it to be a full on energy event, I don’t have too many worries.


Q3: What are the criteria of choosing the artists to be shortlisted for the showcase?

DM: Based on criteria I’ve used for the gallery. Person who has substance, longevity, importance in meeting the artist not just looking at the work. It’s really a combination of elements, a magic recipe if you like, that requires a magic ingredient that we don’t quite know what it is.
There is no specific list, more of instinctive criteria, thought processes, the work, meeting the artist and listening and getting that feel and passion.

Dixie Queen, where FloatArt would be hosted


Q4: Could you share some highlights of your involvement in art over the years?

DM: Establishing one of the most important gallery in south east London in 2000, the challenge of opening a public space in a place where no one had ventured in setting up a commercial gallery.

Taking the gallery all the way through to where it is now; discovering artist’s like Ed Gray on the journey, artists like Alice Wisden spotted in 2008, artists who have gained a lot of recognition, I don’t know of many other galleries doing the same thing, allowing artists to follow their dream.

Also having the opportunity to find art collectors, to help first time buyers, to create an appetite for any buyers who have never bought a piece of art; now I have collectors who are going to exhibitions all around the world, where 13 years ago they never thought art was in there reach - we have filled a big gap in the market.


Q5: Thames is an indispensible part of the city and yet it is mostly underused by the public except for festive times. Would you consider organising a permanent regular Float Art exhibitions or a Float Art commuter ferry to get more art on the river? For example, a mobile gallery travelling between Excel, O2 Arena, Southbank, Battersea Park could be quite exciting.

DM: I’d like to do anything with partners that really see the beauty of getting involved in creative art.

I’m happy to peruse anything that gives as many outlooks as possible to artists. Due to expensive rent,  technology etc , exhibition spaces have been reduced due to galleries closing down. I’d like to be involved in anywhere that allows artists to exhibit and if the river is one of those places than I’m more than happy to utilise it.

*****
Further Reading:

Page - Interview with Ed Gray, ambassador of FloatArt 2013

Artists & Product Customisation

by Vanessa Champion

Vans shoe customisation launch event, shoe customisation by artist Tin Robot (photo by Vanessa Champion)

So Friday night, Camden… something usually gives, and last night was no exception, bang opposite Camden Tube an awesome crowd rocked up into the Vans’ store to chill to some vibing grooves from the decks of a rather handsome DJ, drink champagne, mixers, wine and mingle with journalists and creatives.  The reason for this cool shindig was to launch the "VANS CUSTOM MADE + YOU" tour which is another brilliant move on the part of Vans to excite contemporary customisation of their footwear.

Not a lot of people know this, but Vans kick started shoe customisation way back in 1966, this unique project aims to celebrate and support their long standing connection with the art scene.

Art by Tin Robot, on display in the Vans Camden store at the launch event 12 July 2013 (photo by Vanessa Champion)

The tour opens in Camden, with customers cramming into the store on Saturday to get their shoes customised by the five artists, the artists then pick up their inks and creativity and head to three more stores located in key trend cities: Glasgow, Bordeaux and Paris where they will produce live art.

Artists Psykey and Kevin Grey (photo by Vanessa Champion)

I chatted to the artists Ben Bobzien, Kevin Grey, Seth Shelman and Tim Wolff. Each of them have really interesting backgrounds in graphic designs, tattoo art, graffiti and fine art, working across media and with a variety of outlets from publishing to licensed clothing. Vans have been exceptionally impressive in selecting these artists whose work exudes urban vogue will now travel along with the artist ‘French’ on to Vans’ store locations in Glasgow, Bordeaux and Paris where they will produce live art.

It’s a great concept, as the live art show combines a bespoke customisation service & exhibition plus a live in-store paint session, creating a permanent fixture on the Vans Store front.

Follow the artists on twitter @zien_art @frenchcraft @timrobot @sethcs (photo by Vanessa Champion)

artist Psykey (@sethcs) with his art and Vans’ customisation (photo by Vanessa Champion)

Artist Tim Wolff (@timrobot) by his quirky creations, which is calling out for a graphic novel! (photo by Vanessa Champion)

Ben Bobzien with his customised Vans (photo by Vanessa Champion)


Manifold crosses the river to Siobhan Davies

by Suzanne Harb

‘Under the Influence’ by Manifold

04.07-11.08.2013

Siobhan Davies Studios

The Siobhan Davies Studios and 60|40 have teamed up for the fifth year running to allow the chance for artists to respond to this unique space while re-examining their own crafts. This final installment in the crafts collective’s Starting Point series sees Manifold, a group of 9 artists and designers, utilise this unique space over a 3-month residency. 

Manifold is a diverse group who set up their studio in 2010 after graduation from The Royal College of Arts. Their individual activities include sculpture, drawing, digital art, textiles and hand modeling to name a few. Although diverse in their approach they are united in their need to portray processes, to their surroundings and progressive approaches to age-old ways of making.

As I approached the façade of the Siobhan Davies Studios I walked faster in anticipation of discovering the full charm of this converted school building from the late 1800’s. I had read about it but I was eager to see for myself the finished product of the work of Davies and architect Sarah Wigglesworth and the structure that would provide inspiration for the 9 artists in question. I was met with a clean, modern interior. The stairs placed outside the building, suspended from steel cords leading you up to the main studio on the top floor. A vast magnificent space tucked into London’s skyline with its warm wooden walls and sprung floors unique ceiling. However it is not this abundant space that these objects of in inspiration inhabit, but the meandering staircase and the short corridors filled with natural light. It is an intimate way of displaying the intimate objects that that make up the first part of this residency, moving in and out of the main body of the building as we view inside the artist’s mind. It is during this primary stage that the artists have taken to approaching this residency in a unique way and have decided to display the things that have influenced them and their artistic careers. 

The displays are diverse and unique to each artist.  The displays encompass personal photo albums and patchwork quilts to works from notable artists such as Gary Hume and illustrations by Quentin Blake. They wanted to utilise the residency to facilitate a truer response and to share something very personal.

When talking to Bethan Lloyd Worthington, she stated that as a group they decided quite early on that they wanted their time here to display a process. She said ‘we simply wanted to start at the beginning’, this meant the beginnings of their careers, even though they may not have known it at the time. A look into those people or objects that have gone on to inform their work and the work that they will produce here at The Siobhan Davies Studios. 

Worthington's personal offerings

Among Lloyd Worthington’s offerings is Maisie Broadhead’s ‘Made in Britton’ (2011) is as Lloyd Worthington states ‘I think it encapsulates much of what we want to say with the show as a whole.’ A photograph of a member of Broadhead’s family, holding an earthenware jug from Bernard Leach’s course collection and surrounded by some of her own works. It is this layered meaning and influenced from a number of sources that is indicative of what Manifold is striving to convey.  Another of Bethan’s contributions is a personal photograph of her Grandfather, a lay preacher, historian and teacher. It was taken at home once owned by the family highlighting her interest in sense of place and location.

Kim's taster of what is to come

Sue Ae Kim, a member of Manifold who has worked with ceramics has, on this occasion decided to explore the use of porcelain as a mode to respond to the context of the gallery. Her display at Under the Influence comprises of postcards depicting decorative porcelain figurines by Joseph Willems from the V&A.  Ae Kim said that she had been looking a lot at the work of Willems as the detailed figurines and the use of porcelain itself would be an appropriate way to relate to the strong background of dance that the gallery is famous for. She also displays books relating to Willems influence, Meissen porcelain. Ae Kim also mentioned that she was also taking dance classes at the studios, taking this time to draw and dance, I can’t wait to see what the culmination of this processes will be later on in the year. It is this overt reference to influence, context and process (that in this case is cross cultural and cross generational) that really sums up what the group’s ethos and what they are trying to do here.

This interesting and fresh take on a residency and the portrayal of process in a highly personal manner is what makes Under the Influence so special. I loved this introduction to the group and the way in which it can lead the viewer to assess their own influences, sentimentality and achievements. The group didn’t want to simply create a site specific art work they have instead created a respective insight into the their crafts. I look forward to what Unfold (6 – 22 September) will have to offer.

Interview with Perrier-Jouet prize winner Hitomi Hosono

photo by Anja Schaffner

Q1: Congratulations on winning the Inaugural Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize. Could you share with us the nomination/selection process and your feeling of receiving the award?

A: I was so thrilled to learn that I had won the Perrier-Jouet prize.  Even being nominated for such a prestigious new award was an honour.  The prize is wonderful in that consists not only of a generous cash award, but also travel to both France and Design Miami, which will broaden my horizons; I have never been to either France or America.  And preparing for my first solo exhibition in such a wonderful setting as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is a dream come true.   

Large Leaves Bowl

Q2: Your education and career spans between East & West. What made you decide to pursue your study and career in Europe?

A: I was enjoying making ceramics in Japan but I became interested in Scandinavian design. That is the first reason to come to Europe. Also, I simply wanted to try to see what life and work was like outside of Japan.

Black Camellia Box

Q3: Your works are very different in Japan & in the UK, there seems to be a shift from the abstract yet colourful style to a more figurative but minimal style. What are the creative inspirations behind them respectively?

A: I use a technique initially inspired by Josiah Wedgwood’s Jasperware, in which thin ceramic reliefs or ‘sprigs’ are applied as surface decoration to a piece. I wanted to make innovative pieces featuring the sprigging technique, but to move away from the traditional use of sprigs solely as ornament, and to attempt to work with ceramic sprigs in a new and sculptural way. Extensive experimentation with different methods and clay bodies enabled me to create two new ways to use the sprigging technique.  One was to cover the entire surface of a shape with sprigs; the other was to construct asculptural object solely out of many layers of sprigs.

The subjects of my current work are shapes inspired by leaves and flowers.  I study botanical forms in the garden. I find myself drawn to the intricacy of plants, examining the veins of a leaf, how its edges are shaped, the layering of a flower’s petals.  I look, I touch, I draw.

Shirakawa Bowl

Q4: You have been living in London for some time. How do you feel about the city - what are the things you love most here and you don't miss at all when you are away?

A: I like many kinds of cultures in London. In a one-minute walkfrom my studio, I can have very good Moroccan food, pastries from Portugal, pizza, Indian food. The thing I would miss least about London is being packed like sushi in the Tube at rush hour.  

Black Dancing Leaves Box

Q5: What are your future plans after the St Pancras Chambers Club exhibition?

A: I will engage with new and inspiring experiences, and pursue creative challenges within my craft.

The more I look at the natural world, the more I have begun to feel the importance of the concept of flow in nature. I believe this is the heart of nature. From small, minute elements such as leaves to grand magnificent views, they are all in flow.   Flow is what makes nature alive.

In this sense, the flow seems to me to be confined to that small scale in my current work. What I would like to do is to make a whole form itself also become an element to express the active movement in nature.  I would like to challenge it at a larger scale I have ever done. I believe the result will show the dynamic energy of nature and make my work more exciting and more true to the natural world.    

This aim will bring both technical and artistic challenges to my current working methods.  Conveying flow on both a small and a large scale means that I will need to develop my techniques further to enable complex constructions in porcelain by experiments and research.  For the new work, I would also like to expand and widen my inspiration from nature beyond the familiar plants in my immediate environment. I intend to visit the collections, archives and libraries of botanical institutions like the Royal Horticultural Society and Kew Gardens to research extinct plants, or plants in countries I have never visited to see which of these will be most suitable to adapt into porcelain. I would like to concentrate deeply on this research and experiments taking enough time, possibly 3 -4 months.

(all photos of works above are provided by the artist)

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Further Reading -

Page: Ceramicist Hitomi Hosono wins inaugural Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize by Jessica Klingelfuss on *Wallpaper.com, 08.04.2013