Monday, 13 May 2013

Volunteering at Weatherfield School, Dunstable, 05 March 2013

Apologies for not keeping this blog updated recently, however I have some experiences to share regarding some volunteering and work placements which have been both inspirational and very rewarding, one of which was a short project at Weatherfield School in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. On 05 March, a voluntary project was consummated alongside other Fine Art student friends redesigning the children's playground, which prior to the refurbishment, consisted of bare tarmac, which was very unwelcoming for the children at break times. After speaking to the head teacher about ways in which this could be improved, a decision was made to spray-paint fun designs and playground games onto the tarmac, something that would be permanent and easily engage the children.
We painted a hop-scotch, co-ordinates grid, beanbag targets, a racing track, a compass and various other fun and educational games to be enjoyed by the school. It took us the whole day but by the end of the project, the entire playground was filled with colour. It made a huge difference to the children's break-times and now they have a place they can really enjoy, which is very rewarding! Since then, we have been approached a second time by Weatherfield School, and hope to be completing a wall mural this summer.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 20-22 February 2013

Alongside the Museo del Prado, which was a more historic museum of traditional art, visiting the Reina Sofia was also worthwhile, contrastingly a vast appreciation of contemporary art, and an incredibly extensive collection of work to experience in just one day. A collation of both a permanent collection and several temporary exhibitions, Reina Sofia is a definite recommendation for a rounded variety dating from the 20th century onwards, work from Robert Delaunay, Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, Jacques Lipchitz, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Max Ernst, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Donald Judd, Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell, Gabriel Orozco, Clyfford Still, as well as the absolute masters Georges Braque, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. The most famous piece in the gallery is Guernica by Picasso (1937) which was overwhelming to see in reality, depicting the devastation caused by the Spanish Civil War and spanning the entire wall of one of the rooms, 3.5m x 7.8m.


Guernica, Picasso, 1937

In terms of the non-permanent exhibitions, these were much more contemporary in terms of the challenging, conceptual installation and sculptural pieces. Here are just a few of the best from a pick of several exhibitions on show during my visit.


Metonymy, Christina Iglesias, 6 February- 13 May 2013

From the moment that her work was first exhibited in the mid-1980s, Spanish sculptor Christina Iglesias has employed a wide-ranging aesthetic that is as indebted to poetry, literature and architectural theory as it is to the discourse of sculpture. She has consequently explored key issues relating to sculpture, first, as an art form- an object- designed for presentation in gallery and museum spaces, and, second, in its site specific guises, as a public art, seen for example in the doors she created for the recent extension to the Prado Museum in Madrid. In both areas of her practice, Iglesias is highly attentive to the ways in which space may operate as a repository of memory, and a location for speculation and reverie.
This exhibition includes over fifty pieces, is the largest retrospective of this artist that has been held to date, and it covers her earliest work up through her most recent creations. Over these three decades, Cristina Iglesias has been very interested in redefining sculpture as an expanded field that leads to a questioning of the object in its relationship with space and architecture. Her sculptures integrate with the architecture of the places they occupy, and thus play with the interweaving of reality and appearances. Her artworks generate suggestive fictional worlds and set aside all utilitarian purposes, to become settings conducive to reflective observation. Intersections between the natural world and the cultural world are frequently seen in her work, with shadows, cascades, whirlpools and foliage, in which the idea of refuge is a recurring metaphor.
The artist has displayed unceasing interest in a wide range of materials, such as alabaster, tapestry, glass, resin, aluminium, bronze, iron, cement, wood, concrete… Even water makes an appearance as yet another sculptural element, playing a leading role in some of her public projects, which are discussed in the series of videos entitled Guided Tours. The exhibition is completed by a review of her serigraphs on copper and cloth.
(Exhibition press release)

A constant visual exploration of light, shadow, pattern, colour, and a textural experience in a vast array of materials, this exhibition has given me inspiration in creating installational and sculptural work in my own art practice, and an incite into how sculpture can envelope and encompass the viewer, and become an interactive experience as opposed to just standing back and viewing something three-dimensionally.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Museo del Prado, Madrid, 20- 22 February 2013

Recent travels have taken me to the bustling city of Madrid, recommended for of course, the art galleries. With only a few days to spare in the country, I visited only the best known galleries and museums recommended to me, and consequently spent my evenings sipping sangria and digging into plates of paella. That aside, I have many exhibitions and places to introduce and recommend, the first of these being the Museo del Prado, situated in the heart of the city and boasting a collection that currently comprises around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of other works of art and historic documents. Works created from as early as the 12th century to the 19th century fill every space of this historic site, originally designed on orders of Charles III to house the Natural History Cabinet.

Works of particular recommendation were a vast collection of paintings by Francisco Goya; The Clothed Maja (1800-1808), The Naked Maja (before 1800), The Drowning Dog (1820-1823) and many other paintings and drawings by the artist. Seeing these paintings online or in books is no comparison to seeing them in reality. Although these works are some of Goya's best known works, the most famous piece in the whole of the museum is Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez (1656), which has been recognised as one of the most important paintings in Western art history.

The Clothed Maja, 1800-1808

The Naked Maja, Before 1800

The Drowning Dog, 1820-1823

Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez, 1656

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Random International: Rain Room, The Barbican, 04 October 2012- 03 March 2013

Rain Room is an experiential and interactive installation piece, a 100 square metre field of falling water for visitors to walk through and experience how it might feel to control the rain, exploring the idea of trust and disbelief in something so unimaginable. Being the biggest and most ambitious installation The Barbican has exhibited to date, the two hour queue to see this marvel was well worth the wait. Sensors within the room allowed the rain to react to sound and movement, and being able to walk under water droplets and stay completely dry whilst being surrounded with falling water was a magical experience, almost like an invisible umbrella. Playing and fighting against the forces of nature was a strange feeling and one that is definitely recommendable.

 ‘Random International combines aesthetic purity and technical sophistication to create works, often hard won, that explore materiality and immateriality, the animate and inanimate alike. New technologies form the basis of their work which nonetheless draws on op art, kinetics and post-minimalism. Cross-disciplinary collaborations are enthusiastically embraced by the studios. 
In Rain Room, Random International invites you to experience what it’s like to control the rain and put your trust in the work to the test. More than the technical virtuosity necessary for its success, the piece relies on a sculptural rigour, with the entire Curve transformed by the monumental proportions of this carefully choreographed downpour and the sound of water. Rain Room encapsulates Random International’s ethos of experimentation with human behaviour an interactive processes. It also invites us to explore what role science, technology and human ingenuity might play in stabilising our environment… The significance of the technology melts away and becomes invisible, foregrounding instead the participant and their personal journey within the piece.’

Listening Post, Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, The Natural Science Museum

Greatly suggested Listening Post is an electronic art installation, collecting and sharing a live, uncensored stream of fragmented text, shown in real-time to the curious, and arguably invasive public. Words and phrases from public internet chat-rooms, bulletin boards and other online public forums are filtered and ordered to movements in a symphony, displayed on tiny text screens in patterns and waves. Speakers placed around the room play different fragments of conversations at different moments as though a live stream of information is travelling around an individual's existence. This piece is an extraordinary snapshot of the internet as never experienced before and gives a fantastic incite into the millions of identities expressed online. As more and more voices start to talk, and text becomes more and more disjointed, almost transformed into white noise, this hypnotic piece could have you sitting there for hours watching and listening intently.

'Listening Post is a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication, displaying uncensored fragments of text, sampled in real-time, from public internet chat-rooms and bulletin boards. Artists Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin have divided their work into seven separate ‘scenes’ akin to movements in a symphony. Each scene has its own ‘internal logic’, sifting, filtering and ordering the text fragments in different ways.
Listening Post is an extraordinary investigation into the character of online communication and the meaning and malleability of statistics. It is a recognised masterpiece of electronic and contemporary art, but Hansen and Rubin’s use of media technologies and sophisticated data analysis techniques differentiates it from traditional visual art. It relies not only on materials and the built environment, but also on text data quoted from the thousands of unwitting contributors’ postings.
As Listening Post carries out its eavesdropping cycles and displays its findings to us, it implicates us in its voyeuristic activities. But we also experience a great sense of the humanity behind the data. Hansen and Rubin have almost created a modern-day oracle, a snapshot of the internet as we know it today and a monument to the ways we find t connect with each other and express our identities online.' (Hannah Redler, Head of Museum Arts Projects)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce (Space of Light), Giuseppe Penone, The Whitechapel Gallery, 05 September 2012- August 2013

Highly recommended exhibition Spazio di Luce is an installational piece focussing on the relationship between the manmade modern world and untouched nature. The hollow cast of a tree trunk and surrounding branches leave something to contemplate. The life and soul of a tree has almost been stripped bare and reduced to a sad empty shell; the gold leaf is a precious reminder of this life and light. Complimenting the sculpture, walking into the gallery space the sound of a ticking clock adds a sense of time to an otherwise timeless subject, no tell-tale tree rings unfolding the decades. Time has been explored recently in my own art practice, and the rings in trees have been the compared sculpturally alongside tiny layered paper sculptures I have created and will dissect in half, much like the felling of a tree.

'Over the past 45 years, Italian artist Giuseppe Penone has examined our relationship to nature. For the latest Bloomberg Commission, he has created a twelve metre bronze cast of a tree, with a radiant gold leaf interior, which spreads across the columned gallery.
In 1969 Giuseppe Penone (b.1947) covered a tree in a thin layer of wax calling this seemingly simple, yet complex reflection on the passing of time All the Years of the Tree Plus One. He now recalls this poetic action by casting a layer of wax in bronze to spectacular result.
At first sight Spazio di Luce (Space of Light), could easily be mistaken for the straightforward life-size cast of a large larch tree. However, where once there was a tree now there is a void. The inside of the cast replicates in minute detail the tree's bark while the fingerprints on the outside safeguard the memory of the many hands involved in the sculpture's making.
The gleaming gold inside the tree pays tribute to the life-giving forces of light. At the same time, the fusion of bark and handprints alludes to the inseparable bond between humankind and nature.
Penone was part of the legendary group of Arte Povera, which called for a radical rethink of society through making works directly appealing to the senses and challenging common conventions of art making. the installation is accompanied by a yearlong programme of talks an events exploring the rich relationship between nature and the city.' (The Whitechapel Gallery. (2012). The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce (Space of Light). Autumn 2012- Whitechapel Gallery.)

If The Colour Changes, Mel Bochner, The Whitechapel Gallery, 21 October- 30 December 2012

Although this exhibition has shortly been and gone, this is definitely one to record and an artist worth making note of in my opinion. Exploring the use and display of words in comparison to meaning and colour, If The Colour Changes shows a juxtaposition between words otherwise quite ordinary and everyday alongside a disciplined action to create an aesthetic series of works, 'using a thesaurus to generate word chains that are both mordantly funny and bursting with colour.' Interesting to experience is the generated feelings and mood from reading the connected words, whether fun and playful or aggressive and angry; the colour highlighting or dulling the tone.

 'Descending from phrases such as 'top dog' and 'king of the hill' into macho mantras such as 'rule with an iron hand', the latest paintings of American artist Mel Bochner (b.1940) use a thesaurus to generate word chains that are both mordantly funny and bursting with colour.
Tracing nearly 50 years of work, this exhibition commences with Blah, Blah, Blah (2011) a huge painting that encapsulates Bochner's on-going fascination with language and with colour. Across the floor, blue squares are spray-painted onto newspapers in a fusion of geometric abstraction with current affairs. Giant crumpled photographs in lurid colours, described by the New Yorker as 'like road maps found stuffed in the glove compartment', hang around the walls.
In a reprise of Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude Descending A Staircase, a scattering of 48 inch lines occupies the Gallery staircase. At the top No Thought Exists Without A Sustaining Support (1970), is chalked onto a blackboard that appears to drip down the wall. Exuberant planes of colour leap across the walls of Gallery 9 with Two Planar Arcs (1977) and a sculpture made in vividly chromatic chunks of raw glass.
Gallery 8 is devoted to the vast Event Horizon (1998) and 'Thesaurus' paintings, including Amazing! (2011) featuring exclamations from 'awesome!' and 'groovy!' to 'gnarly!' and 'omg!', whose letters and words advance or recede according to the shade. Bochner takes us on a cerebral, optical and physical journey.' (The Whitechapel Gallery. (2012). Mel Bochner: If The Colour Changes. Autumn 2012- Whitechapel Gallery)

Similarities can be made between Bochner's work and my own in some ways, a personal interest in systems, categorising, ordering and rationalising subjects that are otherwise uncontrollable or uneasily arranged: 'Bochner shares with other artists who emerged in the 1960s, including Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse and Robert Smithson, an interest in using rationalising systems- numbers, measurements, definitions- to explore the irrational and provisional nature of being.' As part of my own art practice I have been recording my dreams for the last nine months and hope to continue recording until a year's worth has been catalogued. What I will do with the information I have gathered it yet to be confirmed although using dates, times and finding patterns within a dream cycle is something I would like to explore, and then perhaps creating a piece of work surrounding these ideas. Dreams cannot be easily understood and the juxtaposition between this and the dissecting of this information is a concept I would like to carry forward.