Creatives in Con.Text, the work from which the idea for this exhibition exhibition evolved, is awaiting further conversation with a printer, Sue Austin and Liz Crow are finessing 'Creating the Spectacle!' (film) and 'Bedding Out' respectively; 'People Like You' is coming together.
The five soft-sculpture figures jostle, in my head, for the most effective way to relate to each other and to the architecture on offer. Two of them are pretty much decided.
It is totally instinctive
the small in-breath and holding it.
The body angle, response to
spatial awareness, shoulders just
so and heartbeat nudging increase.
Without eye contact, conscious yet
unconscious; focused on other
for the instant of pushing through.
access demand brief encounter;
fleeting engagement with naked
exposed skin, breaching personal
space, hinting towards Imponderabilia
an artwork that demands your
on a physical level not
accessible to anyone
clothed in a metal framework;
people whose personal space boundaries
have no finer sensation.
Kouros and Koure stand before steps, their own naked fragility holding traces of each passing encounter. They stand wide enough apart to accommodate any wheelchair, yet they stand before steps. Kouros and Koure offer you space to consider access: public, personal, intimate,
And they challenge you to consider the weighty negativity of being continually offered so much more personal space than courtesy, or naked skin, demands.
The exhibition 2012 Open: Designs for a future is on from 31st October - 16th December at Salisbury Arts Centre - Free
On Tuesday, curious to see the selectors choice of Sustainable Design, I attended the busy Preview of Salisbury Arts Centre's Open 2012 exhibition.
First impressions were pleasing on the eye, I fell in love with a recycled book floor; an elegant glass, metal and wood table, and the little group of pots bathed in changing projected images.
The expected repurposing of salvaged resources was accompanied by the considered use of quality design, materials and technology. I had some practical questions about functionality, but there was nothing to get me really thinking, until I discovered the psychometers...
Like many of the pieces on show they are finely crafted, but more than most, they are beautiful. And they are thought provoking. First, how did they get there, why were they selected and what do they have to say about sustainability?
Psychometers are a nonsense, like phrenology and other dead-end pseudo-medical diagnostic tools or practices.
These pieces, created by James Morton Evans, using working barometer mechanisms, are deliberately provocative; an invitation to consider perceptions of mental health issues, the position of psychiatry in the sciences, our drive to utilise new technologies in healthcare and also to look at how we might see sustainable well-being in the future.
As it says on his website, James is a 'UK-based designer who draws upon the language of organic morphology to make exquisite, timeless furniture which is as much sculptural as it is functional'; the psychometers are not typical examples of his work, but by presenting them here at this exhibition James prompts some much needed thinking on wider concepts of sustainability.
The Hayward Rat (Rattus Flattus) has proved positively inspirational.
There is work queuing up to be let out of my head and there are days when this queue and clamour paralyse my choosing process.
The Hayward Rat has brought Kouros and the body project right up to the front of the queue. The body project aims to resurrect Jessie from 'Bare Boards and Blue Stilettos'.
At the time, she made dramatic impact, but I felt she needed to be a little more explicit. I was asking people to use their imaginations, but not giving them enough to work with and Jessie presented as scary, but also maybe a bit of a full stop.
Ever since '(it might be disability but) it's Still Life' presented at Holton Lee, Jessie has been nagging me. She wanted to join Kouros (the life-size soft sculpture of a nude male); he does have a female companion, and we were thinking they needed a lot more company; a group of them would provide more ammunition for imaginations to run.
So here in the sunshine, I've been working on Jessie's muslin skin and polyester muscles and the new man (who is actually just an up to date version of the old man).
Jessie is named for jesses
those seeking tendrils that
float in the jet stream of no
longer quite-wild birds of prey.
Symbols of symbiosis
like roots drawing Jessie down
to other connections, links
that thread through Jessie's heart.
Jesses, merely symbols or
darker, deeper holds on
Via Westminster Bridge and a complex of old buildings with a clock tower, we attempted to reach Trafalgar Square. Olympic Detours and fenced off areas took us through Whitehall and a photo opportunity with some gentle, patient horses standing beside a big label warning that they might kick or bite.
Along our route, a long, long queue of London taxis, progressing slowly and very noisily with much horn honking, was the cause of much laughter.
The prominent Olympic Countdown caused mild amusement, but the young people drawing flags on the paving, and the 'would-be' statues standing motionless on soap boxes, attracted the most attention.
With a passing nod to the lions in the Square, we made our way into the National Gallery.
Secretly hoping to steer the party towards the Sainsbury Wing and Metamorphosis, I nevertheless resisted the urge to cheat and followed my guests on their whimsical travels through the complicated unsignposted space. Looked at through Asian eyes not much of it seemed to make sense, but the individual talents of the classical European artists on display, were much appreciated.
Do you have a guide?
Oh no, we have far too many rooms for that.
Well some way of finding our way around?
We are a very big place, we get many visitors
we could not possibly afford to do that.
Perhaps just a map of the layout?
There is a Plan. At the entrance. And her tone speaks:
idiot; but maybe she didn't know
they don't have one in Chinese.
And maybe she is unaware
of cultural diversity.
21 June - 14 July 2012, Salisbury Arts Centre.
Relay: handing the baton of inspiration through time and across disciplines, has produced this exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre.
I should, at the outset, declare my involvement, both as an artist and wordsmith and also as member of LUAN (LinkUpArtists Network) whose work, together with images from LUAN member Sue Austin's 'Creating the Spectacle!' represents LinkUpArts' presence as one of Salisbury Arts Centre's Creative Partners.
Like previous exhibitions showcasing work produced by the artist-tutors and their workshop participants, this one, extending to resident artists, groups, creative partners and resident companies, is buzzing with energy and talent.
Resident potter, Mirka Golden-Hann, exhibits Choreographed Vessel, a plain and elegant porcelain bowl on which moving images of dancers are projected - a work bringing to life the ancient Greek concept of Kalokagethia (harmony of physical and spiritual endeavour), through the talents of filmmakers, dancers and of course Mirka herself.
Anthony Aston, currently the Arts Centre's Technical Manager, has been experimenting with mapping projections to three diminutional surfaces and a resulting digital piece involving the resident youth dance company, Jigsaw, and a regular life drawing group, is most effectively exhibited on the Altar Stage wall.
These two pieces popped out at me at the preview, but there is so much more to see and I'm looking forward to revisiting Relay. The Totem Poles and various smaller intricate pieces need more time, as do the Kingfisher Poets, and there is also the intriguing live performance of the dissolving clay city on Saturday 14th July at 11.00
We read your poem and we cried.
My words adorn, caress the clay;
the tiny figure perched atop
the totem pole is helter-skelter
me with buttercup dust still gold
on my toes. Who would be thinking
the lover who opened my eyes and
brought me back to life, would yet be
muse; his inspiration handed,
artist to artist, maker to
maker; enduring pregnation,
perpetual, powerful. Who
would have dreamed this muse would
have so much life in him.
I've had a disagreement with a woman in an art gallery. We were discussing; I was talking about the visitors to galleries, she was talking about the exhibitors in general and the artist exhibiting there in particular.
I said that Japanese took art very seriously. She declared that he had a free and easy style and Japanese art was very varied.
We politely agreed to disagree when suddenly she realised what I was trying to say, looked discreetly around, and then totally agreed with me. We both laughed, but quite discreetly; the atmosphere was very solemn.
While Japanese people walk around galleries in a state of solemnity, once positioned in front of a piece they are not intimidated by art; everyone seems keen to deliver their personal interpretation and to express an opinion.
Not much of an exchange, yet quite a milestone for me who speaks very little Japanese. There are moments when I feel I understand other people's conversations, but dialogue is much more tricky.
I am frequently approached by strangers keen to try out their language skills and strange meanderings across a variety of European languages result in painfully protracted monologues that have no real content.
I am however left with the impression that the locals have noticed me, like the way I look and enjoy the humorous positioning of chopsticks in my hair.
The chopsticks probably say more than I do, certainly more than I am aware of, and they seem to give the impression that I am accessible.
Wandering out of my comfort zone,
finding less accessible quarters,
I discover galleries. Indeed many,
all with steps enough to keep me out.
And curbs not dropped enough
to let me pass; but then I find
a rush of angels keen
running to open doors;
eager to be
And I start to ponder
the seldom seen
Discovering the imposing bronze statue behind Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa reminded me that I really do wish to attend a Kabuki performance. The traditional Japanese building of our local Kabuki theatre is controversially being replaced by a modern brick box and not due to reopen until next year. I'm hoping it will be amazingly accessible.
I checked out the alternative theatres and discovered that I had missed the May season. I had hoped to go to a morning performance as the event usually lasts around four hours. I would need a translation too!
The Kabuki stage has a 'catwalk' running from the deck to the back of the auditorium, where the hero of 'Shibaraku' appears to deliver his monologue. Unlike Shakespeare plays, this piece was conceived spontaneously in the middle of another play, by the actor whose family developed the drama and now seems to have exclusive rights to the role.
The hero wears an impressive padded costume to add height and width to his stature. I think Japanese people are perhaps more aware of the symbolic possibilities of clothes and they are fond of dressing up.
There are quite a few young people wearing kimono, but so many women in 'dolls clothes' one gets the impression there are almost no grown- ups in the country.
Outfits that look like mini, frilly nightwear and cute little- girl hairstyles make it seem like Japanese women pass from childhood to old age with no adult years between.
And indeed, a lot of them are reluctant to take on roles as wives and mothers, to the extent that the government is seriously worried about the shrinking population numbers.
Is our fascination with being/looking youthful leading humanity on the road to extinction? Is this particular Utopia a dead end?
Kimono: the hair
the style, the pins,
socks and shoes
as well as the
belts, all belong
to make tiny steps
into a future
Today I revisited Design Sight 21_21, the design exhibition space of the Issey Miyake Foundation, created by Issey Miyake and Tadeo Ando.
Tema Hima - the Art of Living in Tohoku, was exactly that. Film and exhibited objects described the traditional ways of sourcing food and tools that are being practiced in Tohoku, site of The Great East Japan Earthquake.
Visually fascinating, informative and an advocate for the inspirational quality of this way of living holding a key to future survival, this exhibition was exquisitely curated and absorbed my attention for several hours.
The artists and craftspeople who put this exhibition together believe that the future is potentially a dangerous place, and that to be knowledgable and capable of feeding yourself and local community is one kind of utopian space.
At the National Arts Centre, now celebrating it's 5th anniversary, were two special exhibitions: Cezanne, Paris - Provence, and 400 years of European Masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum.
There was also a massive and well visited exhibition of local artists, the amateurs, as the staff apologetically described them. There seems to be no middle ground, you are famous, international, or nobody; this seems to be one of humanity's universal directions.
But maybe in their search for what it means to be Japanese, people here have not really bought-in to this notion of what it means to be famous; maybe the apology is merely thought appropriate for a foreigner like me.
I was certainly impressed by the scale of local talent which seemed both more international and more Japanese than last year.
And this year there appeared to be a selection of wheelchairs and baby buggies available for visitors to borrow, with even the possibility of a volunteer to do the pushing.
Nobody exhibits in the
National Art Centre.
Nobody has ten
with 5 metre
ceilings and 20
makes good space.
Ok. I've been here 6 days, this is blog number 5, they all sat frustrated, unposted, on my iPad while I attempted to master the technology using unfamiliar tools.
How do I monitor the size of my images? Resize? Crop? How do I convert .png to .jpg? I guess I will have figured it when I post this, but the Greenroom blog will be out of sync with my tweet...
I may use wheels to augment my body; I may long for a cybersuit, or an avatar, so that I can run and climb and swish a skirt, I enjoy using the technology, but what can I do about my inability to think computer-think?
Yesterday I rolled out in the sun to explore Hibiya Park. The entrance is cobbled and painful to navigate and last year soggy pathways also limited my ability to move around. Access has been greatly improved. The park is bigger than I had imagined, but actually last year's accessible bits were probably the best and most traditional; with a cybersuit, I would have known that already.
The cybersuit needs more development; the Japanese guy testing it out in the French Alps will actually be carried by it's user. The guy lacking the disability will have his strength augmented. I guess we've all heard that story before.
In Marunouchi Building
point a host of decorated
figures. Onwards, upwards
they seem to say
through the eyes of
Japanese - crossing
educating the world;
artistic expressions with
I once heard Anish Kapoor say something along the lines of "my art works because I have nothing to say" which struck me as very odd.
Triptychos Boxed is a glance at the aspirations of faith and mythology from a wheelborne perspective. A collection of previously loved small boxes containing references to aspects of faith, they also focus on the 'get up and go' that, chairborne, I both long for and reject as irrelevant.
This is my first conscious attempt to make work that 'has nothing to say'. It is merely a suggestion; an emotionally charged comment tossed under the wheels in passing, totally open to any interpretation you might visit upon it.
It may not stick to your wheels (apologies to those of you without - no inequality implied), but maybe you will 'stick' something to it?
Sci-fi might be my mythology;
superheroes are never normal.
Perilous poking around
pointlessly perfect bodies
of history, convince me
to look to the future
to aspire to.
I pin my hopes
on a chairborne aquanaut
to re-imagine life
as we know it,
Schrodinger's Cat. Box 2 of Triptychos, is black and 15 cms deep. It has six sides, each 7.5 cms. The outside has a texture like fine grosgrain which gives it a silk-like finish. The lid has a 3 cm lip and both box and lid are a smooth black inside.
When you remove the lid to peer into the darkness you will see the words read read read read read read read read & read in sky-blue printed around the edges of the floor of the box.
There is also a black square in the centre of the floor of the box. This square can be seen against a sky-blue background and it represents a black cube.
Inside the lid are the words: SCHRODINGER'S CAT.
I am the mystery;
Inside the box
I am a box only
faith sees inside.
But faith never sees
the inside of me
just closes the lid
and I am gone.
Deconsecration: Maria Francesca Tassi and Francesca Lazzarini
Curated by Sara Falanga
Salisbury Arts Centre, 13/01/2012 to 25/02/2012
My image has been progressing slowly, old pens do get scratchy so I have bought new ones and they glide smoothly over the paper, quickening the drawing that finds itself as we work together.
Am I turning my back on digital expression? Am I sulking because the technology seemed beyond my control? Or just retreating into the comfort zone while I figure things out?
I have also visited Deconsecration, the exhibition that has replaced The View from Here at Salisbury Arts Centre, but found it disappointingly superficial.
Paper blushed pink with saints
and legends; cut and formed
to please without a story
of it's own. Adrift like
pollen on the wind. Too late
to fertilise the squiggles
and swirls that pattern papers
pinned precisely to the walls.
Rooted images seeking
history and cultural
reference pale into the
grey walls, danced upon by
older scriptures. Hints of
warmer spaces fail to heat
the emptiness; shy away
from Latin fire with a quiet
of another culture,
The View from Here finished on 23 December 2011 and I miss making Con.text - the title of my conversations and writings.
Just as Con.text took me by surprise,
grabbed my attention and offered rich
food for thought; I am all at once faced
with the view of an abrupt ending.
Like a Looking Glass, The View from Here
pulled me into an alien space
with strange perspectives from other minds.
I travelled delight and confusion;
well-worn and unfamiliar paths;
I went no-where and yet travelled far.
I’m not ready to leave,
but there’s suddenly no time to go.
Back here, on this side of the mirror,
I carry all the words.
Con.text, both finished and unfinished,
ends and continues in my head and
in my plans for the nearest future.
This time next week Christmas is over
and The View will be gone forever.
There will be a brief and empty space.
Space of memory: memory of
spaces awaits Deconsecration;
and this Con.text will need some kind of
finishing off; some kind of ending.
Sitting in Residence at Salisbury Arts Centre, talking to loads of interesting people is fascinating. I wanted people to be honest with their personal responses and gut reactions, and have been frequently taken by surprise at just how much honesty I'm getting.
I had this conversation with a young person as we were surrounded by Martin Bruch's Bruchlandungen:
How I relate to this is
Like, these are the important bits of your life, yeh?
And these are the bits I throw away, y'know?
The pictures that don't work,
I only keep the good ones.
I don't want to say your life is rubbish, but
its making me think...
Extract from a Saturday "in Residence" conversation at Salisbury Arts Centre partly inspired by the relative invisibility of Aidan Moesby's artworks in The View from Here, plus People do Say:
Does art that no-one sees have
anything to be heard?
Can it have the impact of a tree
falling in the forest?
Is it dead
or alive in
If no-one sees it
does the concept of art
When no-one can see
does the artist
this might not
People do say
say overlapping things
things I've not heard
heard only in passing
passing words they like
like a party game
There are so many words; too many for here and I'd like to keep them together as a body of work, but here, more extracts:
I felt so self-conscious in the wheelchair,
but my eyes saw things
differently. My brain
unpacked the info with
the prospect of a
Artist and curator
creator of paper
sculptures, come to
I’m cheating you see:
I’m just too busy
but one day it’ll be me
doing a workshop.
The View from Here is at Salisbury Arts Centre from 10 Nov to 23 Dec 2011
My intervention is going well. My approach is proactive and flexible which has allowed the project scope to expand. Very few of the visitors to the Arts Centre feel they have a journey which relates to the exhibition, but probably about 80% of them are happy to contribute their words and thoughts to this fast growing body of work.
Striking! Noticed it at once.
Had to bend down; its child height.
Then I saw the wheelchair
and had the revelation:
a disabled artist.
good pictures. I’ve got
children myself, don’t
actually have time
to stop and look.
My computer died, hence the long pause in online accessibility. And I’ve been recovering from an accident and all that stress has resulted in a personal “crash”.
Re-booting has been hard and slow I’ve been working with scrambled eggs; luckily they are reverting back to “little grey cells” because I was beginning to get a little scared.
I’m getting to grips with different technology but totally, temporarily, cut off from the digital projects I have been working on.
This might be good; I shall come back to it all, refreshed after a time out.
And I have a new project to focus on. The View from Here is an exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre, with work by Martin Bruch, Juan delGado, Aidan Moesby, and me.
I’m “Sitting in Residence” and I see from the invitation to the preview that it says “an intervention” – cool, I’ve not done that before.
I hope to discover people who will talk about their journey to access this exhibition and to make poetry, add texts to the exhibition space and blog.