Monthly Archives: March 2012

Inspiration found at…

London:  Hot and buzzing with people moving and walking and transport zipping and sliding in and out of view.  Sometimes I forget how restful my little corner of the world is in comparison to this goliath.

London did not disappoint.  My friend and I were there to see some scenes and this is what we saw.  First, we popped into Somerset House to take in the Pick Me Up exhibition.  Said Friend had done a bit of research and found this show worth seeing and oh my, I am ever so thankful for his find.  The show was brilliant, not just in bright pinks and eye achingly bright oranges and reds, but in the scope of talent on display.  The official blurb about the show goes like this:

‘London’s original contemporary graphic art fair returns to Somerset House, showcasing the best illustrators, graphic novelists, cartoonists and graphic designers from around the world.  Buy limited editions and affordable art, and enjoy special workshops and weekend events, as well as talks, performances, DJs and portfolio reviews.’

It was fantastic to walk throughout Somerset House, working our way through one room to the next, seeing all manner of artworks.  I very desperately wanted to buy at least ten different pieces, but instead opted to buy a postcard pack of 20 and be content with that.  Some familiar faces were there, or rather, work that I have seen in Edinburgh, names that I recognised.  The ubiquitous-seeming Pugs Not Drugs lady was there and it just so happened that Said Friend was wearing his recently purchased ‘Pugs Not Drugs’ tshirt when we rounded a corner and were confronted with her work.  Nice one, Gemma Carroll, you are certainly getting around. The pieces featured above are from Zim and Zou, Kristjana Williams and others that I very shamefully did not take down the names of.

The main reason for my trip down to London was to see this:

Ha ha.  Just kidding.  But hey, what kind of craziness is this, lurking behind someone’s black iron fence?

This was what I really rocked up to London to see:

Three attempts were made to see this show.  When I arrived mid-morning, I was faced with the prospect of standing in the queue for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Hm.  No thanks.  When I showed up for the second time, mid-afternoon, I was given the option of standing in the queue for 2 hours, or perhaps I would like to come back closer to the end of play that day, suffer very little queue waiting AND a better chance to see the artwork due to lack of hoard.  And so, I arrived at 4, waited just under an hour to enter the doors of the Royal Academy and was then wowed with wall after wall of such amazing colour combinations that my brain ached.  It ached at the beauty of it, actually.  The thick laying on of brushstrokes, the colours of previously layed down paint showing through lighter brushed and coloured areas; my brain ached at the effort of understanding.

I stood for an age and a half infront of a late 1990’s piece of the Grand Canyon.  The large artwork first caught my attention as I calmly looked at one scene painted four different times in four different seasons.  As I was walking from Spring to Summer, I turned my head to the right and caught sight of a large red orange canyon.  It was commanding.  It was brilliant.  I eventually walked right up to it, confronted it, allowed it to take up my entire field of vision.  It was glorious.  I paced beside it, considered it up close and from across the room.  That piece was by far my very favourite.

The next hour I spent gliding from room to room, weaving my way through the crowd.  Standing infront of those large works, seeing the view from Hockney’s eyes and imagination and trying to understand how he created his works, was very, uhm, well, it was very peaceful, actually.  Time ceased to matter.  The works absorbed by attentions.  I can’t really describe how peaceful that seemed.  This is what happens to me when I see what I consider to be great work.  Work that absorbs you, somehow plucking you out of your wee little life, enveloping you and shoving aside all the worries that vie for your attention.  Or my attention, rather.  I don’t really know what YOUR worries are of  if you worry at all.

But I digressed and now here I am, at home, back to my flat and the sound of cars babbling up and down the cobbles of my street.

Visiting those exhibitions down in Londontown was worth every penny spent, every minute spent in a line, inching my way closer to something beautiful.

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Pink velour tacky bottoms

The Jose

Josey has been in my life for over three years.  We began our together lives with her being quite small and me being very big in comparison.  It took some time for her to get used to her new surroundings, but the amount of cute she brought into my life far outweighed problems of house training, chewed shoes and the endless hours of her crying in her cage at night when she was a wee pup.  It was heart breaking, listening to those little cries  echoing through the house.  I caved.  She now sleeps in my room.

Finding your footing with a new ‘person’ in your life is an interesting learning experience.  How do you fit your lives around eachother?  I mean, I thought Jose and I could rock the hot pink valour look, a la tacky tracky suit bottoms, me with blonde hair extensions, her with fake diamond studded pink collar.  I bought the tiny pink bag (not really), tried to coax her into it, told her of the fun we would have with her as my purse dog.  She wasn’t having it.  She rolled her eyes, stole another’s dog tennis ball then trotted off into the middle distance.

I then thought that perhaps she could be my assistant, after all, she sees how I work, she is familiar with my work space and knows when it’s time for a cup of tea: every hour on the hour.  And so, I wrote up a rota of who would make the tea.  I found a small paint chart and initialled the shade of light brown that she should aim for when adding milk to the cup (without a word of a lie, an office in which I used to work did this).  When 10am rolled around, I tapped my fingernails impatiently against the desk, looked at Josey, looked at my work, looked at Josey, looked at my work again.  Can you believe she was just laying there, snoozing away on her pillow.  Honestly.  The nerve.  You just can’t get good help these days.

And so I thought perhaps we would just go back to doing what we always do.  I wake up early, walk her around my neighbourhood, she sniffs and does all the necessary things a dog should do.  I talk at her throughout the day, hold up colours and ask ‘do these work together?’ and I imagine her response is something like ‘do you think I give a sh-‘ because, well, she’s a teenager and I think she is having a bit of an attitude problem right now.

So, that’s Josey and I.  She features predominantly in my world and I do think that living without The Jose would be like trying to live without an arm or a leg or sunshine or crisp green fields.

Keep Clear

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This photo was taken by Diarmid Mogg, author of Small Town Noir http://smalltownnoir.com/about/. I saw it on his Instagram page and kindly asked for a copy. Thank you, Diarmid, for this wonderful gift.
This photo is tacked onto my studio wall. I sit across from it, see it every day that I work, and am reminded to keep the way clear.
There is so much in life to distract you from the path you know you should keep to. Sometime my own seriousness can be a distraction. Sometimes my inability to shut off can take my eyes off of what’s important.
Keep Clear. Keep it clear in your mind where you want to go; where you want to end up.
I think this is the way to success.

Opening night at ‘Contextus’

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‘Contextus’ exhibition at Art’s Complex

Image by Duncan Robertson

So.  I’m in this exhibition.  Well, obviously not me personally, but three pieces for walls and possibly a sheet or two from ‘The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography.’  I suppose I’m not really incorrect when I say I’m in this as every piece of artwork any artist creates is a little bit of them plus some magic and possibly a little bit rock and roll.  Or jazz.  Or silence.  Or manic crazy thoughts that zing around the mind when your hands are busy making.

I did spy work from the artist represented in this poster at the RSA.  From what I’ve seen of his work, I think he might have a small fan in me.  It’s the jarring effect of tank with pretty flowers that I particularly like.

Anyway, it should be a good exhibit and I encourage you, dwellers of Edinburgh, to pop along and have a gander.

Exhibition brought to us by Curio Gallery.

Here’s a short write up from the Herald Scotland:

‘Contextus: A Re-weaving Of Fabric’s Context In Art

CURiO Gallery, Arts Complex

St Margaret House

London Road, Edinburgh

07943 511583

Curiogalleryedinburgh.wordpress.com

March 17–24

The mobile CURiO Gallery’s latest exhibition aims to challenge the general public’s perception of textile art with a group show from artists ranging from the up-and-coming to the established in Edinburgh’s cavernous Arts Complex. Fusing tradition and modernity, some of the artists incorporate synthetic materials into work using traditional highly complex and skilled techniques, while others, like Collette Paterson, who has developed a bonding technique to combine felt and neoprene to make jewellery, invent their own processes. There is only one piece of clothing on display – a deliberate curatorial choice – a costume from a performance piece. But everywhere is recycled history and a contemporary slant, from Larisa Guzova, who combines textiles with light, to Duncan Robertson, who embroiders artillery on to his works, and Liza Green, who incorporates textiles with spent rounds from bullets. There will be less warlike matter, perhaps, in the family activity workshops on the opening weekend (March 17-18) when visitors can mount their own fabric experiments.’

The end.

Brazilliant

It’s not all about the art. Sometimes it’s about the music, too.

It seems to weave in and around my life and I think it is something else that I am recently starting to realise has influenced my work.

As this is a blog about my practice, I must write about the music.

There are the gigs (Django Django being a recent favourite and New Year’s party on Brighton Beach featuring Fat Boy Slim many years ago) and there are the playlists (featuring Grimes, Little Dragon and Battles) as well as the stack of CDs given to me from friends that know I like to discover new tunes. When I work, there must be music. If I can’t decide, then I just tune into 6 Music.

For over a year, I have been playing with the Edinburgh Samba School. I wrote a post several months ago about this fun little group that likes to drum its way around and about town and beyond. Last night, we had an amazing party, one in which I had the honour to help arrange. Okay. Early yesterday, I most certainly was not calling it an ‘honour’ and in fact, I was about ready to rip out every single little hair on my little head. As the night unfolded, as the Beginner band members lined up with excitement and slight intrepidation, as the crowd of friends waited for us to begin, I thought to myself ‘I really love this.’ And so, the night went on, the room filled to capacity and we drummed and danced our little hearts out.

There is a song that the official band play called ‘Burn ’em’ where we build up to a crazy frenzy, drop the sound completely, then literally jump back into action. The crowd weren’t expecting this and when it happened the atmosphere in the room went super stellar.

I am thankful that I am a part of this wonderful group of people. Many friendships have developed as a result and I’m sure that many more will as the months roll on. Our next massive event will be the Cavalcade on July 22nd where yours truly has signed up to be on that committee as well. I’m sure the days leading up to it will turn me into a complete stress head. On the day I know it will go swimmingly.

So. This is what I do in my free time, in my work time, in between point A to point B. I plug my ears into something interesting and move like there’s always a song in my head.

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I’ve been influenced by the Funk

Big structures.  Big sky.Welcome to Funk.  I promise with my entire heart that this is a real town, nestled on the plains of Nebraska.

Recently, I had to provide an artist statement for an upcoming exhibition.  ‘Contextus‘ – what a name.  You should go check it out.  There will be 14 of us little artists knocking about the place and we would love for you to visit us and our work.  We are generally nice ( I assume) and we don’t bite (I assume again).

Part of my artist statement went a little like this:

Her current city of residence has been great inspiration for her textile and print creations. Old and new architecture, interesting views and the steep hills and layers to the city have provided much to work with and interpret in her particular style. In contrast, she is only just now realising how the wide open fields, forever skies and strong sturdy structures of grain elevetors and water towers on the plains of her youth have influenced her current body of work.  To keep up to date on her latest project, ‘Loving the unlovely’ (working title and hopefully something better than this will come to mind), please visit her blog at http://www.cassandraharrison.wordpress.com

As some of you know, I  like a bit of watercooler banter on Twitter.  I’m sure most of my blog readers (what is it now…five?) find me through Twitter.  One of my TwitterFriends commented that there is a new levity to my work.  Embarrassingly, I had to look up that word.  I may not be bright, but at least I’m honest.  So anyway, I still didn’t quite know what he meant so just had to ask.  He said that perhaps my upbringing, my 20 years spent looking up at those amazing skies and seeing the large cement structures of the grain elevators have somehow influenced me.

As my statement says, I am only just now realising this.

And it is this perspective, this way of viewing things in the context of them just being themselves, singular, alone, ugly, hulking, that is the inspiration of my upcoming exhibition, this summer, at Urban Outfitters.

And there you have it, I’ve let you in a little on my big secret.