Aesthetica ‘Future Now’ Symposium 7-8 March 2019

Stepped out of the studio for two days to attend the ‘Future Now’ symposium hosted by York St. John University.

We are currently living in a time of globalisation, expansion and media saturation. There have been considerable shifts in civilisation in the Information Age – we now communicate with each other instantly, yet with an alarming level of disconnect. Through panel discussions, lectures and portfolio reviews, The Future Now Symposium is an exploration of 21st century culture through the mechanism of art.” – http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/future-now-symposium-2019 

There are many positives about the chance to attend a symposium but there is also the impossibility of attending all the presentations and for me the additional frustration of needing to step out of the day to think after attending sessions. This is a brief note of some of the sessions I attended and the things that struck me during them.

The Keynote delivered by Cherie Federico, Publisher and co-founder of Aesthetica magazine and Director of the Aesthetica Art Prize, addressed the themes of the symposium through the work of the artists selected for the prize exhibition and Cherie’s own thoughts on the emotional evolutionary cusp we appear to be on in the world at the moment. Clearly artists are led to question and challenge the politics, with a small or a large ‘P’, of the times they occupy but I find myself in a state of profound inarticulacy. It appears to be impossible to be clear about any stance you take or belief you hold without expecting most of the responses you receive to be confrontational. To be identified as ‘one of us’ is less the issue than avoiding being identified as ‘one of them’. Thus the assumption of you holding a set of ‘moral’ values is made by association with your presence in a particular space. Cherie presented a slide with a set of words that define our times, Leave, Remain, Algorithm, Consumption, and maybe 20 more, and noted that ‘apathy is not an option’ in our febrile times.

A panel discussion led by Kit Monkman with Charlotte Ginsborg, Ludivine Large-Bessette & Rhea Storr, titled ‘Artists’ Film: Storytelling and Concept’ was an engaging conversation about working practice, motivation, audience and medium. Rhea Storr noted that her work was defined through process, that the piece she ended up with was determined through its making rather than established in advance. Ludivine Large-Bessette talked about making work in which you directed your own movie counter to the manner of traditional film in which you are confined into immersion. Discussion continued around the authenticity of approaches to ‘art’ film and the possibility of defining such a thing, with Charlotte Ginsborg noting that any term applied commodifies the object in question. There was agreement that viewers bringing their experiences to bear as opposed to the mediated experience of traditional cinema was a feature of ‘art’ cinema, and whilst sharing their working method they all agreed that making work for its own sake and not for the mediums sake was key. A very interesting session that introduced me to work I was unaware of but that did not really address storytelling and concept. The thrust of the conversation was practice based and I was left pondering whether it is even possible to make an unmediated artwork.

In ‘Rethinking Sculpture: Connecting With Objects’ Jane Bhoyroo, Producer for Yorkshire Sculpture International outlined the development of the project by facilitating collaboration between the four venues in two cities. The event, or series of events, is designed as a set of reactions to Phyllida Barlow’s ‘provocation’ that “sculpture is the most anthropological of the art forms”. The Yorkshire Sculpture International begins on 22nd June in Leeds and 23rd June in Wakefield and runs for 100 days. All the exhibitions are free and there are a lot of things to look forward to, see https://yorkshire-sculpture.org/whats-on/all-listings/ I’m particularly anticipating David Smith at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

YSI has selected fifteen international sculptors some of whom have not shown in the UK before. They have also selected fifteen local sculptors, five as associates who will work with the international artists and a further ten as engagement artists working with the extensive education and community programmes. Jimmie Durham and Tau Lewis look very interesting at the Hepworth and Nobuko Tsuchiya will be in residence at Leeds City Gallery.

Emmy and BAFTA nominated artist Nick Ryan is a multi-award-winning composer, sound designer, and audio specialist, who discussed ‘The Future of Sound Art’ in a fabulous presentation on the Friday. He began by describing his work as examining the relationship between audio, perception and matter, and talked about the lack of a critical framework for discussing sound or listening. It may be that sound, or at least vocalisation, is the earliest art. Sound suffered historically from two limitations, transience, in that it could not last beyond the event, and transportation, sound could not go anywhere except in the memory of the listener. Ryan discussed the history of recorded sound and the way our perception of sound has been coloured visually.

The lion pictured in this image from Lascaux may well be the first visual depiction of sound.

The lion pictured in this image from Lascaux may well be the first visual depiction of sound. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Lascaux-diverticule-f%C3%A9lins.jpg

He went on to show some of his work focusing on the acoustic imagination being multi-modal and the notion of co-authorship in sound art as everything we hear acquires meaning from our memories. He showed us ‘DX17’ his project with the Imperial War Museum, ‘Machine 9’ that tracks space junk and gives it a voice and ‘Tate Sensorium’ for which he built a musical instrument based on David Bomberg’s painting ‘In The Hold’. Well worth checking out at http://www.nickryanmusic.com/

A great feature of the symposium is that you can get portfolio reviews with a good range of arts professionals including some of the speakers and you can book advice sessions with ACE representatives. I did both of these and the sessions were extremely positive and forward looking.

The other aspect of the event is the networking opportunities provided between the sessions. In this regard the layout of the event – limited seats and big tables – is very well judged to encourage conversation, which, in the manner of most networking events, was mainly around the financial difficulties of practice as an artist.

A list of links to some of the projects/artists/artworks seen or discussed over the two days.

http://www.charlotteginsborg.com/ film maker, check out Melior Street

http://kitmonkman.com/about/ and http://www.kma.co.uk/ interactive and participatory art works.

https://www.ludivinelargebessette.com/ and on vimeo https://vimeo.com/106288978

http://www.rheastorr.com

http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/

https://www.dazeddigital.com/art-photography

https://frieze.com/

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/

Alex Majoli https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53W_0

https://yorkshire-sculpture.org/

https://ysp.org.uk/

https://www.henry-moore.org/visit/henry-moore-institute

https://www.henry-moore.org/whats-on/2019/03/08/phyllida-barlow-sculpture-and-drawings-from-the-leeds-collection

https://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/leedsartgallery/currently-on-at-leeds-art-gallery

https://hepworthwakefield.org/

http://www.nickryanmusic.com/

http://www.dianabell.co.uk/ The only artist who asked/talked about making.

Doncaster Art Fair

Doncaster Art Fair:

Cost £25 for the stall – a good size corner of The Queen Crafthouse in Doncaster – £65 for transport as I make big work and the car is too small.

I displayed two of my big paintings, framed to 150cm x 90cm, two framed paintings at 100cm x 100cm, 1 framed tomatoes painting at 90cm x 45cm and I built a browser out of mdf to hold a selection of big and small work.

Art fairs are always interesting in that you meet other artists and people you haven’t seen for ages, mostly out of context so that they don’t know what to say other than ‘is this yours?’ or did you do this?​’ You are also in a position to eavesdrop the variety of opinions about your work expressed with no regard to your presence, ‘the perspective is all wrong in this one’, ‘who’d want enormous tomatoes!’ ‘O, I don’t like these’ and so on.

At the same time I got a lot of very nice comments and questions about location and process. But my work is too big for sale at an event like this, and my selection was not focused enough to attract attention. I picked up a lot of advice about doing these kind of events, making sure you have a range of (domestic) sizes, price everything up clearly, greetings cards are a useful item to carry for small sales and follow up business. The majority opinion in the venue I was in was that you don’t know how successful an event it was until later on as people can and do contact you after the event having thought about a purchase.

The picture below got a lot of attention and I gave out more than forty cards, so who knows what might come of the occasion. My favourite comment of the day was from a man of about my age who was with his wife and another couple who he turned to to say “we do like art, we’ve just put a Kandinsky in the downstairs loo.”

Wordsworth avenue 7:15 am

Wordsworth avenue 7:15 am

Studio Build TWO

Studio 071118

A full day at the studio. A full day means arriving at 11:00 and leaving at 15:50, I am retired after all.

First off I stretched the paper in the foreground, I’ll be interest to see how this dries given the lack of heating and fabulous ventilation. The time is an hour ahead on this photo, I couldn’t be arsed to change the time when the clocks went back. I moved on to constructing the panels for part one of the installation.

I cut all the wood first, twenty eight short lengths and then moved onto assembling the panels. I got the timing down to fifteen minutes a panel when my portable drill finally charged up. Before that I was putting the screws in by hand, each panel has eight 100mm bullets and fourteen 25mm bullets. The photographs illustrate the very simple production line approach.

An aside for today about the electricity. The supplier is e-on and their standard tariff is around 15.75 pence per KWh. The meter read 277 when I took possession and read 283 after today’s work. The advantage of having only one socket to power everything from.

The video is here so you can hear the noise the rain makes on the corrugated roof.

Friday 9th November. Arrive at 10:45 am with a view to completing as much of the structure as I can. Obviously someone has been in on Thursday as the lights come on when I enter the building. As it’s Axisweb’s rental I have to accept access by them and the landlord without prior notice. This could be either and maybe I won’t see the visitor I’m expecting today.

I made eight frames today to add to the six from Wednesday, each frame uses 4×2.4m C16 CLS 3×2 (48x75mm) at £3.10 each length and one sheet of whiteface hardboard at £7.75, so £20.16 per frame plus screws. Eight 100mm bullets costs about £1.70 and sixteen 25mm bullets are 23 pence. So £22.09 x 14 is £309.20 for the whole assembly. You could say £310.00 including the electricity.

I’ve got one spare frame to test the surfaces for the internal finish and I’m still toying with having a door. There are also a few spots that will need extra screws to lie flatter. You can also see how dark it is, 15:30 in November.

Here ends week one of the new studio!

Studio 091118

Studio Build ONE


This is the new studio I got through Axisweb. A 2,800 sq. ft. light industrial unit for £30 per month. Obviously it’s not only my studio but I am the only one in it at the moment. The space is the biggest I’ve had access to for a good while and has come at a good time for me.

I have been working towards building an environment, with interactive elements, since 2005 when I completed my MA. I was always stymied by the need to earn a living leading to a lack of space and time. Now that I’m retired I have the time but didn’t have the space and couldn’t afford a commercial rent so I applied for an Arts Council grant under their Develop Your Creative Practice strand. I was unsuccessful in the application but then the Axisweb studio came up and I thought why not do it anyway.

The project can be seen here http://www.ian-latham.com/geranium/geranium.html where there a series of developmental animations of 3d models. I will write more about the space itself in a different post, this series will plot the physical and practical process involved in building it and its more open companion piece.

As a reference point for the studio space artist groups in Doncaster are offering spaces through the council that measure 4.5 x 2.5 metres, that’s slightly bigger than half the blue tarpaulin in the close up picture, for £15 per month.

Spaces like this have limits you accept and work around. This space is essentially a fifteen metre square with a 5x4mtr corner office. The corner office has motion sensor triggered lighting and two wall heaters that have timers attached. It has four double wall sockets and is carpeted. None of this useful for me at all. The rest of the space has no lighting and one double socket next to the electrical consumer unit. There is no heating either. The space is well lit by six large skylights, clear corrugated plastic by the look of it, and is usable during daylight hours. I have had to invest in extension leads and adopt a very considered practice – never leaving anything plugged in that’s not being used, taking time to put away equipment between uses as I move the sockets near enough to the work – to be able to build. The other downside to AxisWeb spaces is that you have a 21 day notice period from either side, so if the landlord rents the space you have to leave quickly.

I took the keys on October 26th , and moved the equipment in on Tuesday 30th. Materials were delivered on Monday 5th November and I built the bench in the picture below that afternoon (yesterday as I write). Stay tuned for more as time passes.

Tomatoes

Over the summer I planted tomatoes for the first time in years. I didn’t get them in until May so the fruit ripened in September and was so ugly that may wife declared they could not be eaten. So here’s what I did with them.

This is the first painting – I tend to find first versions are over involved, become fussy and subject to continual finessing, and make me wish there was someone there to tie my hands so that I stopped. These are placed on a drawing board on my turntable in my attic studio. Oil on Paper 90×90.

Two tomatoes Oil on board 46x81cm

Two tomatoes Oil on board 46x81cm

As I progressed I used a lot of red and yellow paint so I started other paintings so as not to waste any. This is the first, on hardboard that was lying around. I’m trying to establish their weight and get the right shininess onto the surface.

Two Tomatoes Two oil on board 46x81cm

Two Tomatoes Two oil on board 46x81cm

another Two tomatoes version done at the same time and with the same ends. I decided I wanted to paint all eight with a different background to concentrate their redness.

Tomatoes on Yellow oil on paper 115x90cm

Tomatoes on Yellow oil on paper 115x90cm

The photograph doesn’t do complete justice to the yellow, the two tones are a lot closer.

At the same time I made two sets of three tomatoes.

three tomatoes two oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

three tomatoes two oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

I did these as I had some watercolour paper stretched and I wanted to see how the absorbency affected the paint.

three tomatoes oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

three tomatoes oil on 200lb watercolour paper A1

By this time the tomatoes were beginning to get soft so I disposed of them humanely! They are heirloom beefsteak tomatoes and the biggest of them was just over a pound in weight and about eight inches across.

The whole episode took about three weeks and is easily enough red for one project.

December 2012

First post since August, what more do you need to tell you I work in education? 20121229-172905.jpg

So I’ve reached the end of the year with a mental block only marginally released by walking the dogs. The images are based on piles of gardening materials left on a council plot behind the local Academy.I started to produce the images before I took the photograph. There are more of them on the galleries page of this blog.
December 2012
I have begun to work the idea up with series of larger drawings, but early days yet.