Announcing DOWNTOWN – the second in the SYNESTHESIA series of visual arts exhibitions with live sounds, moving image and projections, curated by me – Kate Ross.
This exhibition brings together work from artists who explore the urban, particularly as realised by the idea of Downtown – the core of a city and its creative heart. However, the artwork in this show is further unified as it relates to an African and specifically Jamaican Downtown of Kingston. The artists whose work is shown in DOWNTOWN have been influenced by Jamaican music, the presence of Jamaican culture in London and its vibrant history which has been brought over from one urban hub to create another.
This exhibition brings together reproduced images of new collages created by Jenny Gordon, photographs and film stills by WhittyGordon Projects from their work in Downtown Kingston, Jamaica and a collection of material collated by Winstan Whitter including flyers, posters and photographs illustrating the story of The Four Aces Club, Dalston.
Artist Jenny Gordon has created new collages for DOWNTOWN which were inspired by sources including nature and found objects such as photographs. Gordon examines concepts of identity, isolation and alienation. Her practice asks questions about how we inhabit the world both physically and emotionally, by drawing upon her own experiences as a woman of mixed race origin. The resulting negotiations of cultural positioning form the foundation of her enquiry into the dislocations of personal identity and physical belonging. In making these collages, Gordon has enjoyed drawing on her personal memories of visiting the Notting Hill area as a child with her parents and she has also reflected on stories she has been told by them of their experiences of the area during the 1950s when Notting Hill was a hotbed of Jamaican culture.
Whitty Gordon Projects (artists Fiona Whitty & Jenny Gordon) have spent plenty of time exploring the vibrant and bustling urban area that is Downtown Kingston, Jamaica for the past three years. In Kingston, Downtown is the heart of the city where the action happens and creative activity is buzzing on the streets. Downtown is a melting pot of diverse communities – pouring out onto the pavements from dilapidated buildings and all walks of life are seen including carpenters, young artists, street hair dressers, barbers, musicians, nail technicians and street food merchants who artists Whitty and Gordon have met and filmed.
Printed stills taken from short films and photographs by Whitty Gordon Projects are being displayed in the exhibition DOWNTOWN to evoke something of the Jamaican urban hub that artists Fiona and Jenny experienced and are fascinated by. The gap between Downtown and Uptown is large in many terms and both artists have worked hard with local communities to bridge it through collaborative creative projects.
Film maker and Director of Photography Winstan Whitter started out making skateboarding films in the ‘90s and has since worked on short films, commercials, documentary feature films and music promos for artists including Echo & The Bunny men, Scissor Sisters, Lionel Ritchie and Paul McCartney. In 2008 Whitter shot “Legacy In The Dust: The Four Aces Story’’ which tells the story of one of the first Reggae-oriented music venues – ‘The Four Aces Club’. For some 33 years it was home to the most influential black music and musicians to date. DOWNTOWN exhibition at Notting Hill Arts Club is proud to display a number of printed reproduction images of Whitter’s ‘Four Aces Club’ screen-prints therefore linking shared histories of London nightclubs and Jamaican music.
The exhibition DOWNTOWN tells the story of DOWNTOWN through the eyes of the artists and curator with their joint enriching blend of Jamaican, British, Irish, Ghanaian and Jewish cultures.
Live on the Night – DOWNTOWN
Continuing with the SYNESTHESIA series theme of creating a multi sensory experience, as well as the visual arts exhibition, DOWNTOWN will also feature film, moving image, projections, live music and DJ sets.
A curated selection of short films will be shown on the night of 8th August by a range of artist film makers who respond to the theme of DOWNTOWN whether this is in the sense of urban subject matter or other connected identities. Whitty Gordon Projects will also screen a film they made after collecting material when undertaking In-Between Spaces, a film project based in Kingston Jamaica in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Conor O’ Grady
Leona Clinton & Mary Caffrey
Integral to the atmosphere of downtown Kingston, Jamaica are the sounds on the streets, produced by musicians and those who organise music nights in the area which artists Fiona Whitty & Jenny Gordon have done there themselves. So, DOWNTOWN exhibition too will be accompanied by music from DJs and bands inspired by Jamaican, African urban sounds.
WhittyGordon Projects are Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon. Fiona and Jenny met during their MA Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London in 2009. Fiona is Irish and Jenny is British/Jamaican. They received funding to undertake In-Between Spaces, a film project based in Kingston Jamaica in 2010, 2011 and 2012 when made several short films including Yabba Pot, Vincent and Downtown. They formed WhittyGordon Projects in 2011 and have participated in numerous shows in London, Ireland, Jamaica and are currently based in London.
Film maker and Director of Photography Winstan Whitter started out making skateboarding films in the ‘90s and has since worked on short films, commercials, documentary feature films and music promos for artists including Echo & The Bunny men, Scissor Sisters, Lionel Ritchie and Paul McCartney. Whitter also works as a mentor/facilitator on many film making workshops within the educational sector.
Whitty Gordon Projects http://whittygordonprojects.tumblr.com
Jenny Gordon http://jennygordon20.tumblr.com/
Winstan Whitter http://www.winstanwhitter.net/
Please join the Facebook event for the night by clicking here
OPEN CALL – Short Films & material for projections for DOWNTOWN – SYNESTHESIA II at Notting Hill Arts ClubPosted: June 23, 2013 | |
WhittyGordon Projects (artists Fiona Whitty, Jenny Gordon) and Kate Ross (curator – Notting Hill Arts Club) are inviting submissions of short (under 5 minute) films on the theme of DOWNTOWN.
DOWNTOWN is inspired by the vibrant and bustling urban area of Kingston, Jamaica, where WhittyGordon have been initiating projects for the past three years.
We are looking for films by artist/filmmakers to respond to the theme of DOWNTOWN, which can cover all aspects of inner city life and urban subject matter. We are also looking for images (of artworks, stills from films or specially designed work – not moving images) that will work well as projections for the night at Notting Hill Arts Club to enhance the DOWNTOWN atmosphere.
The films along with other artworks, curated by Kate Ross (Curatorial Curiosities), will be shown at Notting Hill Arts Club on August 8th 2013 as part of a show reel at 8pm. DOWNTOWN is the theme for SYNESTHESIA II – the second in a new visual arts, sound and moving image series for Notting Hill Arts Club curated by Kate Ross. Wall based art works and the films will be accompanied by music from DJs and bands inspired by Jamaican, African urban sounds.
Information on the SYNESTHESIA series can be seen at http://www.nottinghillartsclub.com/exhibition
For more information on Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon who are WhittyGordon Projects, see http://www.whittygordon.tumblr.com
Please email email@example.com with your submission by Monday 15th July
The Curator Kate Ross (Curatorial Curiosities) is an independent curator who has worked extensively in art galleries, museums and higher education. Curating contemporary art, design, sound art exhibitions working with a particular interest in non-gallery spaces, she is currently curator at Notting Hill Arts Club and also works at CHELSEA space gallery. Kate is also a keen arts blogger and writes exhibition reviews. www.kateross.org
The final decision is that of the artists and curator. We regret that we will not be able to show all films as we have a limited time frame to screen the show reel. We look forward to hearing from you – Fiona, Jenny and Kate.
I have now launched my new website! Here’s hoping that a proper website will help me to publicise what I’m doing and bring in more work. I will still be blogging here, the website is just an easy way for people to find out about what I do. Please take a look around the site which is in its first version and do share it!
The launch of the new visual arts & sound series I am curating for Notting Hill Arts Club was a real success with a great night of art, sounds and music at the Club enjoyed by over 100 people!
Nicky Carvell‘s ‘Naff Graphic‘ Decals suit the industrial space of the Club perfectly and you can see them on display until the end of July.
IKTA performed an excellent set with experimental layered sounds including pre recorded elements and live playing on saxophones, percussion and electronic beats. On the wall behind the stage, short films by IKTA members Victoria Trinder, Simon West, Zachary Apo-Tsang and Rosie Stewart fluttered in the background giving the performance area a more visually heightened atmosphere which worked well with the projections of Nicky Carvell’s specially designed En Visage logo.
Horseless Headmen then played their set with a range of instruments including the biggest saxophone I’ve ever seen, flute, bass guitar, guitar and a number of weird and wonderful percussive items including drums from Nick Cash. Finally, Half an Abortion – Pete Cann tested the limits of the Club’s sound system with his closing set.
Special thanks to all the artists involved, Neil the sound technician at the Club and Calum and Dom who I work with at the Club on the series.
I’m looking forward to SYNESTHESIA II which will happen in August with new visual artist, film makers, music and more!
SYNESTHESIA I – launching my new visual art & sound series at Notting Hill Arts Club, curated by Kate Ross – Curatorial CuriositiesPosted: May 21, 2013 | |
The new visual art and sound series that I am curating for Notting Hill Arts Club launches on the evening of Monday 3rd June with SYNESTHESIA I. I chose the name SYNESTHESIA for the series as it describes an experience that I have always been fascinated with, whether in connection to artist Wassily Kandinsky’s ‘music-painting’ or with regards to contemporary artists creating video art that stimulates simultaneous reactions to sight and sound. I also thought that the name SYNESTHESIA sounded like a club night which would work well for the venue – Notting Hill Arts Club. I think the name also stands out clearly and looks eye catching on the flyer that artist Nicky Carvell has designed for the night.
En Visage – Nicky Carvell
For SYNESTHESIA I Nicky Carvell has produced large-scale ‘Naff Graphic’ decals, mirroring the huge cut outs of musicians and sports people which still adorn the now stripped out interior of the Visage nightclub in Leisure World.
Sorry luv, you’re not dressed right.” Dismissed by the bouncer beneath the glare of the jaunty neon sign, Visage Nightclub was my teenage anathema,’ writes Carvell. ‘Having journeyed to Leisure World with my friends, I was not allowed in again despite the irony that I was the only one dressed in leisure wear, a rejection which embellished the notion of Visage as a glamorous otherworld that I would never experience – it is now due to be demolished.The title “En Visage” signals this sophistication onto a fantasy land that will remain just that. It is this artificial jazzy sign that still fascinates me; the dream overriding the grotty reality.
IKTA LIVE – Victoria Trinder & Collaborators
IKTA presents a session of experimental sound play, featuring Victoria Trinder and special instrumentalist guests. Working with traditional modes of composition in conjunction with and interactive sound objects that introduce an element of the unpredictable.
Victoria Trinder works in collaboration with other creatives operating within a multidisciplinary arena. She highlights and documents exchanges that take place through dialogue and activity, championing the symbiotic relationships that are embedded in our contemporary day-to-day society.
Trinder founded IKTA (I Keep Thinking About) an Internet Radio station that acts as a platform for emerging creative voices regardless of age, gender and cultural backgrounds. IKTA broadcasts experimental sound sessions that occur at headquarters in North London.
Victoria Trinder holds a BA in Fine Art and is currently studying for her MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally, recently being selected for feature at Pnem Sound Arts Festival, Holland. She holds a Post Graduate Teaching Certificate, obtained from Goldsmiths in 2008 and continues to work with adults and young people in and around London where she lives. www.victoriatrinder.com
Any band that can play ‘spontaneous soundscapes’ influenced by avant-rock, progressive dub, classical, latin and soul with some electro-industrial and psychedelic skronk have got to be great musicians, and that sure applies to GD Painting and Horseless Headmen, whose improvisations may feature ‘churning groove, soaring melody, glorious racket and epic abstraction.’ Fans of Can, Faust, King Crimson and Song X will like this too. www.facebook.com/HorselessHeads
HALF AN ABORTION
Half An Abortion is far more considered than the gonzo band name would have you expect: this is carefully-layered, properly physical noise, some of which could be lazily described as ‘harsh’. Yet it actually has a very engaging flow, a wry humour and a structure that invites the listener to climb all over it.
I am really excited about the first event in the series and invite you all to come and join in at Notting Hill Arts Club. Please join the Facebook event through this link.
I have some exciting news on my career development in curating… I am now curator for Notting Hill Arts Club which is a specialist pioneering music and arts venue. Here is what Notting Hill Arts Club say about themselves on their website:
Through conceptualising and cultivating niche, underground and genre defining nights, the artsclub has set the musical map of London. Alongside our serious graphic arts based exhibition programme, concept visuals, and extended area-shaping public arts projects, the artsclub is fundamentally explained in its belief that a world created by artists would be a better place.
What and How am I Curating at Notting Hill Arts Club?
I am very excited about this opportunity and I decided to create a new visual art and sound series for Notting Hill Arts Club which I am curating. This new programme reflects my curatorial curiosities, research and practice into new contemporary visual art work by emerging artists, sound art and the idea of the non-gallery space. The series is allowing me the profile artists whose work I think is cutting edge, interesting and different. I will curate exhibitions around every 2 months and the opening/ private views of these shows will have a whole night created around them with sound and performance artists who I have chosen because their work fits together with the style and ethos of the venue as well as complimenting the artwork to be displayed on the walls of the Club. The process of curating in this non-gallery space is interesting and challenging as the Club is in a basement area, so it is not well lit, therefore I am also choosing art work which is vibrant and will stand out well and is appropriate to the club environment. I am also having to consider the fact that the venue is not an art gallery, so people are using the space to socialise, watch live bands and have a good time so the work needs to be secure so damage is minimised and the work is protected yet can still be enjoyed and on view. For this first exhibition, the images are being printed on matt vinyl which is a resistant material that will stick to the well used club walls like a huge sticker.
The Idea of a Multi Purpose Arts Space
The Notting Hill Arts Club is the perfect type of venue which matches my interests and strong belief in the idea that the future for showing art work seems to more and more be the multi purpose space, meaning that a venue which artists and curators can work in, also has another strand of revenue in order to keep it going and secure its future. In the case of Notting Hill Arts Club, that’s the live music nights they put on and charge at the door for.
Online Presence and Publicity through Social Media Networks WORKS
I was actually approached by a staff member of the Notting Hill Arts Club team who had been researching artists and curators on the Internet, thanks to this blog where my work was viewed and it appealed to the person who contacted me. I’m a believer in the power of social media and free online publicity for creatives. Its working for me so far! Further to this, I have started a professional Facebook page to keep people updated on my work as a curator and you can join it by clicking here.
In my next post I’ll outline the first exhibition and event curated by me for Notting Hill Arts Club which will be happening soon.
SURFACE is the latest exhibition that I have curated, this time with Daisy McMullan who is my colleague at my workplace CHELSEA space . As part of my role this year as Chelsea Arts Club Trust Fellow (which you can read about here), Donald Smith – Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space informed my colleague and I that there was a gap in the exhibitions programme at our sister gallery Chelsea Futurespace and that we would have the opportunity of curating an exhibition there.
The Challenges & Limitations
Chelsea Futurespace is not a space which has the sole function of a gallery.
Chelsea Futurespace is an exemplary collaboration between Chelsea College of Art and Design, Futurecity arts consultancy, and the property developer, St James Urban Living, part of the Berkeley group. It provides a showcase exhibiting space for the alumni and staff of Chelsea College of Art and Design set within St James’ Grosvenor Waterside development at Chelsea Bridge. http://www.chelseafuturespace.org/about.html
So, there are some challenges involved in putting on an exhibition in such a space which is a foyer to a high end residential development where anything from furniture deliveries to dogs and children being walked traipse through, but these can also be looked on as positive opportunities. As mentioned above, Chelsea Futurespace was created as an exhibiting space to showcase specifically work from alumni and staff of Chelsea College of Art and Design, so as curators there was already a structure within which the artists selected would need to fit.
As Chelsea Futurespace is also a living space with the day to day function of being used as the foyer and reception to the whole residential developement, this means that the gallery is part of the residents’ home and many families and children come through the space on a daily basis. So the artwork displayed has to be unobjectionable to viewers and any material that could be seen as explicit or offensive in any way cannot be shown.
A practical point that had to be considered is that for exhibiting, the space consists of 4 two-sided walls, each 10ft square ie 8 walls each 10ft/306cm square. These white walls are moveable, but aesthetically and curatorially, navigation and narrative around the show would need to be succesfully achieved so there are only so many possible combinations for the walls which work well. As the space is used constantly for deliveries, as a shortcut and more, any artwork displayed in the space needs to be securely attached to the walls or safe and not pretruding in the way if not directly fastened to the walls.
The Artwork & Theme
So how did we as curators choose the exhibition theme, title, the artists and artworks? We decided that it would be easiest and most efficient to select a broad theme that would allow for a number of different media or artwork to be included into it. I was keen to avoid an exhibition which would only profile one media of artwork and from the start, as Chelsea Futurespace is bright and open, surrounded by large windows and water, I imagined the show to be colourful and rich in variation, interest and technique. The theme of surface allowed for artwork to be exhibited from painting, textiles, collage, drawing, print and objects, therefore crossing the boundaries between fine art, craft and design. I also felt that this range of artwork reflects the multiple areas of practice which are explored by students (and therefore alumni) of Chelsea College of Art & Design.
Two of the artists I was especially pleased to exhibit work by, were Charlotte Jonerheim, whose work I had admired at the MA Fine Art Chelsea College of Art & Design summer show last year and Brian Chalkley whose work I have written about here. I knew that Charlotte would be able to work successfully in adapting to the limitations of the space as described above and that she would create an installation that was site specific, also using objects from her personal artist’s history which is a method used by Charlotte in her practice. I was determined to have Charlotte’s work included in the show so that there would be objects in the exhibition and not just artworks fixed the wall. In the end, Charlotte used a shelf she had made and a plinth from CHELSEA space to display her work which was the highlight of the show for me, physically coming out of the wall space, yet the delicate nature of the objects were protected.
The work by Brian Chalkley that we decided to show, were his collages which are made using fashion magazine figures that have then been altered by the artist. I love these images which are striking, playful and also prompt us to think about what we see in magazines that is real and what is invented. This couture collage technique is clever and fun.
It was important to us that the branding for the exhibition was clear and consistent, since we also run CHELSEA space, the invitations, press release, mailout and list of works would stick to the Chelsea Futurespace style. We chose a font that was clear and that we liked the look of and each time the exhibition name SURFACE was written, we used the exhibition title font, so that the reader is not confused between the show title and the use of the word surface. Below you can see how the A5 black and white publication we produced matches the style of the invitation card. We chose one of the artworks from the exhibition by Kangwook Lee for the publication booklet cover as well as on the invitation card as it was decorative, detailed and it worked well with the text style.
Curating the SURFACE exhibition was an enjoyable opportunity, being able to pick and choose artists and work that was to our taste. However, it was also challenging due to working in a multi functioning space with its limitations. The exhibition has been well received and has now been extended until 28th April 2013.