SYNESTHESIA I – launching my new visual art & sound series at Notting Hill Arts Club, curated by Kate Ross – Curatorial Curiosities

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.

digital flyer for SYNESTHESIA I designed  by Nicky Carvell

digital flyer for SYNESTHESIA I designed by Nicky Carvell


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.
Carvell sees her own cut outs as ‘signs’ to an alternate realm where anything is possible. Indulging on the look of ’80s post-modern record covers, fabric prints and TOTP set designs, these signs envisage uplifting visions which fizz before the eyes, dynamically flashing, always on the precipice.
Nicky Carvell’s work celebrates commercial visuals which may be stylistically outdated, but yet retain a powerful presence through their innate dynamism. Carvell sees her work as a simultaneous deconstruction and veneration of mass-market visuals, becoming retro yet progressive at the same time.Nicky Carvell has exhibited in London, New York, Milan and The Netherlands.
She has a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College and a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from Royal Academy Schools, London.

Nicky Carvell’s En Visage works will be on display until August 2013.
Nicky Carvell's En Visage logo designed especially for the exhibition at Notting Hill Arts Club

Nicky Carvell’s En Visage logo designed especially for the exhibition at Notting Hill Arts Club


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.

IKTA logo

IKTA logo

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.

saxophone is amplified  & ready for an IKTA live sessoin

saxophone is amplified & ready for an IKTA live session

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.

equipment set up for an IKTA live rehearssal

equipment set up for an IKTA live rehearssal

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.


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.

Horseless Headmen performing

Horseless Headmen performing


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 am Curator for Notting Hill Arts Club

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 exterior of Notting Hill Arts Club. Sandwiched between a restaurant & a hair salon, you have to be in the know to realise what's beyond the wooden doors... 'small basement, big fun'

the exterior of Notting Hill Arts Club. Sandwiched between a restaurant & a hair salon, you have to be in the know to realise what’s beyond the wooden doors… ‘small basement, big fun’

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.

when I met artist Grayson Perry

On the evening of 11th December 2012 I attended the University of the Arts, London Benefactors’ Reception which was held at the Platform Theatre Bar on the new purpose built campus site of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The reception was hosted by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Nigel Carrington and the evening was an opportunity to thank, meet and chat with benefactors who fund scholarships, facilities and career opportunities for recipients across the University.  I was there because I am the recipient of an award thanks to the generosity of the Chelsea Arts Club Trust and I am this year’s Chelsea Arts Club Trust Fellow. You can read more about my CHELSEA space award and what that involves me doing in a previous post I wrote here and my role was also written about by Donald Smith, Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space in the latest CHELSEA space blog post here.

Grayson Perry & the Curious Curator (Kate Eleanor Ross) at the University of the Arts, London Benefactors’ Reception, December 2012

Grayson Perry & the Curious Curator (Kate Eleanor Ross) with Amanda Reekie (PR Strategist & Trustee of Chelsea Arts Club) in the background  at the University of the Arts, London Benefactors’ Reception, December 2012

Artist Grayson Perry was at the event in his capacity as a Governor of University of the Arts, London and he gave a speech during the evening which highlighted the importance of the opportunities that the benefactors present had provided in assisting artists to focus on their practice through University by giving awards and that this then contributes to the creative life of the UK. Grayson Perry particularly used his speech to draw attention to the fact that these awards are especially important in supporting artists and those in the creative arts at a time when there are less grants, fees for studying have been increased and arts subjects are being marginalised by the new Ebacc qualifications system.

Grayson Perry at the University of the Arts, London Benefactors Reception

Grayson Perry speaking at the                      University of the Arts, London Benefactors’ Reception 

I very much enjoyed meeting Grayson Perry who was friendly, down to earth and chatty. I spoke to him with MA Fine Art student award recipients from Chelsea College of Art & Design who I knew because of my work on Chelsea Salon Series as Curatorial Associate. We talked about the importance of art schools and Universities for supporting, encouraging and creating the future artists and makers of our cultural society as well as the pros and cons of the internet!

I also thought that Grayson Perry’s outfit, hair and make up were brilliant – he looked great! I saw first hand how as an artist, 2003 Turner Prize winner, Grayson Perry is commenting on contemporary society while using historical techniques and themes in his work through ceramics, most recently tapestry or through his clothes and looks he creates. I recommend watching the television series In the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry which you can see here as its a great insight into the artist’s way of thinking and understanding how he is inspired by what he sees around him to create artwork, in this case a tapestry.

On the subject of cross dressing which Grayson Perry is famous for, I wrote in my most recent blog post here about a contemporary of his – artist Brian Chalkley who has also been a part of the cross dressing scene of artists and knows Perry well. Here’s a great image of them together and you can read more about artist Brian Chalkley discussing art, cross dressing, Grayson Perry and more in my interview with him which is written up here.

artists Grayson Perry & Brian Chalkley

artists Grayson Perry & Brian Chalkley.             Image taken by photographer Marcus Bastel




Interview with artist Brian Chalkley. On painting, fashion, clothes, cross dressing, clubs, art college, teaching, diamond shoes, galleries, Düsseldorf and more…

Brian Chalkley is Course Director of MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design. He graduated from the BA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design in 1973 and MA Fine Art in 1975 from Slade School of Fine Art .

Brian’s practice is an ongoing discussion with gender, sexuality and identity. His work is based around two characters Brian and Dawn, Dawn being a transvestite personality. The practice manifests itself through painting, performance and video work. The construction of narrative and story telling are central to the work. Brian’s work has been written about in Judith Halberstams’ ‘In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives’ (NYU Press).

Recent shows include ‘Nothing is Forever’ at South London Gallery, ‘Dandyism and Contempt’ at Camden Space, ‘Der Meschen Klee’ at the Kunst im Tunnel, Dusseldorf, Germany and a solo show at the Horst Schuler Gallery also in Dusseldorf.

Brian Chalkley at the Regency Cafe, 8th November 2012, photograph by the interviewer Kate Eleanor Ross – Curious Curator.

Kate Eleanor Ross (author of curatorial curiosities) Interviewed artist Brian Chalkley on 8th November 2012 at the  Regency Cafe, Pimlico, London 

within the context of his  first solo exhibition in over ten years, Female Trouble at Ancient and Modern

KR – How did your solo show at Ancient and Modern gallery come about?

BC – Pure chance. I went to an opening of Marco Chiandetti who is an ex student of Chelsea College of Art & Design and he said he had this show at Ancient and Modern which I had never been to. I think this must have been about 5 or 6 months ago and I just got talking to Bruce Haines who is the owner of the gallery and I always remember this, because he said what do you do? I said I run the MA Fine Art course at Chelsea, but I said I don’t just do that, I make paintings. Then we talked a bit more and I said I’ve just had a sellout show in Düsseldorf last year. Well in fact what he then said was, can I see some work, which surprised me on a first meeting with a gallerist and I said no, you can’t see any work, because I’ve sold it all! So I sent him a catalogue and we had a bit of dialogue on the phone and then we met up and he said I really like the work and then he said this is only the second time I’ve done this in my life…I’ll offer you a show. This was even though he hadn’t seen the work.

KR – so you built up a good rapport with Bruce and maybe he was encouraged by how your Düsseldorf show had sold out?!

BC – that might have had some bearing on the matter, yes! Bruce then booked the show for September but at a later point he changed the date and said let’s do it during Frieze week which was good.

KR – in your show Female Trouble can you tell me about who are these girls?

BC Well I’ve always been interested in fashion and also being a cross dresser, that kind of gives me a relationship with these girls I thought and I just started looking through magazines really like Dazed and Confused and fashion magazines, images from 1940s film posters, ’50s film posters, looked at the way they were making images. But initially I guess I have to feel some contact with the image of the girl and the image of the girl seemed to have a kind of sense of anxiety or not exactly trouble, but anxiety

KR – yes, it’s quite apparent that there’s a certain atmosphere around them…

BC – yes, they are in some state of flux if you like. I think that through the act of painting… this might not be the right word, but a metamorphosis goes on. I begin to identify with the person, maybe through the act of painting.

KR – you get to know the characters

BC – yes, there are certain things that happen through the act of painting… like I might start with a hair or something, or I might start with an eye or a lip

KR – and so it evolves

BC – yeah and I think that then gives the work certain levels of completion. For instance, noses don’t get put in somehow… there might just be a blob of paint or something! So there is this sense of anxiety and kind of trouble. People were saying yesterday* that they felt with the images that the figures could be in the ‘60s or ‘70s rather than now. The other thing that came up was that the portraits of the head seemed more mature than what their body was or what they were wearing. There seemed to be a kind of distinction there.

KR – what do you like particularly about the medium of watercolour, because you haven’t really worked in that before?

BC – nothing, I’ve never used it before… there’s nothing I particularly like about watercolour, it just seemed like the appropriate medium. I’d never used it before.

Brian Chalkley – Female Trouble, installation Ancient & Modern, London (October-November 2012; photography by Andy Stagg).

KR – so did you enjoy that experimentation then?

BC – yeah, yes I did and I think it also fits, going back to those old movie posters, there are always thin washes of paint on those, they aren’t heavily impasto like an oil painting, so there’s a kind of graphic representation which I think poses a lot of problems – the graphic representation, because it’s against all of my education.

KR – how do you mean?

BC – I couldn’t have made those paintings… I mean, it’s taken me a long time to accept that way of working, because I was like an abstract painter or using thick paint, finding the image through the act of painting. Whereas these are not about finding the image through the act of painting, they’re about finding an image and then painting it, it’s not through the process of painting it. So moving out of a more romantic view of painting, for my generation I’d say

KR – do you think that’s to do with the experiences you’ve gathered through your career… you naturally change styles

BC – yes and the subject matter and the kind of history of cross dressing and clubs and stuff, forced me to reevaluate the painting process. It was very very difficult when I first started them, because I would paint the image in the evening, wake up in the morning and go my God, what is this! It looked like aesthetically all wrong, but it felt there was something going on.

KR – so you accepted that it was a new phase of your work…

BC – yup, I did. I think the other very important factor is that I found patterns of working that I’m actually sticking to. I don’t move outside of the pattern of working now. For instance, when I first made the portrait, I made the figure and the body, but I didn’t have any background and I’ve said this a lot of times now, I got about 12 or 13 pictures into the group and I kept thinking there was something wrong and I realised, I haven’t got a background! So, how do you paint a background – I don’t know… so I started looking at the figure and thinking who is she, where is she and what context is she in. That helped a lot because then I could research different backgrounds. I mean she could be a housewife in Connecticut or she could be a croupier in Las Vegas… very different roles that these women were doing. In fact the women are very singular, they’re about survival.

Brian Chalkley, ‘The woman is always the pawn in a romantic comedy. Come together, break up, go chase him, role credits. I’m so bored with all that stuff.’
2012 watercolour 58 x 75 cm (framed)
Brian Chalkley – Female Trouble, installation Ancient & Modern, London (October-November 2012; photography by Andy Stagg).

KR – they’re alone and lone figures aren’t they

BC- they are, yes. They don’t have much support and they’re having to work for their living.

KR – like Working Girls, another series you’ve made

BC – yes, well in fact – working girls and Female Trouble the same.

KR – so you’re interested in the role of the female, their place in the world and how they deal with everything

BC – yes and what they have to do to survive

KR – so as you were saying, this was quite a move away from other work you’ve done but it’s obviously linked to your other work… would you say that this is linked to your past performance work and so on?

BC – very much so. but not intentionally at the beginning. But the more you make, the more there seems to be a relationship.

KR – do those performances and that way of working belong to another part of your life?

BC – yes, they’re really important

KR – so there’s you in your studio painting and then there’s you out there as Dawn for example… can you talk a bit about Dawn and how she came about?

BC – Yes, I first went out as Dawn in 1997, 1996 maybe, yeah ’96 and I never set out to… people used to ask me at the time, I used to go to openings and it was very very scary, very dangerous. Just turning up at an opening, dressed as a woman… anyway, I know that one or two artists said is this an art idea? I got really annoyed about that because, how can you make… well, it said a lot about their work.  So no it wasn’t an art thing and the first break came when I met Paul Noble in The Approach pub one opening and I talked about the cross dressing and he said oh that’s interesting he said, I’m just putting a show together at City Racing and he said send me some images tomorrow morning. I sent him some images and he put me in a show with Hilary Lloyd and Jemima Stehli and what I did is, I had a very small room at City Racing but I invited various artists like Grayson Perry, he did a piece and some people who weren’t artists as well. Dawn Mellor did something, it was a nice show really.

Brian Chalkley – Female Trouble, installation Ancient & Modern, London (October-November 2012; photography by Andy Stagg).

KR – so you became part of that zeitgeist and you were forwarding that whole movement

BC – yes well, an artist said at the time – Darrell Viner, who’s died now, he used to teach at Chelsea and I told him about my cross dressing and that I was trying to make some work with it and he said you either do it now or you wait another five years. I don’t know what he meant! But I think the fact that he said do it now, was good, it helped me. I can’t tell you what a sort of roller-coaster life it was, I mean teaching at Chelsea, going home to get dressed, going out clubbing til 2 in the morning, 3 in the morning, coming back and teaching, clubbing…

KR – two lives in one!

BC – totally and I was obsessed. Totally obsessed.

KR – so you became more and more involved the more you explored that side of yourself

BC – absolutely and then I made all these drawings. I’d come back in the middle of the night and I’d be drawing the people I’d met in clubs. I had a show in 2001 at platform gallery and made that publication Dawn in Wonderland which was great and I then started making video as well. There’s lots of that work which is quite confrontational.

KR – that was the best medium to really express what you were doing at that time

BC – yes and I found I was really into dialogue. I can remember dialogue. It’s funny actually because the first person who helped me with that was Donald* We would meet at the lecture theatre, early in the morning and he would record what I was saying. So I would just relay the previous night, the stories.

KR – so that’s about the underground culture of London…

BC – yes and you see in those days there weren’t many of those clubs, now there are still not that many, but more and it was very moving emotionally because I was joining a community and I thought that was amazing, I loved that. But I have to say I was in a pretty desperate state. I didn’t have a choice really, it was either that or something worse, it was a really difficult time but I was still making paintings as well, these abstract paintings with blobs on them. You know they were very end game paintings. Paint the surface, paint the surface, and then just a big blob of paint in the middle of it and that was it, it was like there was a finality about everything. Quite a depressing time.

KR – so there’s a contrast that is reflected in the work that now it’s quite a controlled line with watercolour, very fine and enclosed.

BC – yes and this has brought so many facets of my painting over the years together and one of the things I was saying yesterday was that the big revelation as well was tracing and tracing paper, because when I was 16 I left school and got a job in an architect’s office through a friend. I mean I didn’t have any qualifications or anything but I managed to get a job as a tracer and one lunchtime I traced all the girls in the Pirelli Calendar and took them home and hid them under my bed! Students yesterday brought up a very interesting thing and put it much better than I could when they said that maybe that was the first point of identification of that kind… but now you see, when I’m making the figure, it was another big thing, because I thought if I paint the background and it’s wrong, I’ve messed it up, so I just covered the whole thing in tracing paper and made lots of different backgrounds

Brian Chalkley – Female Trouble, installation Ancient & Modern, London (October-November 2012; photography by Andy Stagg).

KR – so then you could try them out? In a way that’s just like what we do with clothes, the figure and the outfit

BC – yup, that’s a very good point. But this process also allowed me to have a whole set of drawings and with the drawings the head might be traced from an image I found in a magazine, or now I might get into designing the clothes. I do that, it’s really nice and when you’re designing clothes and making patterns, it brings out the things I learned from abstract painting, about abstract language and you can play about with being an abstract painter within that frame

KR – so you were being influenced by the history of abstract painting as well?

BC – yes, well I mean Jonathan Lasker I looked at a lot, the patterns that happened in his work and then reproduced them on the clothing. So it’s another strand of relationships maybe. With these paintings, Stephen Wilson said he’d like to see the videos with the paintings because they do give a harder core side to things I suppose the videos, the dialogues and they’re pretty heavy going really.

KR – that’s maybe for another show though

BC – yes, I think so, definitely.

KR – so moving on, would you say that your teaching at Chelsea College of Art & Design over the years has influenced your work?

BC – totally, yes, totally. I think one of the essential things is dealing with young people and they’ve got ideas and they’ve got energy and that dialogue, that engagement through teaching is so really, I mean I love it, I just absolutely love it and I just feel so honoured to be in that situation that I’m getting paid to do something I really love. But I feel more invigorated by that than I ever did now. I’ve set up all these seminars, we were doing seminars two days this week and one of them went from 10am til 7 o’clock at night, we just kept going.

KR – do you like that dialogue and exchange of ideas?

BC – yeah, totally and helping students to find a language. That’s really difficult, for some students it can happen very quickly and for others like myself it takes a long time.

KR – so you feel that you’ve arrived now at a good point

BC – yes, I’ve found a space. I think I’ve found a world that, actually has come out not from entirely making art but has come out of other desires. When I went cross dressing, I never thought about art, it wasn’t made as an art thing as I said earlier, it was just a compulsion

Brian Chalkley – Female Trouble, installation Ancient & Modern, London (October-November 2012; photography by Andy Stagg).

KR – you seem to be quite popular in Düsseldorf, can you talk a bit about how that happened?

BC – I don’t know if I’m popular there… but I get on with them there, yes.

KR- but you found a gallery who showed your work there

BC – yes, Galerie Horst Schuler is great, they’re really supportive. But I didn’t turn up there at the gallery with the work they thought I would… when they first saw my work I was in a group show at Kunst im Tunnel which was curated by Cornelius Quabeck who is an ex student from Chelsea and I showed one video, Dancing on the Car video, I was dancing to The Supremes “Stoned Love” and then I also showed two collages that I’d made and I’m still interested in those, where I took fashion models’ photographs and then collaged them slightly so it might change their clothing or something like that. I always remember the way I got to talk to that gallery because I was at that opening and there was a man who was looking very elegant, he was probably seventy and he had these diamond shoes on. I went up to him and wanted to talk to him about his diamond shoes! I was very nervous but I thought sod it, I’m in Germany, I can do anything, I’m not going to be back again… and he couldn’t speak English very well but he pointed to another man (Horst) who speaks very good English. We got talking and he said lets meet for coffee the next morning and it started from there. It was again a bit like with Bruce, it was very instant. The other thing was, Horst said he’d like to do a show in 2012 when it would be like a year on and Neal Tait went back to the gallery, he was still in Germany (I’d gone back to London) and he went to see Horst as well and he said well, why so long? Then Horst immediately phoned me and said let’s do it this year. So it was done in a very short period of time, 4 or 5 months, very similar to with Bruce. So both shows have some kind of commonality with them. I got on with the people very well and then it happened very quickly. I had to really work fast to get the shows done.

KR – so it’s always been about having to balance for you between being a tutor and a practicing artist

BC – yes and you have to keep making art to be able to teach I think. I didn’t want to end up as a 60 year old, 65 year old boring abstract painter you know, like that generation. I’ve never been happy with that. I found a language, I had to find a language, wherever that took me.

KR – so what’s next for you on the horizon, will you continue in that same style of painting?

BC – yes I want to develop them more. I was kind of thinking they could be quite big paintings as well. Someone did relate them to Alex Katz a bit… I know I can see a connection there possibly but I think they’re more weird than his. Clothing is so important and fashion. I went to see this show at the Barbican, it was the Surrealist show recently and they had these little sort of puppets and I was thinking about maybe constructing clothing of making it and one of the ideas I had about this show (Female Trouble) was although it was far too quick to do much, was to have fashion models wearing the same clothes that were in the paintings and to do a fashion show…

The influences on my work are much more varied that I thought – there’s fashion and film and so on and desire. For example, I was on the tube and I saw this woman, she had a pink jacket on and it was so beautiful and the desire was so strong to touch it and I’d got this painting at home but I hadn’t got anything for what she was wearing and once I saw that jacket, there was such an emotional pull, so I went home and painted that pink jacket. But I wasn’t just painting it, I was painting that sense of desire for it. Sometimes in a painting you make you put things in that you just have to put in. But there are other things in the painting where its so full of desire and wanting in it…the whole sexuality in it that certain things become much more important than others. They have different weight, different meanings attached to them.

* yesterday – 7th November 2012 Brian Chalkley took a group of his MA Fine Art (Chelsea College of Art & Design) students to see his Female Trouble exhibition at Ancient and Modern.

**Donald Smith (Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space)


Kate Eleanor Ross would like to thank Brian Chalkley for his enthusiasm, support and sense of fun during a few enjoyable years working together on MA Fine Art and other postgraduate courses at Chelsea College of Art and Design 2009 – 2012. It was a pleasure to interview him.

Thanks also to Bruce Haines, owner of Ancient and Modern gallery for his interest and images he provided.

Exhibition Review – Young Masters Art Prize part I at Sphinx Fine Art

my latest exhibition review for One Stop Arts  discusses the Young Masters Art Prize part I at Sphinx Fine Art.

You can read the review here and you can my interview with Daisy McMullan – curator of the Young Masters Art Prize is here.

Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

Curating Young and Old Masters. Interview with Daisy McMullan – Curator, Young Masters Art Prize 2012

Daisy McMullan, curator of the Young Masters Art Prize 2012 tells Kate Eleanor Ross about curating  Young and Old Masters at Sphinx Fine Art gallery in London. We discussed the role of the curator, the challenges involved with this exhibition and found out more about Daisy’s curatorial practice and interests.  Daisy is my colleague at CHELSEA space where we both work. I am the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Research Fellow (which I write about in this post here ) and Daisy is the Ashley Family Foundation Research Fellow.

Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: Please introduce the Young Masters Art Prize for those of us who haven’t heard about it yet.

DM: The Young Masters Art Prize is for emerging and established artists who are inspired by the Old Masters and art history. It encourages artists to look back to the past for inspiration, whether that takes the form of a theme, such as mythology, a genre such as portraiture, a technique such as chiaroscuro, or a more literal sort of appropriation.

The Prize started in 2009, and this time around we had over 400 applications, from all over the world. Gallerist Cynthia Corbett, the founder of the Young Masters Art Prize, saw a real need for a prize such as this that recognises contemporary art’s debt to the past.

The winner of the Prize will win £5,000 and two runners up will receive £500 each. The winner will be decided by a panel of judges, which is chaired by Godfrey Barker, a journalist and critic. The other judges include artist Adam Dant, Colin Wiggins who is Curator of Special Projects at the National Gallery, Anke Adler-Slottke who is a director at Christie’s, and Roy Bolton who is director of Sphinx Fine Art, who are also hosting the first of our two exhibitions. All of the shortlisted artists are featured in two London exhibitions; the first part is at Sphinx until October 27th where the contemporary works are hung alongside the gallery’s Old Master Collection and the second will be at Gallery 27 Cork Street, from the 19th – 24th November, when our winner will be announced.

Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: Name a favourite museum/gallery.

DM: My favourite historical gallery is the Courtauld, it’s full of incredible works, and the collection is really well curated, with an excellent balance between the scholarly and a more general approach.  It also has that wonderful Manet painting of the A Bar at the Folies-Bergère which I find completely absorbing.

I would choose the Camden Arts Centre as my favourite contemporary gallery, I think the range of artists, projects and exhibitions they have is great, and I always enjoy the exhibitions they have there.  I particularly liked Simon Starling’s exhibition Never the Same River, I thought it was a clever play with past, present and future.

Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: Tell me about your role with the Young Masters Art Prize?

DM: My role has been primarily curatorial, so thinking about how to present the artists in the best way for each of their practices, liaising with the artists to research their work and how it can engage with two quite different exhibition spaces.  I also edited the catalogue and wrote a Curatorial Statement about the Prize and the artists.  For this show at Sphinx I also did a lot of work looking through their collection (which contains over 800 works) to find paintings and drawings that could be juxtaposed with the contemporary pieces.

Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: What were the most significant challenges of curating the exhibition whether that is in terms of the show hang or organising the exhibition logistically?

DM: Aside from cutting the hundreds of applications down to a shortlist of 26, the most significant curatorial challenge has been working out these juxtapositions, not only between the Old Masters and the shortlisted works, but creating a scheme for the whole exhibition around art historical genre, so that each floor has its own feel and atmosphere.  In the basement there is a busy, salon-type display around still life, nature and animals, which works really well.  The first floor is a quieter room with red walls, that is dedicated to interiors, portraits and feels a lot more domestic.


Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: What is your favourite piece of work in the exhibition and why?

DM: I think I should tell you my favourite shortlisted artists after the judges have decided on a winner?  There is a really great Franz Hals portrait of a young man which I really love, and it works so perfectly next to Charles Moxon’s portrait Contemporary Reminiscence.  We also have a guest artist Ali Assaf, who has been invited to show alongside the shortlisted artists.  He is showing stills from his video work Narciso which was originally shown in the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.   The work is really powerful, based on a Caravaggio painting of the same name and Assaf appropriates the composition to ask questions about personal memory and identity.

Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: Describe a best and toughest moment of working on the Young Masters Art Prize.

DM: The best moment so far has been seeing this show finished and seeing all the work in the flesh for the first time, although I’m excited to find out who the winner will be. There are several very strong contenders.  The toughest thing has been coordinating so many international artists, the logistical side has been harder than I imagined. But, seeing the finished exhibition here at Sphinx has made it feel worthwhile.


Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: How do your research interests or curatorial practice connect with what you’ve been working on for the Young Masters Art Prize?

DM: My research interests are around contemporary artist’s interventions in the museum and the museum as a site of modernity. I am also interested in documentation, archives, and the relationship between the past and the present, so the Prize fits very well with my own research. I have recently written for engage journal about contemporary artists who appropriate museological forms of display.  I am also working on several new projects next year including two exhibitions with a group of textile artists.

Installation view of Young Masters Art Prize exhibition 2012 at Sphinx Fine Art gallery. Photograph by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize.

KR: What is next for Daisy McMullan, curator and where can we go to find out more about you also to keep up to date?

DM: Right now I am planning the second Young Masters exhibition at Gallery 27 in Cork Street which will be really exciting, and look very contemporary, completely different to the show at Sphinx. We will also have a work byYinka Shonibare who has kindly agreed to be a guest artist for that show, which is very exciting as a young curator.

Website for YM:

Twitter @corbettprojects

DM twitter: @daisy_mcmullan

All photographs are by Daisy McMullan and Young Masters Art Prize


Kate Eleanor Ross, author of the blog Curatorial Curiosities would like to thank Daisy McMullan for being the first to be interviewed for this blog. Here’s to many more! If you’re interested in being interviewed by me, please read details for how to get in touch by clicking here or go to the contact me page.

Reviews and Interviews

I have started a new category to my blog here, which is Reviews and Interviews. In this section, I will post links to the exhibition and museum/ gallery reviews that I write for One Stop Arts and more. I will also be interviewing artists, curators, gallerists and museum professionals in my network of my world of work.



If you are an artist, curator or work in a gallery, museum or cultural institution or you have put on a performance, exhibition or cultural event and would like me to review it or interview you about your work or venue, please let me know by emailing me

I will be able to publicise you and your work through my blog and social media outlets and it’s always good for both parties to exchange knowledge, experience and to collaborate!