How I started 2013 in style – at the Chelsea Arts Club Hogmanay Ball

As it is the 1st February, 2013 I have decided at the end of a busy month to look back at how I spent the arrival of the 1st January 2013. On New Year’s Eve I went to the Hogmanay Ball at the Chelsea Arts Club where I am lucky enough to be a member this year, thanks to the fact that I’m the Chelsea Arts Club Trust/ CHELSEA space Research Fellow, which you can read more about here.

The Chelsea Arts Club was founded in 1891 and is a private club for artists for all genre. The balls are famous for their lavishly and eccentrically costumed dressed guests according to the particular theme of the ball. The Hogmanay was of no exception with guests adorned in tartan which had been manipulated in the most creative ways. There was a live band playing Scottish folk music and we all took part in the traditional Scottish Ceilidh dancing. We even had a bagpipe player on stage to bring in the midnight hour.

in my tartan outft which I made for the Hogmanay ball

in my tartan outfit which I made for the Hogmanay ball

 

 

tartan2

 

tartan 3

a close up of the home made tartan fascinator and the red eyeshadow I wore

Photography is understandably not permitted inside the Club but I took some photographs of my outfit before leaving to the ball. I made my costume myself and I tried to be imaginative in my use of tartan for the Hogmanay theme and created a punked up tartan image inspired by a Vivienne Westwood meets Helena Bonham Carter look. I made a sash out of spare material and a hair fascinator as well. I also wore red eye shadow to make the whole look a bit more punk!


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 http://newsevents.arts.ac.uk/33207/ual-celebrates-its-creative-future-at-benefactors-reception/

Grayson Perry speaking at the                      University of the Arts, London Benefactors’ Reception http://newsevents.arts.ac.uk/33207/ual-celebrates-its-creative-future-at-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

 

 

 


I am the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Research Fellowship – CHELSEA space Award recipient

I am delighted to announced that I am this year’s recipient of the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Research Fellowship – CHELSEA space Award. This means that I will be based at CHELSEA space gallery 3 days a week, (from September 2012 for a year) working on every aspect of running a gallery, whilst exploring my own curatorial research interests. The award aims to promote professional development opportunities and mentoring for a candidate with the ability and potential to make an exceptional contribution in the area of curatorial practice and gallery management. The Award is aimed at encouraging those who would benefit from study and practical experience in a ‘live’ gallery context to realise their full potential. You can read more about the Trust here .

making up mirror plate frames to hang work for the DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain exhibition at CHELSEA space

I am so pleased and excited that I have received this award and with it, the opportunity to develop my research into and work with curating and hopefully further my career in this area. I am gaining direct hands on experience in gallery management, designing of exhibitions, brand identity, communication, networking and team work, creating publications and archiving and documentation. In my first week working at the gallery, I got stuck in straight away installing the first exhibition of this season which is called DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain.

our key framing tools up close – drill, braddle, mirror plates and screws

Having never even picked up a drill before, I have already accumulated so many practical skills in my first week as I have been drilling, framing and hanging work for this exhibition. After overcoming my initial nerves, only due to lack of experience, I have discovered first hand that it’s true… practice makes perfect!

our gallery work table with everything we needed for framing and exhibition installation – the work (photographs), mounts, frames, spirit level, drill, braddle, mirror plates…

I have been learning by doing and observing and this week I have been involved first hand, in the steps involved in designing and planning a professional exhibition. I have been able to make decisions regarding the selection of work to include and how to display or hang it. I have also been made aware of the factors that the exhibition viewer or visitor does not take into account, that need to be considered, such as distances between objects for navigating the space or how the exhibition looks from outside the gallery’s transparent window as well as from inside.

empty walls, empty vitrines and a work table full of tools. You can just about see one of the buildings of Chelsea College of Art & Design, that the gallery is on the site of, in the background reflected in the vitrine.

the gallery looks like a frame shop – full of frames to be filled with work for the exhibition!

For this exhibition which displays mainly archival material including photographs and other works on paper, we used vitrines and frames to install the work.

I have also come to realise that there is far more maths involved in art than I had dared imagine (I gave up maths & science subjects in school, as soon as I could to focus on arts & humanities subjects) as I learned about calculating measurements for hanging works accurately with my new best friends the tape measure, pencil and spirit level.

In the example in the picture below, we were hanging frames on a ramp which is an important architectural feature of the gallery space. So we needed to decide by how much to increase the level for hanging, also considering the incline of the ramp that the viewer stands on.

frames hung with an incline on the wall of the gallery’s ramp space

Another curatorial concern, visually, was considering the aesthetic nature of the frames being used as some were white and some wooden. In the end, we decided to mix them up and on the largest expanse of gallery white wall, we also blended hanging at different levels as we wanted to give the impression (along with the vitrines and material inside them) of the architect Ralph Tubbs who the exhibition focusses on, at work in the studio setting.

the large gallery wall space with a mixture of white and wooden framed works of different sizes

Finally, I love this image of the architect’s drawings and blue prints, having been rolled up for years… they will be exhibited in a vitrine after the favourite has been chosen to sit on top, the other layers will be stacked underneath tantalisingly, don’t they look great? Maybe they remind me of scrolls and it must help that I have an interest in old works on paper and a love of old books. These drawings even came with their own authentic smell when we un rolled them!

drawings and blue prints from the architect Ralph Tubbs, which will be covered more by a vitrine lid for the exhibition

I am very much looking forward to the private view of this exhibition DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain which is tomorrow evening Tuesday 11th September at CHELSEA space (16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU). The exhibition is also part of the Icon Design Trail and the London Design Festival.  The exhibition is open until 20th October and I will be there working in the gallery Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays if you’d like to come and visit, I’d love to see you!