SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club – a successful launch to my new visual art & sound series

projected visuals for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

projected visuals for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

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!

Horseless Headmen play live for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Horseless Headmen play live for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

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.

work by Nicky Carvell for En Visage - SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

work by Nicky Carvell for En Visage – SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

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.

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

 

the crowd enjoying SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

the crowd enjoying SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

 

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.

En Visage logo by Nicky Carvell for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

En Visage logo by Nicky Carvell for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

 

 

 

 

 

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.

More photos from the night can be seen on my Facebook page here and for more information about the artists, please see a previous blog post I wrote here.

I’m looking forward to SYNESTHESIA II which will happen in August with new visual artist, film makers, music and more!


Curating SURFACE exhibition at Chelsea Futurespace gallery

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.

Chelsea Futurespace Exterior

Chelsea Futurespace from exterior to interior during SURFACE private view http://www.chelseaspace.org/blog/archives/2831/cfs-2

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.

Chelsea Futurespace walls

view of two of the exhibiting walls at Chelsea Futurespace during SURFACE exhibition

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.

Charlotte Jonerheim's work at SURFACE exhibition, Chelsea Futurespace, 2013

Charlotte Jonerheim’s work at SURFACE exhibition, Chelsea Futurespace, 2013

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.

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation II 2012-13

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation II, 2012-13 Cupboard, paint, porcelain, muslin & wax

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation I 2012-13 Exhibit 1, fringe & wax. Exhibit 2, porcelain figure & surgical gloves. Exhibit 3, plaster, pigment, & bangle. Exhibit 4, porcelain, lamp holder & thread

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation I 2012-13 Exhibit 1, fringe & wax. Exhibit 2, porcelain figure & surgical gloves. Exhibit 3, plaster, pigment, & bangle. Exhibit 4, porcelain, lamp holder & thread

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.

Brian Chalkley. If you're gonna be on TV and in films, people are gonna look at you in the street, 2012

Brian Chalkley. Collage. If you’re gonna be on TV and in films, people are gonna look at you in the street, 2012

Branding

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.

SURFACE exhibition invite card and publication cover

SURFACE exhibition invite card and     publication cover

the curious curator with Charlotte Jonerheim while installing her work at the SURFACE exhibition at Chelsea Futurespace

the curious curator with Charlotte Jonerheim while installing her work at the SURFACE exhibition at Chelsea Futurespace

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.


Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery

Last week I went to the press preview of the new Anish Kapoor exhibition at Lisson Gallery on Bell Street in London, which shows the work of the past year from this Turner Prize winning artist.

I enjoyed this colourful, playful exhibition which explores texture, pigments and materials.

You can read my review of the exhibition for One Stop Arts here

The exhibition is at Lisson Gallery until 10th November 2012.

Other reviews of art exhibitions that I’ve written for One Stop Arts can be read here.


Chelsea Salon Series – 2nd salon from me – the Curatorial Associate

A few months ago I introduced the Chelsea Salon Series on this blog and I wrote about the first salon for Chelsea Salon Series that I organised and curated which you can read about here.

As an organisation we have now clarified our roles in order to better demonstrate the work we are carrying out, to the University and external organisations including galleries and possible funding groups. I am the Curatorial Associate for the Chelsea Salon Series and I have been working on organising the next salon event which will take place on 3rd August

an image from the last salon for Chelsea Salon Series held at the Round Chapel, Hackney

The next salon will take place at Harts Lane Studios and I am working together with MA Fine Art Chelsea College of Art & Design alumni Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon (who run Whitty Gordon Projects) to carry out this event.

image from Whitty Gordon Projects, during one of their visits to downtown Kingston, Jamaica
http://whittygordon.tumblr.com/images/

A curatorial decision was taken to create an experimental salon with an emphasis on performance and a full range of art forms. The Round Chapel salon allowed students to show any completed work or works in progress and most students exhibited pieces they were working on or had already finished, in a way staying quite safe in their choices.

This next salon will enable students to be inspired by the experimental way of working that Fiona and Jenny employ, using a variety of interesting and exciting ways to realise their ideas in different art forms including film, video and outreach projects. The Chelsea Salon Series team would like to capture the adventurous and experimental spirit of the Askew events (set up by Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon and no longer in action, although the website remains as an archive of the collective’s activities) and first salons held at Chelsea College in the year that they took their course (2009).

Yard (1961) by artist Allan Kaprow.       Performance piece, part of a Happening.
http://www.artsjournal.com/artopia/originopeningfixed.jpg

This means that this salon will be open and encouraging. There is no specific theme, but the aim is for students to be experimental, risk taking and daring. We have made clear that this means the work doesn’t have to be pieces that students are working on at the moment. It doesn’t have to be something that is finished and final. We have suggested trying working in a different format or media or with subject matter other than what students usually use. Eg. what about using dance, music, poetry if you don’t usually, or cooking something new you haven’t tried before! We really want to encourage performance and interaction.

We have recommended thinking about those ‘60s and ‘70s ‘happenings’ which embraced the experimental and free thinking zeitgeist… I’ll let you know after the event, how it goes and if we managed to make our very own Chelsea Salon Series happening!

Our salons are open to the public, so you are most welcome to join us. All information is posted on the Chelsea Salon Series blog.

 


Small and Strange Gallery Spaces… a gallery in a subway kiosk, a taxi cab & a filing cabinet

You may know by now that I am interested in non gallery spaces and unusual spaces for showing art. I love buildings that are historic, hidden, or just different because you might not expect an art gallery there.  Perhaps because I am just short of 5ft myself, I also have an affinity to small things. So altogether, this means that I am drawn to small and strange gallery spaces. In this post I am going to explore three small and strange gallery spaces. These will be: a gallery in a subway kiosk, a gallery in a taxi cab and a gallery in a filing cabinet.

SUBWAY GALLERY

The SUBWAY GALLERY born on the 6th of June 2006, is situated below Edgware Rd / Harrow Rd crossing in a W2 pedestrian subway underneath landmarks such as Paddington Green, Marylebone flyover and the Metropole Hilton Hotel. Conceived by artist Robert Gordon McHarg III, the space itself is a 1960’s kiosk with glass walls which creates a unique showcase for art, interacting naturally with passers by, visitors and the local community.

I like the fact that this gallery is underground so it’s a bit hidden and I am also interested in the concept of a glass fronted gallery, which the wonderful CHELSEA space also is. A glass front means that passers by can see everything that’s going on including the installation of exhibitions so that the curation of shows itself is a much more open process.

The SUBWAY GALLERY is currently showing The Rock & Roll Public Library, a testament to popular culture, springing directly from the enormous personal archive of Mick Jones. It is apt that the Joe Strummer Subway on London’s Edgware Road will lead you to the latest edition of The Rock & Roll Public Library at the SUBWAY GALLERY. This exhibition is of interest to me since I love music and also since I enjoy working with libraries and their collections, which you can read more about in this post that describes my work with a sound artist in the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design. Another connection to note is that CHELSEA space put on an exhibition of The Rock & Roll Public Library in 2009 and more can be read about that here.

Cab Gallery

The Cab Gallery was a project curated by London art dealer Paul Stolper, and London taxi driver and art collector Jason Brown.

The first Cab Gallery exterior featuring work by Bob & Roberta Smith.

The first Cab Gallery exterior featuring work by Bob & Roberta Smith. http://www.cabgallery.com/0_menu/cabg_frameset.html

As a working London taxi the art was to be installed in the spaces usually reserved for advertising. Each artist was sent a package with views and dimensions of all the spaces available on the taxi. They in turn sent back proposals and ideas for work they felt would be appropriate for a particular part of the taxi; be it inside the tip-up seat displays, an audio piece, a work to be placed on the outside body of the taxi, or a free standing work. http://www.cabgallery.com/0_menu/cabg_frameset.html

This innovative use of space brings together a love of London, its streets and art. You can read this CHELSEA space blog post  which describes how a special CHELSEA cab was made for the gallery. With all this talk of taxis, it’s a good moment for me to show you a picture that was just sent to me by a family member. This photograph shows my dad’s psychedelic taxi from 1968/9 and that’s my late grandmother in the picture. The taxi was featured in a 1960’s UK film called ‘Cry For Help’. It must have been a lot of fun going around in this car and if the taxi was still around now, who knows – maybe I would have my own cab gallery!

my Dad's psychedelic taxi c.1968 with Helen Ross, my late Grandmother

my Dad's psychedelic taxi c.1968 with Helen Ross, my late Grandmother

Bisley Gallery

Finally, turning to the Bisley Gallery which is a gallery in a filing cabinet that was made by three female BA Fine Art students at Chelsea College of Art & Design. I went to see it recently with Donald Smith, Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space. We were very impressed with what we saw.

the exterior of Bisley Gallery

the exterior of Bisley Gallery

BA Fine Art Student Jheni Arboine was given the filing cabinet and decided to set up the Bisley Gallery with two female course friends. The project and the principle objectives are for Jheni (in her own words) ‘to learn about curating, collaborating and exhibiting in the real [small] world’. The inaugural exhibition at the Bisley Gallery was called Everyday Biz the gallery was divided up into different ‘floors’.

poster for Everyday Biz, the inaugural exhibition at Bisley Gallery

poster for Everyday Biz, the inaugural exhibition at Bisley Gallery

Work from each of the three artists was placed together on the various floors. I love the idea of scale that is played upon here. For example, imagine if this was a real sized gallery and the visitor was walking underneath and between the sections of that yellow sculptural piece.

a floor of the Bisley Gallery

a floor of the Bisley Gallery

The three artists told me that it was a more difficult job than one would imagine, to curate the exhibition in the gallery and indeed they faced all of the curatorial and logistical issues that need to be dealt with when putting up an exhibition in a gallery of any size. I look forward to seeing the Bisley Gallery’s next exhibition.


Chelsea Salon Series

I have recently become involved in working on the Chelsea Salon Series. This is a project which was set up by two MA Fine Art alumni of Chelsea College of Art & Design in 2010. The Chelsea Salon Series is conceived as an initiative offering students the opportunity to meet outside the college premises in a variety of spaces to exchange ideas and forge productive relationships with galleries, arts institutions and the locality. Chelsea College of Art & Design is well placed to take advantage of the proximity of not-for–profit spaces.

piece by Sanghyun Ko -  Chelsea College of Art & Design student

piece by Sanghyun Ko - Chelsea College of Art & Design student http://www.photographssalonseries.blogspot.co.uk/

The forum is intended as an opportunity for students to get feedback in their practice and to experiment with ideas arising from their research thereby gaining confidence. It is also supporting student led teaching projects as well as alumni projects. It is specifically intended to be  hugely enjoyable and based on student interaction.

The Chelsea Salon Series is structured in such a way that allows for both PRACTICE and RESEARCH to be pursued alongside the curriculum in relaxed surroundings outside the academic institution with fellow MA Fine Art students and other invited artists, alumni, curators and arts
professionals. Although centered around Chelsea College of Art &  Design specifically it is intended to be inclusive and open and that this remit could help pave the way for support from educational charities.

Chelsea Salon Series event at New Gallery in 2011

Chelsea Salon Series event at New Gallery in 2011
http://www.photographssalonseries.blogspot.co.uk/

For the next Salon event by the Chelsea Salon Series event, I managed to secure a wonderful historic Grade II listed building. I successfully negotiated the price down considerably and having approached the trustees with our project, I have now formed a working partnership with Hackney Historic Buildings Trust who have charge over the Round Chapel building in Hackney, East London. The Trust also owns St Augustine’s Tower nearby to the Round Chapel and I have run an event in the Tower when I worked with Hackney Museum on an Olympics connected project called Mapping the Change.

I was so inspired by working in the Tower when I ran an event for Hackney Museum, as it is such a unique space. The Tower  is all that remains of the old church of St. Augustine, which was built at the end of the thirteenth century when Hackney was a village separated by fields from the City of London. The Tower is Hackney’s oldest building and is a landmark of the area. Residents of Hackney walk past the building day after day and it occupies a noticeable position in the local skyline but many people know nothing about the Tower. There are a number of floors inside the Tower which are reached by a windy stone staircase. Inside, the inner workings of the Tower clock can be seen and on another floor, it is possible to ring the large bell! The most exciting part of a visit to the Tower is the rooftop level which reveals incredible views across London to glimpse Tower Bridge, Hampstead in North London and the new Olympics site.

St Augustine's Tower, Hackney http://www.hhbt.org.uk/

Since we want the most number of students possible to benefit from the Chelsea Salon Series, the Tower was not the most appropriate venue. Also, I am also holding on to it for a project that I’m working on!

The Round Chapel nearby to the Tower has a capacity of up to 800 people. This means that work in a range of media can be shown and we will also involve students (and some invited alumni) from Camberwell and Wimbledon colleges as well as Chelsea.

We are working on a small publication for the event which we hope will include essays and texts from MA Curating and Art Theory students. I’m so looking forward to the event and what we come up with!

 


Contemporary Art London Galleries – commercial, artist run and what’s inbetween

Artists, collectors, curators and the public all have their opinions on what type of space they prefer to see contemporary art in. Personally I am much more attracted to more unusual and characterful, perhaps hidden spaces. For example, historic buildings have so much to offer that can add to the work being shown and sometimes the space itself becomes part of the story, as in the case of Dennis Severs’ House (which I am sure I will post about soon, as I recently visited it for the first time and was hooked). I am also drawn to that juxtaposition of the heritage and contemporary.

As well as the physical building itself, the type of gallery is taken into account when considering a suitable choice of space eg. a commercial gallery, artist run space or a hybrid of those.

Taking a look at three gallery spaces I visited the other day, showing contemporary art in London currently…

Firstly, Paradise Row gallery off Oxford Street, in the Fitzrovia area where quite a few galleries are setting up shop. This area is neither hipster East London, nor posh Mayfair. Paradise Row is a ‘white cube’ space, two floor commercial gallery representing 13 artists. I went to see the exhibition Drawings and I felt that the space was quite sterile and soulless. However, that suited the work – much of which was monochrome, on the first floor at least. I went to the exhibition with no previous knowledge regarding the show and this time there was no press release or blurb about the exhibition available. Luckily, a member of staff in the gallery gave an eloquent, detailed and knowledgeable tour around the show, which meant that connections between the ideas behind the works and their making could be easily understood. Without the tour, I would have felt quite lost and uninterested.

However, in the end, I concluded that this was an exhibition that successfully looked at the hugely wide theme of drawing, thankfully narrowing it down by considering the monochromatic, the geometric and drawing and drafting through a variety of media. To me, the interest lies in the different media used to tackle the subject of drawing.  So that for example, a light work, a video piece and a burned imprint into mdf were all used to consider monochrome, geometric shape and the idea of drawing.

My favourite piece from the show was Douglas White’s Lichtenberg Figure II, Lichtenberg figure on MDF board.

Douglas White Lichtenberg Figure II, 2010 Lichtenberg figure on MDF board (photograph from http://www.paradiserow.com/exhibitions/67/)

This is because it is a beautiful piece (I’m an aesthete at heart), using an interesting technique (burning onto wood), created with everyday materials. The status of the work is raised through associations made when considering it such as connections to images from nature, brain synapses, the birds eye view of a river…

Next, onto the Charlie Dutton Gallery in Holborn. This is a tiny one and a half room gallery which has been set up in an old shop space. The space is glass fronted and inside, Tudor style (recreated from the Victorian age, echoing the features of the genuine original Tudor building itself) beams decorate the ceiling space. The space feels full of history, character and is homely. It is small but not too squashed and Charlie told us that the white walls for showing work can be moved to alter the space. There is also a fireplace which adds to the sense of being in the front room of a historic house.

According to Charlie,

‘the space aims to combine and promote ideals in contemporary fine art, working directly with artists on the curating, production and management of the shows in the gallery, to create an exciting and cutting edge semi-artist-run and not-for-profit environment.’

It is impressive that Charlie has achieved so much, working alone and it is also refreshing to see a semi-artist-run space in what is basically central London.

I really liked this space and was attracted to the show because of how enthusiastic and genuine Charlie himself was to to talk to as well. He had used a simple curatorial technique in showing the current exhibition Parallel Universe as he asked the artists involved in the exhibition to select one artist each, to also have their work shown.  I will look out for future shows and events at this space, where Saatchi and Tate gallery have already collected from, since it opened a just a few years ago.

Finally, onto the Mesolithic Pop exhibition by The New Primitives which is situated in an underground warehouse space near to Oval underground station, provided by Workspace Group.

I found Mesolithic Pop to be a fun, not too weird and very enjoyable show. I was lucky to meet the three artists who make up The New Primitives and they were extremely articulate and interesting when giving a tour of the show and discussing their work. There are many layers of ideas and themes behind their work and the show, but the main idea concerns the bringing together of three UK based artists who all share an interest in the primal act of art making and the basic nature of creativity. The idea of “pre language” and man’s desire to communicate with whatever material is at hand is paramount to these artists’ practice. Physical contact with the environment and a quest for understanding through making objects is what drives the works in this exhibition to be made. These artists revel in traditional production methods, shunning the digital world.

The space is very large, being an underground warehouse and this was perfect for showcasing big scuptural pieces and photographic prints in the exhibition. I was particularly struck by Francis Thorburn’s performances or ‘drags’.

Francis Thorburn, an example of a 'drag' performance (photograph from http://new-primitives.blogspot.com/)

Illustrated by the image above, Francis orchestrates the dragging of  a huge lump of chalk, by a group of men dressed uniformly and primitively. A line is created and the act of carrying out this pointless task comments on machismo and a sense of togetherness.  For the Mesolithic Pop show, a drag was carried out on the streets of South London. Apart from the themes of masculinity and primitiveness, there is a great deal of humour and fun involved which came across well, as a video of one of the drags is shown on loop in the exhibition.

I also very much liked Joel Gray’s beautiful alabaster sculptures (apologies that I couldn’t find any decent images). Alabaster sculptures of items of modern technology sit on a roughly carved small table and next to the table on the ground, are bones or are they tools… is this a room in a caveman’s dwelling or a shrine or tomb? The viewer is not quite sure, but the way the material is worked, creates a haunting effect.

The artists commissioned an essay for the exhibition which academically bases a fun and beautiful show. The poster for which, has got this group (is it a band? looking at the album cover esque poster that I was given a copy of) noticed.

The New Primitives. Mesolithic Pop (photograph from http://new-primitives.blogspot.com/)