Richard Long Pre-Preview

Richard Long
Richard Long

I felt very special going to the Richard Long Pre-Preview at The New Art Gallery Walsall. The Exhibition Spaces and The Fourth Floor now have Richard Long installations and images which are really cool.

Africa Footprints 1986 by Richard Long born 1945 (Copyright Tate)
Africa Footprints 1986 by Richard Long born 1945 (Copyright Tate)

His big installation is very playful – The walls are painted black and white diagonal steps. The artist has basically taken mud (from his home) and brought it to the gallery and smeared it all over the black wall. The spatter from the mud skips down the white part of the wall. He mentioned how the painting is an autobiography of himself, his gestures and that was evident in the way the marks were very similar because the way he moves is the way he moves – his physical signature.

There is another mud painting which was, ‘made for a contemporary art exhibition and auction sale in aid of African famine victims. The project was called ‘New Art New World.’ This piece makes me imagine Richard Long physically getting his feet all muddy and making the shape of Africa on a piece of paper. The action of that is very playful.

I went to see an Tim Johnson exhibition at the IKON a few months back and a painting called ‘Walk On’ (see the Image below) includes the footprints of Tim Johnson’s children like they’ve just walked all over the canvas. I really want to do that – I may have to do that soon!

Tim Johnson and Nava Chapman, 'Walk On', 2009, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 150 x 180 cm
Tim Johnson and Nava Chapman, ‘Walk On’, 2009, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 150 x 180 cm

 

The main ideas behind Richard Long’s work are about wayfaring and being in the moment. He also said that, when his works are photographed the isolation of the place and the fact that it might be 20 years ago or thousands of miles away is interesting. His work is made in isolation and then, if it’s good enough, he shares it. And even after a thousand years have past, the rocks he uses in his Artwork might still be there, even if they are no longer considered to be Art.

In relation to his Textworks, Long mentioned that he goes on walks and there is some work he does which involves looking at things – for e.g. he notes down the first time he sees a fox or an owl. He has then returned to that place and seen how the walk is different than before. I will try and find the link for a journal I read called ‘Lines’ which discussed Wayfaring which I think might relate to this. He also mentions how he had always wanted to be an Artist. Even when he wanted to be an Ornithologist (when he was young) the way he communicated that was through pictures of birds.

One last thought is that I thought it was funny that he said that Tribesmen would come up to him and look at what he was doing but not be very interested because they might not realise he was “making Art.” I thought it was interesting, for lack of a better word, to think about what they would consider Art to be and why it would be attractive to them, from a different cultural perspective.

Two new projects! Woohoo!

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So I am feeling really positive about my internships this week because I met our venue people (who are doing quite a lot of the organising for the Storytelling Festival) and Sarah seems really practical and professional and seems keen to give me marketing stuff to do!

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I’m helping with that and Graham said I can do the publicising for Pop-Up Storytelling so I’ve formulated a massive list of people to ask if they want us to come to their venue. I’ve already got an email back from someone who sounds really keen! So hopefully that’s in response to our product being good and the copy I wrote being persuasive. I’ve tweeted and Facebooked about the Pop-Up already but I’m just waiting for a response so I can put up info on the Website, too. I really think that will be a clincher in getting people interested.

Yesterday I went to New Art Gallery Walsall and I went down to the Archive (with Jo Digger!!-from the book I am reading. V. excited about that. She set up the whole Archive from the start of TNAGW!) and we discussed what we would put in the Festival of Good Things which Zoe said I can organise! If it goes well It will be great experience. I have already researched some hog roasts. It’s replicating another festival run by Kathleen Garman in 1967. This one will take place in August and it’s going to be a day of all sorts of stuff, workshops and things. Next week I’m going to go to a ‘Salaam Celebration’ evaluation meeting at TNAGW next Tuesday so seeing how they have done a festival already will give me a better idea of what I’m going to be doing.

Salaam Celebration Flyer
Salaam Celebration Flyer

I met ‘A Colourful Crowd’ too! It’s a group of 19-21 year olds who are organising a show called ‘One Hundred and Onesies.’ They’re in the locking-it-down phase as it starts in a month and they’re getting out promotion soon. It’s a great opportunity they’ve got. Apparently they met Sue Beardsmore the other week to get speaking tips! Young people are where you can hit funding as well. It’s a great thing to do and it totally fits TNAGW’s mission statement and funding is a good by-product. It made me think that August is not that far away! It’ll be great to go to their meeting next week to see their process, too, and how they’ve progressed with all their wicked ideas!

Review and Reflection: How to let an artist rifle through your archive

From 2009-2012 New Art Gallery, Walsall, brought together Archive Curator Neil Lebeter, and Artist-Curator Bob&Roberta Smith to curate the Beth Lipkin Archive (or what the author generally calls the Epstein Archive)

Having been reading Neil Lebeter’s book (which logs this curation), ‘How to let an artist rifle through your archive,’[1] I am more certain that the space in which you work is important. Not only for me as a, I guess, Management-Researcher?, but also for Curator-researchers and Artist-researchers. To be an Artist-in-residence is to be part of an institution. The social element of that is motivating in itself. By putting Neil and Bob&Roberta together New Art Gallery Walsall (NAGW) gave them the platform to motivate each other and they have had a joint experience in which they observed ideas together and presented ideas to each other and an audience through the blog on the NAGW website. HYPERLINK TO MY REFLECTION ON SPACES 

Connecting with the Archive material

Although Lebeter had never done any curating before and was, ‘still very apprehensive about (his) first curatorial job,’ he was instantly grasped by the Archive because Epstein’s lifespan was set in a time which he knew well and had studied. That small lynchpin allowed him to access the Art from a way that fitted into his personal context.

I was looking through a box of family photographs in the Epstein Archive…Epstein at a graduation ceremony…a man I recognised instantly – Sir David Maxwell Fyfe. I had written my postgraduate dissertation on Maxwell Fyfe’s role as a prosecutor in The Nuremburg Trials….the sight of Maxwell Fyfe eased my nerves considerably as this put Epstein and the archive into a clear historical context[2]

Connecting the visitors with the Archive material

Lebeter says, ‘the Epstein Archive is, in essence, the history of a family.’[3] I think this is why, although the Garman-Ryan Collection is quite haphazard (in that it is not a collection of paintings of one Artist or one style), this curation of the family identifies the times, emotions and tastes of the family. It adds a context which is quite relatable for a visitor.

Everyone can connect to some element within this Epstein Archive be that abstractly or personally;

–         Family

–         Happy family times

–         Simple things like asking for another pot of jam when you’re away from home. (This is demonstrated in the exhibition ‘Theodore Garman demands…’ [4])

–         Having a mother/father – distant or close (physically or psychologically)

–         Friendship

–         Love

–         Not being able to have children

–         Jealousy

–         Not being able to connect with one’s family (Theodore Garman was not allowed to talk about Jacob Epstein being his father publically because he was illegitimate and Epstein was married to someone else)

–         Trying to gain Perfection (as Theo wanted as an Artist)

–         Anger

–         Having secrets

–         Family fractures causing mental illness

The Archive is a great source of stories and reasons for making Art. I imagine that, by looking at someone else’s work and life, the artist and researcher were driven to reflect on their own work and life. Bob&Roberta (AKA Patrick Bryll) reflects briefly on his own life (in the book) specifically in how he balances his work and his children.

NL: (to B&RS) with a family yourself, can you sympathise with that obsession about making things all the time, your work, your latest project?

B&RS: that’s what really drew me to the project. Art is both a generous activity – you know, [laughs] giving these visions to the world…But the downside of it is personal and how you operate with your family, especially as a bloke. Although we are all meant to be New Men, actually the reality of it is in families is that the women do the lion’s share of childcare, even if the bloke is meant to be doing that. The thing is with Epstein, you can’t really imagine how he carried on with his kids because he was very distant….So, he was a bit of a rogue and that sort of horrifies me really.[5]

QUICK EPSTEIN HISTORY: Epstein married Margaret Epstein. He had a 20-year affair with Kathleen Garman. He had one kid with a model, one kid with another model, no kids with Margaret and 3 illegitimate children with Kathleen. He had a strange relationship with his son Theo (born 1924) who could never call him “father” in public (as he was illegitimate) and eventually Theo killed himself aged 27 (on 23/1/1954). He then married Kathleen Garman in 1955. 

Writing this blog post has made me wonder, why did I connect with this book? I saw the Archive exhibition at NAGW and I did connect with some of the work in the exhibition but, through reading about it, and discovering what the artist thought and developed from the Archive, I feel like I have understood more about the family and can put the Archive items, and the ideas that go with them, into context. I drew a mindmap of the family and I can finally understand who’s who and what’s what. It just took some time to let myself sit, have a Starbuck’s and think. Going back to NAGW at the weekend for Peregrine Watch 2014 for a secondary reading of the pieces will let me assimilate the information better I think. Although I understood the emotion of the wooden piece[6] when I saw it first – to me it said emotion and hardness and aggression. I thought it was misogynistic and I didn’t really “get it.” I wonder if my feelings will be different on a second viewing. It might open up more questions and more contextualised thoughts.

In this time of Postmodernism and Constructivism and there being no right answers, if I like to have context does that make my second answer more right than my first reflections on those pieces? I don’t know…

I always have to write down this word to remember what it involves theoretically.

Hein: ‘What is meant Constructivism? The term refers to the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves —each learner individually (and socially) constructs meaning —as he or she learns. Constructing meaning is learning; there is no other kind.’ The consequences are that learning becomes learner-centric and it is suggested that there can be no knowledge outside the learner’s experience.[7]

What about context? What about the importance of a teacher scaffolding a kid’s learning (Thank you Mr. Vygotsky) through their prior experience and research? But that’s another topic for another essay. Yay, I’m writing it! Oh this link is just for revision fun on Vygotsky and Piaget

The Vygotskian Classroom: A Vygotskian classroom emphasizes creating one’s own concepts and making knowledge one’s property; this requires that school learning takes place in a meaningful context, alongside the learning that occurs in the real world. As seen earlier in the Piagetian classroom, this model also promotes the active participation and collaboration of distinctive learners.

The Vygotskian classroom stresses assisted discovery through teacher-student and student-student interaction. Some of the cognitive strategies that group members bring into the classroom are questioning, predicting, summarizing, and clarifying. In a Vygotskian classroom, dynamic support and considerate guidance are provided based on the learner’s needs, but no will or force is dictated. Students are exposed to discussions, research collaborations, electronic information resources, and project groups that work on problem analysis.[8]

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[1] Lebeter, Neil, How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013)

[2] Lebeter, Neil, How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 8

[3] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 8

[4] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 8

[5] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 22

[6] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 42

[7] Hein, George E. Constructivist learning theory: the museum and the needs of the people CECA (the international committee of museum educators) conference (Jerusalem, Israel, 15-22 October 1991)  [electronic version] (accessed 18/3/14)

[8] Thefountainmagazine.com website, “Constructivism in Piaget and Vygotsky” http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/CONSTRUCTIVISM-in-Piaget-and-Vygotsky (accessed 4/4/14)

My handwritten reflective Journal [physical version] 23.2.14

This is how my journal looked before I translated it into a blog. It turns out that writing a constant stream of consciousness, one that Ken Robinson (or Julia Cameron)[1] would be proud of, really gives me a handle on what ideas interest me and allows me to reflect on where I think my practice is going. Hopefully the handwriting is not too scribbly for you!

Walsall Art Gallery Details - Useful for when I was organising table delivery costs over the phone
Walsall Art Gallery details – Useful for when I was organising table delivery costs over the phone

 

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[1] Ken Robinson, Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life (UK, Penguin Books Ltd, 2013) 16

My first visit (well, second really) to New Art Gallery Walsall

7.2.2014

New Art Gallery Walsall
New Art Gallery Walsall

My first impression of the gallery was a certain awe of the architecture of the gallery, in Walsall. It stands out from the many Poundlands and usual high street fodder. As I walked in, there was a massive foyer. It’s a great space for school groups but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this big space! Do you go to the café, the front desk or the book/gift-shop first? I opted for the book/gift-shop so I could pretend I was doing something whilst I pondered how I would navigate the gallery. Nice cup of Costa to start the day, then I walked up the stairs. I had never heard of the artist Theodore Garman but his oil paintings are striking. The colours are beautifully contrasted which you can’t quite see in digital images of them.

Arum Lilies, Easter Flowers by Theodore Garman (copyright New Art Gallery Walsall)
Arum Lilies, Easter Flowers by Theodore Garman (copyright New Art Gallery Walsall)

One of the gallery assistants was very willing to talk to me about the pieces and discuss the experience of having Damien Hirst wallpaper in the gallery. They have to burn it when it comes down so it can’t be sold off! It was in the £1000s for just one roll of wallpaper! The Bob&RobertaSmith Epstein Archive Gallery was full of funny videos, “he went to school na-na-na-na-naaa,” and illustrations about Jacob Epstein’s life and a letter from Theodore Garman requesting more jam from his mother. The most arresting piece, however, was Polly Morgan’s taxidermy of lovebirds devouring a human heart. The colours were so vivid from far away yet, as you move closer, you realise the graphic nature of the piece which, due to the softness of texture and the tidy presentation, creates the grinding dichotomy of the eternal Beauty of Love and the coarse reality of Nature’s unforgiving beak.

Myocardial Infarction, by Polly Morgan, 2013, taxidermy and mixed media sculpture. Copyright Polly Morgan
Myocardial Infarction, by Polly Morgan, 2013, taxidermy and mixed media sculpture. Copyright Polly Morgan

Then I had a cup of coffee in Costa and popped upstairs to see Zoe for my first day work-experiencing in the Education department.

New Art Gallery Walsall profile

The construction of New Art Gallery Walsall was completed in 2000. It was designed by architects Caruso St. John. Stephen Snoddy is the current Director of the gallery which houses the Garman-Ryan collection. This is the collection of Sally Ryan and Kathleen Garman (Lady Epstein), which was donated in 1973. It contains pieces by Theodore Garman, Turner, Jacob Epstein, Monet and Van Gogh amongst others.

The New Art Gallery Walsall has stunning architecture with a beautiful view of the canal. It comprises 4 floors with beautiful wood panelling and a great mix of sculpture, installation, drawings, illustration, paintings and mixed media artworks. The current installations (by Chiharu Shiota) take over and play with the massive spaces in the gallery whilst one of those by Chris Clinton is slowly degrading, giving an extra element to his piece.

New Art Gallery Walsall is now funded by Arts Council England and Walsall Council. It focuses on the community and, especially in the Education department, engaging all audiences in gallery events etc. Although refurbishments were taking place, in February, effort was made to ensure visitors could still enjoy free Half-Term activities in the foyer of the gallery.

Practical elements – The gallery has a well-stocked book and gift-shop, great big toilets, it’s buggy-friendly and has lifts so access for disabled visitors is brilliant. There is a small library which has computers and a great range of Art journals for anyone doing research there. There is good access to the gallery by Foot, Canal, Train, Car and Bus. There’s also a Costa for when you are ready to chat about the art over lunch or simply want somewhere to rest your feet.

Artistic elements – The gallery is a very buzzing place with events, comedy workshops, exhibitions, digital media and an engaging family gallery (open as of 5th March 2014). The current exhibitions and installations are… 40 years of the Garman-Ryan collection (with images chosen by the Front of House Team), Installations by Chiharu Shiota and Chris Clinton, the Family Discovery gallery and weekly events from the Education Programme.

New Art Gallery Walsall also has links with BIAD and the Artist Teacher Scheme. Here is some information from the BIAD website discussing how Artist-Teachers are supported in different galleries in Birmingham as part of the Artist Teacher Scheme.

BIAD logo

The Artist Teacher Scheme (ATS) is a professional development programme for art teachers and educators. Our strap line is ‘professional development that makes space for you’ and the course is based around the premise that allowing art educators time away from the pressures of work to explore contemporary issues in art and design with like-minded people is a good thing. The long-term aim of the programme is to help you as an art teacher or educator reconnect with your practice and re-energise your teaching. This is facilitated by input from academic staff at the School of Art, education specialists at our partner galleries, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Ikon, and invited guests who may be artists, teachers or curators.[1]


[1] BIAD Website: “Artist-Teacher Scheme” http://www.bcu.ac.uk/biad/courses/artist-teacher-scheme [accessed 4/3/14]

Handwritten Reflective Journal [Electronic version]

4.2.14 (Part One)

This was when I really began to “plunge.” I looked at a couple of uninspiring journals on research as a story or narrative and then I researched different art groups in Birmingham to find an internship. I had left it a bit late to look for an internship. It got to the point where, I’ll admit, I was stressed out. Other people in my class already had internships with really cool companies so I increased my search. I researched and visited Art galleries. I queried events on the phone just so I could talk to administrators who might know about internships. I had Afternoon Tea and a tour at the Ikon Gallery and went to a lecture at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. I emailed New Art Gallery, Walsall, Guthrie and Ghani and Craftspace. I called Kaos Arts who then gave me the number for Friction Arts. I had not realised that before I started my little campaign to get an internship, I was nervous to pick up the phone to any organisations. I used to be an administrator in France and spoke to many different people, daily, in French and English. I was a bit embarrassed that I was so out of practice. So it definitely shook the cobwebs away. At least being able to say, “I’m studying Arts and Project Management at BCU” gave more onus to my enquiries. I have found, though, that having a one-to-one chat over the phone can get you more answers or lines of inquiry than just sending an email or a tweet. After a chat with some students on my course I realised how useful Twitter could be to my search.

I learned what the @ sign means (!) and started hash tagging everything that moved. I tweeted Birmingham Storytelling Café, I tweeted events I’d seen or attended at Ort Gallery and Café, I tweeted, Arts-wise, about where I’d been and where I was going. This all gave me a great excuse to see all the Arts in Birmingham. Not that I needed an excuse but I didn’t mind going on my own if I had to do it for University, no that that ever stopped me. In fact, some of the people on my course went to events I put into a BCU Masters Facebook Group I started up. I started going to an art class at the Ort. I still go there and the tea only costs 50p! The community vibe is great and it’s just the sort of Arts venue I love and I could imagine putting events on at that venue. (In retrospect I have now helped to organise an event there).

After a while I got some responses to inquiry emails; filled out some application forms, replied to some tweets and attended a networking event for the Arts at the Library of Birmingham. Although I had wanted to apply for a paid internship at The Rep and other opportunities at Sampad and Craftspace I had already agreed to work with two enthusiastic organisations by that week. I met with the Traditional Arts Team in Kings Heath to discuss opportunities. In the same week Zoe Renilson, Head of Education at New Art Gallery, Walsall, got in touch with me about an application so we met at the gallery. Both of these meetings had started with a vague notion that they might be able to give me a little bit of work experience which slowly, during the meeting, became “oh well, actually you could do this and this and this.” This was brilliant. The New Art Gallery, Walsall would allow me to develop my interests in Education, Events Management and working with children. The Traditional Arts Team is developing my performance skills as a Storyteller and both have this great idea of community and what their organisation should be for their community, be that the Traditional Arts community or the social community around Walsall. I am slowly realising the importance of the Arts involving people and encouraging the idea of having fun while you’re living and how not everything is about money. Finance is important and, with government cuts, an issue which can’t be avoided but the organisations’ creative missions are the main goal.

@BhamStory Twitter page
@BhamStory Twitter page
Twitter logo
Twitter logo