Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Friday 2 November, 2012
My name is Stephanie Bolton and I have been working with Beacon on a three month graduate placement scheme on the Compass project. I graduated from The University of Lincoln this summer, with a BA in Journalism.
The evening began with an impromptu talk from artist Michael Saunders, since the minibus with the Nottingham speakers was stuck somewhere in traffic. Michael had literally just arrived back from Cuba
a few hours earlier, where he’d been for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. He gave some background to his trip, informing the audience that he was born just before the missile crisis, but felt that the fear had somehow imbued itself in him and that this work is a way to somehow discover or put aside that fear. His current project began with him photographing a chain of nuclear missile sites in Lincolnshire, until he found them unsatisfactory in his quest for “trying to find a way to express the waste of human effort that went in to fighting the Cold War.”
He’d been contemplating visiting for 8 years, but it was only two months ago that, quite impulsively, himself, his partner and his Spanish friend bought tickets. He spoke of his pre-trip plans to take certain things into Cuba that would break the quarantine Kennedy set up in the Cold War years - a photo of a piece of missile (he would’ve taken the actual piece but discovered it had asbestos) and shirts patterned with aerial views of missile sites – and when he confessed this to the Cubans they erupted in laughter. He spoke of the friendliness of the people, the environment of recycled and mended products because of the economic blockade and the fear of the Cubans that the Americans want to invade their country.
It was at a conference organised by a union of historians and writers that Saunders was welcomed to join a workshop and a drive out to one of the missile sites – an obvious high point in his trip.
He explained the nervousness and difficulty surrounding his trip, and how it had turned out to be “much more complex” than he anticipated. He said the trip had changed him, and that although it has allowed him to put the Cuban missile crisis and Cold War behind him, it has also “thrown up loads more things”. For now, he said that he is just trying to process what an amazing, mad process it was.
Thank you Michael for the fascinating stories.
The minibus arrived and the first of the Nottingham based guests was
She gave an overview of her practice since her graduation through to her current work. Her final project for her BA in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University was a treasure hunt around the Victoria Centre market that ended in a revelation about the history of the centre. Beinart said she wanted to show this project because it was at the time when she was becoming interested in art as an experience, situation or intervention as opposed to an object. This was the beginning of recurring issues that kept coming up in her practice, most notably finding different ways of looking at a place.
After graduation she started Yolk, an artist collective she worked on with two of her peers, through which they built relationships with all of Nottingham’s twin cities, inviting artists over to do collaborative projects and visiting those cities themselves.
In 2007 Beinart started an MA in Arts and Ecology in Devon, an experimental course that brought a range of ideas and cross-disciplinary artists together. It was this, and the set of questions it provided, that has shaped her work since.
She spoke of her 2009 work Corridor, commissioned for a festival in Bristol, for which she walked along the River Malago with seven different people including a birdwatcher, member of the council, and a local campaigner to get different perspectives. She then worked these into a walk that was a public event.
Beinart also discussed Field Kitchen, a self-sufficient mobile kitchen from which to create meals form food found in her surroundings; Exponential Growth, a project that asked ecological questions about growth and limitations; Potion, which explored her interest in the balance between a plant being poisonous and medicinal; and her on-going collaboration with her sister, Origination, about family history, migration and memories.
She admits that her projects, which are often collaborative, are often quite big and have lots of layers to them; so much so that most of them have their own website.
Her current project with Wasteland Twinnings is a worldwide network of artists who are researching wastelands, giving them an opportunity to share methodologies and knowledge. Beinart’s wasteland is Nottingham Island, once the site of the Boots factory, now used for recreation. In September, the site was twinned with wasteland in Jakarta in Indonesia and an agreement was printed from elderberries and the maringa tree from Indonesia.
is another artist based at Primary Studios in Nottingham, (where Rebecca Beinart also has a studio). she talked about the work she’s produced since she graduated from the Royal College of Art 15 months ago in a practice that is a mixture of painting, installation and video.
She showed a piece from July this year. The theme was the Olympics because of the time at which the project was shown and Popova tried to find a metaphorical equivalent to the practice of painting in sports. She looked at the figure of the discus player and drew comparisons with painters through their combination of balance, circular movement, force, repetition, creating distance and moving forward. This can be seen in more detail on her Discus Discourse website.
She also spoke of the project that was the result of her Chinese residency; an 8 minute documentary that looked at the Chinese coalmining industry and the industrial history and differences of the East and the West. She discovered another repetitive process that takes place when the East copy the changes they see occurring in the West. An interview with an elderly gentlemen who used to mine coal in Mansfield in Nottinghamshire brought all the elements together and allowed Popova to make the film and the connections.
She also discussed her ink drawings, made from Chinese ink, the recurrence of ghostly figures in her works, and her installation that took place in a ruined building in Norwich, to which she bought ovals into what she felt were very masculine surroundings.
An artist and director of Backlit Studios in Nottingham, Matthew spoke about his work throughout the last 6 years, giving a brief introduction mentioning his interest in role play contemporary art and his influences, among which he lists avant-garde theatre director Robert Wilson.
He spoke about several of his works; ‘Tis Pity, on which he worked with the drama department at New College Nottingham and which he also took to the Musashino Art University in Tokyo; collaborative works exhibited in Germany based on the German underground brotherhood; and a performance by himself and his twin brother under Damien Hurst’s spot paintings at the Tate Modern.
Chesney talked about Backlit, the voluntary organisation he begun with his peers in 2008: “It was really about giving graduates an opportunity to curate and show their work,” he said, as well as providing artists with a chance to play. “That was the premise at many shows at Backlit, let’s get people to challenge their practice, show something they’re scared of showing.”
In 2011 they were forced to move to a new space in Nottingham, but the programme continues with critical debate, skills development across all artforms and BackCrit, critical sessions that provide feedback in an informal environment.
On being an artist-turned-curator, Chesney says it’s been a “huge turning point” in his career as an artist and in his practice.
The minibus departed back to Nottingham, having offered a wonderful glimpse of the current visual art activity in Nottingham...
Monday, 23 July 2012
Beacon Bi-Monthly 11: 7 July 2012
Hello there everyone, I’m David Zelder, a published author from Lincoln. My novel Yomping Outside is available from my website www.davidzelder.co.uk
Part of the proceeds of all sales goes to The Royal Marines Charitable Trust fund and I am currently negotiating with a film producer who wants to turn the book into a movie next year.
I was delighted when Nicola and John asked me to be the guest blogger for this full and interesting evening in Wellingore. I thank them for their courtesy and warm welcome.
As 7.00 p.m. rapidly approached the room filled and I guess around 55 people were there breathlessly anticipating an evening of culture and variety. They were not disappointed. As I looked round the room just before the 1st presentation I thought to myself “help” I am a writer in a room full of artists. Is there a collective noun to describe a group of artists? Probably not, so as a wordsmith I figured either a canvas or a palette of artists would suffice!!
So how was this writer going to convey 3 hours of material and words into a précis or abstract of the evening and condense it into a manageable blog? Well as someone who travels extensively to view fine art and appreciates it whether in La Prada, The Tate Modern, The Guggenheim in Venice or La Louvre or even La Piscine in Lille I should be able to achieve some semblance of order!!. A starting point is perhaps some quotes from artistic genius of the 20th century which put into context what we saw on Friday:-
The fact that I myself , at the moment of painting, do not understand my own pictures , does not mean that these pictures have no meaning.
I am very conscious of all that has happened in art during the last seventy-five years. I don’t ignore it; I feel I’ve tried to assimilate it into my kind of art.
Life is what creates the contrasts, without which art would be unimaginable and incomplete.
The latter is taken from one of my prized possessions, a limited edition book by Bill Wyman and signed by him, rejoicing in the title Wyman Shoots Chagall. As well as being a guitar player of high quality, Bill is also an accomplished photographer and was a neighbour of Chagall in France.
Anyway, I digress, so, on with the show:-
First up were
(Nicky Russell, Daniel Williams, Stuart Tate).
(Nicky Russell, Daniel Williams, Stuart Tate).
The group describe their activities as assembling different realities which involves participation from Reactor members and their audience.
They explore dislodged relationships, role adjustments and the avoidance of fixed roles. Their belief is that primary and secondary adjustments produce more benefits. They explore disruptive secondary adjustments which can lead to industrial action such as strikes.
To illustrate their work they produced slides summarising their project The Greenman and Regular Fellows
The core members were interested in membership as a social construct using temporary groups and fellowship. This produced unexpected relationships. Role adjustments were explored in detail. A person starting a new role will experience primary adjustments and their employers may well allow them to slack off to create a belief the employee is “getting away with something”. Then there will be secondary adjustments as the staff get more into their role but may well move on to disruptive secondary adjustments.
The next experiential discovery we explored was front and back behaviour, exemplified by a hotel environment. The receptionist may well display differing behaviour to that of kitchen staff. The group wished to explore the relationship between this front and back space.
The group therefore developed roles that people could take on in primary adjustment and move on to secondary adjustment. They discussed the issues of Chinese whispers in developing people. A role was described to an individual and then they were told they would have to describe it to another person. How would that second and additional descriptions differ from the starting dialogue?
They chose a pub as the vehicle for this project as it had so many differing spaces, each with a discrete role and function. Alternate reality was encouraged in the participants, personality and conditioning dictates how individuals react. A debate ensued on how one becomes a “member” of Reactor, which was almost portrayed as a parallel universe, or a highly secret underground movement. Membership was secretive, restricted, and, apparently prized. Words were dissected and reassembled. Are you a regular? Are you irregular. Said quickly they both sound the same. So what level of membership goes with “regular”?
Illustrative diagrams were shown with P being your present universe, S being self and A_B at the top my memory being the adjusted roles.
In order to explore the concepts, the group used traditional English mummers’ roles and regulars at the pub went into the back space to design some entertainment. This led to the establishment of a hierarchical club or society. Membership rules were established in the pub with appropriate paperwork. The members used a self determining check as to whether they were a regular and whether they are allowed to pass through to the back space.
The group stressed they do not ask participants to play someone else, they should retain their own identity but in an alternate reality. Often things happen in a project that the group did not initiate or even know about.
An interesting Q&A session followed with one interrogator asking how membership was secured, the answer left a large question mark in the air.
An interesting and challenging presentation with the 3 participants clearly on top of their game.
Next it was the turn of
Sarah started with a video she made with Karin Ruggaber. The short film was intended to be about lines and show the postmodern architecture of the city of Sheffield and its strange shapes and its attitude to its cultural identity.
|Photograph: David Zelder|
Sarah talked about her work with the University in Sheffield and how she was commissioned to produce a sculpture for them after a speed dating session with an academic from the architectural department. They did not have a front door that was visible or noticeable. The work had a name “Steve the autonomous machine”. The concept she devised required living matter to be incorporated on the roof and consist of a collision of various materials. The plan was also that people could sit in it as Sarah sees sculpture as becoming an animated object through human presence.
Sarah is considering how to best incorporate organic matter into her pieces so that there is an element of planned obsolescence as the plant matter decays.
Such is the quality of Sarah’s work that as well as commissions she is regularly exhibiting and in 2011 did a number of back to back exhibitions. One of these was in large family home in Scotland which already exuded opulence and success, but in a more classical or neo-classical style. So Sarah and the 2 artists with whom she collaborated on the project were able to install pieces in an interesting juxtaposition of modern fine art with fine art from another era. The exhibition benefitted greatly from its being in a private home and thus there was no bureaucracy or form filling in triplicate or 3 committee meetings to secure permission to move an existing portrait or sculpture. Better still, no health and safety officers to consult.
Photographs: David Zelder
Major exhibitions were mounted at Huddersfield Gallery The Lowry in Salford and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
In The Yorkshire Sculpture Park the artist wanted to get away from the browns and greens and no colour in the works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and Antony Gormley which are permanently on display at the park. So she introduced colour and used her furniture as sculpture ideas for the theme
Photograph: David Zelder
Sarah has a keen interest in furniture as a starting point for a sculpture “a table is to sculpture what a piece of paper is to drawing.” She has taken table tops and used computer cutting technology to cut perfect circles out of the table then suspend them in flowing forms.
Sarah did major permanent work at The Crucible in Sheffield, including an amazing design for the floor in the lobby plus seating , as she described “for old ladies to rest” and clever hostess trolleys for the staff to put interval drinks on for easy collection by the clients. She was intent on adding function to form in the work at The Crucible rather than art for art’s sake. Clearly she achieved that in one of the most iconic theatres in northern England
And last but not least:-
The talk was preceded by a short introduction to The Summer Lodge. This is a 2 week event at Nottingham Trent University with this year 27 artists and 14 interns.
One of the first materials Traci became interested in working with was milk, fluids and work that come from the body. She also wanted to explore the politics of what happens when bodies come together then fall apart and reconvene.
She works both as a solo artist and has a collaborative practice with Richard Hancock. They have a keen interest in live art practices. They like to show the contrast and confrontation between nature and architecture and examine how they collide together. When they collaborate, one artist makes the work and one artist performs the work. They are looking at the materials of the body, white skin the nature of white skin and drawing attention to what they do by posing white skin next to other white skin.
So Traci showed an example of Richard posing next to the carcass of a pig. The design, drawn on the skin, represents patterns from Richard’s childhood memories. Traci said that Richard was more comfortable being on show whereas she found it more difficult but accepted it is a vital part of their work. They insist the pig and the human bodies are treated the same. If the pig comes to them shaved, the human is shaved, if the human body is oiled, the pig is oiled.
Photograph: David Zelder
To illustrate their interest in local history a haunting photograph was shown of an Iranian poet living at the time in Nottingham who was ordered to be deported back to Iran and certain death. As a last ditch protest he had his eyes, lips and ears sewn up.
An image of poignancy that brings me to the end of this blog.
ART, in my view, should do 3 things, entertain, provoke comment and then engage the audience in thinking about the subject matter. I think this evening’s presentations have achieved all of this.
Monday, 28 May 2012
Greetings, I am James Phaily, an artist and student at Lincoln University. I am here to tell you all about the amazing evening of artists’ talks and presentations that was Beacon Bi-Monthly 10.
The first artist we encountered on this marvellous evening was artist S. Mark Gubb, who stated three things that defined him as an artist and person. The first was growing up in the sleepy seaside town of Herne Bay.
|S.Mark Gubb, The Bewildered Herd:Text Works and Other Things, 2004-2006|
Mark gave us an interesting sketch and slideshow highlighting all the times that the town where he grew up was mentioned on TV. As well as this he provided some amusing anecdotes about the scrapes he got into when growing up, one of these being the day he participated in the filming of a Jive Bunny video as an extra.
The second important factor that colours Mark’s perception of life and filters into his art was the discovery of Iron Maiden when he was 8 years old. He was encouraged by his cousin to buy the ‘Piece of Mind’ album, and was struck by the artwork and the gatefold photo of the band tucking into a meal of their mascot Eddie’s brain. This graduated in to a lifelong love of Heavy Metal, especially grindcore and anarcho-punk bands such as ‘Napalm Death’ and ‘Doom’.
The third factor that has had a bearing on Mark’s artistic ethos was growing up in the eighties. For Mark, the eighties was a time of influential politics and was host to some surreal happenings. He remembers David Hasselhoff giving a concert for the masses on top of the Brandenburg Gate and the bombing of Libya by the Americans on 5th April 1986, who used his local airport as a base. Mark believes that these various happenings had a profound effect on him and have an influence on his art even now.
To conclude the session, Mark read an extract from a text he has been writing for an exhibition at the G39 gallery in Cardiff. Mark is sending a postcard containing one hundred words to the gallery every day until June wherever he may be. This piece is entitled US of Gay and centres around the hypothetical election of Jim Waters, the first gay President of the United States.
After a short break we were treated to a Beacon conversation on the nature of collaboration, which featured Beacon’s John Plowman in conversation with artist and farmer Kate Genever.
|Kate Genever, Black Gold, 2010|
The conversation was discursive due to the fact that we as participants/collaborators were encouraged to join in. John began by asking Kate what she felt the similarities were between her artistic practice and farming.
Kate felt that there was no separation between the two and that whether artist or farmer it is only a title. In whichever role she is undertaking, whether it is with another artist or with the land and the weather, she is attempting to enforce her will. One member of the audience spoke of the belief that collaboration only occurs when the two collaborative opposites are fighting, even though you are working towards a joint goal. The logic in this being that when you engage in collaboration you cease to be the enemy and begin to solve problems.
She moved on to talk about her involvement with collaborator Steve in a regeneration project in North Sheffield, called Parsons Cross for which they have received public funding. In the same way as farming, Kate and Steve’s practice is purposeful and fulfils a need: a shared growing building with which they fight to push their vision out. Sometimes co-authored they act as a catalyst, as the actual ownership of the work they find irrelevant. Kate is particularly disinterested in the idea of the artist as a deity, mystic or shaman, and is interested in the collapse of this concept. John then suggested that it is not the collapsing of the concept that is important but rather a question of the position you are in, and wondered if collaboration is the right term. He discussed that in their work Kate and Steve are interested in creating a space for discussion which is distinctly non-hierarchical and is a question of sharing with the people you are with. He deliberated if participation was a better term.
Kate and Steve’s job is to use their pot of money in the best possible way within the parameters of the situation. Kate agreed with this but then stated that whatever the correct term is, the important thing is to like who you are working with and be able to start to share towards an unknown end.
|Jonathan Roberts, Trolley, 2011|
The final guest artist of the evening was artist/sculptor Jonathan Roberts who is interested in the absurd figure, the questioning of hierarchy and more importantly devaluing the hierarchy of art. In a similar manner to the S. Mark Gubb, Jonathan was brought up in a seaside town in North Wales called Prestatyn which is only famous, according to the artist, because it is next door to Rhyll.
As a teenager Jonathan used to sell sugar penises at the seaside, which holiday makers would buy and take home for their Grandmas. Jonathan noticed that when you take these strange objects away from the seaside they turn into something strangely ridiculous. This thought has stayed with Jonathan throughout his artistic practice alongside the bawdy humour of the seaside postcard.
Jonathan originally trained in ceramics and was struck by the idea of sculpture as a high status symbol, and began throwing concrete in place of clay. The artist suggested that this was a definite intentionally futile endeavour. The sculptures were created so that spectator would have to kneel on the floor and read the seaside gag beneath it.
One of the pieces that Jonathan created in order to make sculpture throwaway was “Twenty Mayfair”. This consisted of twenty cigarette packet casts covered with Ultra-Violet paint and scattered around. The piece glows in the dark and resonates when the lights are off but when seen in the light the cigarette cartons just look like debris.
Recently Jonathan has been collaborating with a comedy writer. This relationship is one of mutual respect and he showed us a short film based on the idea of combining art with comedy, which we all really enjoyed.
Jonathan’s work, like S.Mark Gubb’s, has an autobiographical element.
The next work he showed us was based on his childhood in Prestatyn at a time when his sister was chosen as the Carnival queen, where he is shown at the back of the float dressed as an ostrich. This watered-down version of the Carnival, for Jonathan is as far away from Mardi-Gras as possible and shows the figure of the Carnival queen as an object of desire, whereas poor old Jonathan had to dress as an Ostrich and was an object of ridicule. This objectification of the female and male form is an important influence in Jonathan’s latest work and he has decided to show this by the removal of the figure completely. For example, Jonathan has taken a famous picture of ‘femme fatale’ Christine Keeler and removed her figure to reveal the surrounding area.
Another Beacon Bi-Monthly drew to a close and I believe a fantastic and illuminating time was had by all. See you all next time, surreally yours, James Phaily
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Beacon Bi-Monthly 9 Friday 2 March 2012
I am Dan Bond and as a fine art student, I always find it to be of great resource to attend the kind of networking events of which the Beacon Bimonthlies are prime. Hosted by Beacon directors, Nicola Streeten and John Plowman, these evenings make me feel like a welcome guest in the old chapel. Also, the free ride from Lincoln is most useful for the poverty-stricken student.
Upon arrival, it is standard procedure to introduce ourselves with a bit of themed whimsy to the rest of the room. This evening’s theme was on personal superstitions. I do enjoy this little bit of the evening, it’s a great leveller.
The evening consisted of two artist presentations and a conversation between the hosts on the topic of audience.
It’s inspiring to see the range of talent that present their work and ideas. It gives me the confidence to believe that I too could succeed as a professional artist. The first speaker, Marc Renshaw, shared with us the intricacies of his fictional football league. The league is a product of years of inventing statistics and league tables for his teams. The teams are entirely fictional too, existing only in the tables and Marc’s illustration work, presenting them with their own characteristics. Teams such as the ‘Tranquilayers’, and the ‘Bayerns’ are considered to be the top dogs in the league. They are similar to real teams, that I personally would know nothing about! He predicts the scores by playing through the matches in his head. The outcomes of these depend on previous statistics, weather conditions, and other variables.
I’m quite glad there are people like Marc still around. He has followed an interest from boyhood that would seem to others to be a waste of effort. Nerveless he stuck with it, never expecting anything more than the satisfaction from a very unique pastime.
Images: Marc Renshaw
To break up the evening, there was a selection of refreshments, tasteful bites and, as ever, a pot of fine homemade soup. This intermission gave people the opportunity to network with others and share contacts. This is a vital part of the evening and one of the reasons why people come. It feels like the event provides a healthy balance of presentation and conversation.
The second speaker was a recent graduate of Nottingham Trent University. Krystina Naylor works primarily as a sculptor, with works that deceive the eye. Her recent sculptures ask for a particular viewpoint. Once viewed in this way, their apparent shapes are disrupted.
I don’t think the photographs of these sculptures can do them justice. I feel that these sculptures can only be experienced whilst standing in the same space with them. You can then assume a more interactive role with the viewing, which is what this work demands.
Images: Krystina Naylor
This next and final part of the evening was a conversation that started off with the hosts, before the rest of the room began to participate. We discussed our audiences and how we could attract a wider and different audience. We, and I exclude myself from that, gained a little progress in sharing our ideas. There were times where the situation developed into debate and this is always good.
After arriving to some conclusions in the conversation, we ended the evening and drove back into Lincoln. I look forward to the next Beacon night. It’s a shame they’re only bi-monthly.
University of Lincoln
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
My name is Corrine Cooper and I’m a fine art student studying at The University of Lincoln. My website is http://corrinacooperart.carbonmade.com/ and I also keep a blog: http://corrinacooper.wordpress.com/I have been lucky enough to attend the bimonthly event run by ‘Beacon Art Project.’ It's an inspiring experience hosted by directors Nicola Streeten and John Plowman, exploring contemporary visual art through evening events.
As the night began to unfold and our usual introductions, that are always quite humorous, were over, we had the pleasure to begin our evening with a talk from
A Nottingham based artist, Godley looks at many historical subjects, for instance his own heritage, the idea of memory, the cultural memory of the time, migration and thus his own identity. He captured us with his detailed memoir of his past, having his family migrate from Germany during the war, thus basing the work he showed us on this great influence. Exploring his past led him to conspiracy stories about UFOs. Godley’s work had in some cases subtle hints of humor, vibrant colour and an illustrative vibe and therefore surprised us all when a vast amount of his work was created with his iPhone or iPad. Godley’s engagement with the audience was thought provoking, fun and gave us an extraordinary feeling of excitement for the rest of the evening.
After a short interlude, filled with a choice of drinks or a beautiful homemade soup, was over, we eagerly sat down to listen to the following artist
As an emerging artist, Bartlett’s talent is exceeding and for many of the students that had came to the evening, we were greatly influenced by his journey so far. Bartlett’s work has the impression of a system, seemingly geometric and structured, that takes traditional styles and tries to exploit them to push the boundaries and almost break the void, a revolt it may seem. His talk, as previously mentioned, was a huge help to the students at the evening and I would say helped us see the journey we could take in a couple of year's time.
Exhilarated by the last two talks, the final talk was from
Tom Cretney and Nick Simpson, curators of the Monks Gallery. I recognised them instantly as they were previous graduates from The University of Lincoln. As emerging artists as well they had a passion to help create a more extensive art scene in Lincoln, and inspiringly turned their own house into the gallery, having 6 shows in 6 months. They invited artists to the shows and for next to nothing completed their exhibitions with elevating success. On top of creating such an influential project Tom and Nick talked about their own work: ‘A Protest in Silence.’ In their work could be seen a revolt against the bureaucracy of the art world, a statement to the world showing they had a point to make. The work they had created brought a smile to everyones faces and the talk brought a brilliant end to the night.
As this was concluding meeting I was sad to leave, even considering hiding or staying in protest as the wait until March is somewhat excruciating. Yet alas the night was over. I would recommend the event to everyone as it is an experience, a chance to learn and explore the world of art in an innovative manner and the wait to March begins...
The University of Lincoln