I thought I would publish this post in an effort to re-engage with my so called digital sketch book. This piece, titled The Grapes of Laugh was made whilst I was living in New York in 2015 and undertaking a particularly life altering workshop, Functional and Intuitive Art with artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.
I have been attempting to process my experience during this time for the last four years now, and failing! I have a blog post in my drafts on here that I hope to finish at some point but I have no idea when that will happen,
This particular object serves as a reminder to be happy or perhaps more accurately it acts as a conduit for happiness. Due to its interactive ability; the lid can be opened or closed, happiness can be contained or allowed out so you can get a quick dose of it. The glass grapes were bought in China Town and signify prosperity and ov course the air bnb I was living in had a stained glass sticker of grapevines on the window in the bathroom.
I recently had a job interview where I had to bring an object and talk about it. I chose this item and in order to transport it had to close it up. I am NEVER doing that again……. The normally stressful, but manageable journey was absolute hell, even involving a rush hour crush and a spider, and I had to reschedule the interview.
I did actually get the job in the end though, perhaps because the grapes were returned to their rightful open state during it. Needless to say I’m never closing it up again!
©Huw Bartlett 2014
For the final week I invited Actor/Artist/Bodybuilder/Documentary Filmmaker Arnold Pollock to exhibit. His was a unique situation in that he is from Manchester so would be making work from scratch or using whatever he could bring down with him. But this gave Arnold the chance to truly create something in response to the gallery space as initially the space was all he had.
Using his current interest in acting (he’s been on Corrie don’t you know!) and previous experience in documentary film making Arnold created a film that combines his interaction with Brighton and its inhabitants. He accurately describes the film as ‘… the result of pursuing every meaningful coincidence during my stay.’ Most of these coincidences revolved around, and occurred due, to his incredible charm. This charm made it possible for Arnold to swipe personal text messages off of strangers phones which are then used as scripts, acted out with new strangers.
The film also depicts local scenes which perhaps locals would normally overlook, and all pretence is somehow stripped away from whimsical beach scenes such as in the clip below and replaced with an endearing honesty.
It was the perfect way to end the residency. The film left me with a new love for my hometown and showed the true potential of CAC when someone enters it with a blank slate and only their interests as a starting point.
Also screened during the exhibition was Arnold’s documentary of him and friend James walking the Trans Pennine Trail:
Bloody fantastic exhibition! Heavy Weight History consists of Polish power lifters attempting, and sometimes succeeding, to lift politically rife monuments around Warsaw. Documented in the form of a reality TV show, much like World’s Strongest Man (one of my favourite TV programmes!) the work questions the continuing relevance of public statues, and uses the rich historical backdrop of Poland as the stage to do so. Being of Polish heritage myself I have often visited Warsaw and have specifically visited a lot of the statues in the work.
It is interesting to think about these large symbols of communist oppression, such as statues and buildings that are left behind and forced on the locals and the meaning that they now signify. I’m thinking specifically about The Palace of Culture in Warsaw, the so called ‘gift of the Soviet nations to the Polish people’, which is still widely despised by the Polish and yet is a massive tourist attraction and landmark to outsiders.
From the 2nd of February until the 14th of April, the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne was host to the magical film works of Kelly Richardson.
Each room on the top floor of the gallery was dedicated to a different mythical landscape, with the large initial room showing Leviathon, 2011 introduced a sci-fi like lagoon scene, looking like something out of Avatar and Predator combined.
The epic scale of the works provided an intensely immersive experience and films became portals to these unknown lands. This cinematic transportation of the viewer perfectly captured the feeling I get when standing on a mountain top or when exploring a dense forest, the feeling that no one else exists. The double sided hanging forest projections, The Great Destroyer, and The Erudtition, shown below were my favourite pieces.
On a separate, later trip to the Towner I had the good fortune of seeing film-maker John Skoog’s first UK solo show. I was particularly struck by his film Reduit (Redoubt) which takes the form of dark, brooding slow shots of the home of Swedish farmer Karl Goran Persson. Persson built the house by hand and fuelled by his intense fear of impending Soviet invasion continuously fortified his home with junk and found objects. The voice over provides an insight into the character of this farmer, who was so mightily strong he would carry large girders back from town on his bike to add to his fortress like home.
I have always been drawn to film as a medium for my own work due to its ability to take you outside of yourself, and convince you of its reality. Both the exhibitions I saw a the Towner showed a different type of world. The first a mythical landscape, digitally created and the second a mythical landscape created by hand.
At the beginning of this year I sent my little sketchbook off to New York as part of the sketchbook project.
The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and interactive, traveling exhibition of handmade books. Basically you send off for a book and can fill it however you so wish, then return it to The Brooklyn Art Library and they take the books completed each year on a tour around America in their mobile library van!
I started using the sketchbook as an ideas base for the Cubicle Creations project, and really enjoyed playing with collage and my theme of hyper-masculinity without the pressure of it being marked for academic purposes or anything like that. It is also nice to receive emails from different cities along the tour saying someone has viewed your sketchbook. I really like the fact the my little book is travelling to places that I have never been before!
I had also wanted to attach sound modules to the book, like the ones you get in cards that play you a tune, in order to have the pages grunting as you opened them. However I was a bit concerned about the book getting through customs, so that’s another idea to approach at a later date!
The Sketchbook Project 2013 from Jennifer Milarski on Vimeo.
Jeff Keen Dreams of The Archduke Sketchbook from Jennifer Milarski on Vimeo.
A film made for the Jeff Keen retrospective, Shoot The Wrx, Artists and Film Maker Jeff Keen, at Brighton Museum.
The film being shown in the gallery is closer to 20 minutes long but this version has been sped up to give a taste of what is inside.
Copyright belongs to The Jeff Keen Estate and Brighton & Hove Museum and Art Gallery.
The film was produced by Jennifer Milarski, with the help of Anne Nielsen.
As a bird, she haunted him….
This weekend (this was actually in May and I clearly forgot to press publish and have been away for a while!) Strange Beast took over The Booth Museum and created an interactive performance which provided the oppurtunity to encounter The Booth Museum in an exciting and different way.
With laudenum induced women moaning and quoting Keats around you, the stuffed birds were brought to life with a simple torch which was shone onto the cages in the darkened museum.
In the butterfly room you were invited to choose your favourite butterfly or moth as a soundtrack of a female voice whispering the latin names of the various butterflies played.
Based around the tragic life of Pre-Raphaelite model, painter and writer, Elizabeth Sidal
I was slightly apprehensive about going back the Booth Museum, as the last time I was there was about 15 years ago on a school trip, and as with most childhood memories the reality when older is never as good and everything seems to be so much smaller than you remember!
Here is a link to a radio interview with Strange Beast about ‘And No Birds Sing’.
© Patrick Dodds