Sunday, December 9, 2007
At this time of year the gardens are not at their best but I intend to return in the summer for lunch and a day spent enjoying the gardens and their sculptures.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
For Everything and Nothing Catherine Bertola has collected dust from around the museum and used it to texture and colour giant paper-cuts based on wallpaper patterns. Dust tells the hidden history of a place and those who use it.
Naomie Filmer is fascinated by the parts of the body that are usually not celebrated, such as the back of the knee or elbow. For Body Map she has cast small areas of the body, such as the heel, in silver. These pieces have been magnified and isolated inside glass lenses making them extraordinary.
The Book of Humanity, the empty book is a stunning installation of hand cut red tissue paper falling from three suspended books by Lu Shengzhong. Each stream of paper ends with a small figure, representing the fragility of man. On the opposite wall are stacked black cases full of hand cut figures, also of hand cut red tissue paper.
Capacity by Anne Wilson is, for me, the most stunning piece in the exhibition. It is a fusion between art and science and captures the moment of the lungs being filled with air. The transparency of glass and its ability to reveal is perfectly suited to the invisibility of the air it portrays.
Anne Wilson has used thousands of fragments of lace in her Topologies installation. There is an important play on scale in this piece which counteracts the preciousness of lace - where one flower is precious, a field full is less so and the same effect is gained here. Showing alongside the installation is a stop-motion video of the piece being installed, accompanied by a soundtrack of the threads, pins and hammers at work.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Deirdre Figueiredo spoke about the work of Craftspace who build links between urban artists and audiences by involving them with crafts activities. A recent project was Transforming Crafts at Elsmere where they brought together Junko Mori an urban blacksmith working in cramped conditions in Manchester and Chris Stokes who runs a large forge in rural Oswestry. Their exchange of practice and dialog showed the breadth of techniques associated with blacksmithing in their collaborative work 'Bindweed' shown above.
Love Jonsson introduced the audience to the way Sweden had tried to integrate its crafts people into the international community by inviting overseas artists to work in Sweden. One of the eventual results of this was the Swedish group 'We Work in Fragile Material' exhibiting at Happy Campers in New York in 2006. Individually the members work in glass and ceramics (hence the group title) but for this exhibition they produced a giant fabric Troll, this was a representation of the way crafts people are seen as Trolls who live in the countryside and shun modern technology. The piece was an affirmation of the joy of making by hand and testament to the crafters ability to move across disciplines.
After lunch we were treated to a brilliantly illustrated talk on the 'subversive' knitting scene in USA by Sabrina Gschwandtner of the publication KnitKnit. Amongst other things she showed the work of the group Knitta who are known for their knitted graffiti, they regularly 'tag' areas of cities by wrapping objects with brightly coloured knitting. Trees, lampposts, railings, car antennae and door handles have been tagged from Los Angeles to Paris and the group regularly get requests to work in peoples hometowns or on specific objects such as bicycles.
She also explained the work of Microrevolt who are a knitting group trying to change attitudes by involving large numbers of people in small, passive, protests that grow to into huge movements that have loud voices.
The afternoon was rounded off with talks by Dr Ian Hunter and Celia Larner from Littoral Arts Trust, a Rochdale based crafts charity. Dr Hunter was keen to make us aware of the agricultural changes that are coming and how they will impact on our lives. Agricultural policies are in place that will change our landscape with willow taking over as a major crop for bio-fuel. This will produce an ideal opportunity for the crafts to re-engage with agriculture and for the core skills of willow work/basketry to lead the way by adding value to agricultural produce/waste. The work of urban basket maker Lee Dalby is firmly based on traditional methods but he also works in modern free-form structures.
Celia went on to tell us about her trip to 'Sheep is Life' the Navajo celebration of the sheep in USA. Whether through felt making or weaving the crafts women are adding value to very poor quality wool and their work is in high demand by both private collectors and museum curators.
We took a walk through the Narrows, where there are a wide variety of small independent shops and managed to buy a couple of Christmas presents before lunch. This was followed by a walk to show Anna the outside of the Brighton Pavilion - It's a long time since I was last in Brighton and I'd forgotten what a wondrous confection it is!
As we made out way back to the car I spotted these amazing gates at the entrance to a fairly new complex of flats about 100meters from the seafront.
Monday, November 5, 2007
The Textiles Collection includes Coptic textiles from 800 - 1000, Kashmir shawls, African strip weaving and lace as well as more recent works by Peter Collingwood. (right)
One of the pieces that I had gone to see was System No 19 by Julian Wild. This abstract work explores line, space, maths and the essence of form and shape. I was lucky enough to visit on a sunny day and so see the shadows that it forms which, although difficult to capture on grass, add an extra dimension to the work.
Ellis O'Connell's Loop is a beautifully sinuous piece which shows strikingly different shapes as one moves around the form.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Rezia Wahid's work is described as 'Woven Air', she works with the finest yarns including silk and merino wool which allow light and air to pass through the work and so add an extra dimension.
The weavings are translucent and transparent and move with the slightest of air currents.
The exhibition comprises 18 major pieces, 12 of which are hung in the main gallery. Some are displayed in the glass cases along with a selection of sketch books which are as beautiful as the works themselves. There are 7 smaller, framed pieces for sale in the Reception. The exhibition also includes a video of the cloths being used in collaboration with a dance group.
An additional pleasure for me were the shadows cast on the floor by the lighting.
Order + Change (No Chance), Kenneth Martin
Inversions, 1967, Mary Martin
Their work occupies three of the main galleries, with the main atrium over looking Porthmeor beach housing a complimentary exhibition of work from the Tate Collection of Modernist artists who were working in St Ives during the post-war period.
Also on display are ceramics from Bernard Leach and his circle who were so influential on the development of Studio Pottery.
The John Wells Centenary Display occupies The Studio and includes many well known works such as Aspiring Forms and Sea Bird Forms.
The fifth gallery houses a display of the work of Artist in Residence Jonty Lees, exploring the eccentricities of human activity.
My mother lives on the outskirts of St Ives with views over the bay towards Godrevy Lighthouse. It's a fabulous place to be with great views, wonderful walking on cliffs and moors and the art tradition means that there are dozens of galleries in the area.
Summer Sandbar, John Miller
Monday, October 22, 2007
My daughter is studying shoe design at Cordwainers, London College of Fashion. She is currently undertaking a placement at Conker Shoes of Totnes, Devon. As part of her research for her final year project she wants to look at sustainably produced leather, Conkers is also interested in increasing their eco credentials and so gave her time off to attend the Lineapelle leather fair, I tagged along to see Bologna.
Leather to me means cow, pig or sheep skin but at Lineapelle there were also kangaroo, reindeer, buffalo, crocodile, lizard and fish skins (and probably many more I didn't notice!)
To the right are fish skins from Atlantic Leathers of Iceland, the top one is perch and the bottom is wolf fish, their main production is salmon skins.
I love soft 'glove' leathers but Anna was looking for much thicker skins suitable for the strain of pulling over a shoe last and for vegetable tanned leathers that she can colour herself.
Most of the leathers at the show were traditionally tanned using chemicals and chrome which is decidedly environmentally unfriendly! I have to admit that I thought many of the colours and finishes that the leathers were available in were also visually pretty awful, bright garish colours and tacky effects seemed a waste of good leather to me. CFM produce foils for heat pressing onto fabric that can also be used on leather, I'm afraid I think they should stay with the fabrics where they are often very effective.
One set of samples that Anna picked up were of scent impregnated leathers, neither of us were quite sure what anyone would actually use them for but she thought they would be good for amusing the staff in the workshop. The scents are, from left to right, strawberry, lavender, orange, mint and lemon. Perhaps they're meant to counteract smelly feet! Surprisingly the company who made these also produced a good range of vegetable tanned naturally dyed leathers in a range of thicknesses.
One of the busier stands had lots of boxes of samples for people to help themselves from. I never found out what the skins were (my Italian doesn't extend much beyond a menu) but the main point of interest were the patterns that had been laser cut into the hair of the animal. The dark lines in the pictures show where the laser has burnt away the hair so that the leather shows through, this is a technique I recognise from the demonstrations at LMU.
Some of the stands in the tannery halls had manned entry desks and were obviously not interested in small businesses but made for a very interesting fashion show. I was highly amused by the middle aged Italian men in immaculate patent leather shoes, with sharp tailored suits, crisp white shirts and dark glasses - perhaps I wasn't the only one who thought some of the colours a little too bright?
Flying in early on Wednesday morning to spend the rest of the day at the fair, I had chosen a hotel that was close by, which proved to be very nice with an excellent restaurant. An early start on Thursday gave us until mid afternoon at the fair and then the rest of the day to look around Bologna, which is a beautiful city that I would like to revisit at my leisure. The last bus to Forli Airport left at 7.10, with the flight at 10.35 meaning that even without checked bags it was 2am Friday before we got home.
An afternoon of discussions followed by and evening of 'Question Time' on the theme of eco-responsibility and sustainability. 'Closing the loop', 'taking action and responsibility' and 'up-cycling' were the main messages that came from the pannelists.
I was interested to note that 'Cradle to Cradle' was wirtten as long ago as 2002, it was obviously at the absolute cutting edge at the time and is still well ahead of the majority of peoples thinking on recycling.
The idea that sustainability is an essential part of good design and not a 'bolt-on' needs to be taught from school level upwards if it is to really become the norm.
What happens to the product beyond the selling point? As a designer it's your responsibility to consider the products future.
Eco-considerations in fashion is like a snowball that has grown so big it won't go away, for some companies it is jumping on the band wagon but others have been battling for a long time to ditch the 'hempy/hairy' image of eco -fashion. M&S have now brought its environmental policies onto the High Street and others are doing the same.
The idea of a ratings system similar to that used on white-goods is popular but will be difficult to standardise. Gap are trying this idea internally in the first instance in order to bring their suppliers (such as dyers) in line. Timberland have a list of ingredients and green index on the box, their method is still under development but it has taught them a lot and they have redesigned some of their products as a result.
I am particularly fond of;
Nature as model
Nature as measure
Nature as mentor
which I believe comes from the book Biomimicry - Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine M Benyus
Useful websites include;
Although the textiles in this exhibition are beautiful it is the basketry and metals that truly moved me.
Woven bamboo basket, 'Shallow Stream' (1997) by KATSUSHIRO, Soho captures the rippling motion of a mountain stream as it rushes over its pebble strewn bed. The play of light on the polished bamboo perfectly mirroring the light on moving water.
'Hazy moon silver' (Rogin) is a term that I had not come across before, it is an alloy of three parts copper and one part silver which produces a wonderful softly coloured metal. Amongst an array of beautiful pieces I particularly liked the hammered silver vase, 'Sea Breeze' (1987) by OSUMI Yukie. Again it was the stunning representation of light on water that spoke to me. The lines of waves march across the vessel in direct opposition to the wind, so evocative of the way I see the tides moving into St Ives Bay in Cornwall.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
The large scale hanging in the Library lobby was commissioned as a result of the 'TEXTURAL SPACE' project. Work 01-1 hangs in five sections and is in ttoal 5.5 meters high and 2.75 meters wide.
Much of Fujimoto's work relies on building up layer on layer of random machine stitching to give the work texture and depth.
His work is described as encompassing the macro and the micro, from 20cm the intense layering of stitches confuses the eye, from 2 meters the work engulfs the viewer and it is only from a distance the we can see the dynamic surface of the whole piece.
I see this hanging as being very akin to the first week of the Farnham experience. The initial confusion at the apparent randomness of the room numbering slowly builds into a natural rhythm of comings and goings. We were at first consumed by the intensity of the task of getting to the right places. As our knowledge gradually broadens we can stand a little further back and begin to look to the specific offerings of our specialist departments and tutors. In time, as our knowledge base continues to build, we will stand even further back and reflect upon the much wider whole that is the Farnham MA Experience.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Fascinating day of lectures and demos on Digital Craft at the LMU Digital Manufacturing Centre. Demos included Digital Printing and Embroidery and the possibilities of the Laser cutting equipment. The picture is of laser etching on leather (apparently very smelly). Gina Pierce used layering to trigger memories and association. Her research into old maps of Spitalfields is translated into multilayerd printed fabrics, the etching away of the top layer with the laser is like an archaeologist scraping away a layer of soil.
One point that came up in the lectures was that we tend to become selectors and editors when we use digital mediums but that we can use the technology to allow creative minds to innovate.
For me the highlight was the SLS machine in action. Selective Laser Sintering is a form of Rapid Prototyping where 3D items are 'printed' from Nylon, ceramic or metal powders. The layers of powder are .1mm thick and, in the machine we saw 'welded', by a computer guided laser rather like assembling an exceptionally precise 3d slice-form model. The picture shows a SLS 'egg' approx 6cm long.
More info on LMU Manufacturing Centre http://www.metropolitanworks.org