Monday, February 25, 2008

Michael Porter - The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time shows large-scale paintings by Michael Porter spanning a 20 year period. The exhibition is at The Exchange, Penzance until 6th April. Porter has in a studio in Newlyn where he works on a number of paintings at the same time. The surfaces are built up gradually, this layering process conveying the passage of time that has built up the landscape. He celebrates the mundane, often disgarded, objects that he finds in the nature that surrounds him by revealing their hidden beauty. Discovery in the Grass, PVA, Oil, Collage on canvas (above)
Image of Place is an exhibition of smaller works, on paper, running concurrently at the Wills Lane Gallery in St Ives.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stan's Cafe

Stan's Cafe, Of All the People in All the World, the Exchange Gallery, Penzance. Stan's Cafe is a group of atrists, based in Birmingham, which specialises in creating unusual art works in a range of contexts.
At the Exchange Gallery they have created an interactive installation developed from a single grain of rice. By using a single grain of rice to represent a single individual, otherwise abstract human statistics take on a more personal and tangible significance. The statistics are arranged in labeled piles that evolve as a result of discussions with with visitors to the event. The statistics range from the number of millionaires to the number of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur on a global scale to the more local statistics of the number of children employed in Cornish mining in 1839 to the number who journeyed to Gwennap Pit in 1871 to hear John Wesley preach.

Rose Hilton

Rose Hilton: The Beauty of Ordinary Things a Selected Retrospective 1950 -2007 is the new exhibition at Tate St Ives. Whilst not a great fan of Rose Hilton I was moved by the atmospheric interiors in these works, the smokey greys set against the vivid blues capture autumn days in Penwith with a deft hand. Gallery 3 has the Artists on Artists exhibition where Rose Hilton has chosen a group of works by artists that have inspired or influenced her work. these include Henri Matisse, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson.
The work that is the most evocative for me is in Gallery 1, where Cornish born painter Margo Maeckelberghe is showing Extended Landscapes. These expressive coastal and moorland landscapes explore the rhythms of the underlying structures.
Illustrated is Highland Carne 1972 which shows broard sweeps of red/brown winter bracken and striking yellow of spring furze set against the omnipresent greys of granite boulders and rain laden sky.

Washi Workshop

As part of the Cloth and Culture Now Conference Japanese artist Shoko Nomura gave a workshop on layering washi paper. Her work for the exhibition is composed of panels of layered washi paper that are joined to make walls of delicate translucent white patterns (left)

The areas of 'shadows' are formed by multiple layers of washi paper, the more layers the less light gets through.

Shoko explained (through an interpreter) that Hemp was the original fibre for paper in Japan with Mulbery and rice comming later. She uses fine grade mulberry paper and rice (or starch) glue. The washi paper has very long fibers which makes it strong and difficult to tear against the grain. To tear against the grain first fold along the desired tear line and then lightly wet the fold, this will weaken the fibers and allow tearing. The characteristic long fibers mean that the paper can be layered with very little glue. Lightly beating the layers with the paste brush helps the glue penetrate the fibers of sucessive layers. It is the glue that gives her work its shine, the first layer has the shine and the last is more matt. Above is my sample from the workshop before drying.

Mitsuo Toyazaki

Mitsuo Toyazaki gave a fascinating lecture (with translation read by Lesley Millar) at the Sainsbury Centre on Sunday 27th January as part of the Cloth and Culture Now Conference.

Originally trained as a dyer Toyazaki has often produced installations that are fromed of multiples of an object that has been dyed in different hues.

The ancient Japanese Jomon culture is an area of great influence in Toyazaki's work that results in highly complex pattern formations. He began collecting small objects such as buttons (not found intraditional Janpanese clothing) after a huge earthquake distroyed many of the homes around him. the buttons are used to from pattern installations that are deliberately transient.
The changing of the seasons is represented in his installation for Cloth and Culture Now. The piece shows Maple leaves as they change colour in the autumn, the installation captures a fleeting moment in the ever changing colouration of the leaves. The transience and fragility of the moment would be lost if the buttons were fixed in place by sewing or glueing, left loose they can be swept away in an instance as are the leaves when they fall.

Cloth and Culture Now Conference

The Cloth and Culture Now Conference was held at the Sainsbury Centre, Norwich on 26th January 2008.

An interesting day of lectures from a wide variety of speakers including Medievil specialist Sandy Heslop whose description of the influence of textiles on the industrialisation of Europe was fascinating.

Anni Albers' Knot 2 (above) from 1947

For me the highlight was Victoria Mitchell from Norwich School of Art and Design, speaking on Textile Tradition meets Contemporary Art. It was her comparisons of the work of Anni Albers and Eva Hesse that really struck a cord with me. I shall be following up these two artists as reference points for my work on drawing with thread.

Eva Hesse Metronomic Irregularity II (detail, right)

Cloth and Culture Now

Cloth And Culture Now, Sainsbury Centre, Norwich. 29th January - !st June 2008

A diverse range of textile practitioners from six countries are showing work that focuses on traditional practice that has been filtered through contemporary making.

Latvian artist Dzintra Vilks uses observational drawing as the starting point for her works. Her forms constructed of bamboo and cotton often produce strong shadows and yet are very soft in their colouring, relying on subtle tonal changes to give greater depth to the work.

Mare Kelpman is exhibiting lasercut polyamid patterns drawn from traditional Estonian embroidery. The vastly exagerated scale, overlapping shadows and cutting edge materials/techniques emphasise that this piece is capturing a moment in time and transcending its traditional roots.

Shelly Goldsmith has been looking at methods of liberating tapestry from its place on the wall. This three-dimensional piece indicates ideas of excesses being built up in some areas whilst others are lacking and references her ongoing interest in flooding and drought.