Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Trip to Manchester International Festival - Day 1

I joined the NewBridge Project on a trip to Manchester to visit the Manchester International Festival.

We spent Friday afternoon in Salford visiting a number of artist run spaces.

Our first stop was The International 3 where the directors Laurence Lane and Paulette Terry Brien gave us an introduction to the organisation.

The International 3 is an exhibition and project space in Salford who work with emerging and established artists, independent curators, galleries and organisations to produce a programme of new commissions, solo shows, group exhibitions and events both on and off-site. The International 3 also works with and represents a core group of artists, exhibiting and selling their work at national and international art-fairs; brokering exhibition and private commission opportunities.

We then headed to Islington Mill for a cuppa and a look around with Stina Puotinen.

Islington Mill is a leading independent UK arts organisation based in Salford, in the NW of England. Structured around an organic network of independent artists, Islington Mill runs innovative inter-disciplinary public arts programmes and artist residencies alongside studio spaces and an artists’ B&B. Drawing on the radical and subversive creative energy running through its arts activities, Islington Mill also has a reputation for putting on legendary experimental gatherings, events and parties.

Our final art space visit was to Paradise Works where we met Hilary and Chris.

Paradise Works is a new artist-led initiative on the border of Salford and Manchester.

Established in April 2017, Paradise Works provides studio space to to 26 contemporary artists working across the disciplines of sculpture, installation, painting, drawing, film, audio, performance, photography and curation.

It draws together artists from studios that were under threat or recently closed such as Rogue Studios.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Climate Symphony

I was invited to participate in Climate Symphony, an event devised by Disobedient in collaboration with Jamie Perera. It was co-produced by Forma Arts and Disobedient, and supported by Arts Council England and Sculpt the Future Foundation. The event was held at Culture Lab, Newcastle University. Climate Symphony was a live music performance that turned data into a four part symphony to tell the story of what climate change means for humans and their environment through sound.

Some questions we thought about included

Can we use sound as a narrative and reporting tool?

Can we engage and inspire and maintain factual rigour?

The lab brought together scientists, artists, journalists and members of the public to interrogate some of the ideas behind the project and as part of a workshop/lab, we created some initial works to communicate some of the data to a new and wider audience.

The lab was intended as a research and development vehicle to answer key practical and artistic questions around the process by which we can transform data into a narrative symphony.



Birth of a Climate Dataset: Artists, scientists and data analysts delivered talks on field recording and climate data collection.

Jim Lloyd gave an introduction to his work as a scientist and artist, and discussed some of the challenges he faces with science that led him to art.

Jez Riley French described his approach to field recording and shared some examples of his work.


What is the Sound of a Dying Planet? We split into two groups and each group selected a set of climate data and turned that into sound.

This is the data set that we chose (kindly provided by Erin in our group).

We found the averages of points along the timeline and plotted this data into the computer. We used the trends to alter the recordings that Jez from our group had provided.


Each group explained the decisions made throughout the process of making the work, discussed the challenges faced, what worked, and what didn’t work. This led to a broader debate about role of sonification in communicating narratives of climate change.

Here is the presentation about the work that I was involved with making.


In the evening we were treated to two performances, one by Kate Carr and the next by Jez Riley French.

It was a really interesting and stimulating day, working with such a range of experts in their field and sharing lots of ideas and raising lots of questions. Thank you to Forma Arts and Disobedient for making it happen and for inviting me to be part of it.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Rory Pilgrim: Software Garden as part of World Is Sudden: Summer Lab

World Is Sudden: Summer Lab is a project by Giles Bailey & CIRCA Projects. They invited international artists, performers, musicians, designers and dancers to make artworks in the urban and natural environments of the Northeast region and to propose new ways of discovering the area as a continuum, without divisions between nature and culture, city and countryside, street and path, local and foreigner, human and animal, day and night. Invited artists have created a series of day-long projects which fuse interdisciplinary experiences to each reflect upon a different host venue and their different role as a cultural producer in our region. Participants of the Summer Lab were invited to discover other forms of being, hearing, touching, tasting and seeing the world.

As part of World Is Sudden: Summer Lab, Rory Pilgrim presented an evening performance at BALTIC based on the work he had done during the day with participants from the summer school.

"Inspired by collaborative forms of quick action, improvisation and group making, the performance invites people to encounter a space of joy as a form of resistance and collective experience."

Rory Pilgrim explores questions of time and connections between activism, spirituality, music and performance. His recent work has explored the relationship between words, age and inter-generational dialogue as a radical proposition.

"Unfolding somewhere between Kabuki theatre, a pop concert and a political social space of action, this performance attempts to bring together a variety of people from different ages, backgrounds, human and robotic, to propose the creation of an embodied system of care and kindness as a software garden.

Exploring connections between technology, disability and care as a way of looking at larger political framework, the performance interweaves poetry, speech, song and choreography as part of a new growing experimental music album."

Despite only having a day together to learn the performance, the Summer Lab participants performed in such a natural and assured manner that it appeared that they had been working on the piece a lot longer than a day. There is a fine line between being prepared and being either over or under prepared, and on this occasion that balance was just right.

The combination of all the different elements, maintained my interest in what was rather a long performance considering that the participants only had a day together to rehearse. They seemed to be working as a team, responding well to each other and mirroring each other's actions. No one in particular seemed to be the 'leader' as such, but they all had a good awareness of each other and their movement on an individual and collective basis.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Some studio experiments with Melinda McGarry

Artist Melinda McGarry and I spent a productive afternoon in my studio drawing and experimenting with some found materials.

We had been discussing our approaches to making work, identifying the similarities and differences and strengths and weaknesses. We agreed that it would be useful to spend some time in the studio together, responding to each other, working with each other and supporting each other in the creation of some new work.

Melinda's background is in painting, and it is only recently that she has begun incorporating sculptural elements in her work. I really admire her drawings, her use of colour and line.

After the month of paperwork that I have just had, it was particularly good to get drawing and playing with materials again.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Lost Voices by Bennett Hogg at Cheeseburn Sculpture

Lost Voices; A Sound Installation by Bennett Hogg, using reconstructions by Magnus Williamson, of missing voice parts from sixteenth Century Church Music

It may be nothing more than a coincidence that some of the greatest English religious
music from a period when thousands of voices were silenced – through imprisonment, enforced hiding, or burning at the stake – has come down to us with one or more of its original voices missing. A coincidence, perhaps, a highly suggestive, poetic one.

Musical practice in the sixteenth century was for each voice to have their own copy of
the music containing only their particular part. The music for Robert White’s Lamentations of Jeremiah, one of the pieces used in Lost Voices, would have originally consisted of six separate “part books” but only five survive; the book containing the music for the tenor voice has been lost.

Magnus Williamson has recomposed many of these missing voices, and it is these
recovered voices that form the basic materials of Bennett Hogg’s installation Lost 
Voices. The piece recombines the music into a new polyphony, using digital sound
processing to extend and transform the sounds. Voices emerge from different places, always hidden, always on the move, and as the listener walks around different
combinations can be found.

As a counterpoint to this texts by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard meditate on
how intimate spaces – our homes, isolated cabins in the forest, priestholes perhaps -
connect in the imagination with sound, memory, and voice.

Cheeseburn, as a recusant house, may well have hidden persecuted Catholics. As we
enjoy our rights and freedoms in the present, we might reflect on these different lost voices, and on the renewed appetite in some places to persecute one another based on our religious affiliations, or, indeed, our lack of them.

Soprano – Daisy Gibb
Tenor – Magnus Williamson
Bass – Patrick Owston
Reader – Martin Eccles
Recording engineer – David de la Haye

The spoken texts are from Gaston Bachelard’s book The Poetics of Space, first published in French in 1958.

Fred Watson in the Stables Gallery at Cheeseburn Sculpture

Fred Watson has 5 stone carvings in the gardens at Cheeseburn and his exhibition at Cheeseburn’s Stables Gallery in July 2017 aims to showcase his fine still life carvings in wood.

Fred has worked for many years from a large studio in rural Northumberland where he has built a strong reputation for thoughtful carvings, producing gallery pieces in wood and in stone for public commissions.

“I find a complicity between Still Life and the practice of carving. Time is the essence of them both. The long, patient, solitary practice of carving reflects the long, silent indifference of the objects. Stone and Wood belong to time. Many of my tools have been used by generations of craftsmen. Carving is a rewarding solitude, which is what impels my work. I carve the most ordinary of objects because the ordinary is rich enough. Familiar objects that can be moved at will become fixed in a timeless matrix.

Still Life is common in painting but not in sculpture. Carving creates a dialogue between form and function and when ordinary objects are rendered in wood or stone they assume a different reality. The sculpture becomes distanced from the objects it represents, which become more remote, secluded and potentially meaningful.”
Fred Watson


Looking forward to Cheeseburn this weekend

I am working at the July Open Weekends at Cheeseburn Sculpture, and I'm looking forward to seeing the new exhibitions that will be on in the gallery and the Stables project space.

Cheeseburn Stables Gallery - Fred Watson

Fred Watson has 5 stone carvings in the gardens at Cheeseburn and his exhibition at Cheeseburn’s Stables Gallery in July 2017 aims to showcase his fine still life carvings in wood.

Lost Voices; A Sound Installation by Bennett Hogg, using reconstructions by Magnus Williamson, of missing voice parts from sixteenth Century Church Music. 

There will, of course, also be the opportunity to see the permanent collection of sculptures within the gardens, Tyne Bridge Hinge by Alexander Devereux and Scurry by Dan Gough.

For more information please visit

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Primal Speech by Liz Magic Laser at Jupiter Artland


Liz Magic Laser
Primal Speech, an immersive mixed media installation produced by Brooklyn, NY based artist Liz Magic Laser is currently being exhibited in the Tin Roof Gallery at Jupiter Artland.

Before entering the gallery, visitors are asked to remove their shoes. The gallery has been transformed into "Laser’s futuristic version of a primal scream room with soft grey padded walls and therapeutic devices such as punching pillows and a screaming vase. The artist has created sculptural pillows that reflect regional political emblems and for the installation at Jupiter Artland the collection includes symbols for the Scottish National Party’s thistle, Scottish Labour Party’s rose and the Scottish Liberal Democrat’s bird of liberty."

Laser’s therapeutic video and environment guide viewers to express and exorcise their sociopolitical and personal frustrations. For the video, Laser assembled a pseudo therapy group composed of actors with opposing political convictions about Brexit and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The artist encouraged them to revisit and conflate childhood traumas with their current political frustrations. Laser collaborated with Certified Professional Life Coach, Valerie Bell, trained in Primal Therapy techniques, to elicit connections between traumatic experience and political beliefs."

I felt that the work has the potential to be much more open and expansive, but because the video specifically focuses on Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, it is restricted in its scope. For reasons I am yet to fully identify and understand, there was a rather negative tone to the work, and I came out feeling as though I had been made to feel angry about something defined by someone else (i.e. Trump and the current Brexit situation). Don't get me wrong, I do not think favourably of either Trump or the decision for the UK to leave the EU, but I felt channeled and free from thinking about other situations that 'are bothering me', and therefore felt frustrated that I had not been encouraged to bring my own direction to the work. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

Jupiter Artland

At the weekend I visited Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park and art gallery in the grounds of Bonnington House, a 19th-century country house near Edinburgh.

"Visitors to Jupiter Artland are given a map indicating the location of the artworks within the grounds. But there's no set route. Clockwise or anticlockwise is your choice, as is the retracing of steps for a second look. The artworks are land marks, events, confrontations on a journey of discovery; an open-ended journey."

Although there are a few artworks situated indoors, the vast majority are outside, and so it really is a place to be visited in good weather. There is plenty to see, and it is easy to spend 2-3hours wandering round the artworks. Even the cafe is filled with art. It was recently extended and transformed by artist Nicholas Party, into Cafe Party. 


Nicolas Party

"Cafe Party features decorative wall painting, hand painted tables, custom designed furniture, servery and screen printed crockery. Party’s work examines classical genres and motifs explored throughout art history and painting such as still life and portraiture as well as how these are presented. The expansive mural acts as a framing device and a fantastical stage set for a series of pastel compositions delivered in Party’s unique aesthetic language.

The wall murals also tie to the artist interest in art history which are often executed in styles that retaining parameters by honouring traditional processes and materials. Recently this has expanded into the use of trope l’oiel which is used throughout Café Party in the malachite surfaces.


Nicolas Party

Through Party’s distinctive paintings and drawings Café Party directly responds to the surrounding woodland of Jupiter Artland, borrowing imagery from the landscape to furnish the restaurant and the vibrancy of the collection is celebrated in the vivid colour palette. Patters repeat throughout with tropical shrubbery that line the foreground, whilst clashing skinny twigs and wall climbers reach for the light overall producing a fantastical, almost psychedelic scene."

In future blog posts I will give more details about a selection of the artworks, but here are a few photos to give you a taster of what there is to see.


Jim Lambie


Jim Lambie

Charles Jencks


Anya Gallaccio


Christian Boltanski


Separation in the Evening (a celestial blossom before the yellow house)


Laura Ford


Shane Waltener


Michael Sailstorfer


Nathan Coley



Saturday, 24 June 2017

Project 333

Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.

I learned about it when watching Minimalism: A Documentary about the important things

The Rules

  • When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)
  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes.
  • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewellery that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
  • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
  • What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.