Friday, 2 December 2016

Fine tuning the Drone instruments

Over the past few weeks we have been redesigning and modifying some of our existing instruments. In some instances the improvements are being made to make the instruments easier to transport and store, and in other cases the changes are to have an effect on the sound produced by the instrument.

We have been redesigning the tube gurdys so that they do not all need to have their own individual stands which take up lots of space and are difficult to transport. Rather than the wheel being fixed in the stand, we are making some hand-held wheels that can be used on a number of instruments.

Joe has been developing the wheel so as to produce the most consistent and least 'tinny' sound. There have been a number of trials that have not worked which is frustrating, but these have helped us get closer to what we want, so they were not in any way a waste. The wheels we are making at the moment are made from wood which creates a solid and robust sound. The rim of the wheel is covered with a band of felt, and then the felt is covered with fishing wire that has been wrapped in an even layer with no bumps. A layer of special strong glue is applied and then rosin. The wheel is then ready for turning against the strings on an instrument or against a tube on the tube gurdy.

The process of wrapping the fishing line around the wheel was incredibly tricky as my eyes found it difficult to keep track of the edge of the fishing line and ensure that it was not overlapping with the previous thread.

As Charlotte and I tackled the wheel, Joe and Ben were working on the wah-wah contraption. The theory was that by using springs at the bottom of the instrument, when the flap was opened and closed during playing, a kind of wah-wah sound would be made. Unfortunately, in practice this was not the case! iu hjbuu

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

No Niceties contributing artist - Kathryn Brame

"Absence, loss, time and memory are all key concerns that influence my practice and after reading Helen’s text ‘A lot can happen in fifteen minutes’, it became clear to me there were similarities between our work. I felt that while the texts described a collection of awkward moments, they also portrayed a real sense of loneliness and isolation and of an individual having to deal with each of these scenarios alone. Sections of text such as: “You opened your eyes. Desperately searching for him. He was not there” and “She avoids you. As much as you avoid her” all spoke to me as moments of struggle and frustration with human connection."

"My work has often involved a single figure placed within a void, removing any clear sense of time or context. The space surrounding the subject and in which the work is shown is integral, serving perhaps as a form of protection, a means of heightening the subject’s importance or space for the viewer to add their own narrative. I submitted two pieces of work in response to Helen’s text – the first was a painting of a small figure looking out of the picture plane into the room, possibly searching for something or someone. I thought this work echoed the sense of loneliness I felt emanating from the texts."

"I also showed a very small text piece called ‘Everything will be alright’. This was a line taken directly from the text ‘You stand at the platform’ but was also a line used by Helen in her MFA Degree show sound piece ‘Everything will be alright’. I felt this line summed up the general feeling of all of the texts - that although these awkward and difficult moments have happened, there is still a sense of hope that everything will be alright."

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

No Niceties contributing artist - Holly Wheeler

Newcastle-based artist Holly Wheeler exhibited 3 photoshopped collages titled Well… this is awkward.
Here she offers us an insight into her ideas leading to the work.
"Initially I wanted to respond to the aesthetic properties of Helen’s publication. The specific formatting, colour scheme and precision with which it was assembled, readily caught my attention.


I chose instead, to respond to the awkward silences and fragmentation that punctuates the work. For me it reveals a shared discomfort and uncertainty within the narrator and the reader as they are confronted by the intimacy of the work. ‘Well…this is awkward’ is a light hearted attempt to voice the internal critic and acknowledge a mutual sense of anxiety the work might stir within the narrator, reader, author and artist."


ive behaviour/repair/self-help/self-care/language/communication/thought/reality/


making/projection/distance/temporary/humorous/light hearted/lost/vibrancy/perception/displacement/uncertain

ty/uncontrollable/space/placement/fragile/ incomplete/unfinished/evolving/morphing/reshaped/indeterminate


To see and read more about Wheeler's work please visit

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No Niceties contributing artist - Sofija Sutton

Brooklyn-based artist Sofija Sutton contributed Sweet, Hold the Bitter to the No Niceties exhibition.

She states, "My current art practice explores the use of flash fiction and folklore in video, painting, collage, and multidiscipline installations. I use narratives and visuals to tell layered metaphors for daily, intimate life. The most common themes I address are belonging and mental health. I particularly enjoy using anamorphism with invertebrate references in magical realism to juxtapose the absurd with the mundane.

Each project’s message dictates the materials of my work. Some meanings require text, while others may be communicated with paint alone. Some works benefit from collaboration and some works require learning new technologies. Allowing the meaning of the work to direct the form it takes allows me to be open to new experiences while maintaining the importance of the story’s message."

Sutton shares some of her initial thoughts that led to the end result:

how i wanted one story to go
- how I want the word playful to be associated in my head. not playful but investigative and introspective and innately human. yes.

(I related too closely)
how it went.

I just wanted one sweet hold the bitter end so I could think you have some sweet hold the bitter moments. but thats not really how feelings are felt in hindsight.

in fifteen minutes my tea can go cold.

-flying pill bug baby, roll and pop!
- you settle into your train seat.
- your friends talk a lot about babies and weddings
- you live a different life than them

ticking clock with an empty desk and chair. plain.
toxic colors, acidic or washed out, jarring. initial impression of joy masking the anxiety and compulsion.

For more information about Sofija's practice, please visit

She has also just launched her new illustration website showcasing watercolor and collage illustrations. Check it out!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Pester & Rossi present 'A Bodyssey Odyssey' at Baltic 39

Glasgow-based collaborative duo Pester & Rossi have been residents in the project space at Baltic 39 since mid- September.

The artists have used the gallery as a studio space, giving the audience a glimpse into their do-it-yourself approach and low-fi working methods. 

"Pester & Rossi make work that spans sculpture, performance and installation using a wide variety of media. Immersive performances and social experiments are rooted in a do-it-yourself approach with ideas connected to childhood nostalgia, public ceremony and a celebration of the home-made. Often using imagery and props relating to the body, along with its physical and metaphorical associations, they provide a sense of familiarity for the audience, all the while generating irony and humour."

Throughout their residency Pester and Rossi have hosted a couple of performances with other artists. Last night all these artists were brought together for the ultimate 'A Bodyssey Odyssey'.

Belinda Gilbert Scott created the impressive scenic backdrop, out of which the performers entered the stage, and into which they retreated at the end, along with the giant inflatable.

"By using her experience as a scenic painter, Gilbert Scott has begun to paint backcloths, the cloths, draping from the wall to the floor, are cut into, releasing the image from the background and positioning it in the space. The viewer is allowed to walk upon and between the painted surfaces. This expresses the feeling of wanting to physically get into an imaginary space. This is also a response to the gallery setting and counteracts the reverence and untouchability of painting, allowing the audience to enter into a playful relationship with the work. By introducing physical space into the work, the paintings can also become theatrical settings. This has opened up the opportunity to work collaboratively."

A couple of Sarah Kenchengton's amazing sound generating inventions shared the stage alongside the more traditional musical instruments played by
 Fallopé and The Tubes.

"Sarah Kenchington builds her own remarkable mechanical instruments, including a pedal-powered hurdy-gurdy, a giant rotating kalimba and her own brass band, powered by tractor inner-tubes."

These produced the less easily definable noises that fitted so well with the aesthetic of the rest of the set.

Having performed alongside Stasis in Circus Between Worlds in Glasgow earlier this year, I knew I was in for a treat when I saw that they were on the line up. 

They did not fail to deliver, performing a highly energetic performance involving boxing gloves. The way in which they managed to physically carve out space in the gallery was impressive, forcing the audience to alter their viewing positions.

The whole evening was a visual and audio delight, full of experimentation, exploration, energy and fun.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

No Niceties contributing artist - Cecilia Stenbom

Newcastle-based artist, Cecilia Stenbom created an audio work for the No Niceties exhibition. Buzz was comprised of 15 recordings layered into a single track. The recordings were done over the course of one week, at different times of the day, capturing various everyday activities at home, studio and in public space, creating a record, of the uneventful and mundane of everyday existence.

Stenbom writes, "My work, primarily screen-based, is concerned with narrative and the everyday; notions of identity and human interaction. I examine collective experiences by reinterpretation and appropriation, employing both documentary and fiction conventions. I am interested in how the mundane and everyday is narrativised; the process of turning real experiences into fiction."

Originally from Sweden Cecilia has lived and worked in Helsinki and Glasgow before moving to the North East of England. Forthcoming and recent projects includes; Somewhere Becoming the Sea (2017) , Group Exhibition part of City of Culture, Hull, curated by Steven Bode and Film & Video Umbrella, Beam Reach Blasting and Parallel (2016) commission for Tall Ships Cultural Programme (UK and Sweden) In Waiting (2014), commission by Creative England, The List (2014), Figure two, BALTIC 39, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

PMP | Forever Together - M I L K, Seize Projects, Pester & Rossi, McGilvary/White

M I L K, Seize Projects, Pester & Rossi, McGilvary/White
Discussion Chaired by Lloyd & Wilson

The objective of this event was to explore means, mediums and modes of artistic collaboration. Artists discussed collaborative efforts, successful and not. What went right, what went wrong and the joys of a shared creative process.

This event was programmed with M I L K alongside their exhibition This Is It, Isn’t It? the first of 3 exhibitions they have curated as part of their takeover at Workplace Gateshead. This Is It, Isn’t It? Explores ideas of self-doubt, self-awareness and self-reflexivity as a core of artistic practice.

M I L K were joined by Pester and Rossi, Seize Projects and McGilvary/White, and a discussion will be chaired by Lloyd & Wilson.

Ideas around collaborative practice quite often occupy my thoughts. This event yet again prompted me to think about 
- the difference between collectives and collaborations
- individual and collaborative practice and how artists can operate in both fields
- the audience as a collaborator
- friendship and collaboration - does it make it or break it?
- authorship
- identity, ego, 
- committees and collectives

No Niceties contributing artist - David Sherry

Glasgow-based artist, David Sherry contributed a performance sculpture 'Glue the glue with the glue free standing tube of glue glued by its own glue' to the No Niceties exhibition.

In his absence, Sherry sent the following instructions to be performed by a 'helper'.

A tube of Yellow UHU glue, glued upright, standing free. As a performance sculpture.

On a plinth or old table, a helper opens the glue and glues the nozzle of the UHU glue with the UHU glue to the middle of the plinth or table top.

Holding the glue tube while it glues - in an upright position until it is glued free standing.

The performance is someone holding the glue until its glued upright and can stand on its own.

Sherry writes,

"My work includes performance, drawing, video, sculpture, and sound. My work reflects on cultural codes, asking questions of basic learned behaviours: What is work? What is success? What is respect? What is a living? What is happiness? Etcetera.

Central to my approach is ‘play’. I use the different processes of my practice to develop opinions and mini philosophies relating to common experiences. Many of my works aim to process ordinariness into an artistic source which is meaningful and creative."

Sherry graduated with an MFA from Glasgow School of Art in 2000. This year he will be performing at the Liverpool Biennial and Manifesta 11. He has had solo exhibitions at Outpost Norwich; Summerhall Edinburgh, Catalyst Arts Belfast; Villa Concordia Germany; Glasgow Museum of Modern Art and Tramway’s project space Glasgow. Selected group exhibitions including ‘Generation’ at the Kelvingrove Glasgow, ‘RIFF’ Baltic 39 Newcastle, Film and video at BBC Scotland, ‘Grin and Bear It’ at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork and ‘One fine morning in May’ at GAK Bremen. In 2003, Sherry was selected to represent Scotland at the 50th Venice Biennale and his work is held in many collections including the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art.

More information about his work can be seen at

No Niceties contributing artist - Fang Qi

Fang Qi is a Chinese artist and illustrator with a BA degree in Public Art and MA degree in Visual Communication Design in Jiangnan University, China. She is currently based in Newcastle upon Tyne since 2014 being a Ph.D. candidate at Fine Art at Newcastle University.

Her contribution to 'No Niceties' was Ripening, a line drawing on paper.

Qi's research explores the relationship between the illustration and installation art which contributes to the new visual narrative strategies in the illustration which helps to reconstruct the self and identity.

For more information about her work, please visit

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

No Niceties contributing artist - Rosie O'Grady

Rosie O'Grady's contribution to the No Niceties exhibition was a short video titled Job Seeker. 

Rosie O’Grady lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art and University of Glasgow with an MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) in 2015, and from Glasgow School of Art with a BA(Hons) Fine Art (Painting & Printmaking) in 2013. O'Grady was selected for a Graduate Residency at Hospitalfield (2015) and was awarded a special commendation as a Finalist in Saatchi’s New Sensations (2013). She was a committee member at Market Gallery between August 2014 - August 2016 and recently worked as Programme Coordinator at Glasgow Sculpture Studios.

"The video Job seeker responds to the biographical snapshots and colourful designs of Helen Shaddock's publication A lot can happen in fifteen minutes. Advertised job titles flash in succession over footage of rock pools, fluorescent buoys, and seaweed-clad boats. These coastal scenes operate like stock imagery of a beach holiday, although the hand-held camera, white skies and water surface – unsettled by high winds – bely a reality altogether less glossy and tropical."

"The role titles for jobs in various fields and industries briefly become suggested narratives, characters or extracted insights into a range of daily experiences."

"The accounts of simultaneous anxiety and absurdity within Shaddock's publication are mimicked in the video through the pace at which it offers a diverse selection of career paths to an accompanying soundtrack of song introductions relating to freedom, the weekend and a reluctance to work nine 'til five."

For more information about Rosie O'Grady's work, please visit her website: (currently under maintenance)

Monday, 21 November 2016

No Niceties contributing artist - Ute Kirkwood

Sweet Chin Music 

The outside world has disappeared, a vague memory.
The world has turned into a microcosmos, a bubble in which only the two exist.
Minutes,  hours, days even months they melt. It is all measured now by the grant scheme of things – a life time?
Fingers are rolling the tiniest amount of skin, nails digging in, rolling again looking for a better position, shifting around endlessly.
Breath in, one, two, three. Breath out, one, two, three, four, five.

For more information about Ute's work, please visit