Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Working on the Lyres with Drone Ensemble

Last night Drone Ensemble had a studio visit from Paul from Workplace Gallery and Lee from TUSK. We showed them the lyres and talked through where we are at in terms of making the ceramic discs, the film and our plans for the curation of the exhibition.


Afterwards, we worked on getting the e-bow mechanism positioned correctly so that when it is in contact with the string, it is activated and makes a sound. 



Jamie showed us the system he is building that will enable manipulation of the signals going to each speaker. This introduces an aspect of interaction, and the audience will be able to use a joystick to control the vibrations of the different speakers.



We tested different ways in which the ceramic discs could be installed so that they vibrate over the speakers enough so as to make a sound and have the potential to fall off, but not too much so as to immediately fall off and smash. This is something that requires further thought and experimentation!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Drone Ensemble - Lyres of Lemniscate at Workplace Foundation, Gateshead

DRONE ENSEMBLE


LYRES OF LEMNISCATE

29 SEPTEMBER - 27 OCTOBER 2018

Workplace Gallery
The Old Post Office
19-21 West Street
Gateshead, NE8 1AD


We are delighted to announce an exhibition of new commissioned work by Drone Ensemble at Workplace Foundation, Gateshead as part of TUSK 
Festival 2018. The exhibition was selected through an open call to individual artists or collectives from the North East of England working across media who are specifically interested in the intersection between contemporary visual art and experimental music.


For the exhibition, Drone Ensemble will create a slowly evolving sonic meditation of drone tonalities and hypnotic visual stimuli.

Mechanical means, such as motors, have been utilised to produce an evolving drone with complex textures and harmonies. These motorised instruments have the capacity to ‘play’ themselves, with little human intervention. In conjunction with the sonic element, the gallery is a space in flux; altering visually as the exhibition progresses. Ceramic materials are employed to alter state when exposed to sonic vibrations and differing frequencies; cracking and breaking to activate percussive sounds. Traces of the evolving nature of the work are evidenced in other elements of the exhibition, referencing the relevance of process and experimentation in creating an evolving work.

Within the exhibition, the ensemble will perform alongside their installation; building upon the underlying base drone that it already manufactures.

The opportunity to work with TUSK and Workplace on this joint commission has encouraged us to shift into new territory; placing further emphasis on the aesthetic of what we produce, as well as the sonic elements. Most Drone Ensemble members have fine art backgrounds so this exhibition has given us the opportunity to apply our knowledge, skills to explore the place where the visual and sonic may intersect. Drone Ensemble 2018

This commission to create new work was initiated by Workplace Foundation and Tusk Festival supported by the Digital Cultures Research Group in CultureLab at Newcastle University.

Drone Ensemble were selected by an interview panel that included representatives from Workplace Foundation, Tusk Music, the Digital Cultures Research Group and artist and musician Rachel Lancaster.

Artists Biography

Drone Ensemble is an experimental sound group that uses hand-built instruments in extended improvised performances which have enthuses on drone tonalities. The instruments draw influence from musical traditions from around the world but often end up being unique in their playability, construction and sound. Drone Ensemble has a fluid membership and although there is a group of core members we bring new members in without audition and promote an attitude of open membership and a belief that exciting and cutting edge sound art is not an exclusive activity but rather is better enjoyed through a sense of community

Project partners:

TUSK Festival presents its 8th edition of the annual event this October 12-14. Since 2011, TUSK has presented artists from almost 30 countries and a wide range of stylistic approaches to adventurous music and related art forms. Our uniquely diverse approach to festival programming has created countless first-time appearances by artists in the region/UK and we have a special interest in artists working at the fringes of typical genre definitions. TUSK is also highly regarded for its film programme, exhibitions and the insights it offers into the work of often previously unknown artists. Full details of this year’s programme are available at our website.
Culture Lab and the Digital Cultures Research Group
Culture Lab is a hub for research in digital creative practice and film practice at Newcastle University. Culture Lab lets members engage in experimental and cross-disciplinary projects in creative digital arts. Members work in technologically rich and custom designed environments. The Digital Cultures Studio is a centre for creative digital practice. The research group includes artists, designers, musicians, and performers. Researchers' work in the Digital Cultures Studio is experimental and engaged with contemporary technology.

Rachel Lancaster is an artist and musician who lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne, and is represented by Workplace Gallery. Lancaster’s practice focuses on the crossover and intersections between the languages of painting, cinema and music. She has taken part in numerous exhibitions, projects and performances. Alongside her visual art practice Lancaster is a musician and has been a member of numerous musical projects including Silver Fox, (with releases on Upset The Rhythm, London), formerly a member of Gravenhurst (Warp records) live band and A M Grave (with Stephen Bishop/Opal Tapes) alongside more recently performing solo material under her own name. She has previously worked on audio/visual collaborations with various artists including a commission with musician Wolfgang Voigt, (founder of Kompakt Records, Cologne, Germany) creating large-scale HD visuals for his live performance at Tusk Festival 2016.

Friday, 14 September 2018

In Every Dream Home - David Foggo - System Gallery

It is not uncommon to find less than tasteful wall art in pubs, and that makes System Gallery an appropriate venue for David Foggo's current exhibition. 



In Every Dream Home is a text/image series that utilises a cross-section of wall art archetypes/stereotypes, encompassing, amongst others, representations of love, spirituality, nature, patriotism, gender, food, music and film, travel, animals, sport and childhood. 


David usefully provides a definition of Wall art in the gallery:

Wall art noun. Bland, decorative, reproduction canvases, normally acquired from household furnishing stores by individuals or organisations with no taste or imagination and then hung in their homes or place of business. Often used as a way of covering up the cracks...



But these are no ordinary examples of Wall art. Foggo has worked onto each of the canvases, subverting their decorative function by overlaying them with a variety of unsettling texts. The alterations are minimal so that the canvases maintain their commonplace identity.


"This process could be seen as an act of reclamation, where the ornamental is transported into the realm of fine art.

The self-authored texts; simultaneously pithy and poetic, and underpinned by the use of word play, incorporate skew-whiff philosophies, dystopian statements, aphorisms and repetitive narratives.

The canvases are all sourced from charity shops, where their once idealised purpose has been dismantled by being discarded and offered up for recycling." 

David Foggo 

The exhibition has been carefully curated so that the images relate to, or take some meaning from their positioning. 


For example, the 'Bound' canvas is constrained between two windows, barely having enough room to breathe.


An iconic image of Elvis has 'fountain' painted on, and is positioned slightly above and to the left of an image of the Angel of the North which bears the word 'molehill'. Could this be a playful take on the familiar saying "make a mountain out of a molehill"?













The exhibition is open until 15th September, so I encourage you to pop along tomorrow to ensure you see it. It certainly put a smile on my face! 

























Thursday, 13 September 2018

What I'm reading

I am really looking forward to getting stuck in to the latest additional to my personal library; Diary Drawings, Mental Illness and Me by Bobby Baker.



In 1996 the artist Bobby Baker was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder. Her subsequent struggle to overcome severe mental and later physical illness lasted for 11 years, and was unknown to anyone outside her close family, friends and colleagues. The book contains 158 drawings and watercolours that were selected by Bobby from the hundreds more that she created daily as a private way of coming to terms with her experience.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Northern Nori destalled

Since June my work I have been exhibiting at Great North Museum:Hancock as part of Which Way North which was an exhibition curated by Grainne Sweeney for the Great Exhibition of the North. My work, Northern Nori was commissioned especially for this exhibition.



Yesterday I returned to the Great North Museum:Hancock to de-install the work. It was a strange experience. Already lots of the works had been packed up, removed and were being returned to the various institutions that they were loaned from. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Great & Tiny War featured on BBC Look North (North East & Cumbria)

Tonight (Monday 10th September) BBC Look North (North East & Cumbria) featured Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War.


Sharuna Sagar visited the Great & Tiny War house today.


She was given a tour by one of my fellow hosts, Hannah.


Like everyone who does the tour, she ended in the kitchen where she was offered a cup of tea (other beverages available!) and a biscuit


If you missed the live version at 6:30pm, fear not as it is available on BBC iplayer

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bjcgpt/look-north-north-east-and-cumbria-evening-news-10092018

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Final day to see Northern Nori at Great North Museum: Hancock

Sunday 9th September is the final day of Which Way North at Great North Museum:Hancock, and therefore is your last opportunity to see Northern Nori.



It's been an amazing honour to exhibit alongside such well-respected artists, designers and innovators. I would like to thank Which Way North Curator, Grainne Sweeney for commissioning me. Thanks also to Paul Fox at the Great North Museum:Hancock, for all his assistance.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Press launch of Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War

After years of planning and hard work, Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War opened its doors to the press today. I was honoured to be giving the first few tours, and was delighted to hear visitors being so complementary and positive about the project. 


It's still not quite sunk in that this amazing project is taking place so close to where I live, 133 Sidney Grove. Talk about being on my doorstep!

To come and experience the work for yourself book online 
You've got until 9th November, but be warned - tickets are selling fast!


Great & Tiny War on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme

Get a flavour for 4,701 meals by listening to talking about her Great & Tiny War on here on iPlayer, 1hr42 in.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bgp8g6


Bobby Baker's Great and Tiny War - the badge

On Wednesday we had another session of Host training for Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War. We did a full walk-through, stopping occasionally to make changes to the script and testing out timings. A few of the technological elements are still being tweaked, but all is nearly ready for the press launch tomorrow. Just as I am about to leave the house we receive a delivery of badges. 


So, now I have a Great & Tiny War badge to prove that I am a Great & Tiny War Host. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Great & Tiny War - Bobby's introduction

What's on your doorstep? - My discovery of Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War

I live on what I believe is the friendliest street in Newcastle (arguably the UK). We have a facebook group for residents to post things related to the street. As the vast result of residents have some art/music/theatre connection, there are regular posts by residents spreading the word about gigs, performances and exhibitions that they are involved in. A few months ago there was a post on The Sidney Groovers about a project that would be happening on our street. A few days later a letter was posted through my door with details of the project; Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War.



I was immediately excited - Bobby Baker is an inspirational woman and an artist whom I hold in very high regard. I have followed her work for a number of years and could not believe that I would now get the chance to witness one of her installations in a house down my street.

Fast forward a few more months and I received notification from Wunderbar, another arts organisation that I rate highly, that they are working on a project called Great & Tiny War and are looking for people interested in working with them to realise the project.

Naturally I responded immediately with enthusiasm about the opportunity to work with two artistic entities (and their teams) that I greatly admire and respect.

I won't bore you with the many coincidental discoveries and revelations of connections that arose throughout the following 'recruitment' process, but to cut a long story short, I am delighted to be one of the hosts that will be guiding visitors around 133 Sidney Grove for Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War.



Today was the first time that all the hosts met with Bobby and the Wunderbar crew in the house. Bobby (Lead Artist and Artistic Director, Daily Life Ltd), Illana (Artistic Director, Wunderbar) Hannah (Producer, Wunderbar) and Ree (Participation Producer, Wunderbar) introduced the project and explained our roles as hosts. We were given a run-through of the tour, and saw the installation in its final stages of being completed. One thing is for certain; visitors are in for a treat.

I'll be blogging regularly about the project, and hope that readers of this will visit the installation.

For more information about this Wunderful project, including how to book tickets, please visit

Monday, 3 September 2018

Last week to visit Northern Nori at Great North Museum: Hancock

It is the final week of Which Way North at the Great North Museum: Hancock, featuring my work, Northern Nori.














Image courtesy of Colin Davidson

The exhibition, which takes over the whole of the museum, shows how this part of the country has shaped our present and is inspiring our future.

Featuring 250 high-profile loans from over 100 leading museums, galleries and private collections, the exhibition includes astronaut Helen Sharman’s space suit, the last piano played by John Lennon, original models of Postman Pat, and John Hancock’s Struggle with the Quarry, which was part of the original Great Exhibition in 1851.

The show takes its inspiration from the Duchess of Newcastle’s 1666 novel The Blazing World, thought to be one of the earliest works of science fiction. Visitors will find a 1668 edition of the book at their starting point, as well as other items they might need for an adventure, including the 11th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and a fan showing a map of the North from 1778.

The exhibition journeys through a number of themed interventions, including To the Moon and Back, Buried Treasures, Human Machine Motion and This Kingdom Called Home, an emporium dedicated to Northern achievements that have influenced the way we live.



https://getnorth2018.com/events/which-way-north/

VR is Helping Solve Schizophrenic Auditory Hallucinations

https://www.hcanews.com/news/vr-is-helping-solve-schizophrenic-auditory-hallucinations-Tom Castles

About 65% of patients with schizophrenia experience verbal auditory hallucinations, which are characterized by harsh voices that emanate from body-less “others.” Usually, these “others” fit a common profile – they're domineering, derogatory and unremittingly hostile, making an already-burdensome condition even more painful for those who suffer from it.

Current treatments for schizophrenia like psychosocial therapy and antipsychotic medications help to ease hallucinations in many patients, but for roughly a quarter of people with psychotic conditions, available treatments just aren’t enough. What’s worse, many antipsychotic medications can lead over time to serious side effects like Parkinson disease and tardive dyskinesia, 2 debilitating movement disorders.

But a new therapy moving through the clinical trial pipeline could provide hope for patients who aren’t getting the results they need from conventional therapies, and so far, it hasn’t shown any adverse safety events. It’s called AVATAR therapy, an aptly-named acronym that stands for Audio Visual Assisted Therapy Aid for Refractory auditory hallucinations.

AVATAR therapy first garnered attention when it was pilot tested as a treatment for patients with auditory hallucinations between 2009 and 2011 by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research. The hypothesis driving the therapy is novel, but based on an old cliché: face your fears. Study authors hypothesized that if patients could confront the voice in their heads by virtually personifying it through a software program and challenging their punitive and domineering tendencies, the patient could either overcome the voice, learn to live with it, or eliminate it entirely.

In AVATAR therapy, patients build a customizable visual representation of the voice in their heads, known as the “persecutor.” The avatar has an appearance and tone of speech that closely matches the pitch and tone of the hallucinated persecutory voice. Suddenly, the hallucination enters the realm of reality.

Patients are then encouraged to engage in a dialogue with the avatar, who is remotely controlled by a therapist. Rather than propagating a relationship where the persecutory voice dominates a submissive patient, the therapist controls the avatar so that slowly, over time, it yields control to the patient.

Results of the pilot study were encouraging. Patients who underwent the novel AVATAR therapy showed mean reductions in total Psychotic Symptom Rating Scale (PSYRATS) auditory hallucinations of 8.75 (P = .003), and in the Omnipotence and Malevolence subscales of the Revised Beliefs About Voices Questionnaire (BAVQ-R) of 5.88 (P = .004). On the other hand, the control group experienced no changes during the study period.

Researchers behind a recent follow up study published in The Lancet set out to recreate those results in a larger, powered, randomized controlled trial, and again found that patients experienced favorable outcomes, with 83% meeting the primary end point – a reduction in auditory verbal hallucinations at 12 weeks.

The study’s lead author Tom K J Craig, PhD, FRCP, emeritus professor of social psychiatry at King’s College London (pictured), was surprised by the study’s positive results. But he said the evidence was compelling, and that he was most impressed by the number of patients who clearly improved with therapy.

“Most dramatic were the people for whom voices stopped entirely. Although Julian Leff had found this in his first pilot work, we did not really expect to see it repeated in our larger [powered, randomized] controlled study,” Craig told MD Magazine, a sister publication of Healthcare Analytics News™. “While that was the most striking outcome, the wider reductions in frequency and severity of voices reported by many people was also striking.”

In the follow up study, Craig and colleagues described the significance behind the transition of power from persecutor to patient.

“The operation of power within this relationship is viewed as crucial…the voice-hearer assum[es] a submissive role characterized by feelings of inferiority and powerlessness that can reflect social relationships more generally,” researchers wrote. “The therapist (switching between speaking as therapist and as avatar) facilitates a dialogue in which the voice-hearer gradually gains increased power and control within the relationship, with the initially omnipotent voice loosening its grip over the hearer by becoming more conciliatory over time."

The results are especially encouraging because the trial involved a sample of people suffering from persistent psychoses who reported unremitting and distressing auditory hallucinations for at least the previous year, despite regular supervision and continuing pharmacological treatment. Moreover, more than a third of all patients across both therapy groups had a clinical record of treatment resistance and were prescribed clozapine before the start of the study.

In the follow-up study, the reduction in PSYRATS total score at 12 weeks was significantly greater for AVATAR therapy than for supportive counseling, with a mean difference of -3.82 [SE 1.47], 95% CI -6.70 to -0.94; (P<.0093). Moreover, there were no apparent adverse events attributable to the therapy.

According to the authors, the study “corroborated the primary hypothesis concerning clinical efficacy by showing a rapid and sustained reduction in the severity of auditory verbal hallucinations by end of therapy at week 12 that was significantly superior to that achieved by supportive counseling…Our second and third hypotheses were also largely supported, in that AVATAR therapy had a positive and significant [effect] on omnipotence, and that these positive effects on voices were sustained at 24 weeks. However, it had no significant effect on the reported malevolence of voices.”

The authors acknowledged limitations, including the absence of a treatment-as-usual control condition. They also noted that the results could reflect regression to the mean in both groups, but considered that unlikely because participants were selected for persistent symptoms and were not recruited in crisis.

“The participants were all people who had suffered for many years with troubling auditory hallucinations and all had diagnoses of major psychoses (schizophrenia spectrum disorders mainly, but also psychotic depression). The auditory hallucinations were just one symptom among the several that make up these diagnoses. All were taking medication,” Craig said. “So using that to put AVATAR into perspective, I would say we have a promising add on treatment.”

Craig emphasized that the study did not provide any evidence that AVATAR therapy could replace medication or be provided instead of a wider cognitive behavioral treatment for psychosis, although there is potential for it to form part of a longer therapy of that type in the future.

Follow-up research is required before AVATAR therapy could be instituted widely across clinics, he added. Craig first recommended a future multi-center replication to test whether the therapy is effective across different service settings and cultures, and secondly, further work to unpack the active ingredients to strengthen the size and duration of positive outcomes.

“I think the next step is probably the multicenter study. There is considerable national and international interest, so I am hopeful we will have more definitive results within the next 5 years. Once we have this, it should be possible to see AVATAR therapy as a recommended treatment in clinical guidelines with wide availability,” Craig said.

Helen Shaddock Website updated

Over the past year (yes, it really has been that long in the making) I have been working on redesigning and updating my website. Going through all the work I have made has been a time-consuming but worthwhile activity. 

http://www.helenshaddock.co.uk/













I hope that you find the new layout easy to navigate and accessible, and that you keep returning to the website to see my latest activity.














I have kept my blog as a separate entity as it works well that way. There is a link from the website that leads to the blog.

I've also included a link to the Drone Ensemble website. We are in the process of adding more sound and video footage at the moment so please keep looking at it for updates.

Please do let me know if there is anything that the new website is lacking or any improvements that I can make. 

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Jill McKnight - The Many-Limbed Machine of my Ancestral Makers - as part of Life in a Northern Town - NewBridge Project

For the final exhibition of Life in a Northern Town, Leeds-based artist Jill McKnight has been paired with Newcastle-based artist Rene McBrearty. Both artists draw upon their individual and family history and experiences to explore themes such as identity, memory, family, women and gesture.

McKnight has created a sculptural installation in which a number of large scale mixed media sculptures are accompanied by a spoken text that visitors can listen to on telephone headsets. Through listening to the text, we are provided with a potted version of McKnight's family history. 



"McKnight’s ancestors emigrated from Ireland to Liverpool, then Sunderland, where they found employment in Northern industries, including shipyards, fish shops and a telephone factory. Born in Sunderland, McKnight now lives in Leeds, which is characterised by buildings that were once major sites of production, prior to deindustrialisation."

As we walk around the gallery listening to the spoken text and looking at the sculptures we are introduced to anecdotes that explain the significance of some of the elements featured within the sculptures. For example, the fact that McKnight's nana opened and ran a popular fish and chip shop that sold wet fish by day and takeaway fish and chips by night influenced her decision to make a sculpture using giant laser cut acrylic fish and chip shop disposable forks.



The dedication, commitment and hard-working nature of McKnight's ancestors has certainly been passed onto the artist. This is evidenced in the spoken text and is directly visible in one of the sculptures. In the spoken text she gives a detailed account of some of the time consuming menial tasks such as arranging economical transport for the work from Leeds to Newcastle and ordering materials online, that she does as part of her art-making process. I'm sure that many an artist listening to this will let out a groan in sympathy or nod their head in agreement as they hear about McKnight's exhaustion, and frustration with online shopping.

If visitors need further proof of McKnight's artistic work ethic they will find it in a sculpture made from printed CV's and job applications. Again, McKnight reveals the reality of being an artist - the need to have paid employment to be able to afford to practice as an artist.


I hope that I haven't given the impression that this is a 'doom and gloom' exhibition. The text is humorous and the sculptures are bright and playful. They clearly demonstrate that along with the hard work that goes into making the work, the artist gains pleasure and satisfaction from what she does. Long may that continue!

For more information please visit
https://thenewbridgeproject.com/events/rene-mcbrearty-jill-mcknight-life-northern-town/

Rene McBrearty - How to Remove a Single Strand Knot - as part of Life in a Northern Town - NewBridge Project

For the final exhibition of Life in a Northern Town, Newcastle-based artist Rene McBrearty has been paired with Leeds-based artist Jill McKnight. Both artists draw upon their individual and family history and experiences to explore themes such as identity, memory, family, women and gesture.



How to Remove a Single Strand Knot is Rene McBrearty's contribution to the exhibition.

McBrearty has created a new sculptural installation, presenting familiar McBrearty elements such as drawing, poetry, a riso printed zine, found objects and handmade sculptural forms alongside her first moving image work.

The setup reminds me of a domestic space with a comfy settee at the heart. Her sculptural forms are made from ceramic, leather and found materials. Ceramic shirt collars are draped over a clothes horse, and leather threads are piled on the floor. A number of other sculptures sit on a blouse that has been opened out on the floor. It is a casual arrangement with the suggestion that the process of making these objects took place in situ.

The video piece is situated in an old-fashioned larder. McBrearty and a number of other women of colour are sat round a kitchen table carrying out repetitive domestic actions such as polishing the table and kneading lumps of clay. The occasional subtitle reveals some of the conversations that take place as the women engage in their work.



The title refers to the fact that a single strand knot is found in afro hair and can prove difficult to remove. The removal of the knot becomes a metaphor for processing daily micro-aggressions and practicing self-care.

"The work thinks about the hidden labour carried out by women of colour while experiencing micro-aggressions which are everywhere, non-negotiable and relentless. The work explores the labour, productivity and the learning and unlearning of personal histories alongside the importance of sisterhood and community resilience in surviving. It is informed by her own experience, conversations with friends, her grandmother and the novel ‘Sula’ by Toni Morrison."

How to Remove a Single Strand Knot has been produced with the help of: Jola Olafimihan, Hannabiell Sanders, Wanjiru Mugo, Miles McBrearty, Matthew Pickering, Heather Bonnie Reid and Janina Sabaliauskaite.

For more information please visit 

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Nick James Design pop up shop at Cheeseburn



Whilst working at Cheeseburn last weekend I got to meet Nick James who was showing his work in the pop-up shop (he will be this weekend too). I really admire his ethos and way of working. The products he makes are outstanding.



"He’s an advocate of traditional woodworking techniques that are rare in contemporary practice. Every piece is made by Nick and his team of skilled craftsmen in his workshop at Mushroom Works in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK. Along with his team of expert makers, he uses the best time-tested methods of connecting pieces of wood by unbreakable joints and precise construction methods to create furniture that will last lifetimes."



I was pleased to see so many people buying work from him. Although his main passion is for developing new products and making the bespoke items of furniture, Nick also makes a range of small more affordable products such as wooden lamps and shades, chopping boards and clocks, some of which can be personalised and are available to purchase online. 




Nick spoke to me about how he has adapted his product range in order to cater for the online shopping market, but he is always happy to work with clients who would like to commission him to make products that meet their specific requirements.


I'm hoping that at some point in the future I will be able to be the proud owner of a Nick James product!

For more delights please visit

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Plato's Lair by Peter Hanmer at Cheeseburn

Plato's Lair by Peter Hanmer is one of the delights currently being exhibited at Cheeseburn, Northumberland. Peter won the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of The Year award 2017 with his proposal for Plato's Lair. Housed in the potting shed in the beautiful grounds of Cheeseburn Grange House and Gardens. The work is heavily influenced by Plato’s story The Allegory of the Cave featured in Plato’s seminal work The Republic.



"Plato asks us to imagine prisoners inside a cave, their legs and necks shackled. They can only look at the wall in front of them where projected images are made by puppets and the objects behind them; they can't see these because they cannot turn around, the shadows on the wall are the prisoners only reality.


A prisoner who manages to escape from his chains discovers that it is the puppets and fire that are casting the shadows and that their reality is an illusion. Once out of the cave the prisoners eyes adjust to the sunlight and see reality for what it really is, including plants, animals, the sky and most importantly the sun, which for Plato represents enlightenment. The now free prisoner returns to the Cave to tell his fellow prisoners what he has sees."




There are similarities when viewing the work at Cheeseburn. One passes through the fabric barrier into a dark space. Steps down lead to the grotto-like cavern populated with 30-40 little figures. As your eyes slowly begin to adapt to the lighting conditions, more details are revealed; non-human characters with beaks are engaged in a multitude of activities.




Peter has incorporated some of the objects found within the shed into the narrative that he constructs. For example, an ancient lawnmower is used to project images onto a screen.



The figures belong in the potting shed, it is their world, and we are invited into it.

The installation is open to the public at the August Bank holiday weekend (25th, 26th, 27th August) and the first weekend in September (1st and 2nd September). Opening times are 11am-4pm. For more information visit

http://cheeseburn.com/
https://www.peterhanmer.com/

All images courtesy of Paul Stephenson

Friday, 24 August 2018

Cheeseburn Open Weekend


This Bank Holiday weekend I will be working at Cheeseburn for their open weekend. 

Visiting times are 11am-4pm on 25th, 26th and 27th August

For more information visit http://cheeseburn.com/



Here is a quick overview of what is to be seen in addition to the many permanent sculptures that are situated within the grounds of Cheeseburn Grange.

Joseph Hillier
PAUSE/PLAY
Stables Gallery










The Gillain Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year 2017
Peter Hanmer

‘Plato’s Lair’
Potting shed in the Walled Garden at Cheeseburn












Qi Yafeng
Video and Sound work in the chapel
Sculptures in the grounds of Cheeseburn Grange




Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Taus Makhacheva and Tigran Geletsyan at Blackburne House as part of Liverpool Biennial

"Blackburne House, located in Liverpool’s vibrant Georgian Quarter, was the home of the first girl’s school in the country. The beautiful Grade II listed building is now a home for women’s education with services including a health spa, nursery and bistro. Blackburne house also hosts conferences and events, ensuring a space in the city for events that champion the voices of local women.



Taus Makhacheva has created a ruin-like sculptural installation that serves as a spa, in collaboration with artist Alexander Kutovoi. The installation incorporates ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) techniques and video. A new range of beauty products has been developed with Tigran Geletsyan from 22|11 Cosmetics for spa treatments. Throughout the Biennial, visitors are invited to book a facial treatment, which will be conducted by a performer and take approximately 30 minutes. In this passive state, the visitor becomes a sculptural subject. During the treatment, stories about artworks that have disappeared throughout the history of art will be told. The work reflects on our contemporary condition, dominated by screens and membranes, anxiety and loss of intimacy."

Visitors are able to be in the space to watch the facial treatments taking place. I arrived shortly after someone had left, so saw the performer clearing up. There were a couple of sculptures that contained a video screen. The audio was that which is spoken by the performer as they give the facial treatment, and so even though there was no treatment taking place during my visit, I was still able to be guided through the stories.

It was only afterwards, when I was talking to the performer, that I realised that this was the case. I had not been aware that the voice on the video was from the performer's perspective. I had also presumed that the person giving the treatment was a trained professional, and my thoughts about the work altered when I found out that performers were being used (there were 2 performers that shared the workload throughout the festival). I felt uneasy about someone 'pretending' to be a therapist.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Drone Ensemble with special guests at The Boiler House, Newcastle University, Saturday 18 August

Drone Ensemble with special guests
Rob Blazey  II   Tim Shaw & John Bowers  II  Me Lost Me  II  Charlie Dearnley  II  Ben Jeans-Houghton 

The Boiler House, Newcastle University
​Saturday 18th August 2018


Drone Ensemble would like to thank all the amazing invited performers and the wonderful audience who joined us for our performance in The Boiler House at Newcastle University last night.



We really enjoyed the evening, and hope that you did too. 


Playing with the invited guests was a honour and they added to the Drone Ensemble soundscape.