Thursday, 24 February 2011

Briggait Project Space Exhibition

I was recently selected to have a solo exhibition in one of the project spaces, The Briggait, Glasgow.

The Briggait is a beautiful Grade A listed building in Glasgow’s Merchant City. It has recently been redeveloped as a new cultural space for the city. At the main entrance, there are two project spaces which are intended to be used for exhibitions that reflect the multiplicity of art forms created at the Briggait whilst enlivening the beautiful fa├žade of the building.

A programming panel made up of arts practitioners based in the building has been formed to create a programme for the public spaces. The new programme of exhibitions in the project spaces will commence with an opening event on Friday 11th March 2011 at 6pm. First up, London based artist Heena Kim will be showing a selection of her paintings for the first time in Scotland. Full details of dates and times to follow.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Talk at North Lanarkshire High Schools Art Festival

I was invited to be the guest speaker at this years North Lanarkshire High Schools Art Festival.

Tonight I went to the Tudor Hotel, Airdrie to "provide an inspirational talk" to the young people whose work was on display.

The standard of work was exceptional. Students ranged from 12-17 years old, and produced a wide range of work in a variety of media.

I talked about my journey from being a student at college and Glasgow School of Art to going on to have a studio and work at Glasgow School of Art (amongst other things).

I gave examples of how my artistic career has enabled me to travel, and my experiences of exhibitions, commissions and other opportunities.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and following my speech it was great to talk with lots of students and teachers.

Call for bras

To celebrate the 100th International Women’s Day, on Tuesday 8th March I will be doing a performance in the Hidden Gardens at Tramway as part of loop | 100 events for the 100th International Women's Day. [* for more information please see address below]

The performance will require the use of 100 bras of any size and style.

If you have any bras that you could lend for the day, please drop them off or send them to Tramway or contact me (details below). Items will be returned at the end of the event.

Your support is greatly appreciated!

Helen Shaddock c/o sitandknitabit, Tramway, 25 Albert Drive, Glasgow, G41 2PE
Or contact


Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Written in 1998, the Incomplete Manifesto is an articulation of statements exemplifying Bruce Mau’s beliefs, strategies and motivations. Collectively, they are how we approach every project.

1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we've already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to
be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep.
The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents.
The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift.
Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.10. Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas
to applications.

12. Keep moving.
The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down.
Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions.
Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate.
The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ____________________.
Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas
of others.

18. Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you're separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor.
Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks.
Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself.
If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools.
Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software.
The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk.
You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages.
Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our "noodle."

28. Make new words.
Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind.
Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty.
Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits" is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money.
Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips.
The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster.
This isn’t my idea – I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate.
Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You'll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat.
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else ... but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge.
Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals – but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh.
People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I've become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember.
Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can't be free agents if we’re not free.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Richard Eyre: Arts cuts will result in cultural apartheid

During the year of the Jubilee I was asked to make a short speech about the arts in the Queen's presence. As I spoke, the Queen standing beside me, she remained inscrutable. If she agreed with me that the government should increase its support for the arts, she kept it to herself. Only when I quoted this – from the art critic John Ruskin – did she respond:

"Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts: the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the other two, but of these three, the only trustworthy one is the last."

As I spoke the last sentence I turned to share it with HMQ. Her eyes were fixed with no great curiosity on a spot on the ceiling, her heart no doubt longing to be delivered from the tedium of polemic.

To me this assertion from Ruskin is a matter of faith. The book of our art lives in the empire of invention of our fiction, poetry, drama, dance, our music, films, fashion, TV, video games, advertising, photography, design, architecture and so on, and in the archipelago of our cultural institutions – libraries, museums, theatres, opera houses, galleries, concert halls, cinemas and arts centres. They'll all be eroded by the decision to leech the humanities from our universities, by Arts Council cuts and by the depletion of the training of musicians, actors and artists. And little by little the already large gap between those for whom the arts are a part of life and those who feel excluded from them will widen to an unbridgeable divide. The result: cultural apartheid.

Governments have always been wary of the arts because they're wayward and ambiguous and because they deal with feelings rather than facts. Napoleon said that teaching the humanities in universities was "glorified table talk". Lenin said he was afraid of listening to Beethoven because it made him feel like caressing people's heads when it was necessary to beat them. Most politicians in this country are more interested in having their own heads caressed and respond in wounded bewilderment when they discover that the artists that they've allowed to flourish through their patronage wish to retain the right to criticise them.

Of course it's irritating for politicians to have to endure the noisy dissent of an apparently arrogant and self-interested claque, but then it's always been hard for rulers to license the jester as well as the judge, or to acknowledge poets as the legislators of the world. After all, art is all the things that politics isn't: "Politics is the great generaliser and literature the great particulariser," wrote Philip Roth, "and not only are they in an inverse relationship to each other – they are in an antagonistic relationship. To politics, literature is decadent, soft, irrelevant, boring, wrong-headed, dull, something that makes no sense and that really oughtn't to be. Why? Because the particularising influence is literature. But how can you be an artist and renounce the nuance? How can you be a politician and allow the nuance? As an artist the nuance is your task. Your task is not to simplify ... "

Art is about the "I" in life not the "we", about private life rather than public. A public life that doesn't acknowledge the private is a life not worth having. David Cameron seems to grasp this and is keen to "start measuring our progress as a country, not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving; not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life." But how this could possibly exclude the arts and the humanities? Can't government for once be persuaded of the virtue of subsidising weapons of happiness rather than weapons of destruction?

We're assiduous in presenting arguments that it should: we say that the cultural industries are of enormous and growing value to the British economy; that a healthy cultural realm is a powerful reason for Britain's magnetism as a tourist destination; that British cultural excellence is a valuable element of British identity abroad. And, like a 19th century curate's wife distributing pamphlets to the deserving poor, we argue for the social usefulness of art: we say, for instance, that music makes schoolchildren better at maths or that drama makes our society more tolerant. These things may be true – I hope they are – but this utilitarianism takes away from art the very thing that makes it alluring: its mystery and its joy, its irresponsibility, if you like.

Any utilitarian argument for art will succeed only in diminishing the thing it's arguing for. Art is not an ethical medicine: it doesn't improve our behaviour or civilise us. Indeed, as the philosopher George Santayana said: "Music is useless, as life is"; but it's precisely our awareness of the "uselessness" of life that make us want to struggle to give it purpose and to give that purpose meaning. The arts offer us a commentary on being alive: how to make sense of the world and even how to change it. Change begins with understanding and understanding begins by identifying oneself with another person: in a word, empathy. The arts enable us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears and hearts of other human beings. What we hold in our heads – our memory, our feelings, our thoughts, our sense of our own history – is the sum of our humanity. We carry on us what King Lear called the "smell of mortality"; art redeems mortality by giving us a glimpse of eternity. It briefly illuminates something that's more than human. By diminishing the opportunity to experience the arts or to study them and the humanities – literature, philosophy, history, religion, languages – we condemn future generations to a life a little less than human.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Telling stories

Telling Stories

Preview February 11th, 6pm - 9pm

Open February 12th - March 6th Thurs - Sun 11am - 5pm

David Shrigley Frank Quitely

Gary Erskine Jamie Grant

Sorcha Edwards Stuart Murray

Anna Tanner Mitch Millar

Chris Connelly Penny Sharp

Curt Sibling Innes Smith

Evy Craig Lewie Wicksted

Helen Shaddock Honeypears

Graphic novels such as Kick Ass have recently infiltrated the main stream through their translation
onto screen. Market Gallery presents graphic artists contributing to this creative boom, juxtaposing
them with contemporary fine artists who also use storytelling and narrative to construct their own
unique worlds.

Scotland is world renowned for its story telling. This exhibition aims to celebrate this legacy whilst
examining the relationship between illustration, film and fine art and encourage discussion about
how these seemingly autonomous media share common themes and motivations.

Throughout the show there will be a program of talks and events.

Please see the website for more details.

334 Duke Street
G3 11QZ