Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Lineage at Edinburgh Printmakers

Prints by Michael Craig-Martin, Ian Davenport and Julian Opie
at Edinburgh Printmakers

All three artists push the boundaries of printmaking in the work in this exhibition.

Michael Craig-Martin's line drawings aim to be objective and without a style, but this actually results in the drawings having a specific aesthetic and style in their own right.

Julian Opie has produced a "set of Lenticular landscapes, where six Japanese views are represented in three dimensions using a technology in which a lenticular lens is used to produce images which offer an illusion of depth." Personally I found the works a little gimicky.

Ian Davenport's colourful 'Etched Puddle' prints are beautiful and are a great example of how a familiar printmaking technique (in this case etching) can be manipulated to produce unexpected results.

Similarly, in the Ovals series, Davenport has manage to create splashes and drips of ink in what is normally a highly controlled process. The thick layers of ink are visible giving a 3-dimensional element to the normally flat surface of screenprints.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

There’s no E in book: 5 non-digital book-based innovations

There’s no E in book: 5 non-digital book-based innovations

Chris Ward

Printed books will never really go away. They’ll be superseded by e-books, sure. They’ll become a minority interest. They’ll be treated as relics of a bygone age, one where you had to actually leave the house to, y’know, get stuff.

But just as vinyl records have survived in the sweaty-but-carefully-dust-gloved hands of music geeks, and cinephiles are ignoring the convenience of watch instantly video streaming in favour of the hi-def glories of a decent Blu-Ray restoration, there will always be an audience, however small and specialist, for a nice binding and a dog-ear, ready and waiting for publishers to peddle their wares.

Alternatively, publishers could decide they’re not content to punt such simple pulp-and-ink pleasures, and instead chuck gimmick after gimmick at the reading public until something sticks. Either way. Here’s five of the latter.

1. Flipbacks

Initially, of course, there’s disappointment at realising it’s Flipbacks and not flip books. Then, there’s further dismay that they have nothing to do with animated stick figures finally getting revenge on the thumbs that’ve made them dance jauntily from side to side across a page for years.

But with those hurdles cleared, these pocket-sized novels are certainly an attractive proposition for commuters, coming in around the size of the average phone, with text printed top to bottom rather than left to right, on pages as thin as rolling papers. So not only can you read Cloud Atlas, you can tear the pages out, light up and create your own.

2. Book as art/collector’s artefact

Working with the form of the book has long proved fruitful for visual artists, from William Blake illustrating, printing and binding his own writings through to the modern-day likes of Yorkshire-born, Glasgow-based Helen Shaddock, who incorporates artist’s books into her work alongside sculpture, installations and performance, has twice co-organised the Glasgow International Artists’ Bookfair and is in the process of organising her third.

‘I appreciate the intimate and personal nature of artist books, and enjoy their tactile quality,’ says Shaddock. ‘Sometimes I use the book as a means of documenting a work, such as “My quest to find a Shaddock”, which relates to the public artwork I did at the Barras market. Recently I have been making sculptural books, exploring the potential of hand-cutting and folding paper.’

Some of Helen Shaddock's work.

Incorporating such innovations and playing up the one-of-a-kind nature of these pieces is certainly a way for creative publishers to divert attention from e-books and offer the kind of experience that necessitates the physicality of real-world materials. Think of it as The Very Hungry Caterpillar for grown-ups.

3. Added value content

Because the joy of reading clearly is no longer its own reward (imagine! Reading a book just for the hell of it! Hah!), some authors, big and small, have started expanding their domains beyond the realm of the printed page and even the humble audiobook.

When Canongate published Nick Cave’s The Death Of Bunny Munro, for example, the audiobook came not just with the standard ‘read by the author’ hook, but with the promise of original music by the cult hero and his regular collaborator Warren Ellis, sound design by filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard – who have also been collaborating with Cave on a series of documentaries about his albums – and 3D spatialised sound by Arup Acoustics.

On the other end of the spectrum, and perhaps taking a leaf from the likes of Matador Records’ Buy Early Get Now scheme (encouraging pre-orders of albums from independent record shops), Californian kids’ graphic novelist Dan Santat came up with a pre-order package that not only included all manner of extras, from art prints to deleted scenes and other making-of material perhaps more commonly associated with film, but also benefited his local independent book shop.

4. Author as rock star

In 2007, venerable Scottish record label Chemikal Underground put out Ballads Of The Book, a collaborative album that saw some of Scotland’s finest indie acts set lyrics written by some of Scotland’s finest writers to their own music.

One unexpected result of the process was the taste for live performance developed by Alan Bissett, whose “The Rebel On His Own Tonight” was translated to record by ex-Arab Strap man Malcolm Middleton. Buoyed by positive reaction to the record, Bissett went on the road with Zoey Van Goey and Y’All Is Fantasy Island, performing excerpts from his fiction and specially created spoken word pieces in between sets.

The innovation here isn’t so much the act of performing as the context in which it took place: rather than read at a literary festival, Bissett took his pop-culture saturated work in front of the kind of crowd most likely to appreciate it, one already used to supporting stuff they like via the merch table and one who, much as they kept the turntable alive, would likely find a certain retro glamour in picking up a paperback to then sit and read ostentatiously outside a hip cafe, perhaps while nonchalantly smoking a page or two of Cloud Atlas.

5. Digital to analogue

Of course, if all else fails, turn the tables. Rather than passively watch the digitisation of every piece of printed material available, several publishers have taken it upon themselves to bring portions of the web kicking and screaming into the real world: cute photo blogs like Hipster Puppies and Sleeveface, cool web comics like Dinosaur Comics and Achewood, and even, in one confounding instance, the edit history of Wikipedia’s entry on the Iraq War.

Physical copies certainly seem to be the only way to turn a profit from such endeavours – who would buy an eBook version of a site when the site itself is freely accessible from any phone or computer? – and removing them from the unending bombardment of information that is web 2.0 (and beyond) gives readers a chance to appreciate them apart from the intrusion of IMs, pop-ups, and pop-ups pretending to be IMs.


Catalogue Available

Leeds College of Art Vernon Street Leeds LS2 8PH

18 August - 9 September 9.00am - 4.00pm Monday - Friday

Alex Farrar

and Jayne Allen, Keith Arnatt, Jonathan Ashworth, Bob Cobbing, Georgia
Dennison, James Dixon, Lucy Freeman, Hamish Fulton, Joe Hancock, Howard,
Leeds United, Richard Long, Frank Lisle, Claire Macalister Hall, Harry
Meadley, Michael O'Sullivan, Helen Shaddock, Holly Stott, Eric Taylor,
Liz West, Lynn Wray

Catalogue Available


17 August 5.00pm - 8.00pm

'Catalogue Available', Alex Farrar proposed that his exhibition
catalogue be expanded to include all the artworks currently in the
Vernon Street College building. The resulting publication reveals a
found-exhibition of 30 works made in the past 50 years by over 25
artists, present at the time of Farrar's solo exhibition.

Featuring the college's hanging collection and ongoing temporary
exhibitions, the catalogue also documents many clandestine projects
which remain in the building long after their makers have left. These
latent exhibits were researched by a group of former students,
responsible for collecting verbal accounts of the mythical works that
persist in the fabric of the building.

The project will be accessible through a single hand-printed book that
will be permanently shelved in the College's Vernon Street library.
During the preview of the exhibition, a one-off tour of the exhibition
will be led by Georgia Dennison.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Friday, 5 August 2011

Vault Website is live

Vault Art Glasgow is a new opportunity for artists to sell their work and for the public, collectors and galleries to buy contemporary art.

Twelve of the most innovative galleries and organisations have been invited to present a selected range of new art by emergent, alongside leading artists from Glasgow and beyond: a snapshot of one of the most original and exciting contemporary art scenes in Europe.

I have been selected as one of the Briggait artists and am making new work to exhibit. I am excited and curious about what the event will bring.

The VAULT website is http://www.vaultartglasgow.com/

Vault on Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/vaultartglasgow

Twitter twitter.com/VaultArtGlasgow

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Festival set to highlight work of leading artists living in city

In September I will be participating in Vault. This is what the Evening Times has to say about the event.

The Briggait is to host a new event set to encourage people to buy work by Glasgow’s world-renowned artists.

In September, the former fish market will host Vault, a festival involving 12 galleries from around Glasgow.

Artists living in the city have won international acclaim in recent years, with a number of Turner Prize winners and nominees living and working in the city.

Organisers of Vault want the public to support artists by buying their work.

Neil Butler is artistic director of UZ Arts, the cultural group organising the event.

He said: “We want this to be a major celebration of the exciting work being produced by Glasgow’s artists.

“At these times when it is difficult for everyone working in the cultural industries to make a living, it is important to encourage people to consider buying art.

“This festival will bring money into the city and, more importantly, create an economy which supports artists.

“When people make a decision about how their house should look, what better thing can they possibly do than buy a piece of work that makes their home a more interesting place to live and supports the person working to make that art?”

The show will be curated by Patricia Fleming, who was recently involved in Channel 4’s Big Art Project, which created public art projects around Britain.

She said: “Visitors can meet artists while engaging with innovative galleries, studios and artist-led initiatives not necessarily on the familiar gallery circuit.”

Councillor George Redmond is chairman of Glasgow Life, which is helping to fund the £40,000 event.

He said: “There has never been a more exciting time for the contemporary arts scene in Glasgow.

“Vault will see the newly refurbished Briggait building brought to life, and it promises to be one of the most popular contemporary arts events of the year.”

Glasgow artists Richard Wright and Susan Philipz won the Turner Prize in 2009 and last year, while Martin Boyce and Karla Black were placed on this year’s shortlist.

Vault is supported by Creative Scotland’s Own Art scheme, which offers the public interest-free loans of between £100 and £2000 to buy art and craft.

Jasper Hamill

The article was published in the Evening Times on Wednesday 3rd August 2011


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

AHM voice concerns

As you may know, I am Research Assistant for AHM, the wonderful Sam Ainsley, David Harding and Sandy Moffat.

AHM, Ray Mackenzie and Ross Birrell have voiced their concerns about the 'massive piece of art dubbed the Star of Caledonia' by Cecil Balmond which has been selected by the Gretna Landmark Trust to welcome travellers to Scotland.

The letter was published in the Herald on Wednesday 3rd August 2012