Thursday, 30 April 2015

Moveable sculptures

After a morning of crits with fellow MFA students, followed by an excellent artist talk by Rachel Maclean,, Jodie and I returned to the wood workshop to complete the structure of the third moveable sculpture.

Artists to question politicians over fair pay in political hustings

Scottish artists campaigning for "fair pay" from galleries are to challenge political candidates in an election style-hustings event this weekend.
Two artist membership organisations, A-N and the Scottish Artists Union (SAU) will host an event in Glasgow with representatives political candidates from major parties.
The cultural hustings will be held at The Whisky Bond on Saturday, May 2.
The event will be chaired by Jim Tough, executive director of the Saltire Society, alongside a cultural panel that includes Kyla McDonald, artistic director of Glasgow Sculpture Studios, artist Sukaina Kubba, academic Emma Flynn and a representative from the Scottish Artists Union. 
The political panel will include Moira Crawford of the Green Party, Chris Young from the Liberal Democrats, Gordon McCaskill, Conservative, Brian Smith, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, with an SNP and Labour candidate to be announced.
Janie Nicoll, an artist, said: "Some publicly-funded galleries pay artists fairly, others don't and getting them to be transparent and open about their payment policies is the first step to making sure we all get proper payment for the work we do.
"The hustings debate is about raising the awareness of election candidates so they understand the importance of the issue and use their influence to encourage galleries to spend tax payers' money in a way which supports fair payment."
The event is part of a nationwide campaign Paying Artists campaign based on research showing that 71% of artists do not get a fee for exhibiting in publicly funded galleries - with 63% of artists having to turn down gallery requests because they cannot afford to exhibit for nothing. 
The event coincides with the artist-led city wide Glasgow Open House Festival in which artists will showcase new work or ideas within public and domestic locations. 
This year the programme features 200 artists across 50 venues.

Phil Miller, Arts Correspondent

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Today's new skill: how to plane wood

Its been another busy day in the wood workshop as today we have been building the final of our three moveable sculptures. This one is based on the existing book trolley that can be wheeled around the library.

We have followed the dimensions of the book trolley for our sculpture, but have altered the shape to be triangular at the sides, on a rectangular base. Making this shape required us to learn another new technique/skill, namely planing. After an introductory demonstration by Joe, we took it in turns to plane the edges of the two sheets of wood that would form the apex of the sculpture. 

It was hugely satisfying when the two edges fitted together neatly!

Tomorrow we will build a support structure/framework, and attach the wheels.

Cheeseburn Sculpture opens its gardens for the bank holiday

National Gardening Week is the perfect time to discover your new favourite garden. Here we learn about the hidden delights of Cheeseburn pleasure gardens, home to extraordinary sculptures
‘For people who love gardens, there are a lot of different things to explore, and the unexpected thing is that each garden area has a different piece of sculpture’
Pay a visit to Cheeseburn Grange, just 20 minutes from the centre of Newcastle, and you'll not only discover 11 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens, but a magnificent showcase for public art. Since inheriting the house in 1992, Simon and Joanna Riddell worked to restore the gardens, and set the stage to present contemporary sculpture by artists from the locality and from further away.
One of the first pieces you come to in the gardens, next to the new Stables Gallery, is an arresting three metre-tall ammunition shell, covered in feather scallops, which are coated themselves in dark grey poppy seeds. Named Stanza, it's the newest sculpture added to the gardens.Tyneside artist Sarah created the poignant work influenced by the poems of ornithologist Edward Thomas, who wrote about the birds he saw and heard at the Western Front during the First World War.

'We have a mixture of artists from recent graduates to people of a good age. Gilbert Ward – in his 80s, lives by Hadrian's Wall and used to teach at Northumbria University – created two beautiful collections of wood carvings, Bakers Dozen and The Fall, which are installed in the old potting sheds,' says Arts Consultant Matthew Jarratt, who draws on 15 years of experience at the Art Fund to curate the works in the sculpture gardens. 
He and estate owner and gardener Joanna teamed up in 2013 to create something quite special for sculpture in the North of England. In the grounds there are many different types of gardens: a formal parterre garden, the lawns, a walled garden space, a woodland area down to a river, a tunnel in the woodland walk, and they're even using a hemmell (a Northumberland stone building for livestock to shelter) in the farmland. 'We see the grounds as gallery spaces, and we are starting to use the pasture land on the estate as well,' adds Matthew.
'It's a part of the world that not many people know, so there is a real sense of discovery. It seems to attract people that like historic gardens and those into the arts.
For Matthew, Cheeseburn Sculptures is about the gardens showing off the sculptures and vice versa. 'For people who love gardens, there are a lot of different things to explore, and the unexpected thing is that each garden area has a different piece of sculpture. The best pieces interact with the buildings, the walls and the trees.'
He and Joanna are serious about helping artists to display their work and the plan is to build on the numbers of sculptures and works in the gardens. They're also making the most of the new exhibition space in the Stables Gallery and Projects Space, and visitors on the May bank holiday weekends will get the first view of the exhibition by brothers Neil and Richard Talbot.
They are building up to a summer outdoor sound exhibit, for which they will work with the BBC's wildlife Sound Recordist Chris Watson, who counts David Attenborough's Frozen Planet series in his programme repertoire and they're already planning ahead to Christmas exhibitions.
To say this project is still in its infancy, Cheeseburn is one garden we'll be watching to see how it grows.
To read more about Cheeseburn and find out their opening weekends, head over to
If you want to find out how you can get involved in National Gardening Week, visit

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Jacob Dahlgren - Kung Fu Panda - Workplace Gallery, Gateshead

Kung Fu Panda is a new video work by Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren in which he films the reflected ambient light on an adjacent white wall at home, whilst his children are watching the eponymous animated feature film. Filmed in High Definition from a fixed camera position and projected as a single work in a gallery context Dahlgren’s Kung Fu Panda becomes an absorbing and constantly changing digital colourfield painting that manifests a subtlety at odds with the apparent chaos of the original film dubbed in Swedish, and the surrounding scenario as the artist’s children watch whilst carrying on their own everyday conversations.

In an adjacent room Dahlgren presents a readymade series entitled When The Sky Is The Limit. Consisting of framed double page spreads from in-flight magazines collected by Dahlgren, each image is selected, isolated, and framed according to its inherent relationship to abstraction.

Dahlgren's work is concerned with a dialogue between the authoritative singularity of pure formal abstraction and its position within a variable, complex and social shared culture. His repetitious collections of ubiquitous and ordinary objects, often domestic, industrially manufactured (and frequently, knowingly Scandinavian); stand in their gestalt form as proxy for High Modernist Abstract Painting and for all of the ideological territory that Twentieth Century Art Theory has staked out for it. The contributing objects, however, signify a collective and human aspect of society, each representing an individual choice, used in a unique way by its consumer. Together these objects stand for the group or community, and as such they become democratic rather than authored. Through endless ingenious amalgams of pattern, abstraction and mass-produced objects, Dahlgren's recent works purposefully inhabit modes of modernist painting, deliberately playing with the inherent autonomy of the source material.

Jacob Dahlgren was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1970. Dahlgren represented Sweden in the Nordic Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale. His work has been exhibited at, KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center/MoMA, New York, USA, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK, and Tramway, Glasgow, UK. He lives and works in Stockholm.
Jacob Dahlgren’s solo exhibition Third Uncle is currently showing at Workplace London until 9th May 2015, please visit the website for further information.

Exhibition open: 25th April – 23rd May 2015 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Paying Artists by Moira Jeffrey on axis web

Paying Artists by Moira Jeffrey

David McLeavy, Work! Work! Work! 2013. Image courtesy of Leon Read Photography
Guest columnist Moira Jeffrey examines the growing discussion around the need to pay artists

Moira Jeffrey
I recently sat around a table in Edinburgh with more than a dozen artists, curators and other freelancers in the visual arts. Our workshop was part of a symposium, Labour of Love, devised by Jenny Richards, formerly of UK galleries Collective and Cubitt and now director of Konsthall C in Stockholm. 

Before we began a day that examined the way that artists are exploring the questions of work and workplaces, we endeavoured to understand our own relationship with labour.We drew diagrams that analysed how much of our weekly work might constitute part of our own core practice and how much was activity that subsidised or supported it. Somewhere in that equation we examined what we got paid for and what we did for free. 

The stark reality was that for everyone the peaks and troughs were in the wrong place, with work time outweighing studio time for artists, and the work we loved the most least likely to be remunerated. As a freelance writer (even when working on big projects with big institutions I’ve been employed only one year in the last 17) I am painfully aware that my own position is often contradictory. In the transactions of the cultural world sometimes I am the person in the room who is getting paid and sometimes the only unsalaried person at a table where everyone wants my opinion but no one will pay my train ticket.

The momentum around paying artists should be simple and unstoppable. Publicly funded organisations simply must do it. The Scottish Artists Union has long campaigned for equitable rates of pay and recently had its guidelines recognised by the funding body Creative Scotland. In September 2013 the SAU was joined by the Artist’s Union England. Arts Council England now requires its National Portfolio Organisations to embrace fair pay under strictures that their compliance will be monitored. 

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has recognised the fee structures proposed by Visual Artists Ireland. The Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council are amongst the bodies that stipulate that funding provided by them must clearly indicate payments for artists as a condition of their funding provision. Axisweb is one of many organisations and prominent individuals who have signed up to support The Paying Artists campaign led by a_n / AIR. Artists are in the process of building or reinforcing pay structures that reflect those of their colleagues in Equity, BECTU or the Musicians Union.

But if the position of artists pay in institutional and public relationships is now officially enshrined, why does it continue to be so dismal? As one part of the system finally lumbers into gear, much deeper shifts in the economies undermine it. The austerity agenda is biting deep into English culture budgets. The increases in casual, part-time and zero hours contracts as a mainstay of the wider economy are impacting on artists’ abilities to support their practice. Technology brings freedom but also a new understanding of “content” and “information” as freely available resources rather than the product of real time and labour.

Artists and freelance cultural workers have long-evolved strategies of exchange, mutual labour and self-support but artists are currently finding that a position at the forefront of new, more extensive “sharing economies” is not uncomplicated. Like the dilemmas of urban gentrification, exposing cracks in the system that can usefully be occupied for the mutual benefit of cultural workers often leaves them open to the shock troops of developers, corporations or more aggressive economic forces. And progress is very slow. Gallery cultures, residency schemes, commissioners and other individuals and organisations that should know better, still don’t get it. 
For younger artists there is the insidious suggestion that working for free creates opportunities.Some of this is part of wider employment culture of internships in culture and the creative industries. For more established artists, there is the expectation that senior status brings economic independence or that the market solves all problems. A senior contemporary artist recently told me that they personally paid for the production costs of a high profile show at one of the most prominent public venues in the country. There was insufficient budget because there was the expectation that, at their level, a commercial gallery would shell out.
The issue of course is not only rates of pay for sessional work or exhibition fees, although these are essential places to start. It is about the availability of housing, of affordable studio spaces, of production resources and about job availability and job mobility in those traditional sectoral roles where artists often work such as gallery technicians, educators and information assistants.
The question of equal access to culture has recently become a stick with which politicians like to beat institutions, but the question of who gets to make culture is less spoken about in the era of tuition fees and the housing crisis. There is no use grumbling about posh people in the arts from Marcus Mumford to Eddie Redmayne if we don’t recognise and address the systemic failings and web of inequalities that transformed the radical social mobility of cultural education in the sixties to the finishing school it is now. The excellent work of the Arts Emergency campaign sets out to overturn the trend by mentoring and activism.
What can we do? Well we must be open. We must try to recognise our own positions and blind spots.Writers and editors like myself must think much harder about what we ask artists to do in terms of their time, resources and use of their images or intellectual capital. Institutions must use their spending power both wisely and imaginatively to support artists. And we must examine them openly if they fail to do so. They must subject their policies around volunteering or internships to thorough ethical and legal scrutiny. But above all they need to think strategically and holistically about what paying artists actually means. 

It means production budgets as well as fees; it means travel expenses, it means thinking hard about organising and locating meetings and paying artists for their time on installation for example. It means thinking genuinely and developmentally about what opportunities really are and distinguishing them from exploitation or unfair labour demarcation. It means understanding artists support both as a fees table and as an ecology that should be considered at all times. Above all when artists say no thanks as much as yes please, all of us must listen.

Contributed by Moira Jeffrey, April 2015
Moira Jeffrey is a writer based in Glasgow. 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Moveable sculptures in development

After days spent in front of a computer working out the dimensions for the moveable sculptures to be installed in our forthcoming exhibition at the Lit and Phil, it is a relief to be hands-on in the wood workshop using physical materials as opposed to digital mock-ups.

Today we made good progress and completed the first moveable structure. We still need to finish the surface, but the shape is made, and it moves!

Waiting for Los Angeles - A video installation by Uta Kögelsberger - Ex-libris Gallery - University of Newcastle

Ex-libris Gallery
Fine Art
University of Newcastle
The Quadrangle NE1 7RU

Waiting for Los Angeles is a new video installation by Uta Kögelsberger. The project grew out of the artist’s fascination with Los Angeles as the quintessential post–modern city; a city that defines itself through its tendency to ignore any form of coherence, its idiosyncratic city-image, its horizontal structure and its cultural diversity; all of which make up its attraction as much as they make any form of representation an impossibility. In spite of this resistance to representation, people all over the world have a mental image of Los Angeles.
The work is shot on a seemingly non descript natural platform located in Griffith Park – one of the few truly democratic public spaces in the city that attracts people from all walks of life. Griffith Park was donated to Los Angeles with the proviso that it was to remain untouched, uncultivated, and open to the public. Shot over a two year period, and edited down from 360 hours of footage, Kögelsberger’s video builds on the premise that if you stand in one spot in the park long enough, you no longer need to move through Los Angeles to see it; instead Los Angeles will move past you. The platform acts as a stage for the city to perform itself. People enter and exit like performers in a play with non-scripted conversations and actions: a 21stcentury Waiting for Godot in Los Angeles, where nothing is really said but where all the little nothings add up to paint a portrait of this city that leaves so much up to the imagination.
Uta Kögelsberger is based in London and lectures at the University of Newcastle and most of her work is developed in the United States. She has previously been awarded the Stanley Picker Fellowship, the Berwick Gymnasium Fellowship, the EAA Award for Art in Architecture and the SPD silver medal for editorial photography. Her photo essays have been published in Wired (USA, UK, Italy), Esquire (Spain), Quo Magazine (Mexico), GQ (South Africa) and selected for American Photography. Her work has been exhibited at the Architectural Association, London; CGP, London, the Barbican, London; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Spacex, Exeter; Laurence Miller Gallery, NYC and the Glassell Project Space MFAH, Houston amongst others.

Monday, 20 April 2015


“Success is liking yourself,
liking what you do,
and liking how you do it.”

– Maya Angelou

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Inviting a response to an Exhibit, 1957

For the occasion of Victor Pasmore: In Three Dimensions
An exhibition at the Hatton Gallery (6 Feb – 9 May 2015)
A Creative Practice Commission

Inviting a response to an Exhibit, 1957

Given my interest in the work and educational stance of Victor Pasmore, I was keen to submit a proposal to the Hatton Gallery in response to their call for applications to 

"create new work for the occasion of the exhibition Victor Pasmore: In Three Dimensions at the Hatton Gallery (06 February - 09 May 2015). The particular focus of the brief is to rematerialise an Exhibit, the immersive installation work made at the Hatton Gallery in 1957 by Victor Pasmore in collaboration with Richard Hamilton. The work was constructed out of sheets of coloured Perspex suspended in a grid formation in the large white Edwardian gallery at the Hatton. It has since been recognised as a landmark event in the history of installation art and exhibition design, and was recently remade for an exhibition at the ICA in London.

For logistical reasons, an Exhibit has never been redisplayed in the Hatton Gallery after its first showing in 1957. However, it is an essential part of the story of Victor Pasmore’s development from two-dimensional painting to three-dimensional constructions, which is the focus of the current exhibition at the Hatton Gallery, Victor Pasmore: In Three Dimensions.

The work resulting from this commission will use innovative methods to communicate an impression of an Exhibit in the gallery which originally housed it. To reflect how central it was to Pasmore’s practice to work across disciplines, proposals are encouraged with a multi-discipline approach. The key aim of the commission is to produce new work that helps to build relationships between creative practitioners across the University."

I met up with a group of architecture students and staff and a Music student who were also interested in the opportunity, and together we formed a collaborative proposal.

I am delighted to report that our proposal has been selected, and we are now working to a tight deadline to prepare the work ready for The Late Shows on 15th and 16th May.                                                                                                                                

Friday, 17 April 2015

Pythagoras comes in useful

Jodie and I have been back in the land of GCSE maths with Pythagoras' theorem. We've been number crunching to work out lengths of sides for our sculptures,angles etc.

Looking forward to building next week.

Restoration of the Mackintosh Building takes major step forward

Glasgow School of Art has announced Page\Park Architects as the design team to lead the restoration of the Mackintosh Building after last year’s major fire

Page\Park Architects have been named as the design team which will lead the restoration of Glasgow School of Art’s iconic Mackintosh Building, following presentations by a shortlist of five leading practices in March.

“The team assembled by Page\Park Architects impressed us not only with their deep knowledge of the building, but of the wider work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh,” said Professor Tom Inns, Director of Glasgow School of Art. “They also bring an understanding of the building’s particular importance to Glasgow – its people and history – as well as of its status as an international design icon.”

He added: “This is the beginning of an exciting journey of discovery. There will be many fascinating questions to be addressed as we undertake this complex restoration project.”

David Page, Head of Architecture at Page \ Park Architects said: “We have, over many years, had the privilege to work on and in the context of the Mackintosh legacy, the highlight of which will now be the opportunity to bring The Glasgow School of Art into splendid re-use for its students and staff, the people of Glasgow and the huge audience beyond the city.”

The Glasgow-based architects lay claim to a track record in both restoring and reanimating the city’s major historic buildings. They have also worked more widely on array of Mackintosh’s designs from the domestic – at the Hillhouse, through commercial – at the former Glasgow Herald offices (now The Lighthouse), to his finest cultural and academic work at the School of Art itself. Work is expected to start on the building in spring 2016 with the objective of academic access from 2017-18.

Phoenix Bursary programme

The news comes as a specially curated group exhibition of new work by the artists supported by the Phoenix Bursary programme has been announced for the Reid Building at The Glasgow School of Art from 24 July – 2 August 2015.

Following the major fire in the Mackintosh Building last year, which dramatically affected the final year Fine Art students’ degree show, the GSA set up a programme with support a £750,000 grant from the Scottish Government and its sister academic institutions across the world. It offered the recent graduates up to 15 weeks studio time, a bursary and materials budget in order to develop their practice and create a project, with roughly half of the artists remaining in Glasgow with others taking the opportunity to work overseas.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:“The response from institutions around the globe, in opening up their doors to welcome graduates from GSA, has been wonderful. I’m looking forward to seeing the work created by the artists as their talent rises from the flames.”

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Sketch up

Throughout the development of our work for the exhibition at the Lit and Phil, Jodie and I have been learning new skills and trying out new approaches to making work.

Our ability to learn the basics of video mapping encouraged us to pursue learning how to use other software, more specifically the 3D modelling software, Sketch Up. This provides the tools to create all kinds of 3D images and designs, from woodworking blueprints to urban planning designs.

We have been using Sketch Up to create a digital model of the Lit and Phil library so as to be able to visualise how our work will be installed in the space. 

We began by drawing lines to create the outline shape of the rooms we will be exhibiting in, and then added in the furniture such as tables, bookcases, chairs and tables. For some of these items we drew lines to create their shapes and then pulled the surfaces to turn them into 3D forms. For other objects we were able to import readymade forms from the Sketch Up image stock. 

It is possible to move around the model and look at it from different angles and perspectives which really helps when planning the position of our work.

We still feel the need to make a physical model to help us decide where to place things, but it has been incredibly useful to learn the basics of SketchUp.