Monday, 30 November 2015

Phyllida Barlow in conversation with Briony Fer and Fiona Bradley

Phyllida Barlow in conversation with Fiona Bradley, Director, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and Briony Fer, Professor of History of Art, UCL. 

In this video Phyllida Barlow talks openly about her practice. Topics discussed include her exhibition in the grand Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain, her working process, her fear of heights, intuition, scale and size, colour, working with her 'team' to make the work, the discipline of sculpture and her experience of education, both as a student and a lecturer.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Pollokshields Playhouse

While in Glasgow this Saturday I discovered an exciting project with huge potential. Pollokshields Playhouse is, as its name suggests, in Pollokshields, just opposite Tramway. 

It is:

"A place to share new ideas; A place to test new possibilities in your community for the future of your community. A place to celebrate, a place to meet. A place to perform, sing, dance, show, make, talk! It is 
is a new outdoor venue being build by the community for the community."

This project is being delivered by Pollokshields Community Council with support from a selection of organisations and funding bodies.

You can help to build the Playhouse
No experience is necessary. You can drop-in on one of the drop-in days to get involved with basic construction and making. All tools and health and safety equipment will be provided. Sessions will be run by BAXENDALE 

Once the playhouse is built, the community are invited to create the programme. People can come forward with ideas that they can programme in – it can be music, talks, film, performance, or creative workshops. The aim is to develop a programme that reflects the area, that brings people together, that tried out new ideas, and that takes risks.

For more information 

Visit the website:

Call: 07827228692
Visit the Facebook Page at Pollokshields Playhouse

Follow @G41Playhouse on Twitter 

Initiated to generate discussion about the form of public spaces within the community, Pollokshields Playhouse is a grassroots project that seeks to connect people with under-used public space. Through the temporary animation of a redundant and derelict site the project will provide a unique opportunity for testing new possibilities for the future of Pollokshields and Port Eglington."

Pollokshields Playhouse is a work in progress, and is reliant on the involvement of others to help create it.

Go inside and help to build your Playhouse on Wednesdays 12-5pm and on Saturdays 10-4pm.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Science of Colour - Delivered by The Colour Group

On Thursday night I attended an event at Science Central called The Science of Colour. It was delivered by Colour Group (Great Britain), an interdisciplinary society, drawing together people interested in all aspects of colour – its perception, measurement, reproduction and artistic expression.

Dr Carinna Parraman from the Centre for Fine Print Research, spoke about her work with 2.5D printing at the University of the West of England, Bristol. 2.5D printing connects emerging interests in the technical, creative and physical approaches to practice. The process explores capturing, modelling and the application of textured marks that emulate the textured appearance of materials.

Valerie Bonnardel asked the question 'are the associations between words and colour arbitrary, or is there structure?'

She discussed colour as a sign:

There are 3 types of referential associations:

1. ICON - relation of (physical) similarity e.g. yellow = sun

2. INDEX - relation of contiguity (a series of things in continuous connection)

- signal - appears before the event e.g. dark sky gives warning of thunderstorm

- clue - remains after the event e.g. a handprint

- symptom - happens at the same time as the event e.g. leaves change colour as the seasons change

3. SYMBOLIC - relation of conventionality e.g. colours in flags

Dr Gabriele Jordan from the Colour Neuroscience Department at Newcastle University discussed her research into the superpower 'Tetrachromatic Colour Vision', answering the question "Is the red I see the same as the red you see?" by exploring psychophysics, gender differences and colour blindness.

Danny Garside ended the event with his presentation about how we make judgements about lighting. Colour and light are intrinsically linked, and both play a crucial role in how we perceive and 'enjoy' the places and spaces around us. 

What do we mean by 'good light'?

We judge the quality of light in two ways:

1. Based on usefulness - which is scene dependent e.g. is the lighting in a library suitable for reading?

2. Based on aesthetics - which is subjective

Danny proposed different factors that we consider when thinking about the quality of light

- intensity

- direction

- distribution

- temporal (does the light flicker?)

- colour

Different colours of light have been found to be most suitable for different activities. For example,

Blue light is good for working

Orange light is good for relaxation

These findings can be put to good use, for instance using orange lighting in bedrooms to help people sleep.

Danny demonstrated how we have a tendency to be affected more by changes in certain light colours than others, and this depends on the type of image we are looking at.

It was a thought provoking and interesting evening, and I am keen to attend more of the events organised by The Colour Group.

For more information about The Colour Group visit

Site visit to Caledonia Road Church

In support of my proposal for a performative work to be included in the Circus between Worlds programme as part of Glasgow International 2016, I went to visit the site, an Alexander Greek Thomson Church on Caledonia Road in Glasgow.
We met Neil Bromwich and Zoe Walker who are running this project (along with other artists from Edinburgh and Glasgow) at the site, and they showed us around.

A bamboo structure has been erected in the space by architect, Lee Baxendale.

Pallets have been piled up to form a kind of seating area.

The tall tower and outside wall will act as a dramatic backdrop for the performances.

The view of the Church from the road .

A group of architects have built a shelter just outside the gates to the Church.

After the site visit Neil and Zoe took us to their studio and showed us a model of the site and discussed further their ideas for the event and went through the proposal requirements. 

Now all I have to do is write up my proposal! 

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Change of base

Following the cross year exhibition in the Long Gallery, one of the comments raised about my work was that the base of the sculpture was made from the same materials as the 'flowers' attached to the tomato vine.

I therefore decided to make a sculpture that had a base made from different materials than the 'flowers':

In this instance the base is made from Shreddies, Coco Shreddies, Cheerios, Choco Wheels, and Golden Nuggets, whereas the 'flowers' are made from Rainbow Drops.

Cross year exhibition number 4 in the Long Gallery, Newcastle University

The start of this academic year at Newcastle University saw the launch of the cross year exhibition. Every week, one Fine Art student from each year (both Undergraduate and Postgraduate) participate in a group exhibition in the Long Gallery. The group meets on Monday afternoon to discuss the curation of the exhibition. The artists then install their work, and the exhibition opens at 5pm on Monday night. Each Wednesday morning a crit is held in the Long Gallery in which the exhibiting artists, along with anyone else who wishes to join in, discuss the work included in the exhibition. The exhibition is destalled on Wednesday afternoon.

The cross year exhibition is a great way of meeting students from the other years and establishing links with each other. The emphasis is on the artists taking part to organise and curate the exhibition and lead the crits, often without the involvement of staff. The cross year exhibition is a great opportunity to test out work in an gallery setting, without it being too pressurised, and with support.

I presented 2 works, both made from food items such as cereals, marshmallows, liquorice all sorts, crisp breads and the stalks from vine tomato. 

One sculpture was fairly small, and was positioned off-centre on a rather large rectangular white plinth. 

The other taller sculpture was placed on another plinth, the same size, shape and colour as the other plinth used. The larger sculpture was encased in a bell jar, whereas the other sculpture was uncovered. 

I positioned the plinths at opposite ends of the gallery so that each sculpture could be enjoyed in its own right, rather than being in a direct comparison with each other.

I had tried having the smaller sculpture covered by the bell jar (see below), but I felt it was swamped by the jar.

I had also tried positioning the sculpture in the centre of the plinth, but I chose to position it closer to an edge as I thought the sculpture had more character then as it appeared, to me, to be slightly mischievous.

I also tried having the larger sculpture without the bell jar, but I was interested in getting feedback from people about the effect that the bell jar has on their reading of the work. 


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Some new supplies for art making

After a period of working on the computer on my sound installation, I have itchy fingers and an urge to make something physical. I want to work with non-art materials, giving me the freedom to be intuitive and playful. I also have a desire to work with colour. The other day I received an exciting parcel; a new glue gun with a supply of different coloured glue sticks! I was eager to put it to good use and do some glueing, so I went on a mission to gather some new materials, and this is what I brought back to the studio.


Cream crackers

Tripoline pasta



French Fries

Mini marshmallows


Rock (of the sugar variety!)



Honey cheerios

Golden nuggets



Coco Shreddies

Curiously Cinnamon

Liquorice Allsorts

Rainbow drops

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Andrea Cohen at Walter Maciel Gallery

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Walter Maciel Gallery presents a new series of work by New York based artist Andrea Cohen. 

For her third solo show at the gallery, Cohen introduces a series of highly textured and patterned hydrocal sculptures cast from bubble wrap, Styrofoam, plastic and foil. In previous work, Cohen has used these materials as her medium to make concurrent references to nature and industry. Now, through the casting process, the legacy of these materials is imprinted on her new work. The liquidity of pigmented hydrocal allows for varying effects when it cures; for example, foil and plastic folds generate both stone-like and fleshy forms in contrast to bubble wrap which leaves behind bold yet mutable patterns suggestive of pock-marked landscapes and perforated architectures. 

Cohen continues to build her sculptures as assemblages, working with play, improvisation, and a deep curiosity in the physicality of her material. She pours, tints, blends, folds, squashes, models, fragments, and assembles the components of each piece and works with a painterly palette that is both quiet and cheerful. Some of the works have a relationship to her previous sculptures made from carved Styrofoam and inspired by Chinese scholar’s rocks. Overall, it is clear that the new forms continue Cohen’s interest in Chinese landscape while at the same time are also influenced by the textures in the sculptures of Jean Dubuffet, Franz West and Paul Soldner. Cohen’s latest forms and processes, like her previous mixed media work, continue a dialogue between binaries, including control and exuberance, humor and contemplation, product and experiment. 

Cohen received a BA from New York University in 1993 and her MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1999. She currently teaches in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons New School for Design in New York City. Her large-scale sculptures were featured in the seminal exhibition, The Uncertainty of Objects and Ideas: Recent Sculpture at the Hirshhorn Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC in 2006-07. Cohen was featured as a Critic’s Pick in ARTnews magazine in the October 2006 issue. She has recently exhibited at Project 4 Gallery in Washington DC and the Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University in Fullerton, CA. Cohen exhibited in group shows at Walter Maciel Gallery including Size Matters in 2012 and Political Draw in 2009 and at our auxiliary gallery in the Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood in 2010. Her work is included in many important private collections.

Sir Nicholas Serota opens creative free school in Devon

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, formally opened The Red House, home to Plymouth School of Creative Arts (PSCA), in a ceremony that marked the culmination of a day of events for children, parents, guardians and friends of the school, celebrating the achievements of PSCA students and success of the school to date.

Sir Nicholas said: “You’re creating here something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the UK. It’s an historic moment for education in this country.”

Founded in Millbay by Plymouth College of Art in 2013, the Plymouth School of Creative Arts is a mainstream city centre 4–16 all-through Free School that, together with the college, is establishing a progressive continuum of creative learning and practice from age four to Masters level study and beyond, into professional employment within the creative and cultural industries.

The school’s purpose is transformation and can be expressed in just four words – creating individuals, making futures. Children and staff learn through making in all subject areas, across a broad and balanced school curriculum.

“This is an incredibly brave venture,” Sir Nicholas Serota said during his opening speech.

“I want to congratulate Andrew Brewerton, Dave Strudwick and the governors of Plymouth College of Art for having the vision and strength to persuade the world that you can make a school that is rooted in imagination, creativity and the arts, and produce students who will be able to face the 21st century and who will bring to it a whole new way of looking at the world. I think it’s an incredible venture and I’m sure it won’t be the only one. I hope Plymouth gets the credit when it’s copied all over the United Kingdom.”

During the daytime there was a celebratory procession of children and staff around the outside of The Red House for friends of the school, after which parents and guardians joined their children inside to experience some of the teaching on offer. Dave Strudwick, the headmaster at Plymouth School of Creative Arts, also invited parents, guardians, students and visitors to each create a wish for the future and the school’s continued growth.

Dave said: “It is a wonderful privilege to be involved in this amazing project.We are delighted that the Red House is already proving to be a success. The whole school community provides a wonderful platform for learning and development enabling our young people to see new possibilities in their lives.”

During the formal opening, Professor Andrew Brewerton, principal of Plymouth College of Art and chair of Governors for the PSCA, addressed guests in The Red House Theatre before Sir Nicholas Serota’s opening speech. PSCA Culinary Arts students from Years 7 and 8 also prepared canapes for the evening drinks reception, which was accompanied by live music performed by parents and students and informal tours of the school.

He said: “The formal opening of The Red House is a very special moment for our extended learning community. Keen interest in our work here is developing nationally and internationally, from France to China to Italy to South Korea and to the USA. We have a very simple proposition – that making is as important as reading and writing and maths and science, and that the creative purpose of learning should be inseparable from the creative purpose of living your life“.

Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, The Red House was always designed for pedagogical innovation in creative learning and as a catalyst for community regeneration in Plymouth’s Millbay docklands, supporting the transformation of individual life chances and community aspiration in the long term, with immediate local impact for families in the area.

As a new model of creative education, the Plymouth School of Creative Arts / Plymouth College of Art creative learning continuum has been presented by invitation at the Confindustria Veneto in Italy, Shanghai University and Beijing Design Week in China, Révélations in Paris and the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in South Korea.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

It will be alright setup in Project Space

Recently I have been working on a sound piece called It will be alright. It features my voice and consists of 6 vocal tracks that are layered over each other. A few short sentences are repeated throughout, but the tone and volume of the voice varies.

Over the past few days I have been working in the project space to try different set ups of the installation. I used 4 speakers and connected these to a sound card which was connected to my laptop. There were 6 channels going into the speakers, so 2 of the speakers had 2 voices at once.

Working in the space, I edited the audio so that the audio came from different directions. I made stands for the speakers to be placed on so that the sound comes from head height as opposed to the floor or the room in general. I composed the sound to produce tension between the speakers, rather like two voices were arguing with each other from different side of the room. My intention is that the audience are surrounded by the sound, and immersed in the situation. In order to minimise the distractions and focus attention on the audio, the blinds were drawn so as to make the room as dark as possible.

Following my crit on Tuesday, I made a few changes to the audio (removing a few of the phrases from the work, adding more pauses etc), and then invited people to come to listen to the work on Wednesday. 

It is important to me that the audience listen to the whole of the work, as opposed to being able to enter at any point and leave before the end. I therefore chose not to show it on a loop, but instead allowed the viewer/s into the space, told them the work would last about 6 minutes and that I would leave and close the door. 

I waited outside the space until the audio had ended, and then opened the door, allowing the viewer to leave. 

I talked to many people about the work once they had experienced it, and received some very useful and positive responses. 

It became obvious that the work has a powerful impact, and in a couple of circumstances, people were moved to tears.

I want to make a few adjustments to the setup of the installation, such as finding a way to hide the speakers, the laptop and equipment. People commented that the light from the devices was off-putting, and that the speakers had too much of a presence in the space, and became like figures due to their height. In order to overcome these issues, I would need to build a darkened room, and position the speakers and equipment behind the walls.

I am considering whether there should be a limit to the number of people who can experience the work at the same time. One of the people who was brought to tears by the work told me afterwards that she would not have been able to respond so emotionally if there had been another person in the room with her.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Sushi Series performance

On Thursday evening as part of the 'Yes, but is it editable?' exhibition in the ExLibris Gallery at Newcastle University, I did a performance called Sushi Series.

The premise of the exhibition is to examine ways in which form and image can be reproduced, shared and transformed through the creation of a multiple. Artists have responded to this in a number of ways and have used a wide range of materials and processes.

I was keen to make a work specifically for the exhibition opening, and wanted to produce something beautiful by performing a number of processes, rather like what happens on a production line. My intention to share the process and outcome with the audience lead me to develop a sushi making performancI set up a table with all the equipment and ingredients that I needed to make a selection of different types of sushi. I had spent the Wednesday evening preparing lots of sushi and so had a supply to start with.

I had prepared a range of vegetarian Maki sushi "rolled sushi". The specific type of maki sushi I made was Chumaki. Chumaki sushi refers to the medium sized roll with the rice and filling on the inside and seaweed on the outside. There are usually 2-3 fillings in Chumaki as opposed to a single filling in Homomaki.

During the performance I made more Chumaki. The fillings available were

- avocado
- cucumber
- pepper
- carrot
- spring onion
- prawns
- crab sticks
- smoked salmon

I used a variety of combinations of ingredients, and made bespoke sushi for people. They could each choose their own combination of ingredients. People got very excited, and made some ambitious requests, meaning that some of the sushi turned out to be Futomaki, which are large rolls of maki sushi with 4 or more fillings!

In addition to the maki, on the evening, (with a little guidance from fellow sushi fan, Irene), I also made Nigiri sushi. Nigirizushi or Nigiri Sushi basically means "hand-pressed sushi".

Sushi rice is formed into an oblong shape using the palm of one hand and the forefinger and thumb of the other, then it is topped with a swipe of wasabi and covered with Neta (a topping that is normally some type of seafood, but can also be a Japanese Omelette, chicken, horse or something else).

Some toppings are bound with a thin strip of nori around the middle.

I really enjoyed the evening and being able to share something with others. It was well suited to the occasion of the art opening, and I was positioned in a good place within the gallery as it invited people into the space, and did not disturb the other works too much.

I am beginning to realise that my role in the activation of the work is important, and am keen to explore this further.