Saturday, 30 April 2016

Artists takeover the Laing

The Laing Art Gallery invited artists to takeover the gallery and encourage people to vote for this to happen on a bigger and more ambitious scale later in the year. 

The Laing has been chosen as one of three venues which could win artist Marcus Coates to host a unique Museums at Night event in October. 

Artist Marcus Coates promises a night of ritual that will see performances, images and objects made, not as artworks but as answers in themselves, as responses to these questions. The questions can be about anything – the politics of the town, global issues or personal problems, as long as the answers are not known and cannot be looked up.

You can vote from 11am on Friday 29 April to 9pm Saturday 14th May.

The Laing Takeover involved live painting, performance art, dance, print making and much more.

It definitely encouraged me to vote for this to happen again.


With the help of wood workshop technician Joe Sallis, Pipi and I have used CAD to transform our various drawings of the TRIGGER structure into an accurate plan for our structure.

In order to work through any practical problems with the assembly of our artwork we made a scale model of the structure.  In doing so, we were able to establish the order in which we will need to install each piece of the structure, and make some decisions regarding the design.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Kielder Site visit

Although we had previously visited Kielder Forest and scoped out some possible sites for our work, the majority of the artists involved in the Kielder Forest project had not chosen their sites. We went as a group to decide on the location of each of our artworks.

Most of the artworks are to be sited along the Duchess Trail, but Pipi and I had already ascertained that this would not be a suitable location for our artwork. This is because the path goes through fairly dense forest, blocking out the sunlight. We need sunlight in order to charge the solar panel which is powering the speaker.

We had proposed that we position the artwork near to the Observatory, but needed to test out the various sites around there. We were told that we would need to ensure that the sound from our speaker would not disturb the visitors to the observatory, and so had loaned some battery powered equipment to allow us to find out how close we could go to the observatory without being able to hear the sound playing at the kind of volume that we would like.

We looked at a couple of potential places just off the road on the way to the observatory.

The ground at this site was uneven and would be difficult to embed our structure into. The trees blocked some of the light coming from the south. There was not a good view over the landscape, and the patch of land seemed like a passing place for cars.

This track was about 25metres long and had no apparent destination. It receded off the main road to the observatory, and was shielded by the trees, so the structure would not be easily visible to an audience. The view was of the surrounding trees and the road, so did not provide the overview of the Kielder landscape that we are aiming for.

This little area of land was connected to the main road to the observatory by a small bridge. The land across the bridge was shielded by the trees, but we wondered whether the structure could be positioned on the logs of the bridge. This would be very close to the road and so not ideal.

As we reached the observatory carpark our eyes lit up as we were reminded of the excellent views over Kielder from this site. There is a large expanse of land that is totally open without any shielding from trees. It would be ideal for powering the solar panel (all we would need is the sun to shine!). The land is fairly soft and so we could dig the legs of the structure into the ground.

The structure would be positioned behind the observatory.

Using the battery powered speaker we played the sound file that we have been editing. We angled the speaker downward, creating a shower of sound. As Pipi held the speaker with the audio playing at the volume desired, I walked towards the observatory and found the place where i could no longer hear the audio. I had not reached the observatory, so fingers crossed that the observatory staff will be happy for us to locate our artwork in their back garden!


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Drone Ensemble - creating a chorus of scaffolding tubular instruments

Tonight the Drone Ensemble continued with our work towards creating a chorus of scaffolding tubular instruments (these are yet to be christened). Joe had managed to source some more pipes, and so we now have the possibility of creating instruments spanning an even bigger spectrum of notes. The notes produced are determined by the length of the scaffolding. 

The image below was used to help understand semitones

The scaffolding tube acts as a chamber for the vibrations; the vibration and resonance build within and travel down the tube until they escape at the base and project an almost organ-like unwavering note. 

The tuning of these instruments is established pre-construction through the length of the tube, which can be cut down gradually and ‘played’ through striking the tube at a point of appropriate resonance, assessing the current note and adapting the tube gradually until the desired note is formed.

The turn-wheel can be controlled at different speeds, by the player, and creates a friction against the felt pad which in turn translates that vibration into the metal scaffold tube itself.

When played in unison, three of these individually tuned instruments can emit a chord pattern with a certain sonic strength and resilience.
Next week we are going to have a session of playing our newly made scaffolding tube instruments.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Documentation of Circus Between Worlds performance on Vimeo

Documentation of my performance at Circus Between Worlds is now available on Vimeo.

Funnelvision from Helen Shaddock on Vimeo.

Two characters engage in a playful physical & psychological battle in which they cause havoc for each other but also find moments of harmony.


My work on The Listening Booth ; Collection 2

I am delighted that my work has been accepted to The Listening Booth ; Collection 2.

THE LISTENING BOOTH is an online listening gallery of contemporary sound based art and experimental music.  THE LISTENING BOOTH is an opportunity to test the limitations and freedoms of using sound like a physical space.
THE LISTENING BOOTH hosts downloadable MP3s produced by artists, writers, musicians and performers. Each MP3 acts as a dedicated gallery space for each artist. The works can be listened to online or downloaded and experienced in the world. This allows the artists to implant their work directly into their listeners’ life, but also allows the listener access to art outside a traditional gallery setting.
The internet was chosen the venue for this project because of its vast accessibility and inclusivity. It also reflects the manner most of us experience the majority of our sound culture. Listening to music or the spoken word online or via podcasts is, for the most part, a solitary experience. THE LISTENING BOOTH aims to make full use of the intimacy created between the artist and a single listener.
Every Monday and Thursday from Monday 25th April to Thursday 22nd September, a new downloadable MP3 will be made available to the public via The Listening Booth.
My artwork will be available from 30th May 2016. 

The full schedule of all the artists and their release dates is below:

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

It's what you make of it - Ex Libris Gallery - Collaborative experimentation by Anna MacRae and Helen Shaddock

Between Monday and Friday last week fellow MFA student, Anna, and I were given access to the Ex Libris Gallery. Our aim was to work collaboratively, producing new work in the space for the space. We did not have a fixed outcome in mind and were unsure as to whether we would have an exhibition at the end of the week. Our focus was on the collaborative making process.

On the Monday, while I was in Glasgow dismantling the Circus Between Worlds site, Anna moved lots of our materials into the Ex Libris Gallery and began familiarising herself with the space. She then did a large charcoal drawing. 

When we met on Tuesday morning we began by deciding on the position of the three moveable screens/walls. Changing this made a huge difference to the space, and as we tested out multiple options, it became clear that we were both wanting to create the same kind of atmosphere in the gallery, and it felt like the collaborative had begun. We opted for a relatively unbalanced arrangement, where no walls aligned with one other and there was not one single point for viewing the work, prompting the audience to fully explore the space in order to see all the artwork.

We tended to schedule each day as follows:

Morning - Anna in the gallery

Between 12pm - 3pm - both in the gallery

Afternoon/evening - Helen in the gallery

We used our time effectively, ensuring that we did the work at height when we were together. When we were on our own in the gallery we were able to reflect on what the other person had done, and respond to this.

The process seemed extremely natural and we both learned from, and nurtured each other. As we had been using the gallery as a studio space all week, there came a point when we decided to have a tidy up and look at the space without any clutter. This dramatically changed things; the work was given space to breathe and it became far less cluttered. The connections that we had made became more obvious.

We were really pleased with our use of the space, height, colour, materials and the experience of working together. I really benefitted from seeing some of my previous sculptures made from food exhibited in a different context alongside different materials. They became something else and were much less identified with advertising and consumerism (two readings that I had previously been unhappy with).

The audience responded very positively to our work, commenting that it was energetic, playful, related well to the site and was tender.