Friday, 30 September 2016

Damián Ortega at The Fruitmarket Gallery

The current exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh left me a little underwhelmed. For an artist who is known as "one of the most prominent artists of the new Mexican generation" I found the work to be rather unoriginal and dated.

"The works in the exhibition are predominantly made from clay, the most elemental of materials. Ortega uses clay to form waves, sculpt icebergs and to track the eroding power of a river on a sequence of plains made from brick."


The hanging clay blobs reminded me vaguely of Rosie Hughes-Jones' degree show exhibition at Glasgow School of Art in 2008, but without the amazingly aluring scent that made Rosie's work a real sensory experience. 

It also reminded me of Cornelia Parker's installation 'Cold Dark Matter', but without the sense of action that is so implicit in Parker's installation.


Again, the clay forms on the floor could be likened to Anthony Gormley's installation Field, but the scale of Ortega's work did not create the grandeur that Gormley managed to achieve with Field.

For more information about the exhibition visit

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Jez Riley French visits Newcastle and comes along to Drone Ensemble

I met field recorder and photographer Jez Riley French a couple of years ago when he came to give an artist talk at Newcastle University. We have kept in touch, and earlier this week I met up with him and a group of other artists using sound at NewBridge Studios on his latest visit to Newcastle.

"Using intuitive composition, field recording, improvisation and photography, Jez has been exploring his enjoyment of and interest in detail, simplicity and his emotive response to places and situations for over 3 decades.

Alongside performances, exhibitions, installations, he lectures and runs workshops around the world on field recording and the act and art of listening. He also curates the ‘engraved glass’ label and the ‘a quiet position’ series of online releases / forums exploring the broad ideas surrounding field recording as a primary art of sound / sound art.

In recent years he has been working extensively on recordings of surfaces and spaces (natural and man made) and developing the concept of photographic scores. Jrf is particularly associated with the development of extended recording techniques, including the recording of structural vibrations, contact microphone recording, ultrasonics, infrasonics, internal electronic signals via coil pick-up's and recordings made with hydrophones.

Amongst his key recent works are pieces capturing the sound of the dolomites dissolving, ants consuming fallen fruit, the Tate Modern building vibrating, the infrasound of domestic spaces around the world, glaciers melting in Iceland and the tonal resonances of natural and human objects in the landscape."

His visit coincided with Drone Ensemble's weekly session, and so I introduced him to Joe and the other Droners. We demonstrated our range of sound making machines, and he enjoyed having a go himself.

Jez has invited me to be included in a forthcoming edition of verdure engraved, a regular pdf arts magazine, available to view online or download for free

I will be responding to six questions that Jez has sent me, and this will form part of the interview series that runs throughout the arts magazine.

To see earlier editions please visit

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Night in the Museum curated by Ryan Gander at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

‘When I look at sculptures of the human figure I am frequently left thinking of all the things that they’ve seen. This is the world of the silent onlooker.’ Ryan Gander

"Night in the Museum represents the work of over thirty artists including Don Brown, Angela Bulloch, Patrick Caulfield, Jacob Epstein, Liam Gillick, Roger Hiorns, David Hockney, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Kerry Stewart, and Rebecca Warren.

Artist Ryan Gander has curated this exhibition consisting of works belonging to the Arts Council collection. He has displayed a selection of figurative sculptures alongside a range of post-war British artworks that often feature the colour blue. Blue is an important colour in Gander's work, and for him it represents "the abstract ideas often found in modern and contemporary art." The figures are positioned so as to be admiring the surrounding artworks.

My initial impression of the exhibition was that it was very cluttered, leaving little space around the work, but having spent some time in the gallery I enjoyed the sense of sharing the viewing experience with the figurative sculptures, closing the gap between the audience and the artwork.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The studio as a work in progress

A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to my new studio at NewBridge Studios and this is what it looked like. 

Since collecting my studio key I have managed to completely fill the space with lots of art stuff.

Boxes upon boxes have been filled and transported to their new home on the second floor of NewBridge Studios. They have then been moved around the room as I try to create more space and find logical positions for my possessions.

Yesterday I installed a set of shelves, which has helped clear a bit of floor space, 

and today I have managed to organise the space and get more on the walls.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Planning the next stage of the Shaddock:UnStapledPress collaboration

Over the past couple of weeks UnStapledPress and I have been generating ideas for the next stage of our collaboration with the publication A lot can happen in 15 minutes.

We are delighted to be working with NewBridge Books, and there will be a number of things to attend and take part in during October and November.

Last night (after a rather delicious homemade Thai red curry) we continued our planning and developed some ideas for a Newcastle launch event, exhibition and for want of a better word, closing event. We'd love to take this, or a similar setup, further a field.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Living Out Ideas – A Scratch Night Curatorial Studio at NewBridge Studios

Current artist in residence at NewBridge Studios, Gordon Douglas invited members of Curatorial Studio to The Newbridge Project to develop their upcoming publication ‘Living Out Ideas’ outside the familiar context of Scotland. Borrowing the performance terminology ‘the scratch night’, the group presented content, correspondences, references and concerns from previous discussions as well as new work devised for the event.

“Curatorial Studio is a peer-learning environment for fifteen early-career curators from across Scotland, conceived through conversations between Scottish Contemporary Art Network, the curator-led Framework programme, CCA Glasgow and the MLitt Curatorial Practice, Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow.

The aim is to create a supportive peer-learning environment for curators in the early stages of their career through a programme of weekend seminars and workshops focusing on specific areas of practice as well as public talks and events with international guests. Curatorial Studio encourages cooperative learning by bringing group discussion to the fore as a means of engaging with contemporary art theory and extending a network of support to those participating.

Curatorial Studio are: Frances Davis, Gordon Douglas, Cicely Farrer, Rachel Grant, Marcus Jack, Grace Johnston, Maria Lanko, Gemma Lawrence, Kirsteen Macdonald, Emmie McLuskey, Katherine Murphy, Rosie O’Grady, Frances Stacey, Shireen Taylor, Nick Thomas and Claire Walsh.”

It was a really interesting event, with Curatorial Studio performing and introducing a number of texts and films which was then followed by a discussion about the group and whether there is potential for a similar model based in the North East. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Current KAWS exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

It is a tradition that when I visit my parents in Yorkshire, I pay a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Last weekend was no different.

As I walked through the grounds in glorious sunshine, I discovered the latest open air sculptures by New York based artist and designer, KAWS.

These giant forms are reminiscent of characters from popular culture and comic books. Despite their dominating presence, I could not help but feel sorry for these rather disappointed looking figures.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Destall continues!

It is taking rather a long time to destall the exhibition, but today it seemed like I made real progress when the packing peanuts were bagged up.

Thanks to my new housemate, Sophie, for lending a hand!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

I am an artist : I need space

This week I am destalling my exhibition, returning equipment to the various places and people I borrowed the kit from, and attempting to declutter and package what is in my current studio within the Art Department at Newcastle University.

The problem is that I have too much stuff!

Thankfully I have a studio to move into at NewBridge Projects as part of the graduate studio award.

This is where I will be making my creative home:

This Sunday I'll be moving in, so if anyone fancies lending a hand, let me know!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Practice makes Practice at Newbridge

Tonight I joined the other graduates who have been selected for the graduate programme at NewBridge Projects and we were taken through what the graduate programme has in store. 

In addition to my studio at NewBridge, one of the benefits of the programme is that I will be supported by an artist mentor with whom I will meet once a month. I met my mentor, Luke, who is a studio holder at NewBridge and runs the Left Leg Gallery.

One of our roles within NewBridge is to help form the Practice makes Practice programme, and so we spent the second half of the session discussing ideas about what this programme could include.

Practice makes Practice is an artist development programme run by artists for artists, initiated by The NewBridge Project.

Practice makes Practice focuses on developing artistic talent and equipping artists with the necessary skills to manage their practice, bridging the gap between art school, studio practice, the gallery and beyond.

Practice makes Practice is a regular programme of events, workshops, opportunities, talks, field-trips, exchanges and mentoring, creating a forum for shared learning, critical conversation, space for networks to cultivate and alternative models of practice to develop.

Practice makes Practice is open to all through a membership scheme. Creating a supportive cohort of artists to shape the programme ensuring it develops in response to the needs and interests of its members.

We have plenty of ideas, so its sure to be an exciting and eventful 12 months.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Me Too Project

Mental health problems are often treated as a taboo and brushed under the carpet, despite the fact that an estimated 1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues each year. The Me Too project was set up to see a cross-section of the people affected by these issues and hear their stories. 

The Me Too Project is a creative collaboration which seeks to encourage discussion about mental health. The aim is that by doing this, the stigma surrounding mental health issues can be tackled and some of the many who are affected by them can be helped. The Me Too project has brought together portraits of people who have experienced depression, anxiety and OCD and sought to tell their stories.

The Project is the brainchild of Zofia Sagan and Fran Cresswell who met at a personal development group and immediately bonded over their drives for social good and our own personal experiences of mental illness. Their aim is to promote healthy conversation on the topic and bring hope and courage to those who maybe suffering in silence.

My text, Session 1 is featured on the Me Too Project website.

Read it here:
me too project - session 1

Friday, 2 September 2016

Final couple of days of Newcastle University MFA Exhibition

We had a record number of visitors to our exhibition yesterday and it was great to hear such positive feedback.

The exhibition ends at 5pm on Saturday so don't miss your last chance to see it!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Everything IS Alright

What a day it has been. 

Following yesterday's critiques of the work in the MFA exhibition by the 1st year students, Anna MacRae, Jim Lloyd, Mehan Fernando, Pipi Lovell-Smith and Hannah Cooper, today's critique focused on the work of the five 2nd year students, Bex Harvey, Yein Son, Liying Zhao, Mirela Bistran and me. 

We were joined by Alistair Robinson, Programme Director at NGCA, Sunderland and Elinor Morgan, Senior Curator at MIMA, Middlesbrough. Both days were very useful, constructive, encouraging and positive, and I gained a lot from them. 

As if the tension wasn't enough with the crit, today was also the day we found out our results. I am delighted that I got a distinction, and to top it all off I was also awarded with the Hatton Gallery prize. I really am quite overwhelmed by it all.

Thanks to all who have helped throughout the process - team Shaddock included!