Friday, 29 June 2018

Simulation of THEMSELVES HERE TOGETHER now available on YouTube

A simulation of THEMSELVES HERE TOGETHER, an audiovisual installation in which a series of animations and audio are projected on 4 walls of the StoryWorld gallery space at The Word, South Shields

Etudes and Fugues by Siu Ling Carter at The Long Gallery, Newcastle University

Etudes and Fugues is an exhibition of paintings by the late Siu Ling Carter, who died suddenly in August 2017. She is known for her ceramic sculptures and vessels, but for over a decade she had been working steadily on a coherent body of more than thirty paintings. This exhibition showcases a selection of these, none of which have been exhibited before.

A perfectionist, Siu Ling Carter thought that these paintings were not quite ready to be exhibited, and she even regarded some as being unfinished. Rarely are an audience party to an artist's work mid-process. I enjoy this insight into the artists working process, but do feel a little uneasy about whether the artist would have been upset that they are exhibited in this state.

The paintings have a great sense of rhythm and harmony, and the link to music is referenced in the exhibition's title, Etudes and Fugues. Siu Ling Carter spoke about the parallels between the construction of her paintings and the composition of a musical  score. 

When she was a Masters student at Newcastle University Siu Ling Carter collaborated with musicians Mick Wright and Bennett Hogg. For the current exhibition Bennett has composed a new piece of piano music which visitors can listen to as they view the exhibition.  

The paintings remind me of woven textiles or the patterns made when strips of paper are weaved in and out of each other to form a grid. The subtle variations in colour schemes between the works elicited different emotional responses. Some are fairly tranquil and soft, but others have a faster pace and have more of a relationship with the hustle and bustle of Newcastle city life.

The exhibition is open to the public between 26 June and 8 July and is worth a visit.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Portion Control for sale in NewBridge Books at BALTIC 39

I am pleased to be selling my latest publication, Portion Control, at NewBridge Books, located on the ground floor of BALTIC 39.

Get your copy now for only £5

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Documentation of THEMSELVES HERE TOGETHER audiovisual installation at The Word, South Shields

Documentation of THEMSELVES HERE TOGETHER, an audiovisual installation by Helen Shaddock exhibited at The Word, South Shields is now available to watch on YouTube.

THEMSELVES HERE TOGETHER is the culmination of a project funded by the Arts Council England Grants for the Arts. Helen Shaddock worked with artists, researchers, academics, Mental Health organisations and a range of individuals to investigate visual and auditory hallucinations.

Following an intense period of research and reflection, Shaddock gathered a collection of words from which a soundtrack was created through a collaboration with artist/musician Sarah Grundy. Using a loop pedal, Grundy formed a range of rhythmic patterns from the words. Shaddock edited these further to create the soundtrack for the audio-visual installation, integrating field recordings and sounds produced by Drone Ensemble. Drone Ensemble is an experimental sound group in which Shaddock is a member, that uses handmade acoustic instruments to emit vast, deep, sonorous drones.        
For the preview of the exhibition, Sarah Grundy performed a re-working of the installation soundtrack (see separate video documentation available on YouTube).

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The North in 100 Songs

As part of The Great Exhibition of the North, Northerners were asked to nominate their favourite Northern anthem.
Manchester-based illustrator Stanley Chow is creating a new series of portraits based on the favourites which will be exhibited at Sage Gateshead throughout the Great Exhibition of the North.
Mark Knopfler as illustrated by Manchester based artist Stanley Chow

Stanley Chow is an illustrator from Manchester. He started his career as fashion illustrator for various teen magazines in 1996. Since then his work has featured on book covers, in numerous magazines and newspapers and many ad campaigns globally.
The North in 100 Songs, chosen by Northerners, are:
10CC – I’m not in Love
808 State – Pacific State
AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long
Alan Price – Jarrow Song
Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Atomic Kitten – Whole Again
Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen in Love
Cheryl Cole – Fight for this Love
Chris Rea – Steel River
Cilla Black – You’re My World
Corrine Bailey Rae – Like a Star
Def Leppard – Animal
Dire Straits – Tunnel of Love
Dire Straits – Romeo and Juliet
Dream Academy – Life in a Northern Town
Echo and the Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses
Elbow – One Day Like This
Elvis Costello – Shipbuilding
Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams
Everything but the Girl – Missing
Everything Everything – Distant Past
Field Music – Count it Up
Field Music – The Noisy Days are Over
Frankie and the Heartstrings – Don’t Look Surprised
Geordie Ridley – Blaydon Races
Jake Thackray – Lah-di-Dah
Jimmy Nail – Big River
Joe Fagin – Breakin’ Away
Joy Division – Disorder
Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby
Kate Rusby – Underneath the Stars
Kathryn Tickell – Music for a New Crossing
Kathryn WIlliams – Tell Me The Truth As If It Were Lies
Kenickie – Come out 2nite
Lanterns on the Lake – Another Tale From Another English Town
Lighthouse Family – High
Lindisfarne – Fog on the Tyne
Little Mix – Shout Out to My Ex
Little Mix – Black Magic
M People – Search for the Hero
M People – How Can I Love You More
Mark Knopfler – Local Hero
Maximo Park – By the Monument
Mel B – I Want You Back
Nadine Shah – Out the Way
Nick Drake – Northern Sky
Nightmares on Wax – You Wish
Oasis – Live Forever
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Electricity
Penetration – Don’t Dictate
Pet Shop Boys – Love Comes Quickly
Pet Shop Boys – It’s a Sin
PINS – Too Little Too Late
PJ & Duncan – Lets Get Ready to Rumble
Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down
Pulp – Common People
Rafiki Jazz – Jhooli Laal Qalander
Richard Dawson – Ghost of a Tree
Richard Hawley – The Ocean
Roxy Music – Love is the Drug
Roxy Music – Virginia Plain
She Drew The Gun – Since You Were Not Mine
Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows
Skinny Pelembe – Spit/Swallow
Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Sting – Fields of Gold
Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
The Animals – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
The Beatles – Something
The Beatles – Penny Lane
The Charlatans – North Country Boy
The Cornshed Sisters – The Message
The Cribs – Cheat on Me
The Fall – Hit the North
The Futureheads – Carnival Kids
The Housemartins – Happy Hour
The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
The Human League – Together in Electric Dreams
The Kane Gang – Closest Thing to Heaven
The La’s – There She Goes
The Lake Poets – City by the Sea
The Liverbirds – Why Do You Hang Around Me
The Long Blondes – Once and Never Again
The Marmozets – Play
The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
The Smiths – How Soon is Now
The Stone Roses – Mersey Paradise
The Unthanks – A Great Northern River
The Young’Uns – A Place Called England
The Zutons – Valerie
Various – The Water of Tyne
Venom – Black Metal
Venom – Welcome to Hell
Vessels – Eliptic
Vic Reeves and the Wonderstuff – Dizzy
Warm Digits – The Connected Coast
Wedding Present – I’m From Further North Than You
Whitesnake – Here I Go Again
Wild Beasts – Big Cat

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Opening of Great Exhibition of the North

Friday was the official opening of Great Exhibition of the North and Newcastle and Gateshead were bustling with people enjoying the sunshine and curious about what the festival has in store.

I was at the media call in the morning, and got a sneak preview of the UK's largest water sculpture in action.

Later that night the water sculptures came alive again accompanied by music, poetry, drones, lighting and fireworks.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Opening of Which Way North at the Great North Museum: Hancock

Thursday night was the VIP preview of the exhibition 'Which Way North' at the Great North Museum: Hancock. 

I felt rather out of place, but ever so honoured to have been commissioned to make a work for such an important museum and for it to be amongst such an amazing selection of objects and artworks by artists such as Ryan Gander, Andy Lomas and Barbara Hepworth.

After all, how often is my work going to be sandwiched between Helen Sharman’s Zvezda Sokol space suit and Damien Hirst's shark (Heaven)!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Documentation of performance at THEMSELVES HERE TOGETHER preview

As part of my exhibition, THEMSELVES HERE TOGETHER, at The Word in South Shields, I collaborated with Sarah Grundy on a performance.

This video documents the durational performance.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Newcastle University Undergraduate Degree Show - part 2

The last time I went to look round the Newcastle University Undergraduate Degree Show I was unable to see it all, and so on Saturday I went to view the rest of the works prior to the exhibition closing and being exhibited in London.

It just so happened that on this viewing of the exhibition I saw most of the video work. I was impressed by the confidence of the students whose work involves them performing to camera. I was disappointed to have missed the live performances that happened on the preview night, but was pleased that the work presented in the gallery held it's own even without the performance. 

Katy Bentham's installation in the Hatton Gallery appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities. Her articulate voice accompanied the actions in the film; polishing shoes; folding a shirt. The precise layout of the components of the installation echoed the content of the film and made for a cohesive work, even without seeing the performance.

Fergus Carmichael's two-screen projection was filmed in Greece during a trip funded by the Bartlett Travel Award. The sound alone was outstanding.

There are certainly some artists that will go far if they continue to make work of this standard, and I look forward to following their progression. I wish them the best of luck for life beyond the University.

My current exhibition reviewed by Sarah Davies for Corridor 8

Helen Shaddock: 
Themselves Here Together

The installation at The Word, South Shields is a repeating sequence of projected images and accompanying soundtrack, a montage of voices speaking, whispering or singing disjointed words and phrases. The recording was produced by vocalist musician Sarah Grundy then edited and layered by Helen Shaddock to accompany her projected images and animations.
The words were provided by Shaddock after spending time with groups such as Unusual Experiences at Broadacre House. Here the artist spent time with people who have experienced auditory or visual hallucinations, with a desire to express something of that experience to her audience.
The installation certainly conveys a sense of disorientation, with images flashing up at different points around the room, using all the walls in the space. The viewer is forced to turn this way and that, trying to keep up but always missing something. Frantic, aggressive lines like scratches or scars criss-cross in fast succession as the voices build to a chaotic discordant frenzy. Moments of relief come as softer images take over, pastel coloured discs like microscope slides which linger a little longer.
Shaddock’s research revealed that often those who hear internal voices find the dialogue at times reassuring and comforting, whilst at others it can be disturbing and destructive. These contrasting effects are expressed through the use of pace, volume, colour and mark-making in this piece. The barrage of light, movement and sound, in which it is impossible to distinguish more than the occasional word (‘lose ourselves without… forever… everything… everyone…’) give the viewer an experience of sensory overload, struggling to know what to focus on or where to look. In the more harmonious moments the voices come together like a monastic chant or plainsong which has a strangely soothing influence.
Shaddock is keen to maintain a hands-on approach to creating her artwork, despite it being presented ultimately in digital format. The images and animations were created by drawing, scratching or collaging directly onto 16mm film, with the later conversion from analogue to digital producing a sense of detachment, of being ‘one step removed from reality’, a state perceived by many of those who participated in Shaddock’s research. The artist’s method here makes visible the human involvement in the creative process, with the vastly magnified images refusing to hide the flecks and squiggles of imperfection.
Themselves Here Together is the result of Arts Council England funding and is on display in the StoryWorld room on level 2 of The Word, South Shields, until Thursday 21 June 2018. Opening times are Monday to Thursday: 4–6.30pm and Sundays: 1–4pm.
More about Helen Shaddock’s work and research can be found on her website.
Sarah Davies is an artist and writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Fire at Glasgow School of Art

It was with great sadness that last night I was informed about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. 

Four years ago I was in the historic building when a fire broke out and caused excessive damage. It is an experience that I will never forget and I still get a very physical and emotional response when I think about it. The people of Glasgow and beyond showed exceptional resilience, generosity and determination to restore the important building and support the students who were effected. This is evidence of the huge impact that the building has had on many people, not just those who have had the privilege of working in the building. I hope that the same fighting spirit can be mustered once again. Thankfully, the 2014 fire did not cause any deaths, and I am relieved to find out that the same is true of the latest fire. My heart goes out to Glasgow and the GSA community. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Newcastle University BA Fine Art Degree Show

The Newcastle University BA Fine Art Degree Show brings together the work of 64 students, 14 of whom are exhibited at the Hatton Gallery, and the other work is shown within the Fine Art Department at Newcastle University.

Covering a wide range of artistic practice, the show includes painting, sculpture, print, performance, text and installation. 

The exhibition is open until 16th June 2018.

Lizzie Munn

Lizzie Munn

Lizzie Munn

Harry Pickup (woodcuts) and Susannah Curran (sculptures)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Sneak peek at Which Way North

On Thursday I met one of the Project Managers working on the Which Way North exhibition that is being installed at The Great North Museum: Hancock to discuss some of the practicalities of installing my artwork. I was excited to get a sneak peek at the exhibition during the install process. There is a heavy security presence guarding the amazing range of objects and artworks that are going to be included in the exhibition, and I felt rather privileged to be allowed into the gallery. 

I was taken to the case that my work is going to be mounted in, and we sorted out the best way to hang the work. We had to change the plans for the way that the work would be mounted, so I headed off to the studio to collect one of the test pieces and returned to the gallery with magnets and washers. We tested whether this combination would be an effective solution, and were all relieved to find that it would work without damaging the artwork. The Lighting Technician is going to adjust the lighting of the case so the work can be seen in the way that I intend.

I'm going back on Monday to install the work proper, and am looking forward to seeing it in place.

Which Way North at the Great North Museum as part of Great Exhibition of the North

One of the things that I am working on at the moment in the studio is a new commission that will be exhibited in Which Way North at the Great North Museum as part of Great Exhibition of the North.

This is the press release:

This summer, Newcastle University’s Great North Museum: Hancock will be home to hundreds of star objects on loan from the UK’s leading collections.

As part of Great Exhibition of the North (22 June – 9 September), the museum will present Which Way North, a special exhibition throughout the building exploring the heart and soul of Northern England through stories of its pioneering innovators, designers and artists.

With content conceived by guest curator Gráinne Sweeney, Which Way North has been produced by the Great North Museum team and will feature 250 items borrowed from more than 100 lenders. Star attractions include:
Damien Hirst’s Heaven, 2008-2009, on loan from Damien Hirst / Science Ltd.

Image: Damien Hirst, Heaven, 2008-2009. Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2018

A rare miniature book created by Charlotte Brontë, from the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Dame Vivienne Westwood’s pirate ensemble, from the V&A Museum.
David Hockney’s Le Parc des Sources, Vichy, 1970, from Chatsworth House.
John Harrison’s marine timekeeper H4, from Royal Museums Greenwich.
The sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who, designed by Dan Walker and used by Matt Smith’s Doctor, from BBC Studios.

These new highlights join major loans already announced, such as Helen Sharman’s space suit, the last piano played by John Lennon and George Stubbs’ iconic painting Whistlejacket.

Caroline McDonald, manager at the Great North Museum, said:

“We’re counting down the days to 22 June when Great Exhibition of the North kicks off and visitors can see these important loans in NewcastleGateshead. From art and design to ground-breaking innovations, we hope there’s something in our show to inspire everyone.

“Bringing together 250 objects from over 100 lenders is amazing for the museum. Many thanks to National Lottery players; our Heritage Lottery Fund grant has made it all possible.”

Professor Eric Cross, dean of cultural affairs at Newcastle University, said:

“The Great North Museum is going to play host to some amazing pieces of art, design and artefacts which celebrate the very best of the North. Visitors will also be able to experience the museum as they've never seen it before.

“We are thrilled Which Way North will feature Newcastle University’s very own Richard Hamilton who taught Fine Art here and has been described as the 'father' of Pop Art. It’s also going to include inspirational pieces such as Helen Sharman’s space suit. We can’t wait to see it all come together and look forward to welcoming visitors to discover more about how innovation and creativity in the North shaped the world in which we live today.”

Which Way North takes its inspiration from the Duchess of Newcastle’s 1666 novel The Blazing World, thought to be one of the earliest works of science fiction. It describes a fantastic realm in which skilled navigators of sea and sky embrace a world of possibilities beyond their own. Visitors to the exhibition will find a 1668 edition of The Blazing World at their starting point, as well as other items they might need for an adventure, including the eleventh Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and a fan showing a map of the North from 1778.

Image: Matt Smith as Doctor Who. Sonic screwdriver designed by Dan Walker © BBC Studios

From thereon in, the exhibition journeys through a number of themed interventions in which bold new displays burst through the existing museum galleries.

To the Moon and Back is the theme in the Hadrian’s Wall gallery, taking Helen Sharman’s space suit as the lead for an exploration of the stars, the seas and Northern pioneers. Other highlights here include John Harrison’s prizewinning H4 timekeeper and an original watercolour illustration by Anita Jeram from the classic children’s book Guess How Much I Love You.

Buried Treasures: In an Octopus’s Garden is the theme for the Fossil Stories gallery. Here, an intimate collection of hidden gems and shiny trinkets sits alongside the museum’s imposing replica T. rexskeleton. Highlights in this space include a pirate costume designed by Dame Vivienne Westwood and a replica of physicist Peter Higgs’ Nobel Prize medal.

Moving upstairs, Human Machine Motion is the theme in the Special Exhibitions hall. An installation of Richard Hamilton’s artwork Man, Machine and Motion is the inspiration here for a celebration of Northern flights of fancy, engineering and nature in motion. Other must-see attractions include George Stubbs’ famous horse portrait Whistlejacket and a full-size replica of Sir George Cayley’s glider.

Spanning the Ancient Egypt and Natural Northumbria galleries, This Kingdom Called Home – sponsored by Home Group – is an emporium dedicated to Northern achievements that have influenced the way we live. Star loans here include David Hockney’s large-scale painting Le Parc des Sources, Vichy and a rare miniature book created by 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë. The space also features a model of Gateshead’s forthcoming ‘Innovation Village’. The aim of the project, led by Home Group, is to build a variety of properties using new modular methods of construction and to draw lessons that could help solve the UK’s housing crisis.

Visitors will have the opportunity to contemplate Damien Hirst’s Heaven in a bespoke ‘white cube’ space on the museum’s ground floor. The installation comprises a shark suspended in formaldehyde solution.

Which Way North at the Great North Museum is a free exhibition made possible by National Lottery players, with funding awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The museum is closed to visitors from 21 May – 21 June (inclusive) while the exhibition is installed. An extensive programme of public events supporting the exhibition will be announced in the coming weeks.

Great North Museum is one of three hub venues for the summer’s Great Exhibition of the North, alongside BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead.

For more information on Great Exhibition of the North please visit:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

For Freedoms - Billboard Project

The largest public art initiative in U.S. history will place billboards in all 50 states ahead of the 2018 elections.
For Freedoms, which was founded by the artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman in early 2016, is spearheading the ambitious $1.5 million countrywide initiative. The organization will also partner with more than 200 local partners to stage free public programming ahead the November midterm elections, aiming to promote civic engagement rather than push one party or agenda. The crux of the political action committee’s mission is the 50 State Initiative, which will erect 52 artist-designed billboards in every state as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, all funded through 52 separate Kickstarter campaigns aiming to raise $3,000 each. “We are hoping to bring art to the center of public life in the lead-up to the midterms, which is where we think art should belong,” Gottesman told the New York Times.
Artists who will contribute billboards include Sam DurantTheaster GatesMarilyn MinterTania BrugueraTrevor Paglen and Carrie Mae Weems. And while For Freedoms states that it wants to promote discourse rather than a single ideology, billboards in the past have rankled supporters of the current administration. One giant sign that was erected in Pearl, Mississippi, placed the Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” atop a famous image of peaceful black protesters in Selma, Alabama, who stare down a line of police. It drew the ire of the state’s governor, and was later exhibited at MoMA PS1. 

And a billboard designed by Zoë Buckman that was installed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in October 2016 referenced the Access Hollywood tape, which captured audio of the President bragging about groping women, reading, in gigantic letters, “Grab ‘em by the ballots.”

Friday, 1 June 2018

Recovering the Voice event at The Word

Together with Jenny Richards and Violetta Hionidou, I have been involved in the organisation of 'Recovering the Voice', an event that took place today at The Word. The broad aim was to make connections between research on physical voice that is happening across Newcastle University. We want to bring to fore an area we think is a unique strength at Newcastle University, and to add to the orality network a distinct focus that may help us to think about future cross-disciplinary bids to UKRI.

1. How do we recover the voice?

This is a question that is relevant both to arts and humanities scholars/practitioners who work historically, whose sources are textual only, and to clinicians who work with patients who have had major surgery on their vocal cords. In both cases the voice is 'lost'.

2. How do we work together to understand the cultural value and the semiotics of the voice?

It was a truly fascinating event and I am very stimulated and want to learn more. Before I reflect on the events of the day in another post, here is an outline of the event

10.00-10.30 welcome: introductions, what we hope to get out of today? Tea and coffee on arrival.

10.30-12-00 session 1

Provocateurs: Richard Wistreich (Royal College of Music, London), Jo Nockels (Opera North, Leeds), Peter Adegbie (poet and preacher), Vinidh Paleri (ENT surgeon, Royal Marsden, London)

12-1.00 Lunch

1.00-2.30 session 2

Provocateurs: Sue Bradley (oral historian, Newcastle University), Felicity Laurence (independent scholar; music education), Christos Salis (neurolinguistics, Newcastle University); Christos Kakalis (architect, Newcastle University)

2.30-3.00 tea and coffee

3-4.00 Final roundtable and next steps

4pm Please feel free to view Helen Shaddock's exhibition at the library.

Questions to think about

Morning (Jenny introducing)

Part 1 Recovering Physical Voice

- what does the voice mean to you?

- why is voice important to your work?

- how do you understand and analyse the physical voice?

- in what way does the voice carry meaning?

- what do we *not* know about the voice but need to know?

- how do we recover the voice, whether in actuality (i.e. rebuilding a voice) or historically?

Afternoon (Violetta introducing)

Part II: Recovering the voice and orality

- Orality versus voice/vocality: how do you define each? which focus works best for you and why?

- What are the social aspects of work on voice/orality?

- How important are hearing and seeing to orality/voice?

- What are we excluding through a focus on voice/orality?

- Do we need an international perspective on voice/orality?

- How can the digital help us to recover the voice/orality?

- How do we best translate the voice/orality into a written text?

Final Roundtable

Next steps: a final provocation, to be led by Liz Kemp:

It has been said we lack a 'science of the voice' (Adriana Cavarera). If we were to build a field to address this, what would it look like?