Thursday, 31 January 2019

How drawing improves memory

Claudia Hammond talks to Professor of Psychology at the University of Leeds, Daryl O'Connor, about results from a new study on how drawing can improve your memory.

Over a number of years psychologists tested the memory of people in three different conditions. The challenge for all conditions was to remember a number of objects on a list.

Memorise by writing the list of objects down

Memorise by tracing drawings of pictures of the objects on the list

Memorise by drawing pictures of the objects on the list.

The group with the best memory was Condition C; those who had drawn a picture of the objects from the list. It is thought that this is because drawing requires a deeper level of observation and attention in order to identify the object

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Happy memories and project reflections with the Great and Tiny War team

Spent a wonderful afternoon with the Great and Tiny War team reflecting on our experience hosting Bobby Baker's Great and Tiny War. Was lovely to share memories and talk about what is next for this unique group of individuals who worked so well together.

Shame not to have some crucial members of the team with us, but was a treat to catch up briefly with Bobby as she prepares for her Madrid exhibition which opens in February. The work looks really exciting.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Photos of Zing installed

Last year I was approached by the Sculpture Placement Group (SPG) who asked whether I would like to contribute any of my sculptural works in long-term storage to the Sculpture Adoption Scheme, an adoption service for sculptures, seeking to match works of art with new guardians.

"The Sculpture Adoption Scheme will bring sculptural joy into people’s daily lives and will test a new model for circulating artworks, increasing access to art ownership and alleviating artists of the pressures of storage and space. Let’s give work hidden in storage a new life!"

It was launched as part of the exhibition Sculpture Showroom which ran from the 20th April – 7th May during Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2018

I was delighted to hear that my sculptures Zing are being enjoyed by the independent organisation North Lanarkshire Advocacy who adopted my artwork last year. They sent me some photos of the work installed.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Introduction to Writers’ Inner Voices

The idea that writers “hear” the voices of their characters is a common one. Some writers even go as far as to claim that the characters that people their narratives seem to somehow write themselves: that they, the writer, are a mere conduit for voices that appear to have lives all of their own.
The aim of the Writers’ Inner Voices project is to try to understand writers’ and storytellers’ inner speech and the role that the inner voice or voices play in the process of literary creation.

Many writers – from William Blake, to Charles Dickens, to Joseph Conrad, to Philip K. Dick – have written or talked about experiencing auditory verbal hallucinations, or hearing voices that others cannot hear. The Writers’ Inner Voices project also aims to explore what relationship there might be, if any, between writers’ experiences and the experience of hearing voices.

During the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival, as part of the Conversations with Ourselves strand of events, authors and storytellers were  interviewed about their creative process and finding out more about the ways that writers and storytellers imagine, hear, listen to and converse with the voices of their characters. You can read more about the project on the blog, where the interviews with authors and storytellers during the festival are kept.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Basquiat - Rage to Riches

This fascinating documentary is concerned with the prolific artistic outputs of Basquiat and the substantive ways in which it embodied and reflected breakthroughs in music, poetry, and a new type of expressionism in modern art.

The story of his art is intertwined with the story of his life. Basquiat's two sisters Lisane and Jeanine give their first interviews for a TV documentary and talk about their brother and his art for a TV documentary. There are numerous contributions from friends, lovers, fellow artists, the most powerful and legendary art dealers in the world such as Bruno Bischofberger, Larry Gagosian, and Mary Boone. They discuss the cash, the drugs, and the pernicious racism which Basquiat encountered and fought against on a daily basis. The main way Basquiat used to fight this racism was through his art. 

In a 1983 campaign which long predates Black Lives Matter, Basquiat used his art as part of a protest movement following the beating to death by NYC transit cops of a friend of his - Michael Stewart.

"In this film, these are only some of the many stories that give shape and insight into a life which was constantly torn between public acclaim and personal pain, the bold confidence of has greatness as an artist and the secret fear he would be regarded a flash in the pan, between a deep desire for fame and money but an even deeper resentment that his work was being transformed into a commodity. Basquiat's relationship with drugs and the role they played in his life, work, stellar rise, and fatal crash - is sensitively and insightfully explored."

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Asking the right questions

As an artist there are often moments when I question what I am doing and whether I am doing 'the right thing', whatever that is!
With increasing competition for opportunities such as exhibitions, commissions, jobs, residencies and funding, it is easy to get disheartened from rejections from applications and begin to ask yourself "Why can’t you succeed with your goals?"
Why does everything have to be so hard?
Why do you get stuck, unable to figure out how to move forward?

At times like these, better questions to ask are:
How can you succeed with your goals?
How to make everything easy?
How to be creative and implement ideas?
If you ask better questions, you’ll get better answers.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Emma Hart: BANGER at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

The Fruitmarket Gallery is one of my favourite galleries. I rarely leave disappointed, whether that be due to the reliably top class exhibitions or the excellent range of art and culture publications available in the shop. Located right next to Edinburgh Waverley train station, it is often my first point of call on any trip up to the Scottish capital. My recent visit was no exception. 

I had no prior knowledge of the work of Emma Hart, and this made for an excellent treat. I was immediately attracted visually to the sculptural installation that greeted me in the downstairs gallery. 

"The exhibition presents two bodies of work that represent the most recent developments in her artistic practice: Mamma Mia! (2017), a major installation made following a residency in Italy awarded as part of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women that Hart won in 2016; and a group of new sculptures collectively titled BANGER (2018) made since Mamma Mia! and in response both to it and to the space of The Fruitmarket Gallery.

Mamma Mia! (2017), consists of ten large ceramic objects which hang from the ceiling, while an eleventh lies sidelong on the floor. The objects simultaneously resemble heads, upturned measuring jugs and lamps. They are glossy and monochrome, and project large speech bubbles onto the floor, some of them periodically sliced through by the shadows of ceiling fans made of oversized cutlery. As you move around and under the forms you become aware that the interior of each is a riot of intensely coloured, highly inventive pattern. The patterns used, ranging from the violent to the humorous, suggest the cyclical nature of anxieties and addictions, as well as the habitual repetitions of everyday life.


Upstairs in BANGER, viewers are faced with Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They Aren’t After You. Headlights in a rear-view mirror, the work has you projecting forward and looking back, thinking about what’s behind you before you turn left into the rest of the space. And when you do turn, you find yourself face to face with the first in a series of four double-sided sculptures, car windscreens that stand, like road signs, around the gallery. On one side – the outside – you see into the inside of a car. On the other – the inside – you look out to the outside. The sculptures are made from handmade ceramic tiles, closely tessellated in such a way that the same shapes make different images on each side.

The four major sculptures, Green Light, Give Way, Wipe Out and X, are joined by others that direct and affect how you navigate the space – peering at and under the car bonnet of Fix Up; standing square onto the steering wheels of Race You to the Bottom; moving past Gatecrasher, both a safety barrier and a drawing of a car that seems to have crashed into the gallery wall; and tracking the movement of the woman of Wind Down as she winds herself face first down into the gutter and receives a splash in the face.

Throughout the gallery, visual and verbal puns bring things together and apart, both simplifying and complicating your looking as you ’get’ – or maybe struggle to get – the idea. Multiple ways of looking at each sculpture emerge the more you look. This shift in viewpoints plays out in the dual meaning of words like viewpoint and perspective, which are both about actual processes of looking and also about one’s worldview."

I was fascinated to discover that Mamma Mia! is the result of a residency in Italy in which she had "access to lessons about the Milan Systems Approach, a systemic and constructivist method of family therapy at the Scuola Mara Selvini Palazzoli which involves physical re-enactments and the study of repeated actions. The body of work is the culmination of an investigation into pattern, from visual patterns to patterns of psychological behaviour. The work also looks at the design and rupture of pattern and the ruminations in between."

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

BBC Radio 4 Front investigates acoustics in architecture

The look of a building has always been an essential element in architectural design, but less conspicuous are its acoustic properties. Specialists in acoustic design are frequently engaged to enhance the aural experience of people in a room or a building. Their work ranges from blocking out unwanted noise, such as from passing trains, to providing the optimal sound for the audience and musicians in a concert hall. 

In Wednesday's episode of Front Row, Stig Abell visits Arup,
an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment.

Arup has a virtual sound laboratory which they use to inform the design of some of the world’s best arts and culture venues. A look at Arups website, in particular the projects section, 
reveals the wealth of incredible buildings that they have worked on. 

I am lucky enough to have worked in a variety of their buildings in the UK including Glasgow City Halls, RSNO Centre at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and The Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art. I have also visited a number of their other projects such as Angel of the North, Gateshead, Tate Modern, London and The Tetley in Leeds. 

They demonstrate how the same piece of music can change according to where it is played, and explain that they use SoundLab’s sound simulations (auralisations) to demonstrate to clients the impact that major infrastructure projects such as HS2 will have on communities. These sounds can then be taken into consideration when designing the building.

Stig also talks to Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering, about the history and importance of sound in building design.

The next stage in the current marginendeavour project

Sunday, 6 January 2019

marginendeavour - Work in progress

Joseph Grigely

I was recently introduced to the work of Joseph Grigely, an American artist who works in a range of media including sculpture, video and installation. When Grigely was ten he was involved in an accident and he became profoundly deaf. He has since used this to fuel his artistic practice, commenting that he “want[s] to take people inside the experience of being deaf and share it with them.”

St. Cecilia 2007, paper

Grigely regularly communicates with other people by writing on scraps of paper and napkins. He collects these records of his daily conversations, and organises them according to different systems such as their size or colour.

167 White Conversations 2004
© Joseph Grigely

"When people who do not know sign language talk with me, I explain that I am deaf and ask them to write – a mode of communication that is simple without being simplistic, and generally inclusive. But what gets written is often quite unlike writing in the usual sense: there are gaps, crossed-out words, drawing, lines, all of which looks less like writing that it does talking on paper. It is by using these scraps of paper on which people have written notes, names, or phrases in order to 'converse' with me that I make much of my art, using such scraps of conversations to make wall pieces, books, and table-top tableaux that all take as their subject matter the ineluctable differences between speech and writing, and reading and listening."

The Information Economy, 1996, mixed media