Friday, May 11, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Ben Nicholson, 1894 - 1982
small silent siena 1965
intaglio print on paper
image source: http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?groupid=999999961&workid=10658&searchid=8770
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
home sweet home
home from home
home is where the heart is
living at home
home again, home again…
all the way home
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Monday, April 02, 2007
More on Barbara Kruger can be found at http://www.barbarakruger.com/
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Through the flimsy plastic pocket, the words Three Wishes Brand in gold letters glinted in the afternoon sunlight. I’d left my pencil tin at home and rummaging through my bag had come across the tiny art set that had leapt from a Christmas cracker the previous December. The set contained five pencils: one blue, one red and three graphite sticks marked with the words light, dark and draw.
As I set myself up for class in the life drawing room I tried to reflect on the feedback I’d received on last semester’s work. I’d been told that my work, though improving, left the model floating on the page; he needed, apparently, to be somehow rooted, to indicate gravity, depth and very possibly something else that I had already forgotten. Well, I would try…
Paper arranged for the first pose, I shook the pencils from their pocket and as I wondered where to begin the pencil marked draw caught my eye. It seemed so simple but every time I went to put pencil to paper I seemed to lose my confidence. Each measurement, when repeated, was different from the last time and each patch of light and dark seemed to shift as though we sat beneath fast moving cloud on a sunny day.
Nigel, our teacher, had blessed the session with one of his specially compiled soundtracks, this time it was Pink Floyd and the repeated ker-ching of Money seemed to mark off the minutes as they passed, beating out my sense of panic and desperation.
More as a distraction than for any purpose I rearranged my pencils, gilded text uppermost. Three Wishes Brand. Three wishes, that’s what I should do: wish.
“I want…” I faltered, what did I want? For this class to be over? To be a great artist? No, even lucky pencils must have their limits; no, “I want my drawings to be rooted!” I exclaimed, silently.
And so I began, hesitantly at first, to draw. Beginning at the model’s head I lightly sketched his position in the room. He was sitting on a set of steps, half turned towards the window. From the far end of the room where I sat, the strong afternoon sunlight made his feet seem immersed in shadow. I tried to transfer this impression to my paper and surprisingly enough it seemed to make sense.
As Nigel called the last five minutes of the pose he began his ritual pacing around the room offering the occasional cryptic nod or point. As he peered over the top of my sketch pad he paused, frowned and pointing at the bottom of the page said simply “better”. Oh good.
At the end of the 30 minute pose a model break was called and the group dispersed. Simon the model, who usually reached for his trousers at this point stayed where he was and called over to Nigel. A short, quiet and rather anxious conversation ensued. For the rest of the break Simon stayed put and as the class resumed Nigel announced that the remainder of the poses for the day would be sitting poses.
As I began to draw again the shadows over Simon’s feet seemed to climb up to his knees, as though he were sitting in a puddle of dry ice. The shadows deepened, my drawing became faster and more confident, as though the eye and hand had been connected directly, without any of the usual sluggish interference from my brain. Perhaps my wishing pencils had worked.
At 4 o’clock Nigel proposed an early end to the day, urging us to make the most of the sunshine. As we packed away our boards and easels Simon the model stayed where he had sat for the whole afternoon. He looked tired and worried and strangely still. Nigel, who had left the room as soon as he’d called an end to the class returned with one of the premises people and another man I hadn’t seen before who carried a first aid kit.
Back in our studio, putting away my drawings, I realised that I’d left my coat in the drawing room. As I picked up my coat from the back of my chair by the doorway I could see Simon surrounded by a crowd, all apparently looking at his feet.
Back in the studio the following week I was flicking through the drawings from the previous session when Kate arrived. “Did I miss much last week?” I showed her the drawings and told her about the strange business with Simon and the sitting down poses. “Hmm, he does look a bit tired” she offered as I packed up my stuff and prepared to head up to the class.
When we arrived in the life drawing room Simon was already in position in a chair in the middle of the room. Naked from the waist up, his legs were covered by a sheet as he sat talking to Nigel and looking worriedly around the room. Arriving early we made our way to the far side of the room and set up boards and pads ready for the session. As I took out what I had come to think of as my lucky pencils Kate pointed and sniggered “Did they come out of a cracker?” she asked. “Actually yes” I replied and showing her the Three Wishes legend told her about last week’s wish for more rooted drawings. “Well, it looks like you should be careful what you wish for” she said, nodding towards Simon. From where we sat his left heel and calf were visible behind the sheet; stringy tendrils fell from his ankles and the calf looked deeply crazed, like, well, like bark. Bark. The significance of the word hit me at once and Kate and I looked at each other, appalled and fascinated at the same time.
As the room began to fill Simon pulled the sheet tighter around his legs, covering them entirely. He and Nigel were still deep in conversation, both looking anxious, their low tones revealing only the occasional snippet of “contracts” and “hours”.
“Perhaps” offered Kate “you should think about using another of your wishes?” I wasn’t so sure. If the state of Simon’s legs was down to my wish for better drawings then I shuddered to think what another wish might bring. “Look, I’ll do it” she said, picking up the packet of pencils from the board in front of me “I wish that Simon’s legs would go back to how they were before; as good as new.”
We began the session predictably enough with another sitting pose, Simon still covered from the waist down by the sheet. Nigel noted that we should aim to capture the folds of the sheet; a virtue wrung from necessity if ever there was one. The pose was a long one, 30 minutes in total and unusually, as the time wore on, Simon became increasingly restless; shifting in his seat and drawing muttered complaints from the class.
At the break we left the room to go for a coffee. Returning 15 minutes later we found the door to the room closed and a group of people waiting outside. Nobody seemed to know what was going on until a man and a woman in paramedic jumpsuits pushed through the crowd. A few minutes later one the paramedics left the room again returning quickly with a stretcher trolley.
A little later the door to the drawing room opened and Nigel emerged “Simon is unwell so we’ll finish the class for today. Please clear the corridor as quickly as you can.” Protests followed about belongings left behind in the drawing room. “Okay,” he faltered take another break and come back in 20 minutes.” As he turned to go back into the room we could just see the stretcher trolley surrounded by paramedics and others. As someone moved a pair of legs was visible; baby’s legs, kicking away in frustration.
When we finally returned to the room to collect our things Nigel was still there, staring out of the window. “Is Simon okay?” I asked. He walked over towards us and picking up one of my pencils that had fallen to the floor said “I wish I knew.”
photo: Amy Podmore, Root Feet, 1999 http://www.carriehaddadgallery.com/previous.entire.exhibits/08_22_02/amy.podmore.htm
Monday, March 05, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Next to the monumental Test Site installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, Carsten Höller’s Sliding Doors is a relatively unimposing piece. Sited in a space linking two small galleries, Sliding Doors comprises five sets of double sided glass mirrored doors, spaced equidistantly and activated by discretely located motion sensors. Although among Tate Modern’s new acquisitions, the piece was originally commissioned for the Gallery’s 2003 Common Wealth exhibition and conceived with the space and scale of Tate Modern very much in mind.
Key to the experience is the opening and closing of the mirrored doors, like so many opportunities appearing and then evaporating before one’s eyes. The brilliant white of the walls and the polished mirrored surfaces belie a darker element in the design; when inside the space one has the impression of being at once alone and in the company of strangers together with the certain knowledge that both sensations are illusory. The unexpected transitions through the space recollect Höller’s Test Site and lead one to attempt continuous re-evaluations of position and perspective.
Darkness aside, Sliding Doors is a joyful experience causing even the solitary viewer to laugh our loud at its changing and perplexing form. On one of my passages through the space I saw a young girl sitting quite still in the corner of one of the inner chambers and wondered for a moment whether Michelangelo Pistoletto had been called upon for a late collaboration, so fused had my perception of real and reflected become. Sliding Doors is at once a celebration of transition and movement and a return to childhood fairground deceptions. And, like the best of such deceptions, you have to be in it to get it.
Technology, it seems, can take us only so far and appropriate technology is not only for the famine stricken or otherwise oppressed. Perfect.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
This blog is dedicated to the pursuit of matters marginal and other irrelevances. Here you'll find links to ideas, objects and events that are possibly worthy of a moment of your consideration. Feel free to disagree; no egos have been deployed in the production of this blog and none are therefore likely to be even mildly miffed as a result.
So to begin...
FAILURE and ACCIDENT
I am much bothered by notions of failure at the moment; what it means, how to tell when you meet it and whether, in the end, it matters terribly much. I went to a talk at Tate Britain last night on this very subject: Science and Art: How to Understand Failure and Accident. I was enchanted by the warm embrace in which the speakers (Patrick Haggard, Professor at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience & Department of Psychology, Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics, Royal Society University Research Fellow, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford; Cornelia Parker and Adrian Rifkin, art historian) held both the idea and the experience of failure. http://www.tate.org.uk/Britain/eventseducation/talks/7849.htm
There really is hope for us all.