I have really enjoyed being a part of the BROKE collective and the early planning stages for the MAG Thursday Late takeover. However since I am going to Texas in a little over a week where Patchwork Stories will be my main focus I am no longer taking part in BROKE. I have found the work I did as a part of BROKE really useful and am pretty sure that I will be able to transfer some of the skills learned into my future work. I particularly enjoyed the Whitworth session I was able to attend and feel like my facilitation skills were improved. I also enjoyed the initial planning stages and feel like I have gained knowledge to better help me with my curation. Finally I loved getting the opportunity to visit the conservation stores, it was an experience I would never have sought out but am really glad to have had.
I am planning to make a print.
- Hylas and the Nymphs and the art-bites conversation we had about it
- TEDxExeter, prisons and a little girl called Katie
- Ingrained sexism and it's detriment to all people (men and women)
The theme of the day was 'Taking the Long View' and as all TED talks do, the themes they covered varied widely, however running throughout the day was a focus on education, and how we can make changes now that will have a long term, far reaching impact. It was wonderful! Recently, as we are building up to the general election I have noticed a focus on 'me'...when reading an article or watching a tv debate almost all of the conversation is about 'what can I do for you, right now'. Of course, this is important! Everyone wants to know what the different politicians are going to do that will impact on them, and their family. However I also want to know longer term plans, the changes that might seem hard now, but will ultimately make the world a better place (even if we can't see that now.) Going to this event helped me to think about the kind of questions I really want to ask.
In some Native American communities it is the duty of the current generation to ensure that the necessary resources will still be available for the next 7 generations*. I am determined to do something that will make a long term change, even if it puts me out a bit right now.
*The talks from the day will be available on youtube in a month and I will post some of my favourites, them.
I went to see Hollie McNish, a performance poet performing at the Dance Hall in Manchester last night. It was amazing!! She was hilarious and truthful and I hope you like the youtube video of one of my favourite of the poems she did last night.
Yesterday as a part of our intensive week at MAG we visited the store and conservation sight for the gallery. It was amazing to get to see the rooms where hundreds of priceless paintings are kept as well as a room filled with paintings that are beyond saving; the room of paintings that are going to die. It was a surreal experience being in a room filled with paintings wrapped in bubble wrap and knowing that they will most likely never be seem again...it sort of made me never want to have a piece of my work in a museum, just in case!
In contrast to that, we also visited the conservation rooms. In these rooms paintings are mended and paper pieces are cleaned while smaller art works are put into climate controlled frames. The amount of time and effort that goes into the saving and regeneration of these works was amazing and I have nothing but respect for the people who have dedicated their lives to saving art.
I left the store with similar thoughts to those I had after the curator talks earlier in the week: what is the point of saving artwork if they don't get used/enjoyed. And also an extra thought...if an artwork is saved, rejuvenated and retouched by a conservationist...at what point (if any) does that work stop being that of the original artist and become the work of the conservationist?
Every Wednesday at 12.30 Manchester Art Gallery run a half hour session in which members of the public are invited to talk about 2 different art works. I went along yesterday where I was able to observe the session. It was really helpful and interesting to me to get a different insight into the artworks in the permanent collections. I don't usually send much time looking at the older paintings, preferring to rush on to the newer, changeable exhibitions. I really enjoyed taking the time to look deeply, I was able to see much more than I usually would and I am considering going again, this time as a participant.
Once upon a time the women of a small village were sitting around a camp fire, sewing together. There was a very old woman, seated at the head of the circle. She had white hair and her hands were twisted and gnarled - she could no longer hold a needle. Yet despite that, the eyes of every other, younger woman around the fire were on her; she was not creating beauty with her hands, but with her voice.
- This story was the starting point for the Patchwork Stories project. We were fascinated by the idea of sharing stories in the way that our ‘elders’ used to; that the questions of our own lives can be answered through the seemingly disconnected stories of others. We wanted to create a space that allowed people to listen and talk, while taking part in a shared activity.
As the artist for the project I am most interested in the connections between the patchwork of voices and the physical patchwork quilt and how we can bring those elements together during an installation. During the planning stage for PS’14 we were concerned that those who chose to share their stories with us have something to take away from the experience. It was decided that each person who shared a story would choose a piece of fabric (sourced from the homes of the group), they would keep a small strip and the rest would be saved to go into the quilt during the installation.
For PS’15 we are planning to keep with this same process of choosing and sharing. However I am going to be more intentional with the fabric, cutting the pieces to a uniform shape and using thick embroidery thread for the sewing. I think that will help the quilt to take shape in a way that will leave us with a quilt that I can develop further.
Ultimately I would like to make a piece of art using the finished quilt; as we take the patchwork Stories project further and make more connections between people and countries we will create more quilts, share more stories and touch more people and their lives.
Yesterday I attended curator led tours of the two new Manchester Art Gallery Exhibitions; Easter Exchange and House Proud. We weren't allowed to take photos in the Easter Exchange exhibit so you'll just have to visit it yourself!
Eastern Exchange is divided into three sections;
Distinctively Eastern - an introduction to the history and materials of artwork from China, Japan and Korea. It includes examples of Lacquerm heavily embroidered robes, made for the Emperor of China and other intensively high skill, historic crafts.
East meets West - a section of the exhibition focusing on the influence Eastern design has had on Western design, and vice versa. The main focus was a vase called Chinese Ladders by Felicity Aylieff, a British ceramicist who went to China to learn traditional techniques.
Future East - What is happening in China/Japan/Korea right now. This features a lot of minimal design pieces that still carry the high skill level we could see throughout.
House Proud was very different. It highlighted the totally entwined histories of art and design and included a mixture of high end and mass produced artifacts.
For example, this photo above features an artwork by the artist John Piper, as well as a chest of drawers mass produced during WWII and distributed to families who had lost everything. I really enjoyed the House Proud exhibition and was particularly interested by how easy it was to see a piece of everyday furniture as a piece of artwork. The white cube gallery space and lack of ability to use the pieces made me see them in a totally different light.
The main thoughts I came away from both exhibitions with, were to do with preservation. In House Proud everyday objects are being preserved at the price of function; however in Eastern Exchange we were able to see design that was once everyday now exhibited hundreds of years later. If one day people can look with wonder at a chest of drawers that once lived in every house in Manchester then the loss of function is worthwhile. I think so, anyway.
Susie Macmurray is a Salford based artist who graduated in Sculpture from MMU. She works mainly in installation with some sculptural and wearable pieces. Her installations usually take inspiration from the places where they are displayed - in her talk she spoke about a massive piece she did in Pallant Houses - Chichester that involved 22,000 muscle shells that she washed individually. In the last couple of years she has started to be represented by a gallery and has had her first solo shows.
I love listening to artists speak - Each talk leaves me newly inspired and reminds of a reason why I want to be an artist. Susie made me think about the passion that is needed to be an artist. She talked about the want and the drive to create, about doing things for yourself; about playing and exploring. She also talked about how you never know who is watching, even when you feel invisible there could be someone about to take a gamble on your work.
At the end of her talk Susie said that she often takes art students as apprentices for a week or two, I am have sent her an email and am keeping my fingers crossed for this summer!