Blog, Exhibitions

We Will Walk

Art and resistance in the American South

Turner Contemporary Margate 7 February -3 May 2020

Ralf Griffin Eagle from Found Wood, nails, paint
Griffin made his work from tree roots from the banks of Poplar Root Branch, the small creek behind his home. The works were created to sit outside his yard, visible to passers-by

The work in this extensive exhibition is by African American artists in the American South during the second half of the twentieth Century to present day. 

         Slavery and segregation shaped the rural and industrial economies of the South and created a regime of racial terror. Much of the art in We Will Walk was made within this context.

         Produced in outdoor yards, the work takes many forms, from ephemeral environments made from salvaged materials to sculptural assemblages, paintings, musical instruments and quilts.

         In the segregated South, creators drew on black Southern cosmology, musical improvisation, American history, African traditions and more recently popular culture as materials for their work.

Blues and Spiritual music were exported from the South to the rest of USA and beyond. The art in We Will Walk can be seen as a visual equivalent of this musical improvisation but has been overlooked until relatively recently.

Annie-Mae Young with quilts and her great granddaughter Shaquettein Rehobeth Alabama 1993

         It was during the Civil Rights protests (1954-1968) that  walking, as an act of courage and protest, came to the fore. The title of this exhibition reflects that courage and protest.

To Quote Martin Luther King

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Activists like the writer James Baldwin and the photographer Doris Derby went to the South to bear witness and demand change. Vast communal acts like the historic marches from Selma to Montgomery (1965) started a process of transformation that gradually allowed hidden artistic practices to become viable.

         The exhibition highlights the innovative visual languages created by these artists, their relationship to history, the environment and their influence on American culture. We are in a new era of protest and resistance, even Prince William, at the recent Bafta award ceremony, expressed his frustration at the lack of recognition of diversity within the film industry.

WE WILL WALK presents the extraordinary creativity of artists working outside the mainstream for the first time in the UK.

         My main purpose for visiting this exhibition was to see the quilts of Gee’s Bend, today known as Boykin. For those who haven’t heard of it, Gee’s Bend is a small community located on a former plantation in Alabama. It lies on a spit of land surrounded by the Alabama River. The deeply rural community has become world famous for their unique hand made quilts created by the women for their own use and gradually recognised and collected by outsiders.

Linked to their maker’s history of poverty and hard labour on the cotton plantation, the quilts are made from repurposed materials. They contain abstract visual languages that have been developed in isolation over a hundred years. The ferry that linked Gee’s Bend to Camden, the nearest town, was removed in order to prevent the residents from registering to the right to vote and from voting during the 1960’s and was not re-instated for forty years.

         The quilts are made from used clothing such as blue jeans and football shirts, their materials follow the history of American clothing, as fabrics developed and changed. It was relatively common for plantation owners to name their enslaved workers with their own names, which remain a symbol of a terrible past. Many of the quilters are descendants of people enslaved on the Pettyway Plantation, which is reflected in their names to this day.

         Much of the show draws on the tradition of the ‘Yard Show’, temporary outdoor environments made from salvaged materials.

James ‘Son Ford’ Thomas was a blues musician and sculptor. He sculpted heads from unfired clay dug from local source. His subjects ranged from historical figures to local community members. He also worked as a grave digger and many of his heads include human teeth.

         The exhibition was conceived by, the artist, Hannah Collins, who spent three years researching and developing the show. She is joined by curator Paul Goodwin, professor of Contemporary Art  and urbanisation at University of the Arts London. His particular interest is in fugitive art practices and place. 

         This exhibition is worth seeing, if only as a way to view of recent history. These artists turned impossible circumstances into innovative artworks and still do so today. This is an  excellent, and deeply profound exhibition.

Blog, Exhibitions

The Royal College Art graduate shows 2019

Last week the RCA opened their doors for the public to view the degree shows. As one would expect it was a mixed bag of styles, standards and end results. It was all fascinating. Here are some of the offerings from students studying in many different disciplines including, print, painting, photography and video, ceramics and glass, and contemporary art practise.

What do you feel is the purpose of art ?

Coming to a show such as this it raises many questions.

Is the purpose of art to hold up a mirror to society?

To open people’s eyes?

To add beauty to a dying world?

To give a new perspective on what exists?

To show skill and craftsmanship?

Here are just a few examples of the work that was on show.

MA Photography Antonia Attwood

The first artist shown above has developed her practise to show in visual terms what poor mental health looks like. She has made insightful video’s of people on the edge. Her work informs, enlightens and and educates the viewer.

MA Photography Mirielle Chambre

Having lost her partner to a freak accident, and already embarked on her MA, Mirielle’s work explores grief in its various forms and and attempts to to embody a sense of a personal and universal loss. The work considers clouds as feelings and a metaphor for grief.

MA Painting KonstantinosSkiavenitis
MA painting Jhonatan Pulido
MA Print Aoife Scott

The work of the artist shown above is about plastic pollution and its environmental impact.

MA Print Ying Yu
MA Contemporary Art practise Ao Jing
This art work is both a thing of beauty and a musical instrument
MA Ceramic Art
Anne Lykke

MA Painting Soaking in her sacred Waters by Kate Bickmore

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

A book for art and cat lovers : History of Art in 21 Cats

by Nia Gouldhttps://niaski.co.uk.

This humorous and witty picture book uses the cat as a guide to enlighten us about the different and fascinating art movements throughout history. This is Art history as you’ve never experienced it before- with a large helping of cattitude. From the old masters to the modernists, the moggy as muse.

Feline friends have stalked the studios of many artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keefe, so, it only seems entirely fitting to enlist 21 cultured cats to navigate a journey through art history.

From ancient Egyptian and Byzantine art to the wacky and wildly successful world of the Young British Artists, explore the styles that characterized important art movements and the artists who led them. Each cat is depicted in the style of the art movement that is being shown. For example the Egyptian cat has an ornate eye and the colour palette of the Egyptians is explained.

         To show renaissance art, the Mona Lisa has been represented in cat form.

We have Rococo cats, impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, Symbolism, Fauvism and Cubism. Dada, Destijl, Magic Realism, Art Deco and all the major art movements of the twentieth century are represented. The book ends with a feline timeline. This will make a great gift for any cat lover.  

From Michael O’Mara books £12.99

Blog, Exhibitions

Installations made from recycled waste featured at Maison des Metallos during Paris Design Week

As part of Paris Design week the Maison des métallos held an exhibition of recycled art. The first exhibitor is Sophie Helene. She uses recycled plastic and netting to create her installations many of which are photographed in natural surroundings. The piece above is made from cartridge wrappings.

The work below is made from piecing together Tetrapac that have been opened up and flattened

IMG_5571
Tetrapakinteriotrs.jpg

The work below is made from different coloured rubber gloves

IMG_5682.JPG

This hanging is made from the bases of drinks cans

IMG_5549.jpg
IMG_5588.jpg

Dadave makes art works from recycled computer components.

IMG_5586.jpg
IMG_5595
IMG_5593.jpg
BlogFooterTurqiose
Features, Uncategorized

The Colourist

The art of colourful living  by Annie Sloan

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 17.14.02

The Colourist is a Bookazine and is Annie Sloan‘s latest venture. The current plan is to publish bi-yearly, but don’t quote me on that.

shibori

 

For those who don’t know, a bookazine, as it says on the tin, is a cross between a book and a magazine. It looks magazine like, but is printed  on much better paper. At £9.95 it is twice the price of a magazine, but it is a periodical that you will want to keep, as you would a book.

I did wonder if The Colourist would just be a vehicle for Annie to sell more of her excellent chalk paint. The paint does feature, but in such an inspirational and interesting way it doesn’t feel like an advertorial.

After an introduction by Annie, where she  espouses her love of colour, the Bookazine is divided into sections starting with  The colour hunter. This  includes, What is new, Annie’s picks, Designer Focus, Trend watch and a competition.

There are  inspirational features on designers both  current and historic such as Cressida Bell and Joseph Frank

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 17.14.33

Homes collections include Charleston Farmhouse and new modern designers such as Lucy Tiffney and Tamsyn Morgans and Dutch artist Yvon van Bergen.

dutch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are  travel features and most importantly Annie’s work with Oxfam in Ethiopia.

pink

There are quite a few How To’s and Make Over’s and a lovely give away,  a  free style stencil accompanied by step by step photographs showing how to use the stencil, to create a tile table top.

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 17.15.09

Before I finish this review I think it is important to mention Felix Sloan who is the creative director of The Colourist and Jane Toft, the Managing Editor. Jane is very imaginative and so in touch with the zeitgeist, it was she who started Mollie Makes and The Simple Things. Their combined hard work and design flair has created something truly desirable.

cressida

Perhaps Annie should have the final word.

“It all boils down to sharing my passion for style and colour. I want to inspire everyone to get creative!”

BlogFooterOrange

Uncategorized

Graffiti

This is purely a visual post. I happened to be in Brighton last week and came across the first and last piece of graffiti, shown here, close by Brighton railway station. I particularly love the Banksy of the two policemen kissing.  This sums up Brighton at its best, alternative, tolerant and inclusive.

Each summer when Brighton has its art and craft festival more and more new pieces of graffiti appear on the walls of the town. The council are obviously very relaxed about this and it is a big tourist draw.

The rest of the images were on both sides of a narrow road down towards the Lanes. It is called Trafalgar Lane. It is narrow and I am astonished that the artists could stand far enough back  to see their work as they were constructing it.

 

IMG_0628IMG_0634IMG_0639IMG_0642IMG_0644IMG_0645IMG_0663IMG_0669IMG_0670IMG_0676

BlogFooterTurqiose

Uncategorized

Lora Avedian at Howe for London Craft Week

London Craft Week runs from 9th – 13th May and there are some inspiring designs and demonstrations to be seen. One of the practitioners, with a temporary residency at Howe is, Anglo Armenian, Lora Avedian, multidisciplinary artist who graduated from the RCA with a masters in Mixed Media Textiles. Lora’s process begins with research often looking at historical textiles and ethnographic objects as a starting point. Her work is grounded in history which enables her to create innovative work with a fine balance between the old and the new. Inspired by ceremonies and folk costume: the symbolism of the objects, colours and embroidery techniques used throughout her work are all important to telling a visual story. The work created this week is available for purchase. As you have two days left make sure you get down there to see this wonderful creative work.

IMG_0855

 

IMG_0853

 

IMG_0848

 

IMG_0861.jpg

 

IMG_0845

 

IMG_0860