Find my review of Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s exhibition at Spike Island, Bristol, on ‘this is tomorrow’:
Find my review of Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s exhibition at Spike Island, Bristol, on ‘this is tomorrow’:
Norman Ackroyd has four atmospheric prints displayed in the Royal West of England Academy’s current exhibition, ‘Drawn’. Ackroyd is this year’s Invited Artist for this biennial open submission exhibition.
You can find my article about his work and contribution to the exhibition on the RWA’s blog, here.
Currently I’m assisting the marketing manager at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Bristol with interpreting and promoting the gallery’s exhibitions. One of the highlights of this role is writing for the RWA blog. My first blog post is an introduction to the spring exhibition ‘Lines in a Landscape: Drawings from the Royal Collection’ with focus on the most featured artist, Claude Lorrain. Click here to be taken to this blog post on the RWA site.
Claude Gellée, called Le Lorrain (1604/5 – 82), ‘A landscape with a dance (The Marriage of Isaac and Rebecca?)’, c.1663, Pen and ink, grey and brown washes, white heightening, over black chalk, on paper washed buff (RCIN 913076), Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.
I have two articles published in Craft Arts International magazine, issue no. 96, June 2016.
My feature about sculptor Peter Randall-Page is included, with lots of wonderful images of his work. I visited Peter at his studio and interviewed him for this article, which looked at themes of nature and chance in his sculpture and drawings – and discussed his reflections and new directions in his art since he was made a Royal Academician in 2014.
My other article is a review of Richard Long’s solo exhibition at Arnolfini, Bristol, last year. I also interviewed Richard for this piece, and so it includes original ideas and quotations from the artist.
I organised and curated this textiles exhibition at Heart Space Studios, Bristol. The show opened as part of the Westbury Park Arts Festival in June.
This exhibition presents humorous, contemplative and academic interpretations of ‘Noble Fibres’ in a variety of textile materials by local artists and Heart Space tutors. Each artist’s definition has in common the assumption that Noble Fibres are natural, pure and even raw materials; this encompasses wool, felt and leather. Wool subtly references Shaun the Sheep, who is out and about in Bristol this summer, including on Coldharbour Road.
Metals and cottons can also count as Noble Fibres, as they are not just limited to animal-based substances. However, a prominent motif running through this exhibition is the use and behaviour of animals. This is dealt with in a range of ways, from exploring their function as sources for harvesting the Fibres to their threatening interactions with Noble materials (think of the coat-eating clothes moth!).
Intriguingly, Nobel Fibres have also been taken to mean regal nobility and luxury, which several artists have explored through the use of historically royal colours and symbols, including the symbolic potential of animals.
The textile pieces collectively accentuate the process of making and the notion of ‘noble’ as an honest state of mind and approach to working. Due to this, several of the artworks are experimentations or samples rather than finished products.
Sustainable craft also forms part of this code of good practice, which is pertinent considering this is Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. The emphasis on honesty is integral to the ethos of Heart Space Studios, which supports making meaningful things ‘with hand, heart and eye’.
My review of ‘Ahead of the Curve: new china from China’, a touring exhibition on contemporary Chinese ceramics, is published on a four page spread in the latest ‘Craft Arts International’ magazine, issue no. 94. This exhibition started at The Wilson, Cheltenham’s art gallery and museum, in October 2014 and then moved on to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, before going to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke on Trent.
Native American Artist Nocona Burgess Visits Bristol for Solo Exhibition at Rainmaker Gallery. Below is the press release for this exhibition, which I wrote, and then co-edited with the director of the gallery.
Nocona Burgess pushes American Indian portraiture forward with strikingly modern depictions of people from tribal Nations of the Southern Plains.
Powerful portraits of Native American Indians by Comanche artist Nocona Burgess will be presented at Rainmaker Gallery, Bristol, from 16 July to 30 September 2015. These paintings mix careful research, firsthand knowledge and raw passion. Through combining brightly coloured shapes with crisply outlined facial features and traditional dress, Burgess explores the cultural context, life story and identity of each sitter. In this way, the artist urges us to update our perceptions of Native people and consider the intriguing and often highly politicised place of Native American portraiture.
Nocona Burgess, his wife Danielle and his son Quahada, will visit Bristol for a two-week residency, resulting from an ongoing collaboration between Rainmaker Gallery and the American Museum in Britain. During this residency the artist will attend the exhibition opening; teach workshops on colour theory; and give talks about his art, his life and his legendary family history.
Burgess is a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma. He is the son of a former tribal chief and the great great grandson of one of the most revered Native American leaders, Chief Quanah Parker. Burgess grew up surrounded by art. His father went to art school to focus on drawing and painting, and his grandparents made quilts and beadwork from their own designs.
In 1989, Burgess fully developed his artistic talents at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM. He was fascinated by how more traditional forms of Native art evolve into contemporary movements. This fascination came to define his focus, leading him to reinterpret traditionally inspired portraits with his own modern slant. It is the notion of the modern Indian that he seeks in his work and recognises in himself.
By painting with vibrant pigments onto dark backgrounds Burgess has perfected a method that he describes as “painting outward”. This approach produces the richly contrasting colours of his distinctive canvases and gives his art a vivid depth. Burgess’ paintings inspire and educate through their unusual techniques and positive dialogues between past and present.
Painting for Burgess is a way of reaching out to others. He strives for an intimate connection with each subject, eager to know their characters. Through his paintings Burgess says thank you to his ancestors for their sacrifices in helping to make the contemporary Native identity what it is today.
Burgess’ paintings have received numerous awards and have been featured in many publications. He exhibits throughout the USA and beyond and this summer alone sees his paintings in Australia, England and America. They can also be found in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. His numerous collectors include the actor Johnny Depp.
Situated on the border of Redland and Westbury Park in North Bristol, Rainmaker Gallery is the UK showcase for the very best in contemporary Native North American Indian art and design. Founded in 1991 by Joanne Prince, to provide an authentic Native American Indian voice in the UK, Rainmaker promotes awareness, education and cultural exchange through artist talks, events and exhibitions. The gallery exhibits original paintings, drawings and fine art prints and carries a superb collection of high quality handmade American Indian jewellery, Zuni fetish carvings and Pendleton blankets.
5 March – 30 May 2015 This article is published in Trebuchet Magazine. I was the Assistant Curator for this exhibition.
‘Captured’ is a groundbreaking exhibition at Rainmaker Gallery, Bristol, in which contemporary Native American photographers shed new light on both the uses of photography and indigenous American life. Together, the six artists represent eight different tribes and each have very distinctive styles and techniques. Their contributions consist of close-up black-and-white portraits, composite photographs woven together, sepia images that are so clear and detailed they look akin to etchings, compositional recreations of famous film scenes, and even a ‘talking’ tintype. This makes for an eclectic mixture of work, although the pieces are united by the artists’ desires to have Native people assert themselves as powerfully present individuals. The bold and often colourful images challenge preconceived notions of American Indians conjured by popular non-Native photographers, such as Edward Curtis (1868-1952), who have fixed in time romanticised ideas about indigenous life. So by presenting work where Native people themselves hold the cameras, this exhibition provides a much-needed reassessment of photography relating to American Indians and their relationships with the photographic lens. It is particularly important for revealing that in reality, their tribal cultures are continually evolving and are no less authentic today than in the past. This is a vast project for Rainmaker Gallery to communicate in its first ever photography exhibition held in its productive twenty-five year history of exhibiting contemporary Native American art. But there is no doubt that the gallery has achieved its unique and important aims. Continue reading
I organised and curated the exhibition, Spring Love, at Heart Space Studios. My thoughts about the themes of the exhibition and individual textiles on display are published in a Trebuchet Magazine article and posted below.
Heart Space Studios is a lively and unusual gem in North Bristol with a variety of textiles classes on offer. Peyote stitch beaded jewellery, pincushion hearts and beautiful paper cut pictures are held alongside weekend corset-making classes. Artists from Bristol and Bath lead these workshops and collaborate with the Studios on a variety of events or regular textile clubs, including a popular ‘Knit & Stitch’ club.
Janet Haigh, the founder of the Studios, is an ex-Senior Research Fellow at UWE, Bristol, and was involved with developing textile techniques for vitreous enamel and other materials. She has also written various books on crazy patchwork and embroidery design, and likes to concentrate on drawing and stitching by hand. As a consequence the workshops are detailed and thorough, with a focus on good design.
Celebrating the arrival of spring, Heart Space Studios’ current exhibition (until 7 April) is appropriately entitled ‘Spring Love’. Supporting the making of meaningful things ‘with hand, heart and eye’ the exhibition puts an eclectic array of textile art on display, including fresh pastel coloured corsets and bold enamel hearts. Heart Space explores ‘love’ from many angles including making craft with love, and the love of materials and techniques. Continue reading
This article is published on The Ken Stradling Collection blog.
The automata on display have very different subject matters, but each exudes a great sense of fun. They are both by Peter Markey. One is entitled ‘Kissing Couple’. We have not been able to find the title for the bold, beautiful runners.
‘Kissing Couple’, which is damaged and missing the base, dates from around 1999 and was probably bought from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Covent Garden for whom it was made. This highly unusual shop sells unique handmade automata, as well as kites, card cut-outs and videos. Their permanent exhibition space in Coven Garden sadly dissolved in 2000, but part of their collection is currently in an exhibition at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore.
Colin and Jennifer had a third automaton, called ‘The Rare Appearance of the Lesser Spotted Markey Bird’. They left this to The Ken Stradling Collection too. It is not currently on display because it is broken and waiting to be fixed.
Automata date back to the eighteenth century and are closely aligned to the mechanisms of clockwork. It was not uncommon for them to be life size. One of the most famous automata in this period was made by Vaucanson in France and was called ‘The Defecating Duck’. Many of Vaucanson’s automata were made with scientific and educational uses in mind. For example, his ‘Flute Player’ simulated a human being’s actions of playing a flute in order to reveal natural characteristics needed to control this instrument. In this way, these automata were designed to simulate human actions and to show a process that revealed itself over time.
By the mid nineteenth century, automata were often ‘quotations’ of the latest technology – for example, pistons and pullcords as opposed to clockwork – and were frequently associated with mass aesthetic entertainment. So their values and functions significantly changed; many were made with the aim of performing circus tricks and took the forms of clowns or animals.
‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition is open to view on Wednesdays 10am – 4pm at The Ken Stradling Collection until 11 March.