Manon de Boer – screening and Q&A

WEDNESDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2018

Another chance to catch up on some cubist inspired filmmaking from Manon de Boer. With a Q&A hosted by ex Falmouth School of Art student, Laura Smith on her last day as the curator with Tate St Ives.

Manon’s career began as a sculptor and photographer and transcended into filmmaker while capturing her friends on super-8 film. She has since filmed on 35mm for Presto and 16mm, popular for low-budget motion pictures, for film Dissonant.  Her best-known films include a series of portraits, in which the film medium itself is continuously interrogated.

Her work is appreciated internationally and has been featured at the Venice Biennale (2007), Berlin Biennale (2008), Sao Paulo Bienal (2010) and Documenta 13 (2012). Her work is has also been screened at film festivals in Hong Kong, Marseille, Rotterdam and Vienna.

Two films were shown at the Falmouth School of Art screening: Dissonant, which records every movement of dancer Cynthia Loemij and Presto, Perfect Sound, which focuses on composer and violinist, George Van Dam, as he performs the Béla Bartok’s sonata.

Both films was intense and concentrated on the sound rather than the image. This is particularly evident in Dissonant, when the screen turns black during the one minute that is needed to change the 16mm film roll.

Presto, wass a perfect reflection of creative concentration, enhanced by the editing as the film captures the best of his six performances. The fractured image serves to intensify the sound.

She is now developing a new piece of work which will be launched in Cornwall on May 5th this year for the Groundwork programme.

Visual FX – Ben Toogood

FRIDAY 9 February 2018

I graduated from my first course Falmouth School of Art nearly thirty years ago. It was a unique course which evolved during its four-year duration. The course introduced us to a wide variety of media for conveying information including video & animation. Consequently, quite a few of the GID’s, as we are collectively known, pursued a career either in CGI or character animation. A few, including my nearest and dearest, went on to perfect their skills at Bournemouth and subsequently rubbed shoulders with the Aardman team. So when I heard  Ben Toogood was to give a lecture on Visual FX, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to slip into the magnificently lit Chapel lecture theatre to listen.

Ben’s career so far has also given him the opportunity to work with Weta and MPC. As a result, his work can be seen in some amazing films including Superman Returns; King Kong; Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and a couple of  Harry Potter films

Now Head of 3D for the Aardman Animations CGI department, his current work is varied. Which he elaborated upon in his lecture. Budget, safety, quality and just achieving the impossible are at the root of much of Aardman’s current FX work. The CGI department’s specialism is lighting/rendering processes and technologies for TV dramas, commercials and films. A bulk of their work also involves creating environments, crowds and even digital doubles.

Ben’s informative and well-structured lecture delivered some constructive advice on how FX is used throughout the industry. It also introduced the current batch of animation students to the possibilities of work outside the realm of character driven animation. Food for thought for any inspiring animators.

Bed bugs on planes – is there a way to avoid them?

With the latest reports of bed bug infestation on planes, the question is raised – how clean are the seats we sit on?

Complaints from travellers have risen in the last few years, with both bites and sightings being reported to the major airlines.  Planes have been grounded and investigations launched, prompting some flight operators to clean up their act and exterminate the problem. However, the consequence of taking a plane out of circulation costs money, so the clean up has not been widely implemented.

It’s not an easy fix either. The problem doesn’t rest solely in the seat material or carpets. These nasty little nibblers are prolific international travellers and can hitch a ride on any luggage. Once stored safely in overhead lockers they have access to the entire plane. It’s not just luggage either. Attracted to body odour and sweat, dirty clothing is a perfect hideout of these minute creepy crawlies.

Renowned for causing a skin rash in a line or zig-zag pattern. Bed bug bites are commonly found on the hands, neck, face, shoulders, legs and arms. Thankfully no disease is transmitted by their bite. However, unfortunately for some, they can cause extremely inflamed, itchy, red or blistered spots.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

Travelers especially worried about bed bugs in any environment can invest in a plastic cover like the Bug Off Seat Cover.  On planes, it is also advisable to take your own blanket and pillow to use and stay eagle-eyed. Once on board, examine your sea. Make sure there is no evidence of dark stains or mobile bugs.

After one of the most recent reports, British Airways were quoted, ‘we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft’. Despite this, the company isn’t named in the Top 20 of the ‘Cleanest Aircraft Cabins’. Available online this resource lets you check before you book. Among the long-haul operators featured in the Top 10 are; Cathay PacificQatar Airways; Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.

How serious is the problem?

For many, the evidence of infestation won’t be apparent until they reach their destination. Then it is a matter of conscience as to whether the incident is reported. However, planes are not the only potential source. Cinema seats, rental car seats, buses, trains, hotels etc., can also be infested.

Lisa Milroy – Still Life

Monday 5 February 2018

So far the weekly evening lectures at Falmouth School of Art have focussed on some interesting artists whose work is new to me. Lisa Milroy was the latest candidate to take the stage and fill in the gaps in my comprehension of modern art.

A practitioner of still life in the 1980s, her work doesn’t focus on the normal bowl of fruit, flowers, wine glasses or skulls seen in many Renaissance still life pieces.  Instead, her paintings feature ordinary objects such as shoes, lemons or doughnuts. Her stylistic renderings reflect her contemplation of duality, composition & placement, surface & object, presence & absence. Her shoes reflect on the concept of being part of a pair or being an individual.

Lisa enlightened the audience with her thought processes behind her paintings, explaining that the shoes are a device for expressing emotion. That the repetition of painting them gave her a sense of knowing, that she had truly experienced the object. She also confessed to a certain amount of loss when the artwork was complete and their study had ended. She likened this to an appetite, a need, a hunger to know the objects every detail and appreciate its every possibility.

Lisa Milroy was born in Vancouver but works mainly in London. She won First Prize in the John Moores Painting Prize in 1989and was an Artist Trustee of the Tate from 2013 -17. Her work is exhibited widely on the international and national stage and is held in many public and private collections.

France-Lise-McGurn – on Virginia Woolf

Wednesday 31 January 2018

Another interesting evening lecture at Woodlane by ex-student Laura Smith and renowned artist France-Lise McGurn. Together they offered an interesting insight into the latest Virginia Woolf inspired exhibition on the verge of opening at the Tate St Ives.

The exhibition which is curated by Smith, explores feminist perspectives on landscape and domesticity. It includes contemporary artwork from over 80 artists, including Laura Knight, Winifred Nicholson and  Barbara Hepworth and runs until late April in Cornwall. In May it travels to Pallant House, Chichester and then on to The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge in October.

McGurn’s second piece at the Tate was a result of her recent residency and is on semi-permanent show in the stairwell of the newly reopened gallery. This site-specific wall painting called Collapsing New People,  spans the height of the building and features full-length figures, which are rare in McGurn’s work. Her domestic mural focusses on the function of gossip, anecdotes and the stories that circulate in an artists’ colony. Designed to be read vertically, the mural uses both spontaneous lines and repeated gestures to create loose associations about place, history and storytelling. McGurn is well known for her figurative paintings and often works directly onto walls and floors, so it was no surprise to learn that she also has an interest in the history of mural painting.

I will be visiting the exhibition towards the end of the month, so hope to enlighten you all more in a future blog.

 

Cypher Exhibition – Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

Like buses, private views seem to come all at the same time in Cornwall, so, unfortunately, I missed the opening night of the Cypher Exhibition. However, undeterred by yet another dull Sunday we ambled over to Mounts Bay to be greeted by some rare winter sunshine and bold colourful works of art.

Assembled from the work of the 2017 students on the year-long Professional Practice Course at the Newlyn School of Art, the ground floor exhibition at the Tremenheere Gallery showcases their finished artworks. Some take the form of installation art, others are drawings, paintings, photography and collaborative works.  However, the real treat can be found upstairs, where you are invited to flick through piles of sketchbooks and portfolios to admire all the contributory study which has produced such a variety of work.

An average of fifteen participants joins the Professional Practice mentoring course which runs twice a year. The unique programme aims to encourage artists to achieve a stronger sense of their own artistic voice and energise their artistic practice.

Tutored by some renowned artists within  Newlyn School of Art, students rub shoulders with professional artists who share their working practices and passion for art. Course Leaders Jesse Leroy Smith and Gareth Edwards, are amongst the staff who provide a high level of tutoring time to the students, which is reflected in their body of work.

The exhibition on runs until the 4th Feb, so catch it while you can if you are anywhere near the Penzance area.

 

Andrew Lanyon – Nature’s Laboratory: A Fantasy

Once again Falmouth Art Gallery has played host to an engaging exhibition which asks you to question and open your minds.

Nature’s Laboratory: A Fantasy, which will run until mid-March 2018 offers the visitor the chance to ‘immerse ourselves in the tale of Nature’.  Andrew Lanyon’s own work features in this thought-provoking exhibition along with a collective of Cornish artists.

I was lucky enough to attend a short talk by Andrew as the exhibition was being hung in the next gallery. He enlighted us in the processes which help him invent. The use of senses to invent a narrative, in particular, sounds to inspire lyrics.

Andrew Lanyon studied at the London School of Film Technique and spent several years as a freelance photographer. He ventured into book production to accompany his touring exhibitions, The Rooks of Trelawne and The Vanishing Cabinet.  

Andrew has also written highly acclaimed books on his father the painter Peter Lanyon, Alfred Wallis and other painters, sculptors, writers and poets.

Mythogeography – a guide to walking sideways

It was an absolute delight to secure a place on the ‘Lunch Break Artists Special’ at Porthmeor studios with Phil Smith. And a delight to join his ‘Mis-Guided Wander in St. Ives’ in the afternoon.

Never heard of Mythogeography before?
Well, don’t feel embarrassed, neither had I until Phil’s talk on the subject.

Mythogeography describes a way of thinking about and visiting places where multiple meanings have been squeezed into a single and restricted meaning (for example, heritage, tourist or leisure sites tend to be presented as just that, when they may also have been homes, jam factories, battlegrounds, lovers’ lanes, farms, cemeteries and madhouses). 

Mythogeography emphasises the multiple nature of places and suggests multiple ways of celebrating, expressing and weaving those places and their multiple meanings.

According to Phil there is always more than one story to any place. There are a multiplicity of objects and environments around surrounding us which generally remain unnoticed unless you are prepared to look more closely. Paying extreme attention to everyday textures and their relationships highlights the creativity of nature in a landscape or urban environment and forms its own narrative. It’s walking with a whole different perspective. Letting your mind wander is essential and creating narratives from what you discover is imperative.

On our wet and windy walk around St Ives, we found many quirky, normally unnoticed objects.  We took our time to closely observe them taking great delight in discussing their relevance, beauty and raison d’être.

I don’t think a simple walk will ever be the same again!

Traveling to South Korea for the Olympics?

Are you one of the lucky ones heading to the Olympic games in South Korea next month? Well if you are there are a few import restrictions you need to be aware of.

Generally, the Korean customs are on the hunt for illegal foodstuffs and expensive luxury goods brought back by returning residents. However, there is a list of forbidden items which for some people are everyday necessities.

What is banned in South Korea?

Bringing any type of narcotics, some steroids, performance enhancers and growth hormones are prohibited. Even some of the everyday prescription drugs such as sleeping pills, appetite suppressants and ADHD treatments are banned in South Korea.

These include Concerta, Adderall, Vyvanse, dextroamphetamine and some inhalers with pseudoephedrine. Many of these are classed as stimulants and are illegal even in the original bottle, with a prescription or a note from your doctor.  So if they are a necessity in your life, notify the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety before you travel.

Don’t forget to double check your laptop too.  Anything deemed as potentially harmful to public security or South Korean customs is forbidden. So offensive downloads, especially sound recordings or films & videos, could cause a problem.

Other advice

If you use a weekly pill dispenser, to make your life easier. The general advice is NOT to load the compartments before you travel. All prescription drugs whether illegal or not must be carried in their original packaging. Parents and carers should also be aware that third parties should NOT carry prescription medications for another person.

If you are planning to continue your travels after the games. The three month supply limit is also something to take note of. Unfortunately, in most countries, ignorance is not a defence and violating local laws can serious repercussions. So make sure you know the restrictions of your country of destination. Oh and have a great time!

Donna Haraway – Story Telling For Earthly Survival

What a treat for a Thursday night!

Organised by the MA Authorial Illustration course, and shown on the Woodlane Campus, Fabrizio Terranova’s portrait of Donna Haraway was enlightening and engaging.

Donna Haraway is renowned for her groundbreaking work in science, technology, gender and trans-species relationships. Her work spans four decades and resonates with a deep commitment to feminism and environmentalism.

Her work proposed many new ways of understanding our world that challenges normative structures and boundaries, refusing to distinguish between humans and animals and machines. As a result, her unique theories kicked off many debates in areas as diverse as primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology.

Donna Haraway’s most renowned work Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s, contributed greatly to feminist narratives of the twentieth century.

Fabrizio Terranova,  a filmmaker, activist and teacher in Brussels spent a few weeks filming Haraway in their Southern California home and the resulting film Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival is an appropriately eccentric response to a truly original thinker.