Category: art

Steve McQueen – Gravesend

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Gravesend (2007), a mesmerising film by Steve McQueen, was the second exhibition I recently had the opportunity to be involved with as part of the Groundwork summer programme.

Screened in a specially adapted room within the nearly renovated CAST building in Helston, this film by the acclaimed Steve McQueen is an all-immersive experience. The giant high-quality screen dominates the end of the room and showcases Gravesend perfectly. Reinforced by the booming surround sound, the twenty-five-minute experience demands your full attention as it makes the viewer shudder with the acoustic vibration.

An acclaimed director of feature films such as 12 Years a Slave, Hunger and Shame, Steve McQueen is also a renowned British artist who specialises in the moving image. Steve McQueen’s Turner Prize-winning talent certainly shines through on screen. The editing, pace, colour and sound engage your senses and play with your emotions.

The mining and refining process of Coltan, a black mineral used in vital components of electronics including mobile phones and laptops, is the focus of  Gravesend.  Whilst McQueen’s minute-long second piece in the exhibition, Unexploded (2007) is his celluloid reaction to a crater left by an unexploded bomb in Basra, filmed during his time as a war artist in Iraq.

Both films are FREE to experience until the 3rd June at the CAST building in Helston, Cornwall.

Christina Mackie – Judges II

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This week marked the opening of Christina Mackie’s intriguing contemporary sculptural installation to the visitors of Godolphin House, Helston

Housed in the magnificent Kings room, the installation has the luxury of commanding the complete space, which has been specially adapted for the exhibition. Part of the Groundwork Art programme for the summer, visitors to Godolphin have the opportunity to absorb Christina’s complex collection of work at their leisure even when the house is not open to the public.

Fired at the same temperatures that rock is transformed into magma, Christina’s sculptural ceramic pieces which dominate the installation are a response to an extinct volcano in New South Wales, Australia. Also combined with the installation both on top and underneath the carefully planned trestle tables are various other elements which invite visitors to explore Christina’s theme. Piles of mineral sand are funnelled and poured between objects and minerals are incorporated into paintings as pigments and as glazes on the ceramic pieces.

Two video works also play out silently underneath the tables.
Fall force, a 3D wireframe animation deals with the theme of time and grinding down and flowing away of human endeavour.

Planet, considers the theme of landscape, earth’s characteristics and forces being as visible in a lump of mineral as in the whole landscape considers the theme of landscape, earth’s characteristics and forces being as visible in a lump of mineral as in the whole landscape, the mechanism of crystals being present in both scales and the beauty of the earth.

Christina Mackie is an internationally celebrated artist, best known for her composite sculptural installations, which unite disparate elements in a state of temporary synthesis. Born in England in the mid-1950’s, she was raised in Canada but resettled back in London in the 1980s.

Her amazing body of work Judges II, has been lent by the Arts Council and brought to Cornish shores by the Groundworks programme with the support of CAST,  Kestle Barton, Tate St Ives and Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange.  The unique setting for this a rarely viewed installation has been kindly provided by The National Trust.

Christina’s piece will be on show in the Kings Room, Goldophin House, Helston, Cornwall until the 24th June.

John Dyer – painting the colours of the world

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The John Dyer retrospective exhibition at Falmouth Art Gallery was the second of the day for me, as I found myself rushing from one side of the county to the other.

The exhibition lovingly curated and exhibited, complete with new coat of flamingo pink on the walls, was a celebration of John’s 50th birthday and a chance to showcase his huge body of work.

On what had been a glorious sunny day, one of John’s pieces was particularly appropriate. A wave of summer Colour, Gyllingvase,  truly reflected the change in vibrancy the recent sunshine had brought to the town. The gallery was awash with colour from other studies by John from Australia, Peru, the Philippines and the almost local Eden project.

Cornish artist John runs a predominantly an online gallery with his colourist painter wife Joanne Short. They work from a spacious Edwardian property in Falmouth. Together with post-impressionist father Ted Dyer, the threesome makes up one of Cornwall’s well-known families of contemporary figurative painters. All their artistic styles are quite diverse, all three members cite this as a benefit as they continue to learn from each other.

The exhibition coincides with the launch of a new book by John, which boasts a  foreword by Alan Titchmarsh and hundreds of his beautiful paintings from all over the world faithfully reproduced on paper.

Ideas from the Attic – Bill Mitchell

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Part of a mini-festival exploring ideas and how they are developed on how, this small exhibition of Bill Mitchell’s Boxes and Collage Books was truly inspiring.

To introduce his work, Sue Hill, artist, theatre-maker, cultural animateur and also Bill Mitchell’s partner in life and work, gave a beautifully moving talk. Amongst a group of admirer and colleagues, I was given a unique insight into how Bill collected and collated the extraordinary contents of his attic. His collections were gathered as physical inspiration for his work and Sue now hopes they can do the same for other artists and writers.

Some of these bizarre and unique objects collected for their obscure ordinariness can be seen in a small two-roomed exhibition at Cornwall College. Unfortunately, the cramped space did not do justice to the inherent artistic quality of the collection. Bill was an artist in every sense and his work really deserves to be shown in a larger more befitting space where his ingenuity and creativity can truly be highlighted.

A designer and theatre-maker Bill Mitchell, who sadly died last year, was one of the greats of landscape theatre in the UK. His groundbreaking work with Kneehigh and Wildworks brought a visual artist’s sensibility to the theatre. His outstandingly creative Wolf’s Child, which was performed in the woods at Trelowarren Estate in Cornwall last July was, unfortunately, his last masterpiece.

 

Manon de Boer – screening and Q&A

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It’s not often you get the chance to sit in on a Q&A hosted by ex Falmouth School of Art student, Laura Smith. Or get the opportunity to listen to cubist inspired filmmaking Manon de Boer talk about her work. But on this valentines eve, our evening was made more unique by the realisation that it was also Laura’s last day as the curator of the 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 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 were 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 was 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.

Lisa Milroy – Still Life

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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.