Category: News (page 1 of 3)

Volunteering – a grounbreaking event

I love being involved in the art world and as many of my followers know I frequently take the opportunity to immerse myself in the Cornish art community.

Recently the excitement surrounding the county’s latest art commissions and sited work has been rippling through many of the events I have attended. So when a call for volunteers was circulated I couldn’t wait to get involved and signed on the dotted line.

Groundwork is a project organised by CAST, and will be bringing internationally celebrated art and artists to Cornwall from May to September this year.

A series of groundbreaking new commissions and acclaimed works by internationally celebrated artists will be featured in unique venues and unusual outdoor sites across West Cornwall.

Run in partnership with Tate St Ives, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and Kestle Barton there will be an emphasis on moving image, sound and performance in the planned programme of exhibitions and events.

The focus of Groundwork is an exploration of place as the terrain of past, present and future human activity. The programme aims to develop connections between the visual arts and other specialist fields.

After an exciting training day, I am even more excited to be a part of this groundbreaking series of installations. My rota for the coming months will be arriving soon, after which I am looking forward to posting my personal experiences, so watch this space…

Mont Jura – a quick and easy ski fix

TRAVEL BLOG 22/03/2018

As a gateway for ski fanatics, Geneva is a cheap and easy destination served by some of the UK’s major budget airlines (Easyjet, Flybe, and Jet2 ). It is the perfect portal for a quick ski fix and most of my snow junky friends book flights in advance, watch the snow levels and head for the well-known resorts in France, Italy or Switzerland. With short transfer times of just over an hour, perfect for maximising slope time, I normally do the same. However, on my last trip I had the opportunity to discover some unknown little resorts within a fifteen-minute drive of GVA.

Nearby little gems

Small and relatively unknown to English skiers is the little gem of Lélex – Crozet. As one of the largest downhill ski areas of the Monts Jura resorts, it is suitable for all levels of skiers. It makes a perfect day resort for seasoned skiers or a great weekend destination for families.

The 30km of slopes can be reached easily via gondola from Crozet, on the French side of Geneva. With its summit at 1650m, this petite ski resort doesn’t suffer from blistering cold temperatures or windswept pistes. What it does offer are cheaper day passes, delightful tree-lined runs and quick, easy access to the slopes. Its potentially low elevation is alarming to some. But the resort boasts a high ratio snow cannons to service its 26 runs. It is this attention to detail which guarantees snow coverage in cold conditions and enables the resort to still thrive in lean snow years.

Slightly farther afield from Geneva is the Col de Faucille and access to the ski resort of Mijoux. Nestling above the charming historic town of Gex and just thirty minutes from GVA, it boasts 12 downhill runs. It also offers some great cross country, tree-lined walking trails and stunning views of the Northern Alps.

The third but smallest of the Mont Jura resorts is the Menthières ski area. A hefty 15 km from Bellegarde and fifty minutes from GVA it is not a solution for a quick easy ski. However, it is full of atmosphere and offers up to 10 downhill ski runs and some nordic skiing so is worthy of a mention.

Snow record

Unfortunately, snowfall in the area has been sketchy over the last couple of years. However, this season the snow depths have been incredible. So if you are short of holiday leave and low on funds but need an end of season quick fix, one of these small resorts could the answer to your dilemma.

Virginia Woolf – To the LIghthouse

Divine, is the only way to describe my total absorption into the world of Virginia Woolf recently.

Not only was I privileged to explore the recently opened Virginia Woolf inspired exhibition at the Tate St Ives on a personalised tour with director Anne Barlow. But I also spent a whole day at Porthmeor Studios with two renowned Virginia Woolf experts.

The intriguing new Woolf exhibition, housed in the new extension is inspired by her writing. It offers a narrative with a feminist perspective on landscape, domesticity and identity through modern and contemporary artwork. The exhibition includes some outstanding work by  Laura KnightGwen JohnVanessa BellWinifred NicholsonSandra BlowBarbara HepworthClaude Cahun and Dora Carrington.

Inspired by the premise of the exhibition I then joined a small group of twenty on a windy but bright study day, in St Ives. Sarah Phillips and Claire Nicholson, our Masters on Woolf for the day, bestowed on us a deeper insight into the Virginia life. Focussing particularly on her St Ives inspired novel To the Lighthouse, one of my particular favourites, the study day further opened my eyes to the influence of her childhood in Cornwall on her writing.  Symbolically the rare glorious sunshine illuminated the stunning seascape beyond the studio window’s, making it easy to understand how Woolf had been so taken with the landscape that surrounded her during her early years.

Claire Nicholson, is a specialist in Modernism, the history of women’s writing and Virginia Woolf who frequently lectures in Cambridge.  Sarah Phillips, who has made a career of studying the Bloomsbury art and literature has more recently focused her attention on Woolf as a Cubist Writer. Both knowledgeable speakers on all things Woolf, they are naturally also Executive members of the Virginia Woolf Society.

Unfortunately, I shall miss the Virginia Woolf: Art and Ideas conference, scheduled at the Tate St Ives on the weekend of the 2-4 March. Delivered by a huge collection of highly respected speakers and focusing on Landscape & Place, Performing Identity, Still Life, the Home & The Private Self, the conference will no doubt offer further in-depth insight into Woolf’s personal life and writing.

Colourful springtime destinations

TRAVEL BLOG

Springtime, I love this time of year. The public gardens are bursting into colour and the temperatures are starting to rise. My feet are starting to get restlesss and I need to travel. My mind also starts to wander to those famous destinations renowned for celebrating spring. The cherry blossoms of Japan. The Tulip fields of Holland. Both are tempting options which offer a colourful seasonal feast for the senses.

The springtime phenomenon in Japan

The cherry trees start to burst into blossom as early as January in Okinawa. This is the start of a three-month tide of bloom which travels the length Japan. From mid-march and into April, the cherry and plum trees of central Japan have burst into colour and Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is covered in a gentle wash of pink tones. The spectacle doesn’t stop there. It carries on northward through the remaining countryside, finally reaching Hokkaido in May.

Japan’s oldest and possibly most famous cherry blossom attraction is Ueno Park, Tokyo. With over a thousand cherry trees, this public space is a blossoming spectacle and a deeply symbolic reminder of new beginnings as the gloom of winter disappears. These beautiful blooms also mark the arrival of both the Japanese financial and academic year,  on April 1st.

European splendour

More popular and probably the most well-known spring flower sensation in Europe are the iconic flower fields of Holland. The tulip fields are at their most vibrant between March and May particularly at the  Keukenhof Gardens. Here the seven million swaying flower heads overpower the senses with the splendour of their multicoloured blooms. However, if daffodils are your bulb of choice, then March/April is the best time of year to view Hollands fields of cadmium.

The wild Channel Islands

Closer to home it is in late April that the celebrations begin for the Wildflower Fortnight in the Channel Islands.  As the sun begins to rise higher in the sky and begins to penetrate the frostbitten fields with heat, a blanket of flowers bursts into life. With over thirty miles of unspoiled coastline, the smallest of the island, Sark, allows the best-uninterrupted cliff views of an abundance of species.

Alessio Antoniolli – Porthmeor Studios

ART BLOG
FRIDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2018

Once again I was lucky enough to be invited to Porthmeor Studios for another of the ‘Lunch Break Talk’ series. Alessio Antoniolli was to be our speaker for this session, which was hosted by the Artists Residency Programme in partnership with Cultivator Cornwall.

This was my second visit to St Ives since the new year.  It was also my second chance to mingle amongst the resident artists while I spooned delicious homemade soup from a mug and chomped on chunks of tasty bread.

Alessio’s a passionate, fluent and enlightening talk, dissolved all fears I had of falling into a post-lunch slumber. A naturally gifted speaker Alessio focussed his engaging talk on the unique opportunities offered to artists by  Gasworks and the Triangle Network.

At Gasworks, Alessio leads a programme of research and development.  This non-profit contemporary visual art organisation offers rare fully funded residency opportunities. Gasworks encourages artists to develop new ideas through educational projects, events and workshops. It also organises exhibitions to accompany these programmes. And encourages audiences to engage directly with the often groundbreaking, emerging UK and international artists it hosts. A priceless opportunity, particularly for artists with a small reach.

At its South London HQ, the easy-going, relaxed environment helps to inspire minds and develop talent. Gasworks is also the hub for the Triangle Network. Now a global support system for artists and visual arts organisations, with over four thousand members. The Network supports artistic development and promotes cultural exchange. Through exhibitions,  events, workshops and studio residencies in over forty countries, the Network creates opportunities to bring a variety of artists together in neutral spaces.

Both the Gasworks and Triangle Network have gone from strength to strength under Alessio’s guidance in the last twenty years. Together they offer exceptional opportunities for artists from all corners of the world to research ideas and develop work.

During his talk at Porthmeor, Alessio also hinted at the possibility of residency exchanges, which prompted some interesting enquiries during the Q&A session which followed on at the end.

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

TRAVEL BLOG

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.

France-Lise-McGurn – on Virginia Woolf

ART BLOG
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

ART BLOG

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

ART BLOG

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.

Traveling to South Korea for the Olympic games?

TRAVEL BLOG

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!