Tag: cornwall

Order and Progress – Laureana Toledo


Laureana Toledo’s,  Order and Progress (2013-2018), is a sensitive film which highlights the destruction of an environment and cultural change brought about oil profiteering. Its linear structure discloses the hell which has erupted from the industry that has overshadowed the once beautiful environment of the Oaxaca valley, Mexico, where Laureana spent much of her childhood.

I was lucky enough to experience this film on an evening when Laureana and cellist Natalia Perez Turner gave an exhilarating live performance of the accompanying score, followed by an enlightening talk and discussion with the audience.

Sometimes more dramatic sometimes more jazzy, the live score changes with each performance as the musicians respond to the film’s content and narrative. Cellist Natalia Perez Turner and Laureana Toledo provided the unpredictable score using percussion instruments compiled from bottles, glasses, rocks and a filing cabinet,

There was a certain fragility to the live performance on the night due to the unpredictive nature of the percussion objects. Inevitably objects break or fall over which add to the uniqueness of each event.

The sounds from the everyday percussion objects work perfectly with the silences within the film. And the human voice in Zapotec at the end brings a slightly joyous feeling to the film’s final moments of the film.

Laureana confesses that during a live performance it is difficult not to give away the building emotion of the film as it plays. The recorded score is very different from the live performance and Laureana feels it is too optimistic.

A renowned Mexican artist, Laureana Toledo’ expresses her creativity through photography and works with film, music, performance and text. She pays particular attention to imperceptible or transient moments of everyday experience.


To whom it was given – Bickford Smith Institute


Like most visitors to Porthleven, Cornwall, I presumed the dominant granite building that was iconically photographed in the first of the 2014 storms, was a church. It certainly survived the pounding destruction of the biblically proportioned waves as they engulfed its mighty clock tower again and again as if it were defended by a deity.

Well, it’s not. It is, in fact, a snooker club. The Bickford Smith Institute was originally founded as a library in 1884 but changed status in 1911 when two snooker tables were installed.

Excitingly it is now open to the general public for a three week period as the site of a Groundwork Art installation by Chris Fite-Wassilak and Sophie Mallett.

These two London based artists have introduced various sculptural and narrative elements to the decaying building, that is desperately in need of renovation. Chris Fite-Wassilak is a writer and critic based in London. Sophie Mallett is a London-based artist. Her practice is concerned with forms of belonging and exclusion and through installation, she pursues a practice concentrating on the connections between history and place.

The decay of the windows caused by the corrosive sea salt has provided the inspiration for two interesting screen-printed textile cloths which now adorn the snooker tables. While the perishing wall surfaces are littered with fascinating early century photographs and stories. They are timely reminders that if this building does not receive funding for its restoration soon it’s history will be lost.


Francis Alÿs – The Silence of Ani

ART BLOG – GROUNDWORK – An evening talk

The beginning of June saw the end of the Steve McQueen screening by the Groundwork programme at CAST. Thankfully it also marked the opening of an equally emotive film by Belgium born former architect Francis Alÿs.

Another triumph in sound, The Silence of Ani, was commissioned for the Istanbul Biennial in 2015. Thankfully this masterpiece of black & white filmmaking has finally made its way to Cornwall for its first UK presentation. The mesmerising orchestral effect of the bird calls coupled with the graceful choreography of the children and the stunning cinematography is astounding. The rich tapestry which was technically woven by Alÿs and his team blends these creative elements to deliver a visual and auditory feast which compels you to watch the thirteen-minute film again and again.

The silence of Ani, was shot on location amongst the ruins of an ancient Armenian city, Ani, near the border of Turkey. Long since declined from its 13th-century majesty, not much much remains of its legendary 101 churches. In the film, we see the city brought back to life by bird calls, created by Duduks – ancient double-reed woodwind flutes (also on show with the film). These bird calling devices once used for hunting, play a particular relevance to the film’s metaphor of hope to readdress the more recent Armenian genocide in the area.

Alÿs worked with a composer to create a musical score for the bird calls which went through 3 different iterations. The final version was rewritten once the children were onsite and the choreographic and locational restrictions were taken into account.

Until recently Ani was used as s military site. Alÿs and his team had permission to shoot for a mere five days amongst the ruins. Unfortunately, they were hampered by bad weather during the first two days on location, so shooting time was cut down dramatically to just a few days.

Although the film was originally planned to have documentary overtones, collaboration with a composer and choreographer has given the film structure a more fictitious narrative than most of Alÿs’ other work. The sense of fantasy, despite its political overtones, was born out of a necessity to choreograph the bird calls with the abstract nature of the children movements. This unexpected evolution was something Alys did not predict but which he believes has brought its own reward.

It was Alÿs’ political statements in both When Faith Moves Mountains, shot in Lima, Peru, 2002, along with The Green Line, Jerusalem 2004,  which caught the attention of the 2015 Istanbul Biennial commissioners. Similarly, as a consequence, his work in Ani opened the doors of possibility to allow him to work on his latest project with the Kurdish refugee camps in Iraq, Colour Matching, Mosul, Iraq 2016 and Children’s Games 16 / Hopscotch, Sharia Refugee Camp, Iraq 2016.

Christina Mackie – Judges II

ARTBLOG – Groundwork

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.

Alessio Antoniolli – Porthmeor Studios


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.

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.


Kernewek for businesses – why it makes sense

I attended this skills day out of curiosity, with an ambition to incorporate Kernewek, the Cornish language, into my work as a writer.

Heavily biased towards promoting the use of this unique language through marketing of existing products and businesses, the session was informative and engaging.

St Austell Brewery, represented by Chris Knight, was the perfect case study to highlight how this Southwestern Brittonic Celtic language can be put to good use. A prime example is one of the breweries best-selling beers Korev, which means ‘Beer’ in Cornish.

Our professional guide for the morning was Mark Trevethan, the Cornish Language Lead at Cornwall Council, who further enlightened us to the possibilities of using Kernewek. He showcased innovative uses of the language from road signs to prime time TV advertising.

Closer to home, Mark opened the door to integration by gently guiding us towards the various resources on offer. More importantly, he highlighted that incorporation of the Cornish language into the marketing strategy of Cornish businesses, will also hopefully benefit the wider Cornish Language agenda.

This well-organised event was delivered by Cornwall 365 at the well known creative hub, Krowji, in partnership with Cultivator and supported by the European Social Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council.