Sunday, 2 December 2012

Neoreplicants at Exeter Phoenix + Iain Matthews

Currently showing at the Exeter Phoenix is Neoreplicants where South West artists explore 3D printing - the process where a laser is used to 'print' models by welding successive layers of nylon powder material into a 3D polygonal representation of an object (the process of laser sintering). This is technology which is on the verge of becoming more widely available - What was once science fiction will soon become reality.

The exhibition shows the work that SW artists have produced in partnership with Exeter University's Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM). The results are impressive and varied. They are an indication of new avenues that will open up for artists as this technology becomes more widely available. The contrasting ways in which the various artists have made use of the laser process is also fascinating - for some the laser technology is simply an extension of their current digitally based work, while others have harnessed the process to their more traditional work.

This is an exciting exhibition - particularly if you love gadgets or perhaps have just been wondering whatever happened to the promised brave new worlds of hovercars, robots etc that we were promised in the 1950s and 1960s. It's a glimpse of the future.


The exhibition is on until 19th January. The explanations of the pieces are equally interesting and the artists include Nicci Wonnacott and Gabrielle Hoad. Unless you go along you'll have to guess who contributed which piece and you'll miss out on the future ...

Matthews Southern Comfort

Last Sunday Matthews Southern Comfort appeared at the Phoenix. They played a mixture of old stuff (mainly from their second album) and newer material. I wasn't familiar with any of their material apart from their sole hit, the Joni Mitchell song: Woodstock. Unfortunately they chose to perform this in a Dylanesque style - ie perversely different to the original. The band's personnel are all new apart from Iain Matthews himself. Two of the band, Bart Jan Baartmans and Bart de Win, are highly accomplished instrumentalists in a jazz-based style. However, many of the numbers - both old and new - seemed dated and the gig did not have the nostalgic charm of the final Plainsong outings earlier in the year, when Iain reprised a style akin to his early work with Fairport Convention.

There was a very small audience for the Matthews Band due to the bad weather, and the support act, Drew Nelson, attracted an even smaller number. This was a shame as he did a great show, supported by Jack Leaver on guitar. Drew has a vocal style somewhere between Tom Waits and Springsteen and I liked it so much that I bought his CD: Tilt-a-whirl. I video'd parts of both the Drew Nelson and Matthews Southern Comfort sets but don't have the time to download these to YouTube just now. Will catch up and post stuff from Sunday gig and the Plainsong gig in a couple of weeks, though.

Off to see Madness at Plymouth Pavilions on Tuesday ... And Laura White has an exhibition, We Can Have It All, starting at Exeter Spacex from December 8th - Looking forward to that.

Monday, 19 November 2012

William Klein & Daido Moriyama at Tate Modern

On Wednesday we travelled to see the William Klein and several other photography exhibitions on a trip organised as part of my Access to HE course. We didn't get to the Tate until 12.30 and time was limited, but the exhibition did not disappoint.

Klein has had an iconic role in image-making in the 20th century. He started as an abstract painter but went on to develop a much-imitated style of street photography and produce innovative fashion images. He also innovated both as a graphic designer and filmmaker. This exhibition gives an overview of all these achievements, followed by a show of the work of Daido Moriyama - a self-confessed fan of Klein.

The first large room of the exhibition has several of Klein's most iconic prints blown up and covering the whole wall space. On the opposite side there is a bank of smaller prints, many of which will be familiar to photography buffs. However, anyone with even a slight interest in photography will be familiar with the style: Close-up photos of urban life which aren't pictures of people's backs but of their faces - people who are acting for and interacting with the photographer, or just taken by surprise. Everybody may take photos like this now, but it was Klein that did it first.

In room three there is a wider mix of subjects: Buildings, crowd scenes, kids etc, but the photos are all carefully sequenced - telling stories, as if in a photobook.  And mixed in with all this material are examples of Klein's fashion photography, including his iconic pictures of models parading amongst ordinary people on a zebra crossing.

In rooms 4&5 we are introduced to Klein the abstract photographer and graphic designer. Here there are panels covered with abstract typography, and spreads from Domus magazine to which Klein contributed work, including photograms. The exhibition also illustrates how Klein transferred ideas from one medium to another and shows his photos of Dutch barns with their Mondrian resonances. In addition, in a side room, there is a fascinating video showing in which Klein himself analyses a selection of photographs - a tutorial in how to produce great photos.

In room 6 we are shown excerpts from his films: Movies about Muhammad Ali and the search for Little Richard. A satire on the fashion industry Who are you, Polly Magoo? and more satire in Mr Freedom, which is definitely of the period (think Myra Breckinridge, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls etc). 1969 was a great year - unless you were in Vietnam or Czechoslovakia.

Finally, in room 7 we have Klein's contact sheets, which are blown up into murals and marked-up with enamel paint.

The exhibition is a tour de force. It is rumoured that Klein really wanted an exhibition on his own (given his reputation for petulance it would be surprising if he didn't) but we get a further half dozen rooms devoted to Daido Moriyama. Moriyama is a disciple of Klein and his style echoes Klein's urban photography. The Moriyama part of this exhibition is interesting but really it's a bit of an anticlimax after William Klein.

As Klein himself says, with each photograph taking 1/125 secs, the average photographer's body of finished work may only amount to 2 minutes. In Klein's case his contribution is immeasurably greater - You should see this exhibition (on until 20 January).

Sunday, 21 October 2012

John Court - Work Between the Lines at Spacex

Sadly, I've had to give up my weekly stint at Spacex for a while as I concentrate on my access course. However, earlier this month I went along to Spacex with other gallery assistants to see the Work Between the Lines exhibition (should also have seen John Court but, unfortunately, he had to return to Finland earlier than expected).

John was born in Bromley but, in 1997, shortly after graduating from art school, he moved to Finland - where he has gone on to recognition and awards, both in Scandinavia and internationally. He suffers from severe dyslexia and started drawing as a way of coming to terms with the resulting difficulties he had at school. Letters appear to him as visual forms rather than comprehensible symbols.

He now creates large scale drawings, performance and video works that illustrate the problems that his dyslexia has given him. Immediately after school John spent some time doing labouring jobs on building sites and this period left an indelible impression upon him. This is also reflected in his performances - which often have an endurance element to them - and his works, many of which are labelled with the number of hours work that were required to complete them.

Work Between the Lines is a fascinating exhibition which combines art with a graphic picture of the difficulties that people with dyslexia face in a world where the written word is pervasive. The exhibition goes on until 24 November and on the final Saturday John will perform a specially commissioned 8 hour performance piece.

The photos here give a taste of what the exhibition is all about - although they cannot do justice to the detail shown in the exhibits or to the performances shown on videos:

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Peter Blake & Derek Booshier at Pallant House

This weekend is the last chance to see the Peter Blake and Pop Music  and the Derek Boshier: David Bowie and the Clash exhibitions at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester (a bit off the SW patch, I know, but worth the journey).

Latest addition to my print collection
I didn't find the Blake exhibition quite as interesting as the A Museum for Myself exhibition at the Holbourne last year - largely because this show is focused exclusively on Blake's work for the music industry. However, the Derek Boshier stuff was all new to me (in the sense of recognising his contribution to rock art). The exhibition reminds us that Boshier appeared with Peter Blake, Pauline Boty and Peter Phillips in Pop Goes the Easel, the seminal film made by Ken Russell for the BBC's Monitor series in 1962. Incidentally, for a great account of the neglected Pauline Boty's life and work see the posts (part 1 and part 2) in Jez Winship's Sparks in Electrical Jelly blog.

... also the proud owner of this one, on tin
Also showing until the 7th is the Artist Pop Stars exhibition which complements the Blake show and contains material by rock luminaries such as Ian Dury and Bryan Ferry. Taken together, these three exhibitions are a fascinating insight to the close links between the art school and rock.

Got a Girl - my favourite - but I've only got a postcard ...
The Pallant also has its own collection of Modern British Art which includes examples of work by many important artists; and (again until the 7th) has a small exhibition of record cover art which includes 'references to the imagery of post-psychedelia, gith surrealistic and art-nouveau designs'. Who could ask for more?

Ian Dury - Danny Bubbles
The Pallant is a unique place. It consists of two conjoined modern and not-so-modern buildings. The not-so-modern part also houses many paintings and artefacts of note and, at the time I visited, a memorial exhibition of paintings by Adrian Berg (now finished) - This was terrific, by the way, especially for those of us now desperately trying to improve our drawing and painting skills to avoid failing our Access to HE art course ... Finally, the gallery also has a restuarant which serves excellent food and a shop which contains more than just the usual art gallery bits and pieces.

Lodger - Boshier and Bowie - got the LP ...
The Blake, Booshier and Artist Pop Stars exhibitions all finish on the 7th October. I recommend that you get down there, if you can.

Adrian Berg

Friday, 21 September 2012

Alex Katz - Give Me Tomorrow at Tate St Ives

Not much blogging again this month - Mainly because I've just started an Art and Design access course at Exeter College which is pretty much full-time. Nevertheless, I did attend Plainsong's penultimate gig at the David Hall, South Petherton last Friday - This was a great evening and I have some video which I'll post soon.

Meanwhile, this weekend is the final chance to see the Alex Katz Give Me Tomorrow exhibition at Tate St Ives. After the previous disappointing Simon Fujiwara exhibition Since 1982 (except for the excellent Alfred Wallis room) this show definitely should not be missed.

Alex Katz's wife, Ada

85 year-old Katz has produced a wealth of original and influential work during the past six decades. His work typically features his friends, his wife and his cool social circle, while his use of flat colour predates Pop Art, and his subjects are often portrayed using cinematic devices.

Alex Katz

In addition to the Give Me Tomorrow exhibition, the gallery is showing an interesting selection of works personally chosen by Katz from the Tate's collection, which range from Mondrian to Hodgkin.

At the same time, in the 'study room', there is a fascinating small exhibit showing photographs and other documents relating to the meeting of Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood with Alfred Wallis in St Ives in 1928. This, too, is well worth seeing.

If you are around St Ives this weekend and have not yet seen the Katz exhibition, I recommend that you take this final opportunity to see his work.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fishstock, Brixham 2011 and Devon Open Studios

August has been a bit busy: A holiday in sunny Portugal and a number of gallery visits, combined with other time-consuming stuff, hasn't left much opportunity for blogging.

Art in Portugal

So no chance to write about Alex Katz at Tate St Ives, Peter Blake and Pop Music at the Pallant Gallery, or Raw Materials at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (Jenny Holzer, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman and Laurence Weiner). In a nutshell, these were all good - although, for me, the Raw Materials exhibition was not quite as good as the line-up might suggest.

Raw Materials: Laurence Weiner

Fishstock Festival

But this post is really to alert you to the latest annual Fishstock Festival taking place at Brixham tomorrow 8 September (and to Devon Open Studios that also starts 8 September).

Fishstock 2011

The day-long Fishstock festival is held at the Fish Market in aid of the Fishermen's Mission - a charity supporting fisherman and their families. It is a slightly odd but enjoyable mixture of music, food, crafts, boats - and lots of fish. This year there are a dozen acts appearing on the main stage and a further eleven on the acoustic one. In addition there are over twenty outside stalls and over fifty inside ones showing local businesses, crafts and lots of food. There are also maritime displays and cookery demonstrations. Full details here (music) and here (stalls).

Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin

Last year the weather was pretty good and everyone had a great time. Highlights for me included Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin (appearing again this year) and the Roobs (favourites with the locals) who did a funky and well-selected set of tunes including Teenage Dirtbag, Need You Tonight, Poker Face and Where Is the Love?  

The Roobs

The Fisherman's Friends were the 'stars' of the show. I didn't know much about them previously but they were both funny and entertaining.  The weather looks good again this year, so hopefully it will be terrific day. Here are some more photos from 2011:

Fisherman's Friends

The inside stalls

Paddy's Whiskers

Folk dancers

Maggie Duffy & Mike Weed
And, of course, some Tahitian stuff

Devon Open Studios

Devon Open Studios runs from September 8 to 23. It is an opportunity to meet artists in their studios and, if you wish, to buy art direct from the creator. Some artists may demonstrate, give talks or give you a chance to have a go. The event guide is available here or you can pick up a copy at Devon and Somerset libraries, tourist information centres, major art venues, etc.