Saturday, 24 October 2015

Artist Jill Impey is bringing her creation back to Shrewsbury. The full-size female Indian elephant sculpture took over a year to make from donated, old and unwanted furniture dowel jointed to a plywood base, and was made in the studios of Participate Contemporary Artspace, in the old Co-op building of the Riverside Shopping Centre.

The sculpture is part of an exhibition called the Elephant in the Room Conversations on display at Powis Castle until 30 October.  Jill Impey, former lecturer at the art school, Shrewsbury College, curated the exhibition of more than 20 artworks by Welsh and Borders artists most of whom she has worked alongside at the art school.

I have always been interested in the connections between Powis Castle and Shrewsbury, through the Clive family and in particular the South Asian artefacts in the collection. The aim of the exhibition is to engage visitors in discussions about, the relationships between trade, British colonial history, and the migration of peoples ideas and objects, said Jill who has been a director of Participate Contemporary Artspace, Community Interest Company since February 2015.

There was a lot of interest in the elephant as I was making it through the year and people were able to see it laid out on the floor of the studio. I'm looking forward to bringing it back to Shrewsbury along with the rest of the exhibition, so that local people and visitors can interact with it. It will be different from the Powis Castle exhibition,  because it's not amongst the collection, but I expect to have many interesting conversations because of the link with Clive of India and Shrewsbury in particular.

The project has been very successful at Powis Castle, having been visited by schools, Colleges and community groups alongside the regular National Trust visitors, and while it has not received any funding it has benefited from the excellent support of the Castle staff and volunteers. Jill is in the process of re-applying for funding and hoping to be able tour the exhibition to at least two more venues in 2016.  Exhibiting in Wales and the fact that I'm not a Welsh artist, limits the availability of financial support for this kind of project, but this highlights the themes of the exhibition in relation to borders and boundaries both personal and geographical.

The Elephant in the Room Conversations exhibition will be at Participate Contemporary Artspace throughout November from 3rd.-30th.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Mark Making and Visual Texture Workshop

Saturday 10.10.15.

A small but perfectly formed session led by Reg Cooper and Phill Evans which forms the first element of an ongoing piece of work in which the artists of Participate are working cooperatively.  The finished pieces will be displayed in a public Shrewsbury building, details to follow, and will include 2D and sculptural elements.

After building an abstract image onto a large sheet of paper (disposable table cloths) by drawing around figures laying on it the sheet was then painted in two colours for positive and negative spaces.  The sheet was then quartered (when it dried...note: less dilution makes for quicker drying and the paper is less likely to rip...) and laid onto similar sized sheets to strengthen it.

We then spent a few minutes making textural marks, mostly on the positive space colour, using a variety of wet and dry media.  These included marker pens, brush pens, stamping using offcuts of wood, paint & brush, finger marks etc etc etc.  Whatever was to hand which was quite a lot being next to so many artist studios!
The sheets went from being striking but a bit flat abstract images.....
To incredibly involved and developed areas of visual texture.

I experimented with thickening the dividing line between positive & negative areas.  The jury is still out on this so it's only on this one....

The purpose of this workshop wasn't in fact to come up with some more or less pretty patterns.  It was the first of a series of sessions in which users of the building the artworks will be placed can contribute to it's development.

The brief for Participate is to produce a site specific artwork which will be in two parts.  Firstly a 2D element will be printed on vinyl to be installed onto windows in dividing walls, ostensibly to provide separation and privacy. The second element of the finished piece will be a permanent suspended sculptural work hung over the public are and visible both from both above and below.

This first workshop begins the process of collecting a body of elements which have been produced by the building's users that will form the resources which will be composited into the image which will be printed in vinyl.

At the end of the session we had made four large images, elements of which can be taken, digitised and used to develop the final, printed piece for the windows.  The next sessions will take these pieces and can (but doesn't have to) use them as a starting point to develop physical textures using fabric and other media.

Here are examples of close-ups of the finished pieces:




Thursday, 8 October 2015

You own the means of production. So produce!

The first episode of the BBC's series "Music for Misfits: The story of Indie" is bloody good!  If you were around it'll give you some chills of memory, if you weren't there (and here I am speaking to you whippersnappers) it might just give you the confdence to do what us old folk have forgotten.  Go out and make something creative that is all your own!