After Work, by Céline Condorelli, at South London Gallery (fire station site)
I was interested in Céline Condorelli’s exhibition at South London Gallery through it’s exploration into public/private spaces, art/function and work/leisure, all of which are themes that I address to some degree in my practice. Spactial Composition was a functional sculpture, where people were invited to sit and watch the film (although interestingly when I was there people opted instead to stand behind the sculpture and watch the film instead, suggesting it’s hard to blur those boundaries). The sculpture was made from mild steel, fabric and paint, and commented on our view that the gallery is a space for leisure whilst displaying the products of cultural workers. I found this interesting, because whilst women are recognised as investing a lot of time in unpaid labour, it’s only recently that the cultural sectors are also starting to address unpaid labour, and I wondered if there was data to explore the unpaid labour of female cultural workers versus males.
During a tutorial with Leah, we discussed some of the visual language that exists in my work- scaffolding, ladders, framework, pipes and railings – all of which I felt their presence is important. ‘What about playground structures like climbing frames, are they important?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘Good,’ said Leah. There was a clear distinction between what are necessary, functional objects and what are there for play. Something that Condorelli’s exhibition made me think about further.
I was also taken by her studies, especially the drawings, because recently drawing has become an important part of my practice and I’ve found it useful when working through ideas, and I felt the drawings really enriched how I experienced the Spatial Composition piece.
By Hand, on Foot, by Vlatka Horvat, at Peer Gallery
Vlatka Horvat’s exhibition at Peer gallery was instantly curious from the outside, due to the work in the two rooms appearing so vastly different – one an installation using seemingly low value, junk-like item that spread throughout the room, utilising the floor, ceiling and walls, and the other being a very uniform display of white, framed images. Entering the installation first, the work really excited me; these commonplace materials like cardboard, packing foam and electrical tape were so carefully, arranged, and combined, despite their very rudimentary appearance (tape wrapped the carboard to attach long, thin, lengths, and felt was pinned to the walls using small strips). The work challenged the confines of the room, without needing to do so in a loud, heavy way (perhaps like a Phyllida Barlow installation) but instead prodded and probed, enticing the audience to lean in and move back, and forcing visitors to navigate the space carefully, so as not to disrupt the precariously placed sculptural work. The work successfully forced us to address the problems and possibilities of negotiating space and the effects this has on social structures, the relationship between people and place, and the exchanges that exist within these.
The other side of the gallery has an equally as impressive impact on me. Displaying a rotating selection of prints from the project To See Stars over Mountains, which saw Horvat take a photo and altering it in some way all 365 days of 2021. These interventions saw her cut and arrange elements of the photos, or draw large, almost crude lines into the landscape, which felt really sculptural and I found it inspiring to see how these quick, interventions could become sketches for future works, and something I’d like to incorporate into my Unit 3 proposal.
Home Range, by Olivia Bax, at Holtermann Gallery
Home Range brings together sculptural works by Olivia Bax that all have a relationship with the body in some form. Each sculpture combines functions of sitting, reaching, leaning, holding, pulling, opening, and there’s a sense of passage and transferral in the way she incorporates funnels, pipes, chutes, and cups into the overall fantastical and not-quite-recognisable, brightly coloured forms. The hand-made paper pulp incorporates PVA, plaster, household paints (that DIY stores are throwing away because it’s the wrong shade), and newspaper, which come together to, once again, represent a material that we can’t quite place our finger on. Much like my recent work, Olivia often starts with a steel structure, and she then uses chicken wire to create to create the curved forms and large spaces that are often concealed in her work, and as you look close the application of the paper pulp mixture is clearly done by the artists’ hand as you see indentations and lines created by her fingers as she pushes the pulp into the surface, adding to the energy that exists in the sculpture. Hooks and handles, cups and vessels, and sticks and supports are all brought together in a uniform, seamless movement, despite their opposing functions, and what excites me about this work is that it feels like it creates its own rules and own visual language that pushes away from real life and more towards its own environment. When talking to Olivia, she also seems to have her own set of rules in which she works, much like myself. She talked to me about the way she lists her materials in a certain order, that the paint has to be mixed into the paper pulp (instead of applies after-the-fact) and that she often likes to use her own, personal experiences and stories to draw the forms from, which perhaps explains how the bodily response of the work feels like it’s somehow personal to Olivia, whilst able to be experienced by all.
Arc, by Jeremy Wafer, at Goodman Gallery
Jeremy Wafer uses bounderiess, barriers, enclosures, and other means of space separation to explore ideas of segregation and class separation, whilst also thinking about rigid and fluid structures through material exploration. I’m interested in Wafer’s minimalist presentations to explore complex themes, and how he marries two simple materials to create tension within the work. Fathom (2021) is a thirty metre-long rope with cylinders of lead cast onto the rope a one metre intervals, similarly to sounding lines used to measure the depth of water from boats, whilst Arc (2009) is a six-metre steel and wax curve, splitting the room in half and opens up new possibilities of space. These formal structures like measuring, and weighted materials, are part of Wafer’s exploration into location/dislocation, connection/disconnection, and contributed to my growing interest in contradictions that can co-exist within artwork.
Reflections Part 3: Sculpture by Women Artists, at Workplace
Reflections featured work by Patricia Ayres, Olivia Bax, Nicola Ellis, Hsi-Nong Huang and Zhang Ruyi, and I was particularly interested in the work of Nicola Ellis, who I chatted with at the private view. She spoke about the laborious process of the repetitive welding she undertakes to make her sculptures. In Quite a Structure, Nicola used a stainless steel weld to fill a length of curved mild steel, and in Alternative Format Nicola recreates some of the steel frame using the weld. Despite the material being the same, the difference in the finish is really exciting. Whilst I’ve been exploring the language of materials between different materials, Nicola’s work explores the language of a material and the dialogues that can be created within that. It’s made me consider more how I could incorporate different fabrics in my work, alongside the ground up material, which has very different properties to the clothing.
‘My work is shaped by the relationships between people, materials and processes, and often contributes something back to that triangular dynamic. This might be in the form of disrupting an established process with the people who usually work with it, by presenting an existing quality of an object or infrastructure in a different way, or by carving out a new way of operating – as an individual, a collaborator or an outsider – in a specific context.’
Animal Magnetism, by Virginia Overton, at Goldsmiths Centre of Contemporary Art
Virgina Overton’s exhibition at Goldsmiths Centre of Contemporary Art displays a collection of reclaimed industrial material, repurposed artworks (her own and other people’s) and scavenged materials from the gallery to explain industry and repair. Often opting to work with raw construction materials, such as timber, class and stone, and constantly repurposes them and re-uses them as a form of recycling and reassembling – reimagining her own artworks again and again. This is something I’ve been doing a lot in my own practice, cutting up and reforming the work, and I like to imagine my work consisting of individual components that I can reform in order to respond to different spaces, which is what interests me about scaffolding, that wraps around different buildings and spaces to suit a need.
Overton applies elements of sculptural predecessors, such as Anthony Caro, Tony Cragg, Anexander Calder and Mark di Suvero, and the title, Animal Magnetism, refers to an indescribable force. This, I think, describes the presence of these great sculptors combined with the physicality of the gallery space, and the weightiness of Overton’s work.
Too blue, too deep, too dark we sank … by Julien Creuzet, at Camden Arts Centre
For Creuzet’s exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, he brings together music, video, poetry and sculpture, using detritus washed up from the ocean. Many of the sculptures in the exhibition are representative of the flags of Caribbean countries, who had gained independence from colonisation, and the audience navigates these different cultures and places through a sea of words, music and symbolism. Focusing on ideas of freedom, Creuzet also collaborated with Anaiis to compose and record the soundscape, who focuses on her own heritage of French-Sengalese, and focuses on ideas of freedom and empowerment. What I found interesting about this installation was how Creuzet brings together different materials and technologies, and whilst some of these materials are low, ‘impoverished’ materials, he also incorporates the speakers into the space (as opposed to keeping these elements hidden) and the sound becomes a sculptural aspect that we navigate, and it changes as we move. As I’ve started videoing and recording as I cut up the fabric, I think incorporating these elements into installations will be a really interesting thing for me to think about.
Fatty Acids, by Holly Hendry, at Stephen Friedman Gallery
Holly Hendry explores the human body through formal compositions and 3-dimentional diagrams of the anatomy, and challenges our perceptions of our personal bodies and emotions, and machines/mechanical devices. Hendry’s material choices range from steel, jesmonite marble, and silicone, to ash, lipstick, chewed gum and soap, and she incorporated human actions like yawning, sneezing, crying and brain fog into anthropomorphic forms that Hendry describes as being ‘boxes up in an absurd attempt to rationalise the complexity of our bodies’. I’m particularly interested in the factory-like production line that Hendry has formed, conveyer belts and other mechanised objects, which is given a humorous and cartoonish twist. Despite the work taking imagery from the body, the calculated, high-tech production makes the work feel stripped of a certain type of humanity and we feel kept at arms’ length, which I think was Hendry’s intention.
All Art is Ecological
published by Penguin
Exhibition catalogue, Riverside Studios
published by Riverside Studios
A Political Ecology of Thingsy
published by Duke University Press
To See Stars over Mountains
published by Peer Gallery
Anni Albers: On Weaving
by Anni Albers
published by Princeton University Press
The perception of the environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling & skill
published by Routeledge
The Object of Labour:
art, cloth, and cultural production
edited by Joan Livingstone and John Ploof
published by Mass
World of Art:
Women, Art and Society
published by Thames & Hudson
FrayL Art and Textile Politics
by Julia Bryan-Wilson
published by The University of Chicago Press,
Handbook of material culture
edited by Christopher Tilley, Webb Keane, Susanne Küchler, Michael Rowlands and Patricia Spyer.
published by Sage
Carl Andre: Sculpture 1959-78
published by Whitechapel Art Gallery