Counterpoint

I find myself standing in the street outside the Talbot Rice Gallery, here to view Counterpoint’s showcase of eight contemporary artist’s work. I find myself here on the back of a recommendation from the festival’s art director, interviewed in last month’s FMG Monthly. My curiosity roused, I cross the threshold into the building. Many beautiful, intriguing and provocative pieces adorned the walls and floors. Of the eight artists, two in particular captured my imagination.

 

The first of these artists is Craig Mulholland. As you walk into the first room, placed right by the stairs for the second level, Mulholland’s installation – constructed from various materials and media, including sand paper, wood and visual projections – takes the shape of a bowling lane, a singular slice extracted from an alley which appears to be in some state of disrepair. I find myself searching for the background to this intriguing construction before me, and in this search my mind connects this sight with emotion, a longing for narrative, as if entering an abandoned, aged property, which oozes character. Upon the wall above the lane, the words “Potemkin Function” are projected in a font reminiscent of the fond neon squiggle used by many establishments to indicate whether they are open or closed. Thin wooden bricks have replaced the pins and these too are displayed in the projection which cycles through moving images of a bowling ball being cast down the lane towards these bricks. For me, Mulholland’s bowling alley offers an insight into how the picture painted can often differ from the actual function. The warping of an area usually utilised solely for recreational purposes into an area harrowed by black paint reminds me of how propaganda is utilised to portray whomever in disfavour in a negative and objectified light. As this feeling rested inside me, I made my way through to the next room of Counterpoint’s exhibition.

 

Counterpoint

Talbot Rice Gallery
Installation views
Part of Edinburgh Art
Festival and GENERATION
Photography by Chris Park
Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery

Before me lies two full size street lamps, a neat stack of magazines cut zig-zag down their middle, and a large wall of corrugated iron graphitized with black spray paint – an eclectic mix provided by artist, Keith Farquhar. Farquhar’s intention is to “rework the inherited visual of the original appropriated work”. As I stand by these full size street lamps I begin to have some comprehension of Farquhar’s goal in these pieces. Removal of these commonplace functional installations from their usual surroundings and placed with intention on the floor by one another, they begin to feel personified, as if feeling emanates from them. I noticed that I no longer found this material object to be simply that, instead I began to form some type of human connection with them. From when I entered the room, I had presumed the writing on the steel wall to be written in spray paint but upon closer inspection, the paint is pixelated at it’s edges, and within the exhibition booklet, my curiosity is sated. Farquhar reveals his use of a large UV printer – which can print on any material – to create the text within the graffiti. Graffiti, created outwith artistic purpose, is often considered a thoughtless act of vandalism alluding to the carelessness of its creator. Farquhar however, appropriates graffiti, using the UV printer to create what appears to be spray paint. Through this exact act we reconsider this “graffiti”, knowing now it has been carefully and thoughtfully created.

 

Counterpoint

Talbot Rice Gallery
Installation views
Part of Edinburgh Art
Festival and GENERATION
Photography by Chris Park
Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery

Leaving the Talbot Rice Gallery, I am left with a feeling of lightness and whimsy. All too often artwork and exhibitions are portrayed as being heavy events for the soul – Counterpoint’s Exhibition however, is not such an event. Despite no conscious thematic connection between the eight artist’s works, the quality of each piece creates a feeling of unity. Evident throughout all the work on display is a demonstration of each individual artist’s ability to play and experiment with mediums and media, ultimately creating work that is fascinating, stimulating and wholly intriguing.

 

A quick guide through Edinburgh Art Festival

The Royal Mile seems to have shrunk and Grassmarket has become denser, the whole town has a new tempo and the pulse beats its way up through the city skin. The festival month lies like a thick layer in the air, an atmosphere you almost can touch with the tip of your finger. August is an exciting month for Edinburgh with a compelling amount of theatre, music, dance and art.

FMG Arts took a closer look at the Edinburgh Art Festival, the UK’s largest annual celebration of visual art. With over 45 exhibitions during August, the festival can begin to feel a bit like being lost in the jungle. We at FMG Arts took the opportunity to interview the director Sorcha Carey to get a better insight into this year’s program.

FM: First of all, could you briefly explain what your role is, as Director of Edinburgh Art Festival and what it entails

SC: Our festival programme consists of major solo and group exhibitions developed by partner galleries; an associate programme selected from applications received each year; and a programme of new commissions with a particular emphasis on work developed for beyond the gallery. I lead on our commissions programme and the selection of projects confirmed through our open submissions process, as well as taking an overview of the festival programme as a whole, to ensure that there are meaningful routes through for our visitors. As director of a small organisation, my role involves everything from curating to fundraising, depending on what stage we are at in the festival cycle.

 

FMG Art

Tessa Lynch
Raising
2014
Courtesy of the artist and Jupiter Artland

FM: How did you become involved with Edinburgh Art Festival?

SC: I joined the festival in 2011. I’d previously worked for the British Council in Scotland, and before that I worked on three editions of Liverpool Biennial.

 

FM: This will be the 11th year for EAF. Can you tell us how the festival keeps developing each year to attract new audiences?

SC: We work very hard to ensure that each year we bring our audiences the very best in visual art, contemporary and historic, established and emerging talent. Our interest in programming beyond gallery spaces as well as special cross art-form events such as Detours, is one of the ways in which we try to bring our programme to new audiences, as well as to give returning audiences the opportunity to discover something new.

 

FM: Is there something that distinguishes this year’s festival from previous years that could be interesting for our readers to know about?

SC: This year for the first time we are leading on a major exhibition of international contemporary art. We are collaborating with 5 curators and over 20 artists from Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK to explore the ideas and ideals behind commonwealth and the commons.  The exhibition takes its title from a work by Shilpa Gupta,’Where do I end and you begin’ and will be presented on 4 floors of the City Art Centre as well as in several offsite locations, and many of the artists exhibiting are showing in the UK for the very first time.

FMG Art

Ross Birrell
Being and Time (a copy of Being and Time is thrown into the Abyss, Grand Canyon Arizona
2012

FM: What would you say are the main highlights of this year’s programme?

SC: Where to begin? Isa Genszken at Inverleith House is a must, and there’s an amazing opportunity to reflect on the past 25 years of contemporary art practise in Scotland with lots of solo and group presentations as part of GENERATION – highlights include solo presentations of Jim Lambie at Fruitmarket, Katie Paterson at Ingleby Gallery, Dalziel and Scullion at Dovecot, as well an extraordinary survey show at the Scottish National Galleries.

 

FM: FMG Arts ethos is to develop opportunities and support for emerging artists and creatives. Are there any early career artists that are in this year’s festival that you can recommend?

SC: Our festival features artists at all stages of their careers, and we are always keen to ensure there are opportunities for our audiences to discover emerging artists. This year we are delighted to be collaborating with The Skinny to realise their Showcase as an exhibition featuring a selected graduate from each of the major Scottish degree shows. We are also collaborating with Talbot Rice Gallery to commission 6 emerging artists to make new work or performances for the festival. Our Film Club invites emerging spaces to curate an evening of artist film during the festival, and this year we have asked 4 international artist run spaces to contribute.

 

 

FM: Do you have any wise words for early career artists hoping to exhibit in an Art Festival?

SC: Festivals can represent a really great opportunity for early career artists to exhibit their work – I’d recommend subscribing to the relevant festival websites. Those festivals that issue open calls will generally do this through their website and social media channels. If you decide to apply to exhibit in a festival, make sure your application is clear and the images are strong – the selector can only assess on what has been submitted to them, so it’s really important to communicate your ideas and/or project in the clearest possible way.

 

 

FMG ART

Katie Paterson
Earth–Moon–Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon)
2007
Disklavier grand piano
Installation view, Cornerhouse, Manchester 2011
Photo © We are Tape
Courtesy of the artist

 

FM: Do you have any wise words for young creatives who want to work within Art Festivals as an organiser or a curator? 

 SC: Like most of my colleagues, I started my career with an internship. It is such a valuable way not only to get hands on experience, but also to begin to understand where your strengths lie, and what particular aspect of exhibition making or curating interests you most.

 

FM: And finally, what value and impact do you think Edinburgh Art Festival has for the city of Edinburgh and its art scene?

SC: We’re very proud of the way in which some of our public art commissions and off-site projects have revitalised neglected areas of the city or allowed people to access buildings and spaces that are normally closed to them. The value of this is immeasurable – not only in genuinely improving the fabric of the city, but also in continuing to engage new audiences with contemporary art. Each year, more and more of our visitors tell us they are visiting Edinburgh in August specifically for the visual art programme we run – it’s enormously encouraging that we have been able to put visual arts centre stage, in the context of a festival city which has in the past been more usually associated with performing arts or comedy.

 

 

Edinburgh Art Festival is on from 1st August – 31st August.

The Uncomfortable Truth Behind Your Creativity

A few years before I moved to the UK and still lived in my hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. I was dating a guy who I met through my friend’s brother. He was everything I wished for as a 19-year-old girl. He played in a band, had long hair, tight jeans and a room wallpapered with posters of one of Sweden’s top pop bands; Kent. After a few weeks of modest dating, he asked me if I wanted to come and listen to the their upcoming gig that would take place the following weekend. I enthusiastically accepted the invitation and ended up in the front row of the intimate crowd among the friends and family who were there to listen. The bright lights of the stage went down and converted into a dim headlight of blue and red colour, as the bass and keyboard’s melodies spread across the cramped venue.

I recognised it so well. The squeaky synth and the angst filled lyrics describing empty cities, concrete buildings and black painted hearts.

After the show, halfhearted applause and a light kiss on the forehead, he asked what I thought. With blushing cheeks I nodded and said I liked it, avoiding the uncomfortable truth that it all was a total rip off, a stolen sound from the big idols he so delicately taped to his bedroom walls.

When you engage in the creative sector, whether it is art, music, writing or any other creative profession, there is a basic knowledge that the fact of surrounding yourself with the work of others will help your own creative process. It will help you to develop your artistic skills and techniques, give inspiration to ideas and help you on your way to discovering your own creative identity.

Although this may be rewarding and supply basic tools for one’s creative development, it is something that my friends and I are often resistant to. The conversation about being one with your ideas and finding confidence in the fact that they are yours from the very start often winds its way into our discussions. For we all have them, our sources of inspiration. The role models, exhibitions and significant works of others that so easily trigger our creative initiative that fuels our own art. We study them, imitate them, become inspired by them and surround ourselves with them on a daily basis because we are told to, because it’s supposed to help us.

During my high school years in Sweden, I took a creative writing course to improve my writing skills. At this time I had a friend whose sister was a spectacular character. She always ended up in all sorts of absurd situations and we could spend hours on my friend’s living room couch talking about her latest antics and conquests. I’d write down these stories in my bedside writing book before I went to sleep, and gradually those small random notes evolved into a short novel that my teacher marked to the highest grade. But instead of being proud of my improvement, my entire body was filled with guilt. The character was not my own, the events taking place in the story were told to me by someone else. How could I call this story a creation of my own? Did it belong to me or someone else?

I have a consistent fear within my creative mind, of the day when I suddenly end up there in the dim blurred spotlight with everyone pointing out the bits and pieces that belong to the others before me, the ones that I have surrounded myself with for so long and passionately. Facing the fear that, of all those pieces, not one belongs to myself.

My influences feel annoyingly transparent and all I want to say already feels said. For many years, my idols, role models and sources of inspiration have felt more like a burden than a strength. A flock of demons that sit on the top of my shoulder gently reminding me that my originality only exists in my imagination.

For me, originality and success go hand in hand. In order to be successful in the artistic sector I must contribute with something new, something innovative. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant but what is important to recognise is the ambitious stress this sort of mindset creates. It will slow your creative process down to zero.

Over the years I have discovered that the projects I start in my own intimate and personal space for my own enjoyment, away from the perceived eye of the public, is the projects I get the most out of. They are not there to be revealed or tracked down. It does not matter anymore if my source of inspiration shines through and reveals traces of creativity that once belonged to someone else. That stress is no longer there and at last I have succeeded.

How do I learn to manage the unbearable thought that nothing I create is coming straight from my bare mind? By recognising that all my ideas are intrinsically connected to my inspiration, that the two are inseparable and that it would in fact, be a great injustice to remove one from the other.

David Bowie once said, “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from”.

Reading this eased my mind to such an extent that I realised that once I accept that my work is no different from anyone elses; A sack of stolen goods from everything I see and hear everyday mixed with my own initiative, my creative work process not only becomes more enjoyable but also more rewarding, and allows new ideas to take more accommodation than what I normally would allow for in the hotel of my mind.

Learning to embrace my influences instead of hiding from them has helped me to be more confident in my creative process, I now realise the beauty in being able to find ideas in someone else’s work and to strive for the goal that someone, someday might do the same in my own.

This may not be a truth covered in shiny gold but it is a truth you can relate to.

The key work of Richard Forster

The key work of Richard Forster

I find myself inside the tranquil Ingleby Gallery, located just a short walk from the chaotic road of Edinburgh’s Princes Street, In the much quieter Calton Road.The gallery has been a considerable success within Edinburgh’s contemporary art scene and with its bright open floor space it provides excellent commercial premises for a contemporary artist to exhibit their body of work. Today I’m here to take a look at key works selected from the seven yearlong career of English artist, Richard Forster.

Forster draws his inspiration from photographs of all kinds, including his own snapshots, photographs he finds in magazines and books and images on the Internet. Despite the fact that his paintings often resemble photographs from a bygone time, he chooses himself not to be labeled within the category of photo-realism.

I can’t help but agree with him. His art goes beyond that. Whilst I follow the long white walls inside the sun-dazzled gallery, Forster‘s paintings tell me a story. Like jotted down diary reflections; certain places and people seem to have appealed and inspired the artist, in one way or another, to document them as a sort of memory, through the use of classical instruments such as pencils and watercolor.

Utilizing his eye for detail and exceptionally competent skills, Forster invites us to take part in his detailed paintings. His subjects include buildings, construction workers, rail traffic, everyday actions and visions which draw the spectator into the painting, the glorious mix of different themes and locations make for a fast paced yet peaceful viewing.

Richard Forster

 

From a distance I seem to be able to see each ceiling tile and masonry detailing of the buildings he has carefully created – a reflection in the apartment buildings’ window glass, a shadow from a soaring seagull. The closer I get to the painting the more the details fade away and become blurry tonal combinations in gray scale. Precise and well planned, the paint is deployed in such a way that, at a distance, it forms a detailed image full of expression and life.

Looking at his artwork from the collection from Saltburn-by-the Sea, I’m captured by the feeling these three drawings rouse in me. I can practically feel myself standing on the shore; the magnificent waves roll in over my feet whilst the wind beats against my hair. Residual foam from the waves settles on the outskirts of the sea, a clue pointing towards the composition of something bigger than itself. So too, Forster‘s art in close up helps the spectator understand his gentle technique of image creation.

His art reveals an interest in pattern and rhythm. Many of his images create visual movement or include creative ways of playing with different patterns. In a collection of paintings inspired from a 1926 documentary film of a building site, we take part in just that: The movement is captured like a film still, stuck between moments, investigating the physical force of humans in real life situations.

Forster‘s ability to capture movement and essential details cause his paintings to become vivid, captivating and thought provoking.

I leave Ingleby Gallery with the feeling of fresh air in my lungs, wishing to see more of the talented Richard Forster in the near future. If you have the opportunity to visit this vibrant collection of art, I advise you to do just that.

The Richard Forster exhibition is on from 3 May – 21 of June at the Ingleby Gallery.

Written By Freja Malmstedt

The Napier Photo Collective


The Napier Photo Collective

 

Squeezed up together on a living room sofa, I meet up with young photographers Ida Blom, Jordan Anderson, Catty McCready and Thomas Hofer. They are all final year students from Edinburgh Napier University that are about to graduate after four years studying Photography. I am here to talk to them about their two exciting exhibitions coming up.

 

FM: Hi guys! Tell me, who is this group of young photographers that I’m about to get to know?

 

IB: We are a photo collective called The Napier Photo Collective. We have our eyes open for exhibitions and promote each other’s work.

 

TH: It’s something we inherited from the people who graduated last year. It’s basically a collection of art and craft from people who have graduated from the Napier Photography course and something that we will pass on to the students in the year below us.

 

FM: How has it been working together for so long? Four years is a long time. 

 

IB: I think we all appreciate it. We are all very creative people and since we are very competitive we always push each other.

 

JA: Which is a good thing! It keeps us going.

 

FM: Will you miss working together after graduation?

 

CM: I will miss the atmosphere we have built up together.

 

TH: I think you get very used to the environment, you don’t notice how much you interact with the people around you and all the feedback you get. There is always someone around that I can talk to that knows my work and me.

 

CM: Yeah, I think that is something we all will miss.

 

FM: How long have you worked on these two upcoming exhibitions?

 

JA: For about 6-7 months. It feels so exciting to see it all being put together. Finally.

Ida Bloom

Ida Bloom

 

FM: You have your graduation show here in Edinburgh, but then you will also exhibit your work on the Free Range in London. Is there a difference between the two shows?

 

TH: Well yes, the degree show is something that our University is putting together while the Free Range is something we are organising ourselves because it’s something we want to do. Although the two exhibitions will show the same work, from a psychological aspect the Free Range will feel so much different for us.

 

FM: Different in what way?

 

CM: The Free Range in London will be more about getting your name known and your work seen. It feels like a better opportunity for us since London is the centre of Photography here in the UK.

 

JA: We also have so much more freedom in our London exhibition in terms of how we can view our work and who we would like to come to the exhibition. Because of the limited space we have in our degree show, the Free Range will offer more room for our creativity.

 

TH:  It has been a lot of work behind it. The other Universities who are showing there are getting it organised by their Uni while we had to apply for funding and we put it all together ourselves.

 

FM: It sounds like you have put a lot of effort and time in to this project. What can we expect and what will we be able to see at your show?

 

IB: Our group is very diverse when it comes to our art and work. We have been taught so many different ways of taking photos – In our fourth and last year everyone has found their own niche.

 

JA:  You will be able to see everything from portrait, documentary, landscape photography, fashion photography and so on.

 

CM: At the Free Range we will be one of few groups that come from Scotland. In the first week we will be the only Scottish University showing there, which gives us a slightly different perspective on things compared to the rest of the photographers exhibiting there.

Jordan AndersonJordan Anderson

 

FM: Finally, graduating in a couple of months, are you confidant coming out as fresh meat in the very competitive industry of photography? Do you feel like you have something to contribute as a new artist?

 

JA: Yes! Experienced photographers tend to pay attention to the new ones to see what themes are rising and what new trends are on the up.

 

IB: Exactly. But even though we have a lot of people working within the same field our art looks very different from each other’s. We all have very clear styles.

 

TH: Yeah, I think what’s interesting here is what we have seen from last years graduates and before then, is that a lot of the work that has been picked up and featured has been very constructed and abstract, like colour backgrounds or objects. On some level it has been more about the performance of the object rather than the actual photo. I think what The Napier Photo Collective has is something very different. We have a lot of documentary, a lot of people investigating places and investigating people and themes. This might be something that sets us apart from the rest.

Catty Mccready

Catty McCready

 

Find the exhibitions here:

Edinburgh 23 May-1 June at Edinburgh Napier University, Merchiston Campus.

London 12- 18 of June at The Old Truman Brewery.

 

www.napiercollective.tumblr.com

 

This may be the only time that this diverse and unique group exhibits together, so come along and have a look what the future of photography has to offer.

 

Written By Freja Malmstedt