The Imitation Game – Film Review

 

The Imitation Game is theatrical and dramatic – it’s the kind of heart-wrenching cinema that we expect when we enter that dark and sheltered world, ready to dive into the dreams of yet another visionary filmmaker. There’s something to be said for a film that simultaneously condemns the incontrovertibly horrific methods of a bygone era, and celebrates that country’s achievements (or, one man’s achievements – indeed, The Imitation Game has been criticized that it makes the cracking of the German codes into something of a one-man show, despite the thousands of men and women involved). But this time we get a slice of life that’s a little too real, and it almost blasts us out of those comfy velvet seats. The morality of the human race is put under interrogation inside a case study of the Second World War. Somehow, at the time, we humans always think our moral compasses are swivelled in the right direction.

The imitation game

Benedict Cumberbatch (playing Alan Turing, the renowned inventor of the enigma machine) is enigmatic and transfixing as always – his unyielding grasp on the role – which is certainly one of his finest yet – encourages the widely-believed notion that he is one of Britain’s greatest classical actors across multiple genres, able to blend comedy darkly with drama and tragedy – as displayed with the BBC’s much-loved Sherlock.

In early scenes especially, when Turing attempts to convince his superiors (including an electric scene with Charles Dance’s Commander Denniston) that he is the only man clever enough to solve the war, as it were, there is more than a hint of the arrogant detective about him. It’s in The Imitation Game, though, that he truly cements his abilities  – in fact he suffuses the role with such a potent, dangerous charm that I was constantly on the edge of my seat, feeling as though I was about to fall off a cliff into cavernous mist.

 

As is the case with almost all screen biopics, some scenes were invented for dramatics and pacing. I don’t necessarily resent this, but there does seem to be a misleading thread in the film, one that interweaves Turing’s homosexuality with his genius. In the face of historical fact, there should not be a proposed link between these ‘characteristics’ – yes, Turing was both, but he was by nature and chance (if the two can be said to work together). The film appears to delight in pairing the Turing’s genius with his sexuality, as though a diamond with not just one rare quality, but two, had been discovered in the rough. There has also been disappointment in reaction to the non-existent scenes between Turing and a romantic male partner – however, Cumberbatch has already commented quite succinctly on the subject: if the audience should need more than an ‘exquisite’ scene in which Turing describes a young man’s touch, then ‘all is lost for subtle storytelling.’

The imitation game

The cinematography and visual design do absolute wonders as narrative undertow. While the best screen design is only registered subconsciously by the viewer, somehow, here, it is possible to both acknowledge it yet remain fully inside this wartime world. The sets have an aura of grim practicality – of course they do, it’s the 1940s – yet at the same time, make for a rich, enchanting backdrop that surround the action. The most compelling scenes are ones spent inside a warehouse with Turing, where we hope for more and more glimpses of the mysterious, ingenious work – full knowledge of which, I’m sure, many still covet today. It is not a beautiful place – as far as set design goes, it has the same eerie allure of Terence Marsh’s prison in The Green Mile, but we are as captivated by the atmosphere as Turing is by his puzzle. It’s almost enough to forget the horror of the narrative – almost. And we can expect an Oscar nod for Faura’s cinematography, I think.

 

There was, though, one other dark horse that rounded this film off to become one of the year’s most ambitious and wholesome cinematic ventures: the music. There were no swelling chord progressions, as in the many blockbusters du jour (see Hans Zimmer’s bold and entirely appropriate soundtrack to Interstellar); instead Alexandre Desplat’s score was an undercurrent of vigilance and potential… it had a low, throbbing ebb – a dark heart to the film that succeeded magnificently in causing a tug of war between the thrilling victories of the titular character, and the imminent tragedy awaiting him. We can expect nothing else from the master of tinkering melodies that remind us simultaneously of hopeful innocence and impending disaster. More than this, the wonderful lure of The Imitation Game is a notion we all so want to believe – that the underdog, a clever, confident, problem solving genius can bring an end to terror with intellect and perseverance.

Diary of a Soul Boy

Diary of a Soul Boy (Northern Soul the Film.)  On a rainy autumnal night in Wolverhampton surrounded by fellow soulies, at long last I was seeing Northern Soul the Film. The atmosphere was tangible and I hoped I wasn’t the only one who felt like they could get up and dance.

Northern Soul

Only two years earlier my friends and I had been dancing in dimly lit hall in Blackburn shooting this film directed by Elaine Constantine, trying to recreate Wigan Casino in all its 70s grandeur. Hair and makeup had cut off my precious quiff and slapped my hair into a middle parting and in my high waisted Oxford bags I felt like the dogs bollocks.

Set in 1974 Matt and John discover Black American Soul music and throw themselves in the hedonistic lifestyle that is Northern Soul, all-­‐nighters, drugs, music, dancing, friendships and then the comedown of heading back to reality when it is all over. You must have a frozen heart not to have found something to relate to in this film. As it happens I have gone to the cinema to watch it at least four times. It is wonderfully shot and portrays the Soul scene in a gritty and realistic way. Having danced for 10 hours to shoot the Wigan Casino scenes I was keen to spot myself in the crowd bobbing along to the music. What I took away from filming and watching the film was so much more than that.

Shooting the dance scenes enabled me to establish some solid friendships with like-­‐minded soulies. Before I had only ever seen some ancient folks bobbing along on the dance floor and made a fool of myself trying to copy them, but now I was face to face with young people who were clearly empowered by what they were listening and dancing to. I felt something innate inside me telling me that I had finally found my kind of people. Three years on I am out most weekends, spinning, back dropping, shuffling and generally thriving in a sweaty soul filled state of mind. There are so may records out there which no matter how I am feeling will always make me dance, Yvonne Fair, ‘Walk out the door if you wanna,’ Lenny Welch, ‘100 Pounds of Pain’ and Ike and Tina Turner, ‘Baby what  you want me to do’, to name but a few. My wallet may not agree as record collecting is an expensive business but it is very empowering to know that as a bloke I can get up and dance without anyone taking the piss.

Diary of a Soul Boy

Northern Soul has not only boosted my social calendar as I get to hang out with some of the most fantastic and passionate people out there. But is has also provided me and my mates with some extraordinary experiences. Leaving the    film shoot for instance was gut wrenching as I had lived and breathed the 1970s for two days, I think fondly of Keith the coach driver (Keefy baby) parking the  colossus coach in a terraced street in Blackburn for 20 or so of us dancers to invade a tiny off licence on the street and ransack its stock of booze for the after party. Dancing For Lisa Stansifeld in her music video and on her tour was a highlight, as well as dancing on the One Show and donning our costumes and  doing our thang for a press screening of the film are experiences you cannot buy.

It is the little things that make me want to stay in this crazy scene forever, that instinctive feeling to dance just because you have to or watching Bob effortlessly spins to a high octane tune with perfection, that spine tingling excitement when your favourite records plays and you hit the right beat with a move. I just hope I don’t come crashing down to reality too soon.

Celebrating Art From Around The World – Bertrand Lanthiez

Bertrand Lanthiez

Bertrand is a French graphic designer, recently graduated from ESAG Penninghen School in Paris.

Even after completing his eight months Erasmus exchange, he continues to be inspired by the majesty of Scandinavia. He likes to twist materials from their original use, changing formats and design in every project. 

He chose to communicate ideas through interactive installations, focusing on a dialogue by letting the audience being an actor and not only a passive observer.

He grew up with Lego, now he is playing with Arduino.

 

 

 

Celebrating Art From Around The World – Lucie Libotte

 Lucie Libotte

House dust is commonly perceived as dirty, intrusive and repulsive. We know it as fine grey dry powder consisting of tiny particles and waste matter collecting on surfaces or carried in the air. It is often associated with unkempt and neglected environments, where as a clean environment is considered as civilized and proper. 

 ‘Dust matters’ aims is to re-evaluate this ‘dirt’, and convey the value of dust as an indicator of our environment, showing how it reflects our daily life and traces our journey through the world.

Focusing on an individual’s private sphere, I have collected samples of dust from the domestic home. Observing the different inherent components inside the dust, I conclude that the dust is different depending of the house and its locations.

By locking inside a ceramic container, the dust  starts  to react and get transformed as a glaze. The colors change the glaze and start to behave differently depending on the component : the particles of metal, organic and synthetic matter that make up the dust samples.

The resulting bespoke vessels display unique beauty that tells a different story from each location where the dust was collected.

 

 

 

Lucie Libotte

 

 

Lucie Libotte Dust Matters process 2Lucie Libotte Dust Matters process 3

 

 

 

Celebrating Art From Around The World – Sam Houston

Sam Houston

I experiment with the idea of ‘desire’ by using familiar imagery to investigate its importance.

I aim to create a portal for the viewer to escape and admire the subjects, encouraging a changeable emotional state. I use eclectic imagery of figures and the landscape to create a new space that explores our thoughts and desires.

 I achieve this by layering subjects that merge together, allowing a translucent depth to delve into. I use instinct to piece together the images, withholding information to encourage obscurity.

I allow the freedom of colour, reflecting our sudden excitement of desire, yet control it to an acceptance, mirroring reality. Whilst exploring this theme, I test our understanding of space and structure, destabilising our safety, leading to alternative interpretation. I strive to entertain the eye and spark intrigue, stirring understanding of scale, subject and form.

 

 

Sam Houston

 

SAm Houston

 

 

 

 

Jumpcut!

During my previous four years at University I was told consistently and repeatedly how important work placements were for boosting future employability, and, like most lazy, initiative- lacking students, I decided to ignore the advice. Consequently, I graduated with nothing to distinguish myself from my (thousands) of identically, or near-identically, graded co-graduates. New film course, new year and new perspective, I decided to finally embrace the world of work experience this summer. After hundreds of applicants and two interview rounds, I was one of the very lucky 22 students to be selected for the 2014 JUMPCUT Summer Production crew. I quickly realised that lecturers aren’t in fact lying when preaching and promoting their massive benefits, and it was one of the best personal and professional experiences I’ve ever had.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

JUMPCUT is an initiative founded by SIGMA FILMS and Film City Glasgow to enable the development of young film-makers living and working in Scotland. With Channel 4 as a broadcast partner and funder, the mentored training programme takes place over twelve weeks for young people aged 16 – 25, enabling the production of a high quality 10 minute short film. The professional mentors include producer Paddy Higson (credits range from Gregory’s Girl to The Magdalene Sisters and numerous Television Drama productions); Production Designer Mark Leese (God Help the Girl, This is England, The Magdalene Sisters); Location Manager Lloret Dunn (World War Z, Never Let Me Go); Assistant Director Susan Clark (Coronation Street, Still Game, River City) and Production Manager Claire Campbell (Sunshine on Leith, Starred up) – all of whom worked closely with us during the production process.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Being a rather inexperienced first year film student, it was both heartening and interesting to learn that even the graduate film students, with four years of uni experience, were just as clueless as I was about what actually goes into a professional production. This industry, with its massive budgets and large-scale crews, is so vastly different from the small-scale student films we’re accustomed to making as students, and JUMPCUT provided an invaluable experiential bridge between these two worlds. The process was split into pre-production and production, and in the first week I bonded with my fellow crew of eager students/graduates, alongside meeting with, and hearing inspiring words from, some very wise and experienced people within the TV and Film Industry. One particular meeting with Production Executive Gillian Pauling (Fresh Meat, Peep Show, The Cube) was extremely valuable. She opened my eyes to professionalism and good practice not just being common sense, but something that so many people unfortunately fail on. Something as simple as sending a formal email seems to cause difficulty for many hopeful graduates.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

The film itself is one of two initial script choices that had to be pitched by us to SIGMA FILMS. ‘Dropping Michael Off’ was the winning preference, and pre-production commenced by organising our office space into its various department teams of Production, Art department, Camera, Locations, Sound and Post-production. The script, written by prior 2013 JUMPCUT participant James Price, depicts 18 year old Michael’s final day of freedom before his court hearing. Trying to calm his apprehensive nerves, his Uncle Duncan takes him out for what he believes should be a ‘real man’s’ last day before jail. However, Duncan’s true intentions soon become apparent.

Directed by Bafta award winner Zam Salim, ‘Dropping Michael Off’ was an incredible production to be part of. Alongside my production assistant and locations assistant role, I was also able to shadow direct, where I observed Salim’s directorial techniques and his interactions with our actors Brian McCardie (Filth, Speed 2) and Michael McCardie. Their relationship as real life uncle and nephew really magnified the realism Salim was hoping to achieve.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Returning to normal life was a difficult transition after being so immersed in the professional world of the production. It seems crazy schedules aren’t a burden one bit if you genuinely love what you’re learning, doing, and the incredible people who surround and work with you. Director of Photography James Blann and his camera team render a gritty yet stunning look with the industry standard ARRI alexa camera, and I’ll be proud to see my name on the end credits next to many talented people. ‘Dropping Michael Off’ is currently in the post-production stages and will be shown around various festivals and air on Channel 4 in 2015.

Documenting a changing neighbourhood – Vitturi’s ‘Dalston Anatomy’ at The Photographer’s Gallery

The Photographer’s Gallery, located in central London has been host to many contemporary and stimulating photography exhibitions. It was the first gallery opened in Britain, which was devoted entirely to the art of photography. Since its creation in the 1970’s the gallery has been a vital medium for reinforcing the role of photography and its capacity to play an important function in both society and culture. Lorenzo Vitturi’s ‘Dalston Anatomy’, currently on show in the John Lyon gallery, exemplifies this capacity. Vitturi is a Venice born artist, formally cinema set painter, who currently resides in Dalston, East London. As an artist he uses photography in order to cross boundaries and re-shape and interact with the world around him.

 

Vitturi’s work, in this series, documents the changing landscape of Dalston; an area of London, which is rapidly undergoing a process of gentrification. This series is the end point of a 7-year documentation process in which Vitturi witnessed his local neighbourhood transforming at an accelerated speed. The artist’s interests lie in documenting this process of decay. Such interests are highly visible here in the gallery where the Ridley Road market square is represented as lively and vibrant, yet the process of its decay is highly detectable. This photographic and sculpture exhibition seeks to capture these precarious conditions in an image.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Hairy Orange Yellow Balloons and Rotten Camote, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Hairy Orange Yellow Balloons and Rotten Camote, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

The gallery space is a vivacious and uplifting burst of colour. Such vibrancy is the artist’s representation of the energetic streets of Dalston. In order to produce this series Vitturi collected objects that were discarded from the Market – he literally collected up the pieces of the changing Dalston streets. Vitturi uses many of these organic and discarded materials to which he gives a new form. The market square is brought to life within the gallery space; it is there to be seen and admired in all of its vibrancy, but Vitturi has re-shaped it and given it a unique new form as an artwork. Some of the objects were used as found, others were doused in pigment, others were taken apart, dismantled and left to rot. Many of the objects are seen in these varying states of decay, perhaps metaphorical of the adapting world that Vitturi witnessed around him.

 

His arrangements are produced to great effect – combined with sculpture he creates a dialogue between the photographic images and the materials used. There is a distinctive play on form in this gallery and an interesting re-composition of shapes.  His exploratory artistic practice involves multi-layering objects and textures, which create energetic and dynamic pieces. The centrepiece is an almost ceiling high sculpture which gives form to various recycled materials, a beach ball, plastic cups, wooden pallets and synthetic hair. This work reinvents the meaning of the objects used, they are taken apart and dissected – they become repositioned and shifted to become part of Vitturi’s re-imagined ‘Dalston Anatomy’.

 

Lorenzo Vitturi, Exhibition Installation. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Exhibition Installation.
Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

The walls of the gallery contain many of Vitturi’s photographic portraits of market traders and other local residents. They are often hung alongside of other images, which contain an arrangement of fruit and other items. The people and the market are always represented as inter-connected in this way. On occasion they appear faceless – their faces are covered with chalk powder and other materials.

On the floor of the gallery lays a huge carpet. This carpet spans almost half of the floor space. The composition of which is extremely distinctive; it was produced in collaboration with the poet Sam Bergson. The words written on it are words, which the poet and the artist placed together to mimic the rhythm of the market street. The viewer is deliberately confused here in order to represent the confusion and busyness of the street market.

Vitturini’s work may seem confusing and whacky – its powerful use of colour is certainly not understated. Yet, if the viewer looks beyond the piles of waste and decaying bananas one can see the portrayal of a unique and individual neighbourhood. The market and the surrounding are is represented as an area, which is slowly falling apart and being adapted to suit contemporary London, but the market itself is resisting.  The market holds a unique character in spite of the process and adaptation of the surrounding areas of East London. Vitturini’s work makes statements about the ever-changing landscape of London; his work is both contemporary and energetic.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Plastic Blue, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Plastic Blue, 2013.
Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

This gallery is extremely thought provoking – it moves beyond being a photography exhibition, which simply represents the world and the artist’s surroundings. The photographic images here are the end product of a wider process. This style of photographic movement is becoming ever more politically minded – it is important to document these neighbourhoods before they are changed beyond recognition. Viturri’s artistic mood captures a working-class market attempting to gain some stability against a backdrop of rapidly changing east London.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Yellow Chalk 1 & 2, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Yellow Chalk 1 & 2, 2013.
Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

The images and the formations he produces show the capacity for such adaptation and the vibrancy and individual character of the market is still maintained.

Dalston Anatomy is currently on show at The Photographer’s Gallery, W1 Central London Until 19th October 2014. For more information visit the Photographer’s Gallery Website: www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk

 

 

An Arts Guide to Amsterdam

A colloquial reason for many to travel to the Netherlands is to get a whiff of the green stuff,however if this and Madame Tussaud’s are not for you, there is a great art scene to take advantage of on your visit. Amsterdam is a museum lover’s destination as much as the gallery goers; with a mixture of historical and contemporary you could spend up to week absorbing the culture, but only as long as the bike lanes don’t get on your nerves.

 

‘TherIs No I’ at W139 Gallery

 ‘W139 explores the unknown; we value the freedom not to know.’

I first came acrossW139 on Warmoesstraat, close to the Red Light District and known as one of the oldest streets in the city.  W139 sets out create new dialogues in art by taking artists out of their comfort zones into an experimental space. Focusing on painting and employing ‘energy, difference, theory and monochrome’ as categories of departure, the emphasis lies within the process of painting as opposed to the result. By expanding ideas around the processes of painting we can hope to extend the boundaries contemporary art is conformed to today. Featuring 20 international artists numerous works measured a large 3x5m, a staircase wall mural amongst smaller pieces and a ‘painting installation’. Many of the canvases may have been collaborations between two artists alongside approaches with performance such as Raymond Cuijpers kicking a painted football onto a constructed canvas goal.

 An Arts Guide to Amsterdam

Museumplann

 The Stedelijk museum boasts some of the greats from the 20th Century to the present day, hosting contemporary art exhibitions alongside its permanent one all within an oversized bathtub architecture. Neighbouring Stedelijk is the Van Gogh Museum where during peak times you will find over four floors of tourists absorbing the Dutch masterpieces. For the price ticket of 15.00 euros you also witness a small display about methods of conservation and an insight into Van Gogh’s more successful contemporaries where he failed to make money attempting to fit in with commercial trends.

Not far from Museumplann is Vondelpark, a picturesque setting with complimentary sculpture from ArtZuid, an international sculpture exhibition hosted across this area of the city. These works by ArtZuid Junior were particularly playful and greatly enhanced my colour contrast bar and is a great encouragement for any young artists.

(We should do more of this in England).

 

Personal Codes of Conduct’at Torch Gallery, Jordaan

 

 Personal Codes of Conduct alludes to the theme of our lives becoming increasingly digitised amongst the role of surfacing subcultures; each artist exhibited here visualises their online identity with a partially negative premise. Suzan Holen’s embroidered code communicates a paradox between constructive functionality and irrational feelings we may encounter as females using social media. Artist duo Pinar & Viola looked to emulate ‘the streets of the internet’ consisting of Trompe l’oeil Human Barbie Dolls with fantasy overlays. ‘I’ll Make You Feel Real’ is provocative of the height of narcissism we now encounter either on Instagram or embedded in the underground of net fetishes, almost verging on idolatry self love.

 

Do your own Human Barbie Overlay here: http://www.overlayer.com/u/pinar_viola

 

South Africa Art Nowat No Man’s Art Gallery

 Towards the west of the city centre, slightly off the beaten path, I came across No Man’s Art Gallery who set out to represent scouted talent at their boundless pop-ups around the world. ‘South Africa Art Nowpresented a healthy variety of photography, installation, painting and prints representing a small body of young artists often confronting domestic subjects sensitive to display. Standing out from the exhibition is Hidokuhle Sobhekwz’s undiscovered photography documenting those he knew who have succumbed to addiction of Nyapope.Nicolene Van Der Walt’s deconstructed pig graves focuses on our role in consumerism and waste as well as challenging the animal’s stereotype using the medium of soap and site-specific soil to show the futility of the still-born piglet as a product.

Mia Chaplin’s minimal palette creates an expressive set of paintings with a sense of detachment. The voyeuristic nature of her work could be said to concentrate on the inner-self and our difficulty engaging with the outer world, visually communicating this through still lives and figurative portrayals.

 

Cobra Museum

Venturing outside the city to Amstelveen, the Cobra Museum is host to a large collection of contemporary art and more recently exhibiting a host of 1950’s masters from the Guggenhiem Museum. Wherever you visit in Amsterdam, you are bound to find yourself in a creative body depending on how far you scratch the surface. The majority of gems you may find in Jordaan, where the gallery art district is the most condensed in the city. Just remember to book tickets in advance for the largest museum attractions as we do not have the privilege of walking straight into them as we do here.

Finding Vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier is a documentary film created by amateur John Maloof that is based upon the somewhat obscure and mysterious career of Nanny Vivian Maier. It was unknown that Maier had a cache of over 100,000 photographs in her collection. This has led to her posthumous reputation as one of America’s best and The New York Times regarded her as “one of America’s most insightful street photographers”. The documentary itself has won a variety of prestigious awards and been chosen as part of the official selection of Berlin and Palm Springs International film festival 2014.

 

vivian maier

Vivian Maier was born in the U.S and spent most of her childhood in France. She was a self-taught photographer and was meticulously private. She shot mostly urban life in Chicago and New York. Maier had a talent for catching the most striking monochromatic street photographs and examples of her work are shown continuously throughout the film. Themes that are popular with street photographers such as the down and out, crying children (or children with ice-cream), crime scenes and the interesting old man with a hat and a cigar is prominent within the Photographer’s work. Nonetheless, Maier’s photographs are beautiful. I absolutely adore how she captures truth and strong emotion from her subjects. Maier has a sense of humour documented within some of her photographs that include cheeky shots of women’s skirt’s flying up, dogs that provide comedy value and various other random shots. Within the situations Maier has been able to make her subjects feel at ease and capture close and personal shots that is highly commendable.

Of the various interviews throughout the film from the children she had cared for, none of them knew much about her. Truthfully, they all appeared as rather odd individuals that described Maier’s imagination, her stern demeanour and her political views. They all stated that Maier was never without her Rolleiflex Camera and guarded her possessions zealously.

 

vivian maier

John Maloof encountered Maier’s negatives at a thrift store in Chicago’s West side that led to his decision to reveal the photographer’s work to the world. This raises the question of the artist’s rights and if Maloof had the right to promote and curate Maier’s work. It was widely advertised throughout the film that Vivian was very private and showed her work to no one. Maloof questions himself continuously throughout the film and debates if he should continue to promote Maier’s work without her permission. To begin with, the photographer’s work was not even accepted or recognised by major galleries. The film documents Maloof’s struggle of raising awareness in regards to Maier’s photographs. Currently, Maloof has catalogued over 90% of Vivian’s work and is in the process of receiving recognition from major galleries across the USA.

Vivian Maier documented American street life from the 1950’s and continued for the next five decades. Maloof relates her to Henri Cartier-Bresson, which is a rather strong statement although her photographs are striking and each one is stronger than the last. The film is mediocre and does what it says on the tin (describing the life of Vivian Maier). The most important part of prying into this photographer’s life was being able to see the magic of her work on film. It is inspiring and is a must see for an aspiring photographer.

 

 

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.

 

Max Limbu – An Up and coming new Talent


FMG Arts has known about Max Limbu for just under a year. He first came to our attention after emailing asking to volunteer with the gallery, which initially showed his proactive thinking and initiative. Later in the year we were organising our exhibition ‘Narrative, Point A to Point B’, and we had chosen to focus on finding new talent through the University Fine Art Degree shows across the country. Nottingham Trent was extremely welcoming, with the head of the course, Sean Cummings, giving us a tour and explaining about some of the students and their work. There was definitely an underlying theme of ‘the conceptual’ through much of the degree show, but our favourite piece was a set of beautifully crafted white and MDF steps with a brass panel beneath it that really caught our attention. The simplicity of it’s aesthetics and the complexity of it’s creation really shone through. Unbeknownst to us it was Max Limbu’s final piece ‘Objects: Architectural Light: Expositional Glimpses: Perceptual’.

Max Limbu Fresh Meat Gallery

‘Objects: Architectural Light: Expositional Glimpses: Perceptual’, Max Limbu

Max exhibited with us in Leicester at the LCB Depot with this piece, where we properly met Max in person and found him to be passionate, hardworking and very amiable.

He has recently joined in with our current project, ‘The Arts, Undervalued’ with his untitled animation. This piece of work shows the diverse skills and talent that Max Limbu has consistently implemented within his art, especially having taken on the brief for this project and making a piece of art work specifically for it.

 

Max Limbu

 ‘Untitled’, Max Limbu

Having known Max as an installation/sculptural artist; presenting an accomplished animation with a voice modulator playing over it that is reminiscent of the Radiohead song ‘Fitter Happier’, not only solidified his continuous development as a graduate artist but the depth his work undertakes.

Max Limbu is a promising young contemporary artist that we hope will continue to develop his artistic career and no doubt go from strength to strength.

Calum

 

 

Sheffield Art Festival 2013 – Curators/Artists Talk


Both Calum and I attended the Curators and Artists brunch in Sheffield for the Sheffield Art Festival 2013. We had no idea what to expect or what was going to be discussed as the brief on their website was rather ambiguious. However we felt that it could be something worth while to discuss on here and perhaps learn something new.

It consisted of Curator, Laura Sillars and included Zero Hours writer Tom Morton, Artist and Advisor Keith Wilson and previous Art Sheffield Curator Gavin Wade. They each began by addressing questions to one another regarding the festival, Joseph Beuys and the concept of ‘Zero Hours’ – the title for the project. Much of it was focused on the Joseph Beauys work currently residing in Graves Gallery as this is the focus of the festival. The chair discussed the artist and his political views and attachment to Karl Marx. Due to Beuys being a revolutionist of his time, his work in Graves Gallery reflects this. It is an installation of a single work made in 1980 by the German artist, featuring metal shelves stacked with packets of food and other basic products purchased in the former German Democratic Republic.

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Much of the discussion focused on this work and how the other artists fitted into it and the concept of ‘Zero Hours’, a title created to highlight the notion of when does an artists clock in/ clock out? How do we know when and how an artist works? Zero Hours is a common phrase in today’s working environment to non committal working hours. It essentially reflects the recession and how it affects artists.

During the conversations, it was apparent that the other artists participating in the festival were not actually made aware of the Beuys piece prior to creating a piece of work for this festival. This did seem a little strange to me as the Sheffield Art Festival’s aims were for it to revolve around the art work by Beuys.

It had been discussed by the chair that actually, there was not enough time for the festival project and that they would have rather had a singular space for each artist.  To look at it as a whole, perhaps there are some flaws in how the Sheffield Art Festival 2013 has come together in terms of the connections of the art work and exhibition spaces but time and money can dictate everything.

So much so, Gavin Wade had discussed that there was a disappointment with the Graves Gallery space which the Beuys piece resides as it is a museum setting with a barrier around the work, which stopped you exploring the work up close and in detail. Wade expressed that it made it not a piece of art because of the line. This is something I completely agree on but he argued that art is a luxury, a waste – it is needed to allow you to take the time within a civilised society to create, to extend your own experiences.

The Beuys piece is exhibited on the top floor of Grave’s gallery, where you must walk through the gift shop to get to it, where it stands in a rather uninviting space. For me, the space was lack lustre and didn’t do the piece justice. However I posed the question to the panel, whether or not our minds are warped by the notion of the ‘white cube’ space and that this is the only true and appropriate way to showcase art. It opened a discussion that widened the understanding of how one chooses to display art over that, sometimes the decision isn’t ours to make. Laura Sillars made a valuable point that, Graves Gallery was the only place it could be exhibited because it needed the right conditions to be exhibited, having being lent by S.M.A.K Gent and one million pounds worth of insurance. The decision of Graves Gallery was one of practicality and preservation. On my second visit of the work after this discussion. It was also argued by Wade that because the artist had died a long time ago, that his work in fact was a museum piece, preserving his legacy and his thoughts and that Graves Gallery is the only place for it.

The brunch continued it’s discussion with the artists involvement and experiences of Sheffield Art Festival 2013 as well as hearing from other local curators and how to continue providing Sheffield with new and exciting art. But for me, the discussion about the placing of art work, the role the Curator actually plays was one of value.

I encourage everyone to explore Sheffield Art Festival 2013 and share your opinions on the work and it’s display. In today’s society, the art world is very much confined by the amount of funding and the time, which is something the general public does not see. It is refreshing to know where Sheffield Art Festival had it’s issues and viewed the spaces with it in mind and acknowledge the hard working Curators’ that put much time and effort into bringing a selection of interesting works for Sheffield’s community.

Sheffield Art Festival 2013 – Parallel Projects


One of the ideas for the Sheffield Art Festival 2013 opening night was for everyone to start the art crawl at The Graves Gallery to see the Joseph Beuys piece ‘Economic Values’ then head toward the other galleries showing the ‘Zero Hours’ exhibition.

However, we weren’t aware of this on the night so we started off our evening of art at the ‘Parallel Projects’ exhibition showing below S1 Artspace, which as the name suggests, was an exhibition running alongside ‘Zero Hours’.

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It is a really great space and it has to be the biggest venue housing an exhibition in this years festival. When you walk into it, it is impossible to ignore Nicholas Party‘s gargantuan piece entitled ‘Painted Floor’. It took up the majority of the warehouse building floor which was painted white with numerous colours dribbled, splashed and lacquered over this endless white canvas. There was a lot of talk about the comparison to Jackson Pollock and it is unclear if this is was intentional by the artist or was it just an easy way to describe the piece. I am questioning this because personally, the piece did not feel like a pastiche of a Pollock painting but something rather unique. This may sound peculiar due to it being aesthetically close to a Pollock and the process of making it would be almost identical though on a larger scale but that is where the similarities end. The shapes Party made were very different, they were more of a fluid swirling and circling sweeps of paint, but the biggest difference and unique quality is the scale of the work. This makes it an interactable and explorable piece and really brings in the viewer in a fun and exciting way. Rather than just standing and looking at a painting we are instead jumping over the paint and the work instantaneously becomes an installation that is remeniscent of being a child playing ‘Hot Lava’ where you imagine the floor being lava and the aim is to avoid it at all costs.

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The other piece that was on display that I really enjoyed was a piece by Sunshine Wong. Although her name is not stated in any of the festivals marketing that she was the artist, she is stated as the curator. The work is called ‘Be Our Guest‘ and is comprised of three videos playing simultaneously with headphones provided, placed on a map of Sheffield. Each video is about an artist answering questions about social engagement and connection to the city and art. The map guided you through the conversation, which reflected their journey as you listened. The style of the films were polished, effortless mini documentaries. Sunshine had stated that each of the videos was the work of the artists featured, however the interviews were written by Sunshine, the videos were made by her and the exhibition was also set up by Sunshine. Which poses the question that can Sunshine be the artist as well as the curator of these intriguing and insightful video interviews?

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The Parallel Projects exhibition was refreshing because they had no connection to the Beuys work or the theme of ‘Zero Hours’. They had separated their exhibition from the direct aims of the festival, where most of the other artworks such as at Site Gallery and Bloc Projects were in response to the concept of the Beuys piece and the ‘Zero Hours’ title. The fact that Parallel Projects had detached their exhibition from this was interesting in itself because you didn’t need to contextualise the works to the underlining themes of Art Sheffield 2013. It became it’s own piece of art in itself, with it’s own interpretation’s of the importance of art and community in Sheffield as well as being a part of Sheffield Festival 2013.

 

Sheffield Art Festival 2013


To kick off our new and improved blog we will be doing the rounds on this years Sheffield Art Festival. We will be attending exhibitions at S1 Artspace, Bloc Projects, Site Gallery and Graves Gallery and talks at Site Gallery, S1 and Graves.

Art Sheffield 2013 looks to be bigger and better than the previous festivals and we will be your eyes and ears. We will be first reviewing the show Zero Hours and more specifically the work displayed at S1 Artspace including artwork by Elena Bajo, Ryan Mosley and Katja Strunz.

It is a great time of the year to be in the North for art, like the promotional material says for the Sheffield Art Festival 13 “revealing the breadth of artistic creativity that makes Sheffield home to the largest population of artists in the UK outside of London.”

So if you are looking for a great art scene outside of London come to Sheffield for these next few months and dive into a diverse city full of equally diverse venues and enjoy Sheffield Art Festival 2013.

 

 

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