Ocean Studios- Jock Mooney, ‘WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU WANT’

Yesterday, I went along to Ocean Studios  in Plymouth to see the most recent exhibition by Jock Mooney. This was my second visit to the beautiful little gallery at Royal William Yard.img_4032blog

“Referencing the edible tableaux associated with various religious festivals, Mooney displays these ideas in large cake-like forms: a two-faced Janus cat head, a torso with multiple sexual characteristics, the severed head of Marie Antoinette. These grotesques are in part inspired by eighteenth-century gingerbread biscuits produced for Saint’s Days in many European countries. Coloured brown and beige – the colours of gingerbread, cake, chocolate, or excrement – these votive figures are held aloft on highly coloured pompoms, garish bespoke fabric and gaudy domestic furniture.”

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The exhibition is very colourful and there are lots of strange and interesting components to view including grotesque, detailed sculptures/ pen on paper drawings of faces as well as fun brightly coloured patterned rugs. It’s entertaining and different but I would definitely pick up the exhibition guide for a bit of background and explanation!

The Exhibition runs from the 23rd of September to the 20th of November.

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Wonder Women.

March was Women’s History Month and in Manchester there were tons of events to celebrate it and International Women’s Day on March 8th 2016. Similarly to last year, Wonder Women festival was held across the city featuring film screenings, art exhibitions and special events. There was also the annual Reclaim The Night march through the streets of Manchester in late February.

 I finally had the chance to visit the Pankhurst centre (which is a little hard to find,  as it is in the middle of the Manchester Royal Infirmary & is only open on Thursdays). The centre is the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters and is the location of the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union and the birthplace of the Suffragette movement. It’s a really interesting museum and acts as a women’s community centre continuing the legacy of the building. I also attended the art exhibition What IS She Wearing at Manchester Art Gallery by Instigate Arts which explored the relationship between fashion and how it is used to explore gender, sexuality and identity, this was really interesting and included performances, sculptures and installations around the gallery.

I also attended Reclaim The Night on the 25th of February, chanting and singing down the streets of Manchester, it started in Owens Park, Fallowfield and finished at the Manchester University Student Union on Oxford Road. Over 3500 people attended. This was the first Reclaim The Night I’ve attended and I absolutely loved it, the atmosphere was full of such energy, noise and a passion for what we were doing. If you don’t know, Reclaim The Night is a protest movement against street harassment, victim blaming and rape culture. As we walked through the streets we faced both support and backlash from local residents and drivers, some revving their engines to try and drown us out but that was definitely a minority of the people we encountered. Overall, it was a really great experience and I would love to attend next year.

Ocean Studios – Plymouth

Yesterday, I visited the new Ocean Studios Gallery in Plymouth. The exhibition “A Taste of Things to Come” is the first since the space opened and features artists such as Grayson Perry, Richard Deacon and Gillian Wearing. The Gallery is located at Royal William Yard, a grade 1 listed former Royal Navy building and I absolutely love the gallery space they’ve created.

The exhibition itself had key themes of feminism, motherhood and diversity. One of the most interesting pieces was a series of slate scratchings documenting artist Mary Kelly’s son learning to spell his name and slowly gaining independence after beginning school. The piece expresses how she feels at this separation from him.

I think it’s really great that Ocean Studios has opened in Plymouth, it’s aim to revitalise Plymouth culturally, re-engage the public with the arts and be a home for south west artists is fantastic and I will definitely be visiting future exhibitions!

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You can find out more about Ocean Studios here:

http://www.plymouthculture.co.uk/ocean-studios.html

http://oceanstudios.org.uk

The Feminist Takeover.

Tomorrow on the 5th of March there will be a feminist takeover of Manchester art gallery as part of the launch of Wonder Woman week. I helped organise this event with a group of feminists and artists and will be there filming it tomorrow night! We’ve got a huge range of art from women mainly based in the North West.

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Taken from the Press Release:

From suffragette smashing windows in the gallery to a breathtaking exhibition of female surrealists, Manchester has a rich heritage of stereotype-smashing women. Yet society, and the art world, is still dominated by men. ‘In Emergency Break Glass’ brings together the North’s best emerging female contemporary artists, performers & creatives to challenge the male-dominated artistic canon, respond to the gallery’s artworks and inspire attendees. Curated by The Feminist Takeover team (made up of feminist artists, curators, writers and researchers, protagonists from No More Page 3, For Book’s Sake, Mighty Heart Theatre and Stirred Poetry),

This Thursday Late will run from 5.30-8, with events beginning in the Atrium at 6pm. Audiences are invited to tour the new contemporary exhibition that we have installed within the permanent collection. Live performances are scheduled all evening throughout the gallery and within the Feminist Takeover hub in the Atrium, and audiences are welcomed to explore the issues for themselves via the interactive arts & artist discussions that will be occurring throughout the evening in the Atrium.

By giving self-identified women a voice in the context of Manchester Art Gallery we aim to encourage discussion and explore the issues around the representation of women within the gallery, the art world and the wider society.

If any of my followers are based in Manchester, this will be a great event and I hope you attend!

The facebook event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1374843142834105/

The Film London Jarman Award 2014

The Jarman Award shortlist is currently touring the UK before the winner is announced in December. It is named after film artist, Derek Jarman who died in 1994. This is the 7th year of the award which is given to the best contemporary film artist of the year.

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The screening of the nominees was accompanied by a short Q&A with film artist Redmond Entwistle whose film Walk-Through about the California Institute of the Arts was shown.  He explained during the Q&A that the film was about the comodification of education and was semi-autobiographical having attended the university himself in the past. Overall there were 10 films shown, 2 of which were only excerpts including the widely talked about 20,000 Days on Earth the fictitious documentary about Nick Cave by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

My favourite of the films screened was Peripeteia  by John Akomfrah. The film took two drawings by an artist called Albrecht Durer which are among the earliest western representations of black people. The film imagines these people in a ghostly way explaining how they are now “lost to the winds of history”.

Whilst a few of the films were not to my taste, everything was interesting, original and experimental. It was a great example of contemporary artist filmmaking and I am looking forward to see which film wins.

David Bailey

Born the 2nd of January 1938, David Bailey is an English photographer. He became a photographic assistant at the John French studio  before becoming a fashion photographer for British Vogue in 1960. His work captured and helped create the ‘Swinging London’ of the 1960s. I recently looked through his book of photography called “Look”. His work is incredibly interesting and focuses mostly on portraits which is something I personally enjoy taking. 

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David Bailey currently has an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London called Stardust. This is separated by a series of contrasting rooms and shows the range of subjects that Bailey has captured including actors, writers, musicians, filmmakers, designers, models, artists and people encountered on his travels around the world. Rooms include Bailey’s time in East Africa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Delhi and the Naga Hills, as well as icons from the worlds of fashion and the arts. The exhibition features over 250 images, personally selected and printed by Bailey.

There is an interesting short documentary on him here:

http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/18718/1/david-bailey-truth-beauty-bailey

Women in Art

Painting by Laura Knight
Painting by Laura Knight

I recently went to an exhibition at Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery called “Women in Art”.  This exhibition has work from the Renaissance to the modern day. It features models, portraits and 20th century ceramics surrounding women.

Artists on display include John Waterhouse, Beryl Cook, Prunella Clough, Rose Hilton, Elizabeth Forbes, Anya Gallacio and Kate Nicholson. Ceramics by Clarice Clift, Dorothy Doughty and Lucie Rie.

Next door to this exhibition was a collection of portrait paintings by Laura Knight which I particularly enjoyed.

However, it got me thinking about sexism in the arts and how hard it is for female artists to be taken seriously and be remembered by history.

For example, how many female artists featured in the top 100 auction sales, ranked by price, last year? Gemma Rolls-Bentley, an independent curator, looked at the 2012 list “and spent a couple of hours writing M next to the artists. I got to the end and there wasn’t a single F.” The list was a mixture of living and dead artists, all were highly valued both critically and economically and all were men.

Campaigning group UK Feminista in 2010 showed that 83% of the artists in Tate Modern were men, along with 70% of those in the Saatchi Gallery.

These numbers further reflect women’s marginalisation in art history. It is estimated that only around 5% of the work featured in major permanent collections worldwide is by women. The National Gallery in London, for example, contains more than 2,300 works however only 11 of the artists in their collection are women.

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This is a poster from the Guerrilla Girls, a feminist activist group who started highlighting sexual and racial inequality in the arts in 1985 – while dressed in gorilla masks due to being ignored. Perhaps their most famous poster came in 1989, and featured the female nude from Ingres’s “Grande Odalisque”.

Obviously, this is not just an issue in painting and sculpture but across all artistic mediums.

More information on women in art history:

Kevin Mcelvaney- Agbogbloshie

Agbogbloshie is a wetland close to Ghana which is surrounded by rivers that stream into the Atlantic Ocean.

As a result of illegal exports and fake development aid this area has become one of the biggest e-waste dumps in the world. It is filled with Computers, Monitors, Fridges, Stereos, Video players etc.  Kevin Mcelvaney spent 4 days in this area and met hundred of people who told him that due to countless bad harvests they’d been forced to move to this area to earn money. Often children without their parents. They collect metal with magnets from the E-Waste. The devices are full of toxic chemicals that are damading when inhaled or touched. This can make the children very ill with lung problems, eye and back damages with insomnia. Photographer Mcelvaney began to feel the effects of this after just a few hours. The devices mostly end up here because it is ‘too expensive’ to dispose of them properly or recycle them.

Mcelvaney describes this as “a social-economic and environmental disaster”.

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This is extremely harmful to the planet and begs the question are we really a progressive society if our consumer culture causes other people to live amongst our waste? This E- Waste is also an irritant on our geopolitics through our exploitation of other countries. I was drawn to this project due to the Media Archaeology essay I recently completed for University in which I explored Zombie Media and E-Waste in relation to the definition of progress. This Photography project definitely reflects this and is incredibly thought provoking.