Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Flock Of Birds

I've recently upgraded my phone to an iphone, so I'm testing its capacity for photos and other recordings, however, it lacks storage, so I'm also testing out the use of cloud storage to be able to upload images and store large amounts of data, along with Google + (which I've never found necessary before).

This is for the potential to create stop-motion animations with the iphone, to see if it's possible. 
Here's a test photo of a bench in Nettleham, just outside of Lincoln.
bench at Nettleham
So far having difficulty attempting to update this blog on my iphone, but have found my iphone photos on my mac and have been more successful updating that way.
Videos and animation will take up a lot more memory, so I will need some way to store and upload the data. I can always use my old camera, but I was hoping this way might be more efficient, and I can work more remotely.

Listening to a lot of bird songs lately....

I've been tweeting new articles about about arts funding, and I thought that some could be linked in here for the purposes of professional practice and reference.

Fix The Pipeline For STEAM Talent In The Creative Economy

Paying Artists

Failed Scientist - for my previous work with Apparatjik, and as I consider ideas for Ayscoughfee based around ornithology and taxidermy, and with my current graphic novel being illustrated as a creative experiment in Cloudbusting, Lincoln is the STEAMpunk capital of Europe.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Since Sliced Bread exhibition at Ayscoughfee Hall

This week I visited Spalding and Ayscoughfee Hall to see how Fi Burke had responded to the space with her current exhibition "Since Sliced Bread".
I read this review, and after my disgust at the description "mere illustration" - as a joint honours graduate, I would never ever describe illustration as "mere" or less than any other creative discipline - I went to see the exhibition myself.

Fi isn't from Lincolnshire, so she had to spend a lot of time visiting many of the locations of windmills that are a familiar part of my own heritage, and researching things that for me, would be fairly straightforward.
For instance, the Windmill Field, is similar to a concept I had in mind for a proposal I wrote that wasn't successful. 
The windmills are exhibited in a similar fashion to memorial fields, trapped in a windless brick undercroft as a memorial to the millers and farmers, including my Grandad, who had a small family farm. More information here.

Fi Burke - Windmill Field 2014
There is a war memorial in Ayscoughfee, but invariably many names of people like my Grandad, who never fought and died in the war, nor my Grandma, who never fought and died in the war, are never remembered. 

Community Garden of Wisdom
Growing up in South Holland meant that adults would often disappear down the greenhouse, and sometimes would give you tasks to do, such as setting seeds, or filling plant pots with compost. Dad would always mark his plants on white plastic markers with a chinagraph pencil. He worked in a nursery growing houseplants, and his sudden death felt much as though he'd disappeared out of one of those vast greenhouses and left us behind. The Pavilion of The Limpid Solitude.
Here Fi has invited workshop participants to share food and mill-related sayings to create a community garden of wisdom.

Fi Burke - We Are What We Eat
 In the room behind the kitchen at Ayscoughfee, Fi made use of the pantry, filled with jars containing text from William Blake's Auguries of Innocence.
In that rejected proposal, I wanted to paint portraits of contemporary Lincolnshire folk on plates, possibly in the style of Van Gogh, to reference the Dutch history of South Holland.

Fi Burke - We Are What We Eat
Fi Burke - Flours
After chatting to Fi and curator Rachel about a possible meeting in November, I went around the gardens to take some photos of the aviary. 
It had never really occurred to me how lucky we were to have the aviary at Ayscoughfee, until I moved to Lincoln - I guess I thought every park had one, so I took the opportunity to photograph the birds and take some sound recordings of their bird calls for reference. The large aviary at Ayscoughfee is filled with budgerigars, cockatiels, lovebirds, and a variety of exotic bird species that I always secretly wanted to let fly free. I'm not a huge fan of caged birds. This is also something worth exploring.

Love birds at Ayscoughfee

Add caption

There used to be a large peacock aviary across the garden opposite, but peacocks no longer reside at Ayscoughfee, and that aviary that stood empty for a while is no longer there. I started to imagine 3D printing peacock statues in honour of the former residents.

A bench in Ayscoughfee Gardens 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Albino Bird & Mammals @ The Collection - research sketches

An hours' work at the Usher gallery this afternoon, sketching the Albino Bird & Mammal collection for research purposes. 
I'm particularly intrigued by the albino blackbird.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Sheffield trip

This Ikea box is currently sitting in my studio to be used as a set for animation.
It's quite small, but when folded out creates a considerable space in which to start creating a scenario for the Ayscoughfee bird narrative. It has an origami / Ikea construct that is very appealing. The Scandinavian link is quite appropriate considering Faglar i Sverige.

On Wednesday, I went to Sheffield to visit Site gallery to see Matt Stokes' In Absence Of The Smoky God, and to attend Matt Stokes In Conversation with Dr. David Forrest 
This work was interesting for me with regard to past work such as The Unreal God And Aspects Of His Non-Existent Universe, however, what interested me for project planning is his use of language, in imagining a future language spoken by the inhabitants of the Underground and Overground worlds, and the imagined scenario and narrative of a post-apocalyptic Sheffield.

I also dropped into Access Space, where Ruthie Ford's Crochet Pound work explored a-n's #payingartists campaign

S1 Artspace was having a changeover, so I went to Graves gallery, where this flock of birds filled the stairwell.

Su Blackwell's "In Honour of J.G. Graves, the benefactor" 2009

Founder of the Graves gallery, Su has utilised Graves' mail order catalogues for her paper sculptural piece, although this isn't animated, this is how I'm starting to imagine the Ashley Maples bird collection - in bird boxes.
Nice to see a businessman and a keen cyclist.

There was also one of Damien Hirst's Spin paintings on loan from Jarvis Cocker's private collection - you can't escape him any where!

Friday, 26 September 2014

MA Show and research

Bikeability in Sleaford

wooly bike at NCCD
 My visit to NCCD went well. I saw / smelt Meekyoung Shin's collection of soap paintings, vases and sculptures, and Mandy Bray's Up The Garden Path reminded me of the work I made for Fictions back in 2011.
Most impressive was that by filling out a questionnaire, I was offered a free tea - one way of #payingartists

Mandy Bray - Up The Garden Path at NCCD

Mandy Bray - Up The Garden Path at NCCD

Mandy Bray - Up The Garden Path at NCCD

Apparatjik house
I spent far too much time making this Apparatjik Cube house complete with fake Magne A, fake Jonas A with the materials available for visitors to create their own versions!

Later that week, I went to see the MA Shows at UoL ProjectSpacePlus.
I'm familiar with Larissa Brennen's work with taxidermy, and she has progressed her practice to create stories with found preserved animals combined with a sense of children's play. Resembling macabre Beatrix Potter stories, work is presented as found objects alongside printed text that tells the story, with a Jan Svankmajer / Bagpuss style animation showing the story inside the small shed.

Larissa Brennen "Untitled"

Larissa Brennen "Untitled"

Larissa Brennen "Untitled"
 The mouse riding a tiny bike

Larissa Brennen "Untitled"

Larissa Brennen "Untitled"
For the proposal I had started to imagine, this is something of a reversal of the intended work. As Larissa uses actual dead animals, but the taxidermy birds and animals in storage from the original collection are fragile, and preserved in things like formaldehyde, so therefore I would not be able to use the original birds in this way. However, an animation created using them as a starting point was my intention.
I was imagining something more like Rachel Heir's animation below.

Rachel Heir - Goldilocks And The Economy
Here is the set she made for the stop-motion animation Goldilocks And The Economy.

Rachel Heir
This was part of the MA Design show Upstairs, and is how I intend for my practice to progress towards illustration and animation, not fine art.

Rachel Heir
Here's an example of how her Jan Svankmajer inspired animation resembles scenes from Pushwagner's Soft City.

Rachel Heir

Rachel's animation was the only work in the show that addresses the very real issues out in the wider world, outside of the institution.
Along with the way that Jessica Rawlings used overheard conversations during trips to locations such as Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and other places, to create illustrated prints that don't follow a brief, and which she attempts to consider as fine art, made me feel that being a joint honours graduate gives my work a quality that others can only ever touch upon, and was where my concept to create sound work inspired by Oyvind Fahlstrom in response to Ayscoughfee, Lincolnshire dialect and the birds.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Back to school - and back to "work"

So, one son is back at school, the other has had Induction Day at college, and I can now get on with some work again.

I've been following the Paying Artists updates reluctantly. I fully support the campaign, but it's taking too long and isn't doing anything.

For instance, along with updates, such as the news that Jeremy Deller supports it, there'll be an event for artists to attend (currently this is at Metal, in Peterborough, a place I once considered applying for a residency, a city I'm very familiar with, as I have cousins living there; until I noticed  more conflicts of interest - mainly, no accommodation for the Time and Space residency) then there'll be a link shared to the Artists' Fees Toolkit, outlining artists' day rate fees, but yet, no fee will be offered to cover even basic costs for artists, such as travel - train tickets to Peterborough for me from Lincoln are neither hugely expensive, nor a long way to travel - it takes just over an hour - but if I was being paid for my time and expertise for the meeting, it would be covered.

"It's free" - yes, that's great, it's better than including some kind of "admin" fee or "application" fee, but train tickets aren't free. My tenancy renewal fee isn't free, and the fridge freezer has bust, and when I look at new ones, they're not free either.

And when I do cycle training, I get paid more than I do for anything to do with being an artist. On Monday, for example, I will be going to Sleaford for an instructor's meeting, for which expenses are paid. I will be using this as an opportunity to visit the NCCD. I wouldn't ordinarily go out of my way to go there otherwise. 

Here is a blog I came across that is of interest to me as I collate ideas for proposed new work at Ayscoughfee Hall Museum next year, for working with museums.

I'm interested in "seeing" Rob Flint's Flock Mnemonics at The Collection, as I intend to create something inspired by Öyvind Fahlström's Faglar i Sverige for Ayscoughfee.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Onochord Bicycle Bell cycle ride

Whilst I'm not enjoying the summer holidays, which consists largely of buying school uniform, and some time tidying and re-organising my studio, I've been escaping from the house to go cycling.
I'm now a qualified adult cycle training instructor, and a Skyride Leader, so I've been earning some extra money (and therefore not having a holiday) doing this. As I normally go out and ride my bike for transport and leisure, it's logical to earn money doing it to support my practice (ironically, because being an artist doesn't pay the bills). #paying artists
This is what happens, unlike the arts, where you pay to enter a submission only to be told "unfortunately your work wasn't successful", you go and take your trainees out, or a group of people for a bike ride, and shortly after that, you get paid for having successfully done this work. 
I like this, it feels normal. 

The Onochord Bicycle Bell ride, however, was a social cycle ride that I organised as separate to any paid Skyride Leader bike rides. That was because the rides organised in Lincoln on Sundays always start at 10.00a.m. and I am not likely to be up and about on a Sunday morning at 10.00a.m. 
I normally prefer to be out and about on a Sunday afternoon around 2.00p.m, so I organised the Onochord Bicycle Bell ride for others that are of a similar disposition (and like a Sunday morning lie-in!) 

Participants for the first Lincoln Onochord Bicycle Bell ride

I was pleasantly surprised to find there were 4 people booked on to it, so along with some additional children, there was a considerable group of participants.
The Onochord is normally performed by Yoko Ono with torches, and as such I initially tried it with bike lights. However, most bike lights have several settings, none of which work when performing the Onochord, so I adapted it for bicycle bells.
It was really nice that participants rang the Onochord along the route, and that if I rang the Onochord from the head of the ride, it passed down each cyclist toward the back.

A bicycle made for two!
I'm hoping to organise a huge one day Bicycle Bell Onochord event with support from some of the organisations I work with. Some ACE funding would come in handy so that I can be paid to deliver this, as British Cycling might not continue with Skyrides next year.

The next Onochord Bicycle Bell ride is planned for Sunday 31st August.

Another GoSkyride event was tweeted for Changing Tracks, with commissioned art along a disused railway line in the Nene Valley. This is much like the kind of thing I'd like to organise or be commissioned to do along the Viking Way or the Dukeries trail from Lincoln.

There is already some existing art work of varying calibre along the Water Railway route. These were commissioned by Sustrans between 2006 - 2007.
My interest is more related to the parts of the route that follow The Viking Way, and my connection to Norway and work with Apparatjik, as well as the previous Outer Trial Bank project and the Apparatjik bike (which is currently being used as a spare bike). 

The Dukeries Trail is possibly of more interest, as there is less public artwork along the route between Lincoln and Fledborough, and the route eventually goes to Nottinghamshire towards Sherwood Forest. In fact, it is a plan of mine to get the train to Worksop and Shirebrook and go cycling around Sherwood Forest. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Failed commission

A while ago, I put together a proposal for an archway in Lincoln city centre. It wasn't successful. The "curators" were not curators, but Lincoln BIG and city centre traders, so I didn't think I'd stand a chance anyway, and I didn't care that it wasn't successful.
Here is the winning design 
Compared to my proposal, creatively, it isn't all that good.
My proposal was for the arch to be constructed as a street light, so that it could be illuminated at night. Inspired by Simon Periton's lamp outside Firstsite in Colchester
it was designed to reflect the story of Little Sir Hugh, a Lincoln legend about a choirboy that was murdered and thrown down a well, written in song as Child ballad 155
The story is located in the area, and relates to the Jews House, which is at the end of The Strait.

Taking the Steeleye Span song and the legend as a starting point, the illuminated image of Little Sir Hugh with his ball, and falling down (the well or Steep Hill) is incorporated into an archway designed as a bedhead to reflect the lyrics about the winding sheet.
The archway shape also included Lego brick steps to reflect the hill, and to reflect the fact that The Strait is part of The Viking Way, running from Castle Hill down towards the High Street, with Danesgate nearby.

The subtle illumination at night would reflect the Cathedral when it is lit up, so that as you pass under the archway, there is the connection between downhill and uphill.
Someone asked "what next? A neon sign....?" Yes, this draws from Tracey Emin and Kendell Geer's work outside the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, 2010, but in keeping with the history of the location - a way of introducing contemporary art to a historical location. The choice of gentle white light, rather than anything more "Skegvegas" or  neo-consumerist.

Obviously a rather boring iron archway with simple religious symbols (muslim symbolism appears to have been omitted, despite the fact that a new mosque is being built in the city) is more preferable, and will obviously make people flock up the hill to spend money in the shops there - not - it won't do anything to encourage me to shop there, as I wasn't commissioned. 

In short, I've seen much more innovative works of art commissioned in other cities, and it would be much better to have actual artists / curators commission art work around the city, not those that have no knowledge or experience within the arts.

Any comments about my proposal in comparison to the commissioned work would be welcome.

Update (Nov 2014) An example of a successful piece of neon artwork in another city is this piece in Swansea to commemorate the life and work of Dylan Thomas.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Summer holiday blues

It's the summer holidays, which means I have less time to consider funding applications, or applying for residencies that aren't successful, and failing to achieve most of my career aims.
I've been told that I'm a good artist by several people recently. Even though I have failed to achieve anything meaningful, have not been able to produce any work that I would consider particularly good, and have barely survived the last few months at all, never mind create anything.
I am starting to look forwards, and with support from friends and colleagues, I'm starting to think about new LAN projects again, with a house exhibition planned for Hallowe'en.

You'd think, to look at these drawings, that it'd be easy enough to get on with some form of creativity with a 15 year old mostly playing computer games, so why is it that the minute I go to do something, he's there in my face? 
This is my youngest son. Credit where credit's due, he does help out quite a lot with things from time to time, but no, he won't go to exhibitions, and he won't go out with any friends to do sports, and has somehow broken his bike. He wants everything, and of course, doesn't have a clue how lucky he is to have anything at all.

So, about that holiday.

Tax credits renewal finances don't seem to have factored in the concept at all. Apparently there's a £500 "overpayment" that is stressing me out. 

I have to pay for a holiday cottage in Wales for us all for next year, as my brother is getting married. What would be great, would be to stay in Wales for a bit longer, and spend some time around Swansea and Cardiff (where Doctor Who is filmed - the boys are both into Doctor Who, so it would be great to catch that.

What would be perfect, would be that, considering no one seems to want to pay me for my work, to not have to pay for things like holidays. Or maybe, if I were paid properly, I'd be able to afford to pay for a week in Wales for myself and 2 teenagers.

Why is it that when you bring up the subject of getting paid as an artist, or not working for free any more, there are always those that say "that isn't the reason I create work" - as if that's an excuse for impoverishment?
A doctor doesn't go to medical school or treat patients purely for money alone, but a doctor still gets paid, and doesn't have to pay NHS managers to use their surgery as far as I'm aware of. I could be wrong, it isn't the kind of thing I think to ask during a consultation, and I consider myself lucky enough not to have needed to go to the doctor's lately, but I'm fairly certain that people that work in offices don't pay to use their office the way artists seem to be expected to pay for studio space whilst not being paid. 

"Gingerbread is not able to help with the cost of holidays"

This blog post was written at 7.00a.m. before the teenagers get up. I may not be seen again before September!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Le Tour Sheffield 2014

Le Tour de Sheffield
t' bike jaune / le velo yellow

Sheffield ready for Le Tour de France

 Cassandra Kilbride's Woolly Bike Trail on display at Sheffield Cathedral
knitted Viking bike for the win!

knitted Viking bike

Artist Cassandra Kilbride and her Woolly Bike Trail @ Sheffield Cathedral

artist Cassandra Kilbride and her Woolly Bike Trail at Sheffield Cathedral

Steampunk countdown clock

examples of Le Tour themed creations at Millenium Gallery,  Sheffield

Yorkshire in Yellow @ Museums Sheffield

"t' fromage"