Life in a Shoe Box
The first major public facing show we took part in last year was Life In a Shoebox. The title came from the idea we all have limited space to work in, particularly in a city like London where space is at a premium, which is even more of an issue for creative work.
It was also inspired by the size of the room we intended to fill. The Back Room Gallery in Peckham Rye is very small and there were 27 of us.
Following a few meetings to decide how to deal with the challenges of the space we chose to impose a size restriction on our works: no more than the rough size of a shoebox.
These shoeboxes were designed by Paul Anton and built (mostly) by Kostas, with help from myself and a few others from time ot time in the wood workshop. They were all of similar volume but made to three different designs. These were completed a couple of months before the show in order to give people time to work with them, as they became part of the works themselves.
One of the designs was a pain to build and although they brought the whole show together visually, in retrospect they could have been made simpler as in some cases more time was spent crafting the vessels than the artwork in them. I decided to continue with the idea that a journey through a space creates its own narrative. I took the box for walks through Wimbledon Common. I found dens and discovered spaces it could inhabit. I thought about connections between early habitations and wandering tribes, and what a home was meant to be for. I had previously been reading Robert Pogue Harrison's The Dominion of The Dead and was interested in the idea an early dwelling was a kind of burial site, a place "the living probably returned at intervals, to commune with or placate the ancestral spirits."
As I wandered I recorded these interactions between the box and the landscape and created a space inside the box that displayed these interventions, along with an amalgamation of objects from the journey mixed with digital prints, with a soft glow of red light shone through perspex in the base via a battery powered lamp. This interior became like a miniature shrine room infused with a sense of psychedelia.
Golden Boy (a carrot for a donkey)
In collaboration with Carlos Sebastia presented at the Crypt Gallery, London
Issues surrounding conformity and the power of the state and the martyrdom of St. Pancras are the primary subjects explored in the work.
The words came from a film by Noam Chomsky, rearranged into a Dada-like poem and piped through a text to speech conversion tool, captured and edited against the backdrop of me engaged in a surreal and somewhat restricted marionette-like movement.
Gold signifies the wealth and power of authority, and St. Pancras was beheaded as his stay of execution by the state authority so I wanted to separate the head from the body in the film.
This way of working allowed us to experiment with new materials and processes. Light and sound fitted well into the environment of the crypt and we both agreed early on that projected video would deal with the space effectively.
For the exhibition itself I was a member of the tech team for the install and take-down and also sent out the press release to various organisations and individuals. I gave a short gallery talk about my work on the Sunday.
Key skills learned:
Collaborating effectively with another artist
Splitting workflow by recognising one another's strengths
Supporting one another at different stages of the making process
Working together to teach each other new skills, such as working with a green screen and working with After Effects.
For the exhibition itself I was on the technical team that helped install the work in the Crypt. We spent a few days preparing the space for the show and worked cooperatively to achieve the end result.
One That Holds Everything
with Carlos Sebastia
Just before Easter this year I visited Valencia, Spain, to work with Carlos Sebastia on a joint project there.
We began by collecting objects from a local scrapyard to arrange and create a set up which evoked new possibilities for the objects themselves. Carlos works with memory and the overlaying of imagery creates repetition as an interesting type of visual vocabulary. The shadows from these objects give them extra importance and the scenes, although still, began to remind me of works by William Kentridge.
We edited and processed the resultant images using Photoshop. I had a preference for the more raw ones that had less digital manipulation (as the first image top-left above), which feel less like sets and more like places of work or habitation made eerie when without the presence of a living being. I preferred the first image because it retains its rawness and therefore the objects contained as having some empathy for their surroundings, a bundle of relations you can see more of.
Collaboration with Kostas Leloudas
Identifying a link between the bandages and plasters used to heal as well as expose society, as referred to by Polish artist Kryzsztof Wodiczko, and the appearance of shelters, in reference to the work of Michael Radowitz, artist Kostas Leloudas and I began working together outside.
We thought these environmental interventions might reveal something new about our respective working practices.
Looking at Kostas' sculptures I began thinking of the holes as portals of a kind that we could separate part of the scene with using photography. Remnants of dyed fabric I had taken along with Kostas' representations of band aids gave the woodland a human interface, something that conveys dilapidation through an unexplained interference.
The image above used the blue of a sculpture to separate parts of the scene, occlusion to create curiosity, which is why it relates to my work. There is an element if oddness to the whole situation - why are these objects there in the first place? There's also a slight evocation of a folk or fairy tale - perhaps something by The Brothers Grimm - which could down to the setting, but the romanticism inherent in a common woodland setting is strengthened by the potential of the human-nature bond suggested by these interactions, because the objects themselves have agency (akin to characters in a play).
Identifying some mutual concerns
MFA Show - Video Promo
Joint project with Rosie McGinn
This is a short film my colleague Rosie McGinn and I created ahead of the Wimbledon MFA postgraduate show, to be placed across social media and on the MFA Stars website to promote the artists involved.
We gathered footage and conducted interviews before editing it all together in Premiere Pro. We felt there was a way to engage people with the work in the show by showing snippets of works-in-progress. We asked the artists simple questions to get them to talk about their work.
It was a good working partnership and we had fun with the project. We intend to take this working relationship forward into future projects after graduation.
One of these projects will be a site focusing on up and coming artist interviews, called Art Waffle, potentially one of a series of holistic artist ventures and supportive platforms. During the process of working on the video above we realised that there was a gap in the market for providing a platform for emerging artists and an insight into their studio production, as well as expanding our growing network of peers and mentoring groups.
Currently showing work by Jane Pickersgill
At the start of summer 2017 I became the curator of a small project space, an 8' display window near Seven Sisters, north London.
I rotate the work roughly every month and is an interesting spot to show work on a fairly busy road (serving as one entry point into London from the north).
The space is attached to a business and so isn't without association, but it is free and works well for large poster works or paintings. Being able to help give exposure to up and coming artists is satisfying; I hope passers-by notice and take something from the work being shown.