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Anna Gillespie: Contemporary Figurative British Sculpture

21 Jun

Anna Gillespie: Contemporary Figurative Brisith Sculpture: Welcome.

Robyn Woolston

20 Jun

Open speaks to the 2012 Liverpool Art Prize winner,Robyn Woolston. Liverpool-based Robyn Woolston, a filmmaker, photographer and installation artist won the recent Liverpool Art Prize 2012 winning £2000 and a solo display at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery in 2013.

Congratulations on winning the 2012 Liverpool Art Prize, how did it feel to have won?

Utterly overwhelming, it’s been a rollercoaster ride from short-list to announcement. Primarily though it’s been an honor to work in such a unique environment, architecturally and historically, as Metal at Edge Hill station. It’s the world’s oldest standing passenger railway station and as such is imbued with texture, context and narrative.

What brought you to Liverpool?

I studied for my second degree at Wirral Met College, through John Moores University, and stayed for the Capital of Culture… and I appear to still be here! In some ways I feel deeply nomadic but really I only ‘settle’ by the sea so Liverpool’s perfect as it’s tidal and creative.

What do you find most inspiring about the city?

The buildings, the creative ebb and flow of the people and events like the Biennial. Not to forget Fact, Tate Liverpool and emergent galleries like Curve who are now operating out of two spaces, one in Liverpool and one in Newcastle, Australia.  Tell us a bit about your winning exhibit ‘last’. It’s the second part of a work containing 132,000 pieces of plastic cutlery. The first part was shown at Threshold Festival in early 2012 and was called ‘Smart Price’. Both works question our use of finite resources within an economy that places profit above planet in terms of value to the human race. The prize winning piece, ‘last’ 2012, also contained an 8.5m silver birch tree and a neon sign in conjunction with the plastic.

When did you realise your future was to be as an artist?

When I tried to ‘wedge’ myself into broadcast television production in a standardised form – it’s where I began professionally. Having said that Art was the one thing that always made sense to me as a child, the one process that ‘flowed’, so ultimately I cannot differentiate between those early steps, mark-making, and the way I work with materials now. I still work instinctively.

Who has been the biggest influence on your work?

I’d have to say practitioners like Rauschenberg, Beuys and Kiefer. What resonates most is their relationship to materials and the way in which they interrogate ‘meaning’ through their use of ‘resources’. On an environmental note a former Jain monk called Satish Kumar has irrevocably altered the way in which I view the world and for that I will be forever grateful.

What is the ethos behind your work?

I work with waste products and emotions; the physical detritus that the industrialised society, banking and brands for example, would rather reject. Sometimes such ‘waste’ comes in the form of a vulnerable emotion, like grief, at other times it’s literal, like plastic. My drivers are ecological and my perspective is culturally ‘situated’ so I’m always trying to understand the push-and-pull between the two. To ‘renegotiate’ the boundaries between what a brand sells me and what the earth teaches me.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Make contacts, learn about materials, follow your instinct, explore, experiment, take risks, learn from those that know, grow. Acknowledge what ‘best practice’ is within your field then understand what bearing it has upon your own creative voice in terms of the clarity of your message.

What can we expect to see next from you?

I’m currently exhibiting with Curve Gallery in Australia. Later in the year, for the Biennial, I am re-installing a temporary light installation into an Orthodox Jewish cemetery in Kensington, Liverpool and next year I’ve a solo show at the Walker. So the journey continues.

via – Open the City | Open Magazine.

Berlin Trip 1: Hamburger Bahnhof

26 Feb

Tues 21st Feb: Hamburger Bahnhof

Special exhibition: Ryoji Ikeda

Lots of really interesting art here – favourites included: Joseph Beuys, Anslem Kiefer, Rauschenberg and Bruce Nauman’s installation space.

In 1996, the Hamburger Bahnhof opened with the collection belonging to the Berlin entrepreneur Dr. Erich Marx. Ever since, the Marx Collection has been a central component of the museum’s inventory. Outstanding works by artists such as Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol – many of them on permanent display – have earned the collection international renown. Pieces such as Anselm Kiefer’s lead pieces and even more so Andy Warhol’s large “Mao” (1973) are iconic trademarks of the museum. The Marx collection is on permanent loan to the Nationalgalerie, and is presented by the curators in changing configurations.

The core of the Marx Collection revolves around five major personalities of late 20th century art: Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. The collection contains wide-ranging ensembles of works by all five, making it possible for the museum to chart the artistic development of each from the early production all the way to the late or recent works.

The Power of Making: Victoria and Albert Museum,

22 Dec

ArtSlant – September 6th – January 2nd, 2012, Victoria and Albert Museum,

“Power of Making is an exhibition about the breadth and depth of craft’s presence in modern life. The featured objects have been selected to highlight both age-old skills and contemporary techniques, from traditional stone walls to machines that can make other machines. Each exhibit demonstrates refined craftsmanship, meticulous control or ingenious application.

The exhibition is structured in groups of objects that share certain attributes. Some have been created using related techniques or materials. Others are connected by their appearance, or by their makers’ motivations.

There is no set path to follow. Power of Making is intended to encourage exploration and imagination, in the open-ended spirit of the works on display.

Types of making

Makers use numerous different skills and techniques to shape their materials. All these techniques may be considered as falling into one of just three types.

Adding techniques connect, layer or combine materials. They include welding, soldering, veneering, weaving, embroidery and painting.

Subtracting techniques remove materials. They include cutting, carving, engraving, drilling and grinding.

Transforming techniques alter materials themselves. They include throwing clay, blowing glass, forging metal, and baking. The transformed states may be temporary or permanent. Irreversible transformations occur in processes like vacuum forming, stereolithography and casting.

Every object in this exhibition has been made by adding, subtracting or transforming material, or by combining these processes.

Learning a skill

Too many people never get a chance to experience the highest levels of making. Most can make something, at least at an amateur level, and many reach a professional standard. But there are many layers of expertise beyond that. It may take years to attain complete mastery.

At every stage in the learning process, a maker’s relationship to materials and tools changes dramatically. What may at first have been frustrating becomes pleasurable. Makers start to think through their materials and skills, almost unconsciously. Once they learn how to use and care for a tool, makers might start modifying it, or even invent a new tool to replace it. In all these ways, learning a skill is a way of opening up future possibilities and challenges.

In the zone

Advanced skills may take a long time to learn, but the feeling of being ‘in the zone’ can be experienced by anyone – from a four-year-old to a master artisan. When you are absorbed in making, things happen that you didn’t plan. The experience is intuitive, like sport, and it can be meditative, like music.

This sensation of effortless flow is a reward in its own right, but it is also a situation of intense learning. Makers who are immersed in what they are doing build on existing skills and discover new ones. Innovations in making happen, more often than not, when they are least expected.

Making new knowledge

All knowledge about making was once new. Someone, sometime, had to formulate it. But there is a big difference between established, ‘traditional’ forms of making and those which are innovative. Both are crucially important, and both can be expressive, but they serve different purposes.

Traditional ways of making have accumulated over generations. They are passed down from person to person, often through apprenticeships, and learned through repetition. Innovative making is less rehearsed, and may be less reliable. But it is more exploratory, with the potential to open up dramatic new directions. This can involve redirecting existing skills, or creating new ones from scratch.

All knowledge, even the most traditional, can be new for any individual. But some knowledge is new in the world. This exhibition celebrates both these types of discovery.

Thinking by making

Many people think that craft is a matter of executing a preconceived form or idea, something that already exists in the mind or on paper. Yet making is also an active way of thinking, something which can be carried out with no particular goal in mind. In fact, this is a situation where innovation is very likely to occur.

Even when making is experimental and open-ended, it observes rules. Craft always involves parameters, imposed by materials, tools, scale and the physical body of the maker. Sometimes in making, things go wrong. An unskilled maker, hitting the limits of their ability, might just stop. An expert, though, will find a way through the problem, constantly unfolding new possibilities within the process.”

The Kaleidoscope Mind: Some Easy Ways to Teach Creativity – The Atlantic

28 Nov

The Kaleidoscope Mind: Some Easy Ways to Teach Creativity – The Atlantic.

The term kaleidoscope is Greek and is loosely interpreted as “an observer of beautiful forms.” So what, then, is a kaleidoscope mind? The Hans family would say it’s “a type of mind that is agile, flexible, self-aware, and informed by a diversity of experiences.” It’s a mind that is “able to perceive any given situation from a multitude of perspectives at will — selecting from a rich repertoire of lenses or frameworks.” They would say that a kaleidoscope mind is playful, and it must be able to “see patterns, connections, and relationships that more rigid minds miss.” And they would say that a kaleidoscope mind can be taught.

As biochemist Szent Gyorgyi once said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” You’ll find that as you start to see differently, creativity comes easier. And just like a kaleidoscope, any way you turn will produce creative thinking.


Susie MacMurray: Sculptural Sensuousness and Play

22 Nov
Blind 2004, Peacock Feather Sphere

Susie MacMurray’s work encompasses drawing, sculpture and architectural installations. A former classical musician, she retrained as an artist, graduating with an MA in Fine Art in 2001. She now has an international exhibition profile and shows regularly in the USA and Europe as well as the UK.

Bristle 2008, Rubber Dairy Hose

An engagement with materials is central to MacMurray’s practice. Her role is one of alchemist: combining material, form and context in deceptively simple ways to stimulate associations within the viewers’ minds and to elicit nuanced meanings.

Oracle 2008 rubber dairy hose, dimensions variable

Working in installation and sculpture she has gained a reputation for site-specific interventions in historic spaces. Her work frequently references the history of a space and seeks to merge the particularities of that history, the specifics of site, and the inherent references attached to materials in an attempt to gain insight into the relationship between place and people.

Stratum 2011 Islington Mill, attic space 80 kg feather down

Drawing is an important part of MacMurray’s practice. In addition to her large scale pen & ink work she extends the possibilities of making drawings using unconventional materials including rubber tubing, hair and wax.

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

4 Nov