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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.

Susie MacMurray

19 Jun

I really like Susie MacMurray’s installations. Her playfulness reminds me of Cornelia Parker – who is surely one of her inspirations.

Great to see this installation. As part of Islington Mill’s 10-year anniversary artist Susie MacMurray has reinstalled her seminal work Stratum. Developed while she was in residence at Islington Mill as a graduate student in 2001, Stratum transformed the attic spaces of the building in a cloud of white duck down.

Mark Leckey: BigBoxIndustrialAction

26 Feb

Went to see/hear Mark Leckey’s new commission for Manchester Art Gallery. I enjoyed the overall effect of the Big Box Vs The Industrial metal. The volume was impressive with gut vibrating bass notes. Felt quite ritualistic, a secular ceremony. But not sure about the sound composition as a whole.

BigBoxIndustrialAction, in which a giant soundsystem meets a three-tonne low pressure steam chest on loan from Ellenroad Engine House, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester, home of the world’s largest working steam mill engine.

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See Manchester Art Gallery page for more on this show.

Anselm Kieffer: White Cube, Bermondsey

22 Dec

White Cube Bermondsey is pleased to present a new exhibition of work by the internationally renowned artist Anselm Kiefer. Staged across 11,000 sq ft of gallery space, ‘Il Mistero delle Cattedrali’ is the largest presentation of Kiefer’s work ever made in London.

The title of the exhibition is taken from the esoteric publication by Fulcanelli (published in 1926), which claimed that the Gothic cathedrals of Europe had openly displayed the hidden code of alchemy for over 700 years. As with all Kiefer’s work, allusions are never literal but reflect an ongoing interest in systems – mystical and material – which have evolved over centuries. Both title and exhibition reflect Kiefer’s longtime fascination with the transformative nature of alchemy: ‘The ideology of alchemy is the hastening of time, as in the lead-silver-gold cycle which needed only time in order to transform lead into gold. In the past the alchemist sped up this process with magical means. That was called magic. As an artist I don’t do anything differently. I only accelerate the transformation that is already present in things. That is magic, as I understand it.’

All of the large-scale canvases on show use landscape as its starting point. Thereafter, Kiefer works on each of them rigorously and with intense physicality and some of the canvases are exposed to the elements. In addition, for this exhibition, many of the large-scale works have undergone an accelerated process of oxidisation. Consequently, images that may be seen to evoke the sublime are themselves subjected to the subtle but immense power of natural forces. ‘You have to find a golden path between controlling and not controlling, between order and chaos’ Kiefer has observed. ‘If there is too much order, it is dead; if there is too much chaos, it doesn’t cohere. I’m continually negotiating a path between these two extremes.’

As well as the over-arching theme of alchemy, Kiefer continues to wrestle with various history, notably twentieth century Germany. Among the most striking and monumental of all his recent motifs is that of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. Finally closed in 2008, it is among the most charged and culturally loaded of buildings. Built in 1927 on land once belonging to the medieval Knights Templar, the airport was redesigned in the following decade as part of Albert Speer’s master plan for the Nazi reconstruction of Berlin. The vast complex was intended as Hitler’s gateway to Europe and as a symbol of his ‘world capital’, Germania. It was never finished but witnessed military activity during the Cold War and was seen by many as a forerunner of the airports of the late twentieth century, in its grandeur and ambition. In Kiefer’s vast canvases, Tempelhof is transformed into a latter day cathedral, or a mystical site of aspiration, of absurdity, even apocalypse.

Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945 in Donaueschingen in Southern Germany. He has lived and worked in France since 1991. Exhibitions of his painting, sculptures, drawings and installations have been staged extensively over the past four decades and his work is included in the world’s most prestigious public and private collections. Recent projects include the Grand Palais, Paris and Guggenheim Bilbao. In 2007 Kiefer became the first artist to be given a permanent commission to install work at the Louvre, Paris since Georges Braque some 50 years earlier. In 2009 he created an opera, ‘Am Anfang’, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Opéra National de Paris. In November 2011 he opened ‘Shevirat Ha-Kelim’ at the Tel Aviv Art Museum, the inaugural exhibition in the Herta and Paul Amir Building.

An illustrated catalogue with an essay by Jay Winter will be published in spring 2012.

via ArtSlant – December 9th – February 26th, 2012, White Cube, Bermondsey, ANSELM KIEFER.

Eva Rothschild

20 Dec

The Irish artist Eva Rothschild (born 1972, lives and works in London) is one of the most important protagonists of a generation of young artists dealing with the formal aspects of sculpture. Influenced by minimalism of the nineteen sixties and seventies, Eva Rothschild’s works convince through their tension-filled combinations of such diverse materials as leather, paper, Plexiglas, wood and metal.

Eva Rothschild has already exhibited internationally, including the impressive spacial site-specific 2009 installation “Cold Corners” at Tate Britain. The exhibition at Kunstverein Hannover is the first presentation of her work in Germany.

The fragile and linear formal vocabulary of Eva Rothschild’s sculptures and objects convince through their compositional clarity and strictness. The graphic linearity of her installations creates a fascinating impression of three-dimensional drawings in space.

In Rothschild’s object worlds, the history of abstract art, and hence the tradition of elementary forms such as circle, cone, square and triangle, encounters the puzzling and meaningful aura of the material. Rational minimalism meets emotional mysticism. The artist’s works consequently contain references to subcultures and the fetishization of the autonomous object: like archaic ritual atifacts, woven leather objects hang on the wall or as a group in space. Paper pictures with long rug fringes recall the leather jackets and rug culture of a romantically transfigured hippy world, formally re-dissolving the pieces’ abstract appearances. The overlapping of systems and worlds of meaning is particularly clear when Eva Rothschild interweaves two model images each for her woven paper works. In “Hand and I” (2003), a pair of eyes is thus pictorially entwined with an esoterically tinged corona.

The artist succeeds in making the spiritually-laden works of the early avant-garde equally visible in her pieces as concrete art’s claims of sociopolitical relevancy and the aesthetic pervasion of everyday life. The autonomous elementary form of minimalism encounters the potentially utopian, spiritual “image material” it finds in the environment of the esoteric and recent social utopian models.

Eva Rothschild subverts modernist insignias with irrationality, emotionality and contentual irritation that endow the works with a peculiar melancholy, an ambivalent potential between visionary progress and reactionary withdrawal. Her works’ subtlety enmesh the viewer in questions regarding pictures as objects of use and the use of pictures.

via Kunstverein Hannover.

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.