D4D

An example of the unreasonable man who makes all the progress

Archive for the category “Art”

Saturday – Chris Ofili, Weaving Magic

Following on from seeing the Giacometti and Soul of A Nation exhibitions, my final visit was to the National Gallery, to see “Weaving Magic” by Chris Ofili.

A friend of mine had seen this and really liked it, hence why I wanted to see it.

It’s a fantastic tapestry – designed by Ofili, and then handwoven by Dovecot Tapestry Studio, and based on “I know why the caged bird sings“, by Maya Angelou. It’s also been staged and displayed really well, in a room of its own, which has also been decorated by Ofili.

So you end up with a room covered in murals like this

And then the tapestry itself, the only thing of colour in the room

It’s well worth seeing – if you get the chance to go before the end of August, I’d recommend it. Even better, it’s free to go in and see it, which is… noteworthy, in the current climate.

Saturday – Soul of A Nation

While I was in Tate Modern on Saturday, I also went to see the “Soul Of A Nation” exhibition, which is about Black Art during the Civil Rights movement.  It’s not one I was really planning on seeing, and more of an impulse “Oh, why not” thing, but it was still interesting.

The Civil Rights movement happened in the US before I was born – not by much, but obviously by enough.  I know the basics of it, but not a lot of the detail, and always feel I should know more about it.   It absolutely amazes me that it was all relatively recent, that it was all happening fifty years ago. In that context, it’s amazing how far we’ve come – although there’s still a long way to go.

Anyway, it was an interesting exhibition – although there was a significant amount of (in my opinion) shite stuff, there was also enough to make it worth having gone in.  I also got to learn about AfriCOBRA, the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists – most of which was admittedly bad, but still, made me laugh just for its honesty.

One of the other things I found interesting (and slightly sad) was that in an exhibition so deeply connected to Black Art, African-American History and Civil Rights, every single person viewing it was white.  There was a quote on one wall, the gist of which was that Visual Arts were the biggest bastion of White Male artists, and the exhibition visitors certainly helped to reinforce tbat.

All told, it was interesting enough. I don’t think I’d bother seeing it again, but I’m still glad I did get to see it.

Saturday – Giacometti

On Saturday, I went into London for a walk, and to visit a couple of exhibitions – which turned out to be three – as well as food and the like.  As there’s other stuff going on this week that I can’t be naffed to go into right now, I thought I’d write a bit about some thoughts related to the exhibitions. So that’s the plan.

The first one on the list was Tate Modern’s exhibition of works by Giacometti. Up ’til now, I’ve seen a few of his works, but not loads – and I’ve honestly never seen the appeal of them. They’re certainly distinctive, strange, and of note – but I certainly didn’t love them, and didn’t really get why he’s so well regarded.

Having seen the full exhibition, I still don’t love them, but I understand more of why he’s regarded. Oddly, his statues still do very little for me – I find them kind of odd, and kind of unsettling, but nothing more than that – and I certainly couldn’t sit and just look at one block of statues, as one person was doing. (He’d even brought along his own camping stool in order to do so, God love him)  However, I really liked some of the sketches, and some of his oil work that looked like it had been done in charcoal.

I think that in some ways I wasn’t convinced of Giacometti as being an actual artist – OK, he could do the sculptures, but that could’ve been just the one thing. Having seen the sketches, drawings, and paintings, I do realise that he’s a lot more of an artist than I’d thought, and a lot more talented.

That doesn’t make me like the sculptures and so on, and I still wouldn’t go from here to the bog to see another exhibition of his work, but all the same, I’m glad I did go.

 

Durham Lumiere 2015

Two years ago, I went with friends to see the Lumiere exhibition in Durham – which was ace.

This year, it was back, and so were we.

While it’s organised by the same people, and has some of the same artists, it was utterly different – and still brilliant. The weather this time was absolutely rotten – my coat still isn’t dry – but still it was great. The theme (if there really is one) was more about science and maths this time round, with the main ‘showpiece’ projection onto Durham Cathedral this time, “The World Machine” being more about the birth of modern cosmology from the 12th century until the present day.

One of the big draws this year was Mysticete, a projection of a whale on the river Wear, visible from the bridge above. Done by the same people as the Elephant last year, it was ace – and so clever, being projected onto a water-spray. (although with the heavy rain they could probably have just done the same onto the rain)  Sadly, because of that weather it got cancelled on the Sunday, but it was well worth seeing. (we were there on the Saturday)

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

We got to see a good portion of the exhibits – although not all, by any means – and really enjoyed it. Some of the stuff was really magic and fun, other bits were ‘just’ excellent.

As per the last one, I will definitely be going again when it’s next on.   I may also visit the one they’re doing in London in January 2016 – I hope that’s as clever and fun as the Durham ones are.

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy

Following on from yesterday’s post about my most recent day trip to London, this one focuses on the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the RA.

It’s a great exhibition, and shows a wide range of Weiwei’s works, including his massive (and understandable) loathing of China.

The first thing you see, as you enter the RA’s courtyard, are the trees, made of assorted pieces of wood

TreesHidden in there as well is what looks like a knackered leather armchair. Only it turns out to be made from black marble…

In the exhibition itself, there are just so many different things. Tables that have been melded with timbers from 14th century temples, and/or bent to rest with legs against walls, epic cubes (including one that is a ton of compressed tea leaves), video installations, 3000 porcelain crabs, and many others.

The cubes are fantastic, and a particular favourite of mine was the wooden epic-scale puzzle box (that needs two people to get it to work) which was just beautiful, and so tactile…

Mystery BoxThere’s also a work called ‘Straight’, which is entirely constructed from steel reinforcing rods, and is a thing of beauty. (Although you do wonder just how long it took to get it all to work!)

Straight - Steel rodsOn the walls in that room there are also two panels, listing every single identified body from the 2008 earthquake. Just the scale, the number of names, is gob-smacking, and upsetting in a strange way.

There’s also a lot of humour in the exhibition – surprisingly so, and in contradiction to what I’d imagined and understood of Weiwei’s work. My personal favourites of the entire exhibition are the two wallpaper designs. (Yes, wallpaper)  The first is this, whole patterns created from a stencil of a man’s torso and arm, ending in a fist with a raised middle finger.

wallpaper1I think it’s the first ever wallpaper I’ve seen and gone “Yeah, I could live with that”. Although at nearly £500 per roll, I won’t be able to do so…

The second wallpaper, “Golden Age” is even more clever. Surveillance cameras and Twitter birds predominate

wallpaper2And then you look closer, and realise that in every Twitter bird, there’s Ai Weiwei’s face. And that’s really clever.

wallpaper2_detail

There are many, many other pieces – in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles. (I also loved the chandelier built from bicycle wheels) It’s an impressive body of work, and I suspect a number of pieces will stick with me for quite a while.

All told, I loved the exhibition. It’s so much better than I’d expected/assumed, and is so worth going to see.

Bike Chandelier

Even better, the RA are actively encouraging people to take photos of the exhibits, to promote it themselves, and to touch most of the items. It’s very tactile, very open – and so nice to see that kind of understanding. (Although they did still tell off the German who slammed his camera and bag onto one of the bent tables, impervious to the fact it was an exhibit – but you can’t do much about idiots, in fairness)

The only (small) downside is that for the price you’re paying to see the exhibit, and the fact it’s only ticketed admission, it was still crowded. I would rather that there were fewer people allowed in at once, and thus those people can see the exhibits better, without being being constantly blocked, wandered into, and having others drifting into one’s eyeline. But then, I’m an antisocial git.

All told though, it’s great. I’m actually considering going again before it finishes…

Durham Lumiere

Solar EquationAs per a previous post, over the weekend I went with some friends to the Lumiere Festival in Durham. It wasn’t one I’d heard about before, but was well worth the visit. Even in its third incaranation at Durham, there were a fair number of organisational bits that really could’ve been done better, but overall the entire thing was bloody good.

As it turned out, the grim weather preceding the weekend had meant that some things couldn’t be done/erected/finalised – including one I’d wanted to see, but didn’t get to for other reasons. I’d have been mightily pissed off if I’d slogged the extra mile-ish out of town to see it, only to find out it wasn’t working!

Anyway, organisational issues (and they were legion) aside, the actual festival itself was great, and I absolutely loved some of the exhibits. (Less so with others, but such is life and personal perception)  All were based around light and projection in various guises, and some with additional sound and spectacle.

In no particular order, my own favourites were…

  • ElephantasticElephantastic – a projection of a full-size elephant (with synchronised soundtrack of footsteps) on the archway over one of the bridges in Durham. From the city side, you got the see the elephant’s arse, and coming into the city, the face-on view. Because of the height, you actually walked under the elephant to get onto the bridge. It was a very simple idea/projection, but really effective – and lots of people appear to want to make it a permanent fixture (which would be weird, but excellent)
  • Consumerist Christmas TreeConsumerist Christmas Tree – a conical christmas tree made of illuminations within discarded carrier bags. As it turned out, it wasn’t just the tree, but the entire street had ‘chinese lanterns’ strung above it with the same illuminated bags. It somehow made a very effective comment about the disposability of christmas tat, as well as the consumerism etc., while also managing to be really pretty, making people look up and think.
  • Crown of LightCrown of Light – projected onto the outside of Durham Cathedral, the story of the cathedral and the Lindisfarne gospels. We ended up seeing this four times – from different ranges and viewpoints – and each time there was something different that we noticed, even though it was the same thing on repeat. I think that seeing it that many times without getting bored – indeed, still actually watching it – says a lot about how interesting the entire thing was. All told, probably my second favourite piece of the many we saw.
  • DressesDresses – set within the cloisters of Durham Cathedral, three mesh-work dresses made of (or lit by, I’m not sure) fibreoptics that changed colour through the process. They were really ghostly, quite magical, and you almost expected to see them moving across the lawns. The effect was only ruined by pissknuckle cretins trying to take photos of them with the flash still on (or not being able to turn the bloody thing off), not realising that the flash would just render the scene as a meshwork dress, and you wouldn’t see the colours, the setting etc. (Dickweed morons with phones, cameras and flashes were another annoyance throughout the evening)
  • Volume UnitVolume Unit – although we couldn’t hear the music being played in sync, we walked past this and it was really impressive, projected against (apparently) one of Durham’s least-loved buildings (very sixties/seventies concrete brutalist block).

Overall though, my absolute favourite – that I could’ve sat and watched for hours – was [M]ondes, which was truly magical.  There’s no way of adding an image for Mondes, it was so ephemeral (and again, with flash photography the secret was revealed, with none of the magic), with fleeting bits of illumination in any one shot. Earthshatteringly simple, and the mark of a warped genius – clouds of wire were suspended in the ceiling of the cathedral, with rays and circles of white light reflecting off the wire. But because the light-beam was so tight, and moving all the time (with different shapes and colours on the overall projection) the entire effect was the same as a crowd of fireflies, or dust motes flickering through a torch beam. It was absolutely enchanting, and so, so clever (yet simple). I’d love to see that type of effect done in other similar venues, it really is something special.

We did see others that I personally wasn’t as keen on, but the entire thing made for a really interesting use of Durham’s streets, buildings, spaces and architecture. I’m hoping there’ll be at least one more to go to!

Calvin and Hobbes – Sponsorship

via YorkshireSoul

Calvin and Hobbes on corporate logos and clothing. (c) Bill Watterson, as always.

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