Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Art For Life at the Leopard

On Sunday, 7th December me and some of the other AirSpace crew headed over to The Leopard, an amazing pub in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent to support the 'Art for Life' event, which was organised by the arts team at the North Staffordshire Hospital, to raise money for creative workshops for teenagers staying in the hospital. The organisers had asked us to organise some artistic interventions around the pub, and also to lend a hand in the technical side of things: my specific job was to be the announcer, but I also needed to make a site-specific piece of work.
I decided to create a new piece of art work for the event, which would be like a remix of existing artowrks dotted about the leopard. So on a site visit I took some photos and then worked on the amalgamation below.
Unfortunately my computer blew up in the meantime, and so I couldn't get it printed. So instead I decided to make an interactive intervention. I noticed that in my collins pocket book of butterflies one of the butterflies was called the leopard butterfly: so I took the collins pocket book of butterflies to the Leopard and made a site specific intervention which involved taking the pages from the book and pinning them around the pub in response to what was there, for example the Painted Lady butterfly was pinned to a painting of a barmaid wearing lots of make-up; or the Nettle Tree butterfly was placed in a vase of dried flowers. Hidden amongst these was the Leopard Butterfly, and the person who found it won a bell jar with a small diorama inside; with real taxidermy butterflies.
Thanks to Sarah Turner for the pics.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beyond Bricks

Last week artist Katie Shipley and I were in Birmingham's East Handsworth/Lozells area for the research and development stage of the Beyond Bricks programme which we have been commissioned for.
"Beyond Bricks is a programme of temporary creative activities that provides opportunities for artists and residents to work together to respond to the social, economic and environmental changes taking place in Lozells and East Handsworth. The programme celebrates the culture and pride of local community, its heritage and its future."
The first day of the r and d process involved a walk through Lozells - though this was no ordinary walk, we were equipped with GPS systems and cameras, and were able to document our route this way. This was a very exciting and satisfying way of negotiating a new place, and something I hope to expand upon in future. Over the four days we met a number of really interesting people: We met the other artists and creative groups that have been commissioned, these include Geese Theatre, who have teamed up with community group Mothers In Pain - a group to support victims of gun and knife crime and their families, together they will be working to create an educational dvd that can inform young people about the realities of gun and knife crime, while offering alternatives. A recently formed group Aspire and Succeed have been commissioned to create a theatre production and dvd which documents the true Lozells and Easy Handsworth area - the group have proved to be very valuable to the project already; with their local knowledge and insight into the communities and their concerns. Birmingham based Rob Hewitt has been commissioned to provide a Community clean up service; offering to paint people's doors and window frames a selection of bright and beautiful colours; and then photographer Andrew Jackson will be stepping out of his comfort zone to work with people in the area to create personal 3 minutes documents of lives lived in the area. Finally music and sound group Sound It Out will be working with the people of the area to create a soundtrack to the area. As well as all of this Lead artist Simon Poulter will be creating a project, and helping all of us to carry out ours in the best possible way. One of Simon's main concerns is that we should try to secure a Beyond Bricks House, to use as our base, and to allow us to truly inhabit the place and understand it in a deeper way. This is something that Simon has done in the past: and perhaps aims to address the problem of artists parachuting into a place in order to carry out a project which delivers to a community, rather than working meaningfully with them. This concern feels like one of the main issues which arose for me from the R and D days. Going into a community to carry out a project with various groups, that asks that community to look at itself and think about the problems/issues and concerns around change, community cohesion and race relations should not be undertaken lightly. The main question which arose was that none but the Aspire and Succeed group, and Mothers In Pain are from the area; the rest of us are from elsewhere; it made us think about the relationships we have, or more accurately do not have with our neighbours and the communities where we live. This is something that I intend to consider further as the project progresses.

Katie and I have been commissioned to carry out a project called Give Me Your Hand. Here is the rationale and project details:

Our hands show our histories, give clues to our cultural origins, our ages and the way we are feeling. Hands are expressive and can be used to communicate. The project will build up a catalogue of the people of Lozells and East Handsworth’s hands. They will be invited to work with their hands in various ways through the project; photographing their hands making gestures, making hand-prints in print and digital media and exploring what we can do and build with our hands through a series of workshops with groups in the area. At the same time we will discuss how the people of Lozells and East Handsworth feel about the place where they live, and about the opportunities represented by the changes that will be taking place in the near future. We will tap into peoples hopes and dream, aiming to raise aspirations by talking to people about what they would like to see happen, and giving them their say in the processes of change. We will aim to create a lasting document based on the people of East Handsworth and Lozells, and their dreams for the future which will be presented at sites across the area, and then ultimately will be presented publicly to the developers, becoming a useful tool, informing developers about what people want, think and feel.

The programme is funded by arts council and urban living, and is administrated by Longhouse and Multistory, and we are really looking forward to getting started.

Public Art Survey: Hull

Artist Stephen Sharp (and his girlfriend Emily) and I made our way to Hull on Saturday to drop off the ballot boxes and voting cards for our collaborative project, commissioned by the Latitude Festival. While we were there we spent some time in the city centre asking the good people of Hull our four questions, in response to the festival, about public art. You can vote on what you think of these same questions by clicking on the poll forms on the right hand side of the dedicated blog Click here to go there.The poll is open until 5pm on 7th December, then the calibrated results will be displayed on two limited edition posters which Stephen and I will produce and these can be picked up at the two sites in Hull where the ballot boxes are situated (ARC and the Hull School of Art and Design.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Progressive Transformations

Back in May I left a clue on this blog (CLICK HERE). It mentioned the fact that a mystery object had arrived at my house. I can now reveal that the Mystery Object was part of the Progressive Transformation project, curated by Moira Third and Lois Carson. The basic premise of the project is like Chinese Whispers for artists. One artist makes an art object and then anonymously sends their artwork on to the next person; who makes a transcription of the original object, before sending their new piece on to the next person. Altogether there were 22 artists in the chain, and therefore one original object, and 19 transcriptions. I received a heavily coded video, which showed a typewriter and a story being typed out. The clues lead me to develop the character 'Jenny the Wren' who was looking for a man - other clues lead Jenny to the Job centre...I posted her details on a dating website, for the next person to discover.
The artworks and documentation of the process go on display in the Progressive Transformations exhibition, which opens on Saturday, 6th December at the Limousine Bull Project Space, Aberdeen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Winner Takes It All Weekend in Liverpool

Jim Buso in his studio space.
Thanks so much to Jim Buso (organiser/above in his studio space at The Royal Standard) and all the Liverpool artists, who made 'The Winner Takes It All' a really special and amazing weekend. ..I will put up some more of my photos as I sort them, but here are a few for now...The resource is assembled.
On arrival in Liverpool I made my way over to the 'Formule 1' hotel (an education in itself), across the road from the Albert Docks. It was quite a shock to go to this side of the city, and note the phenomenal developments that have been going on over the last 5 years. The strange dislocation which used to punctuate a trip to the Docks is gone now, and enormous shopping malls and tall buildings have landed, filling the gaps. Some of the Liverpool artists arrived to meet us, and take us over to the new Royal Standard building. On arrival we were able to look at the current show: NAVIGATOR, and then gather in the project space in order to assemble the resource. Each invited artist/delegate was invited to bring a cultural or artistic object to represent their city, and people also brought wads of information about the art spaces which they were affiliated to in their prospective cities. These contributions look set to form the foundations of a permanent resource for the Liverpool artists; based at the Royal Standard. The information which people brought from their various Cities and spaces represent a unique map of artist led activity in the UK, and could be the start of something really useful and interesting.
Royal Standard studio space.
The Royal Standard has not been open for long, but is already establishing itself as an important stop on any cultural visit to Liverpool. The building is home to 25 studio artists as well as the project space, and galleries. I was very impressed with the ethos adopted by the Royal Standard, which is described as follows on their website:
'As a studio co-operative, we strive to create a home for a group of artists challenging their practices, their peers and their environment on all levels. We also act as a social hub, providing ample space and facilities to act as a day-to-day launch pad for a wider membership of artists and practitioners and a location for a varied programme of live events and social activity, and meeting space for creative organisations.' This is supported by their commitment to changing their 'Directors' every few years - a notion which ensures that the space does not end up being run like a fascist regime, means that noone becomes overburdened or fatigued, and provides opportunities for a number of people to gain the undoubtedly invaluable experience of running the space, and fixing the program.
The outside of the Royal Standard: with Oliver Walker's 'Mr Democracy' container.
The Royal Standard building was fantastic; and the work being shown there over the weekend that we were there was really exciting, fresh and energetic. Highlights included a one night exhibition 'From Dusk Til Dawn' which was provided by some of the delegates; over from Lithuania, and took place in the dark. I really look forward to following what goes on there and will definitely be visiting again in future. We were then taken over to Red Wire Studio (weekends co-hosts) to see 'Fear Yourself' the Daniel Johnston exhibition.
Artists looking at 'Fear Yourself.'
Red Wire Studio opened in 2005, by 4 JMU graduates, who found the building and then got a number of others in on the act. They have the full gallery space (seen above) and then around 14 studio artists, squeezed into the other half of the space. This added to the more home made/communal feel at Red Wire, which is by no means a bad thing. The group described 'Fear Yourself' as being a real coup for them, and has had the effect of changing their perception of what they can do. So: Watch this Space...
After this show we went to another show downstairs in the Carlisle Building, and then to the pub for some much needed grub.
The Royal Art Lodge Exhibit at the Bluecoat.
The next morning we were up early to meet at The Bluecoat to see some of the Biennial's 'Made Up' offerings. These included an amazing, linear painted piece by the Art Lodge (Marcel Dzama et al) Sarah Sze's piece, which though listed as being within the public realm, is actually in the Bluecoat's stairwell.
Sarah Sze's installation.
We were then shown around the Bluecoat studios and resource spaces (for example there is a fully functioning print room which artists can book out at the Bluecoat.) As we walked around the building we commented on the difference in studio provision at the Bluecoat, in comparison to most other spaces we may have experience of. Not since the comfortable, cotton wool days of being students have we experienced such luxury. Studios at the Bluecoat
There were some questions raised of the provision; is it too clean, clinical and indeed too comfortable? Perhaps because we are so used to existing in cold, dark spaces we now can't imagine enjoying being warm, dry and fully equipped, but at the Bluecoat they are sure that not only do we deserve it, but it should be fairly affordable too. The studio costs £8 per square foot all in.
Richard Woods
Next we moved on to what used to be a paint and DIY shop called Rapide, where Richard Woods ambitious installation was sited, as well as Jesper Just's compelling 'Romantic Delusions' video.
By this point the Winner delegates had been split into two groups: one group (named the Urban Tour) would be going on a tour of Liverpool's centre to look at the various sites affected by capital of culture and the Liverpool Biennial, while my group were going on the Suburban tour; going to the outskirts to see what impact, if any, the Biennial and capital of culture is making on the suburbs. We took the train to Edgehill train station, which the Liverpool artists told us is [probably] the oldest passenger station in the world.
Artist led group Metal have taken over one of the station buildings, turning it into a gallery space. The exhibition which was on was called 'Horse Power' and was based on various artist's responses to this terms, all stemming from Nietszche's madness after seeing a horse being whipped in the street. The red walls seems to be a recurring theme; David Blandy's 'Mingering Mike' installation at the Bluecoat also had red walls.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Latitude - 54 degrees N

Stephen Sharp: Public Art Survey - Hull, 2008.
Artist Stephen Sharp and I are collaborating on a project for Hull's Latitude Festival: an exhibition of publicly sited art throughout the city of Hull (28 November - 14 December, 2008.)
We first identified some artistic synchronicity in our practices in February, when we were both exhibiting art works within the public realm in Stoke-on-Trent city centre which were the result of public consultations exploring the impact of art on public space. Stephen's work was generated through a public vote, displayed on a billboard where the public could respond to the statement: Public Art regenerates local economy by voting in a phone poll; the results were shown on a billboard. My work was generated through public consultations outside of recently appropriated art spaces, that had been disused retail space in Stoke-on-Trent and Bristol, the work asked the public questions to ascertain the impact that the new use of the buildings might have on the public passing by. Click here for details from earlier blog.
"Our project for Latitude is to place ballet boxes in locations around Hull, responding to the festival itself and asking people to vote on a question about public art and its effect on the surrounding area. People will be vote via a ballot paper. After a period of 10 days the votes will be counted and the results will be presented on two different limited edition posters, designed by each of the artists for people to pick up and take away.

The project will explore ideas around the use of the term 'public art' and 'public space' as well as contesting and redefining issues surrounding site, place, and location.

People will be able to check out the voting and results on the Public Art Survey blog."

I think the process of collaborating on a project with another artist will offer new avenues for investigation, in particular the idea that each of us will make a response to the city of Hull (which neither of us have visited before) each designing a different poster by which to disseminate the results of our poll will be very interesting. The people of Hull will be told that there are 2 ltd. edition posters, and may be encouraged to cross the city in order to get their hands on the other one.

We will visit Hull on November 29th - so more details then...

Future Visions of History

The Future Visions of History Newspaper has been distributed across Liverpool today!
A real anti-capitalism of culture stance has been taken with the paper, and I was really pleased to be included. In fact as it turns out I am actually the centrefold! Now that is something to sing about. The paper is a collaborative curatorial project by Penny Whitehead and Daniel Simpkins, commissioned by Open Eye Projects and selected by Rebecca Lennon.
"Over the course of a day during the 2008 Liverpool Biennial, this project will spread, like a virus throughout the streets of the city. Local, national and international practitioners representing a range of disciplines including visual art, activism, architecture, cultural theory and social geography will contribute varied and engaging responses to issues surrounding Liverpool, its recent history and its future, providing an antidote to the city’s hegemonic literature, art and culture."
Go to Dan Simpkins' or Penny Whitehead's websites for more info.
My piece for the paper was the Long Photograph of Venmore Street, Anfield and a textual element consisting of the lyrics of the Liverpool FC anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone.'

Thursday, October 23, 2008


There is Beauty in the City goes global!
The people of Stoke-on-Trent and all those involved in the original Beauty project were so positive about the experience that I have decided to open the project up in order to see the Beauty in Cities worldwide. This was mainly due to hearing news that the magnets had made there way to other cities, as far flung as Italy! So I have set up a Facebook group that anyone can join, and sent out invites for people to request a magnet pack: by emailing with their address.
You can click on the magnet template above, and then print it off yourself: the original magnet is 3.5inches X 2 inches. So print one off and get sticking it in beauty spots in your city! Or if you want: email me for a magnet pack. Once you have placed your magnet/sign in situ, take a photograph of it and send it in to the 'there is beauty' email address. (jpeg - no bigger than 2mb) and I will upload it to the 'There is Beauty in the City' Blog.
The facebook group is now open: and called There is Beauty in the City. Sign up now and invite your frineds to join too! Lets get celebrating the Beauty in Cities Worldwide!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Beginnings...

It is now 6 years since I completed my MA in Fine Art, and therefore six years since I last had a studio space. The residency at Harrington Mills over the summer reminded me of the benefits of working within a studio environment, and in particular there were two elements that I realised that I had been missing. Firstly, of course, when space is limited it becomes easier to work on a small scale, and working as I do, mainly with photographic and text based works - the work tends to stay on the computer, and never see the light of day. So the first thing I have been missing is having the physical space to see my work in the flesh, and to actually make work off the computer - onto paper. The second thing that I have been missing, is of course the social aspects of having a studio space: having other artists to talk to on a daily basis, other people who might have an interesting insight, or a new perspective on what you are doing. I am really pleased then to have sorted myself a studio space at the AirSpace gallery I have only had my space for a week now, and have only managed two afternoons so far due to being busy at University, but i am really hopeful that this could mark a whole new phase of practice...I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. Friday afternoon was spent in the studio working on the Anfield long photograph for the Future Visions of History newspaper which will be coming out across locations in Liverpool during the Biennial. This is a collaborative, curated project by artists Daniel Simpkins and Penny Whitehead Future visions is
"...a free one-day newspaper exploring regeneration, decay, the role of the artist, and the repetition of history in the context of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture. The newspaper will be distributed over the course of a day during the Liverpool Biennial, via a series of mapped routes that will take in relevant aspects of the city’s landscape, culture and communities, including regeneration areas, affluent and deprived suburbs, cultural and commercial quarters, shopping centres, government buildings, art institutions and artist-run spaces."
This is how much of the Anfield Image I got done during one afternoon in the studio. The photographs were taken on Venmore Street, Anfield. There are 24 houses on this section of the street, and at this point I have only stitched together 7. The Liverpool Football Club Stadium is just at the end of the street. The streets all around the current stadium are emptied and derelict, like this one. I spoke to some of the people that are still living in the area during my visit to take the photographs, there is an idea that the houses were emptied because of the Clubs planned move to Stanley Park, which would leave the Anfield area ripe for regeneration...The club's plans to move have been put on hold however, so who knows how long these streets will remain in this state. It does seem very shocking that the streets around such a large and wealthy company as Liverpool F.C. should be left like this, more shocking is the fact that on many of these streets, where almost every house is boarded up and falling down there will be one family home still occupied, as is the case with this street, but I haven't stitched on the occupied house yet - watch this space if you want to see the complete street...

A new addition to the House gallery network

Jack, 7 of Stoke-on-Trent has been inspired to join the House Gallery network, and has in fact invented 'Kitchen Gallery.'
Taking Jackson Pollock's action paintings as his starting point, Jack has produced a fantastic body of work, which is currently on display in his Kitchen gallery.

Click here to see the artist at work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Live link up House Gallery Preston and Stoke-on-Trent

So, Saturday saw the launch of the Pest publications from 3 locations: in Stoke, Preston and Toronto, although unfortunately technical difficulties meant the Stokies never got to speak to the Canadians...but anyway, the night went off with a bang. First to arrive at the House Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent was Andrew Branscombe (One of the directors of AirSpace Gallery)
Each artist/house guest in both Preston and stoke was instructed to bring a bottle and an artwork with them for the window gallery, the invitation stipulated that the art work must be no bigger than A6 size if 2d, and no bigger than 3cm cubed if 3d. The art work would be weighed by the curator, and then a receipt given to the artist for their piece stating the title, artist's name and weight of art work. The artworks were then displayed during the evening on the Window (sill) Gallery, before being packaged up in order to go on tour to Preston's Window Gallery - we await the Preston package with interest.
Andrew's piece could be described as an intervention, and involved a miniature puddle being installed on the window sill; he had also brought a tiny label with him, which showed the title of his piece Unpopular Liason [sic] Causes Ultra Cool Artist to drop in Stature. Andrew also delivered a piece made by his AirSpace partner David Bethell, who couldn't make it to the opening. David's piece was two 2d pieces entitled The Ore in More.
On entry to the house gallery each person was given a copy of the publication, and a gift pack containing postcards, stickers and magnets made by House Gallery curator, Anna Francis as well as a mini Sharpie pen. The pen was included because each pack also contained instructions for a mini individual art project, which the visitor would carry out during the evening.
Bernard Charnley's Individual Project.
The individual projects were things like: 'draw a blind portrait of every one at the house gallery,' or 'write a haiku about the house gallery,' or 'make a sculpture from the contents of the bottom drawer of the netsuke cabinet in the living room, then draw your sculpture.'
The Curator giving a tour of the Fridge Gallery.
During the day we had turned a few corners of the house into art spaces; for example there was the Fridge Gallery, the Sculpture garden and some other light shows to arrange. Once a few people had arrived we set up the 'live link-up' with Preston.
Each of the artists showed the piece of work that they had brought for the window gallery, and gave a rationale of it's creation, and also showed and explained the individual project which they were carrying out via the webcam to the Preston crowd, and then the Preston artists gave us a tour of their House Gallery exhibition. There was an interesting difference in approaches; the Preston House Gallery was in a large and beautiful Victorian House, and the living room had been cleared out in order to create a white cube; whereas in Stoke, where space was at more of a premium, the emphasis was on working with the existing domestic space and creating interventions.
Show and Tell: Andrew Branscombe showing his and David Bethell's pieces via webcam.
Quite a few interesting conversations took place throughout the evening, topics included; funding problems, artist led spaces, poetry, cleavage and Liverpool.
Rebecca and Elaine (Preston)sporting 'Curator's glasses' from the Pest publication poster talking to Tony (Stoke).
As the evening progressed, and as more of the wine was consumed, lots of fun and laughter went on at both ends of the internet link. Eventually the evening was rounded off with dancing and impromptu cross-city karaoke.
Already one of the Stoke attendees has approached 'The Curator' to talk about another House Gallery to be hosted in their house in the near future. DIY House Gallery! If anyone wants a copy of the PEST publication which we were all celebrating the launch of CLICK HERE, and get your hands on the DIY manual inside in order to get some ideas for starting your own house gallery.
Thanks to Glen Stoker and Andrew Branscombe for the documentary photography of the event.

The Winner Takes It All!

Good news, I have been selected to take part in the NAN (Networking Artists Newsletter)/Royal Standard event 'The Winner Takes it all.'
This is a 3 day event which explores Liverpool's Capital of Culture status, hosted by the Royal Standard and Red Wire Studios - the 20 selected artists will be given an insider's perspective on the city through a programme which explores the city and tours the biennial and the less transient cultural offerings. Then on the Sunday there will be a debate, (open to all - click here for more details/to order tickets) talking about Capital of Culture's impact. We have been asked to bring with us a piece of art work, or a cultural object from our Cities, as well as other information about our City's networks and art spaces. This promises to be a fantastic and interesting event, which I certainly look forward to.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Domestic Space Publication Launches!

I have been really busy for the last few weeks with the new term at University starting so meeting the new Level Ones, organising the New Vic Theatre Show for last year's Level One (now 2) students from Staffordshire University, which opens on Tuesday night, (Click here for details) and various other projects that needed attention. But tomorrow I am pleased to announce the Pest domestic spaces publication will launch from my house!
Elaine Speight and I 'met' over the internet last night, after fitting up webcams via a skype link-up, to make sure it was in place for Saturday's bonanza. The publication will launch from 3 sites; my house, a house in Preston and the Convenience gallery in Toronto. The 3 sites will be linked up via the internet, and we will be able to see what is going on in the other locations.
The U.K. contingents will be having full on opening events, whereas the Toronto set will join us for discussion about artists using domestic space. (it will be the afternoon in Toronto.)
Here in Stoke we will be enjoying The fridge gallery, with edible contents, an exhibition of dining room art works, which have been lovingly curated over years, but will finally be formalised for the event, and each visitor to the event will receive their own brief, for a project which they will carry out during the launch.
In Preston an exhibition has been put up, and a window gallery set up.
Visitors to Preston and Stoke have been instructed to bring an art work with them, that will then tour to the other venue after the event, to be displayed in the other space.
I will put pictures up of the event later, in the mean time, I had better clean the house...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Billy's Crockery Cupboard Gallery.

Four and a half year old Billy Greenwood has been inspired by the Fridge Gallery project, and has created his own Gallery in the kitchen crockery cupboard.The exhibition is called 'The Orange Family' and features portraits of Billy's close family, and some large-scale silver sculptural pieces which relate to the human form. It looks as though the visitors to the exhibition were very impressed with what they saw.Follow Billy's lead, and create a space for art in your house. You can send the images in to me at and I will feature them here. They could also end up being shown in the documentation of the project at the Castlefield Gallery publication launch in December. The DIY manual - turn your house into an art space will be launched on 20th September from 3 houses in Stoke, Preston and Toronto - the launches will be linked up via Internet and each house will feature a DIY project from the manual. To get your hands on the Domestic Spaces publication or indeed the Social Spaces or Museums and Archives Spaces publications go here for more details: PEST WEBSITE.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

WLTM Event and end of residency.

So, just though I would update here on what happened at the WLTM event; even though there is a dedicated blog for the might go some way to explain why this blog has been slightly neglected ovetr the last few weeks. The residency at Harrington Mill Studios has now come to an end though, so I should be getting on with more projects in the City.
Saturday morning we worked on the finishing touches to the WLTM exhibition - there were only a few things to do, the main one being that selected artist Elena Cassidy-Smith came in to repair a little bit of damage that had occurred to her piece in the post. I was happy with the layout of the show, and I was really pleased with how the posters looked with the works of art. I see the posters as elaborate labelling devices - giving a clue as to each individual artist's identity - and developed from their questionnaires.At around 2 The Director's team of trusty helpers arrived to help set up the event's refreshments, P.A. system and data equipment.
Then all that remained was for me to make the transformation from Anna Francis to The Director. This involved the donning of a coral power jacket with shoulder pads and gold buttons, gold shoes with kitten heels, a clip-on ponytail and of course the Director's famous nail varnish, in flamboyant coral.
Then there was just enough time for some dutch courage before the artist's and viewers began to arrive.
Artist Wayne Thexton surprised the Director with a bouquet of flowers.
The Director met each artist as they arrived and explained what would be happening and gave each a name badge so that they could recognise each other. Above: The Director greets Andrew Martyn Sugars and Christine Gray.
Above: the Director greets Steffie Richards.Above the Director meets Alex Staiger and gives her a name badge.
Above and Below: The viewer's have time to have a look at the show before the introductions get underway.Then the WLTM main event got underway - the Introductions. Above: The Director played a wind-up music box into the microphone to announce the opening of the event, the tune - Edith Piaf's La Vie En Rose.
Then the Director explained the WLTM selection process; and showed the pile of over 600 artist comparison forms.Then the Introductions began: The first of WLTM's perfect pairs were artists Lindsey Cotterill and Steffie Richards. Each artist had prepared a 'Burning Question' which they put to their perfect partner during the Introduction: I will put all of the burning questions and answers up later. Above: Lindsey and Steffie meet for the first time.Lindsey and Steffie's favourite colour is blue, they are both non-smokers who eat healthily and at a party both of them would describe themselves as an average mingler. Below: Steffie Richards 'Sculpture: Shy' and Lindsey Cotterill's 'Nightlines' are exhibited together.

Steffie’s poster relates to her use of the word ‘bear’ in her description of herself on the questionnaire, and the colour of the bears relates to her and her match’s favourite colours. Lindsey’s poster relates to the fact that on her questionnaire she mentioned that her perfect date would involve an evening of Latin American & Ballroom dancing (preferably with lessons first), and also as above the colours of the bears depicted relate to her and her match’s favourite colours.

The next of the WLTM perfect pairs to meet were Michelle Greenwood and Andrew Martyn Sugars. Here they are meeting above. Michelle and Andrew are regular drinkers that describe themselves as independent, realistic and funny. Below: Michelle Greenwood's '100 Days' and Andrew Martyn Sugars 'Tick As Appropriate.'

Michelle’s poster relates to the fact that she is a Libra. Andrew’s poster relates to his ‘jokey, non-serious’ approach to WLTM, and his seeming interest in playing the clown.

The third WLTM perfect pair to be introduced were Elena Cassidy-Smith and Christine Gray. Elena and Christine are vegetarians who both enjoy a regular alcoholic beverage, they describe themselves as experimental and philosophical. Below: Elena Cassidy-Smith's 'Gift Shop' and Christine Gray's 'Intimate Spaces.'

Elena’s poster relates to the fact that when asked what would best describe her character at a party, she said she could best be described as a social butterfly.

Christine’s poster relates to her interest in nature and the way that she seems to enjoy creating alternate spaces for magic to happen, out of the detritus of the everyday.

The fourth couple to be introduced were Katie Hollender and Claire Flint. Katie and Claire are non-smokers who enjoy the occassional drink and describe themselves as experimental and independent. Below: Katie Hollender's 'Child' and Claire Flint's 'Red and White Dusted.'

Katie’s poster relates to her description of herself as an experimental, confident young woman, seemingly on the brink of discovering the possibilities that might be available to her. Claire’s poster relates to her answer to the question; if you were an animal, what animal would you be. Claire said she would be a tiger.

Next it was time to introduce couple number 5 - Sarah Turner and Yvette Hawkins. Unfortunately neither one of this pair could make it to the event; so they conducted a long distance relationship. They wrote to each other - with a Burning question, and then replied to each others question. The Director read the results out to the audience.

Sarah Turner to Yvette Hawkins:

What are you afraid of?
ANSWER: I am afraid I may never fold all the pages in the world, that books will no longer be needed. I am afraid I will never learn how to drive and that when I do I will kill someone. I am afraid of squishing slugs between my toes in the bathroom when I get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, I am afraid I will never see Korea again, that I'll forget the route to Grandma's house and good Young Hua and bad Young Hua (my cousins) won't remember me. I am afraid of looking down very long spiral staircases I am afraid of looking up them (though I always do) I am afraid of the sea at midnight in the same way I am afraid of being flung threw the air by very fast fairground rides with fancy names, I am afraid of buying whole milk instead of semi skimmed. I am afraid of EAST 17. I am afraid of sudden collapses in public places, of celery, of sitting on my cat by accident, of wearing my clothes inside out at interviews, of farting during sex, of losing my keys, of laughing inappropriately, of child beauty pageants. I am afraid I have never loved, afraid I will never love, I am afraid you never loved me anyway, I am afraid the last one sounded a bit like a Corrs song, I am afraid I'm not as cool as you, I am afraid of arthritis when I'm old, I'm afraid of a painful death, afraid of a slow painful death, afriad that there's nothing after death.

Yvette Hawkins to Sarah Turner:

If you could choose only one memory to take with you into the afterlife, which memory would you choose?

ANSWER: The second time I went to Bexhill on Sea to see my boyfriend, it took me 9 hours to get there. We sat chatting for hours. It was beautiful. That’s when I knew I loved him.

Below: Yvette Hawkins' 'I Opened My Mouth and You Fell Out' and Sarah Turner's 'Beds'.'

Yvette’s poster relates to the fact that she is a smoker, and that in general her approach to life involves looking at the world in a new and enlightened way; turning it on it’s head.

Sarah’s poster relates to the fact that she described herself as shy, and also said that if she were an animal she would be a bird.

The last of WLTM's perfect pairs to be intyroduced was Wayne Thexton and Alex Staiger. Wayne had brought a bunch of sunflowers for Alex, which was certainly a smooth touch. Alex and Wayne are the same age and both are non-smokers. When asked if you were an animal what animal would you be they both said a deer. Below: Wayne Thexton's 'Perch' and Alex Staiger's 'Chance Me.'

Wayne’s poster relates to the fact that when asked what his favourite book was he said The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry. Alex’s poster relates to the fact that she is a performer and also that she is from New York.

Then the Director thanked all of the 34 artists that applied to the WLTM dating agency, and in particular of course the 6 perfect pairs, and the audience for coming to see the show; and then said goodbye. Then the artists and viewers were left to their own devices; to go and have a look at the show, mingle and talk to their matches. Below: Christine and Elena looking at their paired-up work.
Below: Michelle Greenwood having a chat with Steffie Richards.
Below: The End of the Director; her ponytail, jacket and shoes discarded by her desk, and the waste paper bin, full of her cotton wool balls which she used to take off her nail varnish each day, in order to apply a fresh coat.I (Anna Francis) would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the 34 artists that applied to the WLTM dating agency and of course especially the 12 that were selected, for being part of the exhibition and taking part in the event. I would also like to thank everyone at HMS for being so welcoming, and Jackie Berridge in particular for the opportunity, and the amazing support, advice and help throughout my residency. Thanks to Phil Rawle for the design of the posters and flyers, thanks to AirSpace for the technical help and loan of equipment for the event; thanks to Staffordshire University for the funding help and a special thank you to Glen and Dee for their wonderful photographic skills, which made the above post possible. I love you all. xxx