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