Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wirksworth Festival Window

I have been invited by David Bethell, who is curating a programme of window displays for the Wirksworth Festival, to do a window. The reason he asked me is that he wants works which are site specific - or which fit the specific location of a small town high street. He was particularly thinking about the works that I have done along the lines of SHOP INDEPENDENT.I thought this was quite interesting, especially when he told me that in Wirksworth only one shop IS NOT independent, and that is the Spar. All other shops are independent, which is incredibly rare these days.
This got me thinking about how far we have come in the last 50 years in most high streets, moving away from Independence and difference, with high streets becoming more homogenised. This creep is something that we are now very aware of, but it happened almost without most of the general public's awareness.
If we continue down this route we will become a nation where there is only one big shop. High streets may no longer exist at all - we may have no choice but to shop in the big corporations. I love the fact that Wirksworth is full of Independent shops - but it is certainly something which should be hailed and celebrated.We went across to Wirksworth on Monday to have a look at the available windows and to see if there would be one suitable for my idea. I had imagined that we would all be using empty shops - as many of the Shop projects I have been involved in recently have utilised these empty spaces. Actually Wirksworth high street doesn't have many empty shops - in comparison to other places - and we will actually be using the windows of existing businesses. I was a bit worried by this, as some shopkeepers might think my piece is negative - and might not want something like this in their window. My approach for Wirksworth will be to create a possible - anti-independent store of the future. As a warning to Shop Independent and to keep supporting local shops I am going to create the BLAND Brand - a non-independent monopoly, which is the future of retail if the previous 50 years is anything to go by. The Bland brand will see everything available for sale in cans - nothing fresh or exotic. Everything from Bread, to beans to soap in a can.
No choice, No colour, No difference, No independence.
The chosen site for the piece is part of (but across the alley from) Ken's Mini Market - the chosen window is on the high street but is not the frontage of the business - which is good. Also it was unmanned - and is where the mini market shows the DVD collection which customers can borrow. A DVD shop is very different to my chosen shop type - so I think this could work.
I will be including a QR code on the window and on all of the items for sale in my shop window, this will announce: Buyer Beware - Shop Independent.
This is the making process for the Bland Shop at the Wirksworth Festival:
And this is the installation image of the finished shop window.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Through A Glass Lightly

This summer has been a full on one in terms of making art. As well as project managing the Kiss Me Quick show for Margate, and making a significant new piece of work for it, as well as doing a residency at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, Manchester, I was also invited to be in an exciting show, due to take place at the GoCart Gallery in Visby, Sweden later this month.
I was invited by Harrington Mill Studios, who as well as representing some of their studio artists, have invited some of the artists that they have worked with over the past few years. I did a two month residency in the studios back in the summer of 2008 (SEE THE WLTM BLOG HERE) - so I was delighted to have been asked.
The show title 'Through A Glass Lightly' references the Ingmar Bergman film 'Through A Glass Darkly' which tells the story of a young woman struggling with schizophrenia, and her relationships with the 3 men in her life. The film is a dark tale of confusion, and sexual tension and was my first point of call for researching an approach to the show.
Artist David Manley who is curating the show together gave this advice when considering new works for the show: " To give you a flavour of the concept think introspection, doubt, drawing, as possible themes."
I finished my residency at the Burlington at the same time as I was thinking about making the work for this show - and in my conversations with Tracey Eastham (my co-residency artist) one sentence had stuck out for me - and had become a page for the zine we made.In our conversations we talked about the doubts which accompany us at the beginning of a residency - and I think in all aspects of our artistic endeavours. The amount that an artist invests in their work - and the difficulty in separating emotion from artistic activity mean that we can feel very exposed and vulnerable. I was glad to be able to explore these ideas further by making two new text drawings from the same phrase. These A1 text drawings, made with graphite powder, take around 12 hours to complete each, and therefore offer a period of reflection while working. Something which I am coming to enjoy, as much of my work is public, quick, responsive and involves conversation with others. Finding a new thread which involves solitary time in the studio is proving to be very rewarding, and I am really pleased with the results. Although I like the computer generated white text on black background texts - which I have been making for over 4 years now - I think the handwritten nature of these new text drawings is very different to the graphic ones. I enjoyed making a pair of works - and felt that the change in nuance of the two texts refelcts the theme of the show well - I imagined the idea of looking into a mirror, where everything is almost exactly the same - but also opposite.
The GoCart show will be on from 23rd August until 6th September. I am not able to attend - but will look forward to seeing the documentation.