Keep Going

5 Mar 2014

An unexpected response to my recent newsletter was violinist Peter Sheppard-Skaerved’s suggestion of a salon in my space in Dover.

Your space looks perfect for an event. I would love to play in there! with your fantastic nets/clouds/matrices/neural pathways/constellations…..

The Salon was organised by Dover Arts Development and I suddenly found myself having to get in plenty of chairs as places went fast! See full write-up and programme here.

It was a fantastic programme, which included a rare opportunity to hear and watch a virtuoso performance by Peter of Philip Glass’s  Strung Out for walking violinist. It was a great honour too to talk to composer Michael Alec Rose, whose compositions Il Ritorno and Silence (World Premiere) were also performed, both taking inspiration from walks on Dartmoor. Malene’s rich evocative voice in the reading of her poems, woven into the music, was a joy to listen to.

“I just wanted to say that it was such a shame to miss yesterday. It looked amazing. Your work works so beautifully there, as a kind of intricate backdrop/world of its own.” (Korinna McRobert)

The programe was built around the idea of walking.

“… lives are led not inside places but through, around, to and from them, from and to places elsewhere. …. I use the term wayfaring to describe the embodied experiene of this perambulatory movement. It is as wayfarers, then that human heings inhabit the earth. …. But by the same token human existence is not fundamentally place-bound …. but place binding. Proceeding along a path, every inhabitant lays a trail. where inhabitants meet, trails are entwined, as he life of each becomes bound up with the other. Every entwining is a knot, and the more that lifelines are entwined the greater the density of the knot.

Places then are like knots, and the treads from which they are tied are lines of wayfaring.” (Tim Ingold, Being Alive, pp. 148-149)

Rosie James installed her transparent stitched drawings to complete the visual arts aspect of the salon.

The event was possible due to the generosity of both audience and artists.

Keep going, Rosie's work

A Fine Line, Kaleidoscope Gallery, Sevenoaks

28 Feb 2014

Accidentally brilliant” (Nicole Mollet)

“Lovely show and I must say yours is my favourite work!” (Joanna Jones)

Temporary Sculpture (The Tower) is a structure that succeeds in standing for a very short time before falling over.

The exhibition has been reviewed by David Minton on Interface:

Clare Smith’s piece, ‘Temporary Sculpture’ is sculpture in a similar fashion to which Magritte’s painting is ‘…not a Pipe’. It is a video presentation of a three dimensional work collapsing. As we watch its delicate structure gently ‘tingueling’ before us we lose sight of the video and assume a commonsense connection with what we see happened to the paper structure during the video recording. We are the twitching, vulnerable structure. What happens before our eyes then happens again. And again. And again; the video’s hardware, the imagery before us as light, asserts itself, becomes sculpture of a different kind.

There is a fine line between success and failure:

What is success? Selling a piece of work for however large or small a sum, fame or recognition by one’s peers?

In “On Failure and Anonymity”, Mira Schor writes “Real Success is the ability to continue making art that is alive.”[1] Survival then, as an artist, despite the cold studios and constant doubt.

Failure for Schor is when artists accept the status quo, stay within their limitations. But it is also an inescapable condition of life and exists in the gap between what the artist intends the work to be and what it is.

[1] Schor, Mira. On Failure and Anonymity, published in Wet, On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture, Duke University Press, Durham and London 1997, pp. 121-124


Studio crit, Helen Frankenthaler ….

25 Jan 2014

With just over a month to go until the Wobudong exhibition in Manchester, I now need to start taking some decisions about how to install my work. Fortunately I am able to use the space above my studio and yesterday afternoon I got some really useful feedback as part of a Whistable Satellite crit. Now that the work has come away from the wall, so many possibilities have opened up as to where it can go. I am very excited.

In the evening went to the opening at Turner Contemporary of the new Helen Frankenthaler exhibition and had a brilliant time. The paintings were amazing. I loved the non-drippy, flowing thin paint on raw canvas, the way the oil seeped out through the canvas, the gorgeous colours and the empty spaces.


Masterpieces of Chinese Painting at the V&A

21 Jan 2014

I managed to catch the Masterpieces of Chinese Painting show at the V&A just before it closed. The image shows Xu Bing’s Travelling to the Wonderland in the John Madejski garden which kind of brings the show up to the contemporary era, missing out everything between 1900 and 2014!

Extract from the post on my a-n blog:

Having seen the Mira Schendel show at Tate earlier in the month and her use of transparent rice paper, in particular, I got very excited at this show by the Bodhisattva in Monastic Dress Standing at Prayer (c.950), painted on both sides and using to the full the transparency of the silk on which it is painted in gold and red hues. I love it when these connections accross cultures and art forms present themselves to the eye, mind and heart.

Afterwards I had lunch in China Town with my parents and bought some supplies from the Chinese bookshop in Shaftesbury avenue.

China Town

Pierre-Yves Brest’s exhibition in Tourcoing

20 Nov 2013

I was in Lille with Joanna Jones last week to visiting Nicolette Picheral in Lille Sud, where I used to go when I was project co-ordinator of Mode Future for UCA.

We also visited Tourcoing on the border with Belgium where we went to a lunchtime presentation of an urban regeneration/town planning project which is renovating houses in a district of the town initially due to be demolished. We had time to visit one of the houses before going to see Pierre-Yves Brest’s exhibition in Tourcoing library made during a residency in the districts known as La Bourgogne and La Marlière from June to September 2013. The exhibition is entitled Opus Incertuma term still used by architects today which refers to the ancient Roman construction technique of using irregular shaped and randomly placed stones. The exhibition which includes photographs and a film examines the theme of the ‘border’, ‘wall’, ‘frontier’ or ‘barrier’: The film is a fascinting and disturbing exposé of a community that has literally been marginalised, placed within a fortress, on the edge, on the border, out of the way; at the same time, the community, living by means of a parallel economy  now wards off mainstream society and is wary of prying eyes or interference.

Both Nicolette and Pierre-Yves  have worked with DAD.

Indispensable Straits

19 Oct 2013

On 17 October I went to a fascinating talk by Piero Zanini on the geographical/cultural/anthropological meaning of the Strait at the Musee Portuaire in Dunkerque. I’ve written it up in my a-n blog here. Interesting that to create Utopia, a strait had to be dug to create an island, so that getting there would require an act of crossing over, engaging with the potential and possibilities between the here and the over there.

Dover, 11 Oct 2013

16 Oct 2013

11 October was one of the most amazing evenings in my life consisting of the Grand Finale of DAD’s War & Peace programme.

Joanna Jones’ work, Re-veil-le, with music by Mihailo Trandafilovski was stunning. There was such a close rapport between the music and the slowly developing image, wonderfully put together by Dominic de Vere, that it is hard to imagine the work not being shown with the music, though I think it would work well too. It is not often that music and image work like this: neither form dominated – the music was not accompaniment and the filmic painting was not backdrop. (photo:Miles Umney)

Nigel Clarke’s Dogger Fisher German Bight Humber Thames Dover Wight was incredibly emotional, bringing tears to my eyes for no other reason than the piece being itself.

Dover, Dunkerque

2 Oct 2013

Nicolette Picheral’s performance on 28 and 29 September of Between Beacon and Shaft in Dover’s Drop Redoubt, built to repel Napoleon and from where you can see France, was full of rich metaphorical references to borders – divisions between peoples and lands. And the soundscape created by Colin Hinds was exceptional.

Borders are there to divide but also, necessarily, to define, as Nanne Meyer pointed out in her excellent start to a discussion with cultural actors from France and the UK, organised by DAD, around a table at the White Cliffs Visitor Centre in the evening on 28th.

I was back in Dunkerque on Monday, taking part in the Dunkerque 2013 Culture Forum and talking about how the organisations within the trans-maritime area that includes the Nord pas de Calais and Kent can understand the sea as a connector rather than a divider. Discussions ranged from the philosophical – touching the “other” to better know the “self” – to the practical – what can we actually do together.

Visit to Dunkerque, France

17 Sep 2013

Dunkerque at night from the Lighthouse where I went to a performance of Entre Phare et Shaft/Between Beacon and Shaft.  Nicolette Picheral tells a fable about a mysterious beacon: beacons because they mark the point at which the land becomes liquid and the water becomes land. Colin Hinds on electric guitar created some very subtle sounds – quite unusual. The performance is also coming to Dover and will be in English.