Sunday, 18 March 2018

Tones, Drones and Arpeggios : The Magic of Minimalism - Episode 1 - California

"In this episode Charles Hazlewood tracks down the pioneers of minimalism, which began on America's west coast in the 1950s. Describing them as 'prophets without honour', Charles explores La Monte Young's groundbreaking experiments with musical form that included notes held for exceptionally long periods of time, and drones inspired by Eastern classical music and Hindustani singer Pandit Pran Nath.

La Monte Young

He drives out into the Californian countryside to the ranch of Terry Riley and discusses the musician's revolutionary experiments with tape recording looping and phasing, along with early synthesizer sound. The episode includes excerpts from key early minimalist pieces, including Riley's now famous In C, performed by Charles Hazlewood's All Stars Collective and detailed workshopping by Hazlewood where pieces are deconstructed musically.

Terry Riley

The key attributes of minimalism, its reliance on repetition, its mesmerizing transcendent qualities and innovative use of technology are also discussed with broadcaster and writer Tom Service; Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre; composers Morton Subotnick, Max Richter and Bryce Dessner, and musicians Jarvis Cocker and Adrian Utley."

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Play by your own rules - The Drone Ensemble collaborate with Pester & Rossi at The BALTIC

Infinity Pitch
Pester & Rossi

24 March – 15 April 2018

Pester & Rossi have invited The Drone Ensemble and a group of other collaborators to make, break and re-make the rules of play. Their forthcoming exhibition, Infinity Pitch, will involve up to eight live action stations and big, fun, colourful inflatables across BALTIC’s largest gallery space. Visitors will be able to take part in activities where they can watch, listen, explore, improvise and play.

Infinity Pitch is for everyone and open daily. No need to book, just drop-in.

Sat 7 Apr 14.00-17.00
Drone Ensemble
Infinity Ensemble experimental sound making workshop

For more information please visit

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Free lemon-aid available now at preview of Bitter/Sweet at Assembly House, Leeds

Get along to Assembly House in Leeds to the preview of Bitter/Sweet, an exhibition of new work by

Neil Carribine / Emily Garvey / Jawbone Jawbone / Oliver Perry / Helen Shaddock

Curated by Emily Garvey & Liam McCabe

Free lemon-aid available 6-9pm, Thursday 15th March 2018

Exhibition open 15th-25th March 2018

10am-4pm on 17th-18th, 24th-25th March & by appointment

Contact Liam McCabe on 07828 104125

TONIGHT- Bitter/Sweet Preview - Assembly House Studios & Project Space - Preview 6-9pm

The final preparations are being done ready for the preview of Bitter/Sweet at Assembly House tonight. Escape the dreary gloomy weather and brighten yourself up with some delicious art and a dose of lemon-aid. Enjoy!

Assembly House Studios & Project Space
44 Canal Road, Armley, Leeds, LS12 2PL

Preview: March 15th 2018 - 6-9pm - Free lemon-aid
Exhibition runs: March 15th-March 25th
Open: 10am-4pm on 17th-18th & 24th-25th March & by appointment
Contact: Liam McCabe on 07828 104125

Featuring work by:
Neil Carribine / Emily Garvey / Jawbone Jawbone / Oliver Perry / Helen Shaddock

Curated by Emily Garvey & Liam McCabe

Emotions are often fleeting and can be forever lost in a moment. A memory can be at one point beautiful, transient and wondrous and in the next filled with sadness and nostalgia - these experiences are unique for every individual and are the focal point for Bitter/Sweet

Bitter/Sweet brings together 6 artists from Newcastle and Sheffield to exhibit in Leeds for the first time. Each drawing upon their own Bitter/Sweet experiences and emotions, brand new bodies of work will be on display spanning animation, sculpture and a site-specific wall mural with free lemon-aid available at the preview.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Basic Income is coming to Scotland – Margaret Gilmour

The current exhibition at The NewBridge Project:Gateshead is 'Between Eating and Sleeping', by Toby Phips Lloyd. As part of his interactive exhibition, which explores public attitudes towards work (paid and unpaid labour), how free-time is valued, and potential futures of work, including policies like Universal Basic Income, Lloyd has programmed a number of related events. The first of these events was a screening of 'Basic Income is coming to Scotland' by Margaret Gilmour which I attended last night.

'Phillippe Van Parijs, describes Basic Income as “… an income paid unconditionally to individuals regardless of their family or household relationships, regardless of other incomes, and regardless of their past, present, or future employment status.” [1]

This concept has been presented as a possible solution to many of the problems that society faces today, and has gained support from both sides of the political spectrum.

The Scottish government announced in 2017 that it will commit to funding the first Basic Income trials in the UK. Four thousand people will be selected across four council areas to take part in the trials. These will be Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayrshire. The trials are expected to begin within the next 18 months.

Margaret Gilmour, Broadcast Journalist and Mum to two girls, travelled to Finland to find out how the recipients of basic income's lives have changed since receiving the payment, and to see if they had any advice for Scotland's pilot. Her resulting documentary outlines the arguments for Basic Income and interviews participants taking part in the current trials in Finland.

The screening was followed by a discussion about the potential benefits or pitfalls if Basic Income was implemented in the North East of England, and which other policies such as social housing reforms would need to the put in place for it to be successful.

- Would this be a way to achieve ecological justice?
- Is giving money to the already wealthy morally right?
- Would it improve working conditions?
- Would it encourage a move to a more balanced lifestyle?
- Would it foster a more community-led society?
- Is it a way of valuing unpaid labour such as childcare?
- Would it encourage a change in attitudes towards voluntary work?

Saturday, 10 March 2018

I'm taking part in an adoption scheme for modern sculpture

An adoption scheme for modern sculpture is being launched by a group of contemporary artists in Glasgow, and I am delighted to be part of it.
Sculpture Placement Group, (L-R) Kate V Robertson, Michelle Emery-Barker and Martin Craig 

The Sculpture Placement Group will give charities and other organisations the chance to borrow sculptures which are currently in long-term storage.

Organisers say it will provide an opportunity to take artworks to places they would not otherwise be shown.

The scheme will be piloted at Glasgow Sculpture Studios as part of Glasgow International 2018, which takes place 20 April to 7 May. A selection of works will be displayed in mock environments designed by the artists, with a larger number of works also available via an accompanying catalogue.

Adoption will be free but "guardians" will take responsibility for care and display of the artwork.

The move follows previous success with the innovative Art Lending Library.

Kate V Robertson, one of the three curators behind the project, said there is "loads of enthusiasm" within the art community for the idea.

She said: "All over the country there are superb sculptures by respected artists that are hidden away and have no clear future when they could be seen and enjoyed by new and wider audiences.

"The art market puts a lot of emphasis on new work by sculptors with little provision for what happens to pieces after an exhibition is over. Some is destroyed but the artists put much of it into long-term storage.

"We've been talking to artists about whether they would like to give new life to some of their work by offering it for adoption and the response has been great, loads of enthusiasm."

Glasgow artist Rachel Lowther said she is looking forward to seeing who comes forward to adopt the pieces she is putting forward.

She said: "My studio is full of sculpture now and it can be a problem finding space to create anything new. Sculptors either have to keep work in their studios or pay extra for storage.

"This is a great experiment - it is better to have art out in the world than in boxes. A sculpture is a better place to meet and talk than a water cooler."

Fellow artist Nick Evans said: "A few years ago I was invited to do a solo exhibition at Tramway, which was great, I really threw myself into creating the pieces. There were a dozen large plaster sculptures around 1.5m tall and weighing 100kg each.

"I didn't want to destroy them afterwards - it was a significant moment in my career. I swapped one with my landlord for two shipping containers and space in the back yard to store the rest.

"The prospect of finding more interesting spaces and ways to display this work really interests me, as does the whole idea of giving a new sense of value to the work."

Vocal work with Sarah Grundy and her loop pedal

In addition to working with the Drone Ensemble on some audio to my forthcoming exhibition at The Word, I am collaborating with Sarah Grundy. Sarah is an interdisciplinary artist who works in sound, performance, theatre, and music. The majority of her work looks to worldmaking – creating an idealised alternative for living in or dealing with society. She is also part of ‘The Anima Collective’ who explore the potential of the voice through singing. Sarah also performs with Edwin Li as Leroy McSex in the musical, drag duo Shirley Mann and Leroy McSex.

Sarah and I had spoken about the work a few weeks ago, and we both agreed that using the loop pedal with Sarah's voice could be a good way to achieve the layering of voices that I want to create. When we met today I gave her a sheet with words on that she could use to play around with.

In her usual remarkable way, she soon began to thread words together and create some rhythmic patterns and harmonies, exemplified through the use of the loop pedal. We made a great start, and are to continue with developing this piece.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

BITTER/SWEET Install - Day 3

On arrival at the gallery, I was delighted to see that the second coat of paint that I had applied last night to 3 of the colours had really made a difference in terms of the depth of the colours. 

Emily started to paint the areas on the left side of the wall with teal while Liam and I masked out the rest of the design on the right side of the wall.

The taping of the design is very time consuming, and one needs to plan and be systematic in the order of painting so as not to paint two colours that are directly next to each other.

With two coats of paint on the vast majority of the wall on which the lettering was to go over, we made a start on mapping out the text, first using the thicker tape, and then completing each letter with the thinner tape. 

As I left for my return train back to Newcastle in the evening, I was really pleased with the work, but disappointed that I had run out of time to complete everything. There are a few elements that still need to be done. I feel very fortunate that the curators, Liam and Emily are going to follow my instructions to finish the work. As they have been assisting with the execution of the wall painting over the three day install, I am confident that they know what they are doing and will do a remarkable job at the final touches.

I will post more images once the exhibition has opened but I do not want to reveal too much now, and spoil the surprise for those who are able to visit the exhibition. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

BITTER/SWEET Install - Day 2

On my second day of install for BITTER/SWEET, the forthcoming group exhibition at Assembly House, Leeds I was fortunate enough to have assistance from both the curators, Liam McCabe and Emily Garvey.

As Liam and I aligned the projector so that the left half of the design fitted with the right half of the design, Emily cracked on with applying the next colour of paint; powder grey.

Once the projection was aligned, Liam and I marked out the right side of the design on the wall using masking tape.

Frustratingly, we could not completely match the design to the wall, and so I made a few adjustments to the design .

Once the vast majority of the straight edged shapes had been masked and were being painted, I turned my focus to the curved shapes in the design. I found the curved parts around the oval shape particularly challenging because of the large scale and the fact that this area of the design is near the top of the wall, and so involved me working at height and at a difficult angle.

By the time I had completed the curves, some of the other areas of paint had dried and so in the evening I painted a second coat on these areas.

Monday, 5 March 2018

BITTER/SWEET Install Day 1

I left snowy Newcastle this morning and made my way by train down to Leeds where I was met at the station by Liam McCabe, the co-curator of BITTER/SWEET, the forthcoming group exhibition at Assembly House that I am exhibiting in (see for more details).

We then caught the train to Burley Park and walked to Assembly House near Armley Mills. 

After a quick tour of the open plan studios we began to set up in the gallery space. Our first task was to project the design of the wall painting onto the wall to be painted. 

The wall that I am using is over 8 metres long, and unfortunately the projector could not get far enough away from the wall to be able to fit all the design on the wall, so we had to split it in half and ensure that they joined up correctly.

We met our first problem when we switched on the projector and it would not connect to the computer. After a lot of fiddling, Liam decided that the only option was for him to go back to his house and pick up some alternative cables. Thankfully the replacement cables did the trick and we began to mask out the design on the wall.

The rest of the day was spent painting and trying to keep relatively warm by working in close proximity to the heater!

Friday, 2 March 2018

You're Doing It Wrong - Work - BBC Radio 4

In this series "Adam Buxton takes a sideways look at some of our confusing modern ideas." The first episode is about work. 

"Is the idea of a 'dream job' - one that inspires and fulfills us and makes our lives worth living - really possible? Or idealistic nonsense designed to make you feel guiltier, work harder, and complain less? Can we really be happy at work and should we be?

These days it's not enough just to turn up, work hard and bring home a wage; we should all be following our passions, chasing that dream job, and waking up every morning raring to get to the office. If your job is tedious, you hate your boss, and Monday mornings make you want to cry, it's probably YOUR FAULT for not being ambitious enough."

Buxton reveals that people working from home are said to be happier than those who go elsewhere to work. This is linked to having more control when working at home. But it does not necessarily mean that less work is done or that workers are less productive. In fact, research shows that people who work at home are more likely to work earlier, work later and overwork.

I can see that this is certainly a tendency of mine, but wonder how much of that is due to the type of work that I do. I enjoy being an artist and it is an important part of me. Would I be so driven and have the urge to reply to that last email late at night if I was not so passionate about what I do?

He discusses the problems of creative work and says that there are two ways to go about it
1. Have a non-creative job that pays the bills and then do the creative work in the evening
2. Get a job that pays you to be creative

I think there is an alternative, and that is the method that I choose. I have a part time job at a Library that helps pay the bills and provides me with some of the things I need from a job e.g. security, a routine, colleagues to be friends, a means of escape from my creative work. This part time job allows me to spend the rest of my time being a self employed artist. So I get the benefit of both worlds. I'm not saying that it is the perfect balance, but what is? One always needs more time, a pay rise and so on, but to be honest, I am pretty happy with the situation at the moment and long may that continue.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

mima Senior Curator, Elinor Morgan talks at the NewBridge Project as part of Practice Makes Practice

Last night I attended another Practice Makes Practice Curators talk, an event in which an invited curator speaks about their work and then answers questions. This week Elinor Morgan, Senior Curator at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) spoke to us about some of the different art institutions she has worked for, specifically OUTPOST, Norwich, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire and Eastside Projects, Birmingham. Elinor then focused in slightly more detail on her current work at MIMA.

Morgan is passionate about art that has a social role, and it was the vison of Alistair Hudson, MIMA's last Director, that attracted Morgan to work at mima. "His new vision for mima is based on the concept of the Useful Museum, as an institution dedicated to the promotion of art as a tool for education and social change."

Hence, the 'about' section on the website reads

"Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, part of Teesside University, is moving forward with a civic agenda, to reconnect art with its social function and promote art as a tool for changing the world around us. With this vision, we see ourselves as a ‘useful’ museum.

We wish to have an influence on society, taking a leading role in addressing current issues within politics, economics and culture. Our programmes encompass urgent themes such as housing, migration, inequality, regeneration and healthcare.

We offer changing exhibitions, collection displays, learning activities, projects, and community-focused initiatives that involve multiple artists and publics. These programmes promote creativity for everyone in ordinary life, through education, activism and making.

We have been developing relationships with constituencies in Middlesbrough and beyond. Our ambition is that these help us shape who we are: a public site, open and accessible, diverse and inclusive, and used by all."

Elinor suggested reading Toward a Lexicon of Usership by Stephen Wright.

She gave some excellent examples of the ways in which mima is going about achieving their aims, from working with and developing the collection to ensure that underrepresented voices are recognised to providing a free community day lunch once a week for anyone and everyone, allowing people from all walks of life to come together over a shared experience (a meal) and talk. If anyone ever asks "what good is art?" then they should go to mima to find the answer.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

New test projections at The Word

When I last visited The Word a number of days ago to investigate the technological setup, I was shown how, without appropriate masking or shaping of the video, the projection would spill onto the floor and ceiling. I was able to obtain the template used to make photographs fit the screens, and have spent the past week trying to figure out how to apply the template to videos.


After a few attempts that were in the right direction, but not quite right, one of the technical team at The Word discovered a fairly straightforward method to follow using Photoshop. I followed his instructions using the templates for each wall and exported 5 versions of a test video, one each for walls 1, 2 and 3, and two videos for walls 4. He kindly tried projecting the test videos in the Story World space, and sent me these photographs to confirm that applying the templates to the videos had been successful. I will follow this method when exporting my final videos.