Navigator North Hosted Visit to Mima March 2017


Many thanks to Navigator North for initiating a range of visits to visual arts venues located in the Tees Valley, today at mima, with forthcoming visits to Platform Arts (Studios and Gallery) and the House of Blah Blah taking place next week.

Really useful to discover the detail and method of work involved when preparing artefacts for secure transit (above, right) archive storage in cabinets and ‘Solander’ boxes (above, left) and hear from one of the two senior curators (Miguel Amado, above, middle) about a key research reference: ‘The Power of Display’ to understand more about the core work of the gallery by its institutional commitment to Arte Útil. The notion of what constitutes Arte Útil has been arrived at via a set of criteria that was formulated by Tania Bruguera and curators at the Queens Museum: New York, Van Abbemuseum: Eindhoven and Grizedale Arts: Coniston. The criteria of Arte Util state that initiatives should:

1- Propose new uses for art within society
2- Challenge the field within which it operates (civic, legislative, pedagogical, scientific, economic, etc), responding to current urgencies
4- Be implemented and function in real situations
5- Replace authors with initiators and spectators with users
6- Have practical, beneficial outcomes for its users
7- Pursue sustainability whilst adapting to changing conditions
8- Re-establish aesthetics as a system of transformation

Amie Siegel screening ‘Strata’ SLG February 2017


It’s exciting for Jean and I to make a return visit to our former home in Nunhead and see how much Ivydale Road and its locale has changed for the better and a bonus to see how South London Gallery (SLG) has evolved as a sensitively refurbished arts venue.

SLG is a well appointed venue offering the opportunity to acquire limited edition art works, has an extensive range of visual arts periodicals and texts, is host venue for artist residency placements and is extending its estate through the acquisition of another building nearby. Progress, progress. SLG thereby presents itself as an active and thriving working space for artists that probably warrants a nod of appreciation to Goldsmiths being nearby and the legacy of the  YbA group. I remember seeing a show titled ‘Minky Manky’ at SLG way back in 1995.

The film screening of ‘Strata’ made by Amie Siegel proves to be impressive  for its assured recalibration of painterly sensibilities. Seeing this screening in situ and experience the cinematic scale, pace of camera tracking, cutting, focus and editing is really special. I must also say the sound score for ‘Strata’ came across as crushingly literal. Again, way different as a total package from what may have been supposed or deduced from online marketing and advance publicity. Nonetheless well worth the visit and a nudge to return more frequently.

Two of the photographs detailed above show the view from the first floor window (left) looking to the garden area at the rear of the venue and (right) looking downwards to the ground floor cafe adjacent to the garden entrance, and the third image (middle) detailing the majestic front entrance.

The Kennington Residency February 2017


Jean and I had made an appointment to meet with James Campion and it is appropriate that the random ‘mosaic’ allocation of photographs taken in the exhibition situate his work centre stage. Such a terrific red. The particularity of his approach is compelling as is his innately respectful regard for painting. James is a generous and engaging host and made us both very welcome. We shared conversations about his co-curating of the show (with Sophie Starling), its reception on the opening night, over the previous week-end and the frequency of additional ‘appointments to view’. Many thanks.

I had seen representations of work ‘on-screen’ by all the artists in this show and am especially pleased to see the world of difference between what might have been supposed and the actuality of their physical presence.

The artist work shown in the small selection of photographs detailed above are: Andreas Medjesi-Jones (upper row, one & two), Daniel Sturgis (upper row, three & four), James Campion (middle), Mali Morris (lower row, one & two), Kes Richardson (lower, three) and Sophie Starling (lower, four). The full extent of the show incorporates twice the number of works than are shown above.

Visiting South London Shows February 2017


Jean and I had not travelled to London together for what seems an age and are very much looking forward to staying over with friends, visiting some galleries and having a wander. Lovely to have friends who live in London, especially those we have known since our teens who retain exceptional foresight: ‘Do you think we should get the light ready for when Phil and Jean arrive?’ Good decision on their part and literally wonderful to see again. Wandering almost immediately up to Greenwich Park we had lunch with an unexpected guest and then set off to find what is signposted as ‘The Elizabeth Tree’. Finally found ET…ouch.

East Street Arts Patrick Studios in Leeds February 2017


My first visit with Navigator North studio artists and invited artist practitioners to ‘East Street Arts’ Patrick Studios, the main ESA office site with adjacent studio accomodation housed in an impressively restored Victorian building.

The photographs are: The Building (upper row, left) the view from a first floor studio window (upper, middle), a work in progress revealing itself on a studio desk (upper, right) and upwards again to the Project Gallery in the roof space (lower row, left) detailing a visiting tutor dressed in blue and the gaze of the audience looking towards the work table, stools, residual notes, ubiquitous post it notes and a ladder (lower, middle) and finally in a building nearby named ‘Leeds Print Workshop’ an image of three dimensional constructions (lower, right) to be installed by the resident artist in the on-site exhibition space.

Henry Moore Foundation February 2017


Yet another first visit, this time to the Henry Moore Foundation, hosted by East Street Arts staff colleagues in the company of artist studio holders at Navigator North. Very much looking forward to seeing this show as a way of thinking again about my tenure in Platform Arts artist studio group in Peterlee and the particularity of civic ambition through the acquisition of public sculpture in the late 1960’s and 1970’s (Apollo Pavilion – Victor Pasmore 1969).

Surprise, surprise (again). Pleased to notice Anthony Stokes name in the narrative text wall signage leading into the ‘City Sculpture Projects 1972’ exhibition (see above) and thereby prompted to recall the generous curatorial advice he gave to fine art students at Teesside University when they were preparing for and installing their degree show. Splendid times, 2009 I think?

Vane Gallery MA Show Newcastle February 2017


Several years since I have journeyed to Newcastle, too long a gap perhaps, and my first visit to Vane Gallery. This MA Show is an unexpected treat, very professional and assuredly on message. Lovely to meet up with Rashida Davison again who I had not seen since the 1990’s and likewise David Butler, not seen for ten years or so. Very enthused audience albeit three of the four photographs detailed suggest otherwise. Ready mades predominate. My favourite piece is the ever so tiny camera on the floor behind the two central figures (photograph lower,right) filming a fluorescent light tube vertically suspended on the rear wall. It would be wonderful to see a screening of this film at some point. Lovely to be nudged into discovering the explicit difference between the view through a digital lens and the way the mind sees through the eye. Impressive.