Monday, 24 July 2017

Rising Talent - Satu Viljanen

Satu Viljanen  


I’m originally from Helsinki, Finland and I studied Carpentry and Product Design when I was still living there. My long term dream was to study Sculpture and that took me to move to London and enter university at Camberwell. After graduating in 2010 life took over and it’s been a journey to try to carve time for art. I’m happy to say this is my very first exhibition since uni. The previous studies and jobs working with the interiors have influenced my art practice. There’s an ongoing interest in how spaces affect us and how we affect spaces.

Which other artists do you like or find particularly interesting?
Tatiane Freitas uses old wooden furniture as a starting point and replaces some of the parts with transparent acrylic. The results are still functional pieces of furniture but they seem to be somehow elevated with this delicate otherworldly quality.

Richard Woods has designed playful cartoon like surfaces of real materials like wood, bricks and dry stone. He paints these surfaces on to objects, structures and buildings creating artworks that could also be seen as design or decoration.

I’m intrigued by the work of these artists because both of them blur the line between art and design.

Why is making art important to you?
By making art I encourage myself to concentrate on subjects and moments I wouldn’t necessarily otherwise notice.It allows me to be curious, geeky, and allocate time just for the wandering thoughts. And for me these wandering thoughts are needed to feel grounded and happy.

What would help you to develop your art further in the future?
I would love to find new people to have art conversations with. A positively critical peer group is so important when mulling over some new ideas or just wanting some advice. Also hopefully there will be some more exhibitions or other involvements to push me creatively and to keep me busy developing new work.





25th July – 6th August
Private View: 28th July 6.30 - 8.30

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Rising Talent - Branka Vrhovski-Stanton

Introducing ceramicist, Branka Vrhovski-Stanton

My interest in ceramics started with adult education classes, first in Croatia and then in UK. That was followed by a Diploma in Ceramics at Goldsmith College London, and subsequent self-employment as a ceramic maker and pottery instructor at various places.

A few years after, I started to write what I then understood as an article on the basic nature of such works in ceramics, that treat the hand built container type shape as a theme on its own.  That “article” soon managed to take the place of my making: something unimaginable to me before it actually happened, as ceramics was my dream-come-true kind of work. The writing took me on an epic journey, swallowing the next seventeen years and then some more, its wheels dragging as I was trying to disengage. Though still a part of my life, I no longer write except an occasional presentation that has so far not found its way into print.

In order to disengage myself from this venture and its all-consuming nature, I enrolled again in adult education classes to help me re-start with the making. When I was ready, my starting point, as before, has been the vessel form.

The works that I am showing now result from this period. All are hand built from rolled slabs of clay and/or coiled. They are painted with slips, engobes and glazes. Some are more planned then others. They present my exploration of this particular shape from three different yet intermingling aspects: pottery, expressive and painterly container oriented ceramics. How the work will continue, is yet to be seen.



Which other artists do you like or find particularly interesting?
In ceramics, mostly the makers whose work is centred on the empty ceramic container type work. Hans Coper, Gordon Baldwin, Alison Britton, Ken Eastman, Marit Tingleff, to mention a few. 
Painting interests me too (I was a self-taught painter before encountering ceramics). My latest interest is Roger Hilton’s work.

Why is making art important to you?
It is my therapy as is so often said, but also my need and sometimes -or often- my headache too. It is, as also said, primeval: it gathers the earth, the heat, the water and apprentices poor ceramicists who bring their offerings to the kiln for the kiln’s gods to decide!

It is also, for me, the primary form of all human arts: its primary content, the space we live in and that surrounds us and its mental counterpart, the consciousness, both simultaneously the most distant to our senses and the most intimately involved with us, it is also the content that potentially contains all.

What would help you to develop your art further in the future?
Time, as I am starting again and not in my prime, and opportunities to exhibit.



Rising Talent: Young and emerging artists at the Hastings Arts Forum 2017 
25th July – 6th August
Private View: 28th July 6.30 - 8.30

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Rising Talent - Helen O'Leary


Please tell us something about yourself and your art?
I came to art later in life after bringing up four children and helping to meet the needs of sick parents. I went to university at the same time as my oldest daughter. My intention had been to get completely away from textiles, in that regard I failed. I did an Applied and Media Art BA and went on to do an MA in Fine and Applied Art Practice.

I have spent my life doing serious renovation work on Victorian houses and a 300 year old cottage I lived in. The intrigue of the layers of plaster and wallpaper along with learning about methods of thatching and other old building and household crafts have all informed my working practice. The relationships I have had and still have with my children, their friends and my own, the complications of family life and the contrast between happy and sad times that inevitably come to families, also play a part in my work. 

I'm very interested in women's past associations with textiles. How, during the twentieth century, decorating, mending, washing and the general time consuming drudgery of keeping the household linen, repaired replaced and above all clean, meant “women’s’ work”. And the time it took and the social aspect, particularly in times of family and national crisis. From childhood girls would learn needlework at home and school, neat stitching for decoration and strength, and in working class households they would be expected to help with the laundry. Keeping the family clothes repaired and linen in good order on the washing line was an important measure in local society of the woman's worth and morals.

Clothes define us, they give a clue to the outside world about who we are and how we want to be seen. Clothing and bed linen take on certain characteristics of the wearer, the shape we are, the way we move. Clothing and linens bobble, thin, tear and scuff often in characteristically different places. Clothing and skin begin to share many similarities with age. Old clothing holds the memories of past occasions when we allow the time to think. From a background in fashion I am constantly drawn back to textiles and textile techniques, bringing in other media when appropriate. I work generally in three dimensions, frequently starting with a mixed media work I have made from layers of materials and then carefully paring back the layers and adding details.I also work with old photo images printed on used fabric, wire, plaster of Paris, old dolls, tin cans and other found objects.


Which other artists do you like or find particularly interesting?
Artists I admire and frequently refer to when losing my way are Ann Hamilton, for all the detailed research behind her work and her ambition in the large scale installations she makes. She frequently involves other women and artists in her awe inspiring textile works. Annette Messager and her concept of others within each of us. Her installation of stuffed toys with heads switched from one animal to another, gives a sense of disguise and transformation. Anselm Kiefer for the materials he uses, the way he uses them and a sense of absence I feel when looking at much of his work. He confronts our dark past and brings us face to face with size and scale through his works. The immersive art of Mona Hatoum, her mixture of surrealism and minimalism amazes and excites me. Her sense of familiarity and the uncanny disturbs and intrigues me.

Why is making art important to you?
Though I don't consciously use my past experiences to inform my work it continues to find its way in. Art enables me to express my experiences understanding that even difficult times are part of who we are and we must look to the future in a positive way. I constantly return to research my main interest in the use of textiles by women in the past and use this research to inform my textile practice. I of course enjoy feedback from anyone who sees my work especially if they gain any understanding of where the work originates and can relate it to their own lives.

What would help you to develop your art further in the future?
To further develop the use of photographic images on used fabric I need to make a dark room at home. The process involves soaking the fabric in photo emulsion and drying it in full darkness which takes about 24 hours, then it can be used as normal photo paper. This process embeds the image into the fabric so it can even be washed in the machine. Just inkjet printing onto many cotton fabrics seems more obvious that the print is on the surface. I need to find the confidence to promote my work harder, I have recently become a member of Studio 21 textile group where we have mentoring sessions as well as high profile exhibitions. As I have only recently moved to the Hastings area it would be good to meet up with local textile or mixed media artists to discuss working methods.



To see more of Helen's work see the website: HELEN O' LEARY WEBSITE


25th July – 6th August
Private View: 28th July 6.30 - 8.30

Rising Talent - Amelia Hardy

I am really enjoying the diversity of responses we are receiving from our Rising Talent interviews. Next up is mixed media artist, Amelia Hardy. 



I am aged 46 and have spent many years creating using various mediums but never really considered or even realised that I was capable of creating pieces of artwork that would peak peoples interest.

I have no formal art training, everything I do is self-taught. I have a very deep passion for vintage things and history and I adore rummaging to find treasure for my pieces. All my pieces have at least one item that is re-purposed, which gives me an added sense of achievement that I am able to re-use and save things from being sent to landfill.

When I first started creating in mixed media, I never really knew much about the art world or artists, then I stumbled across an artist called Greg Hanson from America and I found his art very inspiring, unique & interesting.  He often made mention that he was inspired by Joseph Cornell, a famous artist who created amazing assemblage work. So I did some research and Yes: his work begin to inspire me too! I adored his use of moveable objects in his assemblage pieces and I often try to create movement in my own pieces. 

I sell work locally and I have a Facebook page called ‘Amelia’s Altered Art’ where I also sell pieces. I have many loyal customers who often purchase pieces as far afield as British Columbia.

Creating art is like a form of therapy to me, it helps to relax my mind when the stress of being a parent of an autistic child gets too much. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than knowing that someone somewhere is also enjoying my creations.



I really hope the above gives you a greater insight into what inspires me and why I create.

To see more of Amelia’s work please see her Facebook page here: Amelia’sAltered Art

25th July – 6th August
Private View: 28th July 6.30 - 8.30

Friday, 21 July 2017

Rising Talent - Daniel Huckfield

Our next artist is Daniel Huckfield.


Me and my art
At 43 I am a comparatively late starter in the art world. I have always been interested in art, but after being told at school I wasn't good at art I had sort of given up on making art.

However, as part of recovery from illness I started painting about 4 years ago and haven't looked back! I have just completed a Foundation Degree in Fine Art Practice at West Kent College and I am beginning a BA Fine Art top-up in September.

My art is based on an instinctive use of colour and form, I have become increasingly interested in the use of surfaces other than traditional canvas and find the tension created between a 3D surface and the paint applied very exciting.




Other artists
I found the recent Robert Rauschenberg show at Tate Modern very inspiring, particularly the combines and assemblages. I have always loved the action paintings of Jackson Pollock and whenever I am at Tate Modern I always spend time in the Rothko room. Recently I have become interested in minimalist sculpture and I am drawn to the work of Carl Andre.

Why making art is important
I started making art as a way of recovering from illness and now the love I discovered for painting has developed into a completely central part of my life. I cannot imagine not making art it is part of me and helps to fulfil me.

Developing
The foundation degree I have recently completed has helped me to develop my understanding of and thinking about art. I also spent last summer working with artist Rod McIntosh which gave me an insight into the life of an artist. The BA top up will help to build on this and develop my practice.

As far as developing outside of my studies I think the opportunity to exhibit in a range of spaces and learning from the experience will really help me to understand how an artist works in the 'real' world and learn the things they don't teach you at art school!

More of Daniel's work can be seen on his website: Daniel Huckfield
and Instagram @dhuckfield 

Rising Talent: Young and emerging artists at the Hastings Arts Forum 2017 

25th July – 6th August
Private View: 28th July 6.30 - 8.30

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Rising Talent - Josephine Richardson

Rising Talent: Young and emerging artists at the Hastings Arts Forum 2017 


25 Jul – 6 Aug
Private View: 28 Jul, 6.30 - 8.30pm  
Rising Talent is an initiative with the specific aim of giving young and emerging artists an opportunity they would not necessarily get elsewhere.  That is, the opportunity to show their work in a commercial gallery and the experience that goes along with that. Artists can exhibit at no charge and the work is for sale.
In order to help publicise the show and give the selected artists a greater profile, each has been asked do a mini-interview. All of these interviews will be published here over the course of the exhibition which starts next week. Our first interviewee is Josephine Richardson. 

Please tell us something about yourself and your art?
Photography has always been of interest to me, ever since I was a young girl. It wasn't until my foundation year at college that I realised how much I loved it as a medium. My early art background was very much focused on life drawing, observational sketches and botanical drawings and that is where my love of art originally stemmed from. It means I work in a very detailed way and become very focused on a project. I believe that is why I have a good eye when it comes to taking photographs. 

My photographic work is very personal and I pride myself on taking photographs full of honesty and truth. I often create work in relation to negative events that happen either to me or a loved one and turn it into a positive experience by creating a project or series. I find it not only helps me to understand my work as it develops, but it also acts as a form of therapy. I find it helps me to grieve and gives me time to reflect on the situation, allowing me a form of unconventional expression. I am a firm believer in theory of Sol LeWitt that the idea is more important than the outcome and often refer back to that notion within my own work.

Which other artists do you like or find particularly interesting?

My interest in other photographers changes frequently, but most recently I would say that I am a huge fan of Wolfgang Tillmans; his work is so varied and he really inspired me on a personal level to show my personal life through my photographs. I also like the work of Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Richard Billingham, Tracey Emin, Walker Evans and Gregory Crewdson, just to name a few!

Why is making art important to you?
Making art is important to me because the personal aspect of my work seems to resonate with a lot of people. Everyone goes through hardships and struggle, everyone has their own lives to lead and everyone is an artist in some form - I like to make work that people can relate to. I want to show that negative events don't have to have negative outcomes. My photographs represent an awareness of my changing situation and surroundings, that is inevitable - art is adaptive, that is why it is so important.




What would help you to develop your art further in the future?
I think my work will develop naturally as my situations change as my work is reactive. However, what would help would be looking for more and more opportunities to be creative, whether its independently or by collaborating with others. I have an ideas book that I am hoping to start working on, particularly a project on Irrational Childhood Fears which I am hoping to have a slightly humorous feel to it. I would also like to tell the stories of others through a photographic narrative, perhaps concentrating on health issues such as Cancer in order to help raise awareness of the disease further.


To see more of Jo's work please see: Josephine Richardson Website 



Rising Talent at the Hastings Arts Forum
July 25th - August 6th
Private View: 28 Jul, 6.30 - 8.30pm  

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Live from Death Row


When I was 18 my ambition was to teach in a prison. I was smart and it seemed like a perfectly natural path for me to follow at that time. All I had to do was get the grades to put me into the right university for the course. I flunked. 

35 years later and now an artist, I am reminded of that ambition as I find myself looking at an exhibition of art and poetry by people on death row in San Quentin prison.

The exhibition is being shown at Sun Pier House a community arts centre and cafe in Chatham. The cafe area is large, calm and light with panoramic windows. The artworks and the writing sit naturally in the spaces between bookshelves, cabinets, objects, sofas, tables and people. Outside the swans float over the sparkling, rippling water of the bay with the cranes from the old shipyard in the distance. It's a beautiful day. I start to look at the words and pictures on the wall while waiting for my coffee. By the time it comes I have already been moved to tears twice. 


I see a lot of art. Art with ridiculous price tags. Art about art. Art that thinks its politics. Trending art. Art that tells you exactly what you’re supposed to feel about it. Art that's really not art at all. I see a lot of shit claiming to be gold and even gold claiming to be shit because that's the joke the audience believe it's in on. Then there's art as asset, moved like currency between members of a very small club. It has all become rather unreal as if art does not belong to artists anymore. It no longer communicates the fundamental and transformative need for a safe space in which you can talk to yourself about what it's like to be human.

In these truly crazy and fragmented times it is becoming harder to hang onto the belief that there even is a universal, let alone reflective, human experience. But here in these paintings, drawings, poems and writings there is no doubt about it at all. There may be a beginning and an end but it is really that journey in between that ultimately defines us all as human. Not where we've been. Not what we own. Not what we look like. And certainly not how we die. 



_____________________________________________


I discovered this exhibition and ArtReach while doing research for my own online project about death and dying.  ArtReach is a charity set up and run by UK artist Nicola White. In 2010 Nicola began corresponding with a death row artist via the Lifelines organisation. She visited San Quentin in 2015. From this visit ArtReach emerged and has now organised several exhibitions of death row artists and writers.


See also:

Articles and Reviews



Monday, 24 April 2017

Not a long holiday...

Apologies if you've been looking here for the latest shows at the Hastings Arts Forum and haven't found them.  Unfortunately, I haven't just been on a long holiday but have had an​ ongoing back problem. This means I can't lift, bend or sit so have been unable to help hang the new shows for quite a while. I have also been unable to sit at a computer so haven't even been able to review anything. This all completely sucks.

The only upside is that I've had a lot of time to think and have concluded that there obviously needs to be more people writing about art in Hastings.

As a consequence I have come up with an idea for a Hastings based writer-in-residence project that will pair creative writing groups, journalists and students with local galleries. The writers will be resident for half a day in the galleries and will have to produce a piece of writing based on the experience. They could review the show or write a short story inspired by an image in that show.  Other possibilities could be poetry or any other kind of creative piece that explores thoughts and feelings while immersed in a gallery.

Once I am more mobile again  I will  start working on a proposal for this project so watch this space. I will also try and post up a few images from upcoming HAF shows even if I wont be able to hang them or sit down and write about them for a little while longer!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

ELEGY - AN OPEN PROJECT ABOUT DEATH AND DYING

Elegy is a project I have been thinking about for some time. It now has its own page on the website and all submissions and ideas are welcome. 

Death looking into the window of one dying 
Jaroslav Panuška, 1900

Elegy - An Open Project about death and dying

Life's only certainty is its end. The manner of that end is unknown but the universal consensus is that it be quick, peaceful and painless.

Such a luxury does not correspond to the facts of human ageing and prolonging life medically, as an end in itself, is an increasingly double edged sword. Nor does it correspond to a contemporary environment where violent death as entertainment merges into 24 hour media cycles of violent death as reality.


Death defines life. The extent to which it is an abstraction is dependent mostly on where and when one’s life is located. It can also be choice as well as no choice.

It is always present
It is often welcome.
It is often feared.
It is also mostly ignored.

This project is an entirely open platform for people to communicate about death and about dying. This can be in the form of video, audio, text, poetry, images, animation, playlists or a combination of these things. Each submission will be given its own page and the only stipulation is that videos do not exceed 5 minutes and playlists do not exceed 5 tracks.


If you would like to contribute to this project please send an initial email with your contact details and a brief outline of your idea. New and existing work can be submitted and in some cases I may be able to help facilitate new projects

Please send messages via website: Elegy Project

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Stains and Traces III - Hastings Arts Forum

Stains and Traces has become a tradition for Hastings Arts Forum and the third exhibition on this theme opened on the 7th February.
The idea of "representing the presence or absence of a figure,  as well as anthropomorphic echoes and resonances", originated with former HAF chairman, Ian Welsh, who does in 2014.
Curated from open submissions,  this edition of the show has thirteen participating artists who once more encompass the diversity of mediums and messages that seems to be a hallmark of the Hastings Arts Forum.
As might be expected with such a theme, there are dark resonances in some of the work here. Jo Welsh presents object, collage and print works that communicate trauma and loss associated with illness and death. Her references to X-Rays and personal objects in the collaged print works are delicate and moving while ‘Widow’s Weeds’ and her object boxes have a much starker impact.

Sally Meakins’ photographic series also depicts objects and scenes associated with an absent person. It  signals not only their physical absence but also the complex emotions relating to such a  oss. This is very effective particularly in the large and haunting image ‘Your shirt on my chair’.

Lorrain Mailer addresses issues of post-traumatic stress in two very different pieces. ‘The Elephant in the Room’ is an intestinal tangle of knotted sheets suggesting both the physical and mental impact of alcoholism. ‘Blow a kiss, Fire a Gun’ is an empathetic homage to the desperation of refugees attempting to escape from the trauma of war.

Caroline Sax uses her multifarious mediums with sublime delicacy to draw attention to the amount of packaging waste that ends up in the ocean. Detailed statistics are stencilled onto treated and painted fabric and then covered with objects that instantly communicate the sheer volume of container shipping that is on the seas at any given time.

Artists who focus specifically on the human figure in this show include Raymond McChrystal whose ink and graphite portraits and nudes are subtle, sympathetic and occasionally seem to morph seamlessly into physical landscapes.

This merging of nature and figure is also apparent in the work of Kathleen Fox who has placed long strips of Australian paper bark against vibrant backgrounds allowing for multiple visual interpretations.  Trisha Neve’s delicate silk paintings similarly have multiple possibilities.

The remarkable tale told by Nigel Oxley needs some time to fully appreciate. In a series of 6 images he tells of a love affair conducted across a gulag wall in Poland and recreated here using the letters, objects and photos found after his fathers’ death. He has provided folders for viewers to read that provide not only the background to this story but also translations of the letters and words that appear in the image series.

Brian Rybolt’s photographs are very much about the stains and traces that are left behind in the structures of abandoned buildings and on walls. In many of these beautifully presented images, places and spaces often regarded as sad, neglected and ugly are shown to be resilient and full of their own defiant character

There is not much painting in this show but Sean Madden’s confident use of colour and paintwork provides an anchor against which Yvette Glaze’s architectural ceramics sit beautifully. Mark Glassman’s traces of figures almost washed away by the browns of the shingle and the sea work well with the more conceptual pieces in Gallery 2.

The final artist in this show is Jacob Welsh but I had to leave before his work was hung so I’m afraid he’s missing. If anyone can send me an image I will put it up.

7 Feb – 19 Feb 
Private View: 10 Feb, 6.30 - 8.30pm 

Click on names for links to artist websites where I could find them:

Caroline Sax
Jo Welsh
Jacob Welsh
Sally Meakins