Monday, 26 November 2012

It's Christmas time..mistletoe and wine...

At university I don't seem to have very much time in my (lovely) student house over xmas before I'm heading back down southwards to ma & pa and a home with a working shower and a stocked fridge, so the occupants of our delightful residence decided to get in the Christmas spirit early this year make some decorations.

 eco empire, the genius behind the beauty

note the jazzy boarded up fireplace

Hello, Upcycling!

By the way I feel I should be honest and let you know that while i'm posting it now, these decorations have been up since 12th November.. we had to do something while waiting for the shower to be fixed, and in case you were wondering? STILL BROKEN.

(cold showers stop being 'invigorating' very quickly)

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Well, that was a success!

On Thursday night we had the opening of AntiFactory’s 'WE ARE NOT MACHINES' exhibition at the Divine Coffee House in Nottingham.

The concept behind the exhibition was to question the value of art depending on the time taken to make the pieces. The work exhibited was all made through time consuming practices  oil painting, illustration and collage. AntiFactory aimed to bring back a bit of recognition to the time in production, and although just an initial exhibition, it seemed to have gone really well. 

James Politano measuring up..

James Politano
Pencil on wood

Amy Telford
‘The Girl that Grew Feathers out of Her Eyes’
Oil on wood

Rachel Fenwick
‘Extensive viewpoint I &II’
Acrylic and photograph on board

Martin George Rayment - MrO
 ‘Imperali se shark Oblivion, Part II’
‘Shore Leave’
Ink & graphite on paper

(my piece)
‘The faces of Helen No. 4 & 5’

We had some pieces by guest artist Alisia Wilkins, which were hung up inconspicuously around the around the gallery space..

The opening night was brilliant; everyone said that there was a great ‘ambience’ to the evening, which is definitely wonderful to hear! Lots of booze and live music as well as the art, we even had Catherine Bertola and the creators of the Little Wolf Parade paying a visit!

Poppie Jaconelli drinking her wine seductively..

Beautiful sounds 

Mr Oblivion himself

Friday, 23 November 2012

CONTEXTualizing it all YO

Feminist art work is becoming more and more fundamental in my practise. The unequivocal attitudes on morality and womanhood are so inspiring and relevant; how women are scrutinized and treated and the assumptions and expectations that are made of them are all key aspects to my current ideas. The practise of collage is a process that I think is really reflective; it is work that requires a sensitivity and focus. I want my pieces to have a meaning that is forceful, while maintaining that beauty, like the topless warriors from Ukraine, imagery is really important. Whether it’s a cold dramatic display of kitchen utensils, or evocative scenes described in a novel or sensitive embroidery; in the kitchen, on the streets, in a gallery, the predilection for a sexual equality is notable.

 The work of Martha Rosler has been very influential to my current practise. ‘Semiotics of the Kitchen’ is a sarcastic comment on the role of women in the 60s. Semiotics meaning the study of signs, Rosler uses herself as a ‘symbol’ of femininity, filming herself in the traditional domain for a woman; the kitchen. In the film she proceeds to name and display like a sign, the different elements that make up a woman’s day-to-day existence; the kitchen utensils; ‘A’ for ‘Apron’ etc. Her movements are dark and static, instigating nervousness from the viewer, as we watch her coolly and violently demonstrate each utensil, deconstructing the classic image of a woman in the kitchen. Her movements become even more aggressive as she transforms even the safest objects into weaponry; brandishing each article with a silent fury that suggests a breakdown is imminent. This darkly humorous piece of work is such a simple but impassioned representation of the repressed housewife.

Tracey Emin, the ‘bad girl’ of British art. Her oeuvre has posed serious feminist questions about women’s sexual responsibility; her consistent confessional and autobiographical approach within her work, which along with her use of the domestic aesthetic, connects her to the practices of feminist artists such as Rosler. However it is not that work that I am interested in, seeing as her work has apparently changed; from the bluntness of ‘My Bed’ she has now a new opus; one of more subtlety and sensitivity. In her latest exhibition She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea’ at the Turner Contemporary she reveals a sensitive installation that explores the themes of love, sensuality and romanticism. 
The particular piece that is so exciting is ‘Head Falling’ being interesting aesthetically because it appeared to be a sketch in ink, but on closer inspection revealed to be a piece of embroidery. The effective embodiment of the activity of ink through the slow process of embroidery is fantastic. The subtle deception and enlightenment that the piece provides is so revealing and rewarding. There’s also a tenderness and honesty that’s poignant in her documentation of her relationship with herself, men and love.

Máximo Tuja’s work is really exciting. When I want an example of modern day collage where the time and skills are evident, I look to ‘Max-o-Matic’.  It reassures me that the time spent is worth it.  His pieces are so brilliant and exciting to look at; a mixture of subtle and outlandish arrangements. I like the blending and indistinct overlaying of black and white imagery like the faint deception of Emin’s ‘Head Falling’ to obvious bold compositions. Despite most of the work untitled and the content not about sexual equality, it is a medium that I am infatuated with, when I see his work I am suddenly filled with a desire to get out my scalpel and cut paper. 
‘Cutters’ a group exhibition curates by James Gallagher, reaffirms that collage is back and better than ever.

Revolutionary Road is such a useful insight into the housewives in the sixties, of course American life differed from the English, but when considering the classic housewife I automatically refer to the character of April Wheeler in Richard Yates’ classic.  The novel is a portrait of a failing marriage between a young couple in their prime, both looking for extraordinary things. Frank and April; always the first the first to throw a contemptuous remark about the suburban life, an existence they outwardly resented and with a smug satisfaction believed they were indifferent to, until they realise they are wholly immersed in this ‘ideal’ of suburban life. The story is relevant not just for the setting, but for an example of a marriage failing and animosity incited for want of a different lifestyle. The dialogue is used brilliantly to reveal these concealed resentments. We see the unravelling of the marriage largely from Frank’s point of view and hear conversations that he imagines having with his wife, cleverly being that they are derived from what husband and wife may have been able to say to each other, had suburbia not smothered them whole. April’s attempts to escape this mundane life escalate from harmlessly taking part in an amateur dramatic play that wasn’t as Frank put it “exactly a triumph or anything..?” to more dramatically inducing her own miscarriage. April had defiantly resisted suburbia’s attempts to smother her dreams of escaping this suffocating lifestyle, so much so that she died for her cause. The suffering of being a housewife may not be physical and violent, but oppressive in its own way; a smothering of ambition and freedom.

FEMEN are the infamous group of topless Ukrainian female activists, who use their bodies to stand defiantly for sexual and social equality in different parts of the world. They describe themselves as soldiers; morally and physically, provocatively fighting a war on discrimination standing proudly topless and adorned with a symbolic wreath of flowers. Their naked bodies echo the women of Amazonian tribes; their strength but also the sacredness of their form. For the women of FEMEN; to be naked is to be free. These aren’t meek compliant girls, these are women who have been beaten and imprisoned for standing up for what they believe in; a new wave of feminism; women who are undermining the patriarchal world all its forms from the church to the sex industry ‘bringing neurosis and panic’ to the men by means of their intellect, sexuality and agility. In Eastern Europe there is a disturbingly high rate of sex workers; Kiev has become notorious for ‘sex tourism’. While the method of legislation; criminalising the person who engages the services of a prostitute is unsuccessful in Ukraine only radical measures; protests and shock tactics can make society change its opinion and compel parliament to change the law. Their work is so admirable, compelling me to want to rip off my clothes and stand with them. Their aim is to empower women. Subtlety is not an option; I want my work to be reflective of their struggles. It encourages me to make my images bolder and more audacious. It doesn’t mean that the craft of collage has to be dismissed, it is fundamental; it just means subtle mocking of the 60’s American housewife isn’t the only source of commentary.

Reckitt, H. (2001). Art and Feminism. London, Phiadon Press Limited
Januszczak, W. (2012). Home Is Where The Art Is. Available:[Last accessed 20th October 2012]
Wullschlager, J. (2012). Traces of Tracey. Available: [Last accessed 19th October 2012]
Turner Contemporary. (2012). News > She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea: Tracey Emin at Turner Contemporary. Available: [Last accessed 22nd October 2012]
Mullan, J. (2004). Guardian Book Club; Left Unsaid. Available: [Last accessed 16th November 2012]
Klanten. R, Hellige. H, Gallagher. J. (2011). Cutting Edges Contemporary Collage. Berlin, Gestalten
 Gallagher, J. Cutters (2010). (collage) [image online] Available: [Last accessed 17th November 2012]
Yates, R.(2007). Revolutionary Road. London : Vintage
Wilsher, K. (2012). Femen's Topless Warriors start Boot Camp for Global Feminism. Available: [Last accessed 4th October 2012]
Camatsos, S. G . (2012). FEMEN sheds light on Ukrainian sex industry [Interview: Anna Hutsol]. Available: [ Last accessed 17th November 2012]
Femen. About Femen. Available: [Last accessed 17th November 2012]

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Oh yes, I am developing..

I have been using all my resources and created some more work, (finally, been so busy organising our exhibition ANTIFACTORY, more about that later though.)
The first few are just on a basic cartridge paper, but the last three are on wood; primed, washed with an oil base and I have used a gloss to give it that shiny exterior.. The shine reflects the facade of 'perfection' and happiness.
But exciting news, two of these pieces are displayed in the Orange Tree in Nottingham, and already had an offer on one!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Everybody loves Tracey

Earlier this month I visited ‘Frieze’ the international contemporary art fair which takes place for a few days in October  in London’s Regent’s Park, organised by the publishers of Frieze Art Magazine.

The piece of work that really captured my attention was a piece by Tracey Emin, ‘Head Falling’, a 6.17 x 63.78 inch piece of embroidered calico. From a distance it looked like a sketch of a headless woman in black ink, slapped on with rough quick brush strokes, with areas of thick and thin paint, which in itself was interesting to look at. The energy that the piece emanated was enough to persuade me to have a closer look, which revealed the truth that it was in fact it not painted but embroidered on, making it all the more interesting. Emin managed to epitomize the activity of paint with the slow process of embroidery so effectively and so masterfully replicated that energy. I love the way the viewer is ‘deceived’, or perhaps that’s too negative a viewpoint, I’ll focus on the enlightenment they receive when they step closer to the work and discover the truth.

The piece was part of the Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Booth F12, with other works from the gallery exhibited such as Juergen Teller’s photograph ‘Cerith, Suffolk’ and Teresita Fernandez’ Golden’ (30 Dissolves) made from brass. The booth itself was a little bit disappointing, unlike some gallery booths at the at fair which were  evidently contending to win ‘Best Booth’, it was clear that the  Lehmann Maupin gallery wasn’t as concerned with that, compared to the unique Pilar Corrias’s pink carpeted booth for instance. I suppose they were hoping that the work would speak for themselves without the need for exciting carpeting or wallpaper. While there is no denying that the pieces were all interesting to look at, one would think in an event as huge as Frieze that the curators would aim to make what they have to offer as memorable as possible. 

Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Booth F12

However it was Emin’s piece that really inspired me, having pre-frieze been exhibited as part of this year’s Turner Contemporary in Margate, Emin’s hometown. The place which she grew up in and provided inspiration for many of her most famous art works; the exhibition She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea’ was described by  Waldermar Januszczak from The Sunday Times as being “the most beautiful I have seen by her;” a sensitive installation across three galleries, exploring the themes of love, sensuality and romanticism. It featured both new and old work including drawings, monoprints, sculptures and neons and was described as giving “maximum force” by the Financial Times’ Jackie Wullschlager. Holding the exhibition in Margate meant a lot to Emin, “I still can't really believe that I'm showing in Margate. Even in my wildest dreams I could never believe there would be a gallery like the Turner Contemporary there.” She hopes it will make a difference to the community also; bringing credited contemporary art to the sea side town will draw in tourism and she hopes will enlighten the local residents to contemporary art, particularly a style like hers which isn’t always popular with everyone, “the brilliant thing about Margate is that it's one hour from London on the train so I'm hoping lots of people will come and visit not just my show but the beautiful sunsets and sandy beaches.'

She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea at the Turner Contemporary

The exhibition has received so much acclaim because of Emin’s new oeuvre, as they are calling it, her change of direction. No longer is it a man bashing, hate parade, but she’s talking about love. Of course she said she’s a long way off from being healed, but the new tone of work suggests a ‘new’ Emin. I find it quite affecting how her personal journey is documented throughout her relationship with herself, men and love. 
Feminist art work is becoming more and more essential to me in discovering what I want my work to be about. The unequivocal attitudes on morality and womanhood are so inspiring and relevant to what I am hoping to do within my own practise. How women are scrutinized and treated and the assumptions and expectations that are made are all key aspects to my current ideas. Although this seems a crude association, but since I was originally interested in exploring the sexualisation of girls, a woman like Emin knows too well what it is like to fall victim to the male brutality and being an artist she has been able to represent and disseminate that anger and pain through her work. Her own devastating experiences have obviously influenced her and even though she says she is far off from being healed, she is overcoming her trauma and is now turning it around in a more sensitive and accessible way. People will be able to relate to this new work better I think, as opposed to the bluntness of ‘My Bed,’ for instance. While people do want to be voyeurs to things that appal them; with our natural curiosity, true appreciation will come if the viewer feels moved by the work. The embroidery on these pieces reveals a tenderness and honesty that surmounts in all her work but in Head Falling it is particularly poignant, to me at least.  


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Everything but the Kitchen Sink!

Last week we had workshops  at uni, I took part in Everything But the Kitchen Sink, with film and performance artist Simon Raven, resident at Primary Studios. 

Mr Raven looking as cool as ever.

We began with watching some classics of the kitchen sick genre; such as Alan Sillitoe’s adapted novel Saturday Night Sunday Morning staring a young Albert Finney. He wrote about working class life in Nottingham in the 50s and 60s with an angry young man, the anti-hero as the protagonist.  The work of the kitchen sink genre tends to be about typical things; human relations, work, survival and enjoyment. Eastenders and Coronation Street are examples of modern day kitchen sink drama. Joy Division and The Smiths could be considered as kitchen sink bands.

The following day we were to present our responses to the films, I used photography as my medium.

The bleak structure and decor of my student house was a  really good setting for the typical kitchen sink glow. Taken on a basic disposable candle during the evening and morning after.

We then were expected to create some performance art as a reflection to the subject, seeing as performance artists could be considered as anti-heros themselves? This however escalated into utter madness..

our resources

We ended up crawling around the studios under a black cloth, Si turned into a little film..

(god I love being an art student)