What a place to start! The Art Shop Abergavenny
I could ramble on about the exhibitions I have seen in London recently, but this new blog is a fresh start for me and what a wonderful exhibition to begin with.
The Art Shop in Abergavenny is an architectural gem on the Welsh Borders. Originally a printmakers works it has been lovingly restored to its 16th Century former glory. If you are in any way creative then the street level shop is a delight. Bow fronted windows entice you inside with the promise of brown paper bags and the nostalgic smell of linseed. Old wooden cabinets overflow with the finest art materials, craft supplies and jars of iridescent pigments. Halfway along inside, you will see a heavy oak door, with light spilling into the shop from the upstairs windows. And by taking the few steps skywards you are greated with a truely\wonderful exhibition.
Marks of Intent is a two person show, exhibiting the work of Helen Booth and Nicky Hodge. Complete opposites when it comes to the finished pieces, but saying that, there is an invisible conection here. The palette for both artists is very similar, and the mood that they both evoke is also oddly melancholy.
Booth is exhibiting around 40 pieces, ranging from the very small, 15cm x 15cm up to a very large 180cm x 220cm and both triumph in the exhibition. I particularly like the peice Persephone (above) although her smaller landscapes however are equally enigmatic and work particularly well on mass. Having spent a bit of time researching her work, I see that she won the John Downes Oppenheimer Award for painting twice. Her ability with paint is obviously what draws you instinctively to her work. Its intuitive and accomplished. The smaller scale work looks impulsive, the white sweeping titanium, brushed quickly over layers of half dry oils. Exhilerating. The larger pieces have the same intensity, but are obviously months in the making.
Hodge’s painting are far more structured, like morse code almost on very flat ground. Wreck (above) is one of my favourites in the whole exhibition. There is an understated menace in the work that slightly unnerves, but the presision is fresh and modern. I wish I could have spent longer soaking it all up, but I intend to return before the close.
Its a very thought provoking show. The work has been expertly curated, works on paper by both artists showing a deep understanding of their practise.
The Exhibition Runs from Now until April 14th. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm
BLINC DIGITAL ARTS FESTIVAL
Art Of England. October 2011.
Conwy in North Wales became an oasis of creativity last weekend, when blinc descended with the ambitious Digital Arts Festival, running in conjunction with Conwy Feast. On the whole the event was very successful, attracting over 20,000 visitors to this world Heritage site.
The juxtaposition between the 800-year-old castle and Art at the forefront of digital technology could have jarred, but the art was well curated and overall well received. You could say that the blinc festival was an offering in two halves; One being the site-specific installations and performances, the other the spectacular projection event on the walls of the castle on the Saturday evening.
This Is Tomorrow
The site-specific pieces in my view were a coup. America based artist Dominic McGill’s beautiful globe, This is Tomorrow, depicting an atomic mushroom cloud inside a crystal ball, hanging so serenely in the Mill Gate was incredibly poignant, especially when you consider it’s 10 years since the Twin Towers. The magnitude of the castle and its historical significance, humbled by the energy found within the tiny atom.
Heaven to Earth
Jessica Lloyd Jones and Ant Dickinson, Heaven to Earth was both a site-specific installation and also a large-scale projection on the castle walls. Both pieces complimenting each other very well, each showing the same imagery, but on very different scales. This must have been very challenging when the original concept was derived from microscopic photographs of the castle walls. Ant’s score was well rounded the work itself was very succinct, and possibly one of the most powerful pieces in the exhibition.
Plas Mawr, one of the best-kept Tudor houses in the UK, played host to Absent But Not Forgotten, a collaboration between Kathryn Campbell Dodd and Jacob Whittaker consisted of three large screens depicting footage, following the exploration into the paranormal activity within the house. The filming was both exquisite and unnerving, looking very much like old master paintings in part. It isn’t very often that you get the chance to wander inside this kind of house, let alone see what it would look like in the dark.
Plas Mawr was also transformed by projections, and in my opinion one of the highlights of the festival. The plaster mouldings from inside this historical house, bought to life on the exterior. A perfect symbiosis.
Jackdaw Helen Booth’s light work, The Jackdaw was a meditative piece, and a departure from her painting practise. Two very large light boxes with monochromatic images of Conwy’s resident birds, representing the irony of what the Castle once was and what it’s now become. Rhys Trimble performed his poem, The Book of Daw within the very small space, looking at times like a trapped bird.
Bedwyr Williams’ performance at the Royal British Legion was a triumph. The film that accompanied the piece, produced by his brother Llŷr was well crafted and engaging. We were introduced to and cajoled into becoming imaginary arty moles, We scurried around the gutters of Conwy in designer glasses and trackie bottoms. Bedwyrs satirical comedic ramblings were a highlight.
The main event on the Saturday night, if crowds are anything to go by was a runaway success. Estimated crowds of over 10,000 people were recorded for both shows. It is the first time in Europe, that fine artists have had the opportunity to work on such a large scale, and on the whole the pieces succeeded
The projections were started by Rhys Trimble, a performance artist and poet reading to the crowds in Welsh, English and Latin. His words projected 30metres high and 100 metres wide. His voice, like a battle cry, calling the audience to attention.
Cecilia Westerbergs King, Miles Umney’s Stars and Well and Wendy Dawson and Tim Pugh’s Amser / Time were charming, probably because of their simplicity. But saying that Photernative, a collective from Conwy and Jessica Lloyd Jones and Ant Dickinsons pieces were also a wonder to behold, just by their very scale and palette.
The latter half of the projections was in parts a little commercial, but crowd pleasing with the fireworks and pretty lights, but this can all be forgiven when you look at the event as a whole. What the creative directors Craig Morrison and Joel Cockrill managed to achieve however is pretty formidable. The vision for the festival, the determination to get the artists involved in a new media and their ambition are to be congratulated. It is hard enough getting visitors into galleries to see exhibitions in Wales, but if crowds are anything to go by this was a very successful event.
The artists that were involved must be in shock to a certain extent, their practise and nerves pushed to the very extreme, but they must all be congratulated for their contribution. It’s just a shame that it only ran for the one night, and I hope that blinc will run on into the future.