Wednesday 30 October 2013

Venetians: Pawel Althamer

Pawel Althamer filled a space in the Arsenale exhibition with his ‘Venetians’; life-sized sculptures of local Venetians. He cast the faces and hands in plaster and joined them to bodies made of extruded ribbons of grey plastic. They formed abject groups of skeletal forms in the bare brick-lined room and reminded me of the plasticized bodies produced by Gunther von Hagen.

Friday 25 October 2013

Its not chaos Rashed Alakbarov

I saw this sculpture in the Azerbaijan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Rashed Alakbarov makes sculptures which only reveal their subject when their shadows are seen, rather like the work of Noble and Webster. He exhibited some very clever constructions and their shadows. I liked this one because it was slightly different – it didn’t rely on you seeing its shadow but you had to stand in just the right place to read the message hidden within the chaos of metal.

Monday 21 October 2013

Nell’acqua capisco

We found this exhibition by chance walking though Saint Mark’s Square. Not only did it provide a great view of the Square, San Marco and the Tower but there was also some interesting art. I particularly liked Variable space (2007-8) by Marina Paris (see image above), a series of photomontages of buildings that elided their material form and their reflections so you couldn’t be sure quite what you were looking at. It seemed very relevant to be showing it in Venice where the water in the canals confuses perception in the same way. Barbara Salvucci’s delicate drawing Ofelia (2013) was also fascinating. It covered three panels and depicted the shape of an insect’s wing in fine ink lines that crisscrossed each other to provide depth and life to the form. We discovered that there was another part to this exhibition but unfortunately it had closed last month – another facet of the Venice Biennale, where space and time appear to run at their own pace.

Friday 18 October 2013

Venice Biennale

We returned from the Venice Biennale in the early hours of this morning. Quite a varied selection of work, but the first piece we saw was Marc Quinn’s ‘Alison Lapper pregnant’ on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore opposite Saint Mark’s square. This version is not a sculpture, as it was on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, but a huge inflatable. It looked very solid from a distance though and stood out clearly in front of the church of San Giorgio, even though it was a misty day. As we looked at it a huge cruise ship sailed round the island in front of us like a moving wall of apartments. This experience made us appreciate Jeremy Deller’s ‘We sit starving amidst our gold’ which depicts William Morris bodily throwing a huge yacht into the lagoon, which we saw later in the Great Britain pavilion.

Friday 11 October 2013

Water bobbin lace fan

This is the small silk paper fan I made for the Valtopina Lace and Embroidery Museum exhibition. The theme for the exhibition this year was a fan based on one the four elements: earth, air, fire, water. I chose water, although I have since decided to make a series of four fans, one for each element, using the same pattern but different colourways. I wanted to make a fan that could be used rather than just a fan leaf and came up with the idea of using a wire form and embedding the lace in silk paper. I took photos of each stage of the process, which I’ll post another time, so you can see how I made the silk paper and embedded the lace within it.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Cloth and memory {2}

The exhibiting spaces at Salts Mill are large, as I remember from the room in which I had my installation last year. This year, the number of artists has been increased from 3 to 23 and the exhibition is housed in the old spinning room which runs the entire length of the building. The image above showing the work of Yoriko Murayama in the foreground with that of Machiko Agano to the left shows about a third of the space.

It’s impossible to describe the work of all 23 artists so I will just concentrate on those whose work is relevant to mine. Caren Garfen’s work looks at the lives of women in Saltaire based on a study of the 1891 census. She commemorates each of the women by hand stitching their names and details on a reel of cotton, hence the title of the work ‘Reel lives’. The apron strings record the types of employment open to men and women, taken from the same census; the long blue tie bearing the men’s opportunities while the short red one lists the women’s employment opportunities.

Caroline Bartlett uses hand stitching in suspended embroidery frames to emphasise the stillness and emptiness of the once noisy spinning room. At the heart of each is a hard, fixed porcelain circle bearing the imprint of a textile fragment suggesting lost memories and traces. Hilary Bower’s work, comprising large grey hanging sacks also captures the scale of the building and the unnatural silence of this room. They appear as silent witnesses, waiting to be reanimated.

Koji Takaki’s work Ma is made up of translucent cubes that appear to be floating away from the main hanging. They reminded me of windows and bubbles, breathing light and air back into this disused room.