Holy Shit! Visions of the Walworth Jumpers

Friday, 17 September 2010

Valoche Murals at Mill 24

All images courtesy of Valerie Pezeron. Copyright protected 2010. No reproductions without permission.

In April of this year, I exhibited at Mill 24 in Manchester. For me this was the opportunity to paint two murals and adapt my illustrations to a very large format. Even though I have in the past designed large banners for associations or been part of a group working on large installations, this occasion was my very first solo attempt at creating live on such a big scale and I found it quite challenging but ultimately very engrossing and rewarding!

All images courtesy of Valerie Pezeron. Copyright protected 2010. No reproductions without permission.

What made this one-off event special was its context as many of the works shown at the Islington Mill in Salford were understood to be showcased live over the course of 24 hours and never to be seen again in this manner. Local and international artists within a wide range of media such as installations, performance and time-based media took part.

 My site specific murals were to be painted during the night between the Saturday the 24th and the Sunday the 25th of April 2010 in front of the public in the large bar area. What a great pick of a work space from the curators! Seeing the 2 large walls I did feel pretty special at first...and then it dawned on me I was meant to draw in front of hundreds of art- savvy individuals chilling with a pint of beer. Talk about pressure!

The job was ambitious and I am no shrinking violet so better be organised then! Between my job as a lecturer at the University of East London's School of Visual Arts and this commission, I worked out I had to spread the workload evenly over the course of the week leading to the event if I were to tackle this project successfully. I ended up going back and forth by coach from London where I live and  Manchester crashing at curator Anna Beam's pad and doing several 18 hour days in a row. I have never worked so steadily hard in my life with so little sleep! Because of course one needed to put aside socialising time with new workmates! Ensue plenty of red wine.

It's always been my dream to paint grand scale murals and as far back as I can remember I have always depicted sexy girls stranded in a surreal worlds. My idea at first was to have them swimming among fruits and cakes. Or maybe a cowgirl could ride a fish in the grand canyon. In the end, I named this world "Organika" and those two murals are just the starting point for a series of illustrations based on this theme.

The first mural on the right was done over two days all by myself using mix media such as pencils, gouache, marker pens and collage using some of my old lithographs to make interesting details on my subject's swimsuits. Having to go back to London I enrolled my husband to help me as my assistant for the event itself. We ended up working at night in a crowded room with bands blasting weird experimental music. The only valid experiment, it seemed, was how loud those artists turned musicians could go! On the other hand, I enjoyed having people coming to me to comment during the process of painting. Everybody had an opinion and that was always the point- to leave nobody unmoved! All in all it was pretty positive and it was a blast having such feedback!

 It might sound corny but I felt so alive!...until all was done and I crashed for a 48 hour long sleep.
Then I heard the murals would be removed in a fortnight to be used again by another set of artists. I always knew it was temporary but it was a shock nevertheless knowing my girls would not dwell at the Mill permanently. 24 hour is too short a time. But so sweet!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Threadneedle Prize at the Mall Galleries

Man on Fire courtesy of Tim Shaw.

To be honest I had not heard of the Threadneedle Prize before nor was I rushing to attend the preview party on Wednesday the 1st of September. The Mall galleries have managed over the years to develop a reputation as the purveyor of stuffy exhibitions.

Phenomena (1) courtesy of Jarik Jongman

But no! No this new cool kid on the block of a prize with its decisively rock n roll intention of freeing figurative art from the shackles of conceptual taste. Move over Turner Prize. It was a nice surprise to get acquainted with this young show at a time when similarly funded prizes are running scarce and the government siphons money erstwhile dedicated to the Arts to programs deemed more “in the public’s interest”.

Oil Baron courtesy of Martin Roberts.

Detail of Moon Loght courtesy of Mark Entwisle

Let’s huff a long sigh of relief! At last art on display that does not pretend to be what it’s not… Yep, this dedicated art lover has been more than once unimpressed by the shovelful of bad abstract material pushed down her throat! But let’s not be mistaken by what kind of art Threadneedle is offering us either; theirs is a bold break from the past with a new kind of figurative art that does not pretend to ignore the Tate came that way and altered the artistic landscape.

Displace courtesy of Louise Folliott.

This second will last forever courtesy of Fiona Finnegan

This year the public is encouraged to choose the Visitor’s Choice award’s £10,0000 winning entry. Let me tell you what I was definitely not going to vote for! Some things seemed rather gimmicky to me such as the upside down portrait of Georgina by Oliver Jones. It’s upside down so it is clever so it’s in?

It's a Bloomin' Marble! courtesy of Garry Martin

Plexus courtesy of Valerie Jolly and Toilet Pipes courtesy of Thomas Doran

The exhibition’s booklet read, “our selectors have chosen a smaller but more coherent exhibition than previous years” with 2,170 submissions to arrive to a final 46. So why in the world choose such dreary artefacts that seemed to me to make more of a statement than to offer any redeeming value to the overall group! I was mightily unimpressed by Simon Carter’s Gulls on a Breakwater – it’s representational but hey look, doesn’t it seem abstract? Or Enzo Marra’s John Singer Sargent- it’s got thick paint and tonal Sargent palette. Is that all? Toilet pipes seemed to be all the rage this year…

But to be fair the overall level of work on display was very high. I fell in love with the sculptures and installations. Man on Fire by Tim Shaw (see above) got me all worked up and Stuart McCaffer (see below) got the crowd queuing to enjoy its view! Built like a shed, it reminded me of a watchtower somewhere in the Scottish Highlandds. The dichotomy between the sense of isolation and of space and freedom was interesting.

Den courtesy of Stuart McCaffer.

The prize spoke to me most when it was attempting to be political, daring, intriguing or just plain funny. Special mention to Wendy Elia’s Elsewhere, Jarik Jongman’s piece or the Anna Adamkiewicz cabinet.

Detail of Cabinet courtesy of Anna Adamkiwicz

Elsewhere courtesy of Wendy Elia

Frame, Figure, Frame, Figure courtesy of Caroline Walker

But my personal favourite was Caroline Walker’s surreal narrative. I am still haunted by the evocative psychological space this painting put me in. Very troubling.

Clee Hill courtesy of Boyd and Evans

The Threadneedle Prize for painting and sculpture runs until the 18th of September 2010 at the Mall Galleries, the Mall, London SW1.

View the article on Amelia's magazine blog.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Graphic North Unlimited

My work is featured on the official website of Graphics North Unlimited. Two of my pieces are of part of GnUAgB's first collective project. Graphic newspapers and an exhibition are to come this October. Find out more here.