Sunday, 30 January 2011

'Rotor' at the Whitworth Art Gallery

The Whitworth Art Gallery goes from strength to strength, with consistently exciting and innovative shows, and the current one is no exception.

'Rotor', created by Siobhan Davis Dance, includes dance, poetry, installation, video and contemporary composition.  The highlight for me was a dance piece 'A series of appointments' choreographed by Siobhan Davis in collaboration with the four dancers in the piece.  Performed in silence with the simplest of dance technique, it nevertheless conveyed a whole world of human relations, harmony and discord, fear, confidence and creativity.  Characters merged and changed, one might be suddenly stifled, and seek to escape from the group, and at another moment lonely and striving for acceptance. Dancers running together suddenly became competitive, then desperate, then unconcerned. The moments of stillness were breathtaking.

Alongside the performance are some other strong pieces including an amazing installation by Clare Twomy, where unglazed pots are filled with water and gradually collapse, and a very moving poem by Alice Oswald which can be listened to in a small room complete with leather armchair.

A captivating exhibition, which is only on for ten days, and definitely shouldn't be missed.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Salford's Streets Museum

On Thursday I met Lawrence Cassidy at the lovely Left Bank Cafe in the Peoples History Museum, to talk about our common interests.  Lawrence is the initiator of the Streets Museum which documents the demolition of over 1500 streets in Salford in the past 50 years.  The Streets Museum archives and preserves images, film, oral history and artefacts of the lost streets, and supports people to commemorate and mark the passing of their neighbourhoods.

Lawrence was inspired by the District Six Museum in South Africa, which collects memories of the once-thriving district which was wiped out in the Apartheid era.  Lawrence saw a parallel process of social engineering happening in own area, and was inspired, first to study the phenomenon, and then to establish the Streets Museum.

I gave Lawrence a copy of my artists book, 'Cow Lane, Salford' for the Streets Museum collection.  The book shows some of the things that Lawrence is highlighting in his project, the way that vast communities can disappear completely because they no longer fit the model of economic activity in the city.  And yet, every person, every relationship is unique, and once people are moved and relationships are interrupted, they can be lost altogether.  I think the Streets Museum is a really important project.
Check out the Streets Museum website at

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sarah Winchester's strange world

Review of INTERVAL; A narrative psychosis. Cornerhouse, Manchester.

Kai-Oi Jay Yungs exhibition, sadly just finished, lived up to it's subtitle. It was disorientating, confusing and noisy. However, it also offered a delightful and intriguing glimpse into the lives of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, and of other eccentrics in a series of videos, running simultaneously, mostly in small rooms built into the space.

Winchester, in an apparent attempt to mollify the spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles, began a building programme which continued day and night for 38 years.  Starting with a unfinished farm house, she built upwards and outwards without any apparent plan, until at her death, the house had 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 10,000 window panes, with many other rooms and features having been built and then demolished as the project progressed.

Though there were other characters to absorb the viewer, for example, Marigold Verity, a collector of harps, and the Fung Shui master and reader of faces, Sarah Winchester's story held the key to this exhibition.  Her obsessive building, a spectacular example of the extremes that compulsive behaviour can achieve when money is no object, parallel both the form of the installation, and its content, the viewer becoming drawn into the obsessions of both the subjects and artist herself.  We were all accomplices in the madness. But the questions raised about identity, reality and fantasy will continue to resonate in my mind.  I loved it.

Friday, 14 January 2011

new year, new website!

Finally, I've restructured my website and put up some new images.  And now I've got my new blog, I have linked it all together.  You can see it for yourself by clicking the link above.

I've been putting the job off for the for the last few months because it seemed so daunting, but now I'm working part time again, I've had the energy and time to get it done.  

I was also inspired by Artonomy's '5 essential goals for art success in 2011', of which the first goal is:
  1. Get your website and blog polished up.  
Check out the website at

I'd love some feedback.  Is there too much up there now?  Should I be more selective about images or merge some projects together?   

Ok, off to the studio.  Better late than never.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

making progress...

Jackie Wylie, Jude Macpherson and I met this evening to discuss our proposal for a exhibition about the urban landscape.  We sent it to a gallery a few weeks ago, and it was sent back for more development, which at the time felt really disappointing.  But after tonight's meeting, and our brainstorming session, I am think we have improved it a lot, and I'm glad we have had this opportunity to work on it some more.

It's also a delight to be working with Jackie and Jude.  They both have much more experience than I do, having come to this art thing relatively late. I'm learning so much from them.

We popped into my studio to have a look at it, and found that there is light! So I'll be there tomorrow, sorting out boxes and moving furniture.

My new blog

Welcome to the first entry in my new blog.  I'm still working out the technology, which is why it still looks a bit clunky!  

I have just moved into a new studio at Rogue Artist Studios in Manchester, a lovely space overlooking the canal basin.  We are waiting for the electricity to be sorted out, so I can't get much work done there at the moment.  But I am getting it organised.  
I’ve not thought much about the aesthetics of my studio before, but I was inspired by someone at Cow Lane Studios, whose studio was beautiful, almost like a gallery.  So I'm working on creating a studio I won’t be embarrassed to invite people to.  As you can see, I have a little way to go.