Thursday, 23 October 2008

Czech made – trends in Czech glass

This exhibition at the Craft Study Centre shows the work of well-known Czech glass makers. The work that appealed to me most was that by Martin Hulbucek. He showed two large glass forms that seem to hide an image inside them. They were both vases made of mould melted glass, which had been cut and polished. In general I was disappointed with the glass on show. I have seen glass in the Czech Republic which contained many intense, vibrant colours and that was what I was expecting to see. I will go and see the exhibition again and see if my impression changes after a second visit.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Light:craft symposium 8 October 2008

There were five speakers at this symposium. The first was Bob Martin (Visual Arts Officer (Crafts) for the Southeast). He talked about his love of shadows and showed us images of the work of several artists who use shadows as an integral part of their work including Matthew Chambers (ceramics), Mary Butcher (basket weaving) and Dail Behennah (wood and stones). He discussed Shadows of men a project he was involved with at Garth Prison and Under scan an installation at Derby using surveillance systems and video cameras. The videos, activated by passers by, show a person on the pavement talking and moving and interacting with the audience. The work is by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and can be seen at

The second speaker was Georgina Williams, a textile artist from Winchester. She uses new smart materials to bring light into fabric without electricity. This is done using phosphorescence which is applied to the woven surface of the fabric. It is ideal for stairwells and lift shafts to light them up at night.

Peter Freeman who creates neon light sculptures spoke next. He said that for him light is the medium and the message and that all art involves manipulation of light. He showed us illustrations of several of his projects, among them the Woking Lightbox, which responds to people moving in the building and his sculpture near Weston Super Mare on the M5, which changes on different days.

Tine Bech, a visual artist from Denmark, was the fourth speaker. She explores the membrane between the body and the world and is interested in how we respond to art works. She described some of her projects and explained that she is producing an installation through Farnham and across the Maltings bridge
The fifth speaker was Laurie Lea whose light in glass photographed on the sea shore was very attractive.

This was a very interesting symposium. I thought the Under scan video project in Derby sounded fascinating and it fits in with the work I have been doing on the uncanny, as the figure on the pavement seems to turn on you and try and grab your legs. The artist is Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and I have discovered that it is going to be shown in Trafalgar Square from 15 to 23 November so I will go and see it for myself. I was also interested in the interactive projects Tine Bech has been involved in especially those combining sound, light and audience participation. I admired the work of Peter Freeman, but it is on such a large scale that it does not relate to my own work.

Lesley Millar’s inaugural lecture

Lesley Millar’s inaugural lecture was held at the Design Council, London on 6 October 2008. The title of the lecture was Transition and influence and she discussed the interconnected mappings of contemporary textile practice. It was interesting to hear how textiles had been used to subvert communist rule in the Baltic states and how they are being used in Mexico to remember those who have ‘disappeared’. The Japanese aesthetic is unique and it was interesting to see the variety of textiles being produced in Japan especially the way huge textiles are produced from small units that can be transported and reassembled in different venues. It was also interesting to see how Lesley has brought textile practitioners together from different areas to produce fascinating and stimulating exhibitions. This image was taken at Lesley’s most recent exhibition ‘Cloth and culture’.

Rothko at the Tate

This was a large exhibition at the Tate and there were quite a few people there on the day we visited – I would have preferred fewer people so I could sit and admire the paintings quietly. The gallery I enjoyed the most was that containing the Brown and gray paintings. For me they are the ones that best reveal Rothko’s skill. I could have sat and contemplated them for hours – there seems to be so much subtle colour in them. I prefer them to the Seagram murals with their large rectangular shapes which I find don’t allow contemplation because you are following the shapes round rather than just enjoying the colours. Interestingly, I had always thought that Rothko’s works were flattened by reproduction but when I went to buy some postcards I found that the colours in the Black on Gray series were more lively than in the gallery. In the gallery I had found the black overpowered the grey but it didn’t do so in the postcard reproduction.

Westhope Group meeting 26-28 September 2008

This contemporary lace group meets annually to enjoy a workshop and discuss exhibiting opportunities. This year we reviewed our current travelling exhibition which is part of the Knitting and Stitching Show and discussed a possible future outdoor exhibition. We had an interesting workshop on book making and paper folding.