WHAT I SAW LAST WEEK: 26th June
i missed last week’s WISLW! n the last WISLW on 12june was such a behemoth i had to leave bits out for next time, which is NOW. but it’s ok, i will squeeze it allllll into ONE! so quick so speedy soooooo fast.
- CRITS AT NEWCASTLE DEGREE SHOW!
I TELL U WOT- out of all the degree shows i saw this year, i was most excited and impressed by the students up in Newcastle. we’ve been for a lil visiting lecture before but honestly, it’s terrible really, i rarely ever get out of london for degree shows. i went round for a day of crits, organised by the students themselves, nd i felt actual FOMO for everything i’d missed out on all those years before, trapped in the ring of the m25 london bubble.
for my crits that day, i had a lil group of about 9 students and it was honestly such a pleasure to find out more about their practices, spend time with their work, hear from them about what was on their minds and have a lil chat. i just love meeting new people! love having a chat with interesting clever people! artists are so cool and interesting! love my job ah – here are some pics, i’ve tried to link their IGs where i can bc they were ALL so cool and talented, i’ve got the utmost enthusiasm for everything i saw that day!
Harvey made a literal contraption, an enormous machine. the other students told me he’d spent all year building it, soldering by hand and piecing it together slowly. every day of the degree show he clocked in at like 2pm and flicked open the sluice cap, turned the hand crank to get the conveyor belt going. malt grains poured onto the conveyor belt, whizzing off along the conveyor into a bucket down the end, which eventually tipped over from the weight. it was a machine that produced WORK. that was all that came out: WORK, an abstract concept.
I thought this work was so clever, obvs explicitly marxist, a bit sarcastic too. it felt cheeky and deadpan all at the same time. critical without taking the piss or taking it all too seriously. it made me think about those anti-work reddit threads – how they’re ultimately right and actually work is genuinely bullshit. david graeber bullshit jobs chat, but also – is ART actually WORK. in any sense, does art actually count as work? what kind of labour is it, if we are in the mood to categorise the different kinds and models of labour? is the artist a worker, and if so, WHAT does that MEAN in PRACTICE? clever. deft! this was skilled work, skillful conceptually but also physically bc – harvey built a fucking CONTRAPTION! the magic of all that actual labour materialised in a machine made to produce WORK, a useless abstract concept that was just materialised and left to dissolve away as soon as the performance was over— that magic wasn’t lost on me. i thought it was fucking GREAT.
2: Dana Goh
Dana’s work was actually so fucking beautiful, i still can’t get over it. this enormous papercut work, floral shapes cut from one long roll of paper, left white and hoisted up above our heads like a delicate canopy. it elided our vision, this peripheral scale. something kind of spatial or ambient? because the way it affected the room was palpable. but i also think Dana was dealing with similar themes as Harvey, in a very different way. idk if it’s just the format of a group crit, but I always feel these connections between works forming, almost against my will. like this work could be about labour, work, skill – the craft and physical demand of making work this delicate and intimate. i think it is, but it is also mostly dealing with a pure aesthetic ideal of beauty in space, the decorative (not a bad thing, good! so so good! the basest instinct for art to drive full pelt towards). clever, cool, just on the edge of our vision too. i thought it was mindblowing!
these are only individual snippets of Natasha’s work, and i think part of me wants to resist descrbing them – maybe bc i think the works feel like individual things that come together, rather than a whole entire thing that is broken up into little bits across a room. but with this one, i was sooooo hugely blown away by how good natasha was at arranging art objects in a space, ready for display in a way that felt coherent? – if that makes sense? like Natasha’s work felt like a room-wide exhibition, a solo commission – rare and skillful under the cramped stress of a degree show. she was working in a way, with a fine tuned intution for balance and space that like… lowkey some galleries struggle with when handling an artists' work. like these works were interesting and cool on their own, if i’d seen one in a blank empty space I’d have been happy. but – all together in the space, they were fully coherent and singing as one and in harmony, happy and i wouldn’t move or shift anything bc these individual works made SENSE. i think that’s so cool. a finished artist! i wish i’d had that skill when i was leaving art skl! i didn’t know where to put anything, what kind of weight to give it all. Natasha was ready to EXHIBIT, ready to make, knew her work inside out. it wasn’t slick, it was just WISE, knowing. soooo cool.
4: Iris Ollier
Iris’s work was like actual magic, art as trick, i spent half the crit wondering ‘how the fuck did you do that???’. one work was an enormous bubble of water suspended in the sky between two plastic sheets. this lense bulge that refracted light, hanging above us like an omen, heavy and ominous and also beautiful in the threat it posed. convex, concave, i was gripped. other little standalone works had little circles of glass, blowing out shape and form, these little freestanding lenses that defied gravity. it was like — imagine if art could refract space, repel space, bend and shift the peripheral edges around you or bunch it all up close. subtle and also like a blunch force punch on ur nose. like omg, i know i will see her work again soon – you know when you get that feeling?
5: Amy Jowett
Amy spoke about their practice like the social element of it was this hidden engine – they take objects, from archives, historical and personal, and translate them into lil 3D scans. maybe the object is from the bronze age. maybe the object is from ur Nan. both have the same weight. they then jumble this information up, a la poor image, break the digital back out into physical but JARG. it’s a clever and intuitive kind of work, weird gut brain kinda work. the kind of thing that makes my eyes feel like a cooling balm has been applied, but also to my brain and to my body and all these parts of me. multiple pressure points kinda work. the objects themselves have this curiousness, this interesting sculptural quality – then with that hidden engine, this conceptual rigour! the social! the artist as hunter and gatherer, but mostly gatherer. excellent, i was so truly excited by it, in a totalising way.
Laura’s work was FULL OF SECRETS – a practice that embraces mystery or privacy, coded or like,,, maybe it’s just about opacity? like the rumbling engine Amy had is actually completely hidden adn we, the viewer are only allowed to skim across the surface. the drawings were these tight, neat things but i really really loved the prints hanging in the middle of the space. i couldn’t tell how they were made – they were so LUMINOUS! were they drawings? was there a light shining from some mysterious place behind the paper? were these like… oil stains on paper? surely not bc then it’d be darker, not lighter??? i had so many questions – i dind’t want anyone to answer them. i wanted to hold onto that energy of like ‘OMG HOW DID U DO THAT?’ the mystery! the artist’s unequivocal right to privacy!
i’m a writer, so i think part of me finds the idea of communicating or working purely through art/object/image really bizarre at times. i get it but it’s j not how my brain works. it seems trite to say, but i think i find text based works/works in text more compelling just by fact of them speaking in a language that’s like – one i slide into more easily. i was really mostly excited by the fact that charlotte was an artist who wrote alongside painting – that image and text were parallel within charlotte’s practice, especially the poems!!! i was also really interested to see the works – text based – exploded across the space, all cosy and quiet.
hello, HOBVIOUSLY i am very very pro-collaboration. love to see ppl working together, love to see collabs going well, producing interesting fun funky things. Alice & Ines work separately and together, together as Slow Matter.
they (together & apart) had a really identifiable aesthetic language that they shared between them – this discrete thing that was palpable to me, for me and viewers to enjoy– but that i was also outside of the loop on. i loved that. i only wanted to see the edge and wonder at the intense, worked arrangement. so delicate, dinky, curious and cute. they spoke about the social element of their work – there was a table tucked up as part of the work, to be unfolded for a schedule of workshops, they had tearaway prints (now slotted into a gap on the front of my bedroom wardrobe) – and that was really cool. i honestly think degree shows are a pretty busted format: everyone gets a little cubicle/a lil room and you put all the stuff you’ve made in there and wait for visitors to pick you out the line up as Exceptional. it’s dated! i loved that students were playing around with events and activating the works with PEOPLE! having a live program is fun! and it is also INTERESTING! good! loved the level of their work too – so charming!
that was all! then i slept on the train home hehehe
- painting saturation
i hit my personal painting rate limit last week when we were doing the second stage of judging for the John Moores Painting Prize. messing. obvs had the time of my life, but i’ve seen so many paintings as part of this judging process! i almost cannot believe it – i want to write about it in some format! i think i should wait, at least for a bit, maybe it’ll come out in a non-web format, idk! but this has been such an interesting and inspiring process – i use the word inspiring sooooo lightly but i stand by it! i have been inspired by this process and had a million and one ideas. unfortunately only like 10 of those ideas involve picking up painting again. but yeyeye intense 2 days in Liverpool seeing soooo many painttings. lucky i love them, lucky i am thrilled to bits. cannot wait for the final show! cannot wait to meet the artists and put names/faces to paintings!!! like omg! you’re number 68053867 bc this has all been ANONYMOUS! painting first! can’t wait to introduce people into the mix! so excited for it all!
it was such an intense judging process that when i was finally back home in my own bed i had an actual dream where i was still stuck in the judging room picking paintings. not even joking.
- postcard exhibition @ Lot Projects
another gallery i have never been in ever before! london is so big! i am soooo small! there are so many galleries, they keep makin em faster than i can visit em!
me n my fella love stomping around at the weekend, gettin a lil fancy coffee, plodding around and seeing WOT’S WOT! while we were on the LONGEST WALK, a LITERAL HIKE through broadway market, we spied this lil gallery that tbf we always walk past – finally popped in and they had a postcard show!
all these lil artworks mailed in through an open call. artists had engaged w the term postcard really rigorously. some were etchings in postcard shapes. one was a thin postcard sized slip of wood with a rectangle about a millimeter deep (!!) in the shape of a stamp – i thought that was great but didn’t get a picture. lots of them were literal postcards – they were all for sale too and i rly wish i’d got one!!!! i think lil postcard sized prins for sale are so great, attainable and doable for normal people. the art market is such a bonkers nebulous thing, postcards are normal and like, comprehensible. and i really enjoyed this lil show! so nice, lovely one to pop into on a sunday holding someone’s hand hehe.
- finally, pedaloes!
last WISLW i EXPRESSED AN INTEREST in the pedaloes in victoria park – can confirm, pedaloes were SECURED for cute date. fun excellent 10/10. loved it.
it was like being on pond safari. saw all the ducks, said hello, accidentally nearly crashed into their beautiful nest but managed to swerve them at the last minute. highs and lows. a real journey TM.
^^^ me, communing with the ducks (they weren’t very friendly but fair enough. we were the tourists ykwim?) highly recommend pedaloes! bc i felt like a kind of duck!
(i also found a mojito flavoured elfbar !!!! so many wins this week!!! we love to see it!! manifest the elfbars u want to see in the world!!! )
- actually finally
from a couple weeks ago, but i watched Stutz! Jonah Hill’s documentry about his therapist (stutz is his therapist’s name/nickname). it was interesting, i felt like i should’ve been paying more attention tbh. there were all these lil therapeutic drawings to illustrate the psychological dynamic under discussion, to help the patient conceptualise the therapy they were receiving, or as like a therapeutic tool.
i thought they were really interesting – drawing > illustration > cure or maybe understanding. made me think about how drawing was probably the first form of written communication. like, letters came AFTER drawing probably, idk. it made drawing feel like a fundamentally human connective act. i really liked that.
it also made me think about how writers probably need therapists, just as interlocutors. since i wrote that portrait of a curator, i’ve been OBSESSED with the idea of an interlocutor. i think writing is a kind of speech and you just throwwww these thoughts out into the wilderness and maybe you never hear back! i am lucky to have gabrielle as an interlocutor and i always feel most clear when we have a lil chit chat and » i think through that speaking. this documentary made me want to get like an arts council funded therapist. a royal society of authors funded therapist. not for my mental health, but for my CREATIVE health. that should be a thing, why isn’t that a thing, of course it’s not a thing society is terrible and there are so many other things we need before we get art world therapists, it’s SILLY! but i did kinda want it all the same.
OK that’s all!
goodbye for this week, catch u on sunday for my text, who knows what that’ll be heeeee heee! bye love u have fun take care! <3 <3 <3