Tag Archives: participatory

The generosity of artists

Pastel by Anna Gahlin

Anna Gahlin’s contribution to “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” and the packing it was in

I had a moving couple of hours opening and recording the contributions to my collaborative piece “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” which I will be working on during the first two weeks of my show “Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic” at Black Swan Arts, Frome. So far 55 artists have contributed a total of 117 pieces for me to work with. I am really touched that so many people – people,¬†mostly, I have never met – have taken so much time and care to make something for me to do with as I choose. People have trusted me with their art and given it in good heart. Most people packed their little 4″ x 4″ work with meticulous care. Many included a short note or a card with good wishes and words of support. Sometimes there was a little story about the piece and for me the greatest joy was when someone said how much they enjoyed thinking about and doing their piece. Pure inspiration. Thank you everyone. I will still accept contributions for the next two weeks. Do come and visit me at the gallery to see th eprogress and unfolding.

Painted metal piece by Martin Heron

Martin Heron’s contribution

I have had pieces from France, Norway, America and all over the UK. Artists of all ages, amateur and professional, experienced and emerging, have put themselves out to send a creative gift. Some people sent multiple contributions. Three was a frequent number but a few sent more than 10 pieces! As yet I am still to discover who sent a pack of sixteen wonderful, double-sided squares, carefully packed, but didn’t enclose even a clue to their maker. Please let me know who you are so I can credit you!

Anonymous contribution to "The Binding Grid of Creative Connection"

Anonymous contribution to “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection”

With so much care and generosity taken with these gifts I am really conscious that I want to do justice to them and make the contributors be proud they were a part of something. I start work on Saturday on it and at present have far too many ideas, but I’ll soon find my way through it. I say I start on Saturday but actually I have created a big black square and drawn a grid on it. I stuck my own first contribution on it:

Collage by David Smith

My own starting contribution for “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection”

The Binding Grid of Creative Connection

"Dance Steps" abstract painting by David Smith

“Dance Steps”
Acrylic on canvas 122cm x 122cm A poor reproduction of something that has little to do with the post!

I have decided on “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” as the working title for the collaborative piece I will make during my “Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic” show at Black Swan Arts, Frome, next month. I have a feeling that the title may get added to with something in brackets, but we will see! So what does that mean? Well, it is a celebration of the incredibly positive and affirming nature of my experience with Twitter and the connections I have made with other creative people. The piece will be an attempt to anchor physically (bind) the goodwill and connected creativity of those people and to show my gratitude for their support. I have called it “Grid” because I often work with grids but also because of the idea of the National Grid: lines of power which spread energy across the land. I love the idea that groups of creative people are coming together through Twitter to create “ecologies of talent”, what Brian Eno refers to as “scenius”, the talent of a community (genius being the talent of an individual) where all sorts of people with a range of skills, abilities and facilities combine and contribute to enable great art and ideas to emerge. As Eno says in this clip from the John Peel Lecture the other day, it takes a lot of help from all sorts of people, including people sometimes refered to as hangers-on, for a creative scene to flourish. I think Twitter has the ability to support such “sceniuses” and “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” is my way of giving it recognition. I have no idea how the piece will progress but I now have an idea how I will start the process, but you’ll have to wait for that.

One thing I have thought about is including some of the envelopes too – in fact at one point I thought of not opening the envelopes but displaying the work unseen! Those who know my work will recognise my fascination for the unseen, obscured, veiled and redacted from other work not least of which #Letter365. But I have said to everyone that I will give them a public credit for their contribution and mostly wont know who things are from if I don’t open the envelopes!

Images of some contibutions to The Binding Grid of Creative Connection

A few black square contributions

There seems to be a good response from people, but as I am not able to just pop in to Black Swan Arts I have no real idea exactly how many there might be so far. Thank you to all the kind and generous folk who have already sent contributions. More will always be welcome so get yours to me as soon as you can. So if you are an artist in any discipline please send your contribution to me c/o Black Squares, The Round Tower, Black Swan Arts, 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB. Please do it NOW! I will be creating the piece during the show which runs from 6 November – 29 November 2015 so if you wanted you could bring me your piece (I will accept submissions up to 21 November) but you know you’ll forget – so do it NOW! Don’t forget, when you send or deliver a piece you pass all physical and intellectual property rights to it as an object or idea over to me to use in any way that I see fit.

NB can you please make sure you put the correct postage on your package!

Also please note: I need to have your physical contribution. So if you make a digital piece please produce hard copy for me to use. If you are a musician or a poet or dancer or whatever you can still take part as long as you make your contribution into some kind of hard-copy 4″ x 4″ submission.

Footnote: thanks to Austin Kleon for reminding me in “Show Your Work” about Brian Eno’s concept of scenius

Black squares, black lines and black magic

Abstract black square construction by David Smith

“Cool It”
Acrylic, Indian ink & metal on board 200mm x 200mm

Riding on the success of Bridport Open Studios I am launching myself headlong into preparations for my next show. It’s going to be in the Round Tower at Black Swan Arts in Frome starting 6 November 2015 under the working title, “Black squares, black lines & black magic”. It is a really brilliant space and I am determined to create a show that takes the building into consideration rather than just arranging my pictures nicely round the walls (round being the operative word!) I am also determined that it will not be just a static display: I want the show to evolve over the three weeks it is open. I haven’t the luxury of a proper residency, but I will be there each day the show is open and I hope to develop site specific work during that time. Of course the more people who come through and engage with me the less work will I be able to do, so I have planned two participatory pieces that will help ensure something new gets finished during the show – “with a little help from my friends”!

The first of these pieces will involve the help of other artists. After my meeting at the Black Swan tomorrow I will post an open call to artists to submit their take on the theme “Black squares, black lines & black magic”. I will be looking for submissions in any materials or media but they must be exactly 4″ by 4″. If you send something in it may be used in any way I choose, so you mustn’t expect to necessarily recognise your piece in the finished work, though I will publicly credit each artist. More details to follow very soon but in the meantime get your thinking caps on and get those creative juices flowing!

The other participatory piece will be an homage to Bob Law. As a painter of black paintings Bob Law has to feature somewhere in the process of making this show. I will be asking the help of all visitors in the creation of this piece and though I have got it pretty much planned out I will wait till the exhibition opens to introduce it.

Oh, and don’t think that just because “black” appears 3 times in the working title that everything is going to be dark and sombre. Those of you who follow my work will know that my black squares are often neither black nor square! But there again, people who know me know I can become a little “overfocussed” – dare I say “obsessional”? – which could mean it all does end up pretty monochrome! You’ll have to wait and see.

Colourful Black Square 1 - abstract painting by David Smith

“Colourful Black Square 1”
Acrylic on board 200mm x 200mm