“365” – the final piece in my #BlackSquares365 project
Today is the last day of #BlackSquares365, my every-day-for-a-year serial art project. A couple of days ago Paul Newman, the brilliant graphite artist, suggested I finish with an envelope. I woke up early this morning and thought (quoting Roy Harper), “He’s right! He’s right: I’ve not done that one for ages! Little bugger.” Paul was alluding to two previous projects of mine: #Letter365 and The Binding Grid of Creative Connection.#Letter365 was my second year-long art project in which I created an artwork from scratch each day, sealed it in an envelope and sent it to the gallery. The envelopes were displayed as an installation and only opened if and after they were sold. The Binding Grid of Creative Connection was created whilst I was in residence at my solo show at Black Swan Arts, Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic. It was a celebration of the connections I had made on Twitter with other artists round the world. 72 artists contributed a total of more than 150 4” square artworks, their takes on the theme of the show. Paul contributed a drawing to The Binding Grid, in response to which I made an envelope along with a statement of possible contents. To this day Paul does not know if his drawing is/was in that envelope; he doesn’t know if I erased it.
So, today, I have reprised that work. Paul cleverly connected my previous black squares work with a previous serial art project. I can add in additional connections to previous work and long-standing inspirations and influences. In particular there is a reference to the last chapter of Richard Brautigan’s “Trout Fishing In America”, about which I made a small sculpture (involving Letraset, which I have started to use again in #BlackSquares365) when I was at art school, probably in 1973! The sealing wax was a feature of #Letter365 and I have reintroduced it here: it should have said “bee” (I’m a beekeeper) but I panicked when the wax started smoking (we have lots of new very sensitive smoke alarms at the studios now!) So, I have cleverly connected this piece to the work Paul was talking of and have rekindled in him, I hope, that terrible angst of not knowing the whereabouts or condition of his work. I thank Paul for giving me this opportunity and for all his support and help over many years.
So my final piece ends the series with some unknowns and who knows if it even meets the criteria I set out at the beginning, but I like it a lot and it’s a fitting end to a decent project in which I made some pretty good work, stretched myself but didn’t fret and found the discipline the easiest of all the time-based projects I have done.
“338 expressions on the journey of Hylaeus brevicornis” Ink on handmade Indian rag paper mounted on archival cotton paper with printed text 70cm x 38cm
Although I had been invited to participate in the first of Lydia Needle’s “50 Bees: the interconnectedness of all things”, I was too busy to be able to accept. So it was wonderful to have a second chance this year. Lydia has chosen 50 British bee species and allocated one to each of the artists involved. Each artist has created their own original work in response, which will be paired with Lydia’s amazing needlefelt representations of the bees encased in antique containers. A really diverse and talented group of artists and makers have made some phenomenal work, so the exhibition at the Richard Jeffries Museum in Swindon is worth a visit if you are that way.
My bee is Hylaeus brevicornis, the Yellow-face Short-horned Bee. Lydia apologised that there was not enough space to have a full artist profile for everyone but asked for a 100-word statement describing the process of making the work. This is mine:
“I make abstract work, often minimalist and repetitive, that explores the patterns and processes of Nature, especially the interplay between chaos and control. To be asked to create work about this tiny bee was outside my typical process. To do the task justice involved much research, scribbling, play, thinking, interconnecting with everything, planning, discarding and then being somewhat more reasonable. It became clear that I could never explain the process of arriving at the work in my allotted 100 words, so I made some the words part of the artwork. I will only explain more to whoever buys the piece.”
Those of you who share my joy in complying with rules will note there are exactly 100 words in the statement. That might give you an idea on how you might access the work
“Art-as-art, Art-as-art, Yeah!” Pencil on Snowdon cartridge 59cm x 84cm
The title of this piece comes from Andrew Hamilton’s “For People Who Like Art” which I was listening to as I finished it off. The words of Hamilton’s piece are taken from Ad Reinhardt’s “25 Lines of Words on Art Statement” so my title is quoting a quote. I have been really caught by his music and I had already started work on an another piece (still in progress) inspired by though not trying to represent this composition, which I am calling “For Musicians Who Like Art”. Hamilton has a number of works titled, “For…” which echos some of the titles of another composer I admire, Morton Feldman. Notably, Feldman wrote “For Philip Guston” and “For Franz Kline” among other work about art or artists. So my title, “For Musicians Who Like Art”, is an echo of an echo. I will post more about this when i have finished it and have got some decent photographs. Andrew Hamilton kindly sent me the score of the piece and I am thinking about doing more work directly related to his music. (I also have it in mind to do some work responding to Meredith Monk’s work!)
If you want to hear my favourite recording of Hamilton’s “For People Who Like Art” by Crash Ensemble you can do so on SoundCloud
I was pleased to be asked to be a judge for this, along with Liz Wright and Peter Sheridan. The prize-giving exhibition revealing the winning design for the proposed tunnel mural will be held at the STEPS Club For Young People, Weymouth, on Friday 23rd March.
The aim of all this is to improve an eyesore and problem area on the Rodwell Trail with a community project. The plan now is to train a group of local young people to support Peter Sheridan, the artist hired to transfer and develop the winning design as a stunning feature along the Rodwell Trail, hopefully attracting more people to the area. The tunnel painting will be carried out during three weeks this August and hopefully it will bring a lot of people together in Weymouth and attract a lot of tourist and media attention.
Installation shot of my show with Björk Haraldsdóttir at Portmanteau Gallery, Bridport
The exhibition at the Portmanteau Gallery in Bridport opens today and i am delighted to say it looks beautiful. Björk’s work and mine work together really well and I am really inspired by how, together, we have created a cool, calm and classy atmosphere.
The Portmanteau Gallery will be open between 10am and 4pm only on the following dates: 20, 21, 24 to 29 August 2016. I won’t be at the gallery every day so if you want to catch up with me your best bet will be to visit on Wednesday 24 or Friday 26 through Sunday 28 or call me to arrange a time, or come to the Private View tonight between 5.30 and 7pm
Another installation shot of my show with Björk Haraldsdóttir at Portmanteau Gallery, Bridport
The Portmanteau Gallery is at 10 North Street, Bridport DT6 3JQ on the corner with Rax Lane where there is limited on-road parking as well as the car park. Look out for the yellow ART signs marked “21”, our Bridport Open Studios venue number.
Some people reading this may be surprised to learn I am taking part in Bridport Open Studios. I have had conversations with many people about my decision not to participate in open studio events again! Then Björk Haraldsdóttir invited me to share the Portmanteau Gallery with her for BOS – an offer I could not refuse. Björk’s work is stunning and we share a similar aesthetic so I’m delighted to be exhibiting with her in what some people have already kindly predicted will be one of the highlights of Bridport Open Studios 2016
Björk creates wonderfully tactile, seductively patterned, stoneware forms that are haunted by her Icelandic heritage and architectural training. If you have not seen her work before I can thoroughly recommend you come and experience it. I believe our work complements each other’s superbly and would look great together in any home. I will be showing a selection of recent field drawings and erasures with a nod to my black squares work. I hope you will find it an exciting mix.
To celebrate me going back on my word I hope you will join Björk and me at the gallery on SATURDAY 20th AUGUST 2016 from 17.30-19.00 for a drink and private view. If you have spent the day at West Bay or touring BOS coming to see our work would make a fine end to the day and it’s still early enough set you up for an evening in Bridport.
The Portmanteau Gallery will be open between 10am and 4pm only on the following dates: 20, 21, 24 to 29 August 2016. I won’t be at the gallery every day so if you want to catch up with me and can’t make it to the PV your best bet will be to visit on Wednesday 24 or Friday 26 through Sunday 28 or call me to arrange a time.
For those who don’t know it, the Portmanteau Gallery is at 10 North Street, Bridport DT6 3JQ on the corner with Rax Lane where there is limited on-road parking as well as the car park. Look out for the yellow ART signs marked “21”, our Bridport Open Studios venue number.
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.
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”
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:
My own starting contribution for “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection”