Artists Clare Thornton, Rachael Allain and Sophie Mellor review the British Art Show 8 in Southampton, which they visited with a travel bursary from PAC Home, Plymouth Arts Centre’s artist support network.
I was delighted to receive a travel bursary from PAC Home to visit the British Art Show 8 (BAS8) in Southampton. The last British Art Show (BAS7) that I visited was in Plymouth and London in 2011. I caught a super early train, leaving in the darkness and witnessed the most spectacular dawn, alighting in a frosty white Southampton, with bright azure sky and sunshine.
The British Art Show is designed to be a multi city-touring exhibition, which takes place every 5 years organised by Hayward Touring. BAS8 launched in Leeds then Edinburgh, Norwich and finishes in Southampton. The curators Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, selected the work of 42 artists (26 of the artists have created newly commissioned work) to represent the best of British Contemporary Art in the past 5 years. According to the Leeds Art Gallery website ‘A central concern of British Art Show 8 is the changing role and status of the physical object in an increasingly digital age’.
The Mobile Symposium: The British Art Show and the Southampton Story was presented by a panel of arts leaders and artists, including Roger Malbert, Head of Hayward Touring and curators that have been actively involved in developing arts and culture throughout the city. Judith Robinson, Arts and Cultural Development Manager for Plymouth City Council interestingly reflected on the positive development of Plymouth’s art and culture since the BAS7 in 2011. The Mobile Symposium factored in time to experience BAS8 in the different venues in Southampton including, Southampton City Museum and The John Hansard Gallery. The Bargate Monument is an extra venue, which I visited the next day.
Credit: Rachael Allain
In Southampton City Museum, the central gallery for BAS8, I was particularly captured by the artist James Richards, previously nominated for a Turner Prize in 2014, he is representing Wales at the next Venice Biennale (57th) 2017, film installation entitled Raking Light (2014). The projected film contains a combination of found and publicly accessible footage, which is edited/collaged together and inverted to create a negative film effect. The soundtrack is multi-layered and fuses well to create a beguiling audio-visual immersive experience that challenges our perceptual reality. I had a surreal moment of deja vu whilst watching a section of Raking Light, realising that I too had experienced voyaging on the boat The Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls years before.
Secondly, the highly acclaimed French artist, Laure Prouvost, Turner Prize winner of 2013 who lives and works in London. Her intimate and highly provocative mixed media installation Hard Drive, (2015) both entertained and captivated my senses whilst luring me back to experience the work several times. Her pre-recorded, heavily accented voice pervaded the space, instructing and toying with the spectator whilst animating objects and illuminating aspects of the rectangular installation space.
A review of ‘What is Art: A User’s Guide (A Crash Course in Brain Surgery)’ VASW symposium.
🙂 R U 2 happy? 🙂
No, no, I’m not. I’m under paid and under valued.
And there is no money. There is. No. Money.
Do something else then. Become a tennis coach. But I can’t play tennis.
How about a PhD? Yes, good. Artists not institutions make art.
Oh. I’m an artist in an institution. Fuck. Fully funded PhD? Learndirect.
Education is oppression. Make my fucking latte.
🙂 I’m cute. Wanna feed me? 🙂
I was totally killing it. Toe-tally. Kill-ing IT. I always get horny when I have a hangover. And those academics with their big brains, crossing their legs. I am really tall. Really.
Yeah well, fuck whales, and fuck your Nana. Fuck the ozone too. I’m fucking busy.
Shirley Bassey, owls, mosaics, massive chairs, gates, children. What do they have in common? You know don’t you? Look at them. LOOK AT THEM!!
🙂 How did I do? 🙂
Ha. Ha. #beinganartistisboring #artisboring #livingwithmymumisboring #livingwithyourmumisboring #liberateyourmindthroughboredom #whatevs
Pop round and have a cuppa. It’s all sorted. All tufty lovely. All jimble jamble, on the uppity. Yeah, the net curtains – art. That brick wall outside the front door – art. The cushion on the sofa – art. Lunch – art. My mum’s front room – art. It’s all art, innit.
Just stop. No-one fucking cares.
No-one fucking cares if you get out of bed in the morning or not.
Except me. I care.
You carry on. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It will all be ok.
🙂 Right, I got it all! Wt? 110% 🙂
Don’t bother with all that. Be cheeky and create your own opportunities.
Unless you’ve got something to say don’t tweet.
The countryside is cool, you know. It’s not all made of wood.
What does a curator do all day? Photocopies A4 sheets of paper. Walks the dog. Looks beyond the rational to delve deep into the mysteries of the universe. Makes a cup of tea.
Every single Pro Remain artist is totally rubbish at art. Fact. Brexit means Brexit. Fact.
🙂 U 2 Good 2 B True! 🙂
Matt Le Tissier. What is Art? What is an Artist?
Here’s the answer, written on this screwed up piece of paper.
On your ‘ead, my son.
Back of the net!
We rocked up in Southampton a day before the VASW gathering in time to attend the ‘Mobile Symposium: The British Art Show and the Southampton Story‘ described as “a day of interactive dialogue on the exhibition; artists and cultural leaders reflect on Southampton’s cultural growth and the history of the British Art Show”. A couple of OK presentations in the morning (not very interactive), nice to catch up with Mikhail Karikis and hear Judith Robinson (Arts & Cultural Development Manager, Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery) talk about BAS7 and its impact on Plymouth, my (relatively) new home city. But after lunch I ducked out to take in more of the selected works at the John Hansard Gallery. It was great to really take time with the moving image works, notably John Akomfrah & Trevor Mathison‘s poetic visual essay ‘All That is Solid‘ (2015) and Patrick Staff‘s ‘The Foundation‘ (2015) which both employed and riffed off archival materials/documentary footage to powerful affect. Stuart Whipp’s mini car, part of his wider investigation of Longbridge motor works under the title ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’ (2015), felt somewhat flat in comparison as it sat still in the gallery. It was also a real shame that Susan Hiller’s ‘Thanks For Listening‘ interactive Jukebox part of Ahmet Öğüt’s ‘Day After Debt’ (UK) project was relegated to the Resource Room, maybe the gallery shop in the entrance foyer, where visitors’ have their wallets in mind, could have been a relevant/useful site for it?
The spirit of the VASW meeting next day held in the same auditorium in the City Art Gallery as the Mobile Symposium couldn’t have been more different in it’s energy. The Symposium (what I had experienced of it) felt rather a dry exercise, a tick-box activity. The VASW event ‘What is Art: A User’s Guide (A Crash Course In Brain Surgery)‘ turned out to be a series of fiesty and energetic presentations asking critically what/why we are making, how we make a living, posing questions about public art, rural art, audiences, how we as artists might organise. I didn’t envy those presenting after Bedwyr Williams who made us laugh but whose scathing bite is tough to follow. There was a goodly amount of effing and blinding, a very honest and I think brave presentation by Toby Huddlestone called ‘Why I quit being an artist and became a tennis coach’. I know Toby from my Bristol days, his role in the Plan 9 collective and our working at Spike Island.
Credit: Rachael Allain
The next morning was spent entirely enjoying work. First at the Bargate Monument where we saw Eileen Simpson’s & Ben White’s collaborative work ‘Open Music Archive’. The outcome, a beautifully produced installation and film installed at the city’s listed medieval gatehouse (previously fitted out as a gallery). I was very taken by the visual aesthetic, pleasing palette, sharp staging of the work and thought how stoked I’d have been if I was one of the young people involved. Fellow PAC Home Associate Sophie made a sharp observation mind you, that the young women in the film were only given chorus roles, no actual spoken word agency. I began to consider the piece afresh as a group of young college students came piling in to view the work.
Then on to Southampton City Art Gallery. There was one work that I kept hearing people speak about, Rachel Maclean’s new film ‘Feed Me‘. In an exhibition that appeared to have a number of works that felt to me quietly accomplished Maclean’s work was an extraordinary slap around the chops! In a good way. What an awesome feat of imagination and expertise, timely and deeply disturbing. Laure Prouvost‘s installation ‘Hard Drive’ drew me in with a chair seductively inviting me to sit on her. Somehow the space allocated to the work felt too cramped and ‘boxy’ but it’s a group show after all and I guess her memorable and spacious show ‘Again, A Time Machine‘ at Spike Island had left its impact. I walked about the galleries really enjoying a range of work where the artists were reveling in their experimentation with malleable materials (eg. bodies/cloth/paper) such as Linder‘s tufted wool rug backed with gold lame and I loved Simon Fujiwara‘s painstaking cutting, weaving, shaving and re-configuring vintage fur coats in his mixed media installation ‘Fabulous Beasts’ (no relation to the new ‘Potter’ film or is it?).