only its not roger deakin the famous anarchist (roger deakin wrote on woods and wild swimming) – this ones joseph deakin, theres an anarchist black plaque movement – english heretics (and yes it blocked by walsall mbc for some reason on their servers) – but yu can find them at www.english-heretic.org.uk
anyways just thought i’d mention theres now a flickr stream of mine about this residency so do check that out at http://www.flickr.com/photos/burnsean/
Wow the archive gallery looks great. I am eager to see it in person.
It was wonderful last week to visit the Museum of Everything with Neil Lebeter and Jo Digger. We met James Brett the inspirational collector who made the Museum of Everything a reality. For those not in the know the Museum of Everything is an exhibition of what for want of a better term has been called ‘outsider art’. It’s been the smash hit of the autumn and it’s free. Its early days but I hope to collaborate with James on a project next year.
Later in the afternoon we visited the Wild Thing show at the Royal Academy. It was great to visit the show with Jo Digger who is so insightful about Epstein’s work. Jo went into a very detailed explanation of the drawings which lead up to the Rock Drill many of which suggest a kind of hybrid object involving all sorts of other elements including women and doves. After that Jo and Neil joined me at Beaconsfield, 22 Newport Street, where I have a show called This Artist is Deeply Dangerous.
I went to Chris Ofili’s show at Tate Britain last night. Ofili is an artist who is deeply interested in Art and culture that resides outside the mainstream. Ofili’s show is incredible. It made me think that in painting terms he is as powerful as Francis Bacon. He is way beyond any other painter around just now.
Followers of Museums and their Directors will note that Walsall’s Stephen Snoddy was pretty involved in Ofili’s early career.
10 years of the New Art Gallery Walsall is celebrated early next month with the exhibition ‘Party’. Neil and I will perform our play about Epstein using the puppet theatre and my band The Ken Ardley Playboys are going to play. Bring cotton wool for your ears. It’s good to reflect upon the importance of the Garman Ryan Collection and note that the whole New Art Gallery Walsall would never have existed but for the foresight of Kathleen Garman and her friend Sally Ryan and the gift of their collection to Walsall.
Since returning from Christmas, I’ve been busy reworking the Archive Gallery on the 1st floor of the Garman Ryan Collection, with the help of our intrepid volunteer Jonathan. As you can see, this room now includes some of Bob and Roberta Smith’s works inspired by the Archive as well as items from the archive itself. A particular highlight for me is ‘Bob and Roberta Smith’s Epstein Studio Theatre’, which is awesome. As a final treat, some of the videos that Bob and I have been making over the past few months, including the play performed on the above stage, are also being shown along with some footage of Jacob Epstein and family from the British Pathe Archive. So, why not come along and see for yourself!
Spending a few hours in the Epstein archive gave me a valuable insight into what my musical response to this project might be. I am very attracted to Bob and Roberta Smith’s interpretation of the archive, as it asks a many interesting questions pertaining to the concept of archiving, and the concept of the gallery more generally. What interests me most, is not the biographical information that can be obtained from the archive, or the specific biographical content that Bob has focused on (such as letters from Theo Garman to his mother), but to the overarching concept that Bob has honed in on itself – (What happens to art when…).
Bob’s exhibition itself could be considered quite dangerous (in a sense that doesn’t really convey ‘ real’ danger), precisely because he is an artist ‘commenting’ on someone else’s art. The fact that he is an artist, gives his response to the archive slightly more currency that someone else’s, in today’s society at least (a contentious statement, I know!), as people are more inclined to take what an artist says more seriously than their own opinions, simply because they are an artist. (This obviously relates to Duchamp’s ready-made – Its art because the artist says its art etc.) Therefore if Bob suggests that when an artist dies people are more concerned about their parenting than their art, people will actually say to themselves ‘…well maybe I should think about their parenting because an artist has said so.’ I know this is meant tongue in cheek; however, an artists intention is not always apparent, and then again maybe it shouldn’t be apparent!
This idea has resonance with something Epstein himself has said on on the archive footage: where he says something along the lines that the public are so blinded by the critics that they may as well come into the exhibition blindfolded. It seems that the opposite is true today, that the public is so blinded by the artist, that they need not come to the exhibition at all!
Another thing that interests me is the fact that Bob’s response is to Epstein’s collection, and Epstein is of course dead. This creates a situation where everything in the collection is fair game for comment (as of course all things should be) however, it creates a one sided dialogue (if this is the correct word to use here) where Epstein is powerless to defend his work, or Bobs critique of it (or indeed the collection more generally) what I find more interesting is the fact that I can critique Bob’s work (or critique Bob’s critique of the collection [meta, meta art!]) He is of course free to defend his work from this critique, thus creating a critique of a critique of a critique, or as some would have it, a dialogue.
For this reason, I am interested in subverting some of the texts he has employed. This could be done my means of electronic processing.
The two pieces in the collection that I would be most interested in using would be The ‘chart of influence’ documenting Epstein’s influence on British sculpture (My own research deals with the anxiety of influence), and also ‘one man’s fight against the establishment’ which I found to be very interesting.
My piece will ideally be performed in the room that houses Bob’s work and will be performed by myself, ideally on a continuous basis. the plan at the moment is to have a looped recording of the manipulated text coming from loudspeakers (or a ghetto blaster!) whilst I drone slow chords from a melodica in realtime (which could be interjected with my own utterances).
My working title at this time is ‘What Happens to Bob and Roberta Smith’s Art, when he’s not looking’
The Unwanted Gift Shop is up and running!
I will be in Every Friday and Saturday… so feel free to pop in… bring an unwanted gift or something you have lying around that you would like me to change into a work of art!
If you are interested to follow some of the media coverage so far visit the following links.
Express and Star interview: http://www.expressandstar.com/2010/01/06/artwork-comes-gift-wrapped/
BBC Radio West Midlands: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p005ymmg/The_Paul_Franks_Show_18_01_2010/
The images below are some of the items that have been donated to the project so far, which include a brand new 2008 diary, a drink coaster and some writing paper.
Please feel free to comment and make suggestions.
We are currently changing the layout of the 4th floor gallery and taking the two walls down in order to host a series of installation and sculpture shows this coming year starting with David Batchelor’s Disco Mecanique fabulous installation as part of the PARTY exhibtion opening on Thursday 11 February. Needless to say, you are all invited!!
Here are some pics of of technicians preparing the4th gallery space. Don’t you just love the fact that all the windows are once again open!!
Gearing up to Monday 18th Jan!
… 1st day of my 3 month residency at The New Art Gallery! Very excited about the items which have been brought in already!
Its ironic to be excited about unwanted gifts, as they are wanted gifts in my eyes.
We’re trying out a new way for you to make enquiries about the Collections -we’ve set up a twitter account so you can tweet us with quick questions on anything such as Epstein and the Garman family, past exhibiting artists, the architecture,
I will attempt to answer in 140 characters or post up the answers here on our blog and send a link. You can also ask questions on here, or if there’s something you want to ask without the whole internet world knowing then email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Art Gallery Walsall celebrates its 10th anniversary in February 2010! Here are the ‘Top Ten’ reasons why we are celebrating…
1. The New Art Gallery was shortlisted for the prestigious Sterling Architecture Prize in 2000.
2. In 2007, The New Art Gallery Walsall in partnership with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham were one of five UK consortiums to receive the Art Fund International Award. The initiative is one of the most important and ambitious schemes ever launched by The Art Fund and £1 million has been allocated to each of the five successful partnerships, to fund the creation of collections of international contemporary art over a period of five years. The West Midlands partnership, whose collection theme is The Metropolis: reflections of modern urban life, will explore the diversity, dynamism and growth of the contemporary metropolis. Recent acquisitions include: Grazia Toderi (Italy), Christiane Baumgartner (Germany), Miao Xiaochun (China) and Zhang Enli (China).
3. The New Art Gallery Walsall purchased 22 contemporary artworks through the Contemporary Art Society‘s Special Collections Scheme including works by Martin Creed, Layla Curtis, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Laura Ford, Hew Locke, Mike Nelson, Nina Saunders, Yoshihiro Suda, Gavin Turk, Richard Woods and Toby Ziegler. The national initiative which enabled fifteen galleries throughout England to build up collections of contemporary work was celebrated at The New Art Gallery Walsall with the launch of the exhibition Out of Place, curated by Deborah Robinson, Head of Exhibitions, in 2006. A supporting publication New Art of View, co-published by The New Art Gallery Walsall examined the role of museums in collecting contemporary art and featured contributions from Sheila MacGregor, Sir Nicholas Serota and the gallery’s Director Stephen Snoddy.
4. In 2006, The New Art Gallery Walsall acquired the Epstein Archive. The archive had been on loan to the gallery from Beth Lipkin, Kathleen Garman’s companion, since 1999. In 2006 following her death we were able to purchase the Epstein Archive with financial assistance from the V&A Fund, Walsall Museum and Galleries Development Trust and with immense support from Jackie and Isobel Epstein. Composed largely of photographs, manuscripts, sketches and correspondence between Jacob Epstein and his family and friends, patrons, buyers and galleries, it holds the context of much of the internationally important historic collection at Walsall and to the people behind the art. It also contains significant information about Epstein and 20th century cultural developments. (See no 10!)
5. Since opening, The New Art Gallery Walsall has been visited by over 1.6 million people – with over 200,000 coming through its doors in 2009. For the week ending on the 1 November 2009, the gallery recorded an attendance of 9,289, the highest since the opening weeks. This impressive figure was reached through the culmination of various projects: the final week of major solo exhibitions by Gordon Cheung and Neal Rock, numerous half-term workshop sessions for families and youth groups and The Journey to Old Halloween – a weekend extravaganza of performances and events by the artist collective The House of Fairy Tales. The gallery’s audience development programme features an ongoing series of events and projects and has engaged thousands of people and various community groups throughout the last 10 years. Events have included artists’ projects, social evenings, film and music nights and cultural events. Through effective partnerships with other organisations, we have successfully bridged the gap between various art forms, attracted people from diverse backgrounds and made the gallery a welcoming, friendly, accessible and exciting place to visit, interact with, participate and experience.
6. Over 48,000 school children have been recorded as visiting The New Art Gallery Walsall in its first decade. In 2009, 23,112 people participated in education sessions for formal education and lifelong learning at the gallery, each developing an ongoing relationship with the visual arts. In depth projects from small and large scale partnerships with local, regional and national bodies such as engage, Birmingham City University, other cultural organisations enhance the programme. The New Art Gallery Walsall was one of the first cultural organisations in the UK to develop a specific interactive area for younger visitors that brings international contemporary art to everyone in an accessible area. The DiSCO interactive gallery current attracts over a third of all gallery visitors to the venue.
7. The New Art Gallery Walsall has curated major solo exhibitions by Gordon Cheung, Vidya Gastaldon, Christopher Le Brun, Conrad Shawcross, Hew Locke, Neal Rock, Gavin Turk and Joanna Vasconcelos. Each exhibition was accompanied by a publication helping to profile the artist and the gallery whilst also contributing to learning, academic study and debates surrounding contemporary art practice.
8. The gallery continues to support artists based in the West Midlands region through its residency programme. Artists including Ania Bas, Simon and Tom Bloor, Faye Claridge, Sima Gonsai, Karin Kihlberg and Reuben Henry, Kelly Large, Feng-Ru Lee, Juneau Projects, Ivan Smith and Yolk & Zoom have produced new bodies of work whilst in residence at The New Art Gallery Walsall and have gone on to exhibit nationally and internationally.
9. In 2006, Floor 4 of the gallery was transformed from a restaurant area in to a new gallery space. The unique space with its 8m high ceiling and incredible windows with vistas over Walsall has enabled the gallery to present a programme of regional and internationally renowned artists including Richard Billingham, Phil Brooks, Giacomo Brunelli, Hyung-Geun Park, Andrew Jackson, Steffi Klenz, Elizabeth Rowe, Jonathan Shaw, Susanne Treister, Stuart Whipps and works from the Frank Cohen Collection.
10. In 2009, Bob and Roberta Smith was commissioned to work alongside newly appointed Archive Curator Neil Lebeter to reveal the previously undocumented and unseen Epstein Archive to audiences in new and exciting ways. Thousands of letters, books and photographs in the archive will form the starting point of a series of site-specific interventions, discussions, video works and blog posts. The initiative forms part of New Ways of Curating, a project initiated by Arts Council England, West Midlands and MLA. The Archivist post is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Bob and Roberta Smith and the Epstein Archive was launched on August 28 2009, when the artist collaborated with Director, Stephen Snoddy as part of Antony Gormley’s One and Other on Trafalgar Square’s 4th plinth.