Posts Tagged ‘exhibition’

Oh, Hello April.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

So apparently it is April. I’m not sure how that happened or how I only have 1.5 months left of my Masters degree. Yes, I still have to write that “dissertation” thing but in mid-May all of my classes finish and I hand in my second semester assignments. And that is that. All I have to do is pass those and I can start signing my name on emails as Jessica Davies B.A., M.A. and people will be impressed (not). Of course, in order to pass my assignments, I have to write them and therein lies my current problem.

Spring has been making its way to Manchester in ebbs and flows over the last few months. We had some sunny and surprisingly warm days very early on in the year but they were then replaced by snow. It is now a daily struggle to work out what to wear as it is hot in the sun and freezing in the shade. There are some excellent clouds about at the moment though, bringing rain and hail showers. I much prefer these temperamental conditions to endless drizzle – adds a bit of spice to the Manchester weather forecast.

cloud

You could just eat it!

I am hoping the wind will back off on Sunday, however, as I am once again pushing myself through 41.something kilometres and running the Manchester Marathon. Anyone wanting to follow me from the comfort of an armchair can do so here. I have had a slight set back in terms of a ridiculously sore toe. I usually ignore aches and pains but this particular niggle was excessively painful and a trip to the cheapest physiotherapist that I could find suggests it is runners’ arthritis. Not surprising really, given my family’s medical history. Just slightly annoying as I now haven’t run for 1.5 weeks, the longest period of time that I haven’t run for approximately 6 years. I haven’t gone AS nuts as I thought I would, which is pleasing. But I am very much looking forward to Sunday and have been telling my toe that if it dares to slow me down I will have it surgically removed. Nothing messes with me, not even my own digits.

marathon

Go Jessso!

A couple of weekends ago, I participated in a workshop connected to the Pilcrow Pub project. The Pilcrow Pub is a community pub that is being built by hand by a group of seriously dedicated people. They run workshops where you can come in and make a stool, clothes hook, ceramic jug or something else that will be used in the final pub. I went to the “wooden workbench” workshop that involved us turning pieces of wood that had been reclaimed from a giant Christmas tree installation into a workbench that would then be used to make other things for the pub. It was so much fun! It required a huge amount of brain space to work out how to make very non-straight pieces of wood come together to create a stable table. Plus it was all done by hand so it was hand saws and chisels in action. It was team building central and by the end of the day, my group, ‘Team Leg,’ were high-fiving and patting each others backs with pride. Amazing work. I am hopefully doing a second workshop in a couple of weeks’ time – basket weaving!

workbench

We made that!

Speaking of basket weaving, I helped my friend Jon (aka Garden Man (apparently calling a man a boy is a negative thing so I am upgrading him)) run a weaving workshop at the Whitworth art gallery. I forced Jon to let me help him so that I can write an essay on it for my Creative Learning unit at uni. It was such fun working with families to weave giant balls of willow and it once again reinforced my desire to work in engagement programmes in art galleries. It is very reassuring that I continue to have this passion and excitement for galleries and museums and that I’m not completely sick of them. Maybe I really have picked the right degree!

willow

A ball o’ willow

And one final piece of news before I go and do some real work – I finally installed my pop-up exhibition in the glass case in the Samuel Alexander building at uni. I was given the project in December last year and it took me until March to install… oops. I like to say it was because I was developing my ideas but it was mostly because 1. I had essays to write, 2. the building was locked on weekends, 3. I am my father’s daughter. Anyway, it is an exhibition showcasing people’s Instagram images of Manchester. I am going to change the photographs over the next few weeks so that there are new images to look at. It didn’t turn out quite as I expected but it still looks surprisingly good considering. I am quite pleased.

#ISeeYouManchester

#ISeeYouManchester

Ok, really should go and write an essay now. Peace out, kids.

Medicine Cabinet (or when students are given a bunch of objects)

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

On my first day at school, I was put into a group with four other students who would become my exhibition team members. We were given a box of items from the Museum of Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester and told to create a pop-up exhibition. This all seemed quite exciting and do-able until I realised that the five other groups of students also had boxes and were also creating pop-up exhibitions that had to then come together to form THE ULTIMATE EXHIBITION. Yikes.

The next 12 weeks involved a lot of confusion, laughter, tears, horror, worry, frowning, and general “how the hell are we going to do this?”. Each group had objects somehow related to health and medicine – my group had medical art while others had surgical implements, items from a doctor’s bag or ‘alternative medicine’ devices. Somehow each group had to develop an exhibition that told the stories of their objects while also combining all of the exhibitions together to form one overall display. We were due to exhibit on 11 December at a building at Chetham’s School of Music. After a change of date and location, we were allowed to install on 12 December at a different building at Chetham’s Library, 1.5 hours before the exhibition opened.

exhibition

My group’s final exhibition

It was a close call but somehow, through what I can only describe as a ‘Christmas miracle’, we managed to install our exhibition and be ready for our first visitors at the 11am opening time. A second Christmas miracle occurred when Pubert Gladstone was one of the first to come through the door. REMARKABLE yet wonderful.

I was overwhelmed by how successful the final event was. We had over 200 visitors throughout the day despite it being one of the wettest Saturdays in Manchester this winter and it being hidden in the depths of the beautiful Chetham’s Library. It was such a privilege to be allowed to hold an exhibition in such a beautiful old building. If you ever have the chance to visit the library, do. It is incredible.

Chetham's library

Chetham’s Library (before the rain)

I had so many friends and family members come to check out my work despite me suggesting it was a bad idea. It was incredible to have such support. Thanks folks – muchos appreciatos.

I got a little teary at the end of it all when my lecturer, Kostas, congratulated us on having such a successful exhibition and it really was – we had all worked our butts off and somehow managed to create something that none of us believed was actually possible. We bonded as a class group and came away feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

But thank god it’s over. I never want to organise an exhibition with 35 other people without defined roles ever again. The end.

medicine cabinet

Final results of our interactive activity

The Christmas that was

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

A friend just asked me what my New Year resolutions are and I told him that I didn’t have any. I think this might be a slight lie. I always set resolutions, well aware that I won’t stick to them. But I need something to work towards and challenge myself with. I’m not entirely sure what they are yet (although reducing my sugar intake from its current excessive heights is definitely up there) but I know I want to return to writing more on my blog. I have been neglecting it lately and now that I have two large essays to write I find myself drawn back to the safety of my own personal writing. So much easier than scary academia.

December has been a crazy month – I spent a lot of it laughing/crying hysterically and pulling on my hair whenever someone asked me how I was. A lot of people had to put up with a manic Jess as I went a little bit nuts working on a group exhibition for uni. Thirty five people attempting to organise one exhibition does not make for relaxed times but the end result was surprisingly great. I will write about this in a separate post a little later.

exhibition

Proof that I am learning stuff.

I also had a written group assignment to put together, plus two other large essays looming. They’re still looming. Really. Need. To. Write. Them.

Plus paid writing work has been flowing in steadily which has kept me fed and housed. It has been lovely that so many of my clients have been willing to stick with me as I country hopped over the last few months. Being able to juggle university and paid writing work has been life saving. I don’t think I could handle a ‘real job’ at the moment.

And then there was Christmas. Once again, Jess McScrooge came out and I managed to avoid the Christmas markets until the final day when I stocked up on my favourite dutch almond slice. I am exceptionally lucky to have some exceptionally welcoming family members in this country and was invited to spend Christmas with them. It was a small and relaxed gathering (well, relaxed for me because I didn’t have to do anything!) with plenty of delicious food and a mulled wine or two.

On Boxing Day we went for a windy walk up Bosley Cloud, somehow managing to avoid the rain. We ate fruit mince pies at the top, a feat that required two hands in order to stop the wind from steal our pastry crumbs.

mince pie at Bosley Cloud

Pie and a view.

I had another large family gathering yesterday at another cousin’s house and it has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a great family around. Sure, they may all be a bunch of oddballs, but who isn’t? Much laughter was had. They’re a good bunch.

Now New Years approaches. I’m quite excited to see what 2016 brings – I already know it will be challenging as a dissertation awaits. If anyone has any thoughts on what I should write about, please let me know because I currently have no idea. Thanks.

Learning About Everything

Monday, December 10th, 2012

On Friday afternoon I needed to escape the confines of my apartment walls and so I took the opportunity to go to an exhibition that I have been reading about on various blogs. Called The Museum of Everything, it is a pop up gallery that has toured various European cities and shows works by untrained and undiscovered artists who have never been exhibited in any formal way previously.

Museum of Everything

That way to the Museum of Everything

Located in a rather disheveled building in the middle of the fancy-pants 7th arrondissement, the exhibition was a mish-mash of random drawings, paintings, sculpture and ‘other’. As I walked through the three levels of exhibition spaces I felt a sense of “What on earth is this?” which I liked a lot. I went to the exhibition knowing it was going to be odd – and odd it was. Although it wasn’t as odd as I had hoped it to be. The name “Museum of Everything” had implanted different, more exuberantly random ideas of what the exhibition would be about in my head and it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I think I was expecting more hands-on interaction, more random passageways, more every day items stuck on walls. But some of the work could have been on an average art gallery wall, while other pieces should have remained undiscovered.

My favourite part of the exhibition was a stage covered with large puppets and a film about a man called Calvin Black from Possum Trot in the Mojave Desert who made these puppets based on the people he knew. Clearly there wasn’t much else to do in Possum Trot than make life-sized puppets. But the passion and detail he put into them was incredible. He then made songs and a show in which the puppets performed, attaching electronic motors to each puppet to make them move. It was a bit like Home Alone carny style. Incredible. You can watch a film about Calvin and his puppets here.

I walked out of the Museum feeling quite overwhelmed and not entirely sure of what I had just experienced but interested to see that you really can make a museum about anything. There’s hope for me yet.

Museum of Everything chair

I really liked this chair that was outside the Museum of Everything

Debbie Ding: Postdated Paris

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Last night I attended the opening of an exhibition featuring three of my fellow residents. Each of their pieces represented Paris in some form and all sat very nicely together within the small exhibition space.

Debbie Ding describes herself as a Singaporean artist, designer, programmer and cartographer and a lot of her work involves collecting of rocks, looking at maps and exploring how places have been constructed. She has been working on a project that particularly interests me because I spend a lot of time looking for the same thing – dates that have been imprinted into the footpaths of Paris. Each time a new piece of pavement is laid, they imprint the date on which it was laid. As you walk through Paris, you encounter thousands of dates as different parts of the footpath are pulled up and relaid. I am always trying to find my birth date.

Debbie photographed her feet next to hundreds of dates and then asked people to write stories about what they were doing on that day. She asked me to write something for a date in the year 2000 – I was in year 10 at Hollywood High School, I hated maths and I wasn’t particularly studious. She has then put together a book, placing the stories with the photographs and creating an amazing history of people’s lives.

Debbie Ding book

My words in Debbie’s book

Spookily, although probably not intentionally, I think Debbie may have accidentally put my story with the wrong date. When I wrote my story it was for sometime in October in the year 2000, but at the exhibition  I noticed the photographed date that correlated with my story was 1/9/2000. My birthday.

The exhibition is on until 1 December at the Immanence Gallery in the 15eme. I had never been to this area before and was delighted to discover a small alleyway with galleries and ateliers covered in ivy and fairy lights. It was gorgeous!!

Immanence gallery

I think fairies live here.

Second Amazing Exhibition for the Week

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Yesterday I cancelled plans at the last minute (very rude of me) to catch a train to Rouen to see an exhibition. My friends and avid exhibition visitors (they have seen EVERY exhibition in Paris in three months. They deserve medals.), Viola and Enrico, invited me to go with them to see XYZT, an exhibition by Adrien M and Claire B at Hanger 23. The week-long exhibition was closing on Sunday so it was our last opportunity to see it – and WOW.

XYZT exhibition

XYZT

XYZT exhibition

XYZT

Unfortunately only half of the exhibition had been brought to Rouen but what was on show was brilliant. There were four different spaces where light, projections and sound moved, changed, or created patterns through interaction with the viewer. You could walk on waves of light that created new shapes with your steps, blow into holes to make projected letters fly through the air, and watch your projected image curve into positions you never thought your could achieve without years of intense yoga.

There is also a theatre performance that sits alongside this exhibition that I would love to go and see. I think it may be going to Lyon next month so I might have to make a weekend trip to see it.

Colours, Colours, Colours

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I had a wonderful, visually provocative experience today when I went to the current exhibition at the Grand Palais. Each year an artist is invited to create a piece within the amazing, huge, open space inside the Grand Palais. For those of you who have visited Paris, you may know that this space is reserved for exhibitions and salons and usually isn’t easy to get into, and with its huge glass ceiling it is one of those places you fantasise about what it is like inside. So here was my chance.

I had been inside once before for a book salon and so knew the space was amazing. This time it was breath taking. Artist, Daniel Buren has been invited this year to create a work and he has filled the expansive area with large coloured circles that are suspended above you. You walk through this maze of colour and as the sun flows in through the glass room, the floor is covered in discs of blue, green, yellow and orange. It was just BEAUTIFUL.

Everyone needs to get on a plane and come to Paris now, just to experience this. Or just look at some of my photos.

Daniel Buren exhibition

Daniel Buren exhibition

Daniel Buren exhibition

Daniel Buren exhibition

Daniel Buren exhibition

Understanding Paris

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Last week I furthered my understanding of Paris by attending two events – an exhibition by illustrator and comic designer, Jean-Jacques Sempé, and a lecture about American artists in Paris in the time period between the two World Wars. Both provided an interesting insight into the development of Paris during the 20th century.

Sempé

The Sempé exhibition was held at the Hôtel de Ville and I had to elbow my way through the mass of people who had turned out to see it. Despite having been open for numerous weeks, there was still a huge interest in the works of the French illustrator. Sempé is known for his comic character, Petit Nicolas, and his representations of France as he provides a comical yet truthful view of la vie en France. The exhibition had a huge selection of his work and it clearly demonstrated the processes and time Sempé puts into his drawings before he is able to publish. It is sometimes relieving to see that it takes time and effort to get work published and that I have to put my head down and get some work done if I want to get anywhere with my writing.

Sempé

So French.

American Expats in Paris

My American friend, Greg, had a spare ticket to attend a lecture on the American expatriate artists and writers who arrived in Paris in the early 20th century. The talk was run by the Harvard Club of Paris and it wasn’t until the day of the lecture that I realised I was going to be hanging out with Harvard graduates. I put on my “I’m intelligent” shoes.

The talk was presented by a Harvard lecturer, Sue Weaver Schropf, and explored why so many artists and writers from America decided to move to Paris between 1913 and 1930 and what happened when they got here. There were many post-lecture discussions about Midnight in Paris as essentially the lecture covered the same time period, only with a better script and no terrible acting. Essentially, these artists were coming to find a place where they could work with other artists and not be restricted or controlled in the work that they were producing. It was a city of cultural and artistic development where ideas were flowing and it was ok to be different.

It was an interesting talk, although I would have liked it to have gone a bit deeper into modernist theory as I was craving a university level cultural studies class . Obviously time and audience-knowledge didn’t allow for it but the talk was still an interesting overview of that artistic movement.

What I really enjoyed about the evening was the room we were seated in and the Harvard graduates themselves. The room was beautiful – located in a building just off the Champs Élysée, it had a frescoed ceiling, big french windows and a view of the Grand Palais. Spectacular. Almost as spectacular were the egos sitting in the room.

Maybe I am jealous (I’m not), but it does seem that being a Harvard graduate is a very socially and economically important thing. I have only seen this sort of networking on television and I thought that that was where it belonged, but apparently it exists in the real world, too. After the lecture, the woman in charge of the evening thanked the speaker and then proceeded to make the claim that the only other place in the world where people are encouraged to come together and work and discuss and create amazing things is the Harvard campus. I almost laughed.

Then came the drinks and nibbles and the real networking began. I stuck to Greg like glue, not wanting to reveal my true identity incase I would be kicked out onto the street (nice street, though). However, we did begin talking to two men who were both very interested in my ‘escape to Paris’. I think the subject of the evening’s lecture helped as I am in a very teeny-tiny way following the steps of Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. I just need to start drinking more absinthe and hanging out with more prostitutes.

Anyway, as a result I have decided I need to read more books from that time period. Another thing to add to my to-do list.

Fun Times Count Down #3

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Yesterday was one of those days in Paris where the beauty of every street corner, every tree, every canal, every cloud, every everything is multiplied by a thousand plus one. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and there were little fluffy white clouds everywhere. Birds were singing and I’m fairly certain I saw Bambi prancing down the street. Mary Poppins would have been pleased.

Riding a bike through this general scene of gloriousness put me in the perfect mood to tackle French crowds at the Paul Klee exhibition. I knew it was going to be busy and I knew there would be too many people trying to look at a picture and then read the little text stuck on the wall next to it. As Ben and I had already attempted to get into the exhibition last Friday with no success, I booked a ticket in advance to avoid waiting in line. It was a great idea and I don’t know why I don’t always do it. I could get in straight away and give looks of pity to those waiting to buy tickets. Les pauvres.

Cité de la Musique

Paul Klee exhibition

Of course no matter how many tickets you buy in advance, there will always be far too many people inside the actual exhibition space and those people you cannot avoid. The exhibition was about Paul Klee (a Swiss artist who worked in the late 19th/early 20th centuries) who I had previously only know (and admired) for his paintings. It turns out both he and his family were highly musical and a large amount of his paintings are inspired or even derive from musical theory and practise.  The exhibition was located within the music museum of Paris and hence the focus was more on how music affected his work than what I have previously seen in other exhibitions. The exhibition wasn’t particularly well laid out and the information provided jumped all over the place and didn’t seem to fit with the images associated in that section. However, Klee’s work was as interesting to see as usual and I was very interested to learn about how music and Klee’s studies into colour theory influenced his choice of colours, patterns and layouts in his paintings. Some of my favourite Klee paintings are made up of series of squares of varying colours, which I had previously taken for granted as just being pretty things. In this exhibition I learnt that Klee developed a mathematical system connected to his favourite classical music to work out what colours would be used next to other colours within the painting. Very interesting indeed.

There was a video which showed some of Klee’s work and then the music that influenced the work was played over the top. Instantly the image changed in meaning and became a significantly more powerful piece.

Generally the exhibition was interesting but I’m not certain why it has become the hit exhibition to see in Paris this month. It seems to be the thing to do for those over the age of 60, plus, as it is school holidays, the gallery was full of children. Yes, yes, I think it is good that kids go and see art and that they’re not stuck in front of their Nintendo Wiis, however I do think they need to be told NOT to run around like maniacs through the gallery. I also think old people need to be told not to talk so loudly, not to stand in the middle of thoroughfares and to watch where they are going so that they don’t walk into you all the time.

So that was my fun activity for the day. I enjoy walking through galleries although I prefer it when I am the only person there. The real highlight was riding to and from the Cité de la Musique along Canal Saint Martin. It was good to be in Paris.

Inspiration

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

When my brother was visiting me in Paris, we went and saw a Stefan Sagmeister exhibition at the Les Arts Decoratifs gallery. This is one of my favourite galleries in Paris as the exhibitions focus on contemporary movements in fashion, media and art – areas of great interest to me.

Stefan Sagmeister is an Austrian designer who pushes and explores the use of design in some fascinating ways. He has gained a good enough reputation that he is able to really pursue his love for design in ways that many other people dream of doing. He is also a very intelligent and thoughtful guy and has presented numerous times for TED – a series of talks from people of various backgrounds on a wide variety of topics. One of Sagmeister’s talks was about a year-long sabbatical that he took in Bali where he stopped working for a year and focussed purely on idea development and exploring new design concepts. The personal and professional benefits that he gained from this sabbatical are quite amazing and it has made me think about how I am spending my time in Paris.

This past year was a bit of a sabbatical for myself – I didn’t work and I attempted to explore new avenues of creativity. However I ran into a problem that Sagmeister experienced himself; he had taken a sabbatical a few years prior and had felt it a failure as he went into it without a plan. He thought having all of the free time in the world would instantly provide him with the freedom to create new ideas and yet it turned out not to be the case. This is a problem that I have been experiencing and I am thinking of following Sagmeister’s lead and developing a structure for my time so that I actually achieve things in the next year. I am a person who loves structure and boundaries and I think this way of working would suit me well. While I love being able to do things whenever I want, I also find myself craving routine and regularity. Setting myself a timetable for when I focus on writing, when I make sock creatures, when I develop new ideas, would provide me with the basic structure I need to get things done. With this in place, who knows what great things I will develop in 2012. Perhaps that award winning book I keep talking about…