Magazine: Issue 29
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Spotlight: The Paperworks
The Paperworks Halfway between Borough and Elephant and Castle is a new venue, The Paperworks. It is in the open air. Green. Fresh. Vibrant. Diverse. Combining everything joyous sandwiched between two buildings on a long narrow plot that used to house a paper factory. While amidst shipping containers and palm trees you can maybe see some art or watch a performance at the same time as enjoying some street food and listening to music. Since creativity can come in many forms it does not stop there. Although it is a more delicate, summery version of Corsica Studios, creativity is still, if not more so, at the core of The Paperworks. Zones within the green space will over the course of the project, become home to a huge variety of pursuits that will all become synonymous with one another. This includes film screenings, sculptures, garden workshops and opportunities to make imaginative, beautiful food. Expect a more intimate atmosphere on the weekdays and a larger, commercial side to the weekends. The location in Southwark is ultimately the most important aspect of this project. With the surrounding area undergoing huge building changes and upheaval, a community can become disjointed. One of the organisers Jack Wilkinson said The Paperworks wanted to “make something beautiful for the community to feel a part of in an area that’s undergoing huge regeneration.” And beautiful it is. Not just the abundance of newly donated flowers and the nice wooden decking but the openness and inviting nature of the space. With most of the activities being free of charge, the organisers hope to encourage anyone and everyone to come together and enjoy some of the many great things that South London has to offer. A pop-‐up version of a juice bar from Peckham, local craft beer and food are some of the more obvious ways that The Paperworks focuses on keeping the space linked with South London. The activities and workshops that will happen over the course of the summer and into the later seasons of this year are what should enhance the spirit of the South London community. With talks of recipe swaps and workshops for children and adults, you can only imagine the sense of togetherness that this project should bring to a huge variety of people with one big thing in common; they all love the area south of the river. Spotlight by Abigail Stokes
Interview: Cøpperfield
CØPPERFIELD The Copperfield Gallery opens its solo show of Eric Van Hove this month, presenting his ‘V12-Laraki’ – a replica engine to the Mercedes-Benz V12, hand-crafted by 42 Moroccan artisans using 53 materials as diverse as bone, tin, terracotta and goat-skin. The piece was celebrated by many as a centre piece to the 2014 Marrakesh Biennale; its aura exudes an eclecticism of human production from rigorous industrial and Western engineering, to the archaic elegance of Moroccan craftsmanship and heritage. The engine has been dismantled and excavated by both artist and curator Will Lunn, presented to us in all its scrupulous beauty, leaving us able to explore the meticulous detail and craft to which Eric and his atelier have laboured. CM: How did you first come into contact with Eric’s work and how did the idea of this exhibition materialise? Will Lunn: I found Eric's work at the Marrakech Biennale. It was the absolute stand out from the entire program for me and on visiting the amazing studio and meeting all of the people involved I was certain I wanted to support the project. Morocco, Moroccan craftsmanship and the social situation there has fascinated me for many years, but while I have a personal interest I think this project is important on a more global level. It speaks to a number of problems and decisions facing us as a global society and at a smaller communal level in different guises. CM: Do you share Eric’s belief in the importance of craftsmanship in contemporary times? WL: For my part I am interested in what a contemporary artist can draw from a complex cultural and social situation, and how that can consider and question the place of craft traditions in contemporary society. My support of this is certainly not an expression of an interest in seeing contemporary artists return to the purely decorative, but I think that art can ask questions of the way craft skill might find new application and therefore preservation within contemporary society. It seems inevitable that we will see some response across many modes of production of the kind we can find in the world of publishing; rather than eradicating the hard copy book entirely, the rise of the Kindle and other digital systems has actually marked a growth in interest in the niche of high quality hand bound books and similar items. CM: Who decided what sections of the engine would be taken apart and displayed? WL: The decision of what parts to exhibit was largely Eric's but I pushed for having one part totally dismantled. I think it is really important to see one part broken down entirely - right to the nuts and bolts which are also hand cast and tooled - in order to properly appreciate the work. CM: Is this the first show you have had that has looked at these particular themes? WL: Yes. However there is perhaps some connection with the last exhibition 'Obsessive Compulsive Order' in the commitment to production. David Rickard went to great lengths to painstakingly count out 100,000 of the cake decorations 'Hundreds and Thousands' in order to make the work One Hundred Thousand, raising issues around faith; the viewer must choose whether to believe the artists statement or not. In a similar mode here Eric and the atelier have produced a great many smaller parts that cannot be seen inside the larger components (save for the one part that is broken down entirely) in order to complete the entire engine. CM: Eric, your work harmonises an eclecticism of human production from Western industrial engineering to traditional Moroccan craftsmanship, yet features of Moroccan craft such as Arabic calligraphy hold strong religious and spiritual signification – placed against the Western, and perhaps secularized engine, do you not feel a tension burgeoning? Or is this piece attempting to confront and overcome that tension? Eric Van Hove: I don’t think it is as much about calligraphy holding strong religious signification than it is about craft itself being sacred in a much broader sense: it is the grandmother of industry. Eclecticism is the given fact of life and humanity; its richness, its potential. I create no tension, though I build on chaos as the raw force behind all things. It is a symbolic whole, which means that to the contrary of being diabolic – that which separates – the Engine is reassembled. This sacred item, like any other, doesn’t attempt at anything; it is objective. It is up to people and subjective forces that drives them to overcome, one facing it, their temptation to see tension. Tension isn’t in the Engine, or in art, it is probably everywhere outside of it. CM: What role do you think individual craftsmanship now plays within a post-medium contemporary art world and Post-Fordist society as a whole? EVH: Craftsmanship, furthermore collective craftsmanship, is the essence of Post-Fordism. I do not think of craftsmanship as being akin to handicraft. I understand Western history has placed it under industry on its progressive timeline, but it is, I believe, a mistake. I don’t see much difference between contemporary art and contemporary craft: seven years practicing Japanese calligraphy healed me of any Western concept sustaining the contrary. Else, I don’t think there is or will ever be anything “post-medium” in this world. CM: Do you think it is the role of the nomadic artist to bridge connections between peoples and places such as you have done with ‘V12-Laraki’? EVH: This piece is actually my first sedentary achievement after 20 years of being nomadic as a person. Artists, they are artists. There is no “nomadic” artists, nor “Belgian” artists, nor “modern” artists: there is only artists. Speaking of role: art is the only thing perhaps that isn’t pulling the wool over people’s eyes; at least if it doesn’t, then call it art. CM: Do you find the idea of the nomad for some an idealistic concept? EVH: For sedentary people, maybe nomadic people are idealistic. I don’t know. Or maybe sedentary people believe they own a ground from where to judge about that. Thinking of it, maybe that is where the idealistic concept rests. CM: What are the main influences of your work? EVH: The life, death, enthusiasm and tragedy of people, which is probably only one thing altogether. And I hope that thing echoes in that sculpture. CM: Have you got any projects underway that you could tell us about? EVH: Of the 182 craftsmen that I met working on this piece, I worked with 57. Of these 57, I hired 8 and established an atelier in Marrakesh which I am calling a socioeconomic sculpture. That is what’s underway, and this sculpture fathers over sculptures, some of which can be seen in London now. By Charlie Mills
Spotlight No 2: Sigrid Holmwood
Sigrid Holmwood Spotlight The exhibition comes as a result of a research residency Sigrid Holmwood undertook at Hallands Art Museum, in Halmstad, Sweden, working in response to their collection of peasant paintings. These peasant paintings are particular to the region of Halland and Småland in South West Sweden, and are believed to originate in church painting and the mediaeval tradition of painted wall hangings which was once widespread in Sweden. Between 1750 - 1850 this practice underwent a great revival and development among the peasant farmers in South West Sweden. Many named and unnamed, men and women, painted these large canvases in egg tempera. They were designed to fit exactly the walls of the typical local peasant cabin and were used for special occasions such as Christmas and weddings. The biblical scenes were painted alongside everyday scenes of peasant life revealing their particular interpretation of these stories, and their relationship to the land and their animals. The nativity is shown to be a story about the fertility of humans, animals and the earth, and the farm animals are as much protagonists in the story as the humans. Several schools and styles associated with various villages developed and some painters gained particular respect and fame in their communities. Above all, this rich culture of peasant painting challenges the dominant idea of painting as a bourgeois phenomenon, and that anything outwith should be considered singular instances of ‘outsider’ art. In this exhibition, Sigrid Holmwood presents them as an alternative art history. The imagery in Sigrid Holmwood’s paintings comes from the open air museum in Halmstad, and archive photographs by the 19th century romantic painter-cum-ethnographer, Severin Nilsson who documented these peasants as their culture was in the process of disappearing. Holmwood has painted using the same pigments and techniques as the peasant painters, painting in egg tempera on handwoven linen. Apart from mineral and earth pigments, plant-based pigments were used, and for this exhibition Sigrid Holmwood has planted a garden of wild-flowers native to Sweden and dye plants that may have been used by the Peasant Painter’s for making pigments. She will be using the garden to make performative workshops on the process of pigment-making. Furthermore, she has adapted these plant-pigment recipes to make pigments from mushrooms with the help of local mushroom dye enthusiasts in Sweden, where it is a relatively new craft, having only started in the 1980s. Holmwood’s research into the world of the Peasant Painters draws on the magical and pre-Christian beliefs that formed a part of the world view of the peasant farmer and which are revealed in the details of their paintings. It is a world without vacuum, filled with interconnecting forces to which the peasant body was open and permeable. This is reflected in the giant paintbrush/hobby horse/witches broom which Holmwood attempts to ride in the film A Painter’s Flight. The video shows the process of pigment-making and egg tempera (from eggs laid by Sigrid Holmwood herself), and reveals the way certain plant based pigments glow under UV light giving a psychedelic twist to the peasant painter’s world. Sigrid Holmwood (b.78) is a half Swedish, half British artist based in London. Past exhibitions include a solo show at Hallands Art Museum, Halmstad, Sweden (2013), Painted Performances at Upton House National Trust (2012), Journey to WuMu at Annely Juda Fine Art, London (2012) and Vitamin Creative Space 'The Pavilion', Beijing (2011) and the Saatchi Gallery in Adelaide, at the Art Gallery of South Australia (2011).
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