Magazine: Issue 8
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Venue Spotlight: The Drawing Room
THE DRAWING ROOM, BERMONDSEY Recently relocated South of the river to their new Bermondsey home, Rachel Price welcomes The Drawing Room to the South London Art Map. Initiated by curators Mary Doyle, Kate Macfarlane and Katharine Stout in 2002 the Drawing Room continues to push the boundaries of contemporary drawing through its rich programme of exhibitions, publications, symposia and learning projects. Recently awarded core-funding from the Arts Council National Portfolio, Rachel Price talks to Kate Macfarlane and Mary Doyle about the future of this unique resource: RP – Firstly, hello and a very warm welcome to South London! How are you finding Bermondsey? MD & KM – We are very pleased to have moved to the new space in Bermondsey. We are receiving many more visitors since moving here, many of whom are local; we are discovering that many artists have studios in the area and that we’re in the midst of a vibrant cultural scene. RP – Along with Katharine Stout in 2002 you initiated The Drawing Room, what series of events or deficiencies at the time led to you coming together to produce such a tailored project? MD & KM – We initiated the idea of a space for drawing in recognition of the fact that so many artists were using drawing either as a stand alone practice or alongside work in other media, but that it wasn’t so visible in the public domain. There were no organizations in the UK or Europe dedicated to contemporary drawing and it felt the right time to test the water and see if there was interest from artists in particular to forming such a space. Drawing Room was conceived as a research project that would explore contemporary drawing and present examples through exhibitions, publications, ‘in conversations’ and workshops. RP – Alongside other fundraising bids your Biennial fundraisers continue to attract a lot of attention and receive huge support in the form of donated drawings from such prolific artists as Jake & Dinos Chapman, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin and Paula Rego to name a few. Why do you feel the Drawing Room holds such importance to such an eclectic range of artists who are so keen to support your activities? MD & KM – We opened the gallery in 2003 with our first fundraiser and we received over 100 artists’ drawings which we took as a huge endorsement for establishing a space for drawing. The fundraisers have become 2 yearly events that artists look forward to being involved in. Not only are they hugely successful in raising core funding, but it makes for a very exciting exhibition that brings together a huge range of artists of different generations, artists at different career stages and multivarious approaches to drawing. Perhaps one factor is that we send artists a sheet of paper in the post as an invitation to contribute so that drawings are made especially for the exhibition. For many artists drawing is something private and personal and that piece of paper offers them a challenge, whilst for others it’s an opportunity to experiment and try something new. For others it’s a means to reconnect with drawing outside of their usual practice, and in some cases the process is the spark to explore new ideas which can generate a new body of work. Another important factor is that it’s very democratic - all works are A4 in size, the bidding starts at the same price and the artists are hung alphabetically, so there’s no hierarchy, artists are on level playing field. RP – What can we hope to see in 2012 from the Drawing Room? MD & KM – during 2012 we will present our most ambitious programme to date. We start the year with Drawing Room’s new bursary award which provides an opportunity for an emerging artist to use our space to develop their practice. Tom Varley from Glasgow has been selected and decided to use the gallery as a studio; he will set himself daily tasks shared via a blog. In early March we open Franz Erhard Walther: Work Stages which brings to a British audience a selection of works that span the length of his fifty-year career, from the ground-breaking artistic experiments of the 1960s to the artist’s drawn novel, his latest retrospective and autobiographical drawing project. In early May we open Graphology , July will see the initiation of an artist-led summer school 'On Drawing’. And our autumn/ winter programme includes two solo exhibitions – Los Angeles based Paul Sietsema and Glasgow-based Kate Davis, both of whom are developing an ambitious body of new work. Many Thanks to Mary Doyle & Kate Macfarlane!
Review: Beyond the Pleasure Principle
BEYOND THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE, Michael Slusakowicz: New Gallery, London 13-20th December Micahel Slusakowicz Untitled (Breasts) Oil on Canvas, 35x40cm. 2011 The final show in Millington | Marriott’s five month curatorial residency at New Gallery London presents a new body of work from London-based Polish artist Michael Slusakowicz. Progressing from an ongoing interest in the prominent role fear can play in human imagination and action, Beyond the Pleasure Principle presents viewers with images of varying degrees of sexual explicitness or suggestiveness, holding a mirror up to what society deems should be private and making it uncompromisingly and uncomfortably public. Beyond the Pleasure Principle draws on Freud’s essay of the same name, focussing on the two sides of humanity: the publicly acceptable ‘light’ and the necessarily private ‘dark’. Slusakowicz’ paintings such as Driven take sexually explicit images from the internet and present them to us in oil on canvas. For many these are images they would rather not confront, but here are forced to deal with the uncomfortable. The oversized phallus between the seated figure’s legs is not immediately apparent, and this uncertainty makes it all the more shocking upon realisation: is that really what I’m seeing or am I just...? The mouse cursor in the foreground of this painting reminds us of the voyeuristic protection the anonymity of the internet affords. It also acts as a digital bridge across the room to the tangle of wires in the opposite corner. Those wires spilling out onto the floor form part of a new installation created for the show, and also called Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Here Slusakowicz moves into abstraction; a change from the representative work which his practice has centred around for the past several years. The wires lead up to two diagonal parallel white strip lights around which are composed three canvasses: black, white and grey. In the context of the paintings around it the installation clearly speaks of parallels of the public and private; normal and deviant; running alongside one another and competing in each of us. We are all trying to pull off a balancing act between what we really want and what we’re prepared to admit to. Intriguingly though, the grey canvas appears black at first glance. It certainly seems darker than the mid-point of the white and black across the wall from it. In selecting such a dark tone for this fulcrum of the work, is the artist saying something about the actual path we, or perhaps he himself, picks through this balancing act? Perhaps the most beautiful work in the show is also the most humble: The Punch of the Century is a simple pencil drawing on a sheet of A4 paper in which Slusakowicz demonstrates his consummate skill as a draughtsman. Pictured are two figures stripped to the waist slugging away at each other. Not humans though but miniature figurines: the reflection of the polished wood they’re made from expertly conveyed in pencil on paper. The noble, idealised homo-eroticism contained in this image of pugilism contrasts poignantly with the sinister dark robes left on the peg in the adjacent His and His on the Fur which forces the viewer to be complicit in some very private and possibly sinister act. Beyond the Pleasure Principle deals with contemporary themes in its referencing of the internet and the anonymity it allows us, but is at the same time universal, dealing with the ongoing balancing act which is the essence of being ‘civilised’. While The Punch of the Century pictures a latent desire which is rendered ‘acceptable’, Slusakowicz’ other paintings such as Driven confront the viewer with those which are still very much not. Adam Walker
Preview: The Takeaway Shop
THE TAKEAWAY SHOP Amy Lord's Number 82 Gallery 20th - 27th January 2012 10am - 6pm weekdays, 12 - 5pm Sat & Sun Late night Friday 27th January (until 8pm) Amy Lord is a live artist and designer making original multi-textured and layered encounters and experiences; mixing installation, performance and craft. Her work is mostly concerned with, and inspired by human behaviour and experiences. Chantelle Purcell talks to Amy to find out about her upcoming project ‘The Takeaway Shop’ at Number 82 Gallery. CP – Can you tell us more about the upcoming project 'The Takeaway Shop' at Number 82 gallery? AL – I will be in the space from 20–27 Jan with a collection of research about the local history of the area. I will be teaching different bookbinding and book-making skills that will allow people to make their own handmade archives to take away with them. CP – Who is the event intended for? AL – For anyone that lives in, or is visiting Deptford and New Cross. It is primarily for people that live or work in the area but also for those with an interest in London's history. CP – How can making archives more accessible promote discursivity and a sense of community? AL – The one thing a community shares is place. And the history of that place. That cannot be changed and should be used to bring people together. CP & ndash; How far back have you researched into Deptfordʼs history? And how have you collected the various fragments of historical information? AL – Deptford has a 2000 year history, there will be some facts from around 1066 and 500AD I think, but most will start from around 1300 onwards. I've copied and reproduced some interesting images and texts from books and other interesting documents from the local library archive. CP – What else have you been doing in preparation for the project? AL – Gathering all the tools for the book binding, a lot of paper making, and trying to reach as many local residents as possible with news of the project! And a lot of reading, I've found some incredibly detailed reference books dedicated to the history of Deptford. CP – Have you always been based in Deptford? AL – No, I have lived in London for 4 years now and have only been here for 1. CP – Do you think the need to understand the area in which you are now based stems from a sense of ʻdisplacementʼ and a need to be more connected to the area? AL – Perhaps. I think we all get the urge to put down roots in somewhere that we know we will be living for a while, but the idea for this project came more from stumbling across relics from the past (I think the bizarre statue on creekside of Peter the Tsar was one) and being absolutely entranced by the idea of the this area having such a colourful history. I thought other people might be too. CP – How do you think someone who has lived in Deptford all their life will approach this project? AL – I hope they will bring their own memories and stories of Deptford to The Takeaway Shop and contribute to building an ever growing archive of human stories and experiences. I'm trying to explore many different areas of the history (i.e humanitarian, architectural, political and environmental) so I hope they may find out something that they didn't know before. CP – This project seems to share similar ideas to a previous work '24 Carrot Cake' which explored consumerism and attempted to create a renewed value of discarded objects. Would you say that there has been a resurgence in craft and making opposed to the mass produced? AL – I have been learning and enjoying lots of different crafts for many years now but it does seem like there has been a resurgence in craft and making of late. I hope this isn't just a trend that's going to die down again! I don't think it will though, I think people are starting to see through consumerism, especially in the current economic climate. And I don't think it's necessarily the end product that matters the most when you're doing craft - it's the process and the satisfaction you get during the making stages. CP – Can you discuss the ʻreachʼ an artwork like this can have? How will it be documented? And how will the event exist archivally? AL – I think it will be experienced on many different levels. There will be those who actually take part in the workshop, those that hear about the workshop and are passed the skills or knowledge by word of mouth, and those that discover books that are left in local places. The event itself will be documented on camera and I will be writing about each day on my website blog (which goes live in january and posting more by-the-moment documentation through Twitter. CP – What have you learnt from undertaking a project like this? AL – I've been really pleased with the response, I suppose it has confirmed that people will always want to know about the humans that lived, walked and breathed the same air as them many years ago – maybe because we hope future generations will be curious about us, and looking at the trail we've left when we're gone. CP – Whatʼs next? AL – I'd like to do The Takeaway Shop again, in an empty shop. I'm obsessed with empty commercial spaces but have yet to get through to any local letting agents to convince them of the benefits of using empty shops for artistic or community purposes. In the month after TTS I'm running an alternative Valentine's day Hunt event for Rich Mix in Shoreditch, but in a few days time will be doing a short performance piece at BAC Scratch on Thursday 22nd Dec. Thanks very much Amy Lord! Interview with Chantelle Purcell
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