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Posts tagged “inspiration

Assessing Alternative Portraits

Last night saw the opening of Alternative Portraits – a group exhibition at Access Space, Sheffield devised by myself and Sharon Mossbeck.


The aim of Alternative Portraits was to investigate innovative depictions of portraits as well as provide a platform for artists who approach portraiture in a fresh and challenging way.

16 artists from across the UK are represented, each with their own response to the theme of ‘Alternative Portraits.’. My own contribution saw me design a perfume self portrait. This was achieved through my established process of posing the question ‘Why do you make art? then, through a method of interpretation and investigation, choosing fragrance oils and visual embellishments relevant to the response received. This process is usually reserved for other artists – it was the first time I responded to the question myself – though it was actually rather cathartic; revealing something honest about my creative output and how I wish to be perceived.


The exhibition seemed well received, with the audience citing the high quality of each work and the cohesive yet varied nature of the collection as a whole. The wide array of disciplines and approaches on display means there was something simultaneously familiar and challenging for everyone. This resulted in a rather rich experience and this is underpinned by some fantastic feedback, which we are very grateful for.

You can catch Alternative Portraits at Access Space, Sheffield, from Wednesday – Friday, 11-6, every week up until 4th October. 

Open Call to Artists – Alternative Portraits

The deadline for this open call has now closed. 

An Open Call to submit work for an exhibition of Alternative Portraits.

Artists Michael Borkowsky and Sharon Mossbeck present Alternative Portraits, an open call exhibition of non-traditional portraiture to be run at Access Space, Sheffield, from 8th September – 4th October 2017.


We are looking for artists to submit work to us under the theme of Alternative Portraits. We are particularly interested in the use of new technologies, such as 3D printing and laser cutting, but this is not a requirement. We are looking for work which pushes the boundaries of traditional portraiture, or explores what portraiture can be. Please interpret the theme of the Alternative Portraits as you see fit.

The exhibition will be at Access Space, Sheffield from 8th September – 4th October. The exhibition opening hours will be Wednesday – Friday 11am – 6pm, and there will be a private view on 8th September from 5.30– 8pm. Everyone welcome.

The deadline for submissions will be Friday 4th August. Applicants will then be notified on Friday 11th August as to whether their application has been successful.

Guidelines for Submitting work

Please follow these guidelines for submitting work. We will only consider applications which follow these guidelines:

  • Artists may only submit one piece of work. (if a work is made up of separate components – e.g a painting made up of 3 canvasses – then we will still deem it to be one piece of work)
  • The piece of work submitted must measure no more than 1 meter across any given width
  • Regretfully, Audio/Visual or performance works cannot be accommodated
  • Please only submit work which is already complete
  • If your work is framed, please ensure that it is string-backed
  • If work has any unusual requirements (e.g. it is particularly heavy or needs hanging in a particular way) please tell of how you would like this to be done
  • We cannot accept applications received after the deadline (4th August)

How to Submit Work

To submit work, please email up to 3 images of the work you want to show to along with the following:

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Your home town/ city
  • Title of work
  • Materials used
  • Dimensions of the piece
  • Price (if you wish to offer the work for sale)
  • A statement of no more than 100 words (this may be included in the exhibition alongside your work)
  • Date when the work was completed

Hand in Dates

Please note that the venue for handing your work to us is different to the exhibition venue.

If your submission is successful, you will have between 11th August and 2nd September to get your work to us. You may do this by doing one of the following:

  • Posting your work to Exchange Place Studios, Exchange St, Sheffield S2 5SZ
  • Delivering your work in person to reception at Exchange Place Studios, which is open weekdays from 11am – 4pm.
  • We will be present in Exchange Place Studios from 11-4pm on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd September if you’d rather hand your work to the organisers in person

When you deliver your work to us, please ensure that it is as specified in the original submission, complete and presented as you wish it to be exhibited and, if framed, ready to hang. We cannot be held responsible for work that gets lost or damaged in the post.

Collection Dates

Please note that the venue for collecting your work from us is different to the exhibition venue.

After the exhibition you can collect your work in person from Exchange Place Studios on either the 6th or 7th October, between 11am and 4pm.

You may also make arrangements for us to post your work back to you. If you wish to do this, we will require the correct postage and packaging costs to be paid to us in advance, and you must allow the expected delivery to be between 7th October – 7th November 2017. You may wish to consider handing us a stamped addressed envelope when initially handing work to us to ensure a quicker return delivery.


Your work may be up for sale. Access Space don’t take any commission but as a charity ask that, should you wish to donate some of your proceeds from sales to them you may do so, but you’re under no obligation.


Thank you and good luck! ~ Michael and Sharon

Thinking Fuse

FUSE is an exhibition devised and curated by myself currently running at Access Space until 31st March. Yesterday I hosted the opening evening.

The aim of FUSE – which is a series of exhibitions currently in it’s 3rd incarnation – is to initiate collaborations and relationships with other sets of artists which in turn develops a positive and supportive network of art, artists and creative outputs. In the spirit of forging such relationships, the theme of the exhibition is simply the word ‘fuse’ which each artist may interpret however they wish. This has lead to some diverse, intriguing and very high quality responses, with themes such as alchemy, travel, emotion, landscape, cartography, psychology, human behavior, portraiture and fragrance all cited as sources of inspiration.


Each work is strong enough to be contemplated individually, while simultaneously being harnessed by the theme, allowing for a coherent and high-quality exhibition that has so far impressed audiences.

If you missed the opening, you can catch FUSE at Access Space, Wednesday – Friday 11-6 up until 31st March.

Loving the Court of Love

This week has seen the opening of The Court of Love – a group art and poetry exhibition examining Valentine’s Day. The exhibition is held at Exchange Place Studios, Sheffield and has been devised and curated by myself.

Initially, the exhibition was driven by purely selfish reasons – over the last two years I have neglected the chance to use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to exhibit Perfume as Practice and I didn’t wish to miss the opportunity for a third year.

However, further research into Valentine’s Day and it’s historical and social contexts saw the exhibition develop into a group show. As I wanted my work to reveal the historical connections between fragrance and medicine, it seemed pertinent to reference within the exhibition the first occurrence of Valentine’s Day; which consisted of a feast, poetry competitions and jousting. Over time I knew that a solo exhibition wouldn’t satisfy these needs.

And so, the exhibition references a Tudor Court both in its design, in its poetry competition and through some of the artists choosing to incorporate the theme in their work. The result is a collection of high quality responses to Valentine’s Day that reference the historical virtues while just being contemporary enough not to be cliched. Indeed, the responses are varied; banquets, saints, dance steps, the zodiac, cartography, graffiti, cosmic ordering, modern culture, sexual orientation and poetry are all cited as sources of inspiration.

From a curatorial perspective, I have afforded space between each work – allowing the audience to contemplate each piece as both an isolated work or within the context of the exhibition. This allows connections to emerge between each piece while simultaneously allowing each piece to exist in it’s own right. This is how I ideally like to curate as I believe it affords an audience richer and multi-faceted engagement. Logistics, or the sheer amount of work received sometimes means I have to curate with restrictions or caveats. Here, I was able to curate how I wanted and the result is a strong and confident exhibition that utilities the immersive properties of colour transform the space thematically – allowing each work to sit with cohesion and coherence beside each other.

The Court of Love once again reinforces Exchange Place Studio’s presence as an arts venue, with the poetry competition inviting a new audience through our doors. It’s important that our programme of events remains varied, supportive and nurturing to both new and established audiences. Not only does this allow us to gather momentum and reputation but the positive virtues of providing a platform for as many sets of people as possible should always be on the agenda.

The Big Smoke

Last week I had a little nosey around London Village. It was a bit of a Birthday treat and it also gave me an opportunity to see some art and indulge in the stimulation that a big city offers – or at least is supposed to offer. Anyway this is what I found out:

  • Inspiration is everywhere. – As demonstrated whilst buggering about in the food court in Harrods, where an overwhelming and multisensory experience ensued. The air tasted of decadence as the scent particles of each offering fought to tantalise the nostrils. This was probably as close to experiencing synesthesia as a non-synestete can get without taking LSD. Scent appeared before me, and my experience of the place is remembered not through vision, but through smell. I will certainly exploit this experience in subsequent works of art.
  • Patrick Caulfield is a bit good. – I saw the Caulfield exhibition at Tate Britain. I love how he is able to capture the essence and atmosphere of something using simple mechanics. A size of a canvas is able organically to capture grandeur. Colour evokes emotions intrinsic to an atmosphere. And  simple form places the paintings within a physical and readily relatable realm. There is a simplicity about Caulfield’s work that speaks volumes.
  • It’s a lot greener than I remembered. – Yes, walking under a bridge you are smacked in the nose with a heavy burst of pollution and tramps tears, but when you emerge from under the bridge, a burst of greenery hits you – Such a juxtaposition of atmosphere can be embraced and utilised.
  •  There are lots of little hidden bits. – During my two days in London there wasn’t even a hint of the idea of using the Tube. Above ground and removed from the fear of having another man’s armpit in your face, you see more. Small pathways; buildings wedged between buildings; unbelievably small tea shops; roads of residential properties between two different coffee outlets; uncelebrated memorials and poorly conceived bus-stops. All of which is intrinsic to the vitality and beauty of the place
  • The Great Fire of London was cool. – It just was. As were Dinosaurs, as it happens.

Aside from my Harrods experience, I don’t really know quite what I can extrapolate from all this and apply to my practice. But there’s a real feeling that visiting London has equipped me with tangible experiences that can doubtlessly be applied to my work. When do I get to go again?

Obligatory photo of Big Ben that has to exist when talking about London and at any cost!

Obligatory photo of Big Ben that has to exist when talking about London and at any cost!