Last Wednesday I held the first of three paint making workshops to be held at The Bessemer II Gallery in Sheffield.
As ever, the paint making workshop provided me with the opportunity to engage with local artists by sharing knowledge and highlighting the possibilities of paint, including how to create paint from everyday foods and the notion that paint is able to be considered the end result of a creative process.
I hope my workshops make people think a little differently about paint, enriching their approach to the medium and perhaps allowing them to explore ways of developing a relationship with paint in a way that will directly further and develop their practice. I also cannot dismiss the importance of the social aspect of the event, which can encourage collaboration, professional development and, dare I say it, friendship!
This particular workshop went very smoothly indeed. I believe that each participant benefited from the event, learning how to make paint from food but, importantly, exploring how to apply what they’ve learnt to their own practice.
The second paint making workshop will be at Bessemer II on 8th October, and the third on on 12th November. The workshop costs £20, which includes all materials and refreshments. If they sound interesting to you, there’s still places left; so book ’em while you can!
I am creating a piece of work that assesses the nature of painting, and speculates whether a painting needs to exist if we are able to design, brand and distribute the idea of a painting within the context of commercialism. Basically, the work has me collect thoughts – imagined by artists – towards a painting they could make that doesn’t exist.
It could be a painting that you have considered before but haven’t got round to, or it might be entirely imagined but still within the context of your practice. I will take the findings and create paints based on thoughts the artist has towards a piece of work. These paints will then be branded as artists’ ideas. I’m aiming to create a tension between the audience and the ethical considerations of owning artists thoughts.
If you have any thoughts towards a painting created by yourself that doesn’t exist, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.Even if you’re not predominantly a painter, but that doesn’t really matter – you could still have an idea for a painting that fits in with your practice. I have already began to design paints around the thoughts of artists, the first one I have created derives from artist Richard Bradley’s Idea of creating a painting, which would have been a comment on cult television programme, The Hotel:
I am a little unclear in terms of how I will present my work as yet. Ideally, I would design a shop unit and allow an audience to literally complete a transaction that acts as a comment towards ethical and philosophical implications of ownership and creative control. The customer would go away being able to use the thought of an artist however they wish, and would be able to purchase an artist’s idea as easily and cheaply as purchasing paint. A problematic notion that raises questions of the relevance of painting in light of consumerism.
Every ‘Artists Thought’ work I do will be isolated in an individual blog post, which will act as an advertisement for the paint product.
If you’d like me to use an idea you have for a painting that doesn’t exist, please respond by emailing email@example.com. …Or leave a comment in the comments section. Many thanks.
Over the last month I have been feverishly painting as many pictures of fruit as I can; applying paint directly to loaves of bread; wrapping apples in modroc; painting works of still life; looking long and hard at pictures of burgers and applying thirty-two homemade egg tempera paints to a board.
So, why the hell am I doing all this? Well, because each of these endeavours form some part of my upcoming solo exhibition – named ‘Shelf Life’ – which will be held at Gage Gallery: A gallery space that forms part of Kelham Island Arts Co-Operative (or KIAC,) in Sheffield.
‘Shelf Life’ seeks to question the role of food in art. This includes questioning our perception of value, re-imagining the genre of still life, an enquiry into how emotion can be attached to disposable produce, and a documentation of the trials of trying to render the invisible sensations of taste and smell visible, with coherence.
Food is, of course, a massive topic, and will undoubtedly become a lifelong investigation. What I hope an audience can gain from this exhibition is an informed and clearer understanding of their own thoughts towards the nature and properties of food, and a place for which such thoughts to coalesce and crystallise. Further, I wish to question pre-conceptions towards the value of art, and attempt to ground it within the identifiable realities of purchasing consumable products. I believe that art should relate to the subject it is rendering as seamlessly as possible, and aligning the status of art to the status of food allows my work to become direct, accessible and relevant.
The exhibition runs from 28/02/14 until 14/03/14. There is also a private viewing of the show on 28/02/14 from 7pm. I hope you can make it.
In addition to my exhibition, and coinciding with it, comes my Paint Making Workshop, due to be held at KIAC’s Education Space on 1st March:
Participants of this workshop will be shown a working demonstration of the paint making process, before having a go at creating paints for themselves, and applying them to a surface. Participants will gain valuable experience in developing an affinity with their materials, which I believe is integral to producing coherent works of art.
The workshop takes place from 10am til 3pm on 1st March, and costs £20 (or £15 for students) and promises to be a fun and worthwhile day.
I hope that something within these events is intriguing and I hope for as many of you to attend as possible. You can find more information about these events on my Facebook events. Just click here. Or feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have been wondering where I have escaped to for the last month or so (and let’s face it, most of you have) I can joyously claim that I’ve actually been getting some bloody work done. The last few weeks have been a relentless pursuit of finished articles before the bite of winter renders the studio I work in uninhabitable. I find it a bit of a struggle to exact a balance between making stuff and networking. Often I fluctuate in preference between one and the other. Over the last few weeks though, a very tangible rhythm has emerged that has resulted in a relative abundance of finished works.
So where the bloody hell are these finished works, I hear you cry. Well, I’m not going to show you them all. Instead, I shall tantalise you simply by producing one piece of work at a time. So let’s start things off in style shall we? Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you, a spice rack. Yes, a spice rack:
This is not just any old spice rack though. Here, I wish to initiate a discourse between the nature of paint and painting. Applying meaning to paint by attaching experiential sentiment to the bottles the paint is contained within. The painting itself is passive, acting merely as a reference to the bottles. The painting is completed to allow an audience to further identify with the paints, but it is not a means to an end in it’s own right. It is within the bottles from which meaning is attached, and so the idea of commercialism and the prospect of purchasing memory and sentiment that is removed from personal experience is called into question.
I am toying with the idea of presenting it for the John Moores painting prize next year. I believe it challenges the idea of what can be considered a painting and as such, it certainly possesses a level of intrigue. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this piece in order for me to attain a reasonable understanding of an audience’s response.
Over the last week or so I have been concerned with the identity of painting. Specifically, I have been thinking about how the practice of painting can be deemed irrelevant if the paint itself contains enough conceptual prowess. This post really acts as a steam of initial thoughts towards a more refined idea of how paint and painting can be perceived. Well, there goes…
Painting no longer has to exist on a surface. Indeed, when applied to a surface, paint becomes condemned – Fated to be judged with the attachment of subject matter and blinkered by the boundaries of a canvas. Allowing paint to exist untouched achieves a coherent sense of liberation and purity, which can be applied metaphorically to political and social instances or regarded as just that – pure, untouched and alive with potential. Painting, then, no longer has to exist with an identity, as the raw medium of paint is able to obtain identity without even being applied to a surface.
That is not to say painting is without relevance. Painting is a language able to describe the invisible and allow an audience to engage, to connect and to regard the physical world qualitatively. However, if painting is approached conceptually, than that concept doesn’t have to exist within painting. It can, however, exist within paint. These images detail a concept that exists within paint but not painting. That is, a deliberate lack of identity for the sake of raw possibility.
Moreover, the very practice of painting is now disposable – It is interchangeable with other cultural, social and political endeavours. It exists between meals; is halted when your favourite program is on TV; dismissed in favour or dicking about on the internet; or not even considered due to the sheer breath of cultural activities available.
I myself am interested in the consumable nature of the paints I make – and how they can exist isolated from contemporary art environments – in shops and supermarkets, ready to be purchased and consumed. Indeed, I have considered popping along to my local corner shop and simply leaving a jar of paint or two on a shelf – a piece of conceptual innovation in amongst the chopped tomatoes and pickled onions. A jar of paint as an object is small, fragile and inconspicuous, but that it represents is loaded with possibility and transcendence.
…There! All done! It’s good to actually begin to solidify these ideas just by writing them down. Some of this stuff I’ll probably deem untrue or irrelevant over the next few weeks/days/seconds. Still, that’s part of the fun of it all!
I love to criticise and bitch. It fills part of my moral conscious probably technically reserved for, I don’t know, being able to tolerate children. Problems with this, however, arise when reflecting upon my own practice: I am never fully satisfied with my work because I always seek to criticise my rate of conceptual progression. Upon completing a piece of work, the first thoughts that enter my mind are ‘well, ok, I’ve done that, what can I do now to further the idea? What’s next?’
I now find myself unsatisfied with simply making paints, and one direction I have been attracted to is the idea of converting the paint I have made back into food. This will add a substantial sense of narrative to my work, and highlight that, although food is able to transcend its original purpose, it also remains true to itself: It exists in a state of being between something old and something new.
‘Paint, Then Jam, Then Paint Again’
I see this as a fairly natural progression from the processes and connotations involved in making paint out of food, and there is something curiously indefinite about the whole process: I could spend the rest of my days concerning myself with converting food into paint, then back into food, then back into paint, then into food again until my blood vessels surrender and explode. But because I know that I can do this, there is no point, as professional development would become compromised and new, more engaging directions would not flourish.
So, what’s next?
I’ve made some lovely jars of paint. Now what?
I have now been living in Sheffield for over two months and, frankly, I think I’m doing rather ruddy well. I have secured a house and a studio space. I am critically engaged with an increasingly intriguing aspect of my artistic practice, I have another job that allows me to purchase art materials and pay the bills, and most significantly of all, I’ve got myself two bloody lovely bedside cabinets made from old apple crates.
If I reflect upon my artistic output over the last two months it is fair to conclude that, despite a lack of much actual practical work, it is clear that the notion and process of making paint is increasingly embedding itself as the spine of my artistic output. If anyone were to ask me what kind of art I do, I’d reply assertively with the bellow ‘Well, I make paints using food.’
Yet the process of making paint is not yet a comfortable one: There are still mistakes to be made, egg shells to be cracked in vain, and plenty of grounded food to be condemned to the bin due to some kind of ‘experimental’ failure. There is something fundamentally engaging about artistic practice that is not processional, and a great deal of professional development is emerging with regard to the physical practice of making paint. My confidence in producing quality paint is ever increasing, and eventually I hope that no egg shell will be cracked in vain.
Yet there are still questions to be raised and answers to be given. And one particularly nagging question I find myself posed with currently is ‘what exactly is my end result?’ Is it art, or a commercial product?
The answer, I believe, is both. There is no reason a jar of paint cannot be subjectively engaged with. Yet at the same time, the very reason for a jar of paint is for it to be used. Therein lies a great source of intrigue. If I consider my paint to be a work of art, then it is an evasive one. It doesn’t possess an identity because it has not yet been used. And if it does get used, the conceptions and associations contained within it will still remain: It is possible for my work to exist within another’s work. Incognito, it will not be experienced as pure paint, yet it will always be there, hidden within.
And if it’s a commercial product, then it is one that possesses spiritual and conceptual value. The beauty here is that I am able to market my paint both as a work of art and as a product. A win-win situation, if you will: I am able to exploit the rich conceptual element of my work in order to concern myself with exhibition proposals and research grants, and I am able to provide the public and artists with a unique and usable product. So I guess all that’s left to do now is stop talking and go out there and bloody well sell!