A balloon for Britain

Whilst on the travels, as you can imagine, I visited a great deal of galleries and saw lots of amazing art. They were a great source of inspiration for me as well as being any travellers dream… a fantastic free activity! The most memorable visit has to be in Melbourne at the National Gallery Victoria. Being an extremely well established gallery; I got to see the likes of William Morris, Mark Rothko, Picasso and David Hockney, plus a really amazing piece of art by Jeff Koons- Puppy Vase– a real tribute to the working class objects of my grandma’s living room. But the piece which really hit home for me (please excuse the pun) was by Scott King- A balloon for Britain. The piece framed 10 grainy photographs of Britain’s 10 poorest towns and cities. Above each image was a brightly coloured balloon symbolising the gentrification/regeneration of these towns using public art. And low and behold was an image I recognised.. I’d passed that same building each day for 8 years as I passed it on my to school/college. There was my home town of Blackburn! Seeing Blackburn depicted, (be it not in the kindest of lights), in the National Gallery of Victoria was a mile stone for me. It symbolised where I’d come from and re-established that notion of working class roots within my work.

Luxury and Degradation

As my casting work continues in the studio I’ve also been doing some more research into the work of Jeff Koons. In particular his collective work: Luxury and Degradation. In the book I took out the library; Jeff Koons handbook, I found the quote below which talks about my work so closely, particularly my transformation of the object itself. Jeff Koons remakes these kitsch objects in luxury materials transforming their value and worth. I hope to transform my grandmas figurines into the materials of the art world, transforming their value for an art audience.

  • “In ‘Luxury and Degradation’ the objects are given an artificial luxury, an artificial value, which transforms them completely, changing there function, and, to a certain extent, decriticalizing them.”

Robert Rosenblum’s notes, at the beginning of the book, sums the work up for me; “I recall the shock of my initial confrontation with Koon’s lovingly hideous and accurate reconstructions the lowest levels of three-dimensional kitsch…” “We all, of course, have been seeing this kind of stuff for years in every shopping centre and tourist trap, but never before have we been forced, as one is in a gallery setting, to look head on and up close at it’s mind boggling ugliness and deliriously vapid expressions.” Won’t lie, had to look up the word vapid; it means bland. Bland and ugly objects being forced into the eye of the viewer.

A Tutorial with Pil Kollectiv

Following last weeks live lecture; I decided to get my very first tutorial with one of the guest speakers. The pair; Pil and Galia Kollectiv gave an enchanting talk about the capitalist world which we live; reiterating the comment: “We find it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”- A rather interesting quote regarding my practice. I had a tutorial with Pil the following day. I found the experience really rewarding getting an outside perspective on my practice; which meant new references and new research.

Pil’s reactions to the piece; Aspiration Between the Classes, lead to an immediate discussion regarding the earlier work of Jeff Koons. I’d seen his work previously, even seeing his famous Puppy outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao (shown in the photo), but I’d never made the connection to my current practice. Pil showed me the particular works he was thinking of- Louis XIV and a really relevant article which he sourced for me: http://www.flashartonline.com/interno.php?pagina=articolo_det&id_art=348&det=ok&title=JEFF-KOONS In the article, Koons has a fascinating way of describing the objects which he casts as: “proletarian luxury?” A term which I feel really complements my practice! Pil explained that Koons casts these forms of kitsch objects with luxury materials. Therefore there is an element of transformation towards the objects. Since my experimentation with the figurines in magnolia paint, this is something I feel my practice has been missing. It seems this could be the right time to get back into casting! – Something which I really enjoy.

Pil was encouraging of the work, but felt I needed to be bolder with it. I’m on to something but there is something missing. I need to emphasize the irony I’m putting forward that these figurines are now involved in the art world. Make more fun of the art world and its customs. Pil mentioned that what I was touching on here was something that the pop art movement was suggesting- bringing popular culture into the art world. But like them the work is starting that discussion but then it is closing up to quickly for the audience. Pil encouraged me to find a way to critique not just the working class taste- but also critique the art world.