Gallery Hopping

Now I’m back home I’ve been visiting all those friends and relatives I’ve been missing so much- both in Manchester and Nottingham. Whilst I was there I managed to chuck some art in too. I was a little disappointed by Nottingham Contemporary’s offer; although there were many well-known names, there was nothing really that sparked anything. The most noticeable piece for me portrayed a map of the world drawn in flags by Alighiero Boetti. At the Manchester Art Gallery I was pleasantly surprised to find an exhibition on my favourite… home design. The piece here that caught my eye was Richard Hamilton’s Interior. Since doing by scrapbook collage has become more and more appealing to me. Even if it starts just as a way to generate ideas- I’m thinking this might be a starting point to begin making new work again for me.

John’s Decorating Centre

Having seen all the wallpapers Nottingham city centre had to offer I made the quick decision, following a Google search, to head on a bus to John’s Decorating Centre! What a good decision. Yesterday I was at a loss as to what wallpaper I wanted to use, and most importantly the colour choices that I knew were going to be essential for getting this piece right! And in the bargain bin at John’s I found them!

Grandma’s Ornaments

Now along with those fitted wardrobes I spoke of earlier, my grandma also left behind a hell of a lot of ornaments at her old house. My grandma is well known for her huge collection of ornaments, she has them everywhere- around the TV, in the bathroom, kitchen- everywhere. She was determined she wasn’t going to take them all with her to the new house, so I asked her to put aside all the ones she was going to throw away for me. I was unsure of what I wanted to do with them, artists like Lisa Selby and Ruth Claxton have been big influences here. See previous blog posts: and

I’m really interested in these ornaments. These objects have been of such high importance to my grandma and now she chooses to cast them aside. So strange! I had somewhat of a brainwave on the train coming back to Nottingham about this next stage of work. Firstly bleaching these figures- see how that goes. Leave just the eyes? Silent witnesses! And also I have a few ideas concerning plinths. Taking these ornaments out of their context- the home, felt really strange, what would it be like when I put them in a gallery setting? What would it be like if I wallpapered plinths bringing back some of the context? Could I continue this plinth idea with other home objects?

Nottingham Castle and the Contemporary

Super keen art day yesterday! Went to two gallery openings! Saw the new show at the Castle and went to the opening night at the Nottingham Contemporary. Geoffrey Farmer’s; Let’s Make the Water Turn Black was a fantastic show, some really great lighting/sound and I saw some great use of domestic objects! You really got immersed into the space. I also managed to get a few sneaky photos at the Castle of a few of my favourite pieces there.

I particularly liked Karen Fraser’s work. She’d photographed three ornamental figures, which from the titles- Charity Shop Decollation No.1, 2 and 3; I can presume she collected from charity shops. I was really intrigued by the way she chose to document these works; firstly her process of beheading the figures; choosing only the head to photograph and secondly her choice to photograph the objects and not show them in there original state. Something I could perhaps consider; photographing my objects/empty spaces as a way of documenting and presenting? I was also really excited about this piece because recently my grandma has decided to move house which means many of her unwanted ornaments will we coming my way! It’s funny how she kept them all this time but she no longer wants them?

Other artists whose work I liked were Bob Robinson and Chloe Ashley. I liked the sculptural miss-match of Robinson’s objects; something I hope to do using furniture items! I liked the subject matter, seemingly of the domestic which Ashley portrayed in her photography, I particular enjoyed the way in which she presented the photograph. The doubled up paper protruded the image into something much more than the original image.

Chelsie Purdue

So next on the list of Blogging is the wonderful Chelsie Purdue. I had the great pleasure in helping out this lovely lady with her degree set up before I finished for the summer. It was a fantastic experience helping out; I learnt some valuable skills and got some great advice in the process. I approached Chelsie after seeing her work at the Backlit show GLOSS, I thought that work looks bloody good and it relates so well with my current practice! I soon found that we both had pretty similar interests in our practice and began advising good books to one another. When I asked Chelsie if she would like a hand with her degree show she was more than happy to accept. Note to self gain helpers early on! You will need them Rachel! Creating a degree show on your own is impossible.

DOTS were the main task involved in Chelsie’s degree show setup. We were set to attach a multitude of tiny acrylic laser cut dots, less than 1cm in size, to the wall using some super strong glue- an extremely fiddly job! Each dot had to be in the exact right place but luckily we devised a template for that. Each dot formed a beautifully designed, by the artist herself, acrylic wallpaper setup. The wallpaper used intricate pattern detail and central to the design was an image of a stag. The wallpaper possessed a grandeur furthered by the use of the stag and the impeccable design. The white on white feel Chelsie envisioned felt contemporary with a clean finish. Although I wasn’t a part of the table design, accept from maybe helping with the carrying on delivery, I feel I should also mention that there was also a table, designed again by the artist herself, involved in the piece. The table also portrayed a stag figure; the table legs being that of a stag. The table also stood at irregular height. For most the table was at head height. Chelsie had hoped that the viewer would almost feel like a child when approaching the table, Placed on the table were a handmade set of golden cutlery, finely detailed with animal heads. The whole set design had a certain “don’t touch” effect- a show room of design

So just a quick reminder to self for future reference seeing many of the 3rd years in crisis at the last minute.

  • Try not to make something too fiddly.
  • Think about the TIME allowed in making- something less time consuming and manageable.
  • Stick to what you know Rachel.
  • PLAN, research prior, experiment prior- work on something that went well.
  • Plan time to the day leading up to degree show set up.
  • Gain help from lower years early.
  • Gain lots of feedback from tutors.

Easier said that done I know!

On the last note would like to say thank you for your wonderful company Chelsie, and our endless conversations about life whilst dotting. You made me think outside the box on future career plans and inspired me for next year. Wishing you all the luck in your future!

Lisa Selby, Artist Talk

One thing I mentioned briefly, a couple of blog posts ago, was Lisa Selby’s show With and Without, however I never got round to blogging about the fantastic artist talk which she gave at The Surface Gallery all the way back on the 9th of May. I was amongst just a select few of the artist’s “fans” as she gave an extremely personal talk about the selection of works exhibited in With and Without. I found the artist herself particularly down to earth and really appreciated this about her. She spoke about her work in such an easy manner which I easily related too. Her work was such an inspiration to me. I spoke about her artist statement before- particularly this sentence- “Selby rearticulates items from the domestic environment, relaying the familiarity and alienation experienced as one moves physically and psychologically from one home to another.” As I said her work relates so closely to mine, so I was so excited to hear her speak about it!

At the beginning of the talk Selby explained how she found herself at Goldsmiths creating mostly sculptural work; when as a student at Trent she tried so hard to be a painter. The sculpture came from somewhere so enlightening to me. It was in fact her grandma’s figurine ornaments that were pasted down to her. As a child she wasn’t allowed to play with these precious objects. She never understood why her grandma insisted on this- as she said they always looked so ready to play with. Now these objects were hers she began playing and creating with these objects- changing their form, firing them in the kiln etc. After hearing this from Selby I have a new found fascination with the multitude of ornaments my grandma has. I keep asking her why on earth she picks one from the next. What makes one ornament more important than the next? Why does that one get centre stage in the middle of the fireplace? I learnt that the stamp underneath meant an awful lot. But I still can’t fathom out why she likes buying these and whether it matters what these women are doing or wearing. One thing I’ll never understand is why she has so many, and why she even has them in the bathroom! (Photos to follow!)

Some interesting research Selby mentioned was something I studied at English Literature A level- it’s a short story called The Yellow Wallpaper. I have a feeling this might be key to something next year so I need to track that down from some old notes I think. Also Sylvia Plath was mentioned so may have to crack those books out too!

Selby soon began to talk about the shift from home to home and the impact this has on us. For instance she spoke about the objects we choose to take with us, the ones we keep. Why do we keep some and not the others? What are those objects we lose from our lives? She spoke about the build up of layers on an object- something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Can there be such thing as a neutral object? She spoke about the titles of the work too which is something I have been tackling in my work. In my latest piece – “In every dwelling, even the richest, the first task of the phenomenologist is to find the original shell.” I hoped I had intrigued the viewer with this philosophical sentence. However Selby made me realise that this may not be the case, I’m more likely to be alienating the average viewer- distancing them from the work. The viewer can be intrigued by the title without using big fancy words.

One last thing I want to mention was Selby’s carpet piece- “Dance me on and on”, I enjoyed that whilst listening to her artist talk I discovered a lot of Selby’s sculpture had huge personal meanings behind them. These meanings are kept secret from the viewer and the piece becomes whatever the viewer sees. I’ve been slightly afraid of doing personal work at uni- unsure as to whether others can relate to personal work? But Selby showed me that it can be done. “Dance me on and on” was one of those personal pieces that had such an endearing meaning. Selby explained that this piece commented on the association with song, dancing, drinking and having a good time with a lover. But when that lover has left you repeat the drinking and the dancing to forget those moments. The red wine spilt on the cream carpet shows not only that but Selby also comments on the pristine way we want to keep our houses. Surely those stains of red wine are the signs of a person living a life in that house? Mark making their life.

Lisa Selby- With and Without

DSC09210Wanted to quickly mention my visit to the Surface Gallery last Thursday for the private view of With and Without. I was extremely tired from a busy day in the studios but after reading the press release I couldn’t not go:

“The awareness of inevitable loss is central to Lisa Selby’s material and sculptural approach. With and Without seeks to grasp and eternalize what cannot be held firm: Selby rearticulates items from the domestic environment, relaying the familiarity and alienation experienced as one moves physically and psychologically from one home to another.”

Needless to say it sounded like the perfect exhibition for me! Selby had an interesting approach to the sculptural aspect of her practice. The way she transformed found objects into something unknown could really influence my work.  I enjoyed the slight interaction needed by the audience in her piece “For the comfort of others.” whereby the audience leaned in to smell the familiar smells of various washing detergents.

There’s No Place Like Home.

28th February- 14th March 2013

The Classroom Gallery is an up and coming art space in Nottingham. A newly established gallery on the 1st floor of Hopkinson. There was an open submission for a response to the exhibition title No Place Like Home. When I saw the exhibition title, I thought- perfect! This exhibition is right up my street! – excuse the pun. My current practice revolves around the home; I ask what it is that makes a house a home? I explore the layering of lives within a home, the lives that have touched those walls and the repetition of memorable moments that have taken place there. I found it hard to chose a piece to select for this exhibition however my newest work My Lilleshall Road lent itself well to the notions of home, in particular the layering of lives within one house.

The piece is something I have blogged about before here;

My Lillieshall Road is a response to a book I read by Julie Myerson, who herself is from Nottingham; the text of the work explains the book briefly- She tells the stories of all the people who ever lived in the 130 year old house she lives in, in Clapham, London, She re-tells the personal stories which went on there and her voyage to find them. The piece is my experience and my impact on the house, my very short history I now have there. The frames I have used are widely used in most modern homes which emphasizes the time I have had my experience with house and also plays with the notions of home, the use of home furnishings which we use to frame our memories.

When it came to installing the piece into the space it became something more than just the idea in my head. I had been wanting to display this work in an exhibition environment for a while. I wanted to create a home atmosphere/setup around it, I had thought about adding a lamp to highlight the text, as well as play with idea of the home. It was very easy to add extras to the piece surrounded by the vintage furnishings at Hopkinson. I used a vintage corner table to hold the frame of the text, brought a touch lamp from home, then to contrast with the modern lamp, I used a 70’s style lamp shade for it. I had intended the entire piece to reflect the era in which my short history of the house had occurred, however playing around with these furnishings I began to like that the furnishings reflected an array of eras that the house had undergone; a sort of mish mash of fashionable furnishings. I also felt that because the idea had developed from it’s original contemporary plans to a much more quirky intention, that the piece could benefit from including the book itself. Invite the viewer to look at the book, flick through the pages, look at the photographs and see my underlining of notes.

The next move for this piece is to exhibit at Uni in a Show and Listen this Thursday. I am going to see how displaying the piece using modern furnishings affects the audiences perception of the piece.


Future Artists Nottingham

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on an extremely exciting project with fellow group members- Alisia Wilkins, Caroline McDougall, James Politano and Helen Rowland. We’ve created our organisation- Future Artists Nottingham! An organisation started together to work with schools, providing workshops that we hope will encourage pupils to further an art based subject post GCSE and to give them the chance to experience what it is like to study art at degree level. We’ve planned some exciting workshops over the next coming months working with a year 10 GCSE class at Nottingham Girls Academy. The penultimate workshop will  be hosted at the Nottingham Trent University itself were we have organised a print screen workshop for the girls. The project will conclude with a fantastic display of the work done by the pupils. We have arranged for this exhibition to be held in the Atrium, Bonington Building, Nottingham Trent University. This is such a fantastic opportunity for these young girls and we are proud to play our part in it!

Last Tuesday was the first of the workshops! It was so exciting to get in there and start everything we had been planning! The workshop was a challenge for the girls as much as it was for us. It was all worth it though, to be there in the classroom experiencing it all first hand!

We have started a blog for all the workshops which can be found here:

The majority of the projects experiences with the class will be posted on there however I wanted to mention it and may keep updating a little with photographs on here.