Monthly Archives: August 2015

Edges and Enclosures

From 9 September to 3 October, CCW Professor Eileen Hogan will be exhibiting Edges and Enclosures at Browse & Darby. The new work that she is showing will be accompanied by a book published by Browse & Darby, with an introductory essay by Wendy Baron about Hogan and her work.

The section entitled Self-portraits through wardrobe features new paintings by Hogan of her clothes in her wardrobe. ‘A familiar feature of my indoor life is the wardrobe at the end of my bed, the closely hung stripes of colour formed by a succession of shirts and scarves. The clothes hold something of my shape, memories of when and where they were bought and of times worn. The paintings are a self-portrait that explores how much presence can be achieved in absence and how much an image of a person can be implied through association.’ The exhibition also shows work from her Snow Series, Little Sparta Series and Trinity Buoy Wharf. The full book can be found online.

Hogan is exploring portraiture more broadly with the UAL Community of Practice, Don’t Stare It’s Rude. The group examines what happens when different disciplines and perspectives are brought to bear on the concept of portraiture, treating it as an open proposition. The group held two symposia in 2015, and has recently been funded to continue its research.

Top image: Self-portrait through wardrobe 2, 2015, oil and wax on paper, 60 x 66 cm, by Eileen Hogan

CCW at the Prague Quadrennial

In June CCW was represented by three researchers at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial. Abigail Hammond, BA Theatre & Screen: Costume Design Course Leader at Wimbledon, was featured in the UK’s national exhibition. Peter Farley, BA Theatre & Screen: Theatre Design Senior Lecturer, was one of the curators of the student section of the UK’s exhibition. And CCW Professor Jane Collins, and Co-Editor Professor Arnold Aronson of Columbia University, launched the inaugural issue of the the new Routledge journal, Theatre and Performance Design.

Hammond told us about her costume design for RIOT Offspring that was featured in the exhibition. ‘As a costume designer with over 25 years experience of working in contemporary dance,one of the key attractions of working on RIOT Offspring was the performers, ranging from babies with their young mothers to the Company of Elders (92 was the eldest), with children, teenagers and young ‘emerging artists’ in between.

In addition, there was Sadler’s Wells commitment to professional production values for community based work, and finally that there were five choreographers contributing. This necessitated a sharing of ideas, not just one person’s vision, reflecting the values in some of the positive responses to the riots in London and the UK in August 2011; in contrast to the riots the Rite of Spring ballet incited over 100 years ago.

This job required precision and organisation. There were numerous costume changes, progressing from colour to all white; mass shopping for 100 dancers, with 5 different group “looks” and speed fittings. Above all, the costumes had to meet with the approval of the performers to support their sharing of imagination and experiences.

From a research perspective, I am always looking at how each design commission I undertake is unique. Every project fundamentally draws on the same skills and creative processes that I have employed and developed over the years, but it is the combination of all the other constituent parts that leads to surprising challenges to be resolved with those skills and processes. This was my largest cast, most varied range of performers, most epic and defining piece (everyone has to “do” The Rite of Spring once!) , most choreographic contributors in addition to a  creative director to collaborate with, combined with a small budget and short production period. I think it becomes less about the process of how I resolve the problems that intrigues me but identifying and analysing what they are when they arise.’

RIOT Offspring. Photo by Bettina Strenske

RIOT Offspring. Photo by Bettina Strenske

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Farley worked with students from across the UK to create The View From Here, an installation which required its visitors to remove their shoes, fill out a ‘landing card’ and hand over a personal item to the ‘border guards’. To create the work, ’15 extraordinary proposals from 30 students representing their colleagues from over 20 UK institutions formed the bedrock of a three-day residency held in January 2015 at Nottingham Trent University to coincide with Make / Believe, the [Society for British Theatre Designer’s] national open exhibition.

We grouped existing concepts together and made new ones.

We explored Britishness, foreignness, shared space and politics in all their complexity.

We got stuck and we became unstuck.

We talked and wrote more than we drew and made but it was always the drawing, making and physically re-ordering in the real space that ultimately took us another step forward…’

PQ'15, Student Section, United Kingdom. Photo by Braňo Pažitka

PQ’15, Student Section, United Kingdom. Photo by Braňo Pažitka

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The launch of Theatre and Performance Design was held on Monday 22 June at the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace, Prague. This internationally peer-reviewed journal critically evaluates the effect of scenography on the aesthetics and politics of performance, and facilitates dialogue amongst practitioners, scholars, and audience. In addition to peer-reviewed articles and visual essays the journal engages with the practicalities of construction and production by considering the impact of new materials, techniques, and technologies on the process and realisation of the performance event. With a number of the journal’s Associate Editors and Editorial Board at the event, Collins and Aronson made short speeches and raised a toast to many more issues of the journal.

Jane Collins and Aronld Aronson at the launch of Theatre and Performance Design. Photo by Lorie Novak

Jane Collins and Aronld Aronson at the launch of Theatre and Performance Design. Photo by Lorie Novak

Top image by Lorie Novak

Jeffrey Dennis: Ringbinder

The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is pleased to present Ringbinder, a solo exhibition by Jeffrey Dennis, which consists of a new series of paintings and sculpture housed in NGCA’s reconfigured main gallery space, guest curated by Andrew Hunt. Aside from staging a concentrated progression of the artist’s work made between 2011 and 2015, the exhibition will also attempt to reflect on Dennis’ development since his initial profile in Britain was formed during the early 1980s. This was a period that saw a significant international resurgence in painting in parallel with the New Image Painting in North America and the Jungen Wilden (Young Wild Ones) in Germany, both of which were considered counter-movements to Conceptual Art.

As if referencing a synthesis of this historical polarity, Dennis’ painting The Artist Successfully Levitating in the Studio (2011) pictures a full-length self-portrait in mid-air surrounded by a plethora of psychedelic bubbles. A reversal of the great conceptual artist Bruce Nauman’s Failing to Levitate in My Studio (1966), The Artist Successfully… presents an impossible and affirmative act against (what one might call) certain canonized ‘labourer priests of the negative’, such as Nauman and Samuel Beckett, in whose work failure’s gravity exerts its pull everywhere. In essence, Dennis’ minor comic triumph countervails negative forms of motion through a sense of revelatory wonder and aspiration.

Other subject matter includes graphic Bengali cinema posters, images from a technical handbook of fixtures and fittings retrieved from a skip in the 1970s, as well as films such as Jean Luc Godard’s self-conscious critique of consumerism Two or Three Things I Know About Her; reference points that provide the artist with the tools for constructing enchanted visual spaces in his strange objects. Surrounded by Dennis’ signature painted bubbles – a device originally taken from a scene in Godard’s film in which froth on a cup of coffee dissipates – the artist transforms the micro to the macro; a situation in which we travel from foam in a washing-up bowl to different points in inter-galactic space.

Dennis has recently developed a number of new three-dimensional objects that act as portable multi-faceted stage sets. Studded with vignetted painted imagery, each ‘sculpture’ contains a narrative that springs from popular events taken from television, newspapers and his own photographs. Personal and political histories are exemplified in a work that refers to the area of north London in which the artist lives, through the depiction of a flower-monument at the inconspicuous site of the shooting that sparked the nationwide riots of 2011, as well as drawing reference to Tottenham’s Broadwater Farm riots twenty-six years earlier in 1985.

If during the 1980s and early 1990s, Dennis’ work was included in significant shows in the UK and US, then his subsequent development has been interestingly awkward, typical of painting’s wider expansion since the 1980s through his unusual, divergent and contradictory subject matter. This exhibition, the painter’s largest in the UK for thirty years, will hopefully prove to be significant for the wider discourse currently surrounding painting in the UK and abroad.

Jeffrey Dennis was born in Colchester in 1958 and graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1980. Solo exhibitions include Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1986), Orchard Gallery, Derry (with an essay by the late Stuart Morgan), and Salvatore Ala Gallery, New York (both 1993), Anderson O’Day Gallery, London (1994) and Art Space Gallery, London (2008). His work is held in collections worldwide, including the Arts Council Collection; the British Council Collection; Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; The New School Art Collection, New York City; Saatchi Collection, London; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Tate, London.

Jeffrey Dennis: Ringbinder is organised by the London-based curator Andrew Hunt. A new publication containing commissioned essays and a full catalogue of the artist’s recent work will be published by NGCA in 2016. It is generously supported by Arts Council England, Sunderland City Council and Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Graduate School.

Exhibition dates: 25 July – 17 October 2015

Preview: Friday 24 July, 6:00-8:00pm