The Polish project is now over and my sculptures and drawings have been returned. I spent 9 days in Bytom residing at Kronika an arts organization in the town. My last 3 days were spent creating an installation which filled the central area of one of the exhibition spaces. This in the nature of the project was itself carefully constructed from matchsticks that were then precariously transported to Gliwice Museum. Forming 3-4 sentences taken from communist propaganda posters that were taken from the subjects of the matchstick sculptures that I had also made. The sculptures were inspired by a series of photographs that I took on a previous research trip. This was to amongst other places a matchstick museum in Czestochowa. The drawings used the work of the Polish documentary photographer Zofia Rydet. A portfolio of her work that focused on professions/careers. The museum has a collection of her work and thus the interest in my project, also the reason that they took one of my works into their collection.
The private view was followed by a workshop session dedicated to the technique of collage using work of Rydet as source material. There was also a Q and A panel and tours of the exhibition.
Project 1 Spurn Point Residency – After having been up to visit the location and staff at Spurn Point we have received confirmation that we have been accepted onto their residency programme for 6 weeks next year, during July and August. Andy Mason is an ex primary teacher who broke away from the establishment to go roaring over the dunes on his Unimog transporting visitors up and down the point. He has been the heritage officer and in charge of the site at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for many years now. Our point of contact for the residency and the man who will hopefully supply us with provisions during our accommodation at the tip of Spurn Point. Since the road came down in a recent storm the 4 mile journey is a rocky one.
Various ports of call in towns as varied as Hull (for Maritime Museum), London (for the Imperial War Museum) and Spurn itself for a multitude of photographs.
We are using the fact that 2018 will be the year of the centenary for the end of world war one. Research has been centring for this fact on the military history at the point. The proposal is a dual one where I will work in tandem with my wife. Alex focusing on the WW1 community but bringing in the angle of baking. She will run a series of workshops whereby locals will get the opportunity to learn how to bake on a budget. I for my part will create a sculpture trail/encompassing some pieces that will flow into the realm of land art. Using the scale and scape of Spurn to be able to produce some really ambitious works. They will be inspired by things of symbolism as well as other objects or ephemera that may have been left behind after the war. In one example a Sound Mirror.
The long road to funding now begins where we shall be approaching a plethora of local companies and businesses as well as applying for heritage lottery funding for world war one projects. Watch this space and follow this blog for more updates along the way.
Project 2 Clinker Art Residency – Just beginning to gain momentum now after trips to meet with National Coalmining Museum and The Art House in Wakefield. One organization NCM that we will be using to hold workshops and storytelling events. The other an arts organization in the city that hosts a funded residency programme that we will be applying for at the end of the year. They have brilliant facilities for printmaking which I would like to develop my early enthusiasm for etching in. A 5 week course that I have just started at The Royal Drawing School in Shoreditch which will induct me into the disciplines of hard/soft ground, aquatint, drypoint, etc.
The research to date has mostly revolved around a trip to the National Coalmining Museum of Scotland. Based just to the south of Edinburgh, this was a trip that was well worth the effort. A quiet ex mining village with a riddling of tunnels and shafts beneath.
Tours were run by ex miners and we were given an off terrain trip by ours which took us past the largest lump of coal I have ever seen(well over a cubic metre in size), as well as a network of Victorian arches and underpasses that ran under the museum.
The majority of the other research is happening in books and via the internet. But also through NCM who will supply us with texts that describe miners and the societies in which they would inhabit, during this period of focus: the closure of the mines. This research, as well as the original proposal that was written, will form the starting point for another collaboration that we are hoping to make happen. Use of a locally based writer in order to bring fresh eyes to the history and politics of the day by developing his own response in text.
The long road to funding also now begins but without the aid of specific lottery funding. Instead we will be applying for Arts Council Funding as well as approaching local businesses and companies in Wakefield. There is a link to a blog for the project here.
Polish project slowly falling into place. Will happen now in August at Czytelnia Sztuki, part of Gliwice Museum. Series of Zofia Rydet inspired drawings (taken from her Sociological Record) still being made, sneak preview here.
Cheery/nostalgic aspect of the drawings designed to play against the darkness of the sculptural objects and the installation. Thinking about the connection between ‘Matchbox Brothers’ and medium of the match. Leaving behind to pursue new ideas. Matchstick representations of Bytom/Poland research trip. Images related to build theme of dark communism. Recent maquettes been made and completion of one new piece. ‘Petrol-heart‘, an oily engine of the body. The black beating heart of Bytom. An organic organism with valves, cogs and exhaust flutes jutting from it.
Another in progress, corrupt Orwellian pigs devour a man whole. Also (figure of nostalgia himself) the Grim Reaper of communism.
Installation to also feature elements of mining imagery connecting with new proposal for residency/exhibition at Serf/Assembly House Studios in Leeds. This will be on the theme of the closure of mines as documented by a friend of my grandmothers. Text donated to me by my father.
Also I will be applying for the Spurn Point art residency. This is a three month period and is a site specific response to that particular place and its history.
I have just read a text that was written by a friend of my grandmother (Fathers side). It was called ‘A Coalminers Diary’, and based in the north of England across the mining counties. The author was attempting to document the closure of the pits during the years 87-90. He was an amateur Photographer who was also a coalminer’s son. I was reading it with a view to incorporating it into my current project, as a way of using it to generate visual ideas from sections of the text that I found of interest. One example was the fact /legend that the cathedral of Wakefield was built on a column of coal. Because of the sheer amount of coal under the city they were forced to leave a tower of black gold under it whilst mining in order not to endanger its foundations.
The hobbyist nature of the main character was also important and made me draw parallels with Patrick Acton (renowned matchstick sculptor from the U.S.A). A series of work will also be generated on this theme, in particular referencing his cross sectional diagram of the Soviet Cosmonauts living quarters in the craft ‘Zewda’. Further drawings will also be made.
For the Matchbox Brothers book launch, I am working on a small scale version of an installation that will happen during the residency at Kronika next year. Using photography taken during my recent trip to Poland I am making small scale sculptural pieces. A series of photographs will be displayed and a reading given.
I have recently submitted some more Media Puppets to ‘SOLO PROJECTS’ next upcoming exhibition: “LOOKING IS ALWAYS AN EXTRAORDINARY ACT”. Two have been accepted and more maybe considered for an ‘Expanded Photography’ show on the basis that their origins lie in the genre of journalism photography.
The project with the lake Twins will soon be back underway as they have made their way back from Lithuania.
I have also been continuing with the Zofia Rydet inspired collage drawings that I have been making, one that I am including here in two halves.
Lots happening in the last month with regards to art!
I’ll start with the major stuff: ACE application decision letter received which unfortunately was a rejection. They have sent several other links for funding which I will pursue. The project will still happen, just need to re-engineer to a smaller budget.
Hopefully will be able to support somewhat through the art market I am taking part in at York at the end of the month, presenting a new series of site specific reliefs with a particular Yorkshire flavour in the pipeline and in production.
Kronika gallery mentioned that, if funding didn’t come through, I could use of their artist’s accommodation for the purpose of a 2 week residency, dates to be confirmed.
Trip to Poland happened last week. Had the good hospitality of the Kronika gallery in Bytom to enjoy, artist’s accommodation located above the gallery on the main square in a house with a very chequered history. Two nights of research, meeting different people that run the place and struggling with my poor grasp of Polish. Several galleries visited in the Katowice area, Silesian museum and a local library. All with the aim of developing the project.
Last day was devoted to visiting the Museum of Matchbox Manufacturing at Czestochowa. Getting there from Bytom (amid the crowds of pilgrims of World Youth Day) was always going to be interesting. Arrived just after 2 (5 minutes later than you need to be there for the tour, as they close at 3): ringing a bell that I could hear in a warehouse somewhere endlessly, calling Dzien Dobry through a locked gate because I could see evidence of people, and enlisting the help of an old man who seemed convinced that the place was kaput.
Eventually (and as if totally unaware) a little old lady popped her head out and invited us in. Personal english translation during the tour was great as there was only 2 other Polish guests. Meant could ask a lot of questions about the factory’s history and its multiple owners, including cooperative of workers, the Swedish government and a Russian millionaire businessman. Its final flare of glory came when a fire was sparked by a box of sulphuric chemicals and brought half the place to the ground. The factory was the very last in the world to exist that still used hand operated machinery.
I was hoping to be able to make a large donation through the shop but was sorely disappointed to find out that they only sold many different sizes of matchboxes. Bought a pack anyway and am marketing the museum here.
They allowed me to take lots of pictures which, with the text, will count towards the conceptual development of the project.
Matchbox Brothers Book launch at The Exchange in Dalston has now been confirmed and will happen on the 22nd November. More details will be published on Facebook and via email soon. Looking forward to working with Froso and Natasha again on this one. New run of books being made so we don’t run out on the day!? Few copies left at the library for sale if your running low on reading material.
Thanks for reading and speak soon.
Blog a few days late this month. Partly an excuse fact been knuckling down for Arts Council deadline mid-way through. Made it anyhow, in spite of several major proofing and re-editing sessions. Now just a case of sitting back and waiting for a reply, apparently will hear something within 10 days as to whether application will go forward to next stage or not. Bit of a scare at the last minute when realized you can’t actually reapply for 12 months after if rejected. Previously had been under the impression you could just keep re-applying with their feedback. Will know something by this time next month anyhow!
To keep my mind from fretting about ACE app have been getting on with some drawings and collages for Lake Twins project. Developments underway with regards to locating an exhibition space, possibility of being able to use the gallery space upstairs at the Birds Nest pub in Deptford. Thinking it would be nice to be able to tie it in with Art Licks festival in October, or any other arts festivals happening at the same time.
Also Camberwell Arts Festival happened with a weekend of open studios (www.camberwellarts.org.uk/summer-2016/). That was pretty cool. My first time on the proper map and with an official banner outside. Even had the blurb about the history in the brochure and studio had official christening, Joiners Yard Studios being born! Had nearly 100 people in all weekend, of which explaining all latest projects to, before directing them to the sales table where a collection of old watercolours and pen and pencil drawings had been collected together. Made 3 sales, just smaller works, a maquette of a 3D collage to a lady who said it looked like her friend because it had blonde hair, an old relief collage combining 2D and 3D from a series based on Bath to a man who said the druids at Stonehenge spoke to him and a pencil sketch of a beer garden awning fluttering under a church in a Warsaw square. Met lots of interesting folk too, had great conversations and where relevant left people on their own to enjoy the art. One conversation with a curator of Cuban artists left me thinking that they don’t do badly under communism. Seem to have all their education paid for them if they are talented enough. She rounded it off with a comparison of the raw deal that UK artists have. Another with a representative of Bad Behaviour, an organization based in Brixton who hold regular group exhibitions at Brixton east. An open call for their next project coming up in September. Also collaborating in this weekend’s event was The Crows Rest Bakehouse (www.thecrowsrestbakehouse.co.uk) who kindly donated 2 varieties of cookies which went like the clappers. In return flyers for a coming workshop were also distributed.
Also took part in the Camberwell Open, had a 2D collage piece in there called Machine Gun Media (www.nickvaughan.org/work/mediapuppets/machine-gun-media-2/).
This is the beginning of a monthly blog whereby I will explain what I have been up to with regards to art projects, competitions and new pieces of work (that will be viewable on this site). I will explain more about current ones as well as those potentially on the horizon and proposals made. Also it will be a chance for me speak about ideas or concepts that I am developing as well as more pragmatic information such as dates for exhibitions, etc.
…..One art project on the go I am doing with some identical twins ‘Lake Twins‘, who are multi media artists. They make really cool left and right handed drawings as well and have this spooky unified consciousness thing going on. Generally they have an interest in architecture and tend to respond to an environment about them. We went out on a photo trail starting in Holborn and ending at Waterloo. Its always very interesting to see how different artists work. I am now producing some drawings for that, which I have taken through a process of ‘shuffling’ in order to create new narrative. From these collages were made. We shall be looking for somewhere to put on a small show soon!
I have just put a proposal in at The Exchange in Dalston with regards to the launch of my book ‘Matchbox Brothers‘. This revolves around my vision of a communist book signing. Using imagery related to spy mania I will offer an alternative form of book launch, whereby participants may surreptitiously steal away in silence from the experience, with a secretly signed copy of the book.
Have just entered The Camberwell Open and Derwent Art Prize. Was nominated for the Derwent 2 years ago and hoping through the entry of a more experimental style of drawing to have some luck! A Bowie tribute with a surrealistic element and a new approach to collage for me.
Arts council application inches painfully on. Another small section completed of its epic length last night for the budget. Deadline is now in June so shall just have to wait and see. On the plus side its always great to see random, unrelated aspects of your practise come together under this umbrella of an application. Now getting more practical side of budgeting/costing together same kind of pattern developing. Research for travel, dates, interesting Polish towns that will be visited. Czesztochowa, where they have a matchbox factory that featured in my story (Matchbox Brothers). Krakow for Zofia Rydet Foundation. An artist who dedicated latter years of her life to the mammoth task of photographing every home in Poland. They have half of her life’s work stored in negative format piled to the rafters of some dusty , rustic old tumbledown villa on the outskirts of town. Will be collaborating with them to produce a new series of work for an exhibition at Kronika gallery in Bytom.