Monday, 14 September 2009

The Frillip Moolog beings' adventure with Richard Slee at the MIMA art market

Despite a very busy week and the 316 mile round trip I decided that I wanted to be part of Richard Slee’s MIMA Art Market Adventure. Yes I’m a sucker for an adventure! I’ve admired Richard Slee’s work for several years now. I saw his work on show when he won the 2001 Jerwood Applied Arts Prize. I had already fallen in love with “Evil One” one of his pieces that was part of The Uncanny Room exhibition at PM Gallery in 2002.

Evil One by Richard Slee
I have a strong interest in things uncanny and a few years ago had included Evil One in my selection for one of my degree projects on curating. I also included Penellessa by Bruno Munari, one of my heroes. I love the way that her name is a combination of the Italian words "princess and "pencil" ( not princess and brush).
Penellessa; Bruno Munari
Another all time favourite of mine this absolutely perfect piece by Yurgen Bey.
I could go on and on but I won’t!
Last week while at the Harley Gallery I saw some of Richard’s work which is in the “Age of Experience” exhibition. This was work made during a period where Richard did not have access to his usual ceramic studio facilities and so is made using found objects and more importantly for me brushes (Russell and Bristle are two of my beings who make use of radiator brushes and salvaged chimney sweeps brushes respectively). I like his piece called Jurassic where he has melted the bristles of a multi-coloured brush and hidden some small plastic dinasaurs in the bristle "forest". But truthfully I think that I prefer his pieces where there is still an element of ceramics. This trowel with supremely long fringing is perfect for me.

So what exactly happened at MIMA last weekend?

There were 80 stalls for artists exhibiting or selling work that had a connection to the theme of “Ornament is Crime” (… or not). There were quite a range of stalls including a lovely cake stall where just buying one of their ornate cakes was a memorable occasion. It was run by Arcadea and in their own words, " We all had a great time and shared info about our work with lots of people we would never usually have reached. Good old cakes - a bridge to the future . . .?"

There was also a section called “Ornament Tales”. In my application to take part in the event I talked about the tales of the objects and fabrics that I source and use to make the Frillip Moolog beings. I explained how the narrative is important to me and how it continues even when the object/ornament has been re-appropriated into a piece of art.
By taking part in The Ornament is Crime Art Market Adventure I had the perfect opportunity to validate my claim that people engage with the beings and that they do find that they have strong and engaging personalities.

I took four of the beings Cyril, Chubby Blue, Penny and Boris.
We set out our stall and waited for the Great British public to arrive!

People completing their answers for our Frillip Moolog competition.

My son Dominic and I had a whale of a time. We were ready for an adventure. The stalls were the absolute basic market stalls dressed up only with our handwritten signs. Our stall was only metres from the fantastic while walled galleries of the beautiful MIMA building.

We were outside, not in, but the beings didn’t mind. They were too busy with admirers engaging with them asking about them, touching them, smiling and then best of all, entering our competition.
The competition comprised of four questions about their favourite being: why it was their favourite, where they would go on holiday and what they’d do while on holiday, their hobby and lastly what the being’s favourite TV programme was.

Once I made it clear that there was no correct answer, we were away! Imaginations were let loose, there were brows furrowed with concentration and giggles at their own answers. There were also texts and phone calls made to get friends over to the Frillip Moolog stall. “Get over here it’s the best”.
These people all "got it". They understood the idea of Frillip Moolog.
Alex Pearl is pictured bottom left in this photo. His own art is driven by many questions around our relationships with ornaments.

As my mission in life is: “To encourage and nurture imagination and creativity in a fun and enthusiastic way”, I was really happy with the competition. I (finally) decided on 3 winners.

I like the simplicity, surreal but at the same time very logical answer, that
Cyril’s hobby is Hopping: Harrison Braithwaite

I love the fact that Penny’s favourite TV programme is Doctor Finlay’s Case book (original programme): Don Chesney

I love all of the answers that Alex Freeman Dunn gave for Boris. His holiday would be to retreat to his hunting lodge in Scotland and he likes to go on marching parades. His hobby is horse riding and his favourite TV programme is Black Adder.

The prize? A glossy A4 print of their chosen being.

Because the other answers are so worthwhile you can read them all here.

Solomon with his drawing of a Frillip Moolog being. He used one of my pieces of "quality" scrap as inspiration for this being's head.

I can safely say that I felt that there was quite a buzz coming from our stall during the Ornament is Crime Art Fair Adventure.
People were wearing their Frillip Moolog stickers with pride, the beings got a day out to the North East, I got to meet Richard Slee and finally, I took part in his ornament exchange.
Notice I cheated. I really didn’t fancy any of the ornaments (and had forgotten to bring one to swap) so I swapped this tool (as used to make Float) for another non-ornament; a MIMA mug commemorating the day. Perfect!