Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Frillip Moolog gets dramatic at Solihull Arts Complex with visitors from France and Chicago

The vinyl lettering is in a font called "Synchro". This tied in with the show card which was designed by Paul Wigelsworth.

The G1 exhibition space at Solihull Arts Complex is one where all types of people have had the chance to encounter my Frillip Moolog beings. The gallery opens onto the public library and is within the same complex as a very busy theatre. So it is not surprising that the technicians who installed the show usually work in the theatre. This made it all the more interesting for me as, while we worked together, I learnt a bit about "flying cloths", making automated horses for performances and also setting up lighting. Here Richard was completely un-phased about having to crawl into the cavity wall that we were fixing Madeleine to. Crawling in and out of unusual spaces is all part of the job for theatre technicians.

My first degree was in Accountancy. Even on graduating I was unsure about plunging into the world of finance and at that time did look tentatively into doing a post graduate course in Theatre Studies. But that was back in the 80’s and I chickened out.

I have always said that there is a strong theatrical element to my practice so it is no surprise that admirers of Frillip Moolog are often from the world of theatre too. Benny Semp , a Frillip Moolog fan and fellow artist based in Birmingham actually did his degree in Theatre Studies.
……..“Very witty, cute and sexy in places, nostalgic and thoughtful in others.”……Benny Semp

Cheryl (another of the technicians) spent time making sure that the lighting showed the beings off to their best. I was really pleased with all the interesting shadows that were cast. Shadow puppets ... another form of theatre!

As the ceiling in G1 exhibition space was much lower than the one at Westbourne Grove Church Artspace it meant that for Close Encounters of a Frillip Moolog Kind at this venue the beings were suspended at a level that enabled gallery visitors to get really “up close and personal”.

At the Private View it actually felt like the beings themselves really were involved. They had seemed to be celestial beings while at Westbourne Grove Church Artspace. Now at Solihull Arts Complex, they became more like celebrities.

It’s interesting how many people want to be photographed alongside their favourite.

Aimee Green, the Borough Arts Development Officer and Sarah Miah, the Gallery Officer were really proactive In getting outreach workshops arranged for me.

Through my AllSensesArt business I already have lots of experience of teaching feltmaking but this was a fantastic opportunity to link feltmaking to mixed media sculpture workshops.

I led sessions with children from Forest Oak Special School, Hazel Oak School and also the children who come to the gallery’s Saturday Art Club. I explained how Stan and Russell both had nuno felt (which I had made) combined with ambiguous objects (a vintage bus station down pipe and an aged galavanized draining drum). It then made perfect sense for the children to make their own mini-sculptures which combined felt with various items of kitchen equipment!

This pupil from Forest Oak School did a great job of working with the sculptural qualities of a plastic kitchen funnel. He also has a great sense of colour.

BTEC National Diploma Students came from Solihull College and we had a great session investigating objects and fabrics. They seemed to really enjoy experimenting with these eclectic materials.

Presenting my Artist Talk and also working with the Solihull College students was a great way to remind myself what I’m interested in and what I want my work to “say”.

The show was blogged about by various people including visting members of the public, Southhampton based artist Chantal Powell and it was reviewed on a-n by Becky Evers .

Becky has since asked me some interview questions. This question about future exhibition spaces has been most illuminating….. I think I surprised even myself with my answers.

"You produced a photographic project with the Frillip Moolog creations in ‘Chiptop,’ and have mentioned an interest in non gallery spaces. In the interest of site specifity where would you like to exhibit Frillip Moolog next and why?" Becky Evers
My answer to this question:
Chicago and New York: I watched a lot of old American movies and musicals as a child. They featured sophisticated lives with no responsibilities and definitely quite different from my farm childhood. I also visited Chicago last year to visit SOFA Chicago. My mother trained at the Chicago school of floristry in the late 1950’s.

Someone from The Art Institute of Chicago visited Close Encounters of a Frillip Moolog Kind on the opening night of the show at Solihull. It feels so right for the beings to make a statement in buildings which are making a statement.

Quirky Museums:
I wrote in my manifesto (while still at university) that I wanted to make objects that defy categorization. I had at one point planned to display my degree show as a strange museum with cabinets and a catalogue. My dissertation was on Unusual British Collectors, their museums and how their collections had impacted on their lives.

I have come to realise that I collect people. The beings have their own personalities and I hope that other people will want to collect them too.

Grand Country Houses:
The beings have come from me. These are places that I like to go to. Places with sophistication, grandeur, fantasy, where I can imagine living another life in another time.

Art Deco houses (preferably by the sea):
I would love to own one and live in it myself. I’m a fan of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories; carefree, elegant era, spacious rooms.

Film sets: But not as props definitely as stars. I have a growing interest to animate the beings so perhaps this would become much more than an exhibition and more of a performance?

Corporate buildings:
Feedback from the visitors to Close Encounters of a Frillip Moolog Kind was overwhelmingly that people felt uplifted when they spent some time with the beings. Corporate foyer and atrium spaces would be fantastic for the beings.

When people encounter the beings on a daily basis they start to form relationships with them.

If the beings could move around the corporate space/building then this would be perfect. When we encounter an object in another space we look again with fresh eyes.

"I came from France especially for this exhibition!!...Not true of course but I have had great pleasure here today. This will make me happy for the whole weekend." Christophe

What a lovely comment to find at the end of my exhibition. It makes it all worthwhile!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Halloween, British Charity Shops & Memories of SOFA Chicago & Day of the Dead Decorations

Last weekend we visited our friends, Nick and Leda Skeens in Burnham on Crouch. They live on a house boat but not just any old houseboat; I’d call it a mansion boat. It started life as a concrete hull which was first used for the Normandy landings; it was never designed to sail independently but rather to be towed across to France laden with wartime supplies. Nick and Leda have transformed it into a very comfortable and unique home; one large enough to accommodate several families visiting for parties etc.

We were visiting for a fireworks extravaganza led by another friend Colin Mayes.

It has become tradition that we visit the local charity shop whenever we are in Burnham on Crouch. I am a great fan of charity shops for lots of reasons:
The strange things that you find on sale in them. Things that you never knew that you needed and that make you wonder about the previous owner’s motivation for owning in the first place.

Charity shop things always have a story and as you know narrative is important to me.

I also love how items are displayed.
It’s not easy displaying such an eclectic mix of stock and as you may have noticed so many charity shops have been “Colour Coded” these days.
What I look for in a charity shop is personality; personality which can be seen in how the items are displayed and also very definitely the personality of the ladies (and sometimes men) who work behind the counters in these shops.
When we visited Burnham’s main charity shop we found that it had changed charities and had a bit of a make-over (luckily only a good makeover). The staff had put a lot of effort into displaying their vast stock; the shop is still very full but it’s somehow easier to find that special something.
They had gone to a special effort with their Halloween window display. I certainly found plenty of personality shining through here.
See this Dorling Kindersley book; "Let’s keep Halloween educational!"

And here poor Yoda from Star Wars fame does look uncomfortable in this plastic caldron,
“Being in this pot; embarrassing it is”.

Giving this orange corn on the cob decorated tea set pride of place (in a cardboard box) on the shopfront is no accident. It's the perfect impulse purchase for someone planning a Halloween teaparty!

Character is strong on the inside of the shop too. I love the way that they have improvised and used an old cheese shop fridge as their display counter. It is now full of jewellery, watches and other treasures.

Last week I presented an Artist Talk for my current solo show Close Encounters of a Frillip Moolog Kind.
I talked about some of the very special charity shops and junk yards that I find some of the objects that I use in making my Frillip Moolog beings.
These two photographs were in my presentation. The parrot perched on his modified magazine rack in Thomas Orton & Sons reclamation in Walsall and this huge galvanized sultana container at Les Oakes in Cheadle, Staffordshire.
I found the blue soap dish for Chubby Blue and the chimney sweep’s brush for Bristle from Ortons and the galvanized drum and blue faceted bus station down pipe for Russell and Stan came from Les Oakes.

This time last year I was in Chicago on a research trip to SOFA Chicago.
As well as visiting the show, talking to lots of galleries both at SOFA and within Chicago itself I also chatted to other artists and did what I love doing; investigating some off the beaten track areas.
A short bus ride found me in the Mexican quarter.

All sorts of shops had commissioned artists to paint their windows with fun, fantastic and engaging Day of the Dead themed images; So much more authentic than the soulless plastic trick or treat version of Halloween that we see so much of.
I’m all for individuality and authenticity.