Saturday, 16 October 2010

Liverpool Biennial 2010 & the Power of Chickens in Art

The Liverpool Biennial is getting a lot of attention these days. Started in 1998 by James Moores, who now runs the A Foundation, it now attracts over a million visitors. This is the 7th Biennial.
I first visited in 2002. The piece that I remember most from that year was then was Tatsurou Bashi's Villa Victoria (the one room hotel built around a bronze satue of Queen Victoria). I also visited in 2008 and the most memorable piece for me that year was was Manfredi Beninati’s ‘To Think Of Something’. I wrote about the experience (and later discovered that it was included on Beninati's Wikapedia page).
It was to be the start of my octopus style of writing with posts full of links and connections. I feel that each post now does seem to be along those lines and maybe it helps to illustrate just where I get my inspiration from… everywhere!
I do know that writing this blog has definitely helped to clarify my thoughts … especially to me.
Sometimes it is only after making a piece that I can completely understand all that I was trying to say.

So now to 2010 and here I am exhibiting in the Liverpool Biennial myself. Blink UnBlink is my joint show with Olwen Holland. More exhibition images to follow soon.

I went to Liverpool for the Touched Conference which took place on the opening weekend of the Biennial. Later that evening I found myself looking through the windows of 102 Seel Street (just around the corner from The International Gallery where Blink UnBlink is now showing).

Here in the left window is The Last Supper by Francis Ewe (AKA as Gregory Scott Gurner). I had already seen the piece when I first went to meet Gregory at The International Gallery earlier this year. For the period of the biennial Gregory has installed the photograph of his re-enactment of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper (with himself as Jesus) in the window of his home, 102 Seel Street.

It was raining, I walked across the road. I could hear sounds … they were coming from speakers positioned outside the front door. I looked into the window. Yes The Last Supper; there jewel like in its splendid ornate frame. I noticed the straw on the floor….and money… (US dollars?) scattered across the floor. (Actually I found out later that the money is Chinese Hell Money.) I realised that there was something in the adjacent window; a screen, a ripped screen. And projected onto it was a film documenting the making of The Last Supper. So this explained the soundtrack. What I could hear while standing in the rain outside Gregory’s window was the soundtrack of the making of this photograph.

Well this was all pretty good; I love theatrical and I love the unexpected. Yes even the punters in the Irish pub across the road were perfectly okay, smoking out in the rain and being subjected to a soundtrack of shuffling of boxes, a bit of music and some back ground chat. It is the Liverpool Biennial and really everyone in Liverpool, art lover or not, is up for it!

But suddenly I noticed that in amongst the straw and the money there was a hen, a real live hen!

'Fin' had only just been finished a couple of days before we set up the show and so I hadn’t had much time to ‘live’ with him at home. Had I really realised what I had made? I had worked intuitively with materials that I love; aged copper, bits of vintage machinery, plastic vinyl fabric, feathers and shepherd castors.

A week or so after seeing Francis Ewe's The Last Supper (with chickens) I realised that there was a link. I remembered that a piece that I made while in second year had strong similarities to Fin.

BUT better still when I made it I had also photographed it amongst some chickens on my friend’s farm!

Did they enhance the piece or did they help to suggest that rather than being just an object it could be something much more. A connection to another place ... a place that I have now named Frillip Moolog?

I love surprises and the chickens in the window at 102 Seel Street didn't just surprise me they have made me think even more about how I present my work.

A friend commented on my work in Blink UnBlink… she said … it’s about a fantasy world; a world to escape to, where you can be anyone and anything.
Am I that easy to read?
This is my brother and I. My real life in 1966.

And here is a fantasy version of my life.

Do I see Francis Ewe’s The Last Supper in a different light now that I have seen it with straw, Chinese Hell Money and chickens? Yes I think that the presentation definitely added to his photographic piece.
For Blink UnBlink I have shown my short film Trolley Happenings for the first time.
By presenting it on a small screen set within a red velvet tube (complete with heavy fringing) I have ramped up the theatrical. My love of performance, memories of cinemas in the 1970’s, Punch and Judy, and the Magic Roundabout is very definitely evident.

I am pleased that it has been described as having Jan Svankmajeresque qualities and the favourable comments from visitors to Blink UnBlink is encouraging me to plan future films… with chickens?

1 comment :

bishshat said...

Found all your work interesting and made my mind observe things in a different manner.
I would like to see them in a more pristine environment.
Great fun.