Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The London Experience: Deep Space Moolog at TestBed1

Everything that I do always seems to take longer than I expected BUT once I set my mind to something I do make it happen! Plus I’m always amazed by the ‘magnetic’ power of enthusiasm and positivity (two characteristics that people seem to associate with me). 

After showing my Arts Council supported installation, DeepSpaceMoolog, at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, North Lincolnshire (Sep-Nov 2016) I knew that I wanted to show it again and I particularly wanted to find a more cavelike venue; the motivation for this being that the original inspiration for DeepSpaceMoolog came from the ancient cave-drawings in the Creswell Crags cave system.

Things all came together back in May this year. This happened with the help, support and encouragement of various people; firstly George Wade at ALLDesign pointed me in the direction of Jasmine at the (recently relocated) DoodleBar, Bermondsey, London. 

Next, the DoodleBar team offered me - one of the earliest showing slots in Testbed1 - in the rear arches of the DoodleBar. In fact, it was such an early slot that at that point there was no mains electricity so I knew from the beginning that I would be reliant on a petrol driven generator (not noisy as it was sited out in the back area). Testbed1 had already hosted events by: RCA Performance Pathway students, The Architectural Association and some band photo/ film shoots so I knew that, with the right lighting, DeepSpaceMoolog could be very atmospheric. 

The next step was to work out how to suspend my beautiful digitally printed fabric cave ‘wall’ but there were restrictions on attaching anything to the metal clad brick railway arch walls (these rail people are fussy). So my ‘belt and braces’ method involved concrete filled buckets, wooden uprights, canes and cable ties. This method had some plus points including improving my concrete mixing skills (big thanks to Richard Bartle at Bloc Studios for his tips). 

Thanks to 20-21 for the video screen and speakers and Sparks Theatrical were brilliant at advising on the stage lighting that I required. The logistics of 'operation DeepSpaceMoolog in London'; hanging system, van hire, generator hire and lighting were scary but ...it was an adventure?! 

In the end, the set-up was easier than I had expected but this was in big part thanks to Dominic Ewan and Dave W’s moral support and very practical technical assistance. Plus a cup of DoodleBar tea to start! 

Dominic Ewan’s experience in live events and performance lighting was invaluable and it was thanks to his skills and patience that the cave atmosphere was achieved. I really love the shadows that the beings and spacerocks cast as they magnified the drama and otherworldliness of the DeepSpaceMoolog experience and made it much more immersive; exactly what I wanted!

Another aspect of the vaulted space of Testbed1 was that it gave an even more sinister quality the DeepSpaceMoolog video soundtrack as it bounced off the tunnel walls. If only Alan Watts could time travel and come back to hear how I’ve woven his philosophical ponderings into this installation.

Visitors who arrived during the day; walked through the fairly light entrance, turned the corner into Testbed1 and, although fairly dark, they could still see most of the details on the printed cave backdrop- whereas visitors who came later in the evening had the darker experience. 

Some visitors even had the emergency power version. I.E. when the generator unexpectedly ran out of fuel and we had to resort to head torches! Interestingly my fellow cave visitors at that time loved it! 

Having put so much creative energy, time and a big chunk of my life into making the work for DeepSpaceMoolog it was really brilliant to give it another showing and have it seen by even more people. It was wonderful to see Andrew Logan again and I am eternally grateful for his enthusiasm and support. 

Despite DeepSpaceMoolog originally being inspired by the cave art of Creswell Crags the beings (sculptures) can be appreciated on various levels; you don’t need to be part of the art world to ‘get it’. 

During the four days of the London showing the installation was visited by people of all ages (youngest was just 2 years old) and nationalities. It was experienced by people from Britain, France, Norway, Chile and was a BIG hit with Australians (are they more open minded, less restrained or really just into the possibility of Time Travel? )

So what’s next?……

Friday, 7 April 2017

DeepSpaceMoolog; installation by Kirsty E Smith, moves to Testbed1 London

Staying calm but getting excited too. Kirsty E Smith at The Doodle Bar; new host to DeepSpaceMoolog
Exciting news! My installation DeepSpaceMoolog is coming to London 4th - 7th May.

The seeds of DeepSpaceMoolog started with my fascination for the ancientness of the cave drawings discovered in one of the caves at Creswell Crags in Nottinghamshire, but once inside the caves it isn’t just the ancientness that strikes you. Our guide was full of knowledge about Neolithic man and the many sub divisions of Paleolithic man but even as she was explaining more about these ancient cave occupiers my train of thought was already taking a very different route.
One of the many cave drawings discovered on the walls of Robin Hood Cave at Creswell Crags. The outline emphasised in white here for this photograph.
Detail of the digitally printed translucent curtain that is the 'cave' wall of Kirsty E Smith's installation - DeepSpaceMoolog
Being a child of the 60s I grew up in the Space Age and so of course I was open to the idea that actually these drawings could have been made by aliens! My proposal to make a a multi-media art installation suggesting this must have been convincing because I was awarded Arts Council funding to make DeepSpaceMoolog.
Charmaine. With elements of sounds from Star Trek (TOS) woven into the DeepSpaceMoolog sound track there is a strong suggestion that she has only just 'beamed down' onto this space rock. Photo by Jules Lister
Last year my focus was on making new time travelling beings (FrillipMoolog sculptures), Space Rocks for them to ‘beam down’ onto, a digitally printed cave wall - with alternative cave drawings - and a short video. Together they made DeepSpaceMoolog, an installation which I showed in Scunthorpe’s 20-21 Visual Arts Centre.
DeepSpaceMoolog (7min) film which is part of the installation. Photograph Jules Lister. 
I was really happy that so many visitors ‘got it’ and also very pleasantly surprised how many people were aware of Erich von Däniken's Ancient Astronaut Theory and also that some people even recognised the voice I’d woven into my film sound track; that of the very influential philosopher, Alan Watts. The conclusion at the end of DeepSpace Moolog’s eight week stint in Scunthorpe was that, yes many people are open to the idea of time-travel and my playful suggestion that cave drawings might have supernatural origins. (You can watch a 6 minute video interview of me talking about it).
However, I was very aware that the whole experience could be improved if I showed DeepSpaceMoolog in a more cave-like venue……

Sometimes things work out even better than you expect; not only have I found a new venue in London but it is dark, mysterious and cave-like! 

The back arches at the Doodle Bar (also known as the new Testbed1) are hosting DeepSpaceMoolog for four days in May.

The Opening Event on Thurs 4th May 6pm-9pm 
All welcome - admission is FREE 

Opening Hours for DeepSpaceMoolog in London are:
Thur 4th May 6pm - 9pm
Fri 5th May 1pm - 9pm
Sat 6th May Noon - 9pm
Sun 7th May Noon - 6pm

The Doodle Bar
60 Druid Street
0207 403 3222

The Doodle Bar is easy to get to: Underground- London Bridge or Bus- Tanner St stop A bus numbers 47, N381, 381 or N199 and it’s the perfect place to meet friends for a drink and some gourmet bar food. 

PLUS I will be there to welcome you to DeepSpaceMoolog my creative cave! 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Making Art, Getting it Out There, Marketing, Evaluating and Living

Deep Space Moolog 17 Sep - 12 Nov 2016, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre photo by Jules Lister
It’s six months since my last blog post and in that period so much has happened: I made a new website, finished making the work for Deep Space Moolog, installed the show, had a Celebration Event, presented an Artist Talk, met and chatted to various visitors to the show, ran a day of drop-in kids workshops for almost 100 children, made a presentation to a group of to Fine Art Foundation Students, took the show down and packed the work away. 

Most recently I have completed editing a 6 min. video interview (which I think fairly concisely explains how I drew on the disparate influences of Neolithic cave drawings, vintage sci-fi and Time Travel to make my immersive walk through installation - Deep Space Moolog).

I am now continuing to publicise this body of work as I am still on the look out for a second venue to move it on to.

That’s the ‘in a nutshell’ version of my 2016 and Deep Space Moolog, so now onto some more detail and highlights.

Everyone knows that artists need to have staying power, don’t they? I mean it is common knowledge that things don't just happen overnight isn’t it? My method is to just keep on going (no matter if at times the pace does seem slow) and keep making the work that I feel compelled to make. A friend said to me recently that I must make what I make because I want people to like it. No absolutely not! I’m certainly not trying to please anyone; if other people connect with my work, well that’s a plus … a big plus.
A young visitor to the show. Photo by Kirsty E Smith
Someone else recently said, ‘Well of course it’s common knowledge that artists have other (day) jobs’. As it turns out in the middle of making the work for Deep Space Moolog I had more than one big change in my life and one of them was leaving my full time day job without a new one to go to. I’m not complaining; just mentioning that artists are people with lives outside of their studios too.
Kirsty E Smith presenting her Artist Talk at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre Photo by Dominic Ewan
Anyway, back to Deep Space Moolog……
Making the new beings for the show was a real pleasure. I had so much fun and it just reaffirmed my love of making in 3D and working in a playful way while not worrying about a pre-determined outcome. What I mean is that I don’t work by designing first; rather I experiment with materials, spend time with them and wait to see what form suggests itself. Next I work out how on earth to make it; I love pondering on construction problems and when working with unconventional materials, repurposed objects and ‘scrap’ then this is often a challenge.
Charmaine in the making Photo Kirsty E Smith
But as Susan Simpson mentioned in her mini review blog post about the show each of these new beings was ‘pet sized’ so actually I felt that construction challenges were on a manageable scale.

I’d always planned to have a translucent curtained walkway for the installation and I had included costs of having fabric digitally printed in my Arts Council funding application. I have to say I was absolutely delighted with the quality of the 20m long by 240cm deep digitally printed curtain (great work Dominion Print). I enjoyed making the digital collage even though the file was so huge that it nearly killed my computer. By the time that I had ramped up the saturation and layered elements of the partially made beings and line drawings (that I was also using for the animated sections of the film) onto photographs of the Cresswell Crags cave walls it all looked pretty zingy. 
Taken in the late afternoon winter light- this was the best time of day to appreciate the curtained backdrop. Photo by Kirsty E Smith
Making the 7 minute film for the show was happening at the same time as making the beings and backdrop; I like having variety in my work and I need a balance of sitting at computer and working in a more physical way. The video editing tuition from Dominic Ewan was invaluable. He was great to work with; listening to my ideas as they evolved and taking things at a pace that didn’t overwhelm me. Building my video editing skills was a key part of my Arts Council funding application and I feel that I succeeded in this. Sound became significant element of the video and through my editing I feel that I succeeded in pulling together my thoughts on Ancient Astronaut Theory with the 40,000 year old cave drawings found at Creswell Crags. It was a wonderful moment of synchronicity when I discovered that the voice that I’d heard on so many of the Radio360 podcasts (that I was listening to while working in the studio) was that of Alan Watts and I also later discovered how well known Erich Von Daniken was when I spent time in the gallery and had lively conversations with people who remembered the significance of his writings and films on Ancient Astronaut Theory.
 The celebration event took place a month into the 8 week show and I am so grateful that I took heed of the motto of successful people. Don’t wait until you can do things perfectly; don’t let the desire for perfection hold you back. So it was decided (at the last minute) to video the talk and stream it live as a Facebook Live video. Wow that was easy and it certainly enabled viewers around the world (UK, France, USA and Australia in particular) to get a flavour of my work.

Some of my favourite advice from marketing icon Paul Arden
The next major job to be done was the evaluation of the show. Completing the ACE evaluation form was actually really good because it allowed me to recall and re-live all the enthusiastic responses, the curious questions and even the giggles that I had heard from visitors. I reread comments in the gallery visitor book and edited photos both mine, friends and professional ones. (And as I type this I’ve received notification this morning that the final instalment of the funding has been paid into my account. Thanks Arts Council England and Wales)

Of course as I my marketing ‘machine’ trundles on I really do need to get back into the studio and let loose some fresh creative ideas.

Special thanks to:
-Dominic Mason and the team at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre. If you get a chance to work with them do!
-Joanne Lee for her mentoring and essay A Transmission from Deep Space Moolog
-Dominic Ewan for his all round support and video editing teaching skills
-Martin Currie for his surprise interview
and of course
-Everyone who came to the show 
View from the security camera. Photo by Kirsty E Smith