Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Creative Debuts – Showcase XIII

A few weekends ago, at an artists seminar held in the basement of the Hilton hotel in Piccadilly, London, I met some interesting chaps who had set up a platform called Creative Debuts. Not only is Creative Debuts an online gallery, set up to debut emerging artists and designers, but it also has a physical space, The Black and White Building, in the heart of Shoreditch (probably the hippest spot on the planet right now). This gallery is Creative Debuts' vehicle for showcasing artists through month-long exhibitions – all of which open on the first Thursday of every month as part of Whitechapel Gallery's First Thursdays.

After joining Creative Debuts, and uploading some images of my work onto my own Creative Debuts page I was pleased to be invited to be part of the next exhibition, Showcase XIII, which opens Thursday 3rd March (7-10:30 PM).

Five of my pieces were selected for the show – one of my oldest sculptures, Baby Kit (from the late 90s), and four recent paintings from my Taster Menu series; a series which was originally created for a four day pop-up event at the A Plus A Gallery, during the opening week of last year's Venice Biennale. Even though these two groups of works were created decades apart, they are rather neatly tied together by the fact that they all feature doll parts.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Happy Valentine's Day Folks

To all you lovers and lovelorn alike, I wish you a very happy Valentine's Day.

To commemorate this over-commercialised day here are three of my small heart-shaped sculptures, Nail Heart, Mutant Nail heart, and Nail-less Heart – all carved from wood and, in the cases of the first two, pierced with rusty nails, screws, and other metal implements.

They are from a small series of artworks which are sort of a spin-off from my Nail Box sculpture, which is itself inspired by, and indebted to, the Minkisi totems of the Congo and surrounding regions.

Nail Heart, photographed by photographer, Rosie Mayell.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Vamalgam 7

For this year's Victoria and Albert Museum (where I work part-time) staff art show, 'Vamalgam 7', I am exhibiting my painting, ' Tentacle Touch Teddy'.

For a while now I've been tinkering with the idea of doing some 2D and 3D cross-over pieces. One line of enquiry that I'm eager to pursue is a series of painted tower and box sculptures; either brightly painted in single colours, with possible tonal variations, or with intricate designs, like my recent 'Tattooed Tumour Box' sculpture. However, with 'Tentacle Touch Teddy', I made a start on a slightly different cross over process by depicting an image of one of my wheeled, orifice boxes on the surface of the very material that I normally use to construct the sculptures themselves - in this case, a piece of antique plywood packing crate, sourced from the Victorian and Albert Museum itself. There's also something very satisfying about painting on a rough, and untreated mid-tone surface (and working with its existing idiosyncrasies), as opposed to a pristine white one.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Hugly Crew

At the end of last year I posted about a crowd funding campaign for a project that I am working on with two friends, Sam and Ian, which aims to encourage children to engage more in outdoor activities. The initial stage of the project is to produce a children's storybook that also doubles up as a cookbook, whilst providing seeds and instructions for growing one of the ingredients that forms an integral part of the story. I'm happy to say that we met our £8000 target (largely down to the hard work put in by Sam and Ian, whose commitment and infectious enthusiasm for the project pulled in backers from all walks of life) which will enable us to complete this first stage of the project. 

All the stories in this and future stages of the project will be based around a group of cartoon characters, Hugly and Friends, that Sam and I developed from my initial sketches. And what we're now really excited about is welcoming on board the newest member of our team, the talented writer, Gemma Appleton, who will help us bring Hugly and his friends truly to life.

We are proud, at this very early stage, to already have support for the project from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage - but the children's storybook/cookbook is just the start, and we have plans to develop Hugly’s world in more detail, offering exciting grow kits, outdoor games and interactive apps that use real outdoor experiences, and much, much more.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

RCA Secret 2016 - London and Dubai

Every year the deadline for submitting my invited entries into the RCA Secret seems to sneak up on me; but not so this year – at least that was the plan.

I've exhibited in every one of the Royal College of Art's secret postcard exhibitions for the past twelve years (is that correct? – if not, I'm sure that at least one the dedicated RCA Secret collectors can put me right on that score), and over the years my submissions have tended to become somewhat more elaborate and three dimensional. Without giving anything away (as it's a secret), I'll just say that my three entries for this year are no exception, and are, in fact, more sculptural than in previous years (a few examples of which you see here) – which is why I'm only just gonna be able to finish them in time for this Monday's submission deadline.

For those of you who don't know about the RCA Secret, it is a show of around 2000 original postcard-sized artworks by 'internationally acclaimed artists, designers, cultural icons, alumni, and up-and-coming graduates', exhibited between two venues – the Upper Gulbenkian Gallery, Royal College of Art, Kensington, London (7-15 April 2016), and Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai (16-19 March 2016).

All of the cards go on sale for £55 each in London, and 500EAD in Dubai - with all the proceeds going to the RCA Fund, providing scholarships and bursaries for students. And the secret part of it, I hear you ask? Well, each postcard is exhibited anonymously, with the creator only being revealed once the card has been bought by its collector.

If you would like to buy any of the postcards from the shows (especially the London one) them I suggest arriving very early on the day of the sale as the queues can be very long. Previous years have seen the hardcore few camping out the night (and in some cases, days) before the show opens; which, I'm guessing, is why the RCA has decided to stagger this year's sale over six days – releasing new cards throughout the sale period. And if you do decide to go along, I advise that you make a long list of your favourite pieces, as it's quite likely that your first choices will be gone before you get to the payment desk. But, saying that, in previous years, some cards by really big names in the art world have been known to still be available late in the day.

Royal College of Art, Kensington
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU

8–15 April, 11am – 6pm
Late opening
13 & 15 April, until 8pm

10 April, 8am – 6pm
11–15 April, 11am – 6pm

COLLECTION DAY 16 April, 9am – 5pm

Free admission

Art Dubai
RCA Secret Dubai, takes place at Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, 16 to 19 March 2016. Please note that the official Art Dubai Opening is 16 March. For more information, see Art Dubai Visitor Information.

16–19 March