May 27, 2012

At the Hotel Peninsular

While in Barcelona we stayed at the Hotel Peninsular, a typical one-star hotel just off the main drag of Las Ramblas. It offered all the mod-cons of a classic one-star hotel - sparse rooms, thin walls, a cornflakes continental breakfast - but the interior was highly unique. The building was originally a convent of the Augustine Order, and the rooms were previously monks' cells. All open out into the rather fantastical interior courtyard, with hanging plants, tiled floors, and wrought iron balconies running around each level.
One afternoon, after a morning of wearying but fulfilling touristing, we sat in the empty courtyard drinking a couple of Barcelonan beers, soaking up the peacefulness and planning our next attack on the city.
Staying in a place like this is what I search for in every trip that I make - I want to stay somewhere so completely remarkable that it reiterates the fact I am in a different country, experiencing different things.
In the photo above I am  standing in a small alcove next door to our room, ready for my first day of exploring, Barcelona guidebook loaned out from the library (overdue) in my hand.

These photos are the first batch Kris has sorted through from his digital camera. I am still waiting for the pictures off the roll of film I took. I was rather restrained with camera usage, not wanting a lens to continuously be obstructing my impressions and views of places. I tell myself I didn't come all the way to a foreign city just to photograph it. Some things have to be experienced first hand.

May 21, 2012

Warm knits

One of perhaps three or four large knitted lampshades hanging over the bar at the Grill Room, Barcelona. Evocative of bait catchers and fishing nets, made with slightly fraying twine, it looked much more robust in real life. They immediately caught my eye due to the current knitting work I am making at the moment, one of those pleasing coincidences in life. The wooden frame and brown twine complement each other nicely with the natural colours and materials, I am thinking of marrying my fishing line knitted pieces with the shiny copper wire, for a more sparkly effect.
From the restaurant's menu I chose their 'Japanese burger' - a pattie marinated in soy sauce, accompanied with Japanese mayonnaise, and the usual salad-y suspects. There was meant to be tofu in it as well but I couldn't see any (the possibility I ate it without realising cannot be ruled out). It was pretty damn delectable, but anything with Japanese mayo in it generally is. 

A couple in Barcelona

Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider at La Pedrera, during the filming of 'The Passenger', Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975.
Have just returned from an amazing 4 day sojourn in Barcelona, wandering the streets, cooling off with 'Majorcan Milk', and finally being able to experience Pierre Bismuth's work 'Postscript/ The Passenger (OV)' at Barcelona's Museum of Modern Art. Also mingled with tourists for the chance to be inside Gaudí's 'La Pedrera', trying to do some nonchalant Maria Schneider posing on the rooftop terrace but instead just ended up getting in the way of hardcore German tourists. 50 or so people holding up their cameras in the air simultaneously was rather like watching interpretive dance.

It feels right that one of my first adventures to a different European city should be the one featured in my favourite film. Basically I just wanted to stroll around Barcelona like these two.

May 7, 2012

As yet untitled

Florence Wild
Untitled as yet, 2012, 500mm x 400mm, fishing line 

An almost square of knitted fishing line. Strung up in front of my living room window. In it's simplified form, displayed in a way I had not intended it, it rather captivates me. The process of making the work sometimes challenges my original intentions.

May 6, 2012

patterns within everyday life

Patterns are present in every facet of our daily life, tangible ones and abstract. Patterns can be chaotic or reassuring - a hectic psychedelic kaftan or the simple routine of repeated motions.  I have always held an interest in patterns - how can one not when the are the very building blocks of our lives so to speak. Patterns are like clues - to a life/style, in a detective story. One is always looking out for patterns in a hope of building up the larger picture.

I have long thought about creating patterns myself, patterns that can be multiplied and replicated and printed on material, a thought that has wandered in and out of my consciousness intermittently throughout my teenage and adult years, and something I have tried to integrate into my art practice both conceptually and in more literal forms.
Above is a sculpture I made as part of my graduating installation at Elam. Apart from the sculpture papier machéd in fake marbled Formica, on the floor lies a piece of paper - a pattern I made stamping a letter W across the page, first right way up, then the wrong, creating a sort of diamond/chicken wire pattern, though one that was shaky, riddled with errors, obviously executed by hand. The result (virtually indistinguishable in the poor photo above) was a little similar to Latvian artist Viktor Timofeev's 'WWW', which I stumbled upon by chance on the website PATTERNITY.

It was from seeing the designs of Sonia Delaunay as part of an exhibition at Louisiana about Avant-gard in the early Twentieth Century. The designs we simple and intriguing, her involvement with the Orphism movement clearly influencing her use of colour and circular motifs, as well as using rectangles, forming patterns like parquet floors. And while seeing these patterns manifest themselves as clothing and fabric was beautiful, I was drawn to her original drawing and sketches, watercolour and gauche on paper, the illustration of the first hint of the idea. It all seemed so casually executed, yet with great finesse.

"I have done fifty designs, relationships of colour using pure geometrical forms with rhythm. They were, and remain, colour scales - really a purified version of our concept of painting. (...) The rhythm is based on numbers, for colour can be measured by the number of vibrations. This is a completely new concept, one which opens infinite horizons for painting and may be used by everyone who can feel and understand it."
- Sonia Delaunay

In a time where I feel I am surrounded by art that is grandiose and powerful, large-scaled, minimalist and monochromatic and technical, it is a wonderful feeling when such small, old, basic illustrations of ideas can capture so much of my imagination. And with the hectic pace of the fashion world, and the types of prints fabric and textile designers are creating: digital, luridly coloured, computer generated, to look back on the prints of Delaunay is not such a bad idea.

And maybe this will be something I will continue with, interesting fabric patterns for and from everyday life. My first one (apart from the W netting) is a pattern of boots and noses.

May 5, 2012

an idea and something to accompany it

Leonor Antunes at Marc Foxx via Contemporary Art Daily.

"assembled, moved, re-arranged and scrapped continuously"

(excerpt from press release:)
In this exhibition, Antunes considers Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi in “lina” 2012, a delicate brass and silver constructed curtain which is a reflection of the parquet floor design in the immanent modernist house she designed, known as the “Glass House” built Sao Paolo in 1951. Bo Bardiʼs influence can also be seen in the soft red leather floor work, “discrepancies with L.B.” which takes its form from the hard gridded window treatment of Bo Bardiʼs building “Sesc Pompeii”, also in Sao Paulo.

“lina” is installed upon “assembled, moved, re-arranged and scrapped continuously”, 2012, the exhibitionsʼ title and largest sculpture. The 9.5 x 9.5 foot walnut wooden pavilion is also the venue for “chão”, 2011, a 12 part hand- knotted and incrementally increasing, gridded series of delicate black nets. The canopy itself delineates the room, asserting an almost domestic feeling and providing an exhibited arrangement of grid upon grid within the show.

Hanging from the rafters and breaking her gridded constructions is the organic work “random intersections #7”, a sculpture made from handmade black leather straps, similar to horse bridals and referencing Carlo Mollinoʼs equestrian school in Turin “Società Ippica Torinese”, built in 1937 but destroyed in 1960. Antunes, like Mollino, has a great appreciation for the movement of material and this work brings her materiality back to a more corporeal connection.

The marriage of the fine black netting, the metallic glimmering curtain and the robust and darkly slick wooden structure upon which the works adorn, makes for an interesting and pleasing relationship. It reflects various thoughts I have myself had recently, revolving around an abandoned metal spring-bed base (which has since disappeared, and whose disappearance I may not fully get over for weeks or months) and a large pile of flaccid overstretched rubber bands.

I think it is only recently that tactility has taken on such importance in my work. The overwhelming feeling of wanting to touch something is luring me into the photographs of Antunes' work.

Knotting, linking, twisting; connecting ideas and materials is a common motif represented in my practice, building up textures and surfaces, images from small marks or gestures - stitches, knitting, creating patterns, repetition of shapes, reshaping the line - whether it is a length of embroidery thread or a pencil mark on paper.

(some notes from my journal)
"an interesting object (the bed base), black and silver and brown, stripped bare of any embellishments. skeletal. the bare bones. structural, architectural. the inner workings, masculine. Uncovered, exposed.
a single bed, only room for one.
standing upright, no room for anyone.
removed from it's original function/identity.

the coils and springs have a hypnotic quality, round & round.
rubber bands - the opposite of the coiled spring: soft, flaccid, stretchy.
mirroring the circular motif of the springs but out of shape, wobbly, chaotic, disorganised.

spring : springa sprang har sprungit (run, ran, have run)
spring is run in swedish.

a netting of rubber bands, covering the upright bed base. draped over the frame like a caress, an arm across the shoulders. a shroud/net encompassing it.
the bands are like thoughts, ideas, anxieties, unanswerable questions, dreams.
what fills the mind and what weighs one down.
tangled threads - made even worse with no beginning or end, circles connected to more circles, no straight lines here.
rubber bands with the ability to be stretched and reached through but can they ever be escaped from?"

just some thoughts to be thought about.
first item of business, sourcing another perfect spring single bed base, and ruing the missed opportunity of the one I thought was languishing casually waiting for me to get home from work to be rescued.