Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Shed is Shed

Shed - Collect - Shed finished at the weekend. The exhibition has provided many amazing opportunities for me to show and share my work, to collaborate with two excellent artists, to meet new people - Herbert staff, volunteers and visitors. As always it's been the opportunity to connect with people that has really made the whole thing worthwhile.

The completion of the exhibition marks the end of my involvement with the Coventry Centre for Contemporary Art. I'm passing this on to The Pod who are working with Fargo to ensure this great resource can continue to propagate art projects and ventures. Many thanks to everyone who has been involved with the CCCA over the last 5 years.

Now onto the next thing...!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Same sock different day

Perhaps a rather sad tale of a lost sock. The first photo taken on 23rd Sept 2014, the second taken one month later on 22nd October 2014. I guess it's quite unusual to see a found object in the same place over a period of time. I would of course usually pick up something that I liked, and if I didn't perhaps someone else would - most likely the litter picker. I don't normally collect socks or clothing so I left this object, but liked it enough to take the photo. It's on the part of a pavement where cars will often park up and so probably it has escaped the litter picker's eyes as well as the child / parent who dropped it.  What I find interesting is the way the sock has almost become part of the environment in which it sits. It has become one with the pavement (as much as it can). Small stones have imbedded themselves in it as if welcoming it in. The dirt has now camouflaged the sock with the colours of the ground. I wonder how long it will remain.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Printmaking Workshop

Joanna Rucklidge ran two printmaking workshops on 18th October, using found objects and reclaimed materials. Adults and children alike left with great art works under their arms, big smiles and messy hands!

Friday, 17 October 2014

The 79.7% of the way through party

Unusually for a Private View the celebration of our exhibition Shed - Collect - Shed came 79.7% of the way through it's duration. This gave visitors an opportunity to look at some of the items that members of the public have collected over the last 8 weeks and a few extra works and items added since the opening day. It was a great evening and lovely to see so many familiar faces. Thanks to the Herbert Art Gallery and Arts Council England / Lottery funding for making it all possible.  

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Workshops (Part 2)

A second Saturday of workshops (4th October 2014) produced more wonderful work by some incredibly inventive and creative children. Here's a few of the photos from the day  ...


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Found Object Workshops

On Saturday 27th September I ran a day of drop-in workshops at The Herbert for anyone who wanted to take part. It was a great day of creative play using found oject photographs as the stimulus. The idea was to consider the objects more; to add worth and value to these discarded things; to allow them to spark creativity and imagination; to have fun.

There were 5 different activities people could take part in, here are some example pictures of what was produced:

1) Using a found object as a starting point for a drawing or picture. 

2) Creating a display case and showing objects inside.

3) Producing Found Object Top Trumps.

4) Making a story board narrative involving the objects.

5) Found object equations - considering the subjective value of an item.

It was a lot of fun and some really inventive work was produced. What struck me was the lack of fear that children have when they set out to create something. So often adults can be paralysed with a sense of worry or fear about messing up a drawing or not knowing how to start. And yet the children who took part weren't phased by drawing a dragon or whatever; they just went for it - and usually they turned out brilliantly. It's a good thing to learn from.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Voluntary Poetry

David Hurt, one of the many excellent and very necessary volunteers at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum who have been looking after Shed - Collect - Shed, has written a number of poems inspired by the exhibition. Here's a couple:

The Artefacts Story (inspired by Shed-Collect-Shed: Coventry's Lost and Found)

With colour,
Waiting to inspire,
Passionately crafted
Into art.
Connecting their world
To ours,
Shedding their secrets.
Secrets once whispered
From beneath foliage,
By the roadside and
Teetering drains.
Their new refuge,
Gives them hope.

Trodden Rainbow Putty (inspired by the video projection piece "...and then I found..." (2014).

Flecked with spectrum rays,
Pulped by rushing feet,
Once a child's sculpture
Dropped in sudden fleet.

Friday, 19 September 2014

The collection continues...

Although the intensity of the collecting for Shed - Collect - Shed has reduced I'm still scanning the streets for the treasures it can yield. Here are my latest finds from the last weeks:

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Going Round in Circles

When I first met Joanna Rucklidge 15 years ago I was inspired by her vision to collect and display bread tags - something that once seemed so 'nothingy' which I'd never given much notice to. Yet from that day on the humble bread tag took on a very different relevance and significance in my consciousness. Joanna continues to challege me to see the beauty and worth in things that even I can easily overlook and discard. For Shed - Collect - Shed she presents Going Round in Circles (2014) a set of 9 works including screen prints of objects such as rubber bands (previously pictured) and cup lids, and circular assemblages of plastic or metal bottle lids as if they were a set of rare antiquities. By so doing Joanna invests power and value into the most commonplace of the found object world. This is very much part of her ongoing fascination with environmental issues, waste and the disposable culture that we inhabit.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Martin Green's Work in Progress

Martin Green has been busy working each Sunday at the Coventry Centre for Contemporary Art (or 'shed' to its friends), currently based on the First Floor of the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. It's a great opportunity to see him working and dealing with his particular flavour of Coventry found objects. He will next be in on Sunday 21st September and Sundays throughout October (2014).

Monday, 8 September 2014

(Super, Un)natural history

Further areas of The Herbert's natural history collection was deliberately referenced in my work. I wanted to mimic some of the ways they displayed or catalogued their items. For My Found Knotted Crisp Packet Collection (2014) I used a fairly traditional looking green felt as a backdrop to pin the different packets onto as if they were a collection of butterflies or the like. The shape of the tied packets, their thin wrapper 'wings' and the bright colours evoked these creatures in my mind. 

Trophies (2014) (a found heron's head and a broken battery operated bat, each framed in gold spray-painted polystyrene packaging) recall the taxidermy found within the museum as well as the sorts of displays of creatures / heads that might be assossiated with this practice. There is a play on what was once considered a hunting trophy and my seeking out of found objects on the streets.

Mini Beasts (2014) similarly emulates the the sort of displays of insects and animals that could be found in the Herbert Museum. Real animals have been replaced by man-made versions found on the street. Within this array there are items that resemble life-forms although originally bore no reference to them- for instance a tag from perhaps some sort of garden packaging now looks like a flattened one-armed frog, and plastic remnants from something that was screwed in or drilled out appear more like a pair of octopii.


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Boxers & Collections

I wanted to post a few images from the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum's collections which impacted me as I thought about the Shed - Collect - Shed exhibition and began to formulate ideas for work which would fit the show.

These first images are of boxes from the Elliott Collection. Elliott was a dentist from Tanworth-in-Arden collecting shells during the late 1800s. 3900 shells and his notebooks were donated to the museum in 1975. His 'African Collection' is particularly interesting where he stored his shells in boxes constructed partly from playing cards and partly from order cards from the Royal Mail Steam Ship 'African'. I love the creativity shown through how he used to store his treasured finds. Elliott also used many makeshift storage containers - pill boxes, match boxes and even denture boxes! 

Some of my work in the show and Martin Green's City Box sculptures deliberately dialogue with this collection.

A Stand-In Triumph (detail) (2014) - Lorsen Camps (assorted found objects in found Standard Triumph match boxes).

City Box Sculpture #3, Lopsided Travel (2014) - Martin Green (box made from the covers of the History of Boxing and World of Meaning, cigarette packet foil, one worn heel and one found suitcase wheel, 30 found wheel weights, collection / catalogue reference number).

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Stickers R Us!

The house is overrun with stickers! These make up the Found Object Sticker Packs produced to coincide with the Shed - Collect - Shed exhibition and will be on sale from the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum shop very soon (or directly through me - just get in touch). There will be 50 Limited Edition packs of the complete 50 designs (£20), and also sold individually (£1 each).  The clear vinyl stickers feature photographs of found objects from my collection, a number of which feature in the Shed - Collect - Shed exhibition.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

To pick up or not to pick up?

People often ask why I pick up something and not another thing. I guess that's something I don't exactly know the answer to, but the decision I make in that moment of seeing something on the street and bothering to stoop down is obviously a crucial one. I'm very selective with what I pick up. This may depend on what mood I'm in, whether I am able to stop, how covered in mud that thing is... While I was in Cork recently with Martin Green, I found an interesting strip of rubber. I picked it up and as I was trying to get some of the mud off it (quite yucky) I dropped it. Where did it land? In a dog poo. So that's definitely where I draw the line. 

I am drawn to toys, plastics, colourful things, interesting shapes, objects which bear traces of peoples' lives - marked, worn, used. They may be tragic, comic, peculiar. It fascinates me when items have been changed by their environment - (perhaps flattened by cars or weather worn) and the objects become sculptural beyond their original designs. Another interest for me is to build up a collection of like items. Finding similar things and presenting them in a set or series brings a different meaning and 'weight' to them; they gain greater significance together.

These are disregarded things - lost or thrown away, seen as worthless. To pick these things up and present them within a new context and with a new value is a redemptive act. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Open Doors

A week of hard toil and installing and Shed - Collect - Shed has now opened!

The Coventry Centre for Contemporary Art (CCCA) looks great it in it's new setting - under the covered court in the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. It may be small but there's plenty to see inside - over 40 new works for your contemplation and enjoyment!

Thanks to everyone involved in the set up, including artists Martin Green and Joanna Rucklidge and the Herbert staff.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The first work has been installed for Shed - Collect - Shed at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. Although not technically in the exhibition, it is part of the show. You can find my work Down at Heel (2014) in the What's in Store room on the ground floor of the Herbert. The room is not easily found which is perhaps fitting for this little precursor / trailer to the main attraction all about found objects and is opening in a just under a week.

You'll find this draw marked Found Coventry Shoe Heels in amongst other Museum drawers housing various interesting collections such as Medieval Leather Scabbards, Fans and Prehistoric Stone Tools.  My aim is to encourage people to visit the room as much as for it to point others in the direction of my show. To me it's one of the most interesting rooms in the Herbert with a real mixture of things to explore - from paintings to clocks,  stuffed animals to ... shoe heels. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

This is one of Joanna Rucklidge's pieces for the Shed-Collect-Shed exhibition - a screen print from found rubber bands. This forms part of a series of work called 'Going Round in Circles' made using everyday objects found on the streets of Coventry. She uses the symbol of the circle that she found recurring throughout her journey around Coventry - both in the objects she found and the details of the city. I love the way she draws inspiration from very mundane things and creates something beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing these installed next week ready for the exhibition opening on Saturday 16th August.   


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Mess and progress

The only near-appropriate things currently on my dining room table are some found forks. But you wouldn't want to eat using them, trust me. This table is currently the designated spot for all my objects to be amassed. (And the lounge floor. And the spare room). A flattened pen sits alongside an old outhouse window, a cardboard fish rubs gills with a broken miniature mirrorball. Needless to say it's a little busy here! 

There are under three weeks to go until the opening of the Shed - Collect - Shed exhibition. Thankfully progress is being made! There's a lot to do and a lot to come together before then but that's half the fun of it (I think!).

Martin Green and Joanna Rucklidge have nearly completed their commissioned works and I'm excited to be able to offer a sneak peek at one of Martin's twelve City Box sculptures.

#1. Rail and Coach Stations
• Box made from the cover of Play Better Soccer and 2 worn heels.
• 20 found suitcase wheel rims.
• Found spectacle frame.

I can't wait to see the full set of 12 installed.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Cork Walks

Back from adventures in Cork...
Martin Green and I had 2 and a half days in Ireland's second city to walk the streets and pick up as many interesting things as we could. The first day was a little concerning - there wasn't a lot to be found. The streets were very clear apart from a fair amount of dog poo, beer cans and cigarette butts - none of which we were particularly interested in taking home. The second day we explored outside of the city centre a bit more - along the river which provided a few more bits. We were feeling better about things. The final day was a walk into the more industrial area of the city. Again it was fruitful. I literally wore my shoes out doing so much walking. We'd been made to toil for our finds, but we brought back some goodies.

Now we just need to actually make the work... 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Paradise Lost and Found

Martin Green and I journeyed to find the area called Paradise in Coventry and as we did so collected found objects along the street. This was the first part of a two legged journey, the second being in Cork, Ireland (taking place this weekend). We will compare the objects we find in both cities and make a piece of work from them for the Shed - Collect - Shed exhibition. The work relates to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum's remit to collect things that relate to Coventry, its people and twinned cities it's linked to (such as Cork). 

There's always a bit of pressure when you need to find objects so I'm hoping the good people of Cork have been doing their bit over recent days. Coventry certainly did theirs as we came away from our walk with some decent items including this, the (litter) pick of the day - a miniature metal skull.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Shed - Collect - Shed: Coventry's Lost and Found

In six weeks on 16th August 2014 my latest exhibition will be opening to the public at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum Coventry. I will be working with Martin Green and Joanna Rucklidge, showing our collections of found objects and new works, relating them to the Herbert's own Coventry-centric collections of artefacts.