Monday, 18 July 2016

REVIEW: [The Graphic Art of Harry Potter] @ House of MinaLima, London

The Graphic Art of Harry Potter
3 June 2016 - 4 February 2017
House of MinaLima, 26 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 5DE

Last week I had some time to have a look at the pop-up exhibition in Soho, that features a wide range of props and original illustrations for the Harry Potter film series. Graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (whose names sound uncannily like they belong in said films) are the brains behind the wonderfully detailed and extensive works of art that are the printed medium in these films. From posters, newspapers, books, packaging and plenty more, this is a feast of the eyes for any Harry Potter fan. In fact, even if you aren't a Harry Potter fan, it would be difficult not to be impressed and delighted by the sheer amount of imagination and creativity that have gone into these props. Even more so when you remember that most of these props will have only been featured on screen for a few seconds, maybe less or not at all. It's an immersive sense of dedication that the two clearly project in these elaborate examples.

The exhibition isn't huge but there's something very charming about how modest the size of the venue is, crammed full to the brim with Harry Potter nostalgia and feels even more like an adventure into some place hidden and special. In a way the whole ambience of the pop-up is made to feel like a shop you may encounter on Diagon Alley in the wizarding world.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

REVIEW: Tate Modern Extension (Switch House), London

I finally had some time this week to go and explore the new extension to the Tate Modern which opened a couple of weeks ago. The extension (dubbed 'Switch House') provides another ten floors worth of gallery space to the landmark contemporary gallery.

I have to say on approach, the new extension looks spectacular. It blends in surprisingly well with the existing venue but looks iconic and unique in its own right. It certainly will provide architecture and photography lovers with resourceful new inspiration.

I entered through the new extension and found myself pretty lost to begin with. I was a little disorientated as to where the new building started and where the old site met. But after a little consolidation and aimless wandering (mainly back and forth through the shiny new gift shop) I decided to explore my way up the Switch House one floor at a time.

If you're seeking actual artwork, there are three floors worth of new and old material. I have to admit, gallery-wise, the extension feels much smaller on the inside than it first appears on the outside once you've orientated yourself. As a frequent Tate visitor, I noticed that a notable portion of the artwork in the new galleries was work I'd seen from other branches of the Tate or from previous exhibitions. Despite this, the Switch House galleries are light, open and very inviting and host a different feel to the existing Tate galleries.

After exploring the art galleries, I was recommended to visit the top floor viewing level. This is probably one of the main attractions to the venue other than seeing the art, as a huge proportion of visitors were waiting to take lifts up to the tenth floor. Unfortunately the lifts are all rather small and don't seem to adequately accommodate the demand of visitors going up to the viewing level, leaving many like me braving ourselves to scale the ten flights of stairs instead (although granted, I had already conquered four out of the ten floors at this point). What I found curious on my way up was that the other six floors of the building were still very much empty. So keep this in mind if you're planning to visit. My guess is that the building is still very much a work in progress and they wanted to open as soon as possible. As I mentioned earlier, there were three floors of artwork and the ground floor hosts the gift shop and cafe.

So once I'd huffed and puffed my way up the tenth floor, the view up top is definitely worth the hike. The views across London are fantastic, and you're able to look straight across the Thames. It's also pleasantly not as crowded as you'd expect it to be judging by the amount of people taking lifts up.

All in all I am very excited at the prospect of this new extension and I think it will offer a huge potential of new opportunities. In it's current state, the building is certainly not yet finished or full to capacity but it's definitely worth a visit.

Friday, 17 June 2016

REVIEW: [ELCAF] East London Comic & Arts Festival @ Round Chapel, London

5th East London Comics & Arts Festival
10 - 12 June 2016
Round Chapel, London

Last weekend I went to an illustration and comics led arts festival. This event was set in Hackney, East London where a selection of independent designers and artists would be selling and promoting their work.

Unlike some of the other illustration fairs I've seen over the last year, this festival had a very intimate and low key feeling about it which I loved. It felt very easy to approach the people who had made the work and there was a real sense of community at the venue. Even though this festival was on a much smaller scale than others I've seen, it felt just as varied and popular.

One of my favourite parts of this fair was seeing the artists drawing on site. Some of them were there to sign their comic books with personalised illustrations, others were creating bespoke drawings for sale which was lovely to see.

I saw such a huge range of styles and merchandise on sale, it was difficult to choose what to come home with. Books, zines, prints, drawings, comics, cards, postcards, badges, ceramics - you name it, it was there! Armed with the long list of exhibitors, I will no doubt be trawling through them and checking out their work online for further purchases. I came home with two wonderful prints and a small drawing which was made at the fair, and the prices were super reasonable. Festivals and fairs like this are fantastic options if you're looking for amazing artwork and prints on a budget. And plus you feel good too in supporting all the emerging talent with their wonderful creations.

Isabel Greenberg (above) was very popular with visitors at the fair, signing her book 'The Encyclopedia of Early Earth' with charming personalised illustrations. Ben Newman (below) was also present, signing his children's book 'Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure' which features some very colourful space-cats.

REVIEW: [Mona Hatoum/Performing for the Camera] @ Tate Modern

Mona Hatoum (4 May - 21 August 2016)
Performing for the Camera (18 February - 12 June 2016)
Tate Modern, London

I popped down to Tate Modern recently for the Mona Hatoum exhibition and whilst I was there, I also had a look around the photography and performance exhibition 'Performing for the Camera'.

Mona Hatoum has been one of my favourite artists since I first started taking art seriously at A Level. Her work commands your attention and at times has a very confrontational presence; it's unsettling, it's visceral and yet poetic too. I have seen a select few pieces of her work over the years, but I was really looking forward to seeing a whole exhibit devoted to her practice.

One of my personal highlights was the installation "Light Sentence" (as in prison sentences), as often Hatoum's work displays political and social undertones. In between a barricade of small cages stacked on top one another, a single light bulb swings in the centre. The projected light from the bulb creates an encompassing surrounding shadow cast around the entire room, transforming it into a 'prison-like' chamber. I think what really worked so well about this piece was the subtle movement of the shadows panning across the walls. The light bulb not only swings like a pendulum, but also moves slowly up and down and the consequent movement of the shadows on the wall makes you feel like you are moving - or swaying. It creates a sense of unsteadiness. The other obvious association I immediately made was feeling like I was in an interrogation room. We've all seen scenes like this in film, where a character wakes up in a dark room, a sinister bulb swings erratically and reveals the character's predicament under confinement or capture. There was something dreamy or illusive about the shadows creating an isolated cell, in comparison to the actual physical barricade in the middle of the room. It felt like being in the point of view of someone slightly hazy.

Another piece I really enjoyed for it's simplicity is '+ and -' (1994/2004). A circular container of sand has a rotating beam that simultaneously smooths and rakes the sand. This is described as a constant process of making and unmaking, a balance of two processes doing and undoing at the same time. I just found this to be really poetic but articulated in such a simple way.

As I mentioned I was at Tate Modern for the Mona Hatoum exhibition, but then I noticed the photography exhibition on and decided to take a look. I really enjoyed this exhibition too. It deconstructs performative acts for photography and allows us to see some of the outtakes or additional shots leading up an iconic image.

"Serious performance art, portraiture, or simply posing for a photograph? What does it mean to perform for the camera? The exhibition explores two forms, looking at how performance artists use photography and how photography in itself is a performance."

This exhibition featured some obvious names in the realm of performance and photography including Charles Ray, Yves Klein, Martin Parr, Erwin Wurm and Ai Wei Wei just to name a few. I really enjoyed this exhibition. I think that it offered a different perception of the artists involved - especially the process and technique to which they choose to use photography to capture an image or an artwork. Especially now where photography is such an accessible and convenient channel of documentation and creativity - it lends itself to some great possibilities.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

PRACTICE: Spring is in Bloom

I've been trying to practice my drawing a lot more recently. So I've been doing some simple line drawings to practice getting form, shape and proportion right. I also do love using colour in my paintings, which is unusual because I hardly use colour in my installation work. I find using watercolours is a very easy way of utilising colour vividly, but I'm hoping to get a good set of inks to play with instead.

I really like traditional Chinese painting and I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to give it a go. But until then, I'm emanating the style a little with some brightly coloured peonies. Pretty much all I use when I draw is a good old Sharpie pen, and I've always enjoyed drawing with pen more than pencil.

REVIEW: [Pick Me Up] Graphic Arts Festival @ Somerset House

Pick Me Up Graphics Arts Festival
Embankment Galleries, Somerset House
21 April - 2 May 2016

Somerset House hosted the annual graphic arts festival 'Pick Me Up' which is currently in its seventh year running. It's a fantastic opportunity to showcase emerging and established artists, studios and collectives. Last year was the first time I came along to this festival, and I absolutely adored the experience. The Embankment galleries became a web of live workshops and stalls, selling anything from prints, zines, clothing and more. As well as that, you get to see the designers in action and watch the creative process, and possibly get something custom made. Because of how much I enjoyed myself last year, I had high hopes for the festival this time round.

The festival begins with a curated exhibit featuring a selection of upcoming artists, A couple of my favourites included Alice Bowsher with her simple but strong black ink drawings, and Aart-Jan Venema's colourful and detailed compositions. Alice Bowsher happened to be the illustrator in residence for the day, and was selling her paintings for £15 a piece.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

INDUSTRY: An Overview of the MA Art & Science Course, Central Saint Martins

MA Art & Science
Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
Duration: 2 Years

So when people ask me what I most recently studied, and I answer with "art and science", they either look understandably baffled, or vaguely impressed. The question I always get asked the most is: what's this course about? What exactly is "art and science"?

I enrolled on the art and science course in the 3rd year of it's fruition. The course had been developed within the MA fine art department by course leader Nathan Cohen. As a relatively new course, I think it's safe to say that the answer to the question was simply us. The students. The course at this point, didn't really have an identity as such. That identity was still very much open for interpretation and because of that, the course was great in some ways but lacking in others.