Friday, 21 December 2012

'In The Dark Times' cmr Redruth Dec 2012

In the Dark Times - cmr - Redruth. December 2012
Members of cmr were invited to send in ideas for this show and then to attend a meeting at which those present spoke about their proposals, some of which were as yet very unformed. Following this the curators, Liam Jolly and Duncan Hopkins decided what to show and how and did the work of installing it.
On returning to invigilate I noticed that the rota had not been filled so the show had not been open as advertised, and another time I would suggest participants should be required to commit to this before their art work is accepted.
The temperature in the building was very chilly even after the two inadequate heaters had been on for several hours.
These practical matters are very important for the professional production of shows that people will bother to come to see and be happy to spend some time looking at. Interestingly there was no provisions for buying work,such as receipts etc. although some works were priced on the list provided.
As the work was installed with nowhere separated off for the invigilators to sit, we became part of the installation, two people in camp chairs, holding onto our warming cups of tea, sitting close to the heater, like two bivouacing squatters in the semi darkness, waiting for someone to come in.

At the entrance there was a shiny paper grotto to walk through which reminded some of one there used to be in a department store in Redruth. However this one contained a framed print that said 'Bomb the world', by Stuart J.Blackmore.

This encapsulated the contrasts of the show.

Jonathan Hayter's light show was a delightful visual ballet of shapes and colours, like being able to walk into a Bryan Wynter 'Imoos'.
In another room a dramatically lit mud-covered book lay on top of bundles of twigs. I didn't know what it meant. More mud books by Francesca Owen hung from a ceiling and Peter Ward showed bundles of sticks recalling a set for babes in the wood or red riding hood.

There was more about fairy tales and masks, dressing up - picked up in my ceramic figures of a New Year Bear talking to a Fairy. 
Alice Mahoney showed a rather creepy torn part of a toy bear and kit for a bear tamer.

 Ilke Cinarel’s video combining a naked man sitting on a toilet with images of children and their voices seemed similarly to hint at something unwholesome whilst recalling 60's graphics, Hockney, ‘found film’ on The Old Grey Whistle Test on t.v.?

Sara Bowler had been running mask making sessions in preparation for the closing 'Saturnalia' 

and I had invited the public to send in baubles expressing how they felt about Christmas, which resulted in a small but unusual and varied display and raised the issue of how we react to being in the grip of our culture and gained useful publicity in the local papers for the whole show. I was able to put inside a bauble shape my poem about being a humanist “It’s our Christmas Too”.

I also showed a previous collaborative piece in which people contributed Xmas tree pictures and words about their use of this custom. These had been made into bauble-like cubes to examine and re-arrange.

Duncan Hopkins had a painting in which a dark figure was behind colourful streamers. Towards the end of the show, following some unexplained bother, this was replaced by Charmaine Honeychurch's thickly painted “Calm after the storm”, the title of which may have referred to this event obliquely, which used gloriously gestural thick paint in a wintry palette. 

Ron Ford also had a whole wall of wintry and autumnal landscape modules showing his studies of the Gorran Gorras area, painted very dry and sparse and glowing attractively in the dim light.

Jayne Anita Smith had also used a mask and a strange masked figure in her paintings and sculpture, the latter shown under one of those domed glass covers that clocks sometimes have. Her paintings were small and benefitted from being shown with plenty of space around them.

“In the Dark Times” was a show swiftly put together and showed the way in which this artists’ group can be fairly spontaneous and show a variety of work that has not had to go through the many hoops that often intervene when artists make applications. Some of the work may be a beginning rather than the resolved result of long study, but it’s still interesting to see it. The curators had produced a well exhibited show, giving care and respect to each art work.
CMR is building a reputation for having something current and unusual to offer, worth being aware of in the sense that whilst at Falmouth on the MA course I heard people say that Redruth was the new St.Ives.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Rothko Scribbler does not deserve 2 years in prison-petition

Dear Theresa May, [I await her reply]

Vladimir Umanets has been jailed for 2 years for scribbling on a Rothko.
This is crazy. 

I ask for his sentence to be reduced. Someone who knows how to start a petition should start one.

 People should only be imprisoned for violent crime. I am an artist and I appreciate Rothko but to take 2 years of a man's life is utterly ridiculous. 

A fine and community service would have sufficed.

Yours faithfully, M.Fletcher

The Guardian published my letter about this on Sat 15th December 2012.
By then I had managed to start an online petition, the link to which is at the start of this post.

There have been some signatures but I would like to see more people join this protest against jailing a man for defacing property.

Its depressing that so few will commit themselves to the slightest involvement in any campaigns-you'd think we were living in some fascist state and in danger of being killed if we even speak our minds-for example so few who read 'art cornwall' forum ever express an opinion-is this because they fear ridicule or because they have no opinion?
As Bettelheim pointed out, in far more terrible circumstances than I hope to endure, if one delays protest then protest becomes more difficult.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Excruciating Noise

Doesn’t anyone else mind the excessive mind-numbing sound levels that some dance companies are playing their music at?

I left ‘Some like it hip-hop’ at the interval because the noise level was too loud for me.

This week, ever hopeful, I went to see ‘Freedom’ by the Vardimon company.
The noise level this time was well over my pain threshold and I had to rush out and ask for my money back after sitting with my hands jammed into my ears for a few minutes. 

Disturbingly, I could not exit through two doors labelled ‘fire door’ because they were locked shut.

It looks as if I’ll have to stop going to Hall for Cornwall. My husband also found the noise level far too loud and was glad to leave.
Is everyone else so deaf it doesn’t bother them or too afraid to complain?
Anyway, two wasted drives from St.Ives, car parking, programmes and expensive tickets - I will restrain myself from booking for anything else and hope the Moscow ballet and Rambert dance are as wonderful as usual as I have those tickets already.

Oh yes, and Vardimon had no interval, making the assault on your ears more of an ordeal and depriving Hall for Cornwall of useful refreshment revenue and all the small audience of being able to meet and chat with fellow cognoscenti of the dance circuit.

Hall for Cornwall should issue noise level warnings, ask companies to not be painfully loud, and keep fire exits unlocked.

Sometimes ‘Freedom’ is leaving.

Mary Fletcher.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Words and Pictures - do they go together?

Text’ was an exhibition at St.Ives Arts Club to accompany the May Literature Festival organised by Bob Devereux 2012.

The works used words in a variety of ways - Bill Bolger made a poster denouncing abstraction as pretentious but using either a copy of Kandinsky or something very similar that rather undermined his point because it was such a lively, enjoyable example.

 Brave though in St.Ives where just up the road, at The New Millenium, Trevor Bell’s large sumptuous abstracts, sometimes on shaped canvasses, offered an experience of being immersed in colours and shapes for those who can swim in such waters. However he accompanied the show with a video in which he paradoxically announced that words have nothing to do with art.

 Back in the Arts Club there were many words, mostly quietly used, needing time to muse over, a lot of grey subtlety.                                    


Russell Hedges used the gestural qualities of hand written illegibility

while Sally Macabe preferred the attractive visual look of typeface.

 Karen Foss used lines about spring plus colours and shapes dancing all over the space

and Bob Devereux achieved a balance of the text and the shapes and colours complementing one another.

 I  had a painting of the St.Paul’s anti-capitalist protest incorporating a political banner and a notice of the dates of the protest camp, so documenting it.

 I also documented, with a spiral form and thoughts written quite small within it, how I had felt about childlessness as a part of my life. I tried to attract with the form and colour and then embed a meaningful reflection in words, rather as Grayson Perry attracts one to the ceramic form and then up close you encounter something else about his life.

  Pauline Devereux had embroidered words about violence on a scarf next to a statement about her enquiry into suicides. 

 Continuing sad themes, Roy Ray had two black framed montages about young men killed in war, very stylishly beautiful but also clearly communicated and eloquent. 

 Zara Devereux used language made more mysterious by being in French and combined with subtle tones and gentle allusions which were hard to understand.

 John Higgins was clearer, with an atmospheric image of storm and lighthouse and words introduced to add something about a steamship on the Nile.

Nicola Higgins was more cheerful with a collage of delicately painted details referring  lightheartedly to experiences of Italy.

 Lastly, John Clark was commenting about culture old and new, about our sense of reality, about love, providing rather a lot to read and photographic images in negative.
Do words always dominate if they are used, whatever the relative scale or degree of fuzzy focus?
Can image and text balance and add to one another? Aren’t some words  always needed in the label, in being told about the context, or meeting the artist in person or in a book?
Do dealers sell the image of the artist, often in words, as much as the artwork?
Some artists want to be vague, to suggest, to leave a lot to the viewer to imagine or complete - perhaps they are vague themselves and don’t want to commit to anything?
 I want to be as clear as I can, to communicate my ideas as simply as I can.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Images of Women

Images of Women
In the seventies and eighties I was involved with groups of women artists in London who wanted to take a stand against women being depicted as objects, things, just bodies, faceless or headless, legs and arms cut off to reduce them to a carcass, meat, torsos.
Around that time a woman, I forget who, showed a photo of a naked woman holding a bowl of apples under her breasts and smiling in a coy way, a nineteenth century saucy postcard perhaps. Next to this was a naked man holding a tray of bananas under his penis and smiling in a way that looked so silly but was so similar. It brought out the contrast in how naked images of women and men were used or not.
I still feel that to make more images of naked women is very difficult to do in any decent way that shows respect for women. Its a difficult matter. Some nude figures are done to learn how to draw. Often people fudge the head because they can’t draw very well.
A lot of people admire Greek ancient statues, so do I, but their mutilations were by accident, the arms got knocked off etc.
I’ve been to life classes, I was piling up images of naked women, what for ? To perpetuate a sort of bland version of page three ? To learn about the body? But in that case why show them? Pianists learn scales but they don’t have whole concerts of scales, they’re a means to later ends.
Bonnard painted his wife without clothes, having baths etc. To my mind these are not ‘nudes’ they are Bonnard’s beloved wife about to have a bath and he manaages to show his love and respect in them. She is a person: there is a context.
Manet painted ‘Olympe’ to make a point, it was shocking because she was so clearly a person, she looks out at us, not being observed secretly. 
Degas also I feel shows great respect for the women he depicts.
Contrast with the ghastly bloke who made a woman into a table, the horrid Sarah Lucas stuff, you can’t criticize degradation by joining in with it.
You can’t pretend a naked woman has only the same significance as an apple. This was pointed out to me in the 60’s at college, where we were doing life studies day and night for a term before life drawing was completely abandoned.
Much later I painted the above picture to make this point.
So I plead with people to take care if they want to show a naked woman, What is it for, what is your motive? What effect does it have? What does selling this image mean?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Arts Response, Falmouth Poly

This show was in the small attractive Daniell room at Falmouth Poly on the main street of the town.There was another, rent-paying, selling show downstairs, with one of the two artists on duty. Unfortunately neither show was featured on the Poly website.The organisation is waiting for a new person in charge so publicity will probably improve.


 Its difficult to get visitors upstairs and as there was no invigilator when I was there, or the day before when a friend visited, there was no record of numbers, just a few encouraging remarks in a visitors’ book, and also of course no security in case works should be damaged or stolen. One of the artists told me invigilation had been promised and staff downstairs did not realise there was no one there. Staff were vague about if insurance recompense would be paid if work was taken or damaged.

The artists in this show have been along to art sessions provided free by Arts for Health with the idea of being therapeutically helpful for a self selecting group of people who want to go to them. The artists names were not featured and the work not for sale and my contact had not been asked for their views on how it was chosen or exhibited or if they could help invigilate. A private view had taken place.
The names of the arts administrators who provided the courses were displayed but not those of other artists employed by them to give particular sessions.
The result was a nice show of varied work but with no statements by the artists and without their identity it gave them a small taste of recognition perhaps aimed at friends and family and giving the artists a treat, whereas the named administrators stood to gain kudos in the Arts for Health sphere as named individuals.
All these issues are very important and delicate and I feel need to be addressed with the artists in a frank dialogue which is taken seriously so that when they visit they do not feel, as one of them certainly did, that although they had been pleased to be in the exhibition, their work was abandoned rather carelessly in an insecure way, work which is perhaps even more meaningful to these artists than to people who are commercially working to sell images.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Nederlands Dance Theatre 2

NDT2     Nederlands dans Theatre   Truro Hall for Cornwall March 2012
‘Gods and Dogs ‘ choreographed by Jiri Kylian
This first dance was fast moving, the performers using strange ungainly attitudes and unusual movements with amazing skill, fitting the melody and rhythms of the Beethoven based soundtrack. There were also unusual additions such as a twitchingcurtain of long strands and a projection of the vivid image of a wolf or dog above the dancers’ heads. I hadn’t the least idea what it was about. I’d decided to watch the whole program and see what I thought before reading the notes, only to find no explanations at all in the notes. It was a great display, received with enthusiasm by Truro’s audience. The screamers were here  in the back row which makes it sound very exciting and I thought the dancers looked almost surprised by the wild enthusiasm.
‘Deja Vu’, Hans van Menen, followed. My companion asked me if we’d seen it before.
The music, by Arvo Part, was again the focus, with dancers often mirroring one another, more fluidly this time.
‘Solo’, also choreographed by van Manan, was the most beautiful of the works, 3 men appearing by turns, each with their own style of movement, dancing closely with the Bach violin suite, and at the end all on stage together. They were all marvellous dancers but Jianhu Wang was my favourite, there was something so infectiously bouyant and easy about his jumps and twizzles.
Lastly came ‘Cacti’ by Alexander Ekman, also danced to lovely classical pieces by Haydn, Beethoven and Mahler. In this the dancers had square plinths to move on and around and to move the positions of, which they did, wittily appearing from behind them so we saw a head or arm etc. They also had cacti of various shapes,which they moved about, the word cacti was used in lights at the sides and a voice made statements about the post modern which also conveyed the pretentiousnous of the art world. Men and women wore similar costumes, very simple as in all the pieces NDT2 danced in this program. The dance was witty and the whole thing was absurd in a lovable, zany way.
As so often in dance I was left very impressed by the level of performance and the number of inventive ideas. In the non dance visual arts there is often so very little to see as if artists have not put in the effort or actually seek to bore the audience.
In dance it is still sufficient to move to music in a way that totally absorbs the audience in a delightful collaboration, a total concentration of audience and performer that leaves me refreshed and invigorated despite my arms aching from applauding. Also I find myself still wanting to wonder about the meanings. I find ideas for ballets as yet unformed are germinating in my mind. There’s a lot choreographers could use, I’d love to colaborate with one, or I might just use the ideas in my paintings.
I’d love to see the other repertoire of NDT2 and hope they visit us again soon.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Childhood with the Surrealists Falmouth Art Gallery

  [ ends 3rd March ]
As one might expect from the title this is a show of unusual things which invite close inspection and are often witty. Anthony Penrose and Andrew Lanyon have collaborated and it contains many of their intriguing works. There is a wonderful photograph taken by Lee Miller of Henry Moore looking at the people gathered in the London underground tunnel to sleep there and be safe from enemy bombs  during World War Two.
However, what makes Falmouth Art Gallery [above the library] so unusual is the inclusion of work by children, which has usually been done at the gallery. While I was there a noisy enthusiastic group were painting in the next room and we could inspect their paintings which were laid out to dry on the floor. When the Tate in St.Ives opened we used to have a class there in which adults painted, using the studio space where the information room is now. We would take our work and put it on the floor in the curved gallery .Happy days, long gone, in which direct influence from the art on show to the artists in the class was a visible reality.
There is a work by a child of three in this Falmouth show and several by older ones, which clearly show us why Picasso and others admired the spontaneity of children and tried to get this in their own work. In this case there is a Picasso print on the same wall

Freddy Martin, age 5, 'Azur Eye'

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Chinese State Circus

The Chinese Circus,         Truro Hall for Cornwall - matinee
So beautifully done, so exuberant, energetic and young. As it starts I want to cry because of their blithe courage.
The clown - all in yellow, is very much less threatening than clowns often are. He throws popcorn over a man’s head in the front row and he gets four men from the audience up on stage to do a stunt where they sit on stools and then lie back on each other’s laps and the clown removes the stools and they remain, supporting one another. He’s impish and cheerful.

There’s a lot of leaping, acrobatics, women spinning eight plates each on sticks, women on bicycles, a woman en pointe on a man’s head, a man on a bed of nails with a paving stone on his chest cracked with a blow from a huge hammer, two men sword fighting, women drumming, women musicians playing frantically, clever lighting, a giant yin yang symbol, and the men with hats, on and off and exchanged, amusing and charming. It’s an absolute treat.
There’s a lot of red and glitter, men dressed as lions tossing their manes.

The audience is intent, excited, all ages, children with those flashing light wheels and sticks and all united clapping to the music at the end as the young company, equals rather than stars and others, clap with us. Two hours of skill and delight in it and we go out into the evening wishing we could do that too, but at least part of it, and they repeat it all at 7.30.

I did some drawings in the dark.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Simon Fujiwara at Tate St.Ives

Simon Fujiwara at Tate St.Ives Jan 2012

There’s quite a lot to see at this show especially if you watch all 4 videos and ask the helpful attendants a couple of questions. I was there two hours to my surprise as at the private view I wasn’t impressed by what look like stage sets. Everything has rather a lot of work in it and the nicely produced book about the artist published by Tate has additional projects not in this show and can be read in the information room.

As I went in the man at the ticket desk asked if I was aware of the ‘adult nature’ of some of the work and I was very tempted to reply, ‘I’d call it adolescent’. Nevertheless, I liked the first room with a child’s eye view of huge phallic lighthouses taken from Wallis, whose small works are delightfully displayed for us to see anew.

The gay bar in Spain with a tiny reference to Franco is o.k., but I wish we could walk into it. Why an earth did his parents select Franco’s Spain for a place to settle?

I’m aware of many women artists who’ve explored autobiographical content, Kahlo, Kelly, Bourgeois, Calle, Emin and many many more from the 80’s, but here’s a man doing this, although including deliberate fictional mystification which I find less interesting than aiming at truth.

It’s great that he’s included work by women, but less great that he gives no credit on the wall to Cathy de Monchaux, Mona Hatoum, Barbara Hepworth, Andrea Fraser and Sarah Lucas [hers is the deadly dull sausage and banana eating video] and in his piece doesn’t name his ‘cello teacher. Bacon and Heron aren’t named either but the public are more likely to know of them already.

His videos are what I like most. I can sort of believe seeing the freedom of Patrick Heron’s stripey job helped the boy Simon feel able to realise it could be o.k. to be gay. I love his joke about performance art -’ How many performance artists does it take to change a light bulb? I don’t know, I left befiore the end’ Did Patrick Heron ever refer to Lacan? It’s a bit absurd to refer to St.Ives in 1981 as ‘a fishing village’ where art magazines hadn’t reached, but presumably that’s part of the joke about reality and myth.

It’s in the video about smashing the Leach pots, a cleverly sensitive subject for St.Ives, and for a half Japanese artist now modishly ‘Berlin based’ that Simon says you can try to deal with such things as his relationship with his father symbolically, but that it doesn’t work. This is the one place in the show where I felt the artist was speaking straight from the heart. I felt that he knows about psychology but that if he wanted to encounter a therapist as an equal rather than use actors under his own direction he might find a way of using symbols to really embody his feelings and help him in a more enlivening way.

In the last room Simon Fujiwara toys with the politics of Mexico with reference to Cortez and to himself as a patronising tourist, writing letters to Europe, which are decipherable if you read them out. It’s obscurely and very tentatively done.

I’ve missed out the Mexican Saint Simon, paradoxically a figure with arms too short to be able to play with himself with whom the artist identifies by making the face his own.

I think there’s a lot of work on these general lines being done on MA courses all over the U.K., maybe all over the world, but somehow Fujiwara has the spotlight on him and all this space to put his work. This aspect of his autobiography, how did he come to get his work here? is the one that interests me most but is not addressed. One of the attendants points out S.F. ‘ticks a lot of boxes’ for being mixed race, living in Berlin, being homosexual even. Is that a box ticker? There’s no mention of all his peers. In the video where he speaks directly to us, Simon comes over as very likeable and unsnooty.He’s trying to say stuff that matters and refers to stuff outside the art world and he seems to work hard so I give him credit although there’s the usual sour grapes that I do some autobiographical work with a lot more direct connection to people, about murder, grief, death and infertility, which can be seen on axisweb but then I’m just in need of a box-ticker’s apprenticeship.

As Simon Fujiwara prefers to play with reality rather than directly express it I want to tell you about his sister, still living in Carbis Bay, with no chance so far to get her own art shown anywhere beyond her own front room.