In my spare time…
Tile Art – Acrylic/varnish
“a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.” Leo Tolstoy (Essay – What is Art?)
..”the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” Oxford Dictionaries
…successfully avoiding precise definition for years (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art-definition/).
‘The one great quality that makes a work of art truly contagious is its sincerity.’
(Aylmer Maude xvii into to translation of What is Art? by Leo Tolsto
“…like morality, (it) consists of drawing the line somewhere”, G. K. Chesterton.
Life meets Art
Reflection, refraction, repose – Student Lodging – the installation
Student lodging can seem like the ultimate unmade bed, and evoke strong responses by virtue of its laissez faire approach to everyday life. But that is its attraction – the power inherent in the image. It juxtaposes the desire to ignore with the horror of seeing – albeit accidentally. It is natural, organic. It is visceral. It is based on the immediate, the contradictory, a melding of the conscious with the unconscious, suggesting the possibilities and potentialities of its creator(s).
The result is an incredibly imaginative utilization of everyday items. Items specifically chosen to highlight the charged environment in which they live and an expression of life lived on the fringe and on a budget. From your first step inside the hallway, to your circumnavigation of mop heads, bin lids and extraneous street signs in the back yard on departure, every cubic inch beckons, unfolds and informs. One visit is just not enough simply because highlights are hard to pick from such masterful crafting of chaos. Full immersion is vital to appreciate the whole experience and this can only be achieved through a series of visits. The viewer must commit themselves, totally and without reservation otherwise questions such as ‘Did I just see what I think I saw? Did that bag move? Is that even possible? Why?’ will forever remain unanswered. Among the highlights……
‘Haven’t seen him for a week’ – Dirty sheets/beer cans/ashtrays/dead insects/animal carcasses/marine life – anything goes and in some cases, nothing is spared.
‘Your turn’ – cigarette butts impaled on cocktail sticks, painted with tiny faces – adorning the tops of old milk cartons – life meets death – and smiles…
‘Good for the brain’ – Prawn shells spoon along sink/cooker and worktop – all paying homage to a large tuna head in a strategically placed basin (very short lived and quite smelly installation in the later stages – but worth the viewing)
‘RB & C’ – Empty toilet rolls neatly cut and covering every banister of a stairwell. A felt tip pen provided for notes, dedications and reminiscence by stairwell users.
‘Never again’ – Empty rolls 2 – tile/streak/stain and mold. All combine to express the visceral reality of an attempt to cleanse, to purify and restore the body corporeal – at the expense of all else..
… and further down the hall – the void aka the hot press – empty – and unexplored. This installation is supported by audio, soft scratching, barely audible squeaks, a polarization of neglect, disdain and the transferal of responsibility denied by all. If you experience one of these installations, all else pales..Dead cows (standard in any butcher shop window until health regulations became more stringent), are passe. Dead butterflies, equally so (check your windowsill in Autumn for them, if you prefer bluebottles – check attic in winter). Dead sharks – absolutely banal in comparison to six fish fingers installed in the salad compartment of a fridge for nine weeks – menthol tissues recommended throughout viewing.
Singly or combined, these installations inspire healthy competition among and between students. This occasionally results in refreshingly unique collaborations. At one of these installations I was particularly drawn to a faux Christmas tree decorated with toilet paper, bottle caps, a rolling pin and foil from takeaways, carefully manipulated and hung. To me they seemed a harmonious combination of belief, tradition and reality tinged with a pang of post Christmas regret. The party’s over – it left by the back door and got lost in the shed.
These works, though intriguing, rarely reach their full potential, purely through lack of funding. Grants are insufficient for students to do little more than exist. Others barely get by on part time employment. For the vast majority, parents are not an option – their minimalist lifestyle is unable to sustain – anything.
A large proportion of these students are absorbed into multinational companies on completion of their degrees – wouldn’t it be nice if these companies supported them more during their academic and artistic development?<
Most installations are seasonal. Access is rarely problematic if based on some form of relationship with a student or students (ie parent, brother, sisters, girlfriend/boyfriend etc). A generous donation may allow the uninitiated entry. The optimum time to visit is eight weeks after college has started as by that time all household rosters have been forgotten and resolutions abandoned.
The Palaces of Potsdam
If you prefer art and architecture imbued with history – visit Potsdam part of the Berlin/Branderberg Metropolitan region of Germany.Potsdam’s palaces sit among 500 ha of parks with 150 buildings constructed between 1730 and 1916. They line the banks of the River Havel and Lake Glienicke.
The Sans-Souci Palace, was built during the reign of Frederick II between 1745 and 1747. Voltaire was a guest. Frederick William (1620-88) established his residence there. During the reign of Frederick II the Great (1712-86) radical changes were made at the King’s behest. This new King wanted to create a ‘Prussian Versailles’, which was to be his main residence. In 1744 he ordered a vineyard to be planted on six terraces on the southern side of a hill, Bald Mountain. Sanssouci, the palace was influenced by architectural styles from Italy, England, Flanders, Paris and Dresden, following the trend of European cities and courts in the 18th century.
The influence wasn’t one way – the castle and the park in turn influenced the development of the monumental arts and the organization of space east of the Oder. The Sanssouci palace included a rotunda with a projected axis and, on either side, a suite of five rooms. The east suite was the royal apartment; the west suite, guest rooms. The architect was Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff.
The 290 ha park was laid out around several buildings, symmetrically. It flanked the castle to the east and west.
After the Seven Years War (1756-63) Frederick the New Palace was constructed. This was a huge Rococo-style building with over 200 rooms, including the famous Shell Room. Other buildings were constructed in the park. Among them was the Antique Temple, the Friendship Temple, Belvedere and the Dragon Pavilion and the part itself was enlarged.
This is now a World Heritage site, covering the parks, chateaux and buildings, including the Marble Palace (the king’s summer residence). You’ll need a packed lunch, and comfortable shoes for this walk-round.
The architecture of Ireland is equally diverse, and fascinating. My favourite are most often cloaked in ivy, in a place apart, aging and decaying yet consistent in their beauty. Photographer and Make up artist Norma Scheibe has captured their essence and the natural beauty of the West of Ireland.