Circus Autumn Internship

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On Tuesday the 24th of October, I had my first meeting as an Autumn Intern with Circus Artspace in Inverness.

Circus Artspace is an artist-run collective which strives to bring Contemporary Art to Inverness; whether it’s organizing exhibitions and supporting local Contemporary and Fine artists, collaborating with other Arts organizations in the Highlands and Islands, or creating initiatives such as the Internship Programme to further the education of artists who have recently graduated college or university such as myself.

I will be working with Circus Artspace over a span of three months and it certainly will be an eye-opening and constructive experience for me; learning new skills and abilities whilst bringing my own ideas and experiences to the table.

I will also be producing new work with Circus Artspace including a political/protest project that will involve the statues and monuments that are dotted around Inverness’s city landscape.

Circus Autumn Internship

Overhaul.

It has been a year since my last entry, and many, many things have happened during that time. I have completed my BA (Hons) degree at Inverness College UHI, gaining an Upper Second Class. I have completed an art residency with my fellow college friends Lar MacGregor and Toria Caine, as well as a subsequent exhibition at Toria’s studio space in Cawdor: Caladar Arts.

I am involved in the growing yet mostly ‘underground’ art scene in Inverness, where I’m a frequent goer to art events; both as an observer and a participant. I am also constantly applying for opportunities which can further my art practice.

And I’m also on the dole; applying for jobs that would hopefully help fund what I do and keep me alive.

I am also figuring out what I’m going to do with this blog. As I have stated before, I’m not a natural blog person. Maybe because I have never kept a diary. But the blog has potential to be utilized in other ways, such as archiving my work, the stories behind what made them come into being and what their status is in the world. I will also try and convert it into more of a website in terms of layout.

It may take me a while, but the blog needs an overdue overhaul into a system that I may actually use and maintain this time.

Overhaul.

Getting back into the saddle…

An academic year has passed, and I have ignored my blog during that time. Mostly because I have been very busy, and that I’m not really a bloggy person. But I felt that this would be a good time to tell what I have been doing since the last post.

I have been completing my Hons bit of my BA Hons Contemporary and Contextualised Practice course at Inverness UHI. 60% or so has been figuring out what my work is about and refining it, whilst 40 or so percent has been writing. Mostly research for a dissertation/symposium special or researching for my work in my sketchbooks.

My work has developed significantly from the ‘War CDs.’ I’m still creating work that illustrates news articles that are reported by the media, but instead of trying to create a story like I did with the ‘War CDs;’ where storage files and/or objects are physically corrupted by the footage that they hold, my work now just tells it how it is.

My subjects range from the rise of knife, gun and acid attacks in the UK as well as other countries such as America, to more harrowing topics such as the Grenfell Tower blaze.

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(‘Re-coil:’ a found-object sculpture depicting the rise of knife attacks in the UK.)

The research for my dissertation/symposium was heavily based on my work as well as my (sometimes skewed) belief that Political Art is mostly non-existent or hidden for some reason. This can be to the Art produced not being visually striking or that there are other forces at work which doesn’t want bold Political Art to be seen.

This research was produced for an alternative to a traditional dissertation. I decided to do a symposium or oral presentation instead, and I am happy to note, that I would probably be the ONLY person to do the symposium. At my college. Ever.

It was a faff. It can be improved; more relaxed and less academic. And a bigger word count. But if it was a bigger word count, why should someone do the symposium and not the dissertation as there would be no difference. So I’ve been telling the years below to just do the dissertation. It’s less faff and you’ll be keeping the universities happy if you choose to continue your studies somewhere else. Because of what I have picked, it’ll be harder for me to study somewhere else without defending why I did a symposium that a dissertation.

But hey ho.

So that is why I have been quiet for nearly a year. But now I’ve got a bit more time on my hands and less stress, I can document what I have been doing, and maybe what I am doing right now.

Getting back into the saddle…

Creative X Part 2: Second Coming!

As you can recall in the last post, I created new designs for the collaboration with Creative Skate Store and future art exhibition with said collaborators because I felt the first designs (the James and Chris screenprints) weren’t up to scratch.

So I created the ‘MAD DOG’ ‘board graphic, illustrating General James Mattis’ nickname with a three-colour military theme.

Now I’m focusing on the “twin” for the ‘MAD DOG’ ‘board, featuring this guy…

 

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Have an idea who this is supposed to represent?

Yep, it’s a mandrill baboon mixed with Donald Trump.

In contrast to the ‘MAD DOG,’ this graphic was to be brightly coloured, very busy, dramatic and basically overkill. So I had to design and put in a lot of elements to achieve the dramatic look, and to match its dramatic title: ‘FAKE NEWS.’

I was thinking ‘Stars and Stripes’ and a big zeppelin with speakers and soundwaves. And placement of the title would be shared with the ‘MAD DOG’ twin; between the bolts for the nose truck.

Airship

Everything was built in Photoshop, and you can see the rough edges. (I’ve just spotted the irregularity of the stripes at the bottom there. I thought trying to get both sides symmetrical was bad enough, and I still didn’t get that right.)

But I’m still very proud of what I had built, and that I had achieved what was in my head.

Board Graphics Bab

What I did find weird is the change of the colour blue when I transferred the ‘Baboon’ from one file to another. I thought it was the file’s fault, which also has the ‘MAD DOG’ image, so I created the ‘Baboon’s’ own file, but the colours stayed the same. And the ‘MAD DOG’ hasn’t picked up this “faded” look.

? Hmmmm….

I don’t want to change it though. I’ve grown used to it, and actually prefer it. I brings out the light-to-dark gradient which I wanted, and forced me to think more about the design, so not having a fine ‘stroke’ line around the ‘Baboon’s’ body and having him blend into his surroundings.

Again, I’m holding off from unveiling the full graphic until it’s been made physical with it’s “twin,” but I’m pretty stoked with the way they have turned out. They’ll look good as posters or even stickers, so that’s another couple of mediums which they could appear as. But I would love it if the funding was available and the skateboard exhibition went ahead. And I talked with a fellow skateboarder recently who may have given an idea on how the exhibition ‘boards could be displayed.

 

Creative X Part 2: Second Coming!

Creative X Part 1: Second Coming!

 

This is a blog post talking about my skateboard designs for the Skateboard Exhibition held by Creative Skate Store sometime in September or later on.

“Whoa! Hold on a minute! Didn’t you already do some skateboard deck designs for the same exhibition back in May?”

Yes I did. If you can recall, these ones.

me boardsWhich, at the time, I was quite pleased about.

But, during and after the ‘DiscoBeast’ exhibition, I came to the realisation that they are actually quite boring and a bit shit. And that the only people who could use them, are the guys on them; James and Chris. Which is what happened.

James bought his from me for £30 and skated it until it could “pop” no more. Chris got his as a wedding present. (He and his wife Pam got married last Sunday. (27th of August.))

Meanwhile I started on designing better graphics, ones which suited my style of art more. And they would still be a pair and match each other whilst being dramatically different.

The first ‘board was to be a continuation or reworking of ‘The General Feasts Upon The Cabinet.”

 

Initally, I wanted this ‘board to have a look that was not too far away from the album covers of ‘Slayer,’ designed by Larry Carroll. Lots of reds, browns and blacks, multi-layering, demonic and messy.

Instead, I simplified the design; using a 3 – colour pallette; black, white and army/olive drab green, and designing an imposing but uncomplicated graphic.

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I created this guy by splicing together a snarling Alsatian/German Shepherd dog and a photo of General James Mattis, also known as ‘Mad Dog Mattis.’ (Can you see the connection?)

In order to hide the choppy bit at the bottom of the portrait, I freehanded a wiped-blood effect, (With a mouse. I do have a tablet and pen, but I still haven’t used it yet.) and inserted blood splatters over the top to build it up.

To add a twist, I placed the title (now “MAD DOG” in ‘STENCIL’ font) in-between the bolt holes for the trucks. My logic is that as the ‘board is being used and the graphic is worn away, you can still identify the ‘board because the title has been “saved” by being underneath the truck.

I know, a lot of faff, but I thought it was a stroke of genius.

Above the portrait was to be a halo of stars in the original work, and I retained it for the graphic.

Board Graphics Dog

 

It was looking great, but there was something missing. At the top of the deck, (the nose) there was an empty space, so I wanted to fill it. Not with something big, but with something that would fit with the theme of the graphic.

Like a plane. Or a bomber.

I had two in mind; a B-52, and an A-10 Thunderbolt.

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ThunderboltIn the end, the Thunderbolt won, but the B-52 looked great at the nose too.

I’m holding off at unveiling the full graphic here until I get the physical skateboard printed and paid for. Which I am looking forward to, simply because of how and if the printer would be able to replicate the colours first time, or like ‘TwoFngrs’ ‘board, there would be some “teething troubles.”

In the meantime though, I will follow up this post with another on the “twin” to the ‘MAD DOG.’

 

Creative X Part 1: Second Coming!

Lonely Arts Exhibition

 

It has been a while since I have submitted a blog post, and it is really because of my laziness, as well as the fact that I am not a natural blogger.

But mostly because I am lazy.

I am also now on Instagram, (theblackeningdog) so most of my time has been spent on uploading snippets of work on that.

Anyway, this post has been long overdue.

From the 7th – 10th of June 2017, myself and a few of my BA art crew were involved in an exhibition of work by local artists in the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, set up by LAC founder Rebecca Brown and Museum Exhibition Officer Kirsten Body.

The work ranged from paintings to illustration, sculpture to projected images/digital work. I believe over 200 pieces were submitted for the exhibition.

As stated before in a past blog post, I submitted my sculpture piece; ‘Manchester: 1996,’ although I did try to include its “sister,” ‘Manchester: 2017,” but I was too late as the set-up team were already hanging up the pieces on the 6th of June, ready for the opening night on the 7th. (‘Manchester: 2017’ was exhibited at the DiscoBeast Exhibition on the 3rd of June.)

The opening night was a success; artists/designers and members of the public turned up to have a drink and discuss the work. The following pictures were taken at the opening night, and feature my shadow a lot, so no prizes for stunning photography there!

 

'Flow'
One of my classmate’s work, Lar MacGregor’s ‘Flow.’ Produced during her placement with Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Made with reclaimed copper sheets, and representing timelines of projects which the Museum was involved with.

 

Another two classmates work; Lisa Brandon on the left and Chris McDiarmid on the right. Chris had two pieces on display in the exhibition.

 

 

 

On the left; two of Arron Cooper’s works. Arron is a friend of mine. He was a year or so above me (HNC/HND) when I was doing my NC in the old Midmills building of the UHI. Around the time of the exhibition he was completing/had completed his BA in Fine Art at Moray.

 

One of my good friends Amy Anderson’s watercolour pieces on the wall. Amy is primarily a digital illustrator, but she wanted to push herself and produce a couple of watercolours for the exhibition. Amy is in the second picture.

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Maja Tokar’s crow skull, made of resin and flowers. Maja is going to Edinburgh College of Art to focus on jewellery.

 

'Manchester: 1996'
“The Brick,” which (annoyingly) was hung ‘landscape and not ‘portrait!’ Ultimately it didn’t affect the ‘aura’ of the piece.

 

 

 

Lonely Arts Exhibition

Manchester: 1996

Whilst I was researching the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert on the 22nd of May 2017, a number of articles mentioned that a terrorist attack had occurred 20 years previously. I was intrigued, and so began to research that event as well.

15th of June, 1996. Football fans were beginning to descend on the city for the Euro 96 match between Scotland and England. TV crews were arriving ahead of the football match at Old Trafford the next day; Russia vs Germany.

Shoppers were busy deciding on Father’s Day gifts.

Then at 9:20 am, two heavily disguised men left a red and white Ford Cargo van on the corner of Cannon Street and Corporation Street. The pair quickly left in a burgundy Ford Granada, which was found abandoned in Preston.

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9:38 am; a man with an Irish accent called the authorities that a bomb in an abandoned Ford Cargo van was about to go off in Manchester, and relayed a code word used by the ‘Provisional Irish Republican Army’ or IRA. The police quickly commenced an operation to evacuate 80,000 people from Manchester City Centre.

The’ Army Bomb Disposal Squad’ were preparing to disable the bomb using a disposal robot. I theory, there would be two small explosions; one would blow a hole in the side of the van, the other would disable the bomb inside.

At 11:17am, the bomb went off.

3,300 pounds of homemade explosive pulverised shops, shattered windows, travelled around 90 degree corners, pushed people to the ground and sounded an explosion which could be heard over 15 miles away. It left a 15 metre crater.

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Glass, masonry bricks and mortar rained from the sky, injuring evacuated shoppers.

212 people were injured, but nobody was killed.

Learning about this attack, I decided to create a “sister” piece to the ‘Manchester: 2017’ work.

Titled ‘Manchester: 1996,’ the work would depict a brick suspended in a space without any aids. Bloody and dirty crepe bandages would be wrapped around the brick, whilst blood would drip and pool in the chambers.

I used the bandage clips to keep the warps secured, and they added another “layer” to the work. The “blood” (ink and Plakka paint) was applied with a pipette and the ends of brushes.

The brick was to be suspended with no aids in the middle of a box frame, to focus maximum attention to the details. I had to modify two box frames with balsa wood inserts in order to get the depth I wanted. The brick was mounted onto black card fixed onto one of the backs with silver wire and Gorilla Glue. The frames were also fixed together with Gorilla Glue.

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The finished piece. I originally wanted glass in the frame but there wasn’t enough depth to allow that.
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The Gorilla Glue did its job and fixed the piece and the frame together with a strength like nothing else. Apart from securing the brick to the mount, the wire is mostly cosmetic, adding another dimension to the piece.

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As well as the DiscoBeast exhibition, I was involved in another exhibition with the ‘Lonely Arts Club’ in Inverness. The exhibition would be shown at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery from the 7th to the 10th of June, around the time of ‘XpoNorth;’ a music, arts and gaming festival which is also held in Inverness.

I submitted ‘Manchester: 1996’ into the ‘Lonely Arts Club’ exhibition, and I will writing a follow-up blog post about what happened and how many were involved, along with plenty of images.

 

 

Manchester: 1996

Manchester: 2017

Monday night, 10:30pm, 22nd of May 2017. An Ariana Grande concert has just finished, and fans are beginning to collect their belongings and leave Manchester Arena.

Then an explosion sounds in the foyer. Some are confused; they believe a balloon has popped or a speaker has burst. Others run in terror and chaos ensues, splitting parents from their children.

A terrorist attack has happened in Manchester. Police and ambulances have been called, and people of all classes and race rush in to help those who have been wounded by the explosion. Homeless folk pull shrapnel out of children’s arms and faces, whilst others hold dying women in their arms.

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Taxi drivers offer free services in order to get those unharmed home as quickly as possible, no matter how far away they live.

22 were killed, and 59 were injured in the attack.

It would have been wrong for me to ignore this event and not produce a “statement” about it, so I quickly got to work. I knew what I was going to produce, and how it was going to look.

I used the concept of my ‘WAR CDs’ as a starting point; wanting to use the idea that a phone “captured” the during and aftermath of the Manchester terror attack; displaying items from the Ariana Grande concert, and the bloody chaos in the streets. The “phone” would have to be an iPhone; as that is the most commonly-used phone around, and would have to have a protective case which a teenage girl would buy and use; decorated with flowers, glitter, unicorns etc.

I bought an iPhone protective case and proceeded to seal all the holes for the buttons and the camera with Plexiglas and Araldite epoxy. Initially I thought that all protective cases were made out of a hard plastic; some are, but mostly they are rubber, which my one was.

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The “phone” would be filled with the following:

  • Black and Gold glitter.
  • Shards of a burst magenta balloon; similar to the balloons at the concert.
  • A bloody and burnt crepe bandage.
  • Bloody nails; as if they were pulled out of the fans arms and faces by folk.

I prepared the bandage using my tried-and-tested method of using inks, Plakka paints, ink and flour mix, charcoal and burning.

I wanted the nails to look rusty and so I placed them in a salt solution overnight. Unfortunately, most nails these days are galvanised. Even a slight sanding made no difference, so the nails also got the Plakka treatment.

I cut a Plexiglas “screen” to the outline and size of the case, and assembled the “phone.” The bandage was placed inside first, followed by the shard of balloon, sprinkling of glitter and then the nails, which once the “screen” was placed and glued down, would not move.

Framing the piece was very important, as I wanted all attention on the “phone” and its contents. It was to be fitted snugly in the middle of a white mount board, within a black frame. The white mount board would also highlight the contents since the “phone” was see-through, and provide an ‘aura’ or ‘glow.’

The piece made it’s debut at the DiscoBeast exhibition on Saturday the 3rd of June 2017, alongside the ‘WAR CDs’ which inspired the “phone.” I gave the piece a simple title: ‘Manchester: 2017.’ Because once you see the title and the piece together, you can easily make the connection.

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Unfortunately, during the DiscoBeast exhibition, I was told that London had been attacked again. Another hit-and-run. Another knife attack. And casualties.

More “memories” for me to create.

Manchester: 2017

First of Many to Come…

For my latest venture with Creative Skate Store, I was to be involved in a pop-up art exhibition on Saturday, the 3rd of June 2017. This was to serve as an experimental “test run” for the upcoming ‘Skateboard Project’ exhibition which will be sometime in September hopefully. (James King is still trying to get funding for the project.)

The pop-up art exhibition would showcase the work from a specific artist and guest artists, and have a pop-up bar serving drinks, whilst being housed in the Creative Skate Store building.

I was billed as one of the guest artists, as well as curating the exhibition.

The main artist was a local graphic artist (he says he’s a graphic designer, but he’s an artist really) called ‘DiscoBeast.’ ‘DiscoBeast’s’ portfolio consists mainly of screenprints, illustrations and digital/physical gig posters.

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The pop-up event was to be ‘DiscoBeast’s’ first exhibition, which actually shocked me at first, and maybe shows my naivety. Initially I thought this was going to be another “tick in the box” for ‘DiscoBeast’ as I find his work superb and professionally well done, so to learn that this was to be his first exhibition opened my eyes a bit. Apart from exhibitions in the college, this was to be my first “outside” exhibition as well.

The other guest artists were the tattooists from one of Inverness’ tattoo shops, ‘InverInk.’ Five tattooists were involved; ‘BIL,’ (owner of ‘InverInk’) ‘LadyFace,’ TWOfngrs, (who is also involved in the ‘Skateboard Project’) Luca Bassi (nerinchiostro) and Dan Kavanagh.

Involving the ‘InverInk’ tattooists was actually an interesting prospect, as it showcased a side to their work which may not “see the light of day” on a customer’s skin. It may have also been the case that the exhibition would have been a first for them as well.

Being friends of James and ‘Creative,’ ‘DiscoBeast’ and I declared that we would produce work specifically for the exhibition, as well as display work from our portfolios.

‘DiscoBeast’ traded one of his prints which James had his eye on, for a used skateboard which he would sand down and decorate. Meanwhile I would produce a sculpture piece highlighting a current event. (I will make a dedicated blog post explaining the piece after this one.)

After a quick count, we had about fifty pieces from seven artists, which was a good number of pieces for an exhibition which was the first of it’s kind in Inverness. Everything on display was for sale, or if there wasn’t a price then the artist would be around to ask. ‘DiscoBeast,’ Luca and ‘BIL’ were also displaying and selling prints in varying sizes. We (artists) displayed the piece information by writing on the walls with silver pens, which was ‘DiscoBeast’s’ idea. We would also have an “art wall” where visitors and exhibiting artists can draw with said pens.

The shop closed at 4pm, which gave us three hours to set up the exhibition before reopening at 7pm. Clothes and merchandise were transferred into boxes, the pop-up Jack Daniels bar was stocked with drink and ice, and the DJ corner was set up.

7pm came, and guests came in droves. At the end of the night, we had about 70-80 guests at the exhibition, with 40 in the shop at one time. The shop was packed. The pop-up bar was serving drinks at a rate of knots, despite the barman Lee Gripton cutting his finger twice. (Lee is another one involved in the ‘Skateboard Project.’)

‘DiscoBeast’ had a lot of success on the night as well; he sold numerous prints and I believe, all of his ‘ALWAYS HUNGRY’ A1-sized black and white screenprint. After some hesitation, he also sold the acetate screen used to expose the image onto a silkscreen.

That’s mine now.

 

The exhibition was a big success; there was a lot of interest in all of our work, pieces were sold and James was getting a lot of guests asking him when the next exhibition was going to be held. Which we are already discussing who is going to be involved next time, and when it is going to happen. So keep your eyes open.

 

Links:

http://www.discobeast.co.uk/

https://www.instagram.com/disco_beast/

https://www.instagram.com/freehandbill_inver_ink/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/dankavanaghtattoo/?hl=en

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First of Many to Come…

An intervention.

As mentioned before in previous posts, I’m doing a placement at Creative Skate Store as part of my BA in Contemporary and Contextualized Practice. (i.e. Public Art) During my stint I am involved in a number of different projects, such as designing and creating artwork for ‘The ‘Board Project,’ and curating exhibitions.

Project of the day today is the ‘Visual Intervention.’

This was an idea brought forward to me by Creative owner (and basically my boss) James King. He wanted to do something with the outside of the shop; clad it in art and attract attention from both locals and tourists to the shop and the city of Inverness.

Bright, colourful graphics which people would stop and stare and (hopefully) photograph. Get people to stop and talk about it. An intervention in the dull drudgery of consumerism and capitalism.

The graphics would be produced by Creative’s sister company, ‘Creative Design and Print,’ run by James friend and business partner Chris Wilson. This would keep costs down as well as showcase Creative Design’s materials and skillset.

This sounded like a great idea, but it could also be extended into advertisement for local events which Creative was actively involved in.

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Creative are official partners with local events such as the ‘OutDores’ music festival and ‘XpoNorth.’ I quickly drew up some ‘visual intervention’ concepts for ‘XpoNorth,’ given that it was (so we thought at the time) the more important and closest event in the calendar. (XpoNorth is a music, technology and gaming festival held in June.)

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Geometrical shapes were the “order of the day,” as I thought they fitted the image of ‘XpoNorth.’ The second design (Arrows) was an instant hit with James, who photographed the design and proposed it to the management of ‘XpoNorth.’

If all goes well, the design will grace Creative’s windows in time for the festival. Creative will be a music venue, where they will showcase up-and-coming bands, and/or returning favourites. Having the bands names die-cut in the graphics may be on the cards.

Again, it will showcase Creative Design and Print’s skillset and use of “exotic” vinyl materials, such as metallic and chrome vinyls, as well as vinyl which can be applied to the pavements and not damage them.

Creative will also be official stockists of Vans clothing and shoes July, which means there will be a launch party. Which means that a ‘visual intervention’ might be considered.

But one thing at a time first, we’ll have to focus on the ‘XpoNorth’ graphics once ‘Creative Design and Print’ is less busy. And we already missed an opportunity to showcase the ‘OutDores’ music festival, which was a shame, but we were too busy with other projects. So as a result, we overlooked it.

But that doesn’t mean something couldn’t be done for next year!

 

An intervention.