A Day in the Steps of a WCPF Director... by Lizzie Glendinning

by Lizzie Glendinning, Dir. Brocket Gallery London

The nature of my work means no day is the same. I'm in the project space in central London 2-3 days a week sorting out the exhibition programme and admin or meeting artists,  the rest of the time I spend in meetings, studios, writing proposals for the gallery or working on my own curatorial and written work. It's 7 days a week but always worthwhile. 

More recently we have been getting things in place for the inaugural Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair which is set to be the largest solely contemporary print fair in the UK which takes place in an incredible old carriage factory in the Royal Arsenal Riverside, London. 

Soon to be linked by Crossrail to make the area minutes from central London, we are working with the cultural regeneration of the Arsenal to be at the fore of the emerging art scene establishing itself in the abandoned factories and dockyard buildings. While hosting an engaging art fair focussing on the craft, innovation and processes of contemporary original printmaking, we will be providing advice for potential collectors on the benefits of collecting these unique works of art and living with contemporary art. 

We are therefore working with a number of companies and individuals to make this happen. Here I meet a few of them.....

 

Early morning meeting with Peggy, Berkeley Home's new Events Coordinator for RARE! Haven't met Peggy before and things get off to a great start as she works with our curatorial ideas and fits them within the boundaries and health & safety aspects of this incredible space. We are very lucky that RARE have offered us this building to undertake what we expect to be an annual event! We held an installation over 4 days here in July so we're aware of many of the obstacles we face. Tape measures & a lot of pacing and pointing involved!

 

 

Next, a quick hello and catch up with the  Mikaël, the wonderful Frenchman heading up The Guard House, a gorgeous resturant/bar within in the Arsenal. The Guard House generously provided drinks for the preview of Samuele Sinibaldi's Arc of Knowledge back in July and will be setting up a pop-up cocktail lounge within the fair to look after our guests and introduce their new cocktail menu!

FYI: Not only is Mikaël a great guy to want to work with us again...he's also the Absolut Vodka Espresso Martini International Champion!!! BEST news I heard all year!

 

 

 

 

Onwards to see our printing partner, Gary, at Diamond Digital in the Royal Arsenal Trading Estate. He's so ahead of the game and talks me through paper choices and layout for the catalogues, postcards, invitations, posters, the works. He produced such great printed literature for our last exhibition in the Arsenal and was so delightful to work with that we were thrilled he wanted to keep the relationship going! 

 

 

 

Throughout history the Thames has been central to much of London's industrial growth. This view from Woolwich outside Thames-Side Print Studio looking up towards the Thames Barrier is reflective of the many majestic and important architectural sites throughout London, and the ongoing development which we can see from the skyline of cranes & the financial powerhouse of Canary Wharf to the left.    

Throughout history the Thames has been central to much of London's industrial growth. This view from Woolwich outside Thames-Side Print Studio looking up towards the Thames Barrier is reflective of the many majestic and important architectural sites throughout London, and the ongoing development which we can see from the skyline of cranes & the financial powerhouse of Canary Wharf to the left. 

 

 

 

 

THAMES-SIDE PRINT STUDIO

One of our exhibition partners for WCPF, presenting some of their talented studio artists. I was given a very enjoyable tour by Director, Carolyn, taking in the fantastic range of printing facilities they make available to their artists. From etching and lithograph, to screen-printing and woodblock prints, Thames-Side have the most impressive industrial presses, and who could not be inspired by the ongoing activity of that ever-changing river view!!!

We happily sampled the on-site café for lunch - recommended!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short walk around the corner...

The excitement when next and final Woolwich call of the day took me to meet Phil at Phramed, who brought along Phoebe, his beautiful French Bulldog companion. We spoke a little about the framing, his stand and providing guests of the fair with great prices and a great service...but then mostly stroked the dog & took pictures of her! 

Now... To Covent Garden!!

 

 

 

 

 

THE LIB-RARY

Private members club and quiet retreat on the boundaries of Soho and Covent Garden. Brocket Gallery will be providing work for their walls next year! Here I was meeting James Elwes, Art Producer and Director of the Whithurst Park Art Fair that we were part of last week. So much fun! Jack, my business partner and coincidentally, my husband, meets us there for the meeting (and to scope the current work on display).

We are meeting to discuss Jamie's involvement as Fundraising Director for the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair. We are so lucky to have him on board with this, our fourth collaboration in the past 18 months. Whithurst, Woolwich...the World!!

It's 6.30 now and I'm tired. My best pal meets me here for catch-up apéritifs after the guys make an exit. Then I'm off for supper, copious red wine and wholesome board games as my brother-in-law is in town and we're so looking forward to catching up with him! 

FIN!

FIN!

 

 

SARAH GILLETT: ON QUARRY by Lizzie Glendinning

Quarry, Sarah Gillett's new solo exhibition at Brocket Gallery, London, examines Paolo Uccello’s painting The Hunt in the Forest (1470) as the basis for a new series of works combining printmaking, needlepoint and collage. On the opening of the exhibition, the artist sat down with writer Amy Pettifer to discuss the process of art-making and my wider practice.

AP: Can you remember the first time you saw the Uccello’s The Hunt in the Forest? What were your first thoughts about it?

SG: I came across the Uccello really by accident, I’d gone to the Ashmolean (1) to see The Forest Fire (2) by Piero di Cosimo and it was on the adjacent wall. There was immediately this nice relationship between the two. They’re both about a forest obviously but the Uccello is a very internalised landscape while The Forest Fire is seen from a distance. A transformation happens between the two paintings in the liminal space (3) where you stand as a viewer. It became this quite exciting encounter.

AP: I can see that similar energy in both works – that carnivalesque feeling where everything is in its natural habitat but there’s a sense of chaos erupting…

Trace (2016)

Trace (2016)

SG: Yes, and both paintings are about an event but are both quite strange in subject matter for their time. There’s something unique and unidentifiable about them; they are both telling some kind of story that we’re not part of – so that draws you in. In The Hunt In the Forest the event is taking place in that dark space beyond the theatrical quality of the characters… beyond what we can see. We don’t see the violence of the kill, there is nothing threatening and the dogs are playful and joyful - it seems more like a dance. In The Forest Fire, something has happened to start the fire, the event, but we’re too late, too far away.

AP: The work for this show has come from a process of close looking at the Uccello painting, what new things did you notice?

SG: The process of the way the painting was made became important, directly and obliquely to my work. For a start the original painting was done on wood (4) and I liked the idea that it was both on wood and depicted wood within it. A lot of the work that I make is very much about the material having some correlation with the thing being made, and working with a material get as much from it as you can. All the work that goes in at each stage is there as a layer in the final work. So I was really interested in looking beyond that final image - at the x-ray scans of the Uccello that revealed his preparatory lines and the ways in which he built up darkness and light (5). More so than the figures I was interested in the shapes he created through the use of perspective – there’s a lot of repetition in it. The trees became to me a single tree repeated over and over to create this almost architectural space of columns. And then there’s the shape of the underside of the horses and the backs of the dogs… there’s a lot of bridging shapes within it that I brought into my work through arches and vaults.

AP: In these new works you’ve expanded your printmaking into use of collage and needlepoint and both those mediums seem to be about creating layers and looking at texture.

SG: For me the idea of printmaking is about stories and about how when we experience something, we carry those stories in our head. If you and I have the same experience then the way we retell that story – to ourselves and to other people - is different. We carry pictures of that experience in our heads that can be brought back to life by a touch, a colour, a sound. So you have the original and then multiple ways of revisiting and retelling that story from the same material. The idea that the shapes and different components of the story can be reused multiple times in different ways is the way that I approach printmaking. Collage is another way to piece a story together, or take it apart and reassemble it into a different form. I think the way I use collage is about how the stories we tell ourselves change all the time - it gives that lightness to something but it’s also a moveable element. The stitching is much more about the process of making a very deliberate mark that takes a long time and often follows a pattern. In needlepoint you go in one hole and out of another, you can’t go anywhere else and I really like the idea of making these new places appear within a fixed grid.

AP: In etching and lino cutting – these very traditional modes of printmaking, which you have previously used in your work – it’s a process of removing areas of the surface of your material to reveal an image or suggest areas of light and shade. Can you talk about how that same process of removal has manifested in the needlepoint and tapestry works? It’s quite counter-intuitive to that medium isn’t it?

SG: Yes, unpicking takes even longer than stitching, but the interruption of a narrative, whether through the addition of something or by removing a component of a story completely changes how we understand what’s happening and that’s what I’m trying to do. When I first started working with needlepoint I was buying old tapestries from eBay that had already been completed and then unpicking and sewing new elements into them (6). They were domestic kits with an image printed on linen and I liked the idea of the pattern or the story already being there for you. You were on a journey and knew where you were going, so the idea of undoing that narrative, quite literally, to change it into something else I found really interesting.

At first I was sewing new things in and then I got to the point of removing something from the image, of covering the pattern that was there so that we don’t know what was expected or intended. It becomes a more open space because of that, and in that space of removal you can imagine something else. I think the process is about trying to get to a point where the story is open enough for it to still be interesting. Like in a book where you don’t quite know what the end is going to be and the not knowing is the most intriguing part of it. The moment in the fairy story before you know what the monster looks like is much more frightening than the bit where you see the picture of it (7). The not knowing, what we do in our minds with an amount of information, is something that I’m trying to get to.

AP: In all of your work there’s that tendency towards eeriness or an unreality; the point at which recognisable things bleed over into a more dreamlike or fantastical space. You’ve spoken about being interested in the theatrical, flat quality of the Uccello, how it appears like a stage or a dance. What is it that draws you to subjects or scenes that share that sense of unreality?

SG: I think it’s interesting to explore the idea of ‘the stage’ as a space for events or encounters to take place. Events happen every day in our lives and sometimes when we witness them, whether it’s 9/11 on the TV or something very ordinary, they can become very unreal and stage-like. Although they are in domestic settings, the thing that is happening is so extraordinary that it becomes unreal. A stage is a place where you can explore a whole range of experiences and be quite clear about the framework. I think playing with where you are as an audience is a very interesting thing for me. I always try to respond to where the work is being shown as well to create a complete environment.

AP: Yes I wanted to ask you to talk about how the exhibition space might be transformed by the addition of your works - it becomes a landscape itself almost. That was definitely the case with Drawloom (8) , as a viewer you were within the work as well as witness to it.

SG: The Brocket Gallery space is really interesting because it has peculiarities; you’re underground and light enters the space through a grate from the shop above and from glass tiles in the pavement. So the idea of the work itself depicting an underground space is very deliberate. I’ve also included a sound piece to add to the atmosphere.

AP: Can you tell me about the sound work?

SG: I wanted to get the feel partly of being in a forest at night, because these strange creatures that I have in my work are perhaps more present for us at night time. So the piece includes dogs fighting and chewing bones; rain in an English wood with birds calling, which is a recording I made in the wood in Brinscall (9); and then the sound of someone snoring. I know that’s what it is but it’s strange when you hear it; when everything is mixed together it just become a strange growly, snuffly thing that’s happening. That brings it back to the creatures and to the idea that snoring is this physical truth about someone being in two spaces at the same time (10). When they’re snoring you know they are alive, real, but they may also be dreaming. In that dream, are they running for their life or chasing after something, whilst lying next to you in bed?

AP: That dualism is interesting because often in your work, the bodies we see are two things at once too. They’re half animal, or half object – it looks like there’s a metamorphosis that’s on-going. Here the huntsmen, dogs and horses are replaced with creatures that have vestiges of humanness but spliced with the stuff of the forest or the sea. What’s at the root of that tendency to skew the human body into something more fluid and changeable?

When Much Has Been   Forgotten  (2016);  Silk  (2016)

When Much Has Been Forgotten (2016); Silk (2016)

SG: In the mix of creatures I often think about my influences; some of the animation work I’ve made is a cross between Bagpuss (11) and Jan Švankmajer (12), again it’s about how a material can be strange and familiar at the same time. I think the way that the creatures have a human quality is through their character. It might be an orchid for a head and a rock for a body but it’s the angle of the orchid that makes us see something human (13). We do that all the time with dolls and pets, we name bits of landscape after ourselves. It’s a very human thing to do isn’t it? To try and carve more of ourselves out of the landscape and the world around us.

It’s unsettling that in fairy tales, the landscape in which all these strange creatures exist in daylight, we don’t know what Sleeping Beauty dreamt of for those 100 years, or Snow White. We don’t know what those people dreamt about because the creatures that we imagine in dreams and nightmares are present in their day to day.

AP: Perhaps they dream of accountants and supermarkets….

SG: Exactly! All of these things, the forest, the night and the fairy tales are so entwined, because we imagine things crawling, watching us with their night vision, or following us in a hoodie with a knife, and we are vulnerable, frightened.

AP: Can you talk about the importance of language in your work? You have titled the show Quarry which has all these interesting meanings within it. But it suggests a chipping away at something. Is that a process you often undertake? Digging through words to bring you to ideas?

SG: I think my use of language is about going back, back, back, getting deeper and rawer and more abstract as the meaning and understanding of words changes. The world expands the more you understand about a word and it leads you down other avenues; initially I was thinking about the word quarry in relation to prey, and hunting, but then that led me to thinking about the quarry in Brinscall (14) and how for much of my childhood it was closed and full of water, it was very dangerous and we were told never to go there. I never understood why this water was worse than any other water. It was very cold and dark and deeper than you could imagine…it was always this present thing. And this led me to think about these dark spaces underneath your legs, and the shape of the underbelly of the dogs in The Hunt, which took me back to the time we had greyhounds sleeping in the British Pavilion in Venice (15) – dogs in the basement and the rain falling, the water rising. Language leads you into strange places; there are only a finite number of words unless you make them up – and I do sometimes – but we rearrange words like a collage to mean an infinite number of things.

There’s a work in the show called Query, because when you look up the word ‘quarry’ on Wikipedia it says “if you’re looking for query….” which I found funny. In that work there’s stitching that looks like a kind of language, and it came from how Uccello carved things into the surface of the wood as a reference so he could see where various elements appeared within the painting. He cut marks into the wood but I’ve stitched them so they become like scars, or the repairing of a wound (16). The scar and the stitching is always raised and present, it can never be inside. It shows something has happened that you’ve had to mend. A dog bite perhaps…

AP: It’s so interesting because in fairy tales or in that idea of the carnivalesque, there is often this mirroring or inversion and that seems very present in the works you’ve made. Like trees reflected on water – what starts as a canopy in physical space becomes something submerged and abstracted. You’ve used that contrast of dark and light so interestingly too. Some of the pieces are very sparse and then others are shadowy in a way that could be deep water or night sky.

Detail:  Quarry ( 2016)

Detail: Quarry (2016)

SG: When you quarry something you have all this stuff left over and in When much had been forgotten, the biggest work in the show, I look at the idea of relics. A lot of the work is made from the discarded pieces left over from when I’ve cut something out to make a piece of collage, and then those pieces become multiples that are repeated. So all the material is quarried and used in some way. But when that’s done, what are you left with? Just the pit and these relics of something that has gone before. It’s a theme that runs through my work generally, monuments in landscapes and the passing of time through ruin – you can see it in Trace, the ruined arches. They represent something that we no longer understand, like Easter Island or Stonehenge. The left overs become something else, something more representational than they were in the beginning, just by me presenting them as a greater focus for attention. They are really just incidental things, but here these are the things that are on the stage. Clues and ghosts.


Amy Pettifer: www.undertundra.tumblr.com

QUARRY runs until 04 September 2016 at 16 Windmill Row, London SE11 5DW.  Further works by Sarah Gillett will be exhibited by Brocket Gallery at Whithurst Park Art Fair 10&11 September and Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair 17-20 November 2016

Footnotes

1 The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archeology, founded in 1683.
2 Renowned for his originality and inventiveness, Piero di Cosimo often depicted scenes from literature. Dating from c.1505 this work may have been one of a series painted for Francesco del Pugliese. Two other panels of The Hunt and The Return from the Hunt, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, are thematically related but seem to have been painted in the 1490s. All three are concerned with the history of early man, inspired by passages from Book 5 of De Rerum Natura by Lucretius (98-c.55BC), who traces the origins of life on earth and the birth of community.
3 The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word limens, which means, “threshold.” Richard Rohr describes “…It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else.”
4 Specifically cedar wood, of the type often used to line cabinets of woollens and other valuables. This specific use is mentioned in The Iliad (Book 24), referring to the cedar-lined storage chamber where Priam goes to fetch treasures to be used as ransom.
5 Uccello treated the wood with gesso and then drew his lines of perspective as a guide. He then painted everything out in black apart from the figures which he kept white. The forest is painted back into being and the figures appear brightly in the foreground.
6 For her 2014 solo exhibition The Loomings at The Margate Gallery, Gillett exhibited a series of tapestries depicting bucolic landscapes beset by oncoming meteorites.
7 The King in Yellow (1895), a book of short stories by Robert W. Chambers, hinges on fragments of a mysterious, fictional play of the same name, rumoured to drive the reader mad with “irresistible” revealed truths. Even seeing the first page of the second act is enough to draw the reader in: “If I had not caught a glimpse of the opening words in the second act I should never have finished it […]” (“The Repairer of Reputations”).
8 Drawloom (Diagram for an Artwork) was Gillett’s Royal Collage MA Printmaking final show in 2015. The space was transformed by dimensional landscape elements built from fragments of needlepoint tapestries, scanned at high resolution and printed onto canvas.
9 Gillett was born in Brinscall, Lancashire, a small village on the edge of what locals call the ‘Brinsky Woods’.
10 The villages of Great Snoring and Little Snoring are located in Norfolk UK. In the Domesday Book of 1085, Little Snoring is recorded by the names “Esnaringa”, “Snaringa” and “Snarlinga”, named after “Snare”, the settlers’ leader.
11 The stop motion animated ‘old furry catpuss’ created by Oliver Postgate (1925-2008), watched over a shop where lost things were gathered and restored.
12 Cezch surrealist filmmaker and artist born 1934. His 1990 film Darkness Light Darkness depicts a disembodied hand searching the rooms of a house for its other body parts until a fully assembled person can finally switch out the lights.
13 In Lewis Carroll’s 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, the flowers that Alice meets include a tiger-lily, arose, a daisy, a violet and a larkspur. Of these, the violet is the rudest. The flowers mistake Alice for one of their own and claim to know another flower in the garden that can walk and talk like she can, but describe that “she is redder and her petals are shorter.”
14 The quarry was originally opened around 100 years ago to satisfy demand from local builders and is the source of much admired fine-grained, buff to buff-brown Gritstone. Brinscall Gritstone Block contributed significantly to the building of the North West’s motorway system and as well some impressive, prominent and historical buildings.
15 In 2009 British artist and director Steve McQueen brought a pack of greyhounds to the island of Venice, filming them scavenging in a deserted park for his British Pavilion exhibition Giardini. The dogs and their trainers slept in the pavilion’s basement during filming.
16 The word ‘suture’ literally meaning “seam” may refer to surgical stitches that hold tissue together; the major joints in the bones of the cranium or a fault line through a mountain range.
 

WCPF: A Brief History of European Print Making by Lizzie Glendinning

My time at the Courtauld established an interest in prints and its ability to transcend social barriers broadening the accessibility of original art for early modern Europeans and beyond. This is the first of a bi-weekly series tracing the history of print through the modern and into the contemporary era as we approach the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair in November.

by Ed Oliver

William Hogarth's 'Gin Lane' [1751].

William Hogarth's 'Gin Lane' [1751].

You will see more images in a day than the average medieval European would see in their life. This visual saturation has its genesis in the birth of printmaking technology. Prior to the fifteenth century images were sparse and limited to the walls of the wealthy. The turn of the fifteenth century saw the advent of print; these new technologies made the reproduction of a single image thousands of times feasible. From a single matrix of carved wood or metal an image could be infinitely reproduced and dispersed across Europe. When this invention was followed in the mid-fifteenth century by the introduction of movable type, so that the first printed books could be produced, the possibilities for the spread of knowledge and ideas expanded in an unprecedented manner. Woodcuts, engravings, and etchings also publicised the inventions of painters, spread knowledge of new styles, and facilitated stylistic comparisons.

While many of the techniques necessary to produce prints were known before the fifteenth century, it was the widespread availability of paper that made printmaking possible. The first paper mills in Germany and Italy had opened by the 1390s, around the same time that the first woodcuts were produced. Prints provided a means of mass-production, planting the seed of social mobility within European society and shaping the modern world we inhabit.

This experimentation had a decisive impact on the history of art. The Renaissance revival of classical antiquity was fuelled by prints that spread knowledge of ancient Roman buildings and sculpture throughout Europe. Prints not only provided a new outlet for artists to explore their own interests, whether in classical antiquity, tales of magic and witchcraft, landscape, everyday life, or fantastic visions; they allowed the newly evolved middle classes to own works of art themselves. This granted cultural gravity outside of the elite sphere and began the development of art markets throughout the Enlightenment. From Hogarth’s biting satire to Rembrandt’s harrowing portraits of Europe’s destitute, prints enabled the masses of Europe to engage critically not only with art but with their own cultures. 

The synthesis of art and cultural dichotomies brought about by the print continued to develop and evolve as European global wealth expanded up until the modern day. Brocket Gallery would like to invite you to witness the culmination of this historic genre at Britain’s biggest solely contemporary print fair. The Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair is our exciting new venture where we, with you, look forward to further exploring this fascinating medium and its legacy.

Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

Building 10, Major Draper Street, Royal Arsenal Riverside, Woolwich, SE18 6GD

17 - 20 November 2016