APT Open Studios – inspiring!

After a visit yesterday to the amazing APT Studios in Deptford I was inspired to have a paint. ¬†It’s been a while and I really have to make the time – I love doing it – either in watercolour or acrylics, it’s a great afternoon when I can lose myself in a painting.

The two acrylics in this blog were done this afternoon ūüôā

The studios are at Canalside and such an wonderful location Рa bit of a rabbit warren but always something interesting to see at the next turn.  Yet again when I was thinking about what really appealed to me it was the abstract paintings Рand yet I always try to paint things more figuratively myself Рhmmm, a lesson there!

The following artists really made an impression:  Clyde Hopkins , David Webb, Arnold Dobbs, Lou Smith, Gillian Best Powell (I was sad to learn on the train going home that Gillian passed away earlier this year (not much older than me), I was particularly taken with her work and had collected some leaves on the way home to experiment with), Laurence Noga, Stephen Jacques and lastly Heather Burrell Рher sculptures were wonderful and you will see an influence in one of my paintings here!

This is only a small fraction of the work that impressed and inspired me, but I can’t list them all – please do take time to look at their websites and also to go to the next open studios at APT – you won’t be disappointed!

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Sunday morning dream

Of course, the reason I was there in the first place was that Victoria Alexander, fellow MA Fine Art Student was a guest artist at APT and it was great to see her work in a different location and to catch up!

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Victoria Alexander with her kinetic piece.

And who knows, you might find me posting more paintings here in the future!

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Fine Art has left the building……

The exhibition is over.  The room is empty.  The project that has consumed the last six months every waking thought is packed away in bubblewrap and I am left a little bereft and wondering what to do.   So how did it go?

Over the 15 days the exhibition was open, we had 1028 (adult) visitors which is an incredible achievement.   It was always interesting watching people viewing the work Рa mixture of art lovers who had come specifically and parents of children at Action Stations who wandered into an alternative universe from the noisy child centred activity around us.

Of the ‘walk ins’ it was clear that some were not used to seeing an art exhibition but in the spirit of wandering around the Dockyard perhaps, they gave it a go and had a good look¬†round.¬†¬† It was very rewarding to feel that we may have challenged some beliefs about what fine art is all about.

We had some favorite moments, like when a child asked his Dad what my 3D installation ‘Opportunity’ was.¬†¬† “That’s art Henry, that’s art” he replied ūüôā

 

And when we had a bone fide (and rather handsome) celebrity visit who was presumably just visiting the dockyard with their kids for the holidays, but it was lovely of him to drop in.

A couple of kids were unruly and we had some damage to a couple of things (luckily repairable) Рbut we always knew that was a risk but the benefits of having so many kids (not counted in the numbers above) see the show out-weighed that completely.

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For my own stats, we were keeping record of the number of times that Being Present was triggered and how many people saw it through to the end.¬† I always knew that a 2 minute art performance would stretch many people as the average time someone will stand infront of a piece of art is usually measured in seconds! ¬† ¬†I’m still working on the data but will post figures soon.

The raffle was extremely successful Р6 original pieces of art from the artists Рthere was something for everyone as entrants could prioritise their favorites.  In the event, when the raffle was called, everyone got their first or second choice.   Jenny Walden, Associate Dean, at the University of Portsmouth was there to receive her winning piece from me which was lovely!

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Jenny Walden receiving her raffle prize 

So what made our exhibition so successful? ¬†I put it down to two factors. ¬†Firstly, location location location! ¬†We had a wonderful space in one of Britain’s top tourist attractions – that was a great move! ¬†Secondly the effort and expense we went to for marketing – it was the lion’s share of our spending but worth every penny. ¬†I was always gratified by people coming in with one of our fliers, or who said they heard about us on Twitter or who had read about us in the local paper. ¬†And of course we were on the Big Screen too!

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Exodus on the Big Screen, Portsmouth Guildhall Square.

You can see a virtual Exodus exhibition here>> peppermintsea.com/exodus

 

 

Raspberry Pi powered interactive digital art? Absolutely!

One of my favorite pieces at the show is Being Present – an interactive digital piece that aims to show people the benefits of mindfulness – of being present, even if only for 2 minutes.

I have loved watching everyone try it out – not everyone sees it to the end but those that do (and it’s only 2 mins!) say it’s very restful and calming.

Here is the technical spec followed by a gallery of shots from the last few weeks:

Being Present

  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Adafruit 64 x 32 RGB LED Matrix x 2 (giving 12,288 controllable points of red, green and blue, each with 255 levels of brightness)
  • Adafruit RGB Matrix HAT & Real Time Clock
  • WaveShare 5″ Touch Screen Display
  • Mini Keyboard with Mouse Mat
  • Custom electronics for control
  • Pressure sensitive mat
  • Raspbian Jessie Operating System running Python programs
  • IBM Node Red for Internet of Things

The installation is a collaboration between myself and technical expert Bradley Hawkins who has spent a great deal of time programming in order to get the effect I wanted.   Each time the process runs it is unique for each viewer and if they step away the work closes down.   The colours, shapes and effects have been carefully chosen to show chaos and then peace.

You can try the innovative work yourself at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (Action Stations, first floor) daily until 2nd September 2015.¬† It’s free to enter, just mention us at the gate.

Opening Night – happy people and lots of art!

I’ve been a bit delayed doing this post as I have been manning the show but I finally got a few mins free.¬†¬† The opening night went brilliantly, the art looked amazing and even better, hundreds of people showed up and said nice things.¬† It was also lovely to bump into so many people I know electronically and put faces to Twitter IDs!

The only glitch was at 5.45, just before we were expecting our VIPs, the power went out!¬†¬† As with all the minor issues this week, we were not expecting that one!¬† Quickly fixed by Will running up the stairs and flipping the switch back ūüôā

Here are some pictures, you can see more on our Facebook page here too.

The show is open daily until 2nd September – do pop in and say hi, it’s free to enter the Dockyard.¬†¬† We’d love to see you!

Day 4 – Expect the unexpected…..

This morning I could hardly eat my breakfast I was so nervous about installing my last piece “Liminal Man” – in the comfort of my own home, exhibiting a 10ft digital photograph seemed simple, but the logistics of getting it hanging in the room were far from that.

In the end, although it took a while, with the help of the wonderful Will, there he was, splendid in his new home.     The rest of the day was taken up alternatively waiting around or frantically working as people came to help.

By the end of the day, it was pretty much there.  It looks incredible, I know I keep saying that but to see your work, hanging in such a professional space is quite amazing.  I only hope our visitors think so too!

And the unexpected part?¬†¬† The staff at Action Stations, especially Will, are the most cheerful and helpful people I have ever had the pleasure to work with.¬†¬†¬† Even when I wanted to move a piece that Will had painstakingly hung earlier in the day, he just smiled and said “of course”. ¬† Such a breath of fresh air to find people who clearly love where they work.¬† Thank you all.

Tomorrow we open!!

Day 3 – ups and downs :)

Day 3 – hanging day – I was awake at 5.30 I was so excited!¬†¬† Everything went really well, there were a few hiccups, but there always are.¬†¬† I changed my hanging order when I saw the work in-situ, Victoria suddenly started moving entire walls around (to great effect!) and the health and safety woman from Uni had a few changes we had to make but otherwise it’s good to go and it all looks amazing!

I had my good camera with me today so the quality of the images has improved too!

 

Day Two – polyfilla-gate :)

So I thought yesterday threw up something unexpected.  This morning we settled down to paint, opened one of the two huge vats given to us by the Art College only to find it was compound filler not paint!   I saw our tightly balanced schedule going right out of the window.   But a phone call to the college (who were aghast at their mistake) sent a techie down in his car to swap the buckets of polyfilla for some more acceptable white emulsion and within half an hour we were back on schedule Рnot bad considering how far the college is.

Another busy day but we got two coats onto everything, without making a mess – so tomorrow we hang!!!

It’s looking fabulous.

See a snippet of our day below:

Day 1 – everything arrives!

So the day we’ve been planning for six months arrived – beautifully sunny and hot!¬†¬† I was early at the dockyard and after checking in with Kim, waited to be let in.¬†¬† At the other end, the lorry was being loaded at the Art College and all our stuff was on it’s way!

We got a lot done today Рthere were a couple of unexpected things that were not on my risk log, but we worked around that and made good progress.   Very grateful for all the help we received from everyone at Action Stations!

Tomorrow we paint!

The History of Action Stations, Boathouse 6.

I thought it would be interesting to do some research into the history of the Grade II Listed building, currently called “Action Stations” at the Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth where we are hosting our exhibition.

The building was originally built between 1845 and 1848 and called Boathouse 6.   It was used for the building, repair and storage of small boats.  Some of the rings used to help pull boats out of the mast pond are still in-situ at the front of the building.

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It was used as a boathouse until the Blitz of 1941, when a bomb destroyed much of the rear of the building, the temporary repair done at the time wasn’t replaced until nearly the millennium, when it was beautifully restored to provide a modern building whilst retaining all of the history and interest of the old building.

Queen Victoria visited the Dockyard in 1848 and there is a painting by local watercolour artist Richard Ubsdell depicting the workers raising their tankards at a banquet within the boathouse.

The main structure of the boathouse is made up of cast iron girders called Truss Girders, they are each unique and were fitted warm so that they locked together as they cooled.  It was one of the first examples of a brick building erected around a metal frame.

I wonder if in their 170 year life the girders have ever had some fine art hanging from them?!

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The rear of the building now hosts the wonderful independent cinema with a huge screen – No.6 Cinema.

It’s an honour to be exhibiting in such a historic building, watch this space for our progress!

With thanks to the leaflet available at Action Stations called “Welcome to Boathouse 6 and Action Stations”.

Historic Dockyard website.
Action Stations website.

Our exhibition runs at Action Stations from August 20th until September 2nd, 10am till 5pm and admission is free.

10 Reasons to see our Fine Art Exhibition

Think you’re not a fan of ‘fine art’? Me either, until I started studying it and started to ‘get’ what it is.¬†¬† Here are 10 reasons you should come to our exhibition and see for yourself.

  1. Fine art gives a new perspective on your world – a different angle. It’s all about looking at a subject through new eyes.¬† It’s been shown that you don’t have to like a piece to be changed by it.¬† And if it causes any emotion in the viewer it has done a good job.¬†¬†¬† The aim of any artist is that you come away from an exhibition looking at the world slightly differently.
  2. But is it art?¬†¬† You can spend a lifetime trying to define what is art and Marcel Duchamp was probably right in insisting that ‘everything is art’ – and that’s why fine art shows cover such a wide range of works – installations, video, sound, digital and the more traditional photography and painted pieces.¬†¬†Fine art can be subtle and gentle or loud and brutal – it’s more about the why than the what.¬†¬† What is the artist trying to convey?

    However there is a huge gulf between what you’d hang on your livingroom wall – an aesthetically pleasing subject / composition / colours etc and fine art that seeks to explore aspects of humanity – sometimes uncomfortable subjects; but important ones.¬† If you are lucky the two areas overlap.

  3. At our exhibition you can find out how knitting may help with feelings of anxiety and how the sound of knitting needles clattering is soothing.

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  4. Find out what mindfulness looks and feels like and try out the electronic interactive digital artwork that aims to demonstrate that peaceful place that being mindful can access. And what has all that got to do with the Gosport Ferry?  Watch the tide falling under Forton Bridge, Gosport, in real time.
  5. How did women manage to serve in the 18th Century Navy disguised as men?

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  6. See work exploring geometric patterns and the visualisation process for neurological sciences.
  7. What do our treasured possessions say about us?  Why do we keep them and feel their significance?  Why do we hold on to physical memories?
  8. Learn more about the stigma of mental illness, especially anxiety – and what is inside the tent?!
  9. There will be the opportunity to win some art by the artists, to buy many of the pieces on display and additional work that each artist will be bringing along. Plus you will have the chance to meet the artists and to quiz them about their work.
  10. Sadly this is the last MA Fine Art show in Portsmouth so it really is a one off opportunity to come along and challenge your thoughts about what a fine art exhibition is like.    What have you got to lose?!

 

At the very least it’s worth it to see our amazing location within the fabulous Action Stations (first floor), Portsmouth Historic Dockyard from August 20th to September 2nd 10am – 5pm and admission is free.

There is also an exhibit at Eldon Art Building, University of Portsmouth – more details to follow.

Some work explores an adult theme and is not suitable for children.

If you would like to attend the opening night (Friday 19th August) you can book your free tickets here: https://mafineartshow16.eventbrite.co.uk

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