Ai WeiWei

We saw Ai Wei Wei’s sunflower seeds for real in person at the Tate during the Christmas break.  There is something about the vastness and yet stillness of this work that is really quite something.  I was very glad I made the effort to go. 


The Gift

Here below is the eggbox made of pewter, on its maiden flight undergoing trials..  It will be given to my sister at Christmas as suitable stowage for the produce of her flock. 

And what will be left behind to convince sceptical audiences of what was there but has since flown on its way.  The footprint of the eggbox will remain, the space  in the casting blocks where once it existed.  An empty packet that once held rods  of solid pewter.  A bit of text, a  tiny clip of video.

Ian Hamilton Finlay and Little Sparta

We went to Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden which he made way up in the hills of the Scottish Borders last weekend, on a dreich day, and having got over the steep admission charge (£10 + £5 extra if you want to take any photos), had a lovely time paddling around the boggy grounds.

It is a forest of little corners and paths and gardens within gardens, and little bridges over burns which tinkle (a lot in our weather).  Also  IHF was a conceptual artist who worked with words and incongruities.   In this incredibly beautiful setting surrounded by soft mosses and gentleness is a pair of  gateposts atop with the typical victorian vulgar pineapples replaced by sandstone army grenades.  There are boats tied up beside tiny ponds and models and images of sailing dinghies everywhere, so why on earth he chose as his refuge somewhere about as far in land as you can get in Scotland beats me. 

There were little writings everywhere and places to retreat:


The place at Little Sparta which puzzled me most was the collection of huge lumps of granite displaced as bits of archeological finds on top of the hill side in a grandiose spot over all the land and water below:

The writing on the slabs (not easy to see I know, but look at the weather..I was soaked) says  “THE  PRESENT  ORDER  IS  THE  DISORDER  OF  THE  FUTURE  SAINT-  JUST“, one word on each bloc. 

What does it mean?  I have looked up Saint Just, I hadn’t noticed the hyphen and was expecting to come up against some one hugely saintly.    Saint-Just,  not saintly at all, in fact was Robespierres right hand man on the Committee of Public Safety in conducting the ‘reign of terror’ which occurred following the French Revolution and he was horribly bloodthirsty, and lost his head at a guillotine after the reign ended, terrifyingly for him.  My knowledge of French history is dreadful and I should read up more.  The Committee of Public Safety sounded so innocuous..but led to mass beheadings………

Was IHF having a laugh at the assumption of beatification of this murderer.   I don’t know at all but I am intrigued.

Tushar Joag – The Enlightening Army of the Empire, 2008

I saw this work in the Saatchi Gallery in London yesterday which has an exhibition on called The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today.

The robots were all different and that gave them a humanoid aspect and I was immediately ascribing  individuals personality, even though they were just a series of metal rods and lightbulbs.  The piece was full of a sense of movement, even though the only activity occurring was the burning of electricity.   Interesting how we want to ascribe human qualities of individuality to machines that clearly have neither a brain nor a heart.

From the gallery blurb: Tushar Joag is an interventionist and inventor of mock corporate identities.  He takes a satirical look at the urban classes and suggests that art is responsible for maintaining cultural continuity.  This rhetoric leads him to conceive of unicell, a corporate body of one, that mimics many of the absurdities of government bureaucracy in a continent reliant upon social and political solutions. 

Not absent..after all

I got into college today, the first time this term, to find I was already there.. I gave me quite a fright!  How nice to think that whilst I am away over the next 2 weeks my alter ego will be having a happy time in Telford with all my mates.  This is a scarily good likeness, complete with scruffy footwear.

Unstill life

this sculptural still life.. is made of iron based parts and arranged using magnets.  It looks still.. but cannot be as without all the effort exerted by the magnets all the various bits would fall on the ground.

Magnets are amazing. 

IMG_6163IMG_6169Having had an arrythmia diagnosed several years ago I am aware of the strange electric activity at the heart of existance.  How electricity can be made using a magnet and a coil of wire has always struck me as amazing.

El Anatsui – Wastepaper bag

One of Africa’s most celebrated artists, El Anatsui presents a unique exhibition of works made from recycled materials. Constructed from discarded obituary printing plates, the ten-foot tall ‘Wastepaper Bag’, stands as a reminder of temporality and decay. In the ‘Cloth’ series (represented in the British Museum’s African Galleries), thousands of discarded liquor-bottle tops are sewn with copper wire into monumental cloth hangings. Anatsui weaves the debris of consumerist excess into a glittering textile in the long tradition of West African textile production, subverting notions of tradition and modernity, and prompting us to re-examine what makes up the very fabric of our lives.