NEW SHOW (London remix): When Shall We Set Sail for Happiness? opens 12th October at Fold Gallery

When Shall We Set Sail for Happiness?
Craig Barnes, Dmitri Galitzine
Opens 6pm Friday October 12th 2012
Fold Gallery
15 Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0AA

In 1859 Charles Baudelaire went to live with his mother in the small harbour town of Honfleur, to try and find solace from the recent break up with his mistress and from the harrowing aftermath of the Fleurs du Mal trial. Here, he spent his days sitting in cafés, watching the boats moor and set sail, come and go.

His mind would wander to lands afar, the boats whispering to him of a place beyond the stale horizon of his homeland. He dreamt of Lisbon, of its climate and light, conductive to thought and calm. Or Holland, or then again, Java, the Baltic or even the North Pole, ‘Anywhere! Anywhere! So long as it is out of this world!’

Almost two years ago Craig Barnes and Dmitri Galitzine each left London and set sail on a voyage of their own. They went in search of a place, to use Baudelaire’s words, of ‘ordre et beaute / Luxe, calme et volupte.’ They found themselves in a small cottage in rural Herefordshire and as time passed, they were forced to wonder if perhaps they still needed to dream.

When Shall We Set Sail For Happiness? posits the imaginary into the harsh light of the real. We join the artists as they pass through other lands and times, chasing the horizon like dogs chasing their own tails. First shown at Down Stairs, the gallery that the pair set up adjacent to their Herefordshire cottage, the exhibition has now come home. Whether or not the grass is indeed greener, the artist’s wanderlust is shown to manifest itself in the most mundane of realities.

www.foldgallery.com

NEW SHOW: When Shall We Set Sail for Happiness? opens 21st July

I have a new exhibition – When Shall We Set Sail for Happiness? – with Dmitri Galitzine opening at Down Stairs, Herefordshire, in a couple of weeks time. If you fancy making the trip or are passing through this part of the world, the Opening Reception is on Saturday 21st July from 6 – 8pm at which all are welcome. It then runs until 16th September. Let me know if you plan on coming by as it would be lovely to see you. More information follows.

When Shall We Set Sail for Happiness?
Craig Barnes, Dmitri Galitzine
July 21 – September 16 2012

‘Anywhere! Anywhere! So long as it is out of this world!’
Charles Baudelaire

What happens when you are given the opportunity to fulfill your dreams? A year ago, artists Craig Barnes and Dmitri Galitzine were each looking for a way out of London and dreaming of a perfect place to be. Invited to create and curate a contemporary art gallery in rural Herefordshire, they decamped.

When Shall We Set Sail For Happiness? is the artists’ response to the reality of life in a remote village and an ironic take on Baudelaire’s tale of disillusion. Utopia is rarely what it seems.
The exhibition posits the imaginary against the real. Barnes and Galitzine will show new and recent work, as well as some archival pieces. We are invited to travel with the artists as they pass through other lands and times – some near, some distant, but all equally bizarre when you stop to examine them in detail.

A conversation between the artists is suggested throughout in the way work is deployed through the gallery. Pieces by each are often paired so as to provide a commentary or additional dimension to the other’s work. In one instance, they have also imagined themselves into each other’s practice, the work offering an off-kilter interpretation and offering a conclusion to the exhibition, in the form of the question “where to next?”

A publication to accompany the exhibition will consist of a set of 12 postcards.

Opening Reception Saturday 21st July 6 – 8pm.

DOWN STAIRS AT GREAT BRAMPTON HOUSE
MADLEY, HEREFORDSHIRE, HR2 9NA
Friday-Sunday 12-5pm or by appointment
www.downstairsgallery.co.uk
01981 251 094
office@downstairsgallery.co.uk

I am here. Sort of.

My practice has taken a bit of a battering in recent months. The plan to relocate to the countryside and focus solely on my work seems to not be panning out as planned thus far. I guess running an art gallery is a little more consuming than I had imagined, and I do come to rely on getting lost in my work when it works. Hard to do with all that goes on here. Anyhow, I was initially grateful, then annoyed, then grateful to be asked to be part of the Home exhibition that just finished in Hastings, in curators Scott Robertson’s flat. I happily got to spend an hour or so checking out the show a few weeks back when on a mega journey to spend quality time with my girlfriend’s parents (and my girlfriend) and was pleasantly surprised by my work that had been created from a book supplied to me by Scott some months previously and finally supplied back at least 48 hours before the exhibition opened, posted minutes after making it. Just like the good old days.

Anyhow, to the here and now I have plans for work I want to make. Some for shows, some not for shows. I have plans for shows I want to do, and proposals I need to write. I have photos a plenty to digest and process. Notes and research to join the dots with. Places to go, people to see. I just can’t hold it all in my head nor can I seem to find the time to apply to the tasks in hand. Come back quiet anonymous life I lead in the city where I can go all day without anyone bothering me if I need to. Here’s to hoping. Here’s one I like a lot from Home.

New show: Home, Hastings

Very belated announcement that I have work in this good looking show in Hastings that opened a couple of weekends ago. It’s actually shut this weekend as well, but then open for a couple more until mid-March.

8a Courthouse Street
Hastings
East Sussex
TN34 3AU

Home will open on 18/02/12 and will run until 18/03/12.
Sat & Sun 09:00 – 17:00 or midweek by appointment.

To enquire about visiting call 01424 443695 or email scottrobertson1@yahoo.co.uk

Dave Tyack

I find it hard to listen to music like I used to. For a bunch of reasons. More often than not my ears just don’t hear it. So when they do it kind of stops me in my tracks.

A couple of days ago I was reading this by Jude Rodgers on Caught by the River which struck a chord (or chimed? odd how the only language I can think references music).

Then today I was attempting to make a playlist for driving home for Christmas (no, no Chris Rea, or was it Shakin’ Stevens? who cares…) and came across the song Brownie & Sonny by Dakota Oak Trio. It never fails to stop me in my tracks and stare into nothing. And usually cry a little. Cry a bit for Dave Tyack, who although I only met a couple of times when he was sharing a house with my mate Josh at university, was one of the warmest funniest people I had the pleasure to meet at a time when my life was significantly more like social pinball than it is now. And also a bit for other good souls that aren’t with us any longer.

Here’s an mp3 of Brownie & Sonny for you to listen to yourselves. Happy Christmas y’all. x

Change The World Or Go Home: A-N Magazine review

The lovely Charlie Levine, from Trove in Birmingham gave my show a nice write up in this months A-N. Read it in the magazine, or on their website or here where I’ve cut and pasted it.

You would not particularly think of Hereford as a place for the contemporary, especially when it comes to art. Hereford, for example, has its own ‘Black and White Village Trail’ for those interested in timber framed buildings dating from the sixteenth century. Hereford also has a large estate belonging to famous antiques dealer Martin Miller, who lives in a stately home called Great Brampton House. This mansion, however, is not typical in terms of heritage. When making your way up the long driveway, past outhouses and stables, you see, on your right, a very large home, whose basement is covered in neon fly-postered sheets, glaringly obvious against the rest of the house’s cream hue.

The basement at Great Brampton House is home to Down Stairs Gallery, which covers the entire 6,000 square foot floor area. Here, Martin Miller has set up a typical white cube space in untypical surroundings. The gallery’s third and current show, ‘Change The World or Go Home’, explores the idea of an artist’s place within the world and their role in contemporary society. It also seems an ideal statement for such an unusual gallery space to explore.

Some of the thoughts surrounding the statement ‘change the world or go home’ are louder than others. For example, Craig Barnes, the show’s curator, was the one responsible for fly-postering the outside of the gallery with the large neon sheets – which depict IKEA’s best selling range of free floating shelves. Also, inside the gallery, Ghazaleh Abassalian’s film Art Hero and series of brightly coloured and garish masks make for images that are loud and brash; they feel typically revolutionary. While Steven Allbutt’s subtle yet beautiful 100 years of artists manifestos (abridged) folds down into a little book that fits into your wallet.

Although the idea of seeking out artists who question their place in society is interesting, this exhibition also questions contemporary society as a whole. For example, Sean Dower’s Witness Appeal Signs 2008-09 brings you right into the current by re-presenting a series of banal police posters that ask ‘can you help us?’ Sadly these appeal posters are very familiar. Even though Dower’s copies are painted in watercolours, his replica poster is a thing of the now. The viewer thinks more about the shooting, murder or scene of animal cruelty rather than the works’ beautiful painterly presentation, questioning, therefore, their own place and responsibilities to the wider society.

Put these alongside Mark Titchner’s The World Isn’t Working banner and his film, The Last Ten Years, and we begin to see and understand the impact of media, press and poster campaigns as strong contemporary methods of communicating to the masses. Especially in terms of messages of revolt, uprising and shock. In particular, this is seen in The Last Ten Years, which documents in sequence every New York Times headline over a period of ten years.

The film works in ‘Change The World or Go Home’, for me, highlight the themes of revolution more than the posters, card or masks, and were my favourite pieces in the show. As is the case particularly with the three films taken from YouTube, which are by Mark McGowan, Charlotte Young and Hennessy Youngman (alter ego of American artist Jayson Musson). Their subject matter is all about the artist and how to make art. YouTube is a reference to the ‘Super Now,’ making the show clearly not about revolutions past, but rather of revolutions happening today. With McGowan, Young and Youngman making light-hearted humour of a modern revolution of sorts, of pushing artists forward to make change, are they actually just mocking the inability of artists and audience to be modern revolutionaries?

When thinking of the contemporary Western world and its potential for change and development, we must also recognise our possible lack of control in terms of making change occur. A simple example: the Conservative Government was not voted in with a majority, however we are still effectively governed by them. Our ability as civilians to change or influence, to revolutionise, appears futile.

But this show explores how this is not always the case. Tom Crawford’s pieces in particular explore how small interventions made by the artist aims to improve the lives of those encountering them. Crawford in Concrete Action fixes public benches, while in Cul-de-sac he hangs fresh flowered baskets outside people’s homes. These subtle improvements to the everyday are seen as his miniature revolution.

The film The English Tourist and the Oslo Agreement by Jeremy Hutchison and Jimmy Merris also deserves a particular mention, especially in terms of subtle intervention. This piece is inspired by the 1993 Oslo Accord where “Israeli products can be sold in Palestine, but Palestinian products cannot be sold in Israel”. Hutchinson and Merris buy ordinary items in Palestine, such as cartons of milk, and smuggle them into shops in Israel, to then try and ‘buy’ them again at the till. The fuss that follows is astounding: a simple and eloquent intervention and mini act of revolution.

‘Change the World or Go Home’ has a very exciting air about it; it mixes established UK artists with recent graduates and creates, in places, a manic and loud feeling exhibition. Something indeed of protest and revolution, this show feels current, new and important. This is, however, occasionally juxtaposed with a silent protest, as exampled by local born Hereford artist Dominic Samsworth’s light and perspex installation and Alexander Krone’s drawings. Overall this exhibition is saying something. It explores artists, their place and use in society today, as well as moving the viewer to question theirs. This group exhibition brings a certain anarchy to rural Hereford; it aims to wake people up, and I believe it will do just that.

Charlie Levine is an independent curator and Director of TROVE, Birmingham.