Art and climate

The Two Degrees festival takes place this week (17-22 June) at Toynbee Studios in London, offering a range of activities examining the connection between art and climate change. This is a topic addressed by the Radical Nature Study Day back in 2009, available to view on the Open Arts Archive, but is no less current today.

Agnes Martin in the news

Agnes Martin has been in the news this week as her work features in the current exhibition at the Mayor GalleryThe Nature of Women (5 June until 26 July) features six female abstract artists, among them Agnes Martin, Aurélie Nemours and Lisa Corrine Davis. Furthermore, two of Martin’s paintings are also new to the Kunsthaus, Zurich in their latest exhibition (7 June – 8 September) of the Hubert Looser collection.

Agnes Martin was the subject of a conference at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge that can be viewed on the Open Arts Archive at http://www.openartsarchive.org/oaa/archive/692.

FABRIC-ATION at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Open Arts Archive was very pleased to film a study day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park this weekend. ‘Contemporary Art and Textiles in West Africa’ was one of the events organised to coincide with Yinka Shonibare’s Fabric-ation exhibition running this summer.

The first part of this study day (‘African Textile, African Contemporary’) introduced participants to the textile heritage of Nigeria that Shonibare draws upon. It looked at the various forms of textile production in Nigeria, with specific reference to the Yoruba people. The diverse forms of weaving, dying and industrial production were examined. It then explored the significant place that textiles have in Yoruba culture, opening out the various traditions of use as well as looking at how those traditions have been brought forward into the twenty-first century, in areas of textile use such as masquerade, identity and religious practice as well as modern fashion and clothing. This revealed the complexities of notions of ‘African-ness’ as many of the textiles we now consider to be ‘African’ in fact have substantial European origins and influences. The colourful cloths featured in Shonibare’s exhibition are less popular, in Yoruba culture, than plain white cloth, which also has particular ritual or religious significance.

The title of the exhibition, ‘FABRIC-ATION’, plays on the role of fantasy in the cloths the artist has created. This highlights the extent to which Shonibare’s work sets up complex and often paradoxical notions of identity based on ideas of disguise and cultural hybridity, which are also common in aspects of so-called ‘British’ culture.

The second part of the day (‘African Contemporary, African Textile’) looked at the relationship between textiles and contemporary art in Nigeria, examining a number of artists who make use of textile traditions in their work. A substantial focus in this respect was on the issue of the ‘modern’ and the tensions that may arise for post-colonial artists who wish their art to be considered, under this heading, alongside that of their western counterparts.

Footage from the day will be available on www.openartsarchive.org shortly.

New collaboration with New Art Exchange, Nottingham

The Open Arts Archive is very pleased to be working with the New Art Exchange in Nottingham to film one of its upcoming events and make it accessible to all those who can’t attend in person.

It’s a very appropriate link up as the New Art Exchange is hosting a multi-layered three-screen installation created by acclaimed film-maker John Akomfrah , The Unfinished Conversation, which presents former OU Professor Stuart Hall’s memories and personal archives, extracted and relocated in an imagined and different time to reflect on the questionable nature of memory itself. More information about the installation is available from the New Art Exchange.

The Open Arts Archive is pleased to be participating in a symposium relating to the installation on Saturday, 8 June 2013, 11:00am – 5:00pm at New Art Exchange Nottingham. The symposium will explore the work of John Akomfrah, the black audio collevtive and other visual artists inspired by the work of Stuart Hall. More information is available on the Open Arts Archive website.

Gill Perry in New Zealand

Open Arts Archive Director Professor Gill Perry has been spreading the word about the Open Arts Archive in New Zealand as part of a lecture tour relating to The First Actresses, a major curated exhibition held at the National Portrait Gallery last year.

Professor Perry talked about the show on Radio New Zealand.

The exhibition presented a vivid spectacle of femininity, fashion and theatricality in seventeenth and eighteenth-century England. It featured portraits of some of the best known female performers of the period, who ranged from royal mistresses to successful writers and businesswomen, and accomplished musicians. It explored the ways in which these early celebrities used portraiture to enhance their reputations, deflect scandal and increase their professional status.

Podcasts related to the exhibition are available on the Open Arts Archive:

Professor Judith Hawley discusses James Gillray’s ‘Dilettante Theatricals: – or – a Peep at the Green Room’, 1803, The National Portrait Gallery, London.

Dr Moira Goff discusses John Ellys’s Portrait of Hester Booth, c1722-25, the V&A Museum.

Dr Lucy Peltz discusses Daniel Gardner’s Three Witches from Macbeth, 1775, The National Portrait Gallery, London.

Dr Berta Joncus discusses Jeremiah Davison’s Portrait of Catherine (‘Kitty’) Clive, 1735, Longleat House.

Study days at Tate Modern

The Open Arts Archive contains a wealth of video footage from study days organised jointly by The Open University and Tate Modern. The study days date back to 2002 with the latest on Lictenstein and the wider worlds of British pop this March.

Content from the study days can be browsed on the Open Arts Archive website by choosing Tate Study Days from the archive.

Alternatively for ease of access, the study days are listed below.

22 June 2002: Matisse Picasso, Creating and Destroying Histories

5 October 2002: Abstraction and Interpretation

27 March 2004: Expanding concepts of sculpture

26 June 2004: Concepts of the Avant-Garde

12 March 2005: Contemporary Art and Globalisation

25 June 2005: Performance, Gender and Identity

25 March 2006: Utopias and Avant-gardes

24 June 2006: Museums and Art History

17 March 2007: Identity and Performativity

16 June 2007: Surrealism and Film

8 March 2008: Against the Avant-garde

5 July 2008: Photography in the street and the studio

28 March 2009: Constructivism and the Art of Everyday Life

27 June 2009: Futurism and the Avant-garde

27 March 2010: Abstraction

20 November 2010: Gauguin and myths of the artist

20 July 2011: Joan Miró

16 March 2013: Lichtenstein and the Wider Worlds of British Pop

Study day success

On Saturday 16 March The Open University and Tate held a collaborative Study Day: Lichtenstein and the Wider Worlds of British Pop at Tate Modern. The event was well attended and  explored issues raised by a major Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at Tate Modern.

His extraordinary body of work was the springboard for a critical exploration of ideas around the meaning of pop in the US and Britain and its legacy for contemporary art and culture, and followed a two day symposuim at the Tate on ‘Global Pop’ .

These collaborative Study Days are popular with Open University students, art and art history students and the wider public, and we were delighted to see many students in the audience who are doing our new second level course A226 Exploring Art and Visual Culture. 

Speakers included Professor Hal Foster, art critic and historian, Iria Candela, Curator, Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, Tate Modern, Professor David Alan Mellor, University of Sussex, Dr Leon Wainwright, The Open University, Professor Lisa Tickner, The Courtauld Institute of Art, and the British artist Gavin Turk.

Question and answer sessions were chaired by Professor Gill Perry, The Open University and Marko Daniel, Tate. The event was deemed a great success, with stimulating and informative papers from all speakers and very good feedback from the audience. The question and answer sessions encouraged a rich debate around the relationship between American and British Pop, and the implications of this at the end of the British Empire.

Gavin Turk’s paper at the end of the day also provided a fascinating insight into how contemporary artists work with the legacy of Pop era, and the ways in which earlier artistic concerns can continue to inspire contemporary practice.

The event was related to the exhibition Lichtenstein: A Retrospective at Tate Modern, and was filmed and will be available shortly from the Tate and the Open Arts Archive.