Sep 8, 2012

Blackhorse Lane Open Studios (7th-9th ONLY)

Sitting down at 114 Blackhorse Lane is this maze of artist studios and gallery spaces. You are actually given a map as you enter to help you navigate because there are so many artists in studios hidden around every corner and each studio has a completely distinctive tone and style.

Because it is an 'open studios' event, each artist is opening their private workspace. Some are selective and only display choice works and others just have it all on display - ongoing projects, half finished canvases etc. This intimacy is something I quite like, you can directly ask and challenge the artists about aspects of their work which sometimes brings new meaning to it or even takes away meaning you thought it had already.

In all honesty the work within these walls are a pick n' mix bag, most of the sweets are distinctive and delicious but there are some that are slightly out of date, hard and stale. I mean there are some real fantastic and original works on display and I probably liked more than I didn't, but I have to admit others I just ended up thinking how brilliant the studio space was and nothing more. Some that really stood out to me were:

Emma Talbot
It surprised me when Emma said that she isn't much of a comic book fan, because her work oozes the fluidity and direct message the unique blend of words and pictures in graphic novels create. However her work fractures the narrative format of what a comic would give and instead creates and positions the panels to tell completely non-linear stories of faceless characters engaging in snippets of their own narrative. Her work has very voyeuristic quality and viewing the piece with the curtain, I did feel a bit like James Stuart in 'Rear Window'. I thought her work was great, and want to see more and more.


Ross Hanson
I have never had much enthusiasm for photo realism, but Ross Hanson's incredibly precise and structured coloured pencil achievements did really make me stop and think. Thousands of hours of effort are in the work on display: photographs of man and nature and the hunter and hunted. What is really fascinating however, is that by taking on this subject Ross Hanson is using his photo-realistic style to tell a story of a technical age where our photographs are our trophies. They hang upon walls just as taxidermia did for a hunter in the past.


Jonathan has new and old work up on display, but there is a core theme of industrialization and natural formation and the relationship between the two that is visible in every piece. His oil painting set the foundations of the theme, but it his sculptures which I really found to be the steel pillars. There is the deconstruction of industrialization and natural architecture which he has reconstructed into something regenerated, re-formed and re-imagined - the core of all production. His work may not be the second coming as described in the guide, but its pretty damn good!

Julie Caves
I really loved the more abstract and expressionist large, bright canvases that Julie Caves had on display. They are so organic and loose but so heavy in creative glow. You can see that the artist is totally aware of every brush stroke, and every shade and change of direction that blends it all together in a way that means only the artist can know it is finished.

Michelle Reader
An artist who had her studio opened up with sculptures everywhere, finished, unfinished, old and new. Wrapped in newspaper, cereal boxes and magazine print her recycled sculptures are really terrific and you can look at each one for ages and ages. She wraps the face in specific texts, just like cut-up poetry and every now and then between the hoards of nonsense or gibberish there is something profound and fitting that makes the entire process worth it. Actually, there is a documentary short about Michelle playing at the Walthamstow Internationl Film Festival today at Vestry House and tomorrow at Lotolie's which I do recommend checking out before or after seeing her work.


Blackhorse Lane Studio's are only open this weekend (7th-9th) so do try and visit.
http://www.artworksproject.com/docs/bls.html


ALSO....... 
Sorry to muscle in here on Hassan's review but I would also like to mention the ArtWorks Open exhibition which is in the Blackhorse Lane Studios gallery downstairs. The Artworks Open is an annual event at this venue and works are selected from open submissions (apparently about 600 this year).  I'm sorry to say this but what on earth is going on? With the exception of 5 or 6 works of the final 35 selected, this exhibition is pretty much atrocious! At first I was actually a little traumatised at just how bad much of the work in this show was, however, I recovered when I looked at the price list which then had me rolling on the floor laughing!! As the Trail Guide says NOT TO BE MISSED!!  Is it just me? Would love to know what anyone else thinks.
Valerie 

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed that only one of the artists I spoke to in this huge setting was thinking of visiting the work of other artists on the Art Trail. They said they were too busy and that they did not live locally and had things to do at home. At every other venue the artists have been excited about how much there is so much to inspire them in the rest of the art trail. I felt some of the art in Blackhorse Lane was detached from Walthamstow .

Nik Bukharin said...

To follow up on Valerie Grove's comments on the art competition on the ground floor of Blackhorse Lane studios, I actually think it is in danger of giving the studios a bad name. Mostly the "top 35" were like sixth form art class daubings. I agree that the prices were the best bit. Does anyone remember the local dentist's paintings that Reggie Perrin sold in his Grot shops? Those the competition rejected must have been even more "interesting".

Changing Spaces said...

I like to comment on Valerie's summery of the Artworks Open exhibition. In the main I agree with Valerie. However, liking 5 or 6 works out of an exhibition of 35 works is not bad. I have visited exhibition of some established artists and have walked out not liking anything. Personally I only liked 2 artworks from the Open exhibition, based on only the technical merits of the work. However, artistically I was not sure if these 2 made an artistic impact on me, but I still saw the technical merits in the work. And it was technical merit which was the big question with this exhibition, did the judges stand back and look at the technical merit of the work? The answer is clear to see in their selection, but than again we haven't seen the other 500+ works that they had to choose from. I don't want to blame the artists here, but I do want to know what criteria or understanding the judges were following when they selected the artwork for the final exhibition?

The second point is in reference to the pricing. This exhibition clearly shows that a lot of artist still don't understand the methods used to price and value their artwork. Its simple, time + materials + overheads and %10 for additional profit. The big question for some is how to you value your own time? I have hourly sliding scale depending on the project I am working on. But this method goes out the window if your work is technically underdeveloped. To over come this you need to get clear and constructive advice from experienced peers before you submit your work for exhibitions: to determine if the time you put in has achieved technical or artistic quality.

Let me conclude by saying, I have produced work in the distant passed which was not up to standard but I was still was able to get the work into shows, you may call this luck or you may say its something else. From these exhibitions I invited frank feedback on my work which I was able to use to develop my practice. However, this is something that many artists are afraid of doing because of the fear of rejection. I think we need to view this Open exhibition as an method on bring new talent on, with the hope that their practice will develop, but this will only happen if they get the critical appraisal of their work. Just because you get into the Open exhibition that does not mean that you will go on to win the Turner Prize or something like it.

Anonymous said...

Just to follow up on Nik's comment, none of the studio artists were involved in the Open exhibition, ether as exhibitors or selectors of the work. The Open exhibition is managed by the Barbican Arts Group Trust.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the comment that the Blackhorse Lane studio artists/art was detached from Walthamstow is not true. The majority of the artists in the studios live in the area and contribute to the cultural life of their town, we are part of the trail and will continue do so. As far as visiting other artists during the art trail, I know that some including myself have are will be visiting other venues next weekend. In relation to were we get our inspiration from is personal thing, I don't necessarily get it from other artists, but I do recognise the ability and achievements of other fellow artists.

I would like the person who made this comment to back it you with a further comment.

Anonymous said...

Dear Changing Spaces

There was actually a talk about the selection process for the Artworks Open on the Saturday afternoon... Pity you couldn't make it. As regards the technical merit bit, do you think that this is the exclusive preserve of realist paintings? Surely a technically good painting is one in which the artist confidently and directly achieved the kind of marks that they wanted. As such each painting defines it's own terms for success. I thought the Artworks open was a bit of a mixed bag but still found lots to enjoy. I am certain of one thing however namely that I wasn't looking at failed attempts at the sort of realism I suspect you wanted to see.

Changing Spaces said...

In reference to last comment,I'm not into realism see my blog

Nik Bukharin said...

Anonymous - why so secretive? - writes that the Barbican art competition has nothing to do with the studios upstairs. The point is association and perception (whatever the facts may be.) Secondly, the fact that six or two out of 35 may be likeable/or good (technically or otherwise) is hardly the point, Mr Changing Spaces, or Mr Anonymous. That represents, at most, 1% of the entries. The winner is selling for a cool £2K by the way.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Valerie. I entered last year and was relieved I wasn't selected - it was just as bad! Certainly didn't bother this year and no it's not sour grapes! The standard of the work is generally dire and have no idea what such experienced selectors are thinking. The worst for me was the sickly pink nipple....

Changing Spaces said...

In response to Nik, I agree we are guilty by association. From what I gather none of the studio artists entered. Personally I could not see how I could be selected if I did enter, especially when I put effort into my work. Maybe I am missing the point with the selection of this work, maybe it has something to do with counter-culture: making statement against contrived and overblown stylistic exhibitions? But, I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

I have just looked up the profiles of the 2 artists who selected the final works for the Open Exhibition, Kiera Bennett and Reece Jones, and I am confused. These 2 artist obviously have track record of producing and delivering artwork and exhibitions of some standard, so how they did end up selecting the work that they did for the Open Exhibition? Were they worried about competition from peers?

Kirsten Schmidt said...

I was also disappointed about the Artworks Open selection. As an artist I am open to all new ideas, different styles etc. I also saw about 6 works that I found beautiful/interesting/ challenging. The rest left me cold .Can you imagine how the generall public would view this exhibition. I would also make it clearer that the resident artists have no involvement in organising this exhibition or it might indeed give them a bad name.

Kirsten Schmidt (local artist and co-owner of E17 Art House)

Valerie said...

Thank you to everyone for your comments. It it obvious that there are some tensions and issues here. However I would like to make a comment in response to Kirsten's point about the public.

On that open weekend I actually asked several people out on the trail if they had visited BHL and what they had thought. Everybody was able to tell me about works they had liked, often in considerable detail. Without exception these were works from the artist studios. Not one person I spoke to even remembered the exhibition downstairs without prompting from me. With further prompting one person recalled 2 images and another recalled one.

In total I solicited opinion from 6 or 7 people only so this is obviously not a representative survey! The fact, however, that none of them had remembered the exhibition downstairs until I reminded them does say something about the public's perception of it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nik. The price I saw on the winner was £450 I think.

Julie said...

Hi. In response to the person who mentioned the talk on the Saturday - I had a visitor in my studio and couldn't go. Could you or someone else who went give a little summary maybe? The gist of their thinking? Or did they do a video? Thanks!