Jun 10, 2014

A Chance to Explore, Discover & Make on the Blackhorse Trek

For the Art Trail this year three venues around the Blackhorse Quarter teamed up to offer a weekend of exhibitions, workshops and launch parties. There was much to discover and be inspired by. 

Sonia Martin, Man In Blue, Acrylic on Canvas
Martyn Cross, Air Bud, Acrylic Paint on found knitting pattern
A trip to Blackhorse Studios this Saturday began with a look at the ArtWorks Open exhibition. Now in its sixth year, artists from across the UK and internationally can submit works into the ArtWorks Open and artists working in the studios themselves also apply. The works on show were selected from over 300 submissions by artists David Kefford and Paul Johnson. A range of media are represented in the exhibition including sculpture, painting, photography and collage. Though they can be problematic as it is inevitably a subjective selection, these open competitions are very useful for emerging and more established artists. The winner for this competition will win £1000, second prize is £500 and as a new scheme for this year, the third place would win the chance to exhibit in the space; all helpful in developing an artist’s career. 

 In the studios themselves, the corridors are lined with art works to be auctioned off in the silent auction, which will continue online until Sunday 15 June. Most of the studios are open with the artists on hand to discuss their works. Some are spruced up and hung as though a gallery, others feel much more like a working space. There is a truly diverse range of artists here and a lot of talent. I’m sure that each person looking round would pick out something different. I am just going to mention a few artists I came across that stood out to me.

On the ground floor, next to Michelle Reader with her lively figures and animals formed from recycled rubbish, is the studio that Pauline Evans shares with her son Duncan. She produces beautiful larger than life-size portraits which are hung around the studio of herself as well as her two other sons. The photographs below show Duncan in the studio sat in front of self-portraits his mother painted and a portrait titled Joey Sleeping. Duncan is a talented life drawer and painter himself.

Denise Hickey has investigated the idea of personal space and produced altered clothing that highlight the boundaries we are comfortable with. Are there many people you would like to wear this jumper with? Another quite unusual piece was a brassiere with tubes attached demonstrating the average distance that people leave between themselves and others; including someone they have a strong relationship with, an acquaintance and a stranger in a public space. However, I’m sure these averages would be a bit different for those with a tube commute.

The latest series by Matthew Krishanu are beautiful paintings of young boys, based on himself and his brother. There is a blurriness to them suggestive of the fading of memories.

As you leave the studios don’t miss this sculpture from Tam Joseph, wittily titled ‘This wall is old and has become unstable'.

Just around the corner is Blackhorse Workshop. Artist Will Cruikshank’s Horse Box CafĂ© serves cider and other refreshments to those wanting to just relax outside. They can also admire or indeed activate his Swing Harmonograph. This is an ingenious device that transfers the motion of swinging into the movement of an etching needle which produces interesting wave-like patterns on etchings that can be taken away.  

Blackhorse Workshops was open for visitors to look around the working space upstairs, view the Take a Mallet to a Pallet competition and get involved with the making by producing their own coat hook or part of the Blackhorse rosette. A the three different venues of the Blackhorse Trek participants could make themselves a different section of a specially designed Blackhorse Trek rosette. At the studios, they learnt to create the paper rosette shape, at the workshop they added a wooden front with a horse design torched into it and at Made by Ore they finished it off with piece of punched copper.

Upstairs, among some quite extravagant fashion designs were Isabella Nyapolo’s fantastic fashion and nude photographs (see below).

On the ground floor, by the bakery was the exhibition of the Take a Mallet to a Pallet competition. There were some excellent entries, from beautiful pieces of design, like the upcycled side table from Kate Alatterly and Glenn Wooldridge and the steam bent pendant lamps from Group Design to the satirical, as in Domingo Arjonilla’s Social Housing for Birds. A mechanical skeleton in flames by Woodie Wright was another highlight. The official launch of this exhibition was on Saturday night, so the welcoming atmosphere and celebrations continued throughout the evening.


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