Thursday, 23 February 2017

'Secrets of the Sand' by Ade Adesina at The Suttie Arts Space!

Ade Adesina is back in Aberdeen after a 4 month stint at the prestigious Eton College where he created a series of brand new woodblock prints and presented a new sculpture piece. That show and other works has now come to The Suttie Arts Space based at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Titled 'Secrets of the Sand' it brings together a selection of Ade's most recent works including the 3 Eton woodblock prints, a collaborative print with Tomasz Wrobel, another with June Carey RSW, a fine selection of older works and a stunning sculpture installation.

The two collaboration pieces showcase not just Ade's creativeness but also his ability to take an idea and another artists work and interpret it with his own unique style. The Tomasz piece is instantly recognisable for its cavernous catacombs, the morphous rocks joining the floor and ceiling while man made debris litters the foreground. Another interesting point about the print is that it can be flipped upside down and still works as shown by the two prints side by side with an animation in between. The June Carey print also takes Ade in a new direction with characters entering the fray again, this time in the form of a man and woman embracing. When I visited Ade last year he explained the experimental approach he was taking when cutting the lino as he tried to achieve a balance in the faces between the black and white characters. It certainly looks like Ade achieved what he wanted while adding the intricate peacock feather backdrop.

Ade seems to be an artist always pushing his imagery and his skills as evidenced by the 3 new prints created at Eton College. He told me how his desk was based so all the students would file past, examining his working methods and work in progress. To many this would pose an unbearable challenge but one Ade took in his stride and used as motivation to really push his skills. The result is 3 stunning wood block prints, the first he's produced. Each print is set on a different planet, out in the vacuum of space. The material began to play a role in the prints when Ade noticed the wood grain could be used to help pick out certain shapes in the sand like base as the planets sit motionless above. It certainly looks like his time at Eton was well spent.

The standout piece from the show is undoubtedly the rather sombre sculpture which features a solemn charred front door, horse shoes spilling from the letter box while beyond we find a scorched salt flat ground, an ominous ticking grandfather clock and lone chair. Ade's work has consistently dealt with the issues of the human effect on our environment, global warming often coming to the fore in much of Ade's older work but its quite powerful to see this transition into a 3D space. It almost feels like someone has reached into one of his prints and picked out a few elements and dropped them into the Suttie. Of course Ade is no stranger to sculpture work having produced a quite beautiful hut as part of his degree show (some snaps of that here) and worked on numerous models but this is the first time he's had the space to fully realise a piece of this scale. Certainly his photos of the work in situ at Eton College looked stunning and The Suttie Arts Space seems like a nice fit for the work.

'Secrets of the Sand' brings a new development in Ade's work which is undoubtedly some of the best I've seen. An incredibly hard working artists and father, I hope 2017 will be the year we see Ade gaining the recognition he so rightly deserves! The show runs until Sunday 26th March. You can check out some more posts about Ade's incredible work here and some more posts about the great shows by Grampian Hospitals Art Trust. Huge love and thanks to Ade for letting me interview him about his work and for being the first to take part in my new 'An Interview with....' video series. It was great to speak again as he's the first artist I've interviewed about his work back in 2015 so it seems right sit down and chat with him again. Watch it below and check out some photos from the show.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Spectra Festival 2017!

Well February doesn't disappoint that's for sure. The annual Spectra Festival rolled out the neon carpets, ignited the fires and switched on the fluorescent bulbs but there was one huge problem. Rain, sleet and snow all fell over the course of the Spectra weekend, not unusual weather for the time of year but certainly a huge factor for an almost entirely outdoor based festival. And yet 63,000 people braved the elements over the course of the weekend to witness the weird and the wonderful light installations which went from Marischal College to the rooftop garden above the St Nicholas centre, into the St Nicholas kirk yard, Seventeen on Belmont street and culminating in a series of works in Union Terrace gardens.

The aim of the festival is to provide some relief from the winter blues by showcasing a selection of light based art works and events which take the viewer on a short journey across the city centre. Incredibly with a very short window the organisers managed to bring together a great blend of creative and artistic works with more publicly engaging pieces like the face mapping stand where you could have your face mapped onto the screens and watch as it recounted tales of old. The fire pit heads made for a photographers dream while the illuminated spiders in St Nicks churchyard were the perfect blend of creepy and cool! The 'Cloud' proved popular with everyone, I was barely able to get close enough for a snap but, there was something serenely beautiful about it and the engagement it created with the audience.

Marischal College was the final destination of the night and provided 3 different attractions. Firstly viewers could take control of special Laser Light Synths which allowed you to control lights on the façade of the building with giant touch pad controllers. We watched on as kids and adults battled it out to be the next synthwave superstar. Inside the quad you could find screens showcasing the Secret Cities Aberdeen photo project. Incredible snaps of various Aberdeen landmarks were displayed showing unique vantage points like the roof of Kings College in Old Aberdeen to the bell tower at the Court House. We had fun trying to figure out where each snap was taken and picked up one of the free newspapers showcasing all the snaps and locations, a nice keepsake for the evening.

A personal favourite for myself was the projection mapping on the quad tower at Marischal College. Watching the tower morph into a medieval story book where strange creatures from the Bestiary come alive and traverse the building before being engulfed in flames and revealing ye olde scholars and wise men was fantastic. The gothic imagery perfectly suited the location and I think provided a real highlight and nice way to finish the tour off.

Due to having a limited amount of time and the fact it was freezing we didn't make it around all of the displays but thanks to the power of instagram we were able to see all the great work being created by Stack Collective on the roof top garden. The group is made up from art school graduates and current students and have put together a series of workshops, not just for Spectra Festival but also for the Inspiration Point events which have been happening across the city (more on that later). Illuminated laser etched panels popped up each day as children were invited to draw out their own designs and characters which were then turned into light artworks, a pretty cool idea which I'm sure led to lots of happy faces.

One of the key aspects of Spectra is the audience taking the time to engage with the works and the best evidence of this can found on instagram. I've used a few of them to showcase a flavour of what we saw and despite sub zero temperatures and sleet people seemed to be happy going around each site, ticking off the attractions as they go. There's a lot that can be said for these kind of events and not all good but for me they serve a vital purpose of bringing people together in our cities spaces and getting them engaged with creativity. It might not be the most challenging of work to appreciate but that doesn't mean its any less valuable, if anything it might inspire someone to make that first trip to an art gallery and that's always a good thing. Well done team Spectra and all involved!

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

'Art Birthday Party' at The Anatomy Rooms!

"Art's Birthday" is an annual event first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou. The concept is pretty simple, this is the official birthday of Art, so why not celebrate it in all its different forms. And thats what happened at The Anatomy Rooms on the 17th January. Partnering with The Space of Pomodoro Bolzano in Regensburg, Germany, both organisations hosted small parties in their respective spaces with a special spinning chair zone that allowed attendees to skype and spin with a stranger in Regensburg. 

As with any birthday party decorations were hung, music was pumped and games were played. Kirsty Russel also made some special cakes for the occasion which somehow ended up on a small trolley being pushed back and forth along the corridor. It was by no means a wild event but it was really fun to have a spin in the chair and share a moment with one of the participants at the other end, pulling faces and trying not to fall off! The Anatomy Rooms offers a studio space that can be more than just studios but offer a social experience too and can be a good place for making connections so even if you're not sure about attending future events you should really just do it, come down and say hi and have a conversation. If we can do it with strangers on Skype then we can do it anywhere!

There's should be a lot more events and talks happening at the space soon and with NUART Aberdeen and Look Again taking place in April its shaping up to be a busy place so keep an eye on their Facebook page for events and opportunities to get involved!