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Motions of Colour, Mixed Media, £440

  Tue 13th September 2011

Joanna Wood - Motions of Colour (2011)

To the University, where the champagne flowed at the MA show of this year's students on the course I completed a couple of years ago.

I spent my MA meandering through aesthetic theory in Western Marxism with a dissertation that added nothing to the subject, failed in its persuasive objectives, is not of publishable standard, and in which quotations from Althusser and Gramsci shine embarrassingly amidst the murk of my own writing. I passed fine, but I'm so ashamed of it that I have collected neither my dissertation nor my MA certificate from the Department. This year's cohort is largely practising artists and the enthusiasm with which their proud Course Director introduced them was genuine and deserved.

There was a tech-heavy theatre piece, magnified snowflakes on a screen, a topless man pretending to run, some text about a fire and looped sound effects which they'd made on a computer rather than actually setting light to something and recording it. I drifted into sleep. I much preferred Joanna Wood's paintings with their playful delight in the sensual properties of oil paint. As she beamed bashfully through her Course Director's introduction, she had the disarming air of someone surprised to hear her work being discussed.

But the outstanding star of the evening for me was Low-Ree Jones. She said she spells it like that in an attempt to get people to pronounce "Lowri" correctly. She presented her performance piece Codes of Romance which is too detailed to describe adequately but which started with her getting entangled in several reels of cotton thread which made a gentle clatter as she pulled them round her. She used props in unexpected ways, a drowned doll, collapsing sandcastles made of earth, a soaking wet shirt, honey all over her arms. It was surprising, intense, deeply-felt, a bit erotic.

Sarah Casey - Patina (Light) 2009

The woman in the grey dress in the picture above is Sarah Casey, an artist and a lecturer who was doing a PhD when I was doing my MA. She sold me one of her art works two years ago for 60 pounds - a near-donation, prompted, I can only imagine, by my obvious pleasure in the piece. The picture misrepresents it; in a house, lit weakly by the grey skies of Lancashire, it's much fainter - barely perceptible in fact. Her medium is grease, and the idea is that over the years, the grease will coalesce and what faint marks exist will dissolve into a blank canvas.

It needs to be float mounted, which is a very costly thing to do, but the plan is to suspend a large sheet of muslin over the whole wall of my front room and put Sarah's delicate art work in front of it. Then, finally, I could silence the cacophonous wallpaper. Its strident pattern of flowers on a navy background doesn't so much cover the wall but glares down from it. It announces itself constantly, like finding an out of tune Mariachi band rehearsing in your front room each time you open the door.


Linda turned down my request for her to write my profile on My Single Friend, the dating website where someone else describes you. She said that it wouldn't be a good idea due to our occasionally fractious friendship over the years, some of which, I suspect, is born of my inward railing against the fact that she'll never be my lover. But it was precisely because she's seen the best and worst of me that I asked her.

2 comments

Comment from: Pearl [Visitor]  

I can see that I really need to have a beer with you sometime.

I’ve never been to anything like what you describe, but I like how you make it seem like a very smart thing to do. Plus there was drinking.

Pearl

Tue 13th September 2011 @ 19:39
Comment from: [Member]

Hello Pearl, and thank you. Yes, there was quite a bit of drinking. Tastes better when it’s free too.

But if you ever take a wrong turning over Newfoundland and end up in Lancaster, the drinks are on me.

Wed 14th September 2011 @ 08:35


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The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
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The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

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