Cheeseburn Sculpture 2019

Every year Cheeseburn has a sculpture festival and this was the first time my Dad and I went along to check it out. Spoiler: it was amazing! If there’s one thing we love its a big old stately home, and although we couldn’t go in this one (it’s privately owned), the expansive lands around it filled with amazing art made do.

The grange has over 70 pieces of art by dozens of artists and there was so much in terms of style and variety; truly something for everybody. I don’t really know how to talk about everything we saw so I guess I could just go by favourites, both mine and my Dad’s.

First up, mine: the first thing we saw, because I saw it through the doors as we went to go get a map from the lady, was the lovely Erin Dickson’s amazing Authentic Venetian Chandelier, which we talked about a bit in our Abject Gallery Double-Bill episode a couple months back. It was cool seeing it irl, all lit up in an old stable.

The story behind this is fab: Erin was visiting a museum or gallery somewhere in Italy and when trying to take a photo of a stunning Venetian glass chandelier, she was told she wasn’t allowed. However, one thing she learned she was able to do was to use a mobile 3D scanning app, so she scanned this then printed the whole thing. The result is obviously very unlike the original piece, and goes to show that new technologies aren’t the pinnacle of contemporary ways of making. I do love this chandelier though and would love to have a house big enough that I could have it in a grand entryway or something.

Next up is one of my Dad’s favourites. Following the trail around we went into the game larder, where glass artist Ayako Tani was showing some of her remarkably delicate and detailed glass ships in bottles, which were also available to purchase. These things are absolutely amazing, and one of those things (like most sculpture tbf) that I’ve got no idea whatsoever how you’d go about making. We said hello and goodbye to Ayako, and on our way out she told us she has an exhibition on in the chapel as well, which I for whatever reason assumed was going to be a really large glass ship in a bottle. What’s much more impressive than 1 large ship in a bottle, however, is like 150 small ships in bottles, covering almost every surface of this cute little chapel. I mean just look at this:

Here’s a quote from my Dad: “I’ve always had a fascination with ships in bottles, but this was on a whole other level. It was amazing. It must have been so difficult making it all with glass, even the little ropes and everything.”

We followed the trail around and came to another favourite of mine:

These little monkeys are Brigitte Jurack’s Scavengers, and there were a whole bunch of them they were fab. The parts of them covered in yellow look to be some kind of wax, and like at most exhibitions I go to it was all I could do not to touch them and find out. The rock in the foreground there is called The Oxton Rock and reminded me a bit of Elmer the Elephant which was pretty neat.

This next piece is a definite favourite of both myself and my Dad; it’s ‘Enlightenment?’ by Peter Hamner. Anyone who has visited Baltic recently to check out Digital Citizen (or at least anyone who’s listened to our episode about it), would recognise these mildly disturbing figures and dystopian scenes. They’re awesome.  

“It was weird like. I know art’s a subjective thing, everyone gets something different out of it, but to me this one showed just how crazy the world is.”

Another fave of mine was ‘Nostalgia de la boue: Plastic Friend’ by Clare Townley. Townley is the winner of last year’s Gillian Dickinson award which enabled her to make this and install it at Cheeseburn. It’s made up entirely of waste and repurposed plastic and transforms this delightful copse of trees into a dystopian installation that makes you consider the impact of plastic on our environment. There’s even a swing you can sit on to do this contemplating, looking out onto the untouched landscape nearby (which my Dad is doing here).

I’m gonna finish up by sharing a favourite of my Dad’s, and something we both had a bit of fun with. It’s this cool glass piece by Cate Watkinson (I’m pretty sure anyway), and we both thought that the little bubbles in the glass were raindrops, however we loved this little convex lens aspect of it because it made our faces look funny from each side.

So that just about does it for this blog post. Cheeseburn is free to go to (however they are a charity and rely on donations), so it’s absolutely worth a visit. The only thing is that you pretty much have to drive there, I’ve got no idea how you would even nearly get a bus to this place. If you do head along though let us know, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

-Alice

Cheeseburn is open somewhat sporadically over the summer:

  • June 29th / 30th
  • July 6th / 7th
  • August 24th / 25th / 26th
  • August 31st / September 1st

Here’s some more information.

Location: Cheeseburn Grange

Episode 41 – Middlesbrough Double-Bill: Platform A & Pineapple Black

This week Alice and Amy talk about their trip down to Middlesbrough where they checked out ‘Major Conversations: The Industrial Narrative’ at Platform A gallery, and three new exhibition openings at Pineapple Black (‘Through Sound’, ‘Nights are Not Asleep’ & ‘Girls World’).

You can listen to this episode on SpotifyiTunesGoogle and Soundcloud!

Find out more info about Platform A and thesymposium on the 25th.

More info about Pineapple Black here.

Episode 34 – No Man’s Land

For this week’s episode the girls went on down to Bishop Auckland to check out the fantastic touring exhibition ‘No Man’s Land’ currently showing at the Town Hall. It’s a wonderful mix of historic photography taken by women on the front lines of WWI across Europe, and some more contemporary pieces by female artists. It was honestly an awesome visit and we’d wholly recommend it!

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

Exhibition runs until 6th April.

More information: here.

Location: Bishop Auckland Town Hall

Opening times: Monday 10:00-18:00, Tuesday 10:00-17:00, Wednesday 10:00-13:00, Thursday 10:00-18:00, Friday 10:00-17:00, Saturday 09:30-12:30.

Also here’s a link to the Auckland Project: https://www.aucklandproject.org. There’s a lot going on in Bishop Auckland in the next year or so so it’s perfect time to go and check it out!

Episode 33 – Digital Citizen: The Precarious Subject

For this week’s episode the girls went on down to the BALTIC to check out ‘Digital Citizen – The Precarious Subject’. It’s an expansive exhibition by several contemporary artists that takes a look at what it means to be a citizen of the world in this digital era.

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

// https://soundcloud.com/user-991312750/episode-33

Exhibition runs until 16th June 2019.

More information: here.

Location: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Opening times: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 – 18:00

Further Thoughts: The Naked Portrait and Life Drawing

This week, myself and Alice discussed our experiences at ‘The Naked Portrait’ currently at the Laing. We would really recommend giving it a visit using the discount on their Facebook page!) and if you haven’t heard our thoughts you can give it a listen here.

In its exploration of the difference between ‘naked’ and ‘nude’ the exhibition included some examples of life drawing that I found to be truly mesmerising. During all of my education I was never given the opportunity to try life drawing (absolutely shocking for an art student) and so this is something I chose to pursue after I had graduated. I love the act of studying the human form and feel it has improved my observation skills and my decisive mark making, i.e the ability to make a bold mark on a page with confidence.

Even more importantly, my weekly life drawing classes are like therapy. For 3 hours a week I sit in a room and think only about the model and the paper in front of me. I liken the experience to meditation.

I feel this is something that anyone who enjoys drawing should try! whether you identify as an artist or not, life drawing can help you build an arsenal of skills that you will use beyond drawing the human form. Its also fun to spend some time in the presence of nudity without sexual connotations that are now common place in society today – something which can be a little strange at first but that I now find quite liberating.

As always, I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce the idea that there are no rights or wrongs in art – and life drawing is no exception! Even if you are in a room full of other people drawing the same subject, a prospect that can be quite intimidating, what you see will be different to everyone else. Your artistic eye and style will shine through in whatever you do, but more literally your viewpoint of the sitter will be slightly different and therefore so will your artwork. If you find yourself in a class will many other artists it can be very inspiring to see what everyone else produces and see how they have managed to capture the model from their vantage point.

I enjoy using colour to abstract my work. I also find something highly satisfying about ‘half finished’ pieces in which some sections of the body are highly detailed and others are left as an outline:

Soft Pastel

How to find the life drawing class that works for you:

There are a few options out there so all you need to do is consider the price, frequency, time, style and travel/distance evolved. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can sign up to courses that last multiple weeks or sessions that run on a week-by-week basis. to save you some googling I have compiled a few examples that may be appealing to you. But remember, there are plenty more out there (for example if you are part of a university the arts society may run life drawing classes).

Cobalt Studios:
If you’re after a low-key life drawing experience, Cobalt Studios might be the one for you! Each evening promises to offer a slightly different experience but good music and art is a garment. This is a self lead experience with no teacher, but feel free to reach out to your classmates for advice and feedback! You will need to bring your own materials and sketchbook but boards and paper is provided.
http://www.cobaltstudios.co.uk/event/lifedrawing-tickets-247259

Local Council Adult Learning:
Local councils have an obligation to make sure that all of their citizens have access to learning opportunities and usually have a selection of courses available. Legally they must provide at least Maths and English level 2, but many also offer leisure courses (depending on the local council in question). Since graduating university I have completed courses in ceramics, creative writing and life drawing all of which were offered by my local council’s adult learning programme. I feel it is vitally important to use these services while they are here as, with government cuts to both education and the arts, they may not be around for much longer! By enrolling on these courses we are proving that they are valued and important and give the council a reason to keep them running! There are often discounts available too which are worth checking out!
Below I have included the websites to some local council websites so that you can have a look at the prospectuses and spy any arts courses that you may be interested in.
North Tyneside: https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/225/finding-right-course
Newcastle: http://www.newcastlecitylearning.ac.uk/
Sunderland: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/12113/Libraries-museums-events
Middlesbrough: http://www.mcls.ac.uk/art.html

Newcastle Arts Centre:
Newcastle Arts Centre host a variety of different art classes. Their life drawing workshop spans over 4 days and all of the materials are provided. All abilities are welcome and the classes appear to be very structured, so if this is the work environment you could benefit from go check it out!
https://www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk/product/life-drawing-2019/

The Lit & Phil:
The Lit & Phil is an independent library in Newcastle, housing over 170,000 books, making it the largest independent outside of London. However this institution is so much more than a library; it is also a historic building, a meeting place, office, theatre, lecture hall, jazz venue, performance space and, a classroom! Classes, including life drawing are offered here so check out their website to see how you can get involved. As the Lit & Phil is independent this could be an amazing way to support one of Newcastle’s coolest venues and learning institutions.
http://www.litandphil.org.uk/whats-on/2018/apr/life-drawing/

…………

When signing up for life drawing, try not to worry too much about finding a course that is specifically for ‘beginners’ (or the level that you feel you are at), as life drawing is something that even the most experienced art master would need to practice throughout their art career. I would however suggest that if you have never done life drawing before that you choose a course that has a tutor as they will be able to provide you with some art theory and techniques to get you started.

These are just a few examples of the numorous classes that are out there!

I hope this helps you in your search for art classes or perhaps even inspires you to consider taking one if you hadn’t considered it before.

-Rosie Stronach