I’m in an interesting show at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in Manchester over the coming week. Myself and three other artists from the Royal Standard have been invited to work alongside Manchester artist Andrew Bracey to see what we can come up with over the course of a week long residency.

Photo blog of proceedings here

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

Without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring.

How could anyone be bored at The Burlington Fine Arts Club?

For one week 5 artist will come together to work, play, read, talk, eat, write, make, crit, plan, faff, drink, dream, listen and try not and be bored. They will, for a week, follow the example of the original Burlington Club members, such as Luytens, Rossetti, Ruskin and Whistler. None of them know what will happen in this week.

In the spirit of collaboration and connecting that the Burlington encourages Andrew Bracey has invited 4 artists (Fran Disley, Dave Evans, Kevin Hunt and Emily Speed) from Royal Standard studios in Liverpool to spend the week with him in the club. There are no rules and no outcomes anticipated. A clean slate has been drawn. They must all remember though that no work and all play can also make Jack a dull boy.

Just a few shots of the show and the accompanying text.For more images check out the gallery

In ‘Farewell to Yesterday’s Tomorrow’ I show a selection of work created after recently joining the Royal Standard as a studio member. This new work continues my investigations into the historical concept of ‘the future’ and what purpose our speculation into the future serves.

Several of the sculptural works address the transient nature of narratives of the future, looking at how the history of science fiction can be viewed as a series of failed attempts at imagining a future which, by its very nature, is unknowable. In this new work, this failure and transience is explored through building basic units of futuristic imagining, alien landscapes and rockets, using no allusion to permanence. Materials used retain a fragility, foil, paper, cardboard, are held together with string, or pins, or gravity, and although these objects ‘fly,’ there is no pretence to actual flight, objects are elevated or hung. Like science fictions of the future, we’re forced to employ our imagination to realise something which will only exist fleetingly in our minds, and perhaps give us the opportunity to momentarily view our own cluttered present with fresh eyes. Indeed, Frederic Jameson, in his 2007 book, ‘Archaeologies of the Future’ suggests just this, that under late capitalism history has become compartmentalised, now merely a series of events, that can be packaged and summed up neatly to provide us with evidence of progress and allow us to maintain the potential of upwards mobility. For Jameson, the popularity of future narratives lies in their ability to give us a window into the present which, in the absence of a useful historical basis, has become too indigestible and infinitely complex for us to understand.

I’ve further explored this sense of seeing history as something conveniently packaged by using sound recordings taken in various galleries around the U.K. Galleries are monuments to our organisational skills, places where we try to reconstruct and make sense of past events, which again, like our science fictions, are ultimately unknowable. The sound recordings take us to places which we know are imbued with a rich sense of history, but at the same time do not allow us to view its nuances.

All of the work in ‘Farewell to Yesterday’s Tomorrows’  highlights our inability to venture neither forward or backwards, but hopefully brings us resolutely back to the present, which is all we really have.

I’m showing ‘The Lathe of Heaven’ tonight at The Royal Standard. It’s a great film that raises lots of interesting questions about progress, particularly how people progress in different ways, some by forcing it, others by just ‘going with the flow’. It’s also a good movie in that it has no bad guys, just characters that are trying to do good, but perhaps going about it the wrong way.

In relation to my own work, it’s interesting how George Orr, the central character in ‘The Lathe of Heaven’, dreams many  futures, all of which fail on some level. It feels to me that, at it’s core, the film is about the impossibility of imagining the future, and the disastous consequences of trying to hard to force a future upon ourselves…

Since moving into the Royal Standard I’ve been working on a new body of work, venturing from print into the realms of scuplture and sound recording/installation. The work explores why we might want to imagine the future, and how any attempt to do this is ultimately doomed to failure. You can see the fruits of my labour in the Royal Standard Project Space from 8th to the 11th of July, 12 til 6pm.

There’ll be a preview on the 7th of July from 6 til 8pm.

Map to The Royal Standard here

Press release here

John Whiney Sr was a pioneer of mechanical and digital animation. Wikipedia gives a brief bio here

I really enjoy looking at his work, even at the low quality provided by Youtube. Given the direction my own practice is headed in, the generation of moving images using the intangibles of code, or mechanical movement (both of which Whitey Sr employed) really appeals. This early use of technology in a creative way somehow lacks the ‘clever clever’ posturing of today’s films like Avatar, the technology itself isn’t hidden, or tying to hide. The geometry acknowleges the mathmatical roots of the animation, or the motion of the mechanics, the colours are flat, again happy to not mimic the subtlties of the natural world. Somehow I get a sense that the technology, in Whitneys’ work, is to be worked along side, not subordinated to create ‘better’ alternative realities.

“We travel throgh utopia only in order to get beyond utopia: if we leave the domains of history when we enter the gates of Plato’s Republic, we do so in order to re-enter more effectively the dusty midday traffic of the contemporary world.”

Booster and Sounds, Mixed media with sound, 2011

I made the conical rocket shaped object hanging on the right during the four days in the Embassy gallery. It’s made from paper, hula hoops, jute rope and paper fastners. It plays a field recording from room 5 in Ediburgh’s Dean Gallery.

On the left is work by Richard Proffitt, in the middle is drawing by Mike Carney and in the foregound is sculpture by Linny Venables.

Myself and 11 other Royal standard studio members are going to Edingurgh for a mini residency and show at Embassy. We have the gallery to work in for four days, then the show opens, so we’ve decided to go up completely empty handed and see what we can make/gather during our time in the space.

The PV is 19th May, 7 til 9 pm.

Embassy Gallery 10b Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh EH1 3LY