I will be revisiting the We The People Are The Work exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre several times hopefully during its stay, because the exhibition will be changing and growing over that time as local groups of people come to add to it. I wrote about my first visit here.
This post will be mostly pictures of what has been happening there so far, which is mostly plans and conversations. Alongside the prints by Ciara Phillips the walls are covered in notes from Ciara’s meetings with the different groups of people she is working with, which includes students from Plymouth College of Art. Laura Kelly was there today as a gallery explainer and she talked to me about her experience being part of the process. Reading the notes and hearing her talk about them is really interesting, I took photos of some of the ones that I liked most and wanted to remember.
“Don’t be upset if it’s only a few that get involved because it’s only a few that will make a change.”
“We do not make art for the public. We are the public that makes art.”
“Get off your phones, Have some more fun, Talk to your kids, And play in the sun”. This is part of a poem by Madeleine Elliott age 10.
This picture shows some of the notes and materials which will be used to create the pieces of art.
Because the work is being created right now, the pieces can respond to news and current events as they happen.
I will revisit the exhibition and write more in a couple of weeks, but I would definitely recommend visiting to look at all the notes being made in the process of discovering what the different people want to talk and make art about.
Today my plan was to visit as many of the Plymouth Art Weekender events as possible before the festival ended. I wanted to make sure I took part in some of the different art workshops around Plymouth, so finding venues with workshops happening was my highest priority, and I had two boxes left of zines to take with me. I sat down with my family and we made a plan together.
Our first stop was Ocean Studios. I dropped off some YEA ’17 zines in the cafe area and had a look at the portrait exhibition U + ME = US by Jojo on the way to the Made In Plymouth Maker’s Table, where we created papier-mache people for a family sculpture. I haven’t worked with paper-mache much before, and though gluing layers and layers of paper over each other was messy and fiddly, I had a really good time. While I was there, lots of families and young children came and had a go at making the sculptures, and the atmosphere was friendly and active, but also relaxed. We left our paper people with there to be arranged later into the bigger sculpture.
I wanted to see Laura Edmunds’ drawing and sound exhibition A Soft Introduction upstairs, so I left the workshop early to check it out. I spoke to Laura and learned that the sounds had been recorded on very sensitive microphones placed around her body while she drew and painted her pieces. There was a circle of speakers and I stood in the centre to listen, the sounds were soothing and mysterious, and reminded me of the sea. On display were around 69 of Laura’s drawings, and she described drawing them as almost like making musical notation. I thought they looked like a visual representation of her subconscious train of thoughts, and the overall feeling was serene.
I made my way back downstairs to join Sue Lewry’s monoprinting workshop. I was given a small rectangular plate which I inked with a roller, then I arranged pieces of textured wallpaper, cardboard and other materials on top of it, and each piece I inked with a different colour. I placed it carefully for registration with a piece of paper on top then it was put through a rolling printing press. This workshop was more quick paced than the earlier one as lots of people were around the table using the inks and press, but it was still a lot of fun. I like monoprinting and would like to try incorporating it into my illustration work in the future.
I headed off from Ocean to my next destination which was to Plymouth School of Creative Arts (PSCA). I delivered the last box of YEA ’17 zines here, and went up the stairs to visit the exhibitions. First I looked at Three In One, an exhibition by Janet Sainsbury, Andy Coldrey, and Charlie O’Sullivan. Their art worked well together, and I liked Charlie’s sculpture of paper houses and paintings made on a long scroll of old book pages.
We then headed up to Janine Rook’s inkblot painting workshop. Janine was one of my art tutors during my first Saturday Arts Club at Plymouth College of Art, so it was good to see her again and tell her about my new college course. This workshop was also popular with families, and there was a big display of inkblot paintings from lots of children that had taken part as well as more paintings on all the flat surfaces around. I used pipettes to carefully place a small number of coloured ink drops on my paper and then folded it down the middle to create patterns. I learned that inkblot painting is called klecksography and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere with even the smallest children very quietly concentrating on their pieces.
On the same floor as the inkblots was one of the highlights of the day, Funny Blind Date, an exhibition of collages sent to Plymouth from around the world that has been collected together by Object Recordings. Everything in the collection is an analogue collage, meaning it was put together physically using magazines, posters etc, and scissors and glue, rather than being produced digitally. There was work from eleven different artists and I was surprised how each one had a very different style and mood to their work. Some of the pieces were very humourous or witty, and others were more serious or political. I have never been to an exhibition of collages before and Funny Blind Date was inspirational, showing me that collage can be just as visually interesting and meaningful as drawing and painting.
I had to move on but I paid a quick visit to the Union Street Party just around the corner. It was smaller than previous years and the road hadn’t been closed off, but even the rain hadn’t stopped people gathering to play drums and dance. I was disappointed that I didn’t find any participatory art projects here this year as in previous years I have really enjoyed that element of the Party, but it was good to see that even in the rain Plymothians can have a good time!
I also stopped to have a look at Bouys and Girls by Mary Trapp in PSCA’s playground. This installation features wire and foam sculptures of children wearing lifejackets, suspended over water alongside orange buoys. It made me think of public information films, on first look the figures look like they are having fun, jumping or dancing, but as I spent more time looking at them they looked more like they were struggling against currents or trying to escape. I thought it was a really interesting piece of art and I would like to see where Mary takes it next, as she suggested that she would change the arrangement when she moves it to new locations.
My next stop was to the Park Bench Reader by Bram Thomas Arnold, who was going to read from Jurassic Park, but unfortunately my family made a mistake and went to the wrong location so I missed this event. I was disappointed as it sounded like a fun piece but I am going to look out for Bram’s future projects. I then went to the Athenaeum to take part in a zine workshop from Make Stuff/Drink Stuff, but unfortunately that had been cancelled! I think I need to pay more attention to messages on social media next year so I can keep up with the changes that can happen in a big event like the Art Weekender. Fortunately there were other things to do at the venue so I watched some of Rhys Morgan’s video and sound collage Platform, revisited the Handling Collection, and listened for a while to some poetry on stage (about pants!) for Tears In Rain. There was a real variety in the building!
I was feeling quite tired by now but I really wanted to see some more of the things on my list. I headed for Studio 102 which had a really interesting sounding exhibition in the PAW programme, I Don’t Believe Birmingham Exists by Adrian Bishop. I am really glad that I decided to keep going because as soon as I entered I felt energised by Adrian’s paintings. This is a collection of absurd beliefs illustrated in ink, and the paintings are colourful and energetic and got us all talking and really actively engaged by the work. Adrian’s exhibition is on until the 8th of October and I would recommend everyone interested in illustration or political and satirical artwork visits the gallery to experience it. (I only just realised I have seen work by Adrian at Studio 102 before and wrote about it here)
Our last stop was Plymouth Arts Centre as it was just around the corner and I wanted to have a better look at the Dwell installation upstairs. There was a peaceful tented area with cushions and books by Niamh Lily Wimperis, and a quiet and contemplative arrangement of a dresser with items on top where everything was painted white, by Megan Kathryn Heywood. I have a copy of their zine (also called Dwell) which I plan to read later.
I had another look around PAC which has been repainted for Ciara Phillips’ work which is ongoing and will be added to over the course of the exhibition. I plan to visit regularly to check on it and see how it grows as she works with local groups of people.
That is the end of my Weekender posts this year! I didn’t manage to get to all the things I wanted to, but some exhibitions are still available to visit so I will try to get to them. I wish the Weekender was on for longer, some of the things I missed but really wished I’d had a chance to get to were Rosie King’sG O N E (preserve us) and the Flameworks Open Day. I also missed Sketch 2017 at PCA but luckily that is on until 6th October so I will make sure I go before then.
I hope everyone else had as good a Weekender as me and I hope to get even more involved in PAW 2018!
Last year I documented what I saw of the Plymouth Art Weekender, an annual city-wide art event where different galleries and venues open up to the public with temporary art installations made by artists based in Plymouth and abroad. It takes place over three days, and there are lots of exhibitions and events to enjoy. This year, as an official blogger for PAW, I will try to cover as many of this year’s art installations as I can!
Today, I was part of an art tour surrounding We The People Are The Work, a project that “will explore ideas of power, protest and the public” and involves exhibitions by five sets of international artists in five different venues. Each project involves working with the public in some way.
We did our tour in a slightly different order, but still began in Plymouth University’s Peninsula Arts (PenArts) gallery, with a video installation by artists Antonio Vega Macotela and Eduardo Thomas called Advice From a Caterpillar. The artists are from Mexico City and when they were approached to create a piece for WTPATW they researched Plymouth and decided to do a piece collaborating with extras who had been in the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland. The piece features locations which appeared in the movie or that the actors wanted to talk about.
Peninsula Arts also has the first of two big black walls called We The People Are The Words which the public are encouraged to write words or doodle on using the provided chalk.
We moved on to the second part of our tour, an exhibition in Plymouth Arts Centre (PAC) by Ciara Phillips. The space has been transformed with new colours, shapes and patterns on the walls and large prints everywhere.
Parts of the gallery have been turned into workspaces with a darkroom, screen printing area, and a relaxing space for reading. Every week new work will be created here by different groups of people working with Ciara, and that work will be added to the display changing the space over time, until the show ends in November.
The second big black wall and chalk set is at Plymouth Arts Centre, and I drew another cat.
We moved on to the Council House which is not usually open to the public because it is still a working building, but the city museum have been negotiating with the council to be able to use it while the museum is being remodelled. The piece here has been planned by artist Peter Liversidge. Peter started with doing text generating projects with different members of the public, and the pieces of text were reviewed by the council (to check for anything “problematic”) then compiled into a large book.
The gallery space is taken up with a large white stage where every day two or three sign painters will take requests from visitors, who can choose any piece of text from the book, and create big cardboard signs from them.
On the way to the next exhibition, we stopped to look at the billboards outside the Council House for the #AtlanticProject. These bring up questions about what it means to be a good neighbour.
We moved on to KARST for the next WTPATW exhibition. The artists here are a feminist collective called Claire Fontaine. As soon as the door opened we smelled burning and smoke. The first piece here is a huge arrangement of thousands of matches set in the shape of the United Kingdom. Students from Plymouth College of Art took five days to place the 58500+ matches, and they were set alight on Thursday evening. The whole place filled up with smoke and parts of the gallery have actually been burned and melted by the process, which was documented.
The second room is completely filled with red light and here there are neon signs, some of which are animated and seem to respond to each other.
On the way to the last exhibition we passed by another PAW art piece, The Truth Wall. This features political letterpress prints by Kiss & Bite Letterpress Studio.
The last stop on our tour was Plymouth College of Art (PCA). In the gallery here is a film and sound installation by Matt Stokes. This piece looks at DIY culture and how live music venues are disappearing locally. Four local independent bands are filmed playing their music live at the locations of once iconic, but now closed, music venues.
Tomorrow I will be going to The Plymouth Athenaeum to take part in PAW myself at the YEA Plymouth table. We will be giving away free copies of our collaborative zine YEA ’17 which features work by ten young artists aged 11-16. This is a Plymouth Art Weekender project and our first big project together. We will also be selling zines by YEA Plymouth members and badges to raise money for future projects together.