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.
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.
Last year I was a member of the National Saturday Art and Design Club at Plymouth College of Art. We got to experiment with different media and artforms throughout the year, and take trips to local exhibitions as well as two trips to London for bigger NatSatClub shows featuring our work alongside work made by other groups.
Our final trip to London was on the 17th of June. We met up really early to catch our coach just after 6am so we could get to the exhibition at Somerset House around 11am. It was really busy as hundreds of young people from NatSatClubs around the country had come to see their work on display. We were greeted and each given goody bags of art supplies, water, and snacks, and shown in to the first area where all the Masterclass work was on display. Our Masterclass was in making word drawings with Barnaby Barford.
Next we went upstairs and had a look around the different clubs’ work. Plymouth sent in a lot of our work, and the pieces that were chosen for display were our beach glass jewellery, and our glass houses which we made in a class led by our Student Ambassador Ben Lintell.
This video shows our glass houses lit from below with a torch to cast shadows on the white wall.
We were all called into a large room filled with benches for a speech by the National Saturday Club founders, Lord and Lady Sorrell. Then we were called up one by one and received our Certificates and Yearbooks.
After the ceremony some of our group went to the National Portrait Gallery, but I stayed to look around the exhibition for a while longer. There was a huge amount of different types of work on display by young people from the many clubs, including zines, puppets, film, fashion and ceramics.
At the end of the day, we met up with the rest of the group to get back to the coach. Unfortunately, the coach had overheated (it was a really hot day!) and was broken down, leaving us stranded in London! Our group leaders brought us all water to drink and we took a walk around Covent Garden watching a clown and looking in the Moomin shop. The coach was fixed in an hour or so, and we headed back on the five hour journey home.
I was sad that some of the work I was most proud of from our many projects wasn’t put on display, but I hope to be able to put photos up of those pieces here soon, and I did have a really good day. It was really amazing seeing so much work from young artists all in one place and I was really inspired by all that I saw. I would recommend joining the group to anyone aged from 14 to 16 who likes art and really wants to try different things.
Below are some photos of work from National Saturday Clubs all around the country. I have included lots here so that people who didn’t get to go on the trip can still enjoy some of the work we saw.
Here are some links to previous posts I have written about NatSatClub:
Though Sophie Clark‘s main work is centred around illustration (and some pattern designs) the project that she has been working on and has displayed at the Show includes these cute, fluffy, hand made monster toys. The monsters come from the children’s book she has been working on, There are Monsters in My Head. The ears of the cuddly monsters crinkle and the large one has a squeaker and a rattle. My little sister (who is nearly three) really loved these toys and was fascinated with them.
Jake Cutler‘s concept art on the story of King Arthur makes me feel like the environments he has illustrated are cold and mysterious. My favourite image is the illustration on the top left. I love the way the distant cliffs and mountains are covered in mist but you can still see there is a ravine down the middle.. What could be in there?
I talked to Nathaniel J. Hall while at the college about his artwork and about his experience on the course. He mentioned that an animation he created (also on display) was inspired by his “thoughts and feelings about coming to Plymouth” and pointed out that the animation starts off with negative words and illustrations but gradually becomes happier and more positive. He also told me that before enrolling in the Illustration course, Nathaniel visited and looked around a previous Summer Show at PCA and was inspired by what he saw. His artwork is normally monochromatic, and Sunshine is one of three screenprints on display inspired by his favourite films. I love how this one is dramatic, like an explosion.
Anita Yip‘s work is inspired by anime and manga, and she incorporates lots of geometric shapes into the backgrounds and characters that she illustrates. A lot of her characters also have animal traits or features, for example this character is wolf-like. Anita also has on display prints covered in tiny hieroglyphic symbols, and her zine Meep! which tells a funny and endearing glimpse of her life.
Joe Mouzourus was also available to speak to when I visited. Joe said he has “always wanted to be an artist since secondary school and that with illustration, “you can go in any direction”. Joe has displayed a collection of posters of films with strong female leads, including this one of Rey from Star Wars VII. I really like the dry brush style background and in the foreground it looks like he’s used pencils to create a detailed, shaded sketch which really stands out.
Nicola Owen‘s work has cute and simple lineart, colouring and shading. This display contains pages from her comic My Visit To Grandma. The artwork is adorable but the story is really sad and thought provoking. Nicola also has some minizines/comics on display and her overlapping cat pattern is clever and humorous.
Cosmo Lloyd‘s work is inspired by medieval and fantasy themes, and her work centres a lot around character design and comic art. She is the author of a webcomic called Uprooting, which is about “self worth and family issues with a sprinkle of medieval” and a printed preview of Uprooting is on display at the Show. She uses lots of colours in her work, and creates very detailed and well developed character concepts.
Briony Difford specialises in illustrating book covers, and her work is inspired by Asian folktales. Her illustrations are beautiful and detailed, yet she keeps her colouring simple by using separate individual shades, and leaving out any highlights or shadows.
Stephanie Parnell made this artwork for a small vinyl record sleeve (also on display was a poster version of the same piece). I find Legs Occult: Dark Rituals creepy and dark but also beautiful.
Amber-Louise Crawford’s creature illustrations are full of life. She combines simple, sketchy lineart with heavily shaded and blended colouring. This creature in the photo above looks like a forest spirit.
There are so many artists I haven’t covered in this post who had work on display, but today is the final day of the exhibition and I wanted to show how brilliant the work on display is so that if you’re interested in the Summer Show, you can take this last chance to check it out for yourself! I will most likely write a second post about the Illustration show later covering some of the things I missed here, so come back later to look for that.
When I visited the Animation room I was lucky to speak with graduating students Tim Howe and Bram Whitford. They explained to me that the first year of the degree course was quite experimental, in the second year they started to specialise and took part in a big project with the other Animation students, and in the third year they specialised further and worked on their final projects. Tim said that students can “start from zero on this course and develop their skills” and Bram explained that students are “encouraged to experiment on this course and explore their strengths”.
They both said that students are able to practice at different roles to see what suits them, for example directing or creating assets, and they are encouraged to collaborate with students from other departments in the college (some collaborated with Plymouth University students too). Bram said that the course covered a lot of different styles of animation as well as business and practical skills. Now that they have finished their degrees, Bram plans to focus on running his own illustration company, and Tim is hoping to do more CGI animation work.
Jessica Mehler is a 2D and Stop-motion animator. For her animation Catawampus she has created beautiful models, she has even hand sewn the clothes worn by her characters. Jessica’s attention to detail is incredible and she has put a lot of her models on display at the exhibition. There is a whole miniature house to look inside, with tiny food and crockery and furniture, and faces featuring different expressions for her main character. Jessica collaborated with filmmaker Julia Claxton on the design and building of the set for Catawampus. The story is about a young girl who gets lost in the woods and finds a mysterious cabin. The animation is of extremely high quality and was one of my favourite pieces in the Animation degree show. Watch a trailer for Catawampus here.
Larisa Cleaver has put a twist on the stories of Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks in her animation Goldi And Red. The style is really cute, using paper cutouts and split pin joints. The movement of the characters and scenery are really exaggerated like puppets and this makes the animation seem playful. The story is fun and I think that younger girls especially would enjoy it. Watch a trailer for Goldi And Red here.
Libby (LJ) Durose is an illustrator and animator and her work on display includes badges and her animation Ava. In Ava a young girl is chased by bullies and thrown into a well, then is befriended by a mysterious girl, who might be a ghost? Ava was another of my favourite pieces in the Animation degree show and I would like to see a longer project or even series of shorts based on these characters. The style is sketchy pen in black and white, it looks influenced by anime and the shadow work is really good. Watch a trailer for Ava here.
Libby’s badge designs are closeups of pen sketched faces and I plan to get one on my next visit to the exhibition. She also does ink portrait commissions and her artwork is in a detailed comic style, contact her by email.
Tim Howe originally specialised in stop-motion but is now working in CGI. His animation Jerome is a stop-motion animation about a man and his dog. Sort of. It has a really unexpected ending which young children might find a bit disturbing, so beware! The story is strange but darkly humourous. Tim’s models are made from oven hardened clay and wire and have a lot of personality. He has also used action figures in parts of the film. Watch Jerome here.
Sophie Oliver is a 2D Animator and her animation Migaloo has painted backgrounds and uses flowing fabric to create a wavy effect. The story is based at sea, a young diver is carried away by the current and helped by a giant whale. The style reminded me of Eric Carle’s story books and the animation was gently flowing. I really enjoyed how the music began smooth and calm and picked up pace and became more frantic when she was swept away. Watch Migaloo here.
Bram Whitford is an illustrator and animator. His animation is about a young person who finds an old top hat in an attic which attaches itself to their head. It seems like an origin story for a crime-fighting hero or villain. It was a funny short animation and I like the simple but cute artwork. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to it to share here!
There is more to see in the Animation room and even just seeing the models used in Catawampus and Jerome are really worth the visit. Allow at least half an hour to watch all the animation pieces which are being shown on a loop projected on a large screen. The PCA Summer Show is on until the 22nd June and the Animation room is on the first floor, next door to Game Arts. The Tavistock Place campus is also having an Open Day this Saturday 17th June so if you are interested in their Foundation, Undergraduate or Postgraduate courses you should go.
Last weekend, Plymouth College of Art opened their main campus to the public for a huge exhibition of work by their students. The college holds a Summer Show every year to show work from the students who are graduating that year. I try to go and see as much of the Show as I can because it is great to meet the artists and talk to them about their work, to learn about what the courses are like, and to see so many different styles and forms of artwork. I will be trying to cover as much of this year’s Show #BreakingThrough17 as possible this year but as there is so much I will be doing it across different blogposts. This one is about the Game Arts room on the first floor.
The projects on display range from interactive VR prototype games to character design work and projects with more focus on story development. I wore a VR headset and experienced being in a virtual spaceship as it flew around a space station and dodged meteorites as the creator, Jake Kay, piloted it using the keyboard. Jake’s simulation of being in space felt realistic and I could look at stars and a planet and asteroids all around me. I felt a bit unbalanced when I took off the headset but I would like to try out more VR projects because they really can give the sense of being in a different world.
Jake said his project took around four months to model and code and was inspired by other games he enjoys like Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen. He said he had “lots of fun” on the course and he hopes to find work as an environmental artist in the future.
There are other environmental modelling projects on display in the room. One is an interactive VR experience called House Vr by Lucy Kisielewska, where the player is able to move around with teleportation (in a similar way to Google Streetview) and pick up and throw objects like cushions and cans using handheld controllers which show up in the VR simulation as a pair of hands.
I also watched video of a 3-dimensional courtyard built by Amy Watson complete with houses, wagons and a well.
One of my favourite projects in the Game Arts room is Sarah Damo’s Wonder Seekers. She has some beautiful concept artwork on display as well as a 3D printed model of a robot, an art book, and a video of short animated scenes. Sarah told me that Wonder Seekers is about “the story of a girl and a parrot in a post-apocalyptic world full of marvels” and that she wanted to do something “a bit different” by creating a post-apocalyptic world that “isn’t dark”.
Sarah explained that her work is inspired by many things, including Romanticism, Impressionism and 90’s cartoons. She works using Photoshop and creates short animations with After Effects. She showed me how she had deliberately placed a three-dimensional robot character on a two-dimensional background drawing in order to make the character stand out.
Not all the concepts on display are for video games. Jack Challoner has created bright and colourful artwork for his card game design project The Art Of Restrict. I read through his detailed explanation of his decision making and artistic process designing monsters. He thought about real creatures in our world and incorporated some of their anatomical features into his invented creatures to make them more believable. He has thought deeply about colour, shape, environment, movement, and behaviour.
Another project I was really impressed by was Hero Brawl by Andrew Cole who has designed characters for a “team brawler” video game. Andrew has carefully explained every stage of his character design process in an artbook, including how he attempted to emulate the style of Norman Rockwell’s character paintings and how he has combined elements of Steampunk, Samurai, Medieval and Nazi armour and clothing to create his character designs.
The artbook for Hero Brawl really showed how much work goes into character design – Andrew identified an aesthetic style that fits the concept, did lots of drawing and painting exercises using stock images to get a feel for that style, studied history for ideas and inspiration, and painted characters and costumes from all directions. I would like to see more books like this one published regardless of whether the games are made or not as they are a really interesting insight into how the artist works and into character design. I hope that PCA is able to keep copies of these Artbooks for their library because I would like to have a much longer look at them.
There is lots more in the room to see but unfortunately I can’t cover everything and some of the work is interactive so it is best experienced for yourself! You can visit the PCA Summer Show until the 22nd June and the Game Arts room is on the first floor. The Tavistock Place campus is also having an Open Day this Saturday 17th June so if you are interested in their Foundation, Undergraduate or Postgraduate courses you should go!