There are lots of small metal creatures in birdcages hanging from a fabric forest.
Most of the creatures are asleep but some are awake and waiting to be talked to.
Every creature has unique features, some have beaks, some have antlers, others have big cat ears or spiky ears.
There is a comfy sofa and some books so you can sit and read aloud to the creatures to make them happy. Sometimes, the creatures will sing..
This exhibition was adorable but also sad because of the context. It has been created and curated by a small group of young people who are in foster care, working with curators and artists from Effervescent. The exhibition is intended to make us think about issues around foster caring and how children in foster care are maybe seen by other people and by themselves. It will probably give you a lump in your throat and it is one of the most moving exhibitions I have visited.
The singing happens once an hour, around the beginning of the hour. Get there a bit earlier than that to look around in quiet and read the exhibition materials. Sit on the sofa and read a book aloud to yourself and the creatures (I recommend The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy which I discovered there). Most importantly, wait to hear the creatures sing!
The exhibition will be on until the 25th November. I will be going back again and taking friends with me because I think this is an exhibition a lot of them will enjoy and it is a really thought-provoking and sweet experience.
This weekend is Plymouth Art Weekender, an annual event lasting three days and celebrating visual arts in Plymouth.
This afternoon I started by meeting some friends in the Radiant Gallery’s exhibition called Dog Show. The first thing we saw when we entered the gallery were three enormous dog sculptures. Snoopy dog is a scaled-up model of a Fisher Price toy from the 1960’s by Liam Ainscough. I had never seen the toy before but it is a cute design and has a fun springy tail. The other two sculptures were made from paper mache and had wheels on the bottoms and leads attached around their necks so that visitors can take them for walks around the gallery.
We walked to the back of the room and found a display of bowls holding dog biscuits. This section was an interesting way of gathering information about visitors, as we had to answer the questions on the wall by putting a biscuit into one of the bowls. We had to work out how old we were in dog years, and I found out that 1 dog year is worth 7 human years.
There was a dressing up corner containing a coat rack of costumes and creepy dog masks. I dressed up in different outfits and posed to have my pictures taken. It was really funny coming up with bizarre combinations and my favourite was a shiny gold jacket, a pug mask and a top hat. I looked at the photos by Emma Saffy Wilson of people with their dogs or groups of friends playing with costumes, and it felt good to see the happy relationships in them.
We stayed at Rumpus Cosy afterwards and I had a strawberry and vanilla cordial fizz and a slice of blueberry cake. The cafe is pretty and the cake was tasty. If you would like to visit yourself, Dog Show will be at the Radiant Gallery until the 30th of September.
We moved on to the Barbican and stopped at 40RTY5IVE Southside, a shop which sells lots of different things by local designer-makers. We saw two of Piers Edsall’s Krakens and pottery by Christina Peters. I really liked some of the prints that I saw here by Jan Brewerton (twitter) which have a unique style. We went into Only Originals and it was filled with tons and tons of Sue Wills’s paintings, some still in progress. I spoke to her daughter Christie Wills (instagram) who is an illustrator studying at Plymouth University and who had some of her own work on display. Her artwork is inspired by animals and uses unusual techniques. She made one print using an extremely carefully cut out paper elephant, and she has dripped and layered watercolours to make colourful paintings.
Lastly we went to Barbican New Street Artists. Their studio is on the top floor of the building up lots of steep winding stairs. Here we talked to Glyn White who does extremely personal paintings, some with shocking stories behind them. The painting of a shore he was working on was inspired by an accident he had where he broke his foot and wasn’t able to go surfing for many months. Glyn is really friendly and I recommend a visit to his studio to hear his stories. I also looked at paintings of pubs by another artist in the studio, Dave Crocker, and he told us about his plein air painting at weddings.
I had a good day and I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.
I started at the Roland Levinsky Building with my brother where we met with friends who were also interested in the art which the local young people had made. We headed straight into the exhibition at Peninsula Arts. The gallery was full of works in different styles and media, including animation, film, painting, sculpture and drawings. I had seen a couple of pieces before in the Graduate Show at PCA.
One of my favourite pieces here was an ink drawing, ‘Origin’ by Rachel Card (in the 19-23 age category), which showed a woman reading from a book The Origins Of Life and her hair above her was filled with flowers and life under a night sky. Close by was a photography project ‘Growth Of Us’ by Ben Churchill (16-18) a collection of four portraits representing four decades of cultural history. In each portrait the model (I assume it was Ben himself?) is holding a camera from that era and across his t-shirt are photographs of human rights activists of that decade. I also liked the photograph ‘Cranes’ by Ryan Trower of a city skyline filled with cranes, showing how the city is growing upwards to the clouds.
Another ink drawing which I was captivated by was ‘Metropolis’ by George Davies (Winner of the 12-15 category), an extremely intricate illustration of a city. Finally, we all loved ‘Groa’ by Amelia Goodman (12-15), who combined pen, pencil, watercolour, ink and gouache to portray a dragon from a story she wrote herself.
We left the gallery and had our lunch by the Kilkenny limestone sculptures which have been loaned to Plymouth University by Peter Randall-Page. The sculptures are huge and when you touch them they are completely smooth. They made me think about how each block must have started out looking the same but the artist has made them all look unique.
After lunch we made our way across town to the Radiant Gallery. It was my first time visiting and the gallery is attached to the pretty Rumpus Cosy cafe which I would like to visit again for cake sometime! Radiant is a smaller gallery than Peninsula and feels more intimate. I thought that ‘Box 1-3’ by Jessica Owen (16-18) was the most meaningful and emotive piece in the exhibition. It was a mixed media piece of three glass cubes which each contained a different subject. In the first was a curled up baby, the second contained warped Dali-esque clocks, and the third was overflowing with flowers. The label read that the piece was “a personal response to my father leaving the family, my sadness and depression that resulted.”
One of my brother’s favourite pieces was ‘GrowClan Cats Animation’ by Antonia Parkyn (8-11). This was an animation made using Scratch and inspired by the Warrior Cats books by Erin Hunter. I am a fan of the books myself and enjoy making in Scratch so this piece reminded me how young people in 2016 are constantly expressing themselves in creative and unexpected ways using modern technology.
I didn’t enter the PYCO this year but I really enjoyed the exhibition and seeing what other young people in Plymouth are creating, so I’m hoping to take part next time in 2018.