Today I spent the day in London for work, a conference at the Wellcome Collection, a fantastic space close to Euston, that also has a gallery hosting excellent health themed exhibitions regularly. I won’t go into details about the event I was at for work, but I will say that the conference spaces are also filled with medical themed artworks by various luminaries but by far, is in the catering space the wall adorned with Martin Parr’s food photos of sickly sweet, bright pink doughnuts and other sticky treats!
The exhibition upstairs was about buildings and our environments and how they affect health, e.g. slum housing of the past 2 centuries, from their website:
Featuring works by Andreas Gursky, Rachel Whiteread and Martha Rosler, as well as buildings designed by Goldfinger, Lubetkin and Aalto, this exhibition examines some of the ways in which architects, planners and designers influence our health, self-esteem and ideas about society.
So if you find yourself at a loose end in Euston you could do worse that nip in and visit the Wellcome collection (they also have an irrisistable cafe and bookshop!).
This week has been one of good omens, or coincidences, which ever you prefer. At the weekend me and the husband were discussing some of our favourite trips, and Luxembourg came back into the conversation – we travelled there for a gig just under 2 years ago to see DJ Shadow. We’ve made city breaks for gigs a bit of thing now, but especially since moving to Oxford where a lot of bigger bands don’t play, particularly non-UK based bands: they’ll often play London and Manchester and sometimes Glasgow. Travelling to London started becoming an unwelcome expense – not just the travel, which sometimes included a horribly basic hotel or having to get a late night coach home that takes 2hrs, but also drinks being incredibly overpriced (£5 for a very bland lager sir, single vodka and redbull that’ll be £9 madam etc..). So we made a concious decision to start travelling, to gigs especially to cities we’ve not visited before and bonus if the venue is just that side of smaller and more intimate.
So that is how Luxembourg came about initially, it also helped that at the time I had a fair amount of nectar points that can be exchanged for easyjet flights making the weekend even cheaper. We saw DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist in den Atelier, a really cool intimate venue where you could pretty much see the stage from anywhere, it felt like the crowd was probably only 500 people, but according to their website they can accommodate up to 1200, but it felt like seeing them in a small club.
So the day after we’d been talking about how nice Luxembourg was, another favourite band Interpol* announced a European tour, with UK dates in Manchester and London. So we checked out where else they were playing and narrowed it down to Copenhagen and Luxembourg (both weekend dates). After a quick search it was clear that Luxembourg was going to be the cheapest option by far, so to cut this rambling short: exactly 2 years to the day we saw Interpol play in Amsterdam, we booked tickets to see them in Luxembourg. Also the same day a blog post about Luxembourg came up on my feed, so it felt like all the signs were there.
So two years later, I’m going to tell you about my favourite things in Luxembourg, as it seems I never bothered to blog at the time!
The first thing we did was pick up at Luxembourg Card similar to city cards, its actually valid for the whole country, getting you into many attractions and exhibits for free and to be honest is actually a lot cheaper than most other city cards. We picked up a 2 day card and definitely got some good use out of it just with Luxembourg city. It also includes public transport in the price making it super easy to get around and we actually managed to make it to at least 5 attractions over the 48 hours as I recall (would’ve been 6 but the Bock du Casemates is closed in winter).
These included the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM) a contemporary art museum where the building itself is as impressive as the art it holds (€7) and the next door fortress Museum Dräi Eechelen (€5), Casino Luxembourg (which is now free, but was I think the standard €5) which was full of typography and graphic design. Not to mention the historical Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (€5), Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art (€7) and Villa Vauban – Luxembourg City Art Museum (€5) ~ it’s worth noting that some of these venues we probably wouldn’t have bothered going to without the card, and I’m glad we did because they were in stunning buildings with loads of history. It was good to see art and artefacts that were outside of our usual tastes, and of course all these venues meant seeing parts of the city that we might otherwise have ignored due to the comfort of staying within a certain walking radius. If you have the means and will to go further afield there are breweries and swimming pools and other stuff included in your Luxembourg card that is valid up to 3 days, worth noting the days don’t have to be consecutive either – so if you want to spend a day doing museums, a day travelling or doing nothing, then another day doing something then that’s ok – you just fill out the days you actually use the card.
Luxembourg is also home to a what I was going to simply say, a delightful park to walk along that follows the flow of the Pétrusse river, particularly from where we were based close to the Rue Dr Charles Marx, it was a nice walk into the centre via the infamous Adolphe bridge but as the Luxembourg website says so much more eloquently “Laid out along more romantic lines, the Pétrusse Parks combine steep slopes, strange rock formations and the ruins of fortifications and bastions to form a harmonious unit”
Other things to do include the Notre Dame cathedral, maybe not as impressive as it’s Paris counterpart but still a beautiful church, very close to the gold lady war memorial. In the same area is the Place Guillaume II which has a few statues and the surrounding streets are very picturesque.
So after all this we’re very excited to return, particularly as it will be high summer, rather than winter, so we’d love to hear any more tips of what to do in the comments!
*not just a favourite band, but a band touring their first album, of which several songs were ‘our songs’ early on in our relationship so actually hold a really special place in our hearts
Day 8, should have been Saturday, but I was feeling rather under the weather and didn’t go out. So Sunday was my day for fun, I started out after brunch and went into Oxford to do a bit of gallery hopping and maybe some shopping. When I got into Oxford it turns out there was an arts and craft market on Broad Street. This turned out to a great opportunity to see what sort of price points others were using and whether I was way off bat with my calculations for a Christmas arts & crafts fair I’m doing in about 2 months time. Good news, similar products were on sale/selling at approximate prices to what I’d intended, also I noticed that the frames I’d picked up from a well known design store to trial some prints in, were also widely in use, so I’m in good company.
After I’d perused and picked up many a business card (I like to have a nosy at people’s websites as well), I headed to Modern Art Oxford to check out some more art. For the whole of 2016 to celebrate the gallery’s 50 year anniversary they are running continuous exhibitions, which means the galleries don’t shut down during change over like they normally would, it also at least feels like there’s more exhibitions on than there would be in a normal year.
The main space upstairs was dominated by a Richard Long piece on the floor resembling a maze, the gallery was flooded with light and there were some kids making up games walking over the/through the maze, which was pretty cool. Also in this room there was a sound installation of an orchestra replicating a thunder clap, I liked this too although i’m struggling to put into words why, maybe because galleries can often be too quiet so a bit of noise is good.
After looking at the rest of the exhibition including some instructions to ‘Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in.’ from Yoko Ono (you were allowed to remove the instructions to take away, but I didn’t), I headed downstairs to the cafe which has temporarily moved into the outside foyer. Here I had the best cookie, salted caramel and tahini. It was amazing.
Then I went for a walk, taking some photos (with my film camera, so not ready yet) and then up to St John’s college, as I’d spotted a sign saying ‘Gothic’ outside when I went past on the bus. It turns out that Gothic is the name of the exhibition of architectural objects, photographs and films by the MA Architecture students from Oxford Brookes. It was a great exhibition, the lighting of the textures in the photographs and the objects themselves in the exhibition were really interesting and not at all what I would expect from an architecture exhibit.
Today reminded me that it’s good to get out there and see what other creatives are up to, refresh your mind, feel inspired and just take things easy. I’m looking forward to the week ahead for once, rather than having that Sunday night blues.
One of the photographs I’m exhibiting as part of Oxford Artweeks’ in May is this image of Lómagnúpur. It’s definitely one of my personal favourites as it shows the rich colours of the Icelandic landscape, draped in black, green and gold.
An additional opportunity to exhibit at Oxford Town Hall is through a competition being run by the Poseytude Gallery entitled ‘Change The World’ which asks for works that reflects changes in the world today:
We live in a changing and ever more challenging world. Our environment and resources are being depleted and nature with the elements of air, wind, fire and water is testing us. Our countryside is being reduced due to meet rising population and seaside being eroded due to rising sea levels and changing weather patterns….What would you want to remind people of the beauty of our planet? Tell us through your art medium and briefly in your words how we can use or be inspired by it to make a change.
The top 8 artworks in each category through voting on social media will be exhibited, with judges decided the top three and there are prizes for those but honestly, just the thought of exhibiting in such an amazing venue would be prize enough. So I’m asking my lovely followers to consider voting for my photo (and you can re-vote every 24 hours!), I’m currently in 12th position, overall but no idea how I’m doing in my category, voting ends on the 24th April.
We also had to provide a blurb to go with our artwork (see below). I decided to submit one of my Icelandic landscapes partly because I’ve been following with interest the ongoing subject of the Icelandic Highlands. If you’re a fan of Iceland or Bjork you can’t fail to have missed the events to promote awareness of the potential destruction of some of Iceland’s unspoilt nature in favour of power plants, there is now a campaign to turn the highlands into a national park.
Iceland is famous for its outstanding natural beauty which attracts hundreds of thousands visitors each year. However this doesn’t stop the threat of destruction to nature, in particular the Icelandic highlands which have limited protection, the government has plans to build power plants and erect power lines, potentially destroying large areas of nature. Here is Lómagnúpur, part of a protected national heritage site in Iceland, an example of the nature that could be destroyed.
So if you feel like giving my photo a vote the link is here* and if you want to find out more about the Icelandic Highlands click here and sign the petition here !**
*although the competition takes you to facebook, you don’t need facebook to enter, just a valid email address
** Google chrome recommended for translating stuff
I’ve been busy this week trying to select between 4-6 images to get printed for Oxford Artweeks in May. I’m exhibiting with a group of 9 other photographers who know each other through the Oxford Flickr Group (anyone remember when Flickr group meets used to attract upwards of thirty photographers of a wide range of knowledge and skill?) and we’re privileged to be exhibiting in the Mathematical Institute aka the Andrew Wiles Building, part of the University of Oxford.
One of the main challenges for everyone involved is that the hanging space is fixed to a size of A0 in a portrait dimension. This means that we either have to: present portrait images in a large scale format, present multiple landscape images within the the same frame, still at a fairly large scale or become creative with our presentation methods and present multiple images of varying sizes within the frame.
So far I haven’t moved much past the point of selecting images, and I need to get a move on because my regular, tried and tested printing company currently have an offer on large scale prints which means I can do some test images without breaking the bank too much.
I’ve included a couple here for perusal, in case you hadn’t guessed I’m choosing to display some images from my road trip in Iceland that I blogged about many months ago.
On the road
I’ve been asked many a time why Iceland? I’m not sure I know myself yet. What I do know is that I’ve met physically and in the realm of the internet many people who become self confessed ‘Icelandophiles’ falling instantly in love with the island, it’s culture, landscape, people and particularly the music. For me it was definitely more of a slow burner, I’ve always been much more of a city gal. Prior to visiting Iceland some of my favourite places were New York, Prague, Paris. Cities full of people, places full of bustle, sensory overload where I could find my inner calm and joy at the same time.
But then until this last visit, I’d not experienced the same ‘small fish in huge pond’ sensation that excites me being in a city, in a barren and empty landscape before. Because that’s how it is to me, I’m still the outsider, sitting there quietly observing, even is that something is not ‘doing’ very much.
Now I feel its time for bed, to sleep and think some more about this.
This week I took in no less than 3 exhibitions with a musical inspiration. First up was Manchester Marauders at 2022NQ, a fantastic exhibition dedicated to Manchester’s Hip Hop scene by photographer & DJ Air Adam. 20 years after the release of A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, whose eponymous album cover paid respect to fellow artists on the scene, Adam’s exhibition centrepiece is of his very own Manchester Marauders. A cleverly crafted homage to the original, featuring people who’ve inspired Adam within Manchester’s thriving scene, over the years since he moved to Manchester in the mid 90’s. I really enjoyed this exhibition because if you’ve ever been to any club night with a hint of Hip Hop on the bill over the past 15 years or so, you’re bound to recognise at least one of the names, if not faces from this collection. For me the exhibition as a whole acts as a celebration of Manchester’ s music scene that doesn’t seem to get recognition outside of the guitar bands and Hacienda nights.
The exhibition features shots from various club nights within Manchester (the only exception are some photos of Tribe themselves, earlier this year at Wireless Festival in London) but it’s not all about the Dj’s & performers though, the audience participation at various events are equally represented in Adam’s shots which are a mix of crisp black & white shots with some atmospheric silhouettes against the ambient light. This exhibition runs until 26th October 2013 – prints are available to purchase here.
Next up was the ‘Defining Me: Musical Adventures in Manchester’ in the oft forgotten or at least not well publicised ‘side gallery’ of the Lowry, the exhibition is an impressive array of photographs, posters, and artefacts from personal collections of people who’ve been involved in the Manchester music scene who you might not recognise alongside some extremely familiar names such as Kevin Cummins.
Personal highlights were a ticket stub for LL Cool J from 1987 and a poster for a Grand Central album launch mid 90’s. It’s an exhibition I intend to revisit and have a really good nosy into, there was a lot to soak up and it was unusually busy when I visited. Exhibition runs until 23rd Feb 2014.
The third exhibition I visited was the highly anticipated Alison Goldfrapp: Performer as Curator http://www.thelowry.com/exhibitions/microsites/performer-as-curator-alison-goldfrapp/home/ which has seen a massive amount of hype. I can honestly say I’ve never heard so much buzz about an exhibition at the Lowry before. The exhibition is the first in a series of Performer as Curator, with this exhibition being a collection of works that inspire Goldfrapp’s whole artistic vision not just the music. The exhibition is an eclectic array of books, paintings, photographs and objects from Goldfrapp’s home, despite all this the exhibition left me cold, in fact my favourite part of the show was the promotional black on gold silhouetted image of a girl with deer. I don’t know whether it was the layout of the gallery or the poor lighting but I just didn’t feel compelled to linger and explore.
There were some books of beautifully illustrated books of fairy tales, but the lighting above them made it difficult to see detail properly, with parts obstructed by shadows and reflections on the glass and the name plates of all the exhibits were white lettering on gold-coloured background which again made it difficult to read. This coupled with the lack of an exhibition pamphlet left me feeling that someone thought the objects & imagery alone, would be strong enough, but without some sort of explanation or dialogue, this exhibition felt seriously lacking something (I do not consider the brief notations from the curator on a couple of the walls a good enough explanation or reason to tie all the loose ends together) and I felt there wasn’t enough information to put everything together into a coherent context, for example the photographs from Francesca Woodman were presented without explanation. I have no idea why or how this series of photographs influence Goldfrapp or why they were important enough to be included in the exhibition? maybe this mysterious element was intentional, but I’m afraid that if it was, it was just too mysterious for me to fathom and impeded my enjoyment. Exhibition runs until 2nd March 2014.