Tate Modern

The new Switch House, Tate Modern.

I finally made it to the new Switch House at Tate Modern
 designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. My intention was to leave it a little while before visiting in the hope the crowds would subside. 
A late summer Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect time to visit. For anyone interested in materials, architecture or concrete this new extension is a real treat. As you enter the space from the Turbine room what immediately confronts you is the original wall scarred from it's former function. 
With the addition of the elegant concrete stairs you can't help but be blown away by the consideration and skill in construction that has taken place here. 

From the outside it is obvious to see the that the extension tapers in towards the top. Where a viewing platform can be experienced on the 10th floor.
Inside there are three main rooms curated according to subject each room has a dedicated floor. 

Between Object and Architecture
Performer and Participant
Living Cities
Artists Rooms Louise Bourgeois 

On the ground floor known as The Tanks there is a mix of film and installation. 
Here's one example. 

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster Séance de Shadow II (bleu) 1998

Between Object and Architecture: 
I think it goes without saying that this was the room I had the most affinity with.
It's material led and the scale of most of the works stood beyond human scale. Showcasing the change of art and sculpture becoming more immersive.

Saloula Raouda Choucair, Infinite Structure, 1963-5 Tufa Stone.

Christina Iglesias, Pavilion suspended in room, 2005 Steel 

Tony Cragg

These rooms challenge the viewer, you have to work with some pieces and others force you to physically move beyond the usual standing position. 

I found it really inspiring, to see such a diverse range of interesting thought provoking work curated together. Creating a clear dialogue around work created during the 1960's. Minimalism was sweeping art, sculpture, music and architecture.
Art movements were crossing over and experimentation with the everyday object was becoming more prominent. 

Performance and Participant: 
Performance is something I often struggle with unless it immediately ignites an interest.
However, what I was immediately drawn to was this collection of works and body pieces worn by Rebecca Horn for her performance Icarus Redeemed 1970-73. 
The construction of these structures, the physicality involved whilst manoeuvring them and the elegance and flow captured in the series of photographs below. It has dance like quality to it. 


The final comment I want to make about my visit is the lattice style brickwork, constructed as part of the facade of the building, reminiscent of Indian brickwork to allow air flow and light. 
In this case I think it's simply for visual impact allowing light to gently glow into the interior walkways. Behind the bricks are glass windows that open and close encased between large concrete beams.
I also noticed that each brick stands on small pads positioned in each corner to hold them in place and also to avoid the use of mortar for a clean finish.

It's a stunning addition to an already breathtaking space. Bringing a focus to performance, live art and installation. During a time where it's so important to support the arts and culture and to bring about a greater understanding how this provides a truly contemporary international view of modern art. 

Jerwood Makers Open and the Energy and Process room in Tate Modern.

A couple of weeks ago I had a day of art based exploration, firstly I had a meeting with Frances Lord my Hothouse3 Mentor. We met in the Jerwood Space for about an hour to discuss various strands of my own working practice. 
Whilst I was there it was the perfect opportunity to look around the Jerwood Makers Open 2013


Here are a few images of my personal favourites.
Nahoko Kojima's swimming Polar Bear it's difficult to really understand the scale and the fragility of this piece of work unless you experienced it first hand. The craftsmanship in this was incredible with a process that is so time consuming with a mind blowing end result. 

Adam Buick Ceramic and film 

Adam Buick

 After that I made my way over to have a quick look in Tate Modern as I haven't been in for a while and it's always worth a visit. 

With the closure of the turbine hall the space felt so much smaller. The shop had moved up one floor and again had been relocated to a smaller space, but despite all of this going on I had a look around the galleries and on the forth floor I was in my element.

This gallery is called Energy and Process the entire space is dedicated to Anti form, post minimalism and a brief art movement that took place at the latter end of the 1960's in Italy, called Arte Povera which translates in to Poor Art. 

Some how, and I have no idea how, this movement has passed me by. 
This fleeting movement was rooted in materiality and the physicality of the work using found or natural materials such as stone, rock, wood etc. Founded during a time of political unrest in Italy and a rejection of US abstract painting. It is challenging ideas of art and what art can be. the context of showing work of this nature within the confines of the gallery or crossing contexts in the same way Richard Long or Richard Serra still does today.

There is a strong link to beginnings of Land art or an influence that has filtered into conceptual and installation art. 
This still feels relevant today and on a personal note when I encountered this room it really validated my own thinking and aesthetic qualities, work that can be transient or ephemeral and the value of working in such a way that it almost makes it impossible to attach a commercial price tag to. 

Giovanni Anselmo Direction 1967 - 8

Mario Merz Lingotto 1968

Gilberto Zorio Terracotta Circle 1969

Richard Serra 

Joseph Beuys This installation was downstairs in another gallery space. I wanted to include it as it seemed to feed into my thinking. 


'Black has almost inescapable traditional symbolism as the colour of darkness, negative forces and unhappy events. It stands for death , ignorance , despair, sorrow, and evil.
In superstition black is synonymous with disaster, black cats black days. As the colour of mourning it dramatizes loss and absence. '

The complete dictionary of symbols in myth, art and literature. Editor Jack Tresidder

It's interesting how colours are attached to symbolic references or meanings. 
I'm not incorporating any conventional associations in my approach to the colour black. 
I'm more interested in how light and dark visually work together. The strength and intensity black has particularly on a large scale, spanning spaces. 

How a dark environment can be transformed when floodlit with sunlight. I'm aware that light also has strong symbolic connections but that is another conversation .........
Blackness...... darkness....... what do we see in darkness? what do we think we may have seen ? How does a lack of light make us feel?

I have this fascination with the colour black at the moment, well 
I say at the moment. It really began at the beginning of my MA when I discovered this incredible black clay and started working on small models I have a few examples of these pieces past and present, including a few more images I have been collecting along the way.

Here are a few images I took of Peter Zumthor's Serpentine Pavilion 2011. The saturation of colour was quite intense considering how bright it was outside that day. That's what I adore about these relatively small spaces. Once inside you are fully immersed into these experiential environments. What ever you experience within the confines of these small spaces you cannot fail to feel something. With the turn of each corner came this unusual feeling that the walls were closing in on you in much the same way certain Richard Serra's pieces do but that's normally the angles at which the walls are standing. This was very much about the quality of light within a narrow passageway.

This was the first experimentation with black clay during my early findings and explorations at the Victoria and Albert museum residency. At this point I was interested in light and dark contrasts and marks.
Here I have three different clays that were watered down to a slip consistency and poured onto a plaster bat in thin layers building up the surface over time. It was so fragile but i was interested in canvas looking sheets with the idea to have them suspended on a huge scale.

Cape Cornwall where natural black clay can be dug from the ground although once fired it's slightly purple in tone.

It's unusual to have an explosion in the kiln I think I've only had it happen twice in my 15years of making. However about three weeks ago I had quite a spectacular mess awaiting me when I opened the kiln. I had a large rectangular carved piece. It was really heavy and thick, although I had been drying it over three to four weeks and fired so slowly it must have still been a little damp in the middle which was impossible to tell given the size of the piece. Here are the pieces left and currently sitting in my studio which triggered an idea for a possible project Sasha and myself are currently working on.

Unfired black clay in this state it looks very much like a darker terracotta

 This is the transformation after firing i took this up to 1260 oC and have returned to the black and white contrast. Until I go ahead and design a full scale black piece of work I think I will continue to this slight obsession with the drama these two opposing materials create together.

This was some of the charcoal Anne and I used for the Bond Street window display back in May. We selected it as it came from English Coppice woods the pieces were still intact as entire branches the bark in some cases were also still attached but had turned this incredible silver shade.

 Julian Stair's new works being shown at the British Ceramics Biennial in Spode. I had to include these for several reasons containment and scale although the work is completely different and more traditional in form, in so many ways I felt that the ideas based around encasement and being contained was also close to some of my own thinking.