Saturday, 26 May 2012

I ought to tell you...

That I really quite dislike art. I like craft. By my definition art is making stuff for the sake of beauty and craft is making something beautiful and useful. I like beauty and usefulness therefore I like craft. I've also had bad experiences with artists (I'm sure there are some nice ones!). About a year ago I rang the Nottingham Contemporary up - you know the hideous building in Hockley where millions of pounds of our tax money was used essentially to create a clique of little to no usefulness to the majority of Nottingham residents - to see if we might be able to do something with them. I don't know - free classes for kids, free classes for adults, a small exhibition of customers work, a fashion show? I don't know. I was told emphatically that they wouldn't work with us because we're 'craft' and therefore, presumably, inferior to their 'art'. Hmph. Funny that a 'craft' shop is still the perfect place to place their posters and booklets though (having thought about it I've put a stop to that).

Bearing that in mind, I've always been a bit hesitant to accept invitations to art private views and we've had a few. But when I got the invitation to the Nottingham Trent Students Private View I just couldn't say no because so many of our customers are students there and I couldn't resist seeing if we could spot our yarns, or some of the work that I've done or just catch up with these wonderful creatives outside of the shop. Plus they promised there would be free booze. Sold!

So I RSVP'd and headed on down with my best friend. It was too bloody hot and, you know these students, they were running out of booze by the time we got there! We spent most of the evening chasing the free booze and 'hidden' bars. Haha. Soaking up a bit of art and design on the way.

I guess I'll start with my favourite thing I saw. Aaaaaaand we're back to craft... 

I guess we both thought it was a bit boring at first even if it was beautiful but Heather, my friend, was intrigued by the 5p coin in the middle - can you see it?

The lad, Jason Webster, was hanging around explained that it's to do with the old wives tale whereby you can't just give knives as a present, you have to involve a silver coin somewhere in the mix so as not to 'cut the friendship'. I love that! Something so modern mixed with something do old fashioned - I wonder when that custom first appeared? 

Then Heather asked about the implement on the left hand side - she thought it was chopsticks. Turns out it was a sort of set of wooden tweezers to get stuff out of toasters. Heather said, 'ahh, like toast' and he said 'yeah, sort of. I was thinking more like muffins and crumpets'!!!!!! My kind of man! :)

The next knife is a bit less interesting to me; a shaving tool kind of thing. And the one after is a wooden letter opener with a magnifying glass in the handle. I've never needed to use a letter opener - have you? So, again I'm not too fussed. But then!!!!

The last knife!!! And this is seriously my favourite thing ever!! It looks like a pretty kind of normal knife and I thought that's just what it was so I wasn't going to say anything but sort of as an afterthought he told us that it was a blunt knife for smashing through double glazing in the case of a fire. Good idea. Nothing too creative. But you see the white knotty stuff on the handle? That's a bloody 20 foot, super strength piece of rope that can be un-knotted in an instant for you to climb out of a window on. How did he think of that!? How!? I think he's got a bright future in front of him. 

Thinking about it - do you think I got excited about the rope because it was the closest thing I saw to yarn all night? Haha. 

Beautiful and useful right?

I'll talk about my second favourite thing next. I liked it because it made us both laugh out loud. 

Can you see the pickle?

It's a piece by Clare Fuller and on first glance is looks like real 'modern art'. White wood, a bit of concrete and some bare metal (if I remember rightly). At the time me and Heather were making a joke about the fact that we didn't understand what was art and what wasn't and how awkward it makes us feel. On the floor, half on and half off of some of the concrete was a piece of beetroot. It made us laugh because we thought somebody had been eating their dinner and just dropped it. Heather went over for a closer look and when she was there she noticed this little pickle. And then when we looked up there was a pickle on top of a tall piece of wood. I wonder if the artist was making some kind of statement about modern art, art galleries and how awkward it makes most people? We had a good laugh. :)

The building that the fine art is housed in is full of little rooms and windy stair cases and corridors. There's art all over the place:

I know you can really see this, but it's on the wall of one of the staircases. It's like a window into a secret space full purple flowers and leaves. It's magic. I wish I could have got a proper photo. 

This was another secret space: 

It's a room at the back of one of the gallery spaces completely closed off. There are two torches to use and to get the full effect you have to turn the torch on and close the door to the room leaving you in pitch blackness apart from the light from your torch. Quite disorientating because the rest of the place is so white and stark. The room is set out like a living room from the 80's - I guess you only know that because there's a newspaper with a story about the miner's strike. It's interesting. More like a museum than an art peice - maybe that's why I liked it. 

I couldn't find the name of either of these artists in the books - sorry!

Another piece that was sort of hidden from view in a windy passage I didn't get a photo of. And I didn't take a photo because of that awkward feeling. It was a series of wooden plinths with unfired clay columns on top - they were probably five foot tall. There were about eight of them or so and they were set out sort of randomly - not in lines or rows. Two plinths in middle had fallen and the clay had smashed by the time we got there. We'd only just seen the pickle and we couldn't work out whether it was part of the art or if somebody had just smashed them. To top it all off there were two people having an in depth discussion right at the back of the piece. When we turned up to see they stopped and stared at us. Way to make people feel welcome! 

Anyway - I didn't get a photo so I guess you're wondering why I'm writing about it here. Well, it turns out that it's piece by one of the girls that lives upstairs!! And she's lovely! We've had a good relationship with them over the year: signing parcels, letting friends through the gates so that they can knock on the door, forcing the landlord to install a doorbell. And at Christmas they made me some lovely iced cupcakes. They've been really sweet and I'll miss them - I hope the next lot are as nice as them. So here's a photo of Fern's piece from the catalogue-type-book that you can pick up from the exhibition: 

Fern Mayo - Ghost - 2012. 


After we'd looked around as much of the fine art as we could take we headed over to the Arkwright and Newton building. But I think I'll leave the post here and talk about that tomorrow because this isn't supposed to be an essay. Maybe I'm more interested in art than I think??

Also, I ought to say that you can visit the show now! It's open Mon-Fri - 10am-5pm, Sat - 11am-5pm and Sun - 11am-4pm until the 3rd of June. It's free admission. I guess you's start at the Bonnington building which is where the textile design, photography and fine art is and there you can get a map to help you get around the campus (it's a bit odd and I only vaguely remember the names of the buildings from studying there). To get the the Bonnington Building you want to head up Shakespeare Street, away from town, past where the old births, marriages and deaths place was. It's on your right hand side and it has a hideously, relentlessly modern exterior with some benches and random bits of metal arching through the air. Failing finding it with that explanation, click here for a map. It was seriously fascinating. 

Love Eleanor. :)

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