Students on Acid?! – Sweet ‘Art Visits The Slade BA Fine Art Show by Corrina Eastwood

As you all may well know, we make it our business to check out the up and coming talent in the art world and so next up in our degree show visits is the Slade, and I decided to pop along on a sunny day this week. It is always a pleasure to visit the grandness of UCL especially on a sunny day when students sit out in the main quadrant and there is a feel of optimism and celebration as the academic year draws to a close. Actually, some of the celebration took the form of students rolling each other around in giant inflatable balls that reminded me of how long ago it was that I was a art school (no giant balls in my day!) and that I now have a bad back.

In fact in retrospect the Violet-from-Willy-Wonka-style ball was quite prophetic as I entered the Slade show and made my way around the studios, some with their grand circular iron staircases , a smell of paint in the air accompanied by the mixed echoes of the audio of several surreal installations.

My first question overall is are they regularly feeding acid to the students at the Slade  these days (no acid in my day!)!? After a pleasing but relatively calm start with some beautiful abstract paintings I felt like I was then spiralling into the visual representation of a contrary, anxious, euphoric psychosis. You know, in a good way.

There is some really great works in this show and a sense that opportunity provided by the space has not been taken for granted. I love visiting the degree shows and all that refreshing wide eyed, raw approach and the exciting sense that you are witnessing the beginning of the development of incredibly rich practice.

Definitely some ones to watch in this show and here are my personal best bits!

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Arched Figure by Alfred Worrall

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Dinner by Docile Simonyte

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The Sun Comes Out by Leila Hesabi

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Works by Angelique Heidler

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Stigmata – Video Projections by Joe Pearson

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Stigmata – Video Projections by Joe Pearson

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Lick Off Ur Cohort, Stainless Steel Urinal, Painted Water Guns, Water Pumps, 1080HD Video Loop by Juntae TJ Hwang

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Sade Army Banner, Print on Canvas by Juntae TJ Hwang

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My favourite space in the show! Shared by artists Nancy Huang and Jade Fadojutimi

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My favourite space in the show! Shared by artists Nancy Huang and Jade Fadojutimi

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Detail of Lipoma, iridescent cellophane, plastic by Nancy Huang

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Detail of Melanoma Metastasis, ceramics, silicone and glaze by Nancy Huang

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How You Like it Oil and Acrylic on Canvas by Neena Percy

Sweet ‘Art at Art15 by Anthony Didlick

So Art’15 is over! A huge thank you to the organisers for an invite to the fair in its biggest year to date. There was an incredible buzz in the air especially in the ‘emerge’ section, an area dedicated to galleries that are relatively new from all over the world.

With a variety of work on show, it was difficult for us to choose our favourites and after narrowing down, we have Sweet ‘Art’s best of Art’15!

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Juan Fontanive’s ‘Ornithology’ is a combination of precision and playfulness. The mastery of construction combined with the fun of the youthful flip book create an endless three dimensional animation that opens up a door to an imaginary world.

A video of the piece can be viewed at: http://juanfontanive.com/ornithology/

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‘Renminbi’ by José-María Cano is considered the success of Art’15. We enjoyed the variety of colour and huge attention to detail. The works of Andy Warhol can only come to mind.

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Ji Yoon Hong’s ‘Chrysanthemum at Sunset in the Western Sky’ was a highlight for us from the emerge section. The bold use of contasting black and yellow caught our eye and the expert curation kept us looking.

More examples of Ji Yoon Hong’s use of colour here! https://www.artsy.net/show/galerie-koo-galerie-koo-at-art15-london

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‘Title Forgotten (Animal Playing)’ by Caterina Silva caught our eye, due to the raw nature of its presentation.

The Cob Gallery annouced it’s exclusive representation of Stella Vine at Art ‘15 this year, debuting with a solo exhibition by the artist. With the female artist as her subject she creates intimate portraits that expose the fragile nature of her subject.

Her work can be seen below:

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Degree Show time! First up UEL BA Fine Art by Charlotte Elliston

It’s that time of year again and as always Sweet ‘Art will be visiting as many University degree shows as possible, as we love the buzz and excitement which comes from students celebrating the conclusion of their studies and creating ambitious and often boundary-pushing new work.

As always, UEL gets an early slot in the calendar and with three of the Sweet ‘Art team being alumni of the course, we were eager to see what was in store. Our favourite picks of the exhibition, which is titled East London showcase and can still be viewed until 25 May, are – in no particular order:

Carolyn J Whittaker

Carolyn J Whittaker

Carolyn J Whittaker’s piece (unfortunately we did not manage to take down the title of the piece) was the first stand-out in the show. Large, glossy red spheres hung suspended from the ceiling, and slowly dripped to create puddles on the floor. Reminiscent of glace cherries or balloons, the obvious weight of the spheres, plus the slow, sorrowful drip reminded me of the end of a party – a feeling evoked similar to that in Anne Hardy’s ‘Untitled IV (Balloons)’ with it’s connotations of entropy and decay.

Ann Hardy 'Untitled IV (Balloons)'

Ann Hardy ‘Untitled IV (Balloons)’

Andrea Bigby’s ‘P.A.C.E’ also caught our eye. Apologies for the poor installation shot, but due to the nature of the piece it was hard to capture effectively. This was a series of hung prints, on a not-quite opaque paper. Some of the images were very slightly grainy or blurred which meant that when the installation was seen from different viewpoints, the layering created a filmic sense of movement or time.

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Andrea Bigby ‘P.A.C.E’

Next we came across the work of Ryan Prince, and enjoyed two of his pieces. ‘Domestic Departure’ was shown as a wallpaper hanging which we enjoyed for the unusual display method.

Ryan Prince 'Domestic Departure'

Ryan Prince ‘Domestic Departure’

Ryan’s other piece was a darkly comic photograph titled ‘Goodbye (To Fine Wine)’. The works seemed to explore ideas of mass-production and consumerism, but with a lighthearted touch which was appealing. We liked the juxtaposition of the fairytale-like characters of the bird with a mundane setting.

Ryan Prince 'Goodbye (To Fine Wine)'

Ryan Prince ‘Goodbye (To Fine Wine)’

The final piece we loved was Daniel Reid’s ‘Astray’, a film composed entirely of shots of abandoned hairbands, which was really nicely shot and again there are similar ideas brought up to those of Carolyn Whittaker around entropy and Ryan Prince’s repetition of a theme. Is it just us, or did we also spot a hint of John Smith’s influence of the reflection of the urban in there too?

Daniel Reid 'Astray'

Daniel Reid ‘Astray’

In addition to the BA Fine Art show, there were Photography and Fashion & Textiles shows on which sadly we did not get time to view, but will certainly be checking out UEL’s output next year!

Y Not? Solidarity, Empowerment and Y Fronts! – An exhibition and international collaboration in aid of International Women’s Day 2015 By Corrina Eastwood

So the dust has well a truly settled on Y Not? our latest show in aid of International Women’s Day and Women’s month.

Some of you may remember that we held our launch show back in 2012 in aid of women’s day, born out of a frustration that I had that there where few art events or exhibitions at the time to honour women’s day. Things have come on such a long way in the last few years regarding the 8th of March celebrations, and now London seems to be seething every year with events throughout the whole of March, which is just amazing.

Following my travels around the world, meeting amazing artists and curators and visiting incredible creative spaces, I had come back to London full or international inspirations!

With the Sweet team back together we got to planning our next adventures which included putting together an ambitious plan for a multi international collaborative project that would be held this March called ‘SHE’. As March approached we realised that to do this Sweet ‘Art style we were going to need much more time, so instead decided to scale down our plan of involving 5 galleries and curators world wide, to involving just a few of our newfound friends this year, to create a taster of what is to come!

Many may be surprised to hear that Y Not?, in all its glory was actually the tamer little sister of ‘SHE’! Watch this space!

In retrospect we are so pleased that we had the opportunity to work on Y Not? first, and along the way be joined by other great organisations with all the lessons and knowledge that can be gained from such inspiring collaborations.

So once decided, we ran headlong into our Y Not? preparations with all the girlie excitement you may expect (even from the boys!). Y Not? felt like the perfect show title for the exhibition, with its boldness, optimism and of course reference to that all important Y chromosome.

We wanted an empowered natural beauty for our poster and had fun with the awesome Cybil and a few pairs of Y Fronts at our poster photo shoot. The stuff we get up to!

Y Not? Poster

Y Not? Poster

With our friend Carlos over at the beautiful Espacio Gallery letting us know he had a slot in March with our name on it, we jumped at the chance to hold Y Not? at one of our favourite Shoreditch galleries. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with Carlos. He is going to hate me for posting this picture!

Carlos at The Espacio Gallery

Carlos at The Espacio Gallery

Our call for artists who’s works explore the theme of women’s day, women’s issues, the female form, gender identity and feminism had the largest response of any of our call outs to date, and we were overwhelmed by the amazing submissions, leading to an incredibly strong final selection.

Along with our selected 47 artists we knew we also needed to make space for 5 incredible artists from the LPM gallery in Texas. Some of you may remember my blog post about the leg of my trip with Gav that found us in Austin Texas, hanging out with Annie, the inspiring curator of the LPM gallery. Since my trip Annie and I have stayed in touch and she has now launched a second space in Austin, providing an even greater creative hub for upcoming and mid career artists in central Texas. Annie was as excited as us about Y Not? and suggested that the LPM gallery join us in having a Y Not? show in parallel to ours on the other side of the water.

We selected 5 of our amazing artists to exhibit in the LPM gallery for Y Not? in the US and Annie selected 5 super talents at her end for us, and got to shipping the work to arrive in time for our opening.

I must admit I was like a child on Christmas morning opening some of the packages sent from Texas, full of amazing art and some extra lovely little presents for me and the Sweet team!

Presents and Art from the LPM Gallery

Presents and Art from the LPM Gallery

We were also approached by another remarkable organisation, Lensational who asked if somehow they could be involved in Y Not? Founded by Bonnie Chiu, Lensational strives to empower and support women in developing countries emotionally and economically through photography, offering equipment and tuition. We were blown away by the dedication of Bonnie, Lucile and the rest of the Lensational gang and also by the power of the photographs taken by the women they work with.

Lensational team

Lensational team London

Lensational working in Bangledesh

Lensational working in Bangledesh

We decided to allocate a small room in the gallery to Lensational and their work and after a few inspiring meets felt really excited about them curating a small showcase of the work they do.

Photographers Asti Maria and Sinna, with Sunnie and Chloe from Lensational!

Photographers Asti Maria and Sinna, with Sunnie and Chloe from Lensational!

We were so honoured to be joined by such inspirational organisations on the Y Not? journey and on looking back over the collaborative process can note many ways in which the experience informed our work as an organisation dedicated to ethical practice.

Issues of difference was something that we had prepared to address in organising SHE as a multi-international project. However , Y Not?, being joined later in its’ development by other organisations, did raise some issues surrounding cultural difference that we now understand could have been considered more.

For a start Y fronts are not called Y fronts in the US or other parts of the world! This play on words, that was well received here in London, did not translate in the US at all and so it made sense for the LPM gallery to create there own poster for their show.

LPM's Y Not?  poster

LPM’s Y Not? poster

Interesting debate also arose surrounding our poster with regard to the work that Lensational as an organisation do in developing countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. As some of you may well know as an organisation Sweet ‘Art feels the importance of pushing boundaries, creating challenge and debate through art. We had wanted to use a strong, empowered, un-airbrushed woman defiantly posing in what is traditionally male underwear. In our social context we were aware of the element of this message that challenges acceptability with regard to the shaming and censoring of a certain type of female form, particularly in the media and advertising. This has felt all the more prominent in recent weeks with the emergence and following criticism of the Beach Body Ready campaign.

#everybodysready

#everybodysready

We also enjoyed the use of the Y in Y Not? in reference to both the Y front underwear and the Y chromosome and received great feedback about the poster here in London. However, there arose concern that for those in more conservative countries, the way in which our model is dressed in the poster could cause offence and that this would limit ours and Lensationals’ ability to share the event internationally in the very way we had hoped.

Y Not? invite

Y Not? invite

Healthy debate ensued surrounding issues of intersectionality, universalism and cultural relativism with regard to women’s rights. Our concerns were to be respectful and mindful of cultural difference while being sure not to collude with what may be felt as oppressive. In the context of our wish that Lensationals’ involvement in Y Not? be an opportunity for women in difficult circumstances to be given a voice here in London, and for that opportunity to be celebrated in the women’s own countries too, we all decided that a different poster for each organisation would be the best solution.

Y Not? posters

Y Not? posters (London)

In the weeks before our opening night we were also lucky enough to be sponsored by Courvoisier who provided welcome cocktails on the private view night and I was interviewed by many publications in the excitement as the event approached.

You can have a read of some of the interviews and feature on our press page.

Y Not? interview

Y Not? interview

Courvoisier, sponsors of Y Not?

Courvoisier, sponsors of Y Not?

Our opening evening was a great success and everything you come to expect now from a Sweet ‘Art event! With hundreds of guests counted through the door and several sales we also received some amazing feedback and the degree of challenging debate and discussion that we had hoped to evoke with our particular curating decisions was evident on the night and throughout the show run.

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Y Not? The vagina cupcakes went down well! 

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Y Not?

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Y Not? LPM Gallery works being viewed at Y Not? London

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Y Not? LPM Gallery works on display in Y Not? London

Our artist Alice Steffen is currently working in Chicago but was there on the night via the wonders of FaceTime

Our artist Alice Steffen is currently working in Chicago but was there on the night via the wonders of FaceTime

Lensational room at Y Not?

Lensational room at Y Not?

…and what of the Y Not’s sister gallery in the States? Well we were delighted to hear that Y Not? in Texas had been an equally exciting affair. The LPM gallery also spent months in the run up to their show creating an impressive installation called the Red Tent which “honors the tradition and connection of the monthly cycle we women share.” They invited patrons to send in red fabric and an inspirational woman’s name so the names could then be hand sewn into the fabric with the red tent then being constructed from the cloth.

The Red Tent in progress at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent in progress at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent in progress at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent in progress at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent in progress at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent in progress at The LPM Gallery

“Inside we offered items and memories to the fire, an act of letting go. We burned the Red Tent to remind us that we are not dirty, that we are not meant to be hidden away and that holding on to this ideal is useless. We burned the tent at 6:56pm with the New Moon. We offered two months of hard work and watched it burn in 20 minutes. A great exercise to honor many women we love and are inspired by.”

The LPM Gallery

The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent at The LPM Gallery

Anne and co at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent at The LPM Gallery

The Red Tent at The LPM Gallery

The rest of the Y Not? show in Texas looks like an amazing and ambitions exhibition, beautifully curated. It’s such a shame you cant be in two places at once!

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Y Not? at the LPM Gallery

Y Not? at the LPM Gallery

Y Not? at the LPM Gallery

Y Not? at the LPM Gallery

Y Not? at the LPM Gallery

Y Not? at the LPM Gallery

Sweet 'Art artists Joanna Layla, Sal Jones, John Gathercole, Ricki Nerreter, Corrina Eastwood exhibit prints in Y Not? at The LPM Gallery

Sweet ‘Art artists Joanna Layla, Sal Jones, John Gathercole, Ricki Nerreter, Corrina Eastwood exhibit prints in Y Not? at The LPM Gallery

Sweet 'Art artists Joanna Layla, Sal Jones, John Gathercole, Ricki Nerreter, Corrina Eastwood exhibit prints in Y Not? at The LPM Gallery

Sweet ‘Art artists Joanna Layla, Sal Jones, John Gathercole, Ricki Nerreter, Corrina Eastwood exhibit prints in Y Not? at The LPM Gallery

I cant state strongly enough how moving and exciting an experience the curating of this multi-international event was for all of us at Sweet ‘Art. To be joined with such enthusiasm by other inspirational women such as Annie and Lucile and Bonnie was a delight and hugely encouraging. We have learned so much, made so many new friends and cant wait to find out what next March has in store!