PAC Home at Bristol Art Weekender

PAC Home, Plymouth Arts Centre’s artist support network, offers opportunities for emerging artists in the city to interact with and learn from other artists nationally. This allows our talented artists to expand their knowledge and enhance their practice.

PAC Home is currently offering two bursaries of £100* towards travel for artists, writers or curators to visit this year’s Liverpool Biennial. Find out more details and how to apply.

We recently provided Bursaries for four artists to visit the Bristol Art Weekender.

Artist David Lister travelled to Bristol Art Weekender with PAC Home and this is his festival diary:

This is the first time in Bristol arts organisations and artists have organised a unified celebration of art. The weekend is led by arts producer Situations in collaboration with 16 other artists. The event also allowed thousands of visitors to engage with over 70 exhibiting artists.

The highlights included; Jeremy Deller’s ‘English Magic’ at the Museum & Art Gallery, The Observers ‘Rising Art Star Of 2014’, Andy Holden at Spike Island. The exhibition was alongside its annual Open Studios event. There was also the launch of the National ‘Public Art Now’ programme which included a Jeremy Deller Lecture. Situations staged Annika Kahrs’ concert for 100 Songbirds in the Lord Mayor’s Chapel. Celebrated British Artist Richard Woods filled the Works Projects Gallery with Bad Brickwork, which were made from wood made to resemble brickwork.

Jeremy Deller’s exhibition was his usual socially and politically engaged work, which was a rich mixture of photography, painting, film and installation. There was also music in the form of David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ on steel drums. The pieces that I really liked were the Range Rover being crushed on film then appearing as a seat in the exhibition for visitor’s to sit on. The exhibition runs until 21st September 2014.

First stop ‘Waking Up a Shape’ exhibition at the Woodside Press, which was hosted by Spike Islands Associates, who are Bristol-based artists Edwina Ashton, Anna Clawson & Nicole Ward, Bryony Gillard, Sebastian Jefford, James Parkinson and Hannah Still. Some good works and a very unusual setting. I’m not entirely sure the setting was a good one for the good work on display, but may have been good for the performances: Briony Guillard’s ‘Waking Up a Shape’ Edwina and Ashton’s ‘Axolotl Milk Bar’ where one can adapt to the environment.

Next was the opening of the Andy Holden exhibition ‘Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity 1999-2003 Towards a Unified Theory of MI!MS’. A big space to fill, but he certainly did fill it. It has been the culmination of eighteen months work. The exhibition looks back to the time before his formal art training. The work is structured as a film in seven parts although personally I didn’t pull those threads together. The work is presented as a large (very large) installation comprised of video, music, painting, drawing, sculpture and text. If I may quote this from the Spike Island Website about his work: “By means of this absurd over-investment in a moment from his youth, Holden asks how we might make things with conviction and meaning in a culture dominated by post-modernist irony and cynicism.” Although the work was spread over such a large are it did gel together very well. Holden is recapturing and reanimating the history of MI!MS via the events he experienced with his friends between 1999-2003. As well as being nostalgic, the work was imbued with kitsch and irony.

Next was Arnolfini. The exhibition was an unusual one titled ‘Between Hello and Goodbye: The Secret World of Sarah Records. Sarah Records was a 90’s record label based in Bristol. The exhibition was comprised of original artwork from the record sleeves along with posters and fanzines. Music videos were displayed on monitors in the same gallery space. The exhibition also featured performances by the bands that were on the label. There was also a board game they had invented to while away the tedium of being on the road or in the recording studios.

The Royal West of England’s ‘Power of the Sea’ was worth the trip and the for the contrast, which was just up the road from Deller’s show(manship). A traditional/contemporary mix on display from Henry Moore, Kurt Jackson, Maggi Hambling, but there were some more conceptual works, which included ‘Wave Machine’ 2012. A perpetual kinetic artwork, which was quite relaxing to watch.

My favourite work was a video installation by Joanna Millett titled ‘Overflow’ which was suitably housed down on the the dark of the basement. The mesmerising work featured joined horizontal and vertical viewpoints of sea water. Simple but very effective.

Next all the way back to the docks to see ‘Surfacing’ by Emma Ewan, Will Kendrick and Rebecca Ounstead. The space (Benjamin Perry Boathouse) had lots of potential and housed kitsch coloured objects of gold, lilac and red/magenta. The exhibition was commissioned by Hand in Glove, an organisation that creates opportunities for emerging artists. The 3D objects created by Ewan served as visual props for a performance by the artists. There were three performances ‘Welcome Warning’ by Ewan, which was performed on the cobbles outside the boathouse. Ounstead’s performance ‘Two Performers and Arranged Objects was in the main hall of the boathouse. Kendrick’s digital prints titled Only Statues Remain’ is a day-glo feast with Roman aesthetics at its core. There are other elements contained in the prints, which are linear technical drawings of futuristic robots and machines.

Next was Spike Island Open Studios. Spike Island is home to over seventy artists. Housed within the studios are Spike Print Studio, Spike Associates (Waking up to Shape) and Spike Design.

Of particular interest for me was the print studio, which was well equipped and well lit (and looked well used). The artists that caught my interest were Howard Silverman who creates lovely playful collages that include elements of relief and intaglio print, aluminium foil and oil paint. The prints were titled ‘The Devil You Know – Series 3’.

Phil Toy’s works on display were a mixture of oil and photographs on canvas broken up into areas of cloud broken up rectangular into grids.

Sculptor Edwina Ashton and painter Kit Poulson shared a studio space. Ashton’s sculptures were conical shaped with a rock-like texture. They were table/plinth mounted works.

Poulson’s work was exhibited at Exeter Phoenix November 2013. They are medium sized oil painting, which have a similar appearance to 1950’s styles of expression.

Russell and Ryan Oliver’s space was an interesting one as it was sparsely laid out. The paintings were a mix of gender anxieties and images of advertising which addressed the same issues. Ryan works with collage, questioning fashion and depictions of women. Russell’s paintings are to be viewed as commentaries upon human topics, religion and modern mythology.

It was a good weekend, I’ll certainly go again and would recommend it to anyone.

Words and Photographs by David Lister

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