Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Affecting Perception: Art and Neuroscience

I’ve just returned from being involved in a fascinatingly different art project which may very well make me look at my artistic practice in a new way.

Affecting Perception: Art and Neuroscience is an exhibition and a series of seminars. It brings together examples of work by artists with different neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Asperger syndrome and, in my case, Migraine.

I was participating in a seminar led by Cosima Gretton (one of the curators of the exhibition)with Dr Klaus Podoll of Aachen university. I was reconnecting with Klaus Podoll after some  years as he has interviewed me and written about my work on many occasions since 1997. It turned out to be a very interesting and informative event, with good audience interaction. Although Dr. Podoll and I have communicated  often over the years by snail mail, e-mail and fax (whatever that was), by both being in the same room and in front of an audience resulted in a different dynamic. Him commenting on my work and explaining some of the more technical aspects of  migraine  was somehow more exciting and real. Unfortunately, we only briefly touched on the subject of Giorgio De Chirico, one of my favourite artists and almost certainly a migraine sufferer.

The gallery is a circular building which was originally part of Oxford Castle prison It’s a challenging space to hang an exhibition, having grey walls and a staircase down the middle and quite small. But the shape and intimacy was perfect for a show to do with the brain. Even without knowing that it was to do with neuroscience, the exhibition was compelling because there was an underlying feeling that the work came from a strange place, darker in parts than others. It would have been interesting for people to have seen it under the title Affecting Perception first and then again with the words Art and Neuroscience added. I know, too difficult but in a non recession world maybe…….

The exhibition is still on at the O3 Gallery,  until 31st March and the catalogue is excellent and informative reading.

It was great meeting up with Klaus Podoll again and we are going to pick up  working together - on the subject of ‘elective affinity‘- once I’ve got to grips with the concept!

Congratulations to AXNS collective for envisaging and realising a ground breaking event, which I was very pleased to be part of.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Rock’n’roll lifestyle without the Rock’n’roll money

Paint By Numbers Lorry 2012
It can be done. You need someone who is an expert at finding the best travel deals, good friends  dotted around the country who can put you up, generous parents-in-law, an ability to slum it and a bit of luck. I’m sure you can add quite a few other factors of your own. From the Charente to Shetland is over 1500 kms and there are various stretches of water involved as well. It would be no problem for Mick Jagger (sorry SIR Mick!) but for two artists trying to maintain the R’nR stylee in a recession it requires a lot of work-but it’s worth it. 

In France we have a fine old house, a garden for the veg, studios, nice neighbours, good light and a few little wineries who produce a good drop. Back a few years we were happy with that but then my mother-in-law intervened. Her mother was a Shetlander and my mother-in -law, being a generous person,  paid for us to visit the most northerly part of the UK as a gift. Basically we fell in love with Shetland and bought a peerie hoose with the remains of our money.

I think I’ve said it before, but so many people up there are artists, musicians, writers, poets, you name it, they are in Shetland  so there is a good buzzy creative atmosphere. We have just come back from over wintering there where the house is cheaper to heat and the weather was better than down south for a lot of the time. You can still get five seasons and more in one day (as Shetlanders say).  

We were participating in an exhibition as part of the Veer North artists’ group that we are members of. The theme was ‘Numbers’ and it produced a good show. Either or both of us do some teaching when we are there so we don’t travel for the sheer hell of it and as part of maintaining the R’n’R stylee we do let the cottage out when we are not there. 

I suppose some  might think we are being greedy but working in two places does contribute to the creative juice store, so it’s no bad thing..
Yes, it’s all my mother-in-law’s fault. Maybe she wanted a Rock’n’roll son-in-law so I’m doing my best to oblige!