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Tag Archives: Exhibition

RCA Secret 2013

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I recently came across a web article about a new exhibition at the Royal College of Art called RCA Secret 2013. It is such a good idea. Basically, the RCA has asked well known artists and graduates who are relatively unknown, to produce work on or the size of, a postcard. The artist signs the work on the back and all the postcards are displayed to the public. ‘So what?’ I hear you ask. Well, each of these postcards is on sale for only £45 meaning that you could get a piece of work by a big time artist at low, low prices. It’s like a lucky dip into the art world! The famous names participating this year include “Paula Rego, Julian Opie, David Bailey, Christo and John Baldessari, Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, film director Mike Leigh and from the world of fashion, Sir Paul Smith, Orla Kiely and Manolo Blahnik.” I guess some of them like Nick Park and Orla Kiely might be easy to spot if they stick to their well known styles, but with 2700 postcards on display by 1034 artists, it might be harder than I think! The only problem with this is that you have to be there in person to buy. That means going all the way to London (which is not my favourite place to be) and hoping to be there in time before everything is sold 9the exhibition opens to sales at 8am!). You have to register to be able to buy, and you can only buy 4 works at most. If you were in London though, and you like art, and you don’t have access to the Saatchi fortune to spend on random art, it would be a great opportunity.

What would you put on your postcard if you were invited to exhibit? The works can be jewellery and 3D so long as they are the right size. I might make a paper collage, or stitch a tiny bag!


Fears,Foes & Faeries

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I recently went on holiday to Yorkshire and had seen an exhibition advertised at Scarborough Art Gallery called Fears, Foes & Faeries that I though was worth a trip to see. Based around a collection from the early 1900’s belonging to a man called William James Clarke, the exhibition focused on superstition and folk-lore and the amulets and charms that people believed would heal them or keep them safe. As Scarborough is on the coast, there were many items related to keeping sailors and fishermen safe at sea and the superstitions that prevented them going to sea. For example, if a sailor met a pig on his way to the boat, this was seen as a bad omen and he would not sail! However, nailing the skin of a kingfisher to the mast would bring a good catch of fish and owning a feather would protect you from getting struck by lightning!

There was also an interesting room about witches with example of ways to banish witches and expose them. One of these examples was this chair that suspected witches would be tied to. I think this one would have just been used for questioning rather than dunking in the river (One way to tell if a suspect was a witch was to dunk them in the river, if they floated they were a witch if they didn’t they were innocent) I thought this was a really cleaver bit of the exhibition and something that I have never seen before (and hope I don’t again!) because it frightened me half to death! The chair was on a wide sort of podium, and the shadow stretched out to the side, when I looked closer at the shadow, this is what I saw:

Yes, there is the shadow of a person sat on the chair, but no person actually sat on the chair! Creepy! This room also looked into the superstitions about faeries, and they weren’t very good. In the past, there were many types of faeries, some were good and would do odd jobs around the house for you if they were left some treats to eat. Others were bad and it was said that a faery could come in the night and steal your baby and swap it for a faery. To prevent this mothers would make a mobile to hang over the baby’s cot to ward away the bad faeries. Trouble was, they were made out of steel knives and to work effectively, the tip of the knife had to be pointing downwards towards the cot. Not sure if I would try that one myself!

There was also a room about charms and medicines to cure illness. Some I think actually could have worked (such as carrying copper to ward off arthritis) others would have not (like wearing a necklace made of acorns to cure diarrhoea!) I suppose at this time, new medicines were being discovered but people didn’t trust them as they had little understanding of the human body. The guide-book also said that people would often hedge their bets and visit a doctor, apothecary and a wise women making it hard to know which remedy would have really made them better.

I really enjoyed this exhibition and I think it’s a good example of how collections can be made accessible and brought to life with good interpretation and exhibition design. There were many interactive elements for children (and adults!) and information that explained the objects, their origins and why people believed in them. It’s on until the 30th September, so there is still a little time left to see it for yourselves!

Cotton: Global Threads at the Whitworth Art Gallery

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 During my half term break from college I went to the Whitworth Art Gallery (the website of which this photo is from) to see their new exhibition Cotton: Global Threads. Now, the Whitworth gets mixed reviews, some people think it’s boring but I love it there. It has a really relaxed atmosphere and you can wander around without feeling like you’re going to get pounced on by a room attendant for standing to close to a painting. I’ve also worked there when I was volunteering for the Manchester International Festival in 2009 at a Marina Abramovic performance exhibition (she gave me a hug!) However, I wasn’t too excited about this exhibition. Yes, there was something for everyone, video, sculpture, prints, clothing and historic textiles, moral messages and children’s area, but I didn’t come away feeling I’d seen anything amazing or learnt anything new. The exhibition looks at the uses of cotton in all the art forms mentioned above and how cotton has been a part of history in many countries around the world. Being in Manchester which was once the center of the global cotton industry I thought there could have been more focus on this, as it is always easy to understand something when you have a local reference. The cotton based art of other countries might then have had a more personal impact because I  could relate its production with my local area. Overall there were a few interesting pieces, but I probably won’t go back for another look. Please don’t just take my opinion though, go and see it or read about it for yourself here.