Monday, 19 July 2010

The New Decor and Ernesto Neto

I have now finished my residency at the school and received such a great send off. I have met some wonderful new people - staff and students and wish everyone well.

This will be my last post on this blog but a new artist-in-residence at the school has been appointed which is fantastic news and no doubt they will set up their own blog. I was the first artist-in-residence there so its good to know that I didn't put the school off the project. A lot of people have been surprised that it is not a permanent position but a permanent residency (if one did exist) would miss the point. Now I am embarking on the normal course of uncertainty of being an artist.

With the exhibition and wrapping up at the school and moving into my new studio I hadn't been to London for what seemed like ages so to reconnect with the wider art world I went to a few exhibitions. First, 'Skin' at The Wellcome Collection, then 'Mark Wallinger' at Anthony Reynolds then onto 'Newspeak: British Art Now' at The Saatchi Collection. The day started out promising with Skin - I particularly like the way this gallery space installs their shows but I think there were too many wax models and not enough contemporary art responses to the subject, unlike the previous 'Identity' exhibition. I loved the simplicity of Mark Wallinger's exhibition. Two very strong pieces - one a monumental black 'I' sculpture and a revolving reproduction of Velázquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X. [ see reviews in the Telgraph, Time Out, The Times ] Both these pieces had more visual impact and spoke or rather shouted louder at the viewer than several floors and numerous rooms of The Saatchi Collection. I left that exhibition completely deflated and disappointed at the dismal array of what is supposed to be the best of British. It was certainly nothing I aspired to and I really questioned my role as an artist. I was also rather confused as I am familiar with quite a few of the artists work and have responded a lot more positively to their work in the past. Perhaps the space or the curating has not done it justice or it is just the nature of contemporary group shows without a common theme - they lack cohesion due to their not being a dominant movement or style (which is in turn the dominant style).
Anyway, I picked myself up and a few days later ventured back to London to see this summer's spectacular at the Hayward. I was not disappointed - it hit the mark completely. The double bill show of The New Decor and Ernesto Neto was a feast for my senses and uplifted my spirit. I was proud to call myself an artist again. I will leave you with some photos and some links to reviews.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Exhibition Blurb

Spencer House
Berkhamsted School
Castle Street

Exhibition 25, 28-30 June, 1 July 2010
10am until 2pm

Berkhamsted School is pleased to present an exhibition by Pamela McMenamin. The artist has created a series of new work in response to her residency at the school.

Challenging our perception and questioning reality, Pamela’s work is a contemporary response to the traditions and histories of the school.

A new series of paintings populate the panelled corridor leading from the quadrangle to the former study of Charles Greene, Graham Greene’s father who was headmaster of the school 1911 to 1927. These paintings take on the forms from the buildings around the school. Although pared-down, for those familiar with the buildings the images are recognisable, for those unfamiliar the images may conjure up something completely different. Regardless, the images can be read in a multiple of ways. Too often we see things and assume it must be true. Particularly in our image-saturated, fast-moving-multimedia, information-overloaded world. However, what you see is not always what you get.

In the former study of Charles Greene, six plinths dominate. On each plinth stands a stereoscope. Stereoscopes enjoyed a height of popularity around the time that Charles was headmaster and when Graham Greene attended and lived at the school. The stereoscope’s purpose here is to deconstruct the depth illusion our own vision creates. The images are ste­reoscopic pairs of photographs (photographs taken 6.5cm apart along the horizontal plane) from around the school.

Next door in the old hall, portraits of past headmasters and principals adorn the walls. The green baize door separates the spaces. Graham Greene was known to have struggled with the tensions between home and school life on the other side of ‘the green baize door’ and made reference to the door literally and metaphorically in his writing. In the former study hangs a portrait of the current principal, Mr Mark Steed, referencing the separation of past and present. In contrast to the old oil paintings which hang beyond ‘the door’ the portrait by Pamela has used time-lapse digital photography rather than video. The artificial speed of the movement captures the viewer’s attention and draws them in for a more intimate dialogue.

Pamela McMenamin was born in 1970 in Glasgow, Scotland and now lives and works in Berkhamsted. She has participated in a num­ber of group exhibitions locally and in London. Following a successful business career in the media industry, Pamela embarked upon a career in art, returned to uni­versity and graduated with a first class BA honours degree in Fine Art Practice, in 2009.

The exhibition is open 10am to 2pm (exclud­ing Saturday and Sun­day). For further infor­mation, please contact +44 (0)7789 115 748.

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition

Some images of my exhibition at school. It runs through to Thursday 1 July 2010.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Latest Exhibitions

The Slade School of Fine Art MA/MFA Show is in its final few days. Catch it 10am-8pm until 16 June 2010 (this wednesday).

It was a very hot and packed private view last Wednesday night and for me
Jayne Wilton, Lindsay Mapes, Rose Davey, Claire Dorsett and Shan Hur's work made the most impact.

The following night I went to see another artist in residence's work,
Fiona Hughes, at Space2 gallery in Watford Museum. Like me, Fiona is artist-in-residence at a school and her residency is also coming to an end. The space at the museum was interesting in itself - an oasis of white sandwiched between the museum's permanent collection. The installation of the work created something greater than the sum of its parts. If you get a chance go see this - its on Thursdays to Saturdays 10am-5pm until 26 June 2010.

The third private view in a row, the next night, was the
Fine Art Degree Show at Buckinghamshire New University. This is still on from 10am - 4pm until Thursday 17th June. My favourites were work by Claire Cunnick, Susan Willis-Hall, Ann Harris and Lindall Pearce.

Exhibitions I will try and get to see over the next few weeks are RA Schools (finishes 27 June), Summer Exhibition,Newspeak: British Art Now, Ernesto Neto and Francis Alÿs.

Friday, 11 June 2010

End of my Residency - Exhibition

It is on THURSDAY 24th JUNE 2010
at Spencer House, Berkhamsted School, Castle Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 2BB.
7pm- 9pm.

Then the exhibition continues weekdays 10am - 2pm until 1st July.

Spencer House is in the oldest part of the school, dating back to Tudor times and was Graham Greene's father's study.

As well as seeing some of my work it will be an opportunity to see the green baize door which Graham Greene referred to literally and metaphorically in his writings. The door separated Graham Greene's family life with school life while he attended and lived at the school during his father's time as headmaster.

My work is a contemporary response to the histories and traditions of the school and includes a digital animated portrait of the current Principal as well as stereoscopic photographs from around the school.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Parcel Tape paintings

I stumbled across these Mark Khaisman images when I was looking for back lit light boxes.

And then I happened upon some parcel tape drawings at fellow artist-in-residence, Fiona Hughes, website.

Plinths have arrived - and are ready for painting!

The plinths for my exhibition at the end of June, to mark the end of my residency, have arrived and are ready to paint.