The eye was a road to knowledge.

Room 63 in The National Gallery is such a understated title for such a powerhouse of a room. It contains 15th century painters from the Low Countries such as Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Hieronymus Bosch and Robert Campin. Dirk Bouts and Hans Memling make it complete [one of Memlings works is shown above]. It also the next stop on my ongoing tour to see all the Hans Memling and Dierk Bouts paintings that exist [how far i get is another question?!]. After seeing the The Last Judegement alterpiece in Gdansk and various others including Virgin and Child in Venice – pre covid- and returning again and again to their work via books and writings such as Svetland Alpers, I am now decided that the only thing to do is stand before them and see. As Alpers writes northern artist of the 15th century believed the eye was a road to knowledge.

This tour is off the back of new research that explores the representation or picturing of ideas or imagined visuals. All born out of attending Francis Ruters lab at Salzburg Academy, where I used imagery and text to describe visualisations I’d had. However in sharing the work I seperated it out so people couldn’t see all the parts at once and in doing so aimed to cultivate an imaginative response. And it’s this inner visual response, just like Memling and Bouts know where our work is finally done and where learning begins.

The Notice Board – Rose Croft

Exhibition 26 is by Rose Croft with “Chromacells” – hand tufted pieces which begin by Rose painting fast and abstractly with coloured acrylic onto large panels. Her aim is not to make large finished paintings rather a surface that when cut up produces small pockets of pleasing areas. Each cell’s composition is therefore a product of chance. Rose often displays these cells individually or as an assemblage. But more recently they have become inspiration for the hand tufted woollen wall hangings.
Rose says: We are often consumed with the idea of “What Next?!” and that those feelings can suffocate our ability to enjoy the present moment.  The wall hangings are about being awake and present to the beauty around us. They are an attempt to focus in on moments of joy, experienced as I make, but also then an invitation to join in on the radical act of being present for that beauty too.
The Notice Board asked Rose to show her work for two reasons. Firstly because she said: This work is about those small moments of awe we can see in the world and this determined attempt to pay attention to small, often fleeting, moments of beauty feels potent. Secondly The Notice Board selects artists based on a theme The Lands of the Free? In Rose’s case it thinks the freedom is about focus – a metaphorical “land” that is freeing. The world offers itself and we choose to attend to certain things, sometimes being guided to look or by letting our senses and mind wander. Both are in Rose’s work and process. When she paint she lets things come and then in the deliberate, strand by strand creation, the focus is concentrated and studied.
Rose will be show 3 wall hangings across the month. The flag is made specially for this show.
Rose Croft is a story teller, teacher and painter and colour rules her world.  Instagram: @rosecroftart

The Notice Board – Sera Waters

EXHIBITION 25                                                           15 Aug – 15 Sept 2021
Sera Waters
Lives: Beulah Park. South Australia
Title: Familiar Activism: Truth-Telling

The Notice Board is proud to share Australian artist Sera Waters’ work. In the mid 1800s Sera’s ancestors migrated from Lincolnshire to South Australia where they spread across Kaurna, Bunganditj, Nukunu, Adnyamathanha and Ngarrindjeri Country. Along with welcoming her and her work back to Lincolnshire the Notice Board wanted to invite consideration on the question about what or who is free?
Sera says: My ancestors propogated roots in waterholes, down mine shafts, upon woolly backed sheep, in the crevices between stacked bricks from which they made homes, and in the bitumen of highways. They flourished and my art reckons with the knots from these inherited settler colonial pasts and the resulting ecological damage. But now it’s time to reckon with and redirect intergenerational colonial mindsets which have normalised colonising acts – family traditions like gardening, mining, farming, imported to a land where they do not always fit.
These artworks are acts of truth-telling; a flag exposing the land grab of unceded Aboriginal country and a set of artifacts revealing the dry that comes from draining for pastoralism. Today in Australia towering cabbage palms indicate some of the earliest colonial homesteads. They were planted to send out a visual signal of claiming land, declaring far and wide “this is MINE”.
Water exits the drought stricken land of Australia at a quickening pace. Once, before rocks and trees were removed en masse and drains were cut to make land suitable for pastoralism, chains of ponds and thin creeks allowed water to slowly trickle toward the sea. Now trickles have become streams, rivers, a mass exodus, a road across dry land.
These artworks are part of a larger project where I’m grappling with how to navigate a future of growing ecological disasters. I am asking what art can pragmatically contribute to going forward care-fully?
Going forward, for me, equates to looking back to past ancestral traditions from slower pre-industrial eras. I am scouring archives and artifacts and locating intergenerational knowledge in domestic textile traditions: evidence of how to repurpose, repair and preserve; traditions of comforting with soft furnishings and warm protective clothing; of how knowledge-filled stories and narratives of hope have been displayed to propel us on or enable us to learn from the past; how we remember and tell-truths to serve justice and social equality and shift trajectories; how we slow down bodily to fall in rhythm with the ancient roots and seasonal pulses around us to live more mindfully and calmly.
This project does not deny advancing technologies, we live in different circumstances to our ancestors and not all traditions are beneficial to reinstate, yet examining traditions critical to sustaining humans humbly for thousands of years (until disrupted in the last few hundred) revives knowledge worth preserving.

Sera Waters embroideries and hand-crafted sculptures dwell within the gaps of history to examine Australian settler-colonial home-making patterns, especially ‘genealogical ghostscapes’. More recently Waters has been exploring how textile traditions can be restored to navigate a threatened future. 

Instagram: @serawaters

The Notice Board is a contemporary art project showcasing the work of international artists. Featuring month-long exhibitions curated to the theme: The Lands of the Free? The project connects audiences to artists work, whilst offering artists unusual exhibition spaces in the form of a Notice Board and Flagpole.   

Salzburg International Summer-Academy of Fine Arts

I am excited to have been accepted into a 2 week workshop at Salzburg International
Summeracademy of Fine Arts
. Sadly Covid has put a stop to me visiting Austria so instead I will attend Francis Ruyter Picture Generation class from 2–14 August 2021 remotely – thanks to Metal Peterborough who have offered me the use of their project space.
Francis wrote this as workshop introduction:
Artists often keep an archive of images around their workspace for inspiration. But what is the relationship and process between looking at something and integrating that into art practice, whether it is a literal or abstract integration? What is it that makes a portrait of a person sitting for that portrait so magnetic? Looking is a tool that can be used when one is lost for an idea of where to start making an artwork, or it can function as a foundation, grounding us well to be able to depart on flights of fantasy. Looking is far from a passive activity. If looking is, therefore, a productive activity, we can improve the impact of an individual work by developing perceptive skills along with artistic ones.
With the global acceleration of image production, can we do something to mediate, or even transform this collective looking into something more productive than it often feels, or do we need to hold on to and treasure the private sphere of immediate experiences? Perception is perhaps less about fixed truths and realities than about world-building. What does it mean when we want to make a connection outside the world that we have built around ourselves?

The Summer Academy was founded in 1953 by artist Oskar Kokoschka founded as the “School of Seeing”. This first summer academy of art in Europe was an international meeting-place for people of diverse origins, age and social background, and a counterpart to traditional national art academies. There was no room in Kokoschka’s teaching concept for a dividing line between artistic skill and a comprehensive intellectual and humanistic education.

The Notice Board – Madhu Manipatruni

This months exhibition [July 15- Aug 15th] is titled: Hands of Otherness and features Madhu Manipatruni work. She is showing a scaled photo of a quilted panel and a hand painted flag.

Madhu says: Kantha is embroidery quilting usually made to reuse, repurpose cloth. Kantha is rooted in India and created by women as a communal activity. Sheesha work, the embedding of mirrors, is traditional in Indian embroidery too. In this instance, the cloth [of both the flag and stitched piece], unbleached handloom cotton arrived from India. This also signifies my journey. Having lost my father recently, I started to sew, to self soothe and recover from the loss. This handloom cloth is of significance within our family and traditions.

The handprint relates to creating a home and positive new beginnings. It also references the tribal art made by women in India; they handprint on houses, temples and objects to ensure well-being of family and their belongings. Here the hand prints signify, being here and now, making a new home in England. The patterned embroidery on the hands alludes to henna patterns. Henna/Mehandi is a ceremonial design made on hands of brides in South Asian cultures. On the quilt these depict the stories of women, how they or their mothers arrived in the UK as partners of the economic migrants. They stand for the shared experiences of loss, pain, loneliness and invisibility. These experiences are inherited, passed down the generations through storytelling. Here they are lines, colours and stitches.

The Notice Board curates its exhibitions to a theme: The Lands of the Free? For this show we may wonder if this relates to Madhu’s act of stitching to cope or the ambitions of South Asian citizens during the act of migration? It may also reference the spaces created when women gather to share and support one another or maybe it’s quilt itself that enables us to imagine cultures and geographies different to our own? Maybe it’s all of them and now The Notice Board invites you to decide for yourself.        

LEEDS2023 -work in progress

For many weeks I have been replying to young people for my LEEDS2023 commission – Letting Culture Loose. Our conversation started, back in March, when I sent out a provocation – ‘Imagine Leeds afresh – a city for the future. If you could make it and build it any way you liked, what would it be?‘ Hundreds of idea and images have flooded in and so in reply I decided to collage, draw and photoshop new works inspired by their ideas. These collages will be printed then collated into a boxset before being shared again as a ‘exhibition in a box’. In addition recent Illustration Gradutes of Leeds College of Art are also making poster designs which, alongside one of my final images, will become billboards hosted across Leeds.

Who’s Culture? Final findings

Over the last few months I have worked directly within Peterborough’s rural neighbourhoods. For a Lead Artist commission for Peterborough’s Cultural Strategy group – Who’s Culture? The project aimed to give voice to those that have not been involved in CSG consultations to date. Metal and I developed an approach and model that has proven to be successful. One where I and a further 6 commissioned artists worked within their own networks. These close trust filled relationships enabled authentic connection and deep listening. Were possible even in light of Covid resilient and helped us turn work around fast. Mark Richards – director at Metal Sarah Tanburn – Consultant and I are due to write up our working model, looking at its detail and potentials. We will release this in due course.

I connected to the farming community and specialist associated with the countryside in the city region. The resulting set of works are a summary of the research – in a material form. But perhaps more importantly than this they both invite and activate change. Details of all the I sleep in the bed i was born are HERE and other works can be found HERE.

I supported the 6 artists in the delivery and development of their work.Which has been revealing and a pleasure. I have learn’t from their research and approaches. The artist were Wanja Kimani, Madhu Mani, Kristine Viavode. Vicky Wild and Aryana Ramkhalawon , and Dan Butt. All our research showed the urgent need for change in how the city region engages and represents its residents. At the final presentation I spoke of the democratisation of culture and the important role artists take in connecting to marginalised voices – making visible those who have and continue to remain left out, silenced or belittled.

The Notice Board – OSR Projects/Tim Mills

Alone with Everybody [15 June- 15 July]. This month’s collaboration is with OSR Projects. Who, like The Notice Board, have a specific mission to support artists and communities using arts based activities. Their recent 3 day ‘Od Art Festival’ brought exhibitions, performances, film and workshops by local and international artists to not-so-sleepy Somerset. The Notice Board extends this happily, acting as an outpost, showcasing an Od Arts Festival inspired flag and art work by Tim
Mills who was part of the larger festival.

The Od Art Festival took ‘Alone with Everybody’ as a guiding theme and explored loneliness – what it is, how we experience it, where it comes from, and how it might be addressed. The Notice Board presents one image from Tim Mills series of portraits, Terminal. A series of these were presented across 12 locations during Od Arts Festival. The portraits were produced using the website Chat Roulette, a social network connecting strangers around the world through their webcams. Lone figures were captured on camera just before leaving the chat.
Tim Mills is a visual artist and curator who uses photography and re-appropriated archive material
as a means of intervention
OSR Projects connects people through artist-led activity, exploring new ways to see, hear, feel and think – from their base in rural Somerset.

Working with potter Rob Bibby

One of the outcomes of my work for the ‘Who’s Culture?’ commission [see more info here] for the Peterborough Cultural Strategy Group is this giant [shown unfinished] slipware multi handled vessel. Made in collaboration with the potter Rob Bibby, it stands at over 14 inches high. Rob threw the main pot, I attached 24 handles, before he adding his trade mark thumb print and 3 strikes and then to complete I scratched words into its surface. It’s made of terracotta with white earthenware slip and handles. It will be clear glazed and completed with the addition of giant cork stopper.

I didnt know Rob until this project unearthed him and its been a joy spending time with him in his ex-chapel workshop. Together we have experimented, talked of radical art education, making and what this piece means.

I propose the piece is a summary of the ecology and values of the place and people I’ve met – understood in material form. It needs a community to lift and manoeuvre it and, like the tools and architectures Ive drawn before, it’s not fully alive until used. As a metaphor we could see it being of and about the earth and those who work that ground. It references funerary vessels, loving cups and water carriers, yet is a contemporary – it holds the past and the present in balance.

Together with an invitation to gather and a catalogue, this pot, will be shared publicly on July 1st, before featuring on the CSG website.


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