On Wednesday 7 November, WOA launched its first Let's Talk! event: a documentary screening of two contemporary artists followed by a panel-led discussion with the audience. We are hoping to include a variety of topics under the Let's Talk! umbrella, including professional development for artists.
Being the first event, the panel wasn't really sure what to expect and we were all rather nervous - what if no one showed up? What if the audience didn't join in the discussion? What if, what if, what if...
It turns out all of our fret was for naught - the event was a great success! We started the night with a word association game where guests were invited to interpret a word (the choices were either "change" or "history") in any way they chose. (The image at the top left is a snapshot of the results).
The word game (which we named "Read & Respond" ) was a fantastic lead-in to our the first artist featured, Glenn Ligon, who uses text in much of his work; using an oil bar, Ligon stencils words onto large canvas. The text is difficult to read which forces the viewer to slow down and take their time to consider the words in front of them - something quite poignant in an age where we're constantly bombarded by media and imagery. He draws his text from African-American literature and by doing so, tries to make sense of America's difficult history and indeed, his own.
After a short wine break, we launched the documentary on El Anatsui, an African artist who uses cast-off items - namely metal can lids and bottle tops from bottles of alcohol - to create malleable sculptures which read like large tapestries. His work is an exploration of the history of the influence colonization had on his culture and how this has affected the local economy and, in return, the native community. The result is a rich blanket of colour, awe-inspiring in its size and the man-hours required in bringing these fantastic object to life.
We are eager to host another Let's Talk! event soon so if you missed this one, we hope you'll join us for the next one, which will be held in the New Year. I would like to thank my panelists Neil Butterfield, Jacky Mahony, and Kathy Philson whose input and involvement was invaluable.
This year's Annual Members' Exhibition has been a great success. With well over 100 submissions the installation took a solid two days, but all of the work was worth it. The show looks great! There is such a wonderful diversity of styles and the talent is extraordinary. If you missed Saturday's Opening Reception, don't worry - there's still plenty of time to see the exhibition which will be open through 2 September.
The Diamond Jubilee. Sixty years. Incredible. As an American I find the Jubilee celebrations quite fascinating. I'd like to think I "get it" but probably I don't. I mean I get all teary-eyed and emotional when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't evoke that sense at all in a Brit. And why would it? But I digress. Point is, I think the whole Royalty thing is fantastic and I love the way folks are getting so geared up for a big celebration. I feel honoured to be part of it.
Here at the Gallery we've got our own bit of celebration going on - with free make & take art projects for kids. We've got the Fantastic-Festive-Bunting-Factory (shown left), Create-Your-Own-Amazing-Portrait-of-the-Queen-Table and the Go-Ahead-Make-Your-Own-Crown-Warehouse.
To celebrate the Jubilee, we're hosing an exhibition we call Portraits of the Queen in which we invited artists from far and wide to submit artwork of any size or medium that in some way features the Queen. The entries indeed have come from far and wide (we've got artists represented from Canada, the USA, The Netherlands, Germany, and Iraq!) and are incredibly diverse. The press was impressed enough to write an article about it - which of course if very exciting for us!
The exhibition will be on through June - we hope you'll drop by for a visit. While you're here don't forget to vote for your favourite portrait - there are 3 categories: Most Creative, Most Realistic, and Most Ambitious.
I love learning new things about people. Especially when it's something you totally wouldn't expect. Take my co-worker, Susie, for example. I know her as the organised and proficient Administrator; the lovely and inspiring cancer survivor. But then yesterday she shocked me with pics of these amazing little beauties! Now, she'd mentioned once or twice before that she was going home to bake some biscuits. And I just took it at face value. As you would. I had no idea she was this amazing, creative maker of sassy biscuits!
When I see these pics I want to do two things: make really cool cookies of my own and EAT them!
I don't know about you, but I think she should take a crack at making some funky cookies of the Queen to accompany our Portraits of the Queen exhibition this June - wouldn't they be a hit?! I think yes and YES!
On Monday, Jane O'Brien hosted a workshop in the Gallery which I had the great pleasure to observe. Jane started things off by summarizing the basic fundamentals of proportion, which is the gateway to setting up a successful composition, using the principles of the Golden Ratio as a guide. Jane quickly tasked the participants with creating three collages - one in neutral tones, one in bright colours and one in pattern - using the Golden Ratio diagram as a template. The results were quite interesting and everyone had a great time playing around with orientation of their works and commenting on each other's success. Then it came time for creating an collage on their own and that's when the real excitement began. But sadly, with so few hours in the day, the workshop ended just as everyone's creativity was reaching its peak. Hopefully the participants stored their creative receptors to max capacity with all of the fantastic information imparted by their dear guide so they can continue the exploration of textile collage on their own!
WOA's current exhibition, Losing the Thread, opened on Good Friday with a viewing held the following Saturday. The artists and I were in a bit of a fret, wondering exactly how many people might show up for the Private View. As it turns we got a bit anxious for nothing, because the turnout was great! There were nearly 100 people that showed up on Saturday as either part of the PV or to take part in the demos being offered by the artists afterward. Below is a slideshow of pics taken during the PV - enjoy!
It was a long day in the Gallery, but after about 9 hours of solid work, we got the show installed. I, however, forgot my camera. But not to worry, exhibiting artist Jane O'Brien took a few pics and once I get them from here I'll get them up for you to see. We spruced things up, moved things around, opened up the blinds full whack and *bam!* - it looks great! I am absolutely shattered, though, so I think I'm going to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and watch the Damien Hirst programme o
Our last exhibition ended on April 1st and tomorrow, we start installing the next, Losing the Thread, which promises to be a great show. Losing the Thread is a group textile exhibition and I know what you might be thinking, but it won't be just a room full of quilts (please quilters, don't take offense!). There will be great variety in the work on display from brightly coloured illustrative works to more conceptual pieces that explore themes of memory loss. I've had a glimpse at what's coming in, but what will show up in the Gallery tomorrow will be as much of surprise to me as it is to you. I'll be taking some photographs to document the installation, so keep an eye on this blog for updates!
Erin Singleton, Curator