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Peaches and Pixie Geldof, Norman Foster and everyday Londoners who have had a profound impact on the capital will be the focus of a new exhibition of artworks by students from Central St Martins this summer.

Over 100 fine art students from the college were invited by student accommodation provider Unite to participate, and five pieces were commissioned. They will be exhibited in Blithehale Court, Bethnal Green, to celebrate the opening of seven new Unite properties across London this year.

Entries were judged by Central Saint Martins Fine Art course directors, Jane Lee and Andrew Watson, as well as Unite’s sales and marketing director, Nathan Goddard. 

The winning artists:

Ewan MacFarlane
Norman Foster
Ewan said: “Instead of painting the Gherkin itself I thought it more interesting to paint its architect Lord Foster.  However I wanted to make reference to the fantastic structural planning that made the building possible. The result is a painting made up of brush strokes but within each stroke a number of shades.”

Ewan MacFarlane - Norman Foster

Rose Stuart Smith
Phyllis Pearlsall
Phyllis Pearlsall created the London’s first A to Z of streets by painstakingly walking every street until she had mapped them all. Rose said: “As maps become available on mobile phones and sat-nav, the A-Z may soon fall out of use and Phyllis’ story will be lost, so I was excited to be given this opportunity to make work that commemorates her. She was, like me, a painter so it seemed fitting that the work should also be a painting.”

Rosie Stuart Smith - Phyllis Pearsall

Charles Drinkwater
Clara Grant
Charles’ work remembers The Bundle Woman of Bow who created farthing bundles of toys to give to poor children in the early 1900s. Charles said: “I chose Clara Grant because of her amazing actions. For a single woman, during that time, to make such a difference to children’s lives was remarkable. It reaffirms my belief in human kindness.”

 Charles Drinkwater - Clara Grant

Sue Kemp

Inspirational Londoners
Sue said: “The type of people that I think inspire students, are individuals they can relate to, everyday, ordinary people who through creativity, self-belief and hard work have achieved amazing things. I consider the people I have used in my work to be inspirational Londoners.”
Inspirational Londoners

Phoebe Mitchell
Peaches and Pixie Geldof

Phoebe said:  “The infamous daughters of rocker Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates are the epitome of cool, trashy, teenage hedonism. They may not be saving the world, or carving out an enviable career…yet, but they can inspire us to enjoy ourselves and to take advantage of our youth.”

Peaches GeldofPixie Geldof

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A selection of photographs from the Travelling Light exhibition, which opened on Friday at the WW Gallery in Hackney, east London.

Turns out the artwork embroiled in bureaucratic battle (see previous post) was by Sri Lankan born artist Roma Tearne. She wanted to wrap a single black or crimson cloth over the eyes of the statue of Eros in Piccadilly, London, but the people in charge refused to give the gallery permission.

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Travelling Light, London>Venice Biennale

 

Travelling Light is an upcoming Venice Biennale art exhibition organised by a group of women from London’s East End: Sophie Wilson of Pharos Gallery, Chiara Williams and Debra Wilson of WW Gallery. The brief said all artworks had to be posted to the London venue for the first leg of the exhibition before they could continue on their travels to Venice, so the artists (among them Roma Tearne, Kate Davis, Maria Chevska and Oona Grimes) had to work to certain size and weight restrictions.

Submissions to Travelling LightThe travelling exhibition, which will showcase a total of 58 artists, is set to open in London and end up in Venice for the opening week of the Biennale. However, one of the submissions requires public interaction, and Westminster Council has yet to give the women permission to go ahead.

 

Read more about their efforts to cut through the red tape on their blog and on Twitter, and find further information, including a list of participating artists, on the website.

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Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Antony Gormley has officially opened the application process to members of the public who wish to stand on the fourth plinth of London’s Trafalgar Square, as part of his new artwork One & Other.

Every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days without a break, 2,400 different people will be able to occupy the plinth, and do whatever they like on it, as long as it’s legal.

“This is about, in some way, challenging the idea that only some people, people who are heroes or have served for their country, have the right to occupy plinths,” says Gormley.

According to the Guardian, 22,000 people have registered their interest so far. Which begs the question, what will people do with their hour as a living statue?

There will be the piss-takers; the dressing up enthusiasts; those who see it as a platform for showing off singing, acting or clowning talents; the campaigners; and, probably, a great deal of normal people who get up there with a book or an iPod, and simply wait it out, keen to simply become part of London’s artistic landscape for a while. At least, I hope that is the case.

But most, if not all, media coverage of the event will be given over to the outrageous: the nearly naked, the crazy, those with an incredible story to tell, and many other moments that are impossible to predict. It will be interesting to see if it really does represent a cross section of British society.

Antony Gormley’s One & Other will replace Thomas Schütte’s sculpture Model for a Hotel on 6 July 2009, and will be broadcast live on oneandother.co.uk and on the Sky Arts website.

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Thirty-eight years ago, the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) installed Robert Morris’s interactive artwork Bodyspacemotionthings in its Duveen Galleries, and all hell broke loose. Visitors went “beserk” playing on the walls, seesaws, stilts and tunnels, getting splinters in their bums and bruises.

Robert Morris: Bodyspacemotionthings

Photo: Tate

On May 22 this year, Bodyspacemotionthings is coming back to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Assistant curator Kathy Noble told the Independent: “It was a landmark moment in Tate’s history. The idea was to encourage viewers to become more aware of their own physicality.”

Concerned art fans will be reassured to learn the new version of the work will be made with contemporary materials instead of the rough wood of the 70s.

This is a sly move on the museum’s part. Bodyspacemotionthings will doubtless be even more popular than Carsten Höller’s slides (2006), if only because of the controversy surrounding Morris’s original.

UBS Openings: The Long Weekend will run for four days from 22 May.

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Ian Bruce's studio in London

The Pink Portraits by Ian Bruce

Ian Bruce is an artist and portrait painter working in London. In this video interview, which can currently be seen HERE, he talks about his latest project – a series called The Pink Portraits.

The portraits all feature people in a state of transition: a clown who has just changed into his normal clothes backstage (but still wears the face paint); a burlesque dancer whose stomach still bears the marks from her bone corset; and Ian Bruce himself as a transvestite stripped of his wig and dress, but still bearing traces of his female alter-ego, such as red nail varnish.

My Windows Movie Maker died a horrible death yesterday, so I had to put the video together in a dodgy online editing suite called JayCut – hence the poor quality and rough cutting. An improved version will be embedded here soon.

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Introducing Annette Messager– my new favourite artist. Ok, I’m a little late to the table with this one, since her retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, London, opened at the beginning of March. But I have to say it’s the best exhibition I’ve seen in a long time.

Annette Messager: The Messengers

The striking image used to market the exhibition drew me into the Hayward.

Messager uses all manner of materials – soft toys, stuffed animals, fabrics, photographs and words – to create a feminine, and often strangely beautiful, body of work.

 

The eyes on this promotional poster turned out to be part of a small series, called My Trophies. Messager covers large-scale photographs of parts of the body in doodles, which are reminiscent of tattoos and children’s book illustrations.

Other works worthy of note:

  • Chimaeras – This work meets you at the door, and looks like a spooky nightmare full of evil fairies and bats with human faces.
  • My Vows (Mes voeux)– I have seen this before at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and it still impresses me now. Hundreds of photos of body parts are hung together to form a circle. The act of layering up the photos makes the chins, ankles, noses and, yes, boobs, seem like a collection of objects.
  • Casino – A sheet of red fabric waves over glowing, aquatic blobs, as if the sea has been turned into a womb. One of the most original works of art I’ve come across.

Annette Messager: The Messengers is on at the Hayward until Monday 25 May.

Read Adrian Searle’s review in the Guardian

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Pussy Power is sitting in her studio at Warehouse B16, The Old Peanut Factory, wearing a feathered eye mask and smoking a rollie. Behind her, the wall is covered in black and white photos of French actress Sarah Bernhardt. In the corner, a row of bunting made out of porn mags hangs across the biggest pair of pants I have ever seen. A cast of a pelvic bone made out of Dolly Mixtures next to them on a table. Pussy Power greets me warmly, and invites me to take my shoes off (because of the carpet) and come in.

Pussy Power

Why do you call yourself Pussy Power?

The art I make under the name Pussy Power (which includes sewing, painting, drawing, performance, writing and making ukeleles) is about trying figure out what kind of a world I’m bringing my daughters up in. It’s also about trying to figure out what feminism is, as it seems to have become a dirty word. Pussy Power embodies feminism for women who love men and have a sense of humour.

Tell me about the pants.

I have two daughters – one’s twelve, one’s seventeen – and I worked out I’ve washed over 10,000 pairs of knickers. It makes me a bit of an authority. So I got the biggest knickers in Britain, asked people to get in them and gallop up and down. They are officially the biggest knickers in Britain – 8XL, I think. I searched online and found the Big Bloomer Company, who sent them to me beautifully packaged up in red tissue paper. And I have written on them:

The thing about these Hackney Wickers
I’m told is they’re wearing no knickers
So why not try these
They come to your knees

What about the bunting?

I started off doing graffiti porn because I was interested in the fact that graffiti has become like wallpaper: people aren’t shocked by it anymore. I call it c**t bunting or the fanny banner. People say, “Oh yeah, porn is hilarious,” but let’s not get so ironic and cool and edgy that we forget these are people. I get inside the picture with these women and look out at you, laughing.

And the pelvic bone?

The pelvic bone (which is cast in clay, and covered in white sugar and Dolly Mixtures) highlights an injury I had to my pelvis when I was pregnant. I had a trapped nerve. I knew a woman who took an overdose because of the pain of it, so I’m trying to raise consciousness.

How long have you been working in this studio?

I decided last december that I wanted to get a studio and answered an ad on Facebook. I had no idea Hackney Wick had a reputation as an artistic community; I just wanted a studio. I’ve lived in Shoreditch for 8 years and watched it become more and more trendy. It pushes studio rents out of my price range. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m part of a community of artists but it’s nice to be in an environment where you feel like anything goes – whatever daft idea you have.
 
You can read the full story of the Biggest Knickers in Britain on the Pussy Power website.

pussy.power@mac.com
www.pussypower.me.uk
www.myspace.com/pussypower_me
www.facebook.com/pages/Pussy-Power/15204671729

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Just found out that if you (like me) missed the Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern, you can take a virtual panoramic tour online, HERE. It works relatively well for Rothko’s paintings, because they don’t require up-close study. On the other hand, you don’t get a sense of the atmosphere of his work. It’s a bit like glancing at a line of Rothko postcards in the Tate shop.

Mark Rothko at Tate Modern

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I discovered some art on Friday afternoon after being turfed off the bus three stops before Waterloo (the driver told us the bus “had to” terminate there, instead of at the station – no explanation). Just under the arches, on London’s South Bank, is Topolski Century, a huge panorama reflecting the life and interests of the Polish artist Feliks Topolski.

The word “FREE” written across the window drew me in, and a friendly receptionist explained that the panorama had been closed for a £3m refurbishment. It has only just reopened to the public.

Inside, a 600 ft-long mural snakes around the walls. According to the exhibition guide, it “contains the iconic historic figures and the significant political and significant events he chronicled in a life spanning decades.”

Feliks Topolski was born in Warsaw in 1907 and in 1933 began a series of journeys around Europe. In 1935, he settled in London and became an official war artist. After the war, he travelled to India, Burma, China, Palestine, Syria and Irap. In 1975, he began recording his observations on the panorama.

While the sheer size of the panorama is impressive, and the atmosphere in the exhibition space suitably dark and sombre, I don’t like Topolski’s style of painting. It looks unfinished, and amateur.

And it’s a shame it isn’t easier to make out some of the characters: Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers, Chairman Mao. Hundreds of influential figures in history.

However, although I didn’t enjoy Topolski’s style, I would recommend a visit to the exhibition. The artist died in London in 1989, but you can still feel his presence in Topolski Century. As if at any given moment, you might stumble across him putting the finishing touches to a portrait of Elvis .

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