Writings From HMS Brexit was made for our exhibition ‘Will The Last Person To Leave The 20th Century Please Turn out The Lights?’
Although this pub conversation only consisted of 4 (absent) speakers, this dissection is approached from very different angles.
Thanks to all involved.
Here are photographs of my exhibition ‘Under Digital Rain’, curated by John Wright. Held at the Bowery Gallery, Headingley, Leeds, it runs until 29th July.
Gallery opening times
Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 18:00
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
54 Otley Road
The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)
Title of work below: £$[We]€$[Can’t]$£[Take]£€[Any]$€[More!!]$£ (2016)
Titles of works in image below (from left to right): Gimme Shelter [Closure No1] (2015); The Self[ie] Under Siege (2015); “Sad, LONELY, Frightened” (2015); Drainage System (2016); Tired of Life/I Want to Leave Myself [Closure No2] (2016); NoteToSelf2016; The Capacity to Care (Closure No5) (2016); A Cognitive Austerity (2015); A Deep Paralysis (2016); Hunger Games Darwinism (2016); Bound up in Binary (2016); “Can We Stop now, Please?”; I am Becoming Nothing (Closure No3) (2015).
The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)
Am I currently working on a drawing called The long Night of a Needless Storm which I wanted to be ready to show now, but it isn’t and I don’t like showing incomplete works, so here is the rest of the psycho-bile-build-up from the past 5 years. I for one cannot endure another 5 years like this.
“…GIVE ME A BREAK!?!!..”
A Privatised Implosion (2014, A4, Ink on paper)
The Index For Child Well-being (2011, mixed media on paper, 100X100cm)
I Want None of This (2011, mixed media on paper, 180X105cm)
A Psychic Timebomb (2013, mixed media on paper)
Achieving and getting Things Done (Installation, Sheffield 2011)
In The City… (2011, ballpoint pen on paper, 115X100cm)
Just The Noise… (2014 exhibition flyer)
The Planet’s Mental Illness (2012, ballpoint pen on paper, 105X150cm)
…Coils Tightening (2014, mixed media on paper, 100X125cm)
A Cognitive Austerity (2015, ink on paper, A4)
Untitled (2014, ink on paper, A4)
Mind Camp (2013, mixed media on paper, 105x155cm)
Disintegration (2013, A4, mixed media on paper)
Feverish (2014, ballpoint pen on paper, 135x95cm)
Untitled (2013, ink on paper, A4)
Not Humanly Possible (2015, ink on paper, A4)
The Place of Dead Ends (2013, mixed media on paper, 100x125cm)
Hyper-Malaise (2014, ink on paper)
Global Ghetto, 2045, Marks The Centenary of The Defeat of Fascism (2010/11, 105X140, ballpoint pen on paper)
Whilst We Were in The Eternal Now... (2014, mixed media on paper, 95X125cm)
The Mary Celeste Project [The Scene of The Crash] (2014, video)
Over the past 2 week I’ve had my works in two exhibitions:
In Unity Hall Launch exhibition in Wakefield I exhibited The Place of Dead Ends, The Index For Child Well-being and Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now…
And in Our Corner: Art as Political Expression, at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield, I exhibited …Coils Tightening
We were all incredibly pleased with the way the exhibition came together (and would still be very thankful to any more visitors to the show).
The exhibition tried to bring together a rather interesting mixture of work from working artists from the area around Barnsley, aware that after 9 years running, 2013 marks the end of degree courses at University Campus Barnsley being run by the University of Huddersfield. An Unofficial Alumni is a showcase of working artists who studied or taught at the campus during these years. These artists have go on to work in a diverse range on medias, including painting, photography, ceramics, design , installation art…and robots
The piece ‘Memoriae‘ draws on my own experience and knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and aims to convey the feeling of watching a person disappearing, vaporising and fading away in front of our eyes, whilst also wanting to piece together the fragments of that person and save them.
I am captivated by light and its use within a space and as such my work is greatly influenced by light artists. I use artificial light as a raw material within my own work to show how memory alters and fades over time.
Linda graduated from the University in 2013
Rachel Guest has sought to explore these themes through textiles, print, collage, installation and photography. Where possible, she has tried to combine more than one medium to create interest on several levels.
This piece is a culmination of separate pieces all collaged together in one design. Her work aims to address the myth that art should always be comfortable to look at. Some of the pieces are confrontational, making them difficult to view or ignore, like pain, for her.
The print is an example of how pain can envelope and restrict a person, crushing dreams and ripping aspirations to shreds.
“Pain can drag you down. When you have a brain and spine infected with cancer, it literally drags you down. I’ve lost my hair, my fertility, my memory, and my dreams. Only infection and pain remain by my side, keeping me from sleep, reminding me that I am still alive. Life is not make-believe and it does not always end fairly”.
The folk art of Latin America inspires Rachel for its embodiment of passion, endurance and freedom. Rachel aims to encompass these ideals in all of her work.
Rachel Guest graduated from the University in 2013
Fay graduated from the university in 2011
The isolation that I plummeted into during this early stage of adulthood gave me the first chance since school to think my own thoughts. It wasn’t a particularly good time, but I found myself compelled to make art as a sort of coping method. I was a bit naive and a day-dreamer as a teenager; these events shattered this bubble. Making art was the only reaction I could find to this.
The ideas for my work always precede putting pen to paper; and their formulation in my mind takes much longer now, but when they come together it brings both great relief and great excitement. I want to do justice to all that hidden labour that has been underway in my head, and for this reason these ‘doodles’ have no choice but to become murals. Although my work was initially fueled primarily by ecological and personal issues. When I began to look into what I would argue has largely caused these ecological and personal problems, my work then began to gravitate towards socio-political issues. My landscape drawings allowed to be bring all these concerns together to reveal how they were interrelated.
Although I still now sometimes use paint and collage, I didn’t feel that I could always truly say what I wanted to say with it. Yet drawing always seemed like a ‘sitting’ down method of working, and I wanted to transfer as much energy as possible whilst working. Once I got hold of large sheets of paper, and realised I could work on a drawing facing it like it was a canvas, this felt so right and was a breakthrough point for me. I still sort of see myself as a painter, as I still view drawing as being a far less energetic, more relaxed way of working, and I often see my works more as paintings that drawings.
John Ledger was born in Barnsley, January 1984.
He graduated from the university in 2007
Questioning notions of acceptability, in regards to the female form, raises issues of idealized norms; the familiar is often paired with the uncanny, creating a sense of both presence and absence. Newton is fascinated by the way the human mind can be lured into making assumptions based on very little, especially focusing on how remembrance compresses both time and space creating a new reality. Symbiotic repetitious behaviors manifest throughout her practice, alongside ongoing phobias and fixations, inherent anxieties’ reveal themselves to the viewer, through the defamiliarisation of the seemingly banal.
Julie graduated from the university in 2013
Rob is a Yorkshire based photographic artist, living and working in Leeds and Barnsley. He is also an official photographer for Barnsley Football Club.
Rob Nunns graduated from the University in 2009.
@PitchsidePro – Twitter
This series of work aims to capture an essence of the individuals within it. A care home can be dark place at times, a real final resting place, a culmination of life experience, emotion, pain and memory, a place where raw, solid, emotional imagery can be seen on a daily basis. These people all shared their penultimate years together and for some this maybe their only legacy. These are just a few of the faces that will soon be forgotten by most.A.W.Parker @ FacebookAndrew William Parker graduated from the university in 2013
As an abstract painter my work focuses on the relationship between
hard-edged geometry and gestural chaos and how the interaction between
these elements represents, for example, the interplay of man and
nature or reason and emotion. Most of my paintings also feature
heavily abstracted references to landscapes and these two pieces are
Michael Graduated from university in 2012
Richard Turner worked at the university from 2005 to 2013.
Throughout my education I had been working in a town centre pub and had grown close to the family who ran it. On deciding to take year out, I was offered a full time position there. During the year I went to see a careers advisor who was adamant that I should go to university. Still not knowing what I wanted to do I decided to return to education and increase my points score in order to qualify for a degree.
In the summer of1999 I enrolled to do an English Literature, Classical Studies and Modern History A Levels at Barnsley college. I enjoyed being back in full time education And worked hard in order to gain the qualifications that I needed. Although, with hindsight, I was defiantly missing the creativity and freedom of art.
In the summer of 2001 I decided to apply to Sheffield Hallam University to enroll on the degree course titled “The History Of Art And Architecture”. My hope was that I could combine both my academic skills and interest in art and enjoy the experience of being a university student. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. I found the Architecture side of the course incredibly tedious and realised early on that I had no passion for what I was doing. Ironically, my fondest memories of that time was hanging around the art studios.
After dropping out in December 2001 I returned to full time work. The experience severely knocked my confidence and I resigned myself to a life of pub work.
By the time I was 27 I had trained up to the level of Manager and was working for a Management company who took on failing pubs and attempted to build them back up into viable businesses. I had not done anything creative for the last seven years and new that the life I was leading wasn’t for me. It was well paid job and I was my own boss and was provided with free accommodation but I still felt empty.
On December the 6th 2009 I gave up the pub, my home and my income and moved back to my parents house in Barnsley. I attended an opening day at UCB and was accepted onto there Interdisciplinary Art And Design Degree and new instantly that I had made the correct decision. Rediscovering my love of art and creating has changed my outlook on life and me as a person. It is something that I will do for the rest of my life and I feel very lucky to have something in my life that I am so passionate about.
Corinne White Art @ Facebook
Shane graduated from the university in 2013
Louise Graduated from the University in 2009
Emma Wroe graduated from university in 2013
Emma Wroe Fine Artist @Facebook
The Place of Dead Ends (2013, biro and collage on paper, 120X100cm)
“In the last three decades of the [twentieth century] the utopian imagination was slowly overturned. and has been replaced by a Dystopian imagination” Franco Berardi (Bifo) – After the Future (2010)
For some years now I’ve had this feeling that things cannot carry on in the manner in which they have been doing. Furthermore: that we are watching the slow collapse of our civilisation. The feeling is closer year by year. It’s a broad-reaching feeling that dampens/taints the appearance of the world. I cannot switch this feeling off; there are traces of it in every thought. The only world (reality) we know seems to have reached a dead end. And because it cannot allow us to move forward, the past (or rather its past) takes control; it’s darkest ghosts re-emerge as a reaction to the huge problems we face; the dead come to rule the living. We run to the past for protection from the darkeness unfolding in the 21st century – right into the arms of the archaic forces that rise amidst such confusion and threaten to drag everything down back down with them.
The idea for The Place of Dead Ends fixed itself together whilst I was walking around the park-lands of Greenwich, London (a place saturated with popular history), in the autumn of 2012. I stumbled across the Queen Elizabeth [the 1st] Oak, a tree that the Tudor queen is said to have often taken refreshment under. Queen Elizabeth the 1st reigned over an historical period that played a crucial part in the formation of the British Empire, and (of course) the modern industrial world.
What I didn’t realise until then was that this tree had actually been dead for well over 100 years old. Yet the tree trunk remained; laying heavy upon the ground. Always having the gravity of the 21st century stalking my thoughts, I couldn’t help but see this dead relic as a metaphor for a world which is being ruled to ruin by ideas and beliefs that belong in the past; a result of a civilisation that is unable to look to the future.
In the past 5 years we have seen the massive failure of the neoliberal economic system (or global financial system); yet, because we are unable to picture an alternative/unable to picture a future past the ‘end of history’ announced with the inauguration of global capitalism, ever-more extreme neoliberalism is being enforced onto the world. Neoliberalism is dead as a idea, nobody believes in it, yet it rules in an almost zombie-like manner (using thoughts expressed by Mark Fisher in his Visual Futures lecture). This bad medicine is being inflicted by a global elite structure whose dominance is beginning to be dangerously similar to the archaic feudal rule the kings and lords once had over the population. At the same time as this, we are made witness to scandal after scandal amidst the ranks of those people, institutions and companies we used to see as the pillars of society,. The entire belief system has failed, but still governs us; we are ruled by the dead.
In the drawing the pillars of (a) civilisation have fallen across the route, like dead trees blocking the path. In this landscape protests are being made by many who desperately want to change the world into a better, more just place, but these pillars have landed on the protests, trapping them, making them unable to move – unable to make a difference (the most well-know example of this would be the 2003 protests against the US/UK imperial war on Iraq, where millions filled the streets world-wide, and were utterly ignored by the decision makers). On the rotting of the tree-like pillars grows all the forces that feed off the death of a future; runaway finance with no grounding in theory, and jingoist patriotism that feeds off the fears of global uncertainty.
The rest of this blocked route is occupied by people who have given up on the belief of a better future, and have given up fighting ; they live in a never ending avoidance of truth and empty feeling, condemned to the pursuit of immediate pleasures (drugs, alcohol, sex), only to spend much time in stupors of dissatisfaction and depression. I am not excluded from such a scene; I am both the protester and the individual drunken and frustrated roaming the evening streets, trying to forget reality. Every figure is interchangeable in my drawings; no individual is solely to blame and yet everybody is complicit.
Each side of the road are the barriers one faces when they try to think of a way out: the violence of the nation state, which becomes more ruthless and repressive the more it is threatened; and at the other side one faces the even worse plight of the poorer parts of the world, and the parts of the world already suffering greatly from changes to the global climate brought on by this governing system. There seems to be no way out. Clouds envelope preventing us from imagining another kind of world; they are both the very real human-made pollution we are failing to tackle, and the blotting out of imagining ourselves somewhere different; the clouds are full of the faces of ‘dead stars’, the icons of 20th century capitalism, who died and became immortalised in our collective hearts, having an ever greater ghostly presence that seeps onto the skins of us as we run backwards from the current world, in search of better times.
Drawing, for me is as much as a controlling (or management) of my darkest thoughts in which everything seems out of control. Yet, I hope my work can reveal the modern world to viewers in a way that is constructive to a collective demand for a better world. As much as I struggle to picture something more hopeful, the dead end is not the end of the world; only the end of a world, a world humanity surely must transcend in the 21st century else it may well be the end full stop.
The piece is called ‘Who would want listen to this?’ because such big threats of an ecological collapse which would cause unimaginable disruption and destruction are often too frightening for us to think about (only previously seen by our eyes on cinema screens), so instead we pretend that ‘someone will sort it for us when push comes to shove’ or we even coax ourselves into believing that it can’t actually be happening (I’ve heard people, who once agreed that climate change was being caused by humans, go back on themselves saying ‘how can one species do so much damage to such a big planet?’ – comforting lies). We would rather not listen to it when a friend in our company starts talking about it, or when it is on the TV.
But we are not to blame for feeling so powerless to do anything.
As well as causing this problem, the human system of capitalism makes it seem impossible for us to do anything to stop climate change. It relies on competition between the most powerful nations in the world, rather than cooperation. And these nations are sewn together with the biggest corporations in the world; and corporations, by and large, don’t want us thinking that things such as climate change are happening, because to take any action to stop it would be bad for their business. And being the richest most powerful in the world, they get their way. As things stand THEY are in control of the direction the human world takes.
So we feel powerless, and try to focus on smaller thing instead, we try to forget. Climate change just adds more and more weight to the feeling that everything is out of control and feelings of powerlessness to do anything about it, which is the reality of living under the global capitalist system. So focussing on smaller things, focussing on how to get through life, day to day, in the most bearable way is what most of us find is the only thing we can do.
In the drawing every figure is wearing headphones. This relates to trying to block out the sound of things that are upsetting to us. It also relates a lot to the living in a time where we have access to so much technology to keep us entertained, or distracted, from the real world. I have mixed feelings about technology; I think what the internet offers to us as a species is amazing, and it could be said to be one of the greatest inventions ever. Yet accessories such as mobile phones, Facebook can throw us into a continuous detachment from what’s really happening in the world around us, distracting us, as we are constantly in trying to get other people to speak to us and like us through them, as the popularity of these accessories means people are increasingly alone, communicating from box rooms and lonely bus rides, and lonely people feel insecure and continually seek company. These figures, who are blocking their eyes to the problems around them, aren’t bad people, but are finding themselves more and more consumed in a technological world, that promises so much but never really fulfils.
The people behind the speaking booth-like things are the political/capitalist class. They are equally wired up, with head phones, communicating through cyberspace. They believe in the fantasy that capitalist ‘growth’ can go on forever, and they chase growth like addicts, smiling with Cheshire cat grins when they say the word ‘growth’. They are ‘supposed’ to be the people to lead the citizens to safety and better lives, but they are desperately clinging on to hopes that become more impossible every day. Feeling powerless, we leave it to leaders of governments and capitalism to guide us, but they are even more detached from the real world than everybody else, and they guide us towards a dangerous future. The need for distraction and denial of the truth keeps growing.
I wanted the entire landscape to look like a rock in an empty space, a bit like planet earth in space. But I want this rock to look to have a similarity to a human hand; a human hand that is veering into the dark, into a void, into non-existence. The closer one gets to the fingertips of the hand, the more the landscape is being destroyed, being torn to pieces. This represents two different moments in time; the moment which are at now, when it is the poorest people in the world who suffer the most from the effects of climate change, largely caused by the richest parts of the world (and the most power institutions which come from these places), and a future moment when this becomes the reality for all of humanity, if we don’t change course – direct the human hand away from its route into non-existence.