The Latest

Jun 5, 2014 / 1 note

PENUMBRA ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION: MEGAN BROADMEADOW

Megan Broadmeadow (born in Manchester, she lived in North Wales and then moved to London) is a multidisciplinary artist who works in performance, video, sculpture, installation and is interested in folklore and customs as well as their relevance to the contemporary society. Megan examines new forms these traditional aspects of human lives are taking and transformations they are undergoing, exploring new mythologies, which can be found in experimental theatre, carnival and disco culture. Her work ‘Mastaba’ was a part of VERB’s curated exhibition ‘Penumbra’. In line with preparations for the publication (out in August), which will present the artworks in the show and essays to expand on the ideas raised in ‘Penumbra’ – those of uncertainty, metamorphosis and the state of in between, we are talking with Megan about her work in the exhibition and her artistic practice.

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How does performance feature in your practice?

Performance is the key focus of my work. I’m interested in dissecting it and using its attributes as materials for art making.  Costumes, movement, and the notion of the stage, are my main focuses and I’m currently engaged with re-interpreting them into sculpture, installation and video.  I like to do this because I think of the gallery as a theatrical space, and for me artworks are symbols and props that can be read. Because of this performativity already exists in the gallery and I like to play with this by bringing theatricality to the forefront of an experience in an exhibition.

I’m particularly interested in amateur performance and carnival, as these kinds of performances allow people with no training to experience the transformation into another character, as part of cultural and social experience. Carnival is one of the oldest of the performance traditions, and I’m interested to see what its function is today.

What is it about liminality or uncertainty that inspires you?

I think we all exist in an uncertain state; we assume roles and maneuver through life testing out which part is the real us. I’m interested in the idea that perhaps the real self is the one that constantly transforms, and the quest for certainty is a fruitless task as it does not allow us to feel comfortable with the fact that we are constantly changing. I think being a constantly changing being is an exciting thing to be!

What is the metaphorical meaning of the title Mastaba, the work which is featured in VERB’s Penumbra?

The word Mastaba is an ancient kind of Egyptian tomb that predates the pyramid. I used the word to reference the shape of the sculpture (its an opened pyramid) but I also felt it fitting as the work is also about self-exploration and its sexualized as it features me almost naked, performing to myself. Due to the mirrors, in the performance for video (which I filmed on the sculpture) I touch my ‘othersleves’ in the mirrors, but it is a cold touch, almost a deathly touch, and for me the work flits between sexuality and isolation.

I project the video I performed on the sculpture back onto the sculpture, and so although it reflects the images back to the viewer, it also entraps them within itself, entombing them in a strange ongoing loop.

Ritualistic elements seem to reoccur in your practice. What is the significance of ritual for you and do you have any specific rituals that you go through when you are making work?

I particularly enjoy the ritual of transformation, and changing identity; putting on make up, changing clothes, experiencing a costume, and seeing how it leads me to move in a different way. As a performer, I’ve undergone this process many times, and it never fails to amaze me how different I feel once the transformation is complete. Without this preparation I don’t believe I would have the access to the different sides of myself that I can bring out for each character I inhabit, and I think each costume reveals a different side to me. No two transformations are the same, and so where they take me is often a surprise!

What kind of role does music play in your Mastaba piece? Has it been specifically recorded for your work? What kinds of ideas did you try to convey when you chose the tracks?

I worked with a sound composer called Sonic Visor for the piece. I had the tune in my head for a few nights prior to working with him, so the challenge to him was to transpose what I was hearing into a reality. He made all the sounds from scratch based on the kind of noises I felt were suitable for the work. We worked by talking about words like; angularity, heaviness, sharpness, delay and shattering, as use these to explain how the pyramid might sound and tried to piece it together.

What do you feel is the relationship between contemporary popular culture and historical folklore?

I think folklore never dies but transforms. The rags to riches stories are still told today, but now we have footballers instead of princes! Storytelling is all around us, perhaps now more than ever before, we can access stories all the time through online journalism, and the way in which cinema and art tells us tales is more elaborate and immersive than ever before. But I still enjoy listening to a trained storyteller, that’s where real magic lies –between the spoken word and the imagination of the listener.

Do you have a favourite folk tale?

Welsh ‘Mabinogion’ stories are fascinating, and feature lots of giants, princesses and weirdness- like floating islands in the middle of lakes. I grew up in North Wales and so I like the fact that the places in the stories were places that I passed on my way to school or work! I also still have my hardback book of the Worlds Best Fairy Stories by Readers Digest that I had as a child, and I often dip into it.  Its got stories from all over the world, but I do love a princess story so Rapunzel or the Princess on the Glass Hill are in my top ten, but I also feel sorry for the Half Chick, its an odd little tale indeed!

Who are your artistic influences?

I’m currently looking a lot at the Bauhaus performances, and I’m infatuated with their costumes and staging. I’m reading about their concept for a ‘total theatre’ where their aims were for multi-perspective theatre buildings, which allowed for the stage to be changed during the performance. It also featured major mechanization of the stage, and use of effects in lighting and projection. I’d loved to have been part of it, and I think as time goes on more people will realise and acknowledge the radical changes they implemented in theatre and performance.

Are there any theoretical ideas - from philosophy, literature or art theory - that have had a considerable influence on your practice?

Although I’m interested in the ‘Total theatre’, I’m generally not utopian, and so can’t go along with everything the Bauhaus were up to, as I don’t believe in creating everything anew, although I can understand why that generation of post war people would have good reason not to look back.

I’m interested in Adourno and theories about superstition, magic and the occult. I’ve also read a lot into carnival theory and so the idea of the world turned upside down, is a constant thought for me as an artist. In a similar vein I enjoy reading Nietzsche’s work on Dionysus and Apollo, its quite romanticised writing, but taps into the two sides of the psyche, as well as referencing the ideas of control and freedom, which again play a huge role in carnival theory. Dionysus is the Lord of Misrule, and allows you to do anything, which I guess is why I like him!

Apr 17, 2014

PENUMBRA ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION: CLARE PRICE

Clare Price is a London-based artist who likes to work with the traditional medium of painting to explore the material presence of physical work and the non-material presence of the virtual environment, as well as the liminal spaces in between them in the contemporary reality. In line with preparations to the Penumbra exhibition curated by VERB, we spoke to Clare about her practice, her artistic influences and music.

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Clare Price, Gentle filth, 2013

You seem to reference digital image in your practice. Where does this fascination with computer-generated imagery come from? What is the opposition and link between the digital and the analogue for you?

The digital was more of a primary concern in the work, and this seems to be shifting into explorations around the voluptuous, visceral, body like nature of paint, around materiality and around flow in the context of the intangible nature of the virtual.

The paintings seek to explore contemporary liminal realms and experiences between the real and the technological, that speak of matter the cosmos and the body, whilst maintaining a strong relationship with the history of painting, most specifically abstract expressionism.

The relationship with the digital now lies more with the painting’s materiality and status as grubby objects in the world, in opposition to the impalpable digital.

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Studio floor

What role does the grid play in your works and what is its relation to the concept of space?

I have been really interested in the grid over the past few years and this related very neatly with the older work I was making with the pixels.  However I feel that I am letting go of this, both in formal and conceptual terms, that the grid has fallen away to make paintings that are liberated from it’s constraints.

The spaces in the paintings are more ambiguous now, freed from the lattice, they endeavor to explore ideas both ideas around the body and the relationship between the accident in painting to the glitch; where virtual environments fall away to reveal the artifice and the edges of these worlds. I am interested in creating spaces through the pours and stains and gestures of paint, that relate to a cosmic, universe-like sense of “clusters and constellations” that have mirrors also in the limitlessness and network connections of the internet.

What is your process when creating an artwork? Do you improvise, or are you more analytical?

I’m a maker, I suppose I do my thinking and analyzing through making, so I suppose I would go down on the improvisational side.  That is not to say I don’t think, but it is not a direct line from thought to outcome, that uncomfortable word instinctive comes into play there somewhere.

This quote by Joan Mitchell which sums this up for me:

“I don’t really think when I’m painting, what happens when I’m painting? – my hands get awful dirty”

Are there any theoretical ideas - from philosophy, literature or art theory - that have had a considerable influence on your practice?

I suppose all those things that research, and those influences go in and are channeled through one’s life experience and permeate the work in unexpected ways, to quote Mark Leckey “Art comes through the body”. I would be reluctant to pin them down.

That said, I have read a lot of Doris Lessing in the last year, including her biographies.  These have had a profound effect on me, not necessarily in direct relationship with the work but more in relationship with life, not that the two things can really be separated.

Who are your artistic influences?

Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Mary Heilmann, Blinky Palermo, Albert Oehlen, Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Doris Lessing, J.G. Ballard, Ross Bleckner, Gillian Ayres, Hito Steyerl to name but a very few.

Plume, Flip flopping, Rip, Gentle filth… Where do these titles come from?

I tend to gather them from day to day life, pick them up, spin them around and keep them until they find a work that fits them, or the other way round.  Most recently titles seem to relate to the body or the cosmos or I find them or hear them and they just feel right.

The descriptions of your works often contain musical references. How do you link music to your practice?

The direct relationship to music in the titles is now gone, but I suppose I was seeking to make work that had the immersive qualities of music, I am interested in ideas around flow, where you lose yourself in the making with painting and that has a relationship to both making and experiencing of music.

For more information on Clare Price visit her website

Penumbra exhibition by VERB will open on 1 May 2014 at 6 pm at A.P.T. Gallery.

Apr 9, 2014 / 3 notes

Penumbra artists in conversation: Greta Eacott

Greta Eacott is a percussionist, professional composer and interdisciplinary artist based in London. She has performed at the Barbican Centre and the Royal Albert Hall, played at Glastonbury and Shuffle Festival, and toured extensively across the globe. For Penumbra she will carry out a series of performances, ‘Gestures: The Space Between’, which translates motion into sound and explores the liminal space between these two aesthetic formats. While preparing for VERB’s exhibition, we spoke with Greta about her artistic practice and the inspiration she draws from Far Eastern traditional aesthetics which she encountered during her studies at Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo.


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What is the relation in your opinion between music, an instrument, dance and a work of art?

All involve a consideration of the treatment of space. 

 Was there a catalyst that encouraged you to move from music into a realm in which music, art and dance interrelate and play?

As a percussionist, physicality and movement have always been a fundamental part of my studies and play. Choreographed movement forms the basis of learning most percussion instruments and exploring this movement-music crossover was the real stimulus for the project. Working collaboratively with dancers, I began trying to bring out the physicality of music [and vice-versa], to explore the between of music – movement and space. I was particularly interested in the way that dance had incorporated physical space as a central element in its methods of notation – such as Labanotation - which uses symbols to depict spatial placement and actions to occur in these. Translating this into a musical context, by creating music by notating movements, was the initial stimulus for the development of my floor score notation. Trying to bring that which exists in the in-between of movement, music and space, to the centre was what brought me to this cross-over.

What is the significance of uncertainty within your practice? How do you relate it towards the exploration of the space and the inner self which seem to be important motifs in your practice?

I am interested in uncertainty because it brings a quality of flux, shifting focus to the now. It subverts the expectations of good as ‘perfect’ and ‘complete’, instead bringing qualities of the imperfect, irregular, living and decaying as things that should be embraced rather than avoided. I am not interested in telling people what they should be experiencing or how they should interact. For me, the use of non-narrative structures/situations, as the foundation of ambiguity, is something that allows this uncertainty to arise - allowing people to come to their own conclusions. By saying very little, the floor score allows people to take from it a wider variety of experience and meaning. I like the idea that the floor score can bring a different sense of activity and awareness to each person on it.

You are relating your performance ‘Gestures: the space between’ to a rather complex concept of ma which came from Japan. How did you become interested in this aesthetical approach and how do you apply it to this particular piece? Is it important for your musical practice as well?

The concept of ma is something I came across whilst studying marimba with Keiko Abe in Tokyo. Underpinning everything that occurred during my studies was something I couldn’t put my finger on, but it felt fresh and alive in a way that I had never experienced. The attention to space, that ma promotes, emerged as what was essential to this education. Central to this overarching approach, was a sense of space that was powerful in engaging the students. Vital to this was the inclusion of irrational and experiential characteristics such as ambiguity and tension, as well as focus on texture, timbre, edges and irregularities; and these are something I bring to the center of GESTURES. For me, there is a real contemporary relevance in these ideas that can be seen to have begun to be explored in the way that contemporary focuses on interactive, interdisciplinary and environmental art; which seem to echo ideas from the ancient aesthetic concept of ma.

Who are your artistic influences?

The prolifically playful, active and creative seven year olds at Bramley Music Centre. Sebastian Rochford [drummer], for relentless collaborations and contributions to the philosophy of groove.  

How important is collaboration in your artistic process?

I like a good dosage of alone time for developing ideas, but the moments of collaboration and the impact of input from others are what brings about the joy of turning those ideas into a fertile living reality.

And how important is the participatory and interactive element in your work?

Very important. In GESTURES I use the simple and primitive instinct of play and discovery to stimulate audiences to interact with the floor score, sounds and space.  By providing an ambiguous space for play and exploration, audiences have to actively engage with the work. I have set up a situation, but what audiences bring to it is the heart of what they take away from it. Putting to the test the old saying… ‘Only boring people get bored!’

Come play!

For more information on Greta Eacott visit her website

Penumbra exhibition by VERB will open on 1 May 2014 at A.P.T. Gallery

Mar 19, 2014 / 1 note

Penumbra artists in conversation: Helen McGhie

Helen McGhie is a London-based artist who works with photography and moving image. She explores ideas surrounding identity, sense of place, and exploitation of codes within familiar imagery such as the representation of women in Western consumerist society. While preparing for VERB’s inaugural exhibition, Penumbra - which will also showcase Helen’s work - we spoke with the artist about her practice and the problematic fields that she explores.



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Who are your artistic influences?

I am particularly influenced by the work of artists who use photography as tools for deconstructing identity as represented through the image, Cindy Sherman’s self portraits since the 70’s are a great example of this, also Eva Stenram’s latest projects Drape and Parts.


Are there any theoretical ideas - from philosophy, literature or art theory - that have had a considerable influence on your practice?

I am interested in new ideas. Most recently I have been inspired by the writing of Bracha L. Ettinger who reconsiders traditional psychoanalytic theories through a more feminine framework. Her concept of the ‘Matrix’ is fascinating, it’s based on ideas of identity connection and ‘jointness’ as an alternative to the binary oppositions of self/other as established through the past texts of theorists such as Freud and Lacan.


What is the significance of liminality within your work in general and in particular the Fitting Rooms series?

I am very interested in liminality in relation to the in-between, the non-defined, the neither here nor there. In my practice, I often consider the child-adult moment in adolescence, which I’ve tried to express metaphorically through the act of playing ‘dress up’ within the Fitting Room series. 



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Helen McGhie, Fitting Rooms series, #13, 2013



What does the fitting room signify for you? Why did you choose that type of space as the subject for your work?

Fitting Rooms articulates a moment where individuals shift their clothed image from past to present season in order to follow culture’s current trend. As many of the high-street shops where I photographed were dominated by teenagers exploring their self image, I see how the cubical begins to function as a concealed space for a ritualistic rite of passage.


Are there any other spaces that inspire you in a similar way to the bizarre nature of the changing room?

I’m often inspired by psychologically charged spaces; most recently I’ve been photographing city alleyways at night where distance becomes an inconceivable void, this perhaps another example of emotional insecurity within a non-place.


What was the process of creating the Fitting Rooms series?

Concealed with a cubical, I positioned my medium format camera on the floor and waited for interesting moments to happen. Taking a number of clothes to innocently ‘try on’ would give me access to the fitting room area. 


You often raise the topic of the women’s representation in contemporary society/mass culture in your artistic practice. Do you link the images of women in the Fitting Rooms series to the same problematic topic of the representation of women?

Indeed, one of the initial reasons I embarked on the project was to reconsider the insecurities I have had about my own self-image, as a teenager I often felt ugly when looking at advertisements in fashion magazines where I was confronted by the perfect ‘model’ image. The media’s portrayal of women is often unobtainable, particularly in contemporary society where retouching tools in Photoshop are heavily used.


As someone whose work is influenced by feminist ideas, what do you think of the feminist movement today?

Feminism is worth talking about, even after its first and second waves of strong political activism. There are still inequalities that exist, such as the financial pay gap between men and women in the UK. Recently I watched a really interesting documentary called ‘Miss Representation’ that mapped the problematic systems of hierarchy within Western media and society, it gave excellent points that argued the importance of feminism today.


How do you perceive the role of the camera in your practice? Is the camera simply a tool to help you capture your ideas or is it more than that/something else?

Photography is very important to me. There is something about deconstructing image, from within the image that I wouldn’t enjoy experimenting with in the same way through another medium. I use film and often produce darkroom prints by hand from within a dark interior-like space; this is something I find quite emotive that moves beyond photography as being simply a surface medium. 


For more information on Helen McGhie visit her website.

Penumbra exhibition by VERB will open on 1 May 2014 at A.P.T. Gallery.

Feb 28, 2014
Please hold for further announcements on your ‘Penumbra’ application. We’re currently working on our artist shortlist and will respond to your submission very shortly.
Dec 13, 2013 / 1 note

Please hold for further announcements on your ‘Penumbra’ application. We’re currently working on our artist shortlist and will respond to your submission very shortly.

Oct 9, 2013 / 5 notes

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Vivacious Exhibition Realisation Bureau (VERB) is looking for artist submissions for its first outing as a dynamic collective of young artists and curators. 

VERB is a creative collective united by its members’ shared aspiration to deliver a broad range of innovative and unique art events through exploring challenging themes and showcasing inspiring artists. The group members have diverse experience, with backgrounds ranging from art history, fine art and curation to radio.

Penumbra

             (n. An area in which something exists to a lesser or uncertain degree. A fringe   region of half shadow. An outlying surrounding region; a periphery.

VERB’s first project, Penumbra, will be a group exhibition exploring liminality; the moment of transition from one state to another. This uncertain state has long been associated with danger, but also contains the potential for a positive transformation. The show will celebrate ambiguity, taking Victor Turner’s view that it is a creative and liberating position.

         “Liminality may perhaps be regarded as the Nay to all positive structural assertions, but as in some sense the source of them all, and, more than that, as a realm of pure possibility whence novel configurations of ideas and relations may arise.” 

We are looking for works in any media that relate to the ambiguous, transitional or peripheral. Pieces may focus on liminal people(s), rites of passage, ‘non-places’, gender, paradigm shifts or something less defined. VERB is committed to providing exposure to artists in all stages of their career. In keeping with the subject matter of this exhibition, we are particularly interested in proposals from artists whose location or practices place them in the periphery of the art world.

To apply: Artists can submit either previously made works (max. 3) by sending images/audio/video/links with written descriptions, OR written proposals for new work in addition to images/audio/video/links showing previous works (max. 3). The submitted works and proposals should be accompanied by an artist statement (300 – 500 words) and a CV. A link to a website can also be included.

Please email your submission to VERBureau@gmail.com by 6 November 2013.

The exhibition will take place in late Spring 2014 in London (venue TBC).

Subject to funding, we hope to pay a small artist’s fee for inclusion in the show.

1 Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U P, 1967) 97 

Aug 5, 2013
Aug 5, 2013