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Jo Davies ‘Flare Vases’ in black – http://www.jo-davies.com @JoDaviesCeramic

 

Jo Davies creates beautifully hand crafted ceramic objects, with everyday functional use. Her designs range from light fittings and vases to kitchen table ware. Davies ceramics aim to bring together harsh lines and contrasting curves whilst visually projecting feminine sensuality. Her architectural designs appear as strong decorative ornaments. 


 

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Jo Davies ‘The Cup’ – http://www.jo-davies.com @JoDaviesCeramic

Jo Davies has been sculpting for over 10 years, initially trained at Bath school of Art then the Royal College of Art.  She has since taught at university level and continues her work on an award-winning practitioner level with stockists around the UK and exhibitions on an international scale. Having an appearance on the T.V programme ‘The Apprentice’ last year provided coverage and she has since established a strong public fan base in support of her work.

Jo Davies artwork displays clean sophistication, which has resulted from her “intuitive enquiry into clay”. Her objects are modern and crisp, coloured in neutral tones providing a foundation of ambiguity: This allows any buyer the freedom of choice and match making into their own home.  In reality Davies household items would sustain a smooth transition into anyone’s house, adding a small enhancement of stylish desire.


 

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Jo Davies ‘Flare Vases’ in white – http://www.jo-davies.com @JoDaviesCeramic

Her creations are Individual to the extent of uniqueness yet not too outlandish to be grotesque. From this unusual success Davies has mastered a harmonious balance of contemporary sculpture and practicality.

The O3 Gallery now stock Jo Davies ceramic The Cups and Flare Vases, available for you to treat yourself and your home or to buy as a special gift.

By Jasmine Smart

O3 Gallery Intern 

 

 

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O3 Gallery invites you to join London based artist Ikuko Iwamoto and her sea creatures for a bizarre tea ceremony, and dive into her quiet microscopic world to explore and experience the extraordinary in the everyday.

Initially trained in Nara, Japan, Ikuko studied ceramics at Camberwell College and later the Royal College of Art in London. Interested in invisible things and inspired by the world of micro-organisms, Ikuko has made her functional objects amazingly sculptural with her organic forms and minute decorative details – the tiny dots and spikes raised from the main body are interesting to touch, creating a different tactile experience in each container. The minimalist colour scheme, irregularity of cup bodies, and their quiet, understated elegance show the influence of the wabi-sabi aesthetic, which celebrates the beauty of transience and imperfection, and embraces the asymmetry and simplicity within natural objects and creating process. While the porcelain main body of each container is slip-cast, the decorative dots and spikes are individually crafted and attached by hand. Each detail in the intricate patterns is thus similar but also different, evoking the uniqueness and changing nature of things in the real world. But these ‘reality-bound’ objects also lead us into a surreal realm that transcends everyday mundanity, as Ikuko explains:

I make exquisite tea cups and other objects for a bizarre tea ceremony. They suggest the everyday, the ordinary, but are in fact extra-ordinary. They are the vehicles to make visible an invisible, microscopic world. A world of intricacy and detail, of mathematical pattern and organic chaos, of beauty and repulsion.

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The meticulously handcrafted sea urchin vessel embodies the unique materiality and tactility of Ikuko’s ceramic tableware.

The O3 Gallery has some of these delicate and captivating ceramic containers on display. The sea urchin vessels are available to buy for £140 each, and ceramic tea cups are £20 each.

Junyuan Xue

O3 Gallery Intern

Oxford Contemporary Music in association with The Sonic Art Research Unit are currently seeking proposals for a new commission for their 2014 Audiograft Festival.

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Audiograft: 

Audiograft is an annual festival of contemporary experimental music and sound art curated by the Sonic Art Research Unit (SARU) at Oxford Brookes University. The festival aims to engage the widest possible audience from Oxford and beyond with the challenging contemporary practices that are the focus of the Research Unit.

Oxford Contemporary Music (OCM): 

OCM co-promotes the festival, and for the rest of the year presents and produces its own live contemporary music and sound based events in Oxford and beyond. OCM aims to bring artists and their inspiring new work together with audiences and we like to support work that explores inventive and innovative audience experiences. For this commission we encourage submissions for work that actively considers the audience experience, for example by being interactive, playful, immersive or by engaging them in alternative ways. Please describe how your work does this within your submission.

The Commission:

OCM are now accepting proposals for new work with a deadline of noon on Friday 6th December. Please submit your proposal to info@ocmevents.org. Please read the guidance below before submitting your proposal.

Proposals should include: 

  •  a description of the new work (which can include images and sound files).
  • a budget for any materials and / or performers.
  • a short biography of your past work including images, sound files and/or links where available.

The work:

  • must be new work.
  • can be a performance or installation.
  •  if it is an installation, it must be suitable for indoor presentation and be small scale (for a modest sized space).
  • please indicate the ideal type of venue for your piece / performance, how you intend to present the work at Audiograft, and whether you would require any practical help in doing so.

The artists: 

  • must be UK residents.
  • must be available between 10th and 15th March for the festival and for time in advance to prepare for the festival.
  • can be solo, duo, or a group.

OCM has up to £1,500 to award either for one commission or to split between two commissions. The money awarded should cover artist fees to create the work, technical support, production costs, materials and fabrication costs, travel costs, and any other costs incurred to create and present the work (all inclusive of VAT).

Deadline: noon Friday 6th December 

OCM and SARU will select a proposal to commission by Friday 13th December. 

For more information see http://www.ocmevents.org or email them at info@ocmevents.org

Download commission details here: OCM

Studying at Oxford Brookes or Oxford University? Looking to showcase your own art writing? Today the O3 Gallery is launching The O3 Gallery Prize for Contemporary Art Criticism – a platform for students, and aspiring art critics, to showcase their contemporary art writing.

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To enter, students are asked to submit a review of up to 800 words, of an art exhibition which has taken place in Oxfordshire, since August 2013. Entries will be judged by a panel of three judges working in the contemporary art world, with particular experience and expertise in art criticism.

Joao Phillippe Reid

An Art History postgraduate from University College London, JP has a background in curating and art criticism having worked at a number of galleries and collections in England and Scotland, including Tate Liverpool and O3 Gallery.  JP is a contributor to the US Arts Blog Hyperallergic and co-curated the O3’s 2012 and 2013 summer exhibitions.

Tom Snow

A postgraduate research student and teaching assistant in the History of Art Department at University College London, Tom is a freelance art critic, working and researching in the UK and abroad.  His main interests include 20th and 21st century art writing, particularly the theoretical contexts involving globalization and spatial politics.  He has contributed to Frieze Magazine and Afterall, amongst other contemporary art publications.

Jonathan Powell

Jonathan is a writer and artist living in London. He studied fine art at Camberwell and is the editor of The Flaneur, an arts and culture journal with contributors from around the world. He thinks the world might be a better place if cricket was compulsory, the National Gallery let visitors borrow works like a library and everyone spoke Italian.

The O3 favours writing which is creative, original and forward-thinking, and that shows a flair for developing and expressing an artistic point of view. Students are invited to enter regardless of previous experience in writing art criticism. The author of the winning entry will have their submission piece published on the O3 Gallery website and their work promoted by the gallery. In addition, the winner will also be invited to write a further piece of critical writing for publication on contemporary online arts and culture journal, The Flaneur.

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Deadline for submissions: 3rd February 2014

For terms and conditions, full details on how to enter, and guidance on how to write art criticism, see www.o3gallery.co.uk

Like O3Gallery on Facebook 

or follow @O3Gallery on Twitter to be the first to be alerted to new updates!

For further information please contact o3artcriticismprize@gmail.com.

On Friday 11th October, OCM presents an evening celebrating the art of music at St John the Evangelist Church. Questioning how do you play a picture? Graphic Scores is an audio-visual performance featuring artists Joanna MacGregor, Elaine Mitchener, Tom Arthurs, Oliver Coates & Isambard Khroustaliov.

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Graphic Scores encompasses a celebration of music and art featuring live performance from illustrious pianist Joanna MacGregor together with vocalist Elaine Mitchener, trumpeter Tom Arthurs, cellistOliver Coates and electronic artist Isambard Khroustaliov. Performing a programme of contemporary classical, experimental and jazz this super group of artists reflect the range of composers who have explored the representation of music through the use of visual symbols.

Avant-garde and experimental composers such as Ligeti, Stockhausen, Xenakis, and Cage began using symbols in their work during the 50s and 60s. This programme features works by Stockhausen’s former assistant Cornelius Cardew, George Crumb, Cathy Berberian, Fred Frith, John Cage, Wadada Leo Smith and Jennifer Walshe against the extraordinary visual backdrop of their projected scores. The concert will also feature works by British artist and composer Tom Phillips RA, an instrumental figure in bringing John Cage to the UK and introducing Brian Eno to ideas which focused his development of ambient and generative music.

A pre-show talk will start the evening hosted by Joe Scarffe. A performer and researcher, currently in the final year of a PhD at Birmingham Conservatoire, exploring the performance practice of abstract notation and graphic environments.(http://notations21.net/) Joe is also the UK representative for the Notations 21 project, founded and directed by Theresa Sauer and is currently involved in cross disciplinary projects with Theresa. Notations 21 profiles 160+ composers from around the world, demonstrating how widespread the practice of graphic scores has become.

The event starts at 7pm on Friday 11th October 2013 at St John the Evangelist Church, Iffley Road, Oxford.

For more information and booking, click here.

Other Places – Gallery at Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxford, curated by High House. The exhibition runs until the 16th August

Gabriella Boyd - copyright  of the artist. Provided courtesy of Arts at The Old Fire Station & High House

Gabriella Boyd – copyright of the artist. Provided courtesy of Arts at The Old Fire Station & High House

Other Places brings together the work of Gabriella Boyd, Tom Howse and Lindsey Bull and their respective investigations into states of mind. The exhibition seeks to transpose the viewer to different realms and contemplate consciousness, motives and mentalities. The Other Places are psychological rather than physical.

Lindsey Bull - image copyright of the artist. Provided courtesy of Arts and The Old Fire Station & High House

Lindsey Bull – image copyright of the artist. Provided courtesy of Arts and The Old Fire Station & High House

Bull is concerned with investigating a fractured reality, with her figures enveloped in ambiguous settings, which blur the boundary of the real and the unreal and the external and internal. She cites a number of influences including witchcraft, boxing magazines and silent films. The most obvious influence, perhaps unconscious as it is nowhere recognised by the artist, both stylistically and thematically, is the work of Edvard Munch; with figures loosing their contours to murky surroundings and non-naturalistic paint colours giving pasty sickly green-yellow complexions, all designed to communicate a state of mind. Like Munch, Bull is concerned with documenting an alientated state of perception, an idea Munch was concerned with in his quest to identify as the misunderstood bohemian artist.

Whilst the small scale suggests an intimate relationship, this is ultimately denied as most of the protagonists are facing away from the viewer – obscuring both their activity and access to their psychological state, akin to Munch’s contemporary Hammershoi. This is instead communicated in the paint palette and sparse compositions  and the obscurity engages with Bull’s interests in rituals and perfomative behaviour after a residency in China and exposure to Buddhism and Taoism. The figures that do look out of the canvas do so unengaged, with sightlines drifting to one side to avoid confrontation with the viewer: Emerald, with heavylidded lolling eyes observes something the viewer is denied from viewing slightly right of the edge of the picture plane.

Lindsey Bull, image copyright of the artist. Image provided courtesy of Arts at the Old Fire Station & High House

The dialogue between the artist and her late nineteenth century counterpart comes to a head in Magic Sun  the radiating circle beneath the crouched figure recalls one of Munch’s more optimistic works – The Sun (1909), and the row of trees in the background with a glimmer of moonlight breaking through is reminiscent of the shoreline of the Aasgaaardstrand shore which provided the backdrop to the  Frieze of Life. The affinity perhaps ultimately demonstrates that we, now in the twenty-first century, are affected by the same fin-de-siecle ennui and anxieties, perhaps more so as increasing economic, social and medical problems create crisis and send society into mass hysteria.

Boyd’s work inhabits the boundary between the playful and the dark and complements the work of Bull as they employ similarly bright colours and mysterious atmosphere, and both leave the canvas exposed in several works. For Boyd, colour and patterning seemingly express a world of frivolity and jollity; yet, a melancholic mood pervades the works and they are bathed in a sense of ambiguity. It is often unclear what’s going on in the painting, whether due to a close crop - Ponytail is completely perplexing until you read the title – or uncertain placement of figures.

Gabriella Boyd, copyright of the artist. Provided courtesy of Arts at the Old Fire Station & High House

Gabriella Boyd, copyright of the artist. Provided courtesy of Arts at the Old Fire Station & High House

That Face is a diptych comprising of a girl with her back to the viewer, casting a glance furtively over her shoulder to acknowledge our presence. She stands on a pink patterned rug which unifies the two picture planes as it extends upwards, extending to the upper panel, ascending stairs to greet a rather sinister green figure on a bench, with an unnerving smile playing on his lips. Behind this, faint figures crossing paths merge into the background – where are they going? One man appears to be in stripy pyjamas. These characters in the upper register perhaps represent the thoughts, desires or anxieties of our principal female – their locale in a different pictorial plane, although one which is placed snugly up to lower canvas, places them in a different world of the imaginary or the unseen. There are no clues as to how the narrative will play out, and the viewer is implicated in the tension of the scene, creeping up behind the girl.

Unlike the other two whose characters are more often than not looking away from the viewer, the figures in Howse’s work are placed frontally, staring out rather gormlessly. It is hard to discern exactly the intellectualising behind the paint, which claims to be an investigation into sources of understanding. Like Boyd, his works are characterised by bright colour and patterning: Big Boys, with a harlequin diamond pattern extending over the suits of the figures merges them into a single entity looming threateningly over the viewer with their impassive stares, thick necks and black hats.

Tom Howse, image copyright of the artist and courtesy of The Old Fire Station and High House

Tom Howse, image copyright of the artist and courtesy of The Old Fire Station and High House

Figures are often enlarged to fill the canvas – Black and Whiter confronts us with a curling self-satisfied smile and beady eyes. Only the scale gives the figure any significance, elevating it with a superficial power. Howse says the works act as a surrogate omnipotence and self-admonishing reconciliation for his personal inadequacies. He starts work without a clear aim and so they develop organically and mysteriously. Plum Head appears like a Peeping Tom through louver blinds. The narrowed yellow eyes, however, are placed frontally on a profile head, and at eyebrow level, perhaps they aren’t eyes at all.

Other Places invites the viewer into a dream-like fantasy world which is tinged with real anxieties and feelings which oscillate between the playful and disturbing, the covert and the overt. Many of the works are open to interpretation and give viewers the space to reflect on their own concerns and the unknown space of the innerself.

Victoria Poulton, O3 Gallery Intern

Image(Photograph by E. Hill)

There has been much debate over the ‘white-cube’ art space; artists seem to need to challenge their exhibition space more so than they used to. Meschac Gaba is no exception. Gaba claims that his exhibition, which he calls the Museum of Contemporary African Art, is there to question, to provoke the Western art establishment and its’ relationship towards Art, and in particular that of Contemporary African Art – something in which he succeeds, as shown by the tentative touchings and awkward wanderings of the adult visitors at the Tate Modern.

The exhibition, whilst contained in three exhibition rooms, weaves through the rooms and creates its own boundaries and sections. There is a library, a draft room, an architecture room, a marriage room, a music room, an art and religion room, a game room (incidentally, my favourite room), a salon, a humanist space and a makeshift museum shop; all of which make up Gaba’s exhibition. A fixation on money and consumerism is apparent in the first couple of glances, with several works made with decommissioned banknotes and others featuring small circles of banknotes, but as the exhibition continues, it continues much less seriously, with books, games and pianos dotted around (all of which are there to ‘enjoy’ as the signs state).

The serious questions that Gaba raises are all about modernity and it’s consequences – the effects of consumerism and overproduction, shown by a heap of ceramic vegetables on the floor and a fridge completely filled with whole ceramic chickens in the Draft Room that reflect his own astonishment of European excess. The inclusion of a ‘museum shop’ is a clear dig at European consumerism, even if it is displayed like an African market, and the Architecture Room is a chance to build your own space for an exhibition, a commentary on the ‘white-cube’ art space so prevalent in our modern lives. Even the game room addresses questions of governance and nationalism, and deals with the powers of politics and risks of economics, which is shown by the life-size chess board with dollars and euros playing against one another. Yet the thing that consolidated it all was the large money tree that is dreamed of by all, but that only exists in those dreams and surreal realms.

However, the exhibition continued more towards ideas of collaboration, interactivity and play, as shown by the selection of games throughout and the inclusion of other artists and their books in the Library. The game room featured sliding puzzles of the flags from Chad, Angola, Algeria, Senegal, Seychelles and Morocco and further on, in the salon, a piano stood alone, just waiting to be played. Even the books in the library could be picked up and read.

Yet, it is here where the problem is reached: no matter how hard you try and no matter how many signs you put up, most visitors will never touch anything in a museum. Children, on the other hand, will run towards the building blocks on that blue carpet and the colourful, sliding puzzle tables because they see other children playing there. But you never see an adult playing, despite all the signs to ‘enjoy’ the exhibition, albeit with care and consideration. Visitors wander round awkwardly, with confused looks on their faces, can we touch this chair, this piano, this block? Even if they do bring themselves to touch anything, it is tentatively, quickly, and not without a quick glance in the invigilators direction. And whilst the artist believes he or she is being innovative and creative by challenging our preconceptions of museum etiquette, unfortunately, the visitor is so much happier with art behind the ‘do not cross this line’ boundary. And whilst we may be moving towards the direction where interaction with art is becoming a standard practice, I think artists are ahead of the rest of us.

Image(Photograph by E. Hill)

This exhibition runs until the 22nd of September.

Eleanor Hill – O3 Gallery Intern

ImageImage: © Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

A new summer exhibition is in place at the Bodleian Library, open to the public from the 23rd of May to the 27th of October. It takes as its theme Children’s Fantasy Literature from writers such as C.S Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and Phillip Pullman, informally known as the ‘Oxford School’, and is showing their written works and the original artwork which accompanied them in its Exhibition Gallery. The exhibition celebrates the authors’ links with Oxford and the Bodleian Library and includes a magical selection of original artworks, manuscripts of the novels and the poems, some of which have not been displayed to the public before, by the infamous authors Tolkien, Lewis, Garner, Pullman and Cooper. Also featured are some of the books and manuscripts of myths, legends and magical practices that the authors themselves used for inspiration.

The Exhibition is divided up into categories, each with their own magical name; Tolkien’s works can be found ‘The Universe’, Lewis in the room of ‘Magical Beasts’, and Pullman in ‘Pure Northerness’; explore ‘Words of Power’, ‘Divination: Unfogging the Future’, and ‘The Magus’; and learn about their various inspirations such as ‘George Ripley and the Philosopher’s Stone’, ‘Dr Dee, the Great Conjurer’, and ‘Arthur: the Once and Future King’. Through this exhibition you can not only see the inspiration behind the fantastical world of Tolkien, Lewis and Pullman, but you can also see the beautifully original prints of their work.

All of this historic, fantastical material is exhibited in the Bodleian Library; a perfect venue for such a magical exhibition as the Library is a real, enchanted location where “the very act of reading is imbued with magical, transformative properties”. The Library is described as the chief among the University’s libraries, with a rich history, modern present and a valuable future. First opened to scholars in 1602, the library incorporates a fifteenth century library which houses books donated by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester. Since 1602 it has expanded, ever-growing in size and volumes, and by the end of the nineteenth century the Bodleian’s books collection and the library itself grew by more than 30,000 volumes a year. The number of books within the library reached one million by 1914. And still the number of books grow, so much so that the Bodleian is now expanding into further parts of Oxford just in order to house its beautiful books.

If you are lucky enough to explore this exhibition you might find yourself whisked away into a completely different world, where fantasy reigns, magic overpowers and dreams come to life.

Eleanor Hill – O3 Gallery Intern

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Image: Prognostics: 14th century, third quarter. Set within the cover is a volvelle: two wooden cogwheels, with numbers and images of philosophers. Spin the smaller wheel and the larger revolves, to produce a random number which is the starting key to operate the fortune-telling treatises within the book. (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Digby 46, inner board).

© Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

ImageImage: Mordred and Arthur fight to the death. Arthur Rackham’s trench-warfare inspired illustration for Alfred Pollard’s The Romance of King Arthur(1917). (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 2543 e.38)

© Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

In spring of this year, Turner Prize winning artist Simon Starling was commissioned by Modern Art Oxford and Oxford University to produced a film – Black Drop, a black and white film which tracked the transit of Venus and its relationship to film and moving picture technology. The film was shown in the small tower room at the top of the Radcliffe Observatory and captured not only the history of this astrological phenomenon but also the intricacies of film making. This summer and until the 26th of August, the film is on show again alongside several of Starling’s recent sculptures – Venus Mirrors.

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Simon Starling, Black Drop, 2012 (still), 35mm film transferred to HD. Image courtesy of the artist via Modern Art Oxford.

Modern Art Oxford described the original project as a response ‘to the origins of the Radcliffe Observatory’; a tower, with a stunning spiral staircase consisting of almost one hundred steps, designed by James Wyatt at the suggestion of the astronomer Dr Thomas Hornsby (who had previously observed the transit of Venus across the sun’s disc in 1769). It was not only a beautiful, but an apt location for a film also concentrating on the various transits of Venus over the years – perhaps a more aptly chosen location than the simple dark room chosen for this exhibition.

A transit of Venus is the direct passing of the planet between the Earth and the Sun, and can be seen as a small black disk moving across the face of the sun. Predictions of the transits of Venus can only be seen from specific places (such as Tahiti, Hawaii and other areas in the mid-Pacific), and are among the rarest of astronomical phenomena; and they occur equally as rarely. Recent sightings included those in 1769, 1874, and 2012 but the next transit is predicted to take place in 2117, making the 2012 transit the last to be seen in our lifetime. Starling travelled to Hawaii and Tahiti to visit the points that had filmed previous transits and, using the same 35mm film technology, to film the 2012 transit. Black Drop contains Starlings own footage of the transit seen from a volcano in Hawaii, as well as following the history of legendary explorer and discoverer Captain James Cook. The film also focuses heavily on the French astronomer Pierre-Jules-César Janssen who brings together the study of astronomy and the medium of film together, just as Starling has done. Janssen used (of his own making) a chronophotographic device/photographic revolver to record Venus’ passage across the Sun; a device which is recognised as the precursor to modern cinematography and is used by Starling in Black Drop.

ImageSimon Starling, Black Drop, 2012 (still), 35mm film transferred to HD. Image courtesy of the artist via Modern Art Oxford.

The film as a form of art is beautifully produced – the black-and-white picture allows for a stunning simplicity, the use of close-ups on the inner workings of the camera shows a captivating attention to detail, and the way in which the film was cut, edited and produced gave it movement and fluidity. Starling jumps around and breaks conventional linear ideas of time and of space, producing a film which would seem to be just a jumble of ideas, stories and pictures without the direction of Starling, but instead forms a remarkable collage of pictures and shorts which moves between those thoughts and ideas of astronomy and film.

The exhibition in the Piper Room, at Modern Art Oxford continues along similar lines, with Starling’s sculptures presenting the 2012 transit of Venus across the Sun as it was observed and captured by Starling in June of last year. The two sculptures are modern, minimalist and sculpted with a captivating attention to detail, just as in his film. Consisting of two mirrors with the passage of Venus carved across them and placed opposite each other with careful precision, the sculptures are simple, yet intricate, reflections of an astronomical phenomenon. This exhibition combined with the film, produce an interesting, extremely contemporary exhibition.

ImageSimon Starling, Venus Mirrors (05/06/2012 Hawaii & Tahiti (inverted)), 2012 – Detail, Photographer :  Jens Ziehe. Image courtesy of the artist via Modern Art Oxford.

Eleanor Hill – O3 Gallery Intern

Imagine at The Gallery at The Museum of Oxford, Oxford Town Hall runs until the 1st of September

Installation view of Imagine. Image courtesy of The Gallery at The Museum of Oxford

Installation view of Imagine.
Image courtesy of The Gallery at The Museum of Oxford

Venues across Oxford have been getting into the spirit of Wonderland this month to celebrate Alice’s Day, which took place on the 6th of July. The art exhibition in the Gallery at the Museum of Oxford takes a more overtly Alice theme than our exhibition here at the O3 gallery, where Nonsense was taken as a loose starting point to explore imaginary landscapes and contemporary surrealism. Entitled Imagine, the Museum’s exhibition showcases Alice memorabilia on loan from the Lewis Carrol Society and the work of local textiles artist, Anne Griffiths, who takes her inspiration directly from the book.

Amongst the items provided by the Society are tins, figurines in ceramic and plastic, Japanese Alice books, cuddly white rabbits from McDonalds, a biscuit tin, the most fantastic white rabbit teapot and a collection of postcards featuring Alice’s adventures. Hung around the gallery are Griffith’s delicate organza panels embroidered with quotes from Alice in Wonderland and decorated with appliqué. Griffiths remembers being captivated by the detail and complexity of Carrol’s characters and their representation in Tenniel’s definitive intricate illustrations, and this is reflected in the delicacy of her stitching and considered compositions. The crown in The Royal Procession is carefully picked out in sequins, and miniature playing cards are  sewn on to complement the text: ‘after these came the Royal children: there were ten of them and the little dears came jumping merrily along hand in hand, they were all ornamented with little hearts’ is followed by 10 scattered Heart cards – animated like playful children in contrast to the regimented courtiers and soldiers represented by cards in ordered rows.

The most striking of these panels is Beautiful Garden with its splay of dainty colourful flowers in translucent material, like fabric tissue paper, carefully layered to create the curling petals of the garden Alice finally discovers herself in. The Little Golden Key, too, immediately attracts attention, with the regular pattern of elaborate keys across the picture plane disrupted by a smaller, shinier, rogue key nestled amongst them. Inbetween these long panels are smaller framed artworks including teapots of various forms stitched and handpainted, a series of hearts, and three black rabbits hanging from a string.

Installation View Image courtesy of The Gallery at The Museum of Oxford

Installation View
Image courtesy of The Gallery at The Museum of Oxford

Griffiths is interested in the everyday items that pepper the story, and includes a number of these mundane objects in her beautiful tapestries: books, marmalade jars, utensils and safety pins. There is also the ubiquitous accessory of modern life, two iPhones transposed into fabric. These are initially a rather perplexing inclusion, but closer inspection reveals that these have been ‘Alice-d’, including apps with icons of jam tarts, trumpets, playing cards and ‘eat me’ signs. These iPhone tapestries engage with Griffith’s interest in the a-temporality of Alice – time is unreliable, prone to inconsistencies and irregularities, a subjective ‘him’ rather than an abstract ‘it’. Why wouldn’t time decide to bring Alice into the twenty first century?

This anachronistic element, providing Alice with a new object, ties in with a craft activity provided for children. Children are invited to re-tell Alice’s story and how she might have faired in her adventures had she had an object from the Museum’s permanent collection in the Explore Oxford galleries in her possession.  Their drawings and ideas are then compiled in a scrapbook. Children are well accommodated for. A storytelling corner is provided with an ample selection of various editions of the novel and a rack of costumes for small children, as well as cushions made especially by Griffiths for this area. For an older audience, the Alice’s Juke Box provides an entertaining and informative insight into all things Alice, providing background information and interviews with people connected to, or with an especial interest in, the story.

Victoria Poulton – O3 Gallery Intern

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