Watch a video of Olly Fathers work in the making here. Trigonometry continues at O3 Gallery, Oxford Castle until 28th June 2015. Entry to the gallery is free.
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Art and craft have long been viewed as separate forms of artistic expression and creativity. But why is this? For instance, in other parts of the world, such as Japan and the Far East, textiles and ceramics have long been seen as high art forms on par with painted works. This is not a new debate and the boundaries between art and craft have long been contested and increasingly blurred. The latest exhibition at the O3 Gallery ‘CRAFT: Counterpoints In Contemporary Making’ plays with and moreover challenges this idea that the two are in opposition through a crossover of contemporary art and traditional craftwork.
Indeed, Erez Solo Rimon’s artistic craft process involves examining the relationship between the idea, the material and technique. His view is that within art, often the artist’s concept leads to the choice in material whereas in craftwork the reverse is true. Rimon’s work demonstrates a mid-point between creating designer knitwear and knitted art. I feel that Rimon has succeeded in revealing the tensions between art and craft in his work ‘Piled.’ While he uses well known hand knitting techniques through layering and piling, his creation of different plays of light, shapes and densities within his work is striking, and the effect is as emotive as any black and white abstract work created by layers of paint, such as the large scale black, white and grey untitled works of Mark Rothko.
Another artist aware of testing the boundaries between art and craft is Roanna Wells who uses thread as a drawing tool, as well as pencil and watercolour in further works, to explore mark making and how individual marks work to create a whole. Her work often explores the similarities and differences between the effects of pen on paper, with that of thread on fabric. As seen in her works in the gallery, regardless of the medium she uses, her work is meticulously intricate and detail orientated. Her skilled hand made, labour intensive process combined with her conceptual representation of ‘mapping’ crowds, results in dynamic interplay between the art and craft elements of her work.
My personal favourite works in the exhibition are those by Amanda Hislop, in particular ‘Moonlight on Water’. Her series of works show her clear passion for colour and texture. I found her technique, in which she uses both thread as a drawing tool and painted mark to create her designs into the tactile textures of the fabric and paper, unique and fascinating. An example I feel of how fine art and craft can cross and intertwine to create visually and tactilely beautiful works of art.
Meanwhile, this month the Pitt Rivers has put on events to complement this exhibition at the O3 Gallery. This included ‘CRAFT: a celebration of traditional craft techniques,’ where the Pitt Rivers hosted free activities relating to craft. This included craft object-handling sessions, a screening of some of their rare archival footage of practitioners from India, Nigeria and Kenya making their works, and a tour of some of the Pitt Rivers’ new display cases by curator Helen Adams. I was particularly interested in how Helen described the new aim of the displays to show the museum as a place of industry, not as a sort of cabinet of curiosities.
In addition, as part of the O3 and Pitt Rivers collaborative Crafty Networking event, leather worker and furniture maker Tortie Hoare gave a talk on her practice. Tortie explained and demonstrated how she combines historical techniques of shaping leather with a contemporary style to create her handmade pieces. She also discussed her background, inspiration she took from the Pitt Rivers collections, the development of her leather business and the importance of using sustainable materials in her work.
As Helen expressed in her tour, these displays of craft in the Pitt Rivers “are a celebration of human ingenuity and creativity”… and so is art! This exhibition and events have proven, in my opinion, that fine art and craft are not in opposition to each other and it is unhelpful and unnecessary to think of them as such. In fact I believe exhibitions like CRAFT show that they have many similar and complementary aspects and this means we can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of art through craft and visa versa.
CRAFT: Counterpoints In Contemporary Making runs until Sunday 31st May 2015 so make sure to visit this week for your last chance to see this exhibition.
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Please tell me a little about yourself, what influenced you to start creating performance art?
I started doing performance art at college and it became my thing. I first decided I wanted to study Costume and Set Design when I was younger. I ended up doing Fine Art though, which was interesting. I was not particularly confident in my drawing skills, but soon discovered that art is about asking questions, provoking thought and conversations. Performance art allows people to engage with the work when another person is there who can discuss the art with them and answer their questions. With this work the questions I get are mostly why am I doing this! I also get asked how big will it get, what is it for, and will I fire it? You get a lot of opinions on what the bowl represents a womb, an egg, a shell; it’s really open for interpretation.
Are there any particular artists or makers that influence your work? Are there any recent exhibitions that you’ve been to that really inspired you?
I’ve been inspired by Yoko Ono, Marina Abramović and Cindy Sherman. Lately I’ve seen Marina Abramović’s most recent exhibition ‘512 hours’ at the Serpentine Gallery, which was fantastic. I also went to see the retrospective of Yayoi Kusama. I adore her sculptural work that is really theatrical, and her retrospective included her large rooms full of mirrors.
Why did you decide to work in the medium of clay?
I don’t really know why! My original plan was to work with wicker, wood or fabric. The more I thought about it I decided instead to work with clay. Clay for me involved a heavy process. It’s representative of the Earth, but also the form of the bowl is important anthropologically, metaphorically and spiritually. Before ‘Human Bowl’, I made a bowl out of wood over a period of 24 hours. I carved the wood for 10 hours, even though I had never carved before. It seemed the next logical step to build a huge bowl and this time use myself as the tool. One woman’s struggle against a material with its own mind!
What has inspired some of your previous projects, such as the broken pots on the gallery shelves?
The broken pots were part of a performance piece in which I made and glazed 100 small pots in the space of a week. This was a process of making and also about enjoying the process. I then systematically destroyed every pot. I stacked them up in towers until they fell and then smashed them again and again. This for me was about letting go of the desire to create, keep and sell something beautiful. This performance work was just about the enjoyment of the making process. My first performance work was with elastic, which I worked on for a year creating tension experiments. I would hold the elastic band around two objects or myself and be surrounded by projections or drawings. During the last part of my degree, I felt I came into my own with the concepts. I really enjoyed the Bowl project I worked on then and the idea of making it for fun.
Why do you feel it is important to not just make work, but to make time as part of the process?
I think we don’t allow ourselves time to be creative. I feel like if you just enjoy the process you don’t need to make money or a lifestyle out of it. There is no longevity to my work once it is finished; it then becomes the memory of making it. The conversations you get to have with people allow you to see a little human in everyone by talking about the things you feel. Even if these people are strangers you may not normally get the chance to talk to. My first live performance was a daunting experience. I became very aware how by being right there, all of the time, you were instantly confronted by the reaction of the viewers. They may engage with you, but also may laugh at your work or dismiss it. Whereas many artists don’t usually see the reaction to their work as they don’t usually stay in the space between installation and de-installation.
Have you thought yet about what materials you would like to work with in the future?
Finishing up at university, I really want to do a human string tube! So I found ways to tie string into a vase shape. Using coconut hair, a thick material between rope and string, you would wind up the hair from a disk on the floor that you could stand on. You would then finger knit your way up and up until you are enclosed. I’m not sure how I would get out though!
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The next exhibition at the O3 Gallery is ‘CRAFT: Counterpoints In Contemporary Making’, which explores the creation of contemporary art using traditional craft techniques. Presented in association with the O3 Gallery’s collaborative initiative ‘Crafty Networking’, there will be a wide range of techniques on display in this group show, as well as a strong emphasis on method and process.
This exhibition presents a selection of artwork created by a number of contemporary practitioners. Roanna Wells’ intricately stitched works in this exhibition explores elements of traditional darning techniques, while other works by Wells focus on the negative space that comes about when existing patterns are removed. While Erez Solo Rimon has created meticulously knitted abstract ‘paintings’, using a unique technique he developed of layering and piling knits. His work furthermore examines the tensions and boundaries between applied arts (or crafts) and fine art, and the importance of the artist’s personal hand in creating artwork.
This exhibition also sees the return of two artists, Amanda Hislop and Sae Murai, who have exhibited with the gallery before. Hislop’s work, influenced by the landscape and natural forms, combines drawn and painted marks with the tactile qualities of thread and fabric. Murai meanwhile has created an intricate French knitted map of her route ‘from my home to the University’. Finally, Julia Snowdin’s work transcends the gallery space, as she unleashes a flurry of ‘yarn-bombs’ across the Oxford Castle site, including a series of tree ‘jumpers’ inspired by textile patterns found on garments worn by prisoners in the 19th Century. The gallery is also proud to be exhibiting two pieces of work by this year’s Mary Moser Prize Winner Kamal Koria in the O3 gallery shop.
There will also be a number of live performances to see. Harriet Riddell will create playful impromptu stitched portraits for gallery visitors, as well as displaying her figurative ‘drawings’ she has created in advance using her roaming sewing-machine-studio. Whilst Alex Walker, a recent Oxford Brookes graduate, will build a human-sized clay bowl, physically immersing herself in her craft, during the first ten days of the exhibition.
To kick off the first day of the exhibition, O3 Gallery has brought together a handpicked selection of Oxfordshire-based artists and makers who will be selling affordable art objects outside the gallery on Saturday 2nd May from 11-4pm. The challenge for the makers is that all the products they sell must fit inside a suitcase. This event and the exhibition are free so come along and meet and support Oxfordshire’s creative folk. Perhaps even buy yourself or someone special a piece of art!
The exhibition runs from Saturday 2nd to Sunday 31st May 2015 and our launch party is on Friday 1st May 2015 6-8pm. We hope to see you soon!
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For full event details, including the next Crafty Networking event, please visit: http://www.o3gallery.co.uk/o3_gallery_current_events.html
What do you love about Oxford? Is it that misty view of dreaming spires from afar, or the hustle and bustle of Broad Street? O3 Gallery and Oxford Castle Quarter are launching a new and exciting arts opportunity, the Oxford Art Prize, in order to pose that very question. Focussing on a selection of integral spaces and views within Oxford, both historic and contemporary, this open art competition is set to celebrate Oxford city’s unique culture, natural beauty and heritage. On Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June 2015 artists will bring their own sketchbooks, paper, boards and canvases to previously allocated locations within Oxford and then work ‘en plein air’ (in the open air), creating a dynamic flurry of visible artistic activity across the city.
As well securing entry into a major selling exhibition in Oxford city, split between the O3 Gallery at Oxford Castle Quarter and the Town Hall Gallery on St Aldates, participating artists are also in the running for a number of impressive prizes. The artist winning first prize will walk away with an award of £5000 cash and the first runner-up will receive use of the idyllic Lifeboat Art Studio in Porthleven, Cornwall, plus luxury accommodation for two. In addition to this, a number of local businesses will choose their own winners, allocating a series of prizes ranging from a slap up family meal to a bottle of something lovely. This exciting opportunity is open to artists of all ages and locations, and work created in all 2D mark-making media will be accepted. Participating artists may complete their art work at home or in studios before submission at the end of August 2015. The judged exhibition and sale of work will take place between Saturday 29th August and Sunday 13th September 2015.
The competition opens for registration on 27th February 2015 and registration will close on 8th May 2015. Adult entries cost £25 for the first work, £15 for a second entry (maximum of 2 entries per person) and children’s entries cost £5 (maximum of 1 entry per child). Entry forms can be downloaded here
The Oxford Art Prize is presented by O3 Gallery and Oxford Castle Quarter in association with Experience Oxfordshire, Oxford Preservation Trust, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire Artweeks, and Eye Division. Prize sponsors include The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust, Porthleven Holiday Cottages, The Old Lifeboat House Art Studio, 1855 Wine Bar, The Slug and Lettuce Restaurant and The Swan and Castle Pub.
We are particularly excited by our latest exhibition ‘BEST SERVED STONE COLD’ which presents two early-career artists who both explore different aspects of contemporary consumer culture through the shared visual language of ‘pop’ imagery. United by their street-wise graphics and tongue-in-cheek appropriated slogans, Lucy Foakes and Josh Rose offer a wry alternative to still life painting and decorative ceramics.
Josh Rose, a local Oxford artist, furniture maker and independent business owner; is inspired by the bold and graphic images of street art and graffiti culture from across the globe. Mixing these ideas with traditional printing techniques such as screen printing and letter press, and art and craft influences from as early as the 16th century, Rose’s work is an exciting and eclectic amalgamation of interest.
Expect a bright colour palette, bold, graphic slogans and a Warhol-esque celebration and repetition of recognisable objects (Part-Worn tyres anyone?). Rose is fascinated by the relationship between 2D and 3D forms; and his work seems to magically float in front of O3 gallery’s grey stone walls heightening this intriguing aspect of his work. Through his work, Rose invites you to ‘Observe Greatly’ and find beauty amongst the everyday normality of life.
Bristol-based ceramics and mixed-media artist Lucy Foakes’ work sits wonderfully with that of Josh Rose. Her interest in ancient Egyptian history and modern celebrity culture seems like an unusual pairing on paper. But her ‘Contemporary Can-opics’ are vessels created as a memory to celebrities. Inspired by ancient Egyptian canopic jars, which held the lungs, liver, stomach and intestines of Pharaohs after death, these beautifully crafted ceramics by Foakes metaphorically contain the organ(s) of the deceased – more specifically the organs relating to their death.
Iconic, troubled celebrities of the ’27 Club’ (those who died at the age of 27 – like Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain) are featured as subject matter. Combining traditional techniques with cutting-edge processes, Foakes’ intricate ceramic transfers describe the life and death of each celebrity in detail – even including a can of ‘Teen Spirit’…
These vessels are displayed alongside her metaphorical fizzy drink range; created for thirsty Pharaohs in the afterlife. These ‘Can-opic’ drinks come in many ‘flavours’, including lungs, liver, stomach and intestines.
The title Best Served Stone Cold makes reference to the instructions found on Lucy Foakes’ ceramic tin cans (the dead will forever be stone cold) and the authoritative tone of advertising signage and packaging as showcased by Josh Rose. It’s one cool exhibition.
Best Served Stone Cold runs until 15th March 2015 and all artwork is available to purchase. Both artists also have affordable merchandise for sale in our gallery shop – including letter press notebooks and prints from Josh Rose, and ceramic Egyptian amulets available to purchase interactively from a re-worked cigarette machine by Lucy Foakes. Josh and Lucy will also be visiting the gallery to complete a drop-in workshop, more details of which can be found here.
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Our new exhibition, KYMMATA: The gods for playmates, is a five day exhibition consisting of a busy and exciting programme of sound, installation artwork and performance. KYMMATA challenges the ethereal dynamic that exists between artists and their practice. The project explores the unique idolatry formulated around the work that is produced and alludes to how the artwork itself can be seen to take on a personality, form and character. The theme also explores the idea of creative playfulness between ‘creator’ and ‘subject’, sculpting the amorphous clay of inquiry and rustling the leaves of one’s internal wilderness.
This exhibition has been curated by one of our Gallery Assistants, Lex Blintzios, a recent graduate of Oxford Brookes University’s MA in Contemporary Arts & Music. He has carefully selected a range of sound and visual artists, dancers and poets to collectively channel the processes and relationships they have with their muses. O3 Gallery will function as a hub and platform for this excursion into the oeuvre of creative dialoguing.
Kymmata takes its name from the Greek word for waves and ‘The gods for playmates’, is a phrase appropriated from the poem ‘Crow’s Playmates’ by Ted Hughes, which is originally part of a larger collection called ‘Crow’.
The exhibition comprises of two halves: From Wednesday 28th January to Friday 30th January there will be an exhibition of installation by Alex Allmont, Lee Riley, Martin Tanton and Kate Abolins. Cities and Memory by Stuart Fowkes will be playing throughout the exhibition. Cities and Memory is a global field recording & sound art work that presents both the present reality of a place, but also its imagined, alternative counterpart – remixing the world, one sound at a time. Check out the website here http://citiesandmemory.com/
On Saturday 31st January and Sunday 1st February, there will be a series of performances including Dance, music, sound and spoken word. Find the schedule below:
Kymmata: The gods for playmates: SCHEDULE
11am- 11.30pm Performance by Peta Lloyd
12pm- 12.30pm Performance by Craig Green
1pm- 2pm Performance by Oxford Improvisers
2.30pm- 2.50pm Performance by Efthymios Chatzigiannis
3.15pm-4pm Performance by Austin Sherlaw-Johnson and Stavroula Kounadea
12.30pm-1pm Lee Riley and Macarena Ortuzar
1.30pm- 1.50pm Performance by Malcolm Atkins and When my Grandfather was a Fish
2pm- 2.20pm Performance by Kate Abolins
3pm- 3.30pm Set by John Harries (Lake Dysmal)
3.40pm- 4pm Set by Malcolm Atkins and When my Grandfather was a Fish
Exhibiting artists across the project include: Alex Allmont, Craig Green, Lee Riley, Macarena Ortuzar, Martin Tanton, Kate Abolins, Stavroula Kounadea, Austin Sherlaw-Johnson, John Harries (Lake Dysmal), Stuart Fowkes, Oxford Improvisers, Peta Lloyd, Mohan, Malcolm Atkins, Efthymios Chatzigiannis, Paola Esposito and Flavia Coube.
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Please tell me a little bit about yourself, how did you start making art?
I studied art and design at college when 1st leaving school and followed a fashion design route that led me to a successful career as a fashion buyer. During this time I still painted and made and sold handmade cards. Upon having my 1st child Harley I didn’t return to my career as part time wasn’t an option in buying so when he started school, I studied my degree in Design Crafts where I specialised in ceramics and then a Masters in ceramics. I have continued to make my ceramic pieces since then.
Your bowls have such an unusual, tactile texture, how have you achieved this? How did you come across this process?
The volcanic glaze that I used on the pieces in the exhibition gives the wonderful texture. I came across the glaze whilst studying my degree, I’ve since experimented with it at different firing temperatures and adding colours that all react slightly differently to each other. I also like to use clays that have elements of grog in them which gives a textured feel and gives the clay strength when working in larger scale.
I understand that you draw inspiration from nature, is there anything in particular that inspired you for the bowls in this exhibition?
Seaweed pods inspired me especially for my forms. I have made many sketches and studied the pod shape looking at whole pods, popping them to reveal the internal and external space and the edges that are very important to me especially when creating large pieces. Larger pieces are added to using the traditional technique of coiling sausages of clay so the pieces grow and flow towards the tapered outside edges.
Are there any particular artists who influence you and your work?
Many ceramic artists and sculptors inspire me for different reasons, some for their use of texture, some for their scale, some for their originality:
Claudio Casanovas for texture and originality, Peter Randall-Page for his scale and nature inspirations, Eva Hild for her scale, forms, purity and flow, Marete Rasmussen for her flowing forms, Andy Goldsworthy for his originality and nature inspirations and Akiko Hirai and Gareth Mason for their use of slips and glazes.
It seems to me that you work in series, is this intentional or something that happens naturally?
When making large pieces I will often make 2 or 3 pieces together as I find that when working in this way they flow and sit together (and separately) better and each piece adds something to the other as I am creating them. A final series is not something that I consider at the start, the work evolves through the making process and often seems to develop from the subconscious.
I have noticed that all the bowls in this exhibition have been titled in such a way that includes the word ‘flow’, such as ‘Freeflow’ and ‘Flowing into the Light’. How do you come up with the titles for your works?
It is often difficult to name work, as I make each large piece it takes a lot of my energy and I often feel exhausted upon completion. Because of this each piece is very personal and for me holds my memories of that moment in time. My work is mainly organic with no straight lines, I love the edges to flow outwards creating this by either tapering the edges to a thinness that I hope draws the onlooker to look inside or the design of the piece has very flowing edges. The volcanic glaze reminds me of the flow of water, the bubbles on the edge waves at the edge of the sea, water that is constantly flowing and moving. Sometimes it reminds me of the volcanic flow of lava, again constantly moving.
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The current exhibition at O3 Gallery is a spellbinding array of works, by various artists, all of whom have taken inspiration from the light of the moon. Artists include Rowena Brown, Finn Clark, Wuon-Gean Ho, Nicola Kerslake, Rie Marsden, Flora McLachlan, Morna Rhys, Catherine Rowe, Katherine Staples and Peter Vigors.
There is a varied use of medium and form on display, ranging from prints to ceramics, which have been carefully curated to form an enchanted, wintery, wonderland of artworks.
Moonlit landscapes and ethereal moon prints scatter the walls, enhancing the O3 Gallery’s textured grey stone walls, giving the appearance of craters on the surface of the moon. The unusual circular shape of the gallery also makes further reference to the moon, enhancing a unique viewing experience for the visitor.
On the lower level, teetered on plinths, heightening their fragility, are the works of Katherine Staples (pictured above). Taking inspiration from the natural world, capturing its energy, movement and forms, Katherine Staples has created highly texturized glazed bowls which allude to the crater-filled surface of the moon creating the illusion of being a piece of moon-rock. The bowls are shaped in such a fluid way which feels both familiar and alien at the same time.
Also on display are the Tide series of prints by Nicola Kerslake (pictured above). Utilising the energy and power of the tide, Nicola Kerslake, places metal plates in the sea and allows the force of the sea to scrape and mark the plates. The prints hold a unique quality that captures the wondrous link between the tide and the moon.
Over all, the O3 Gallery have created a mesmerising exhibition of affordable, ethereal artwork where visitors can experience the wonders of the moon and get lost in a mesmerising display of moonlit landscapes and enchanted winter forests. What is even better is that you can easily take pieces of the illusion back home with you as all the works are very reasonably priced.
Winter Moon exhibition 29th November 2014- 25th January 2015
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We’re very busy here at the O3 Gallery. We have got so many things for you to come and see, from dance performances to late night shopping events! Here is a quick update of What’s On and some dates for your diary. So get the pens ready…
It is the last week of our OUTLINES exhibition featuring works by Susan Wheeler, Colin Moore and Anna Dillon. This exhibition explores and celebrates the shapes and patterns created by the contoured landscape of the British countryside. It ends this Sunday 23rd November so don’t miss out!
Winter Moon Exhibition Launch and Late Night Shopping Event
We are also getting ready for our future exhibition Winter Moon and Late Night Shopping Event which takes place on Saturday 29th November 5- 8pm. Winter Moon is a spellbinding exhibition of affordable ethereal artwork and gifts, inspired by the light of the moon. Featuring artwork by various artists, including: Katherine Staples, Flora McLachlan, Morna Rhys, Peter Vigors and Nicola Kerslake. So come and browse our selection of hand-picked ‘Art-Objects’ from the O3 Shop; including cards, ceramics, art prints, stationery and jewellery. There will be homemade mince pies, complimentary wine and goody bags too!
Late Night Shopping Event
However, if you can’t wait till then, we have another Late Night Shopping Event on Friday 21st November! So if you are out and about for the Oxford Christmas Light Festival then pop on by. We have lots and lots of exciting new stock, so if you’re looking for that special gift then look no further! We have a variety of unique art-led gifts for you to choose from this Christmas.
We are very pleased to announce that we will be stocking origami decorations by Origami Est, new lines from established British jewellery company Tatty Devine, Literary inspired jewellery and cufflinks by Literary Emporium, plush screen printed dolls by Naked Lunge, smart classic stationery from Present and Correct, and much, much more! Be sure to “shop independent” this Christmas and help us to support British artists and designer-makers.
Also this Friday 21st, we have the dance group, Body Politic, who will be performing their exciting and vibrant new work, fusing Hip-hop and Street dance, at 7pm and 7.50pm, outside the gallery. The piece was created as part of a Dancin’ Oxford project supported by MINI Plant Oxford. Plant Oxford’s support also enabled three community dance workshops to take place during Dancin’ Oxford’s Family Dance Week in October. Choreographed by Shannelle Fergus and Glenn Hudson the piece is bound to entertain and inspire…so don’t miss it!
Project: A Mural for Oxford Castle
Also going on outside our doors this November is a mural by local illustrator Charlotte Orr. She has been commissioned to paint a themed mural in the Castle Yard at Oxford Castle and has been busy working on her ‘enchanted winter castle’ piece come rain or shine, and we’ve been charting her progress on our social media pages. We can’t wait for the result, it’s sure to be magical! Want to see more of Charlotte Orr’s work? Here is her website http://www.charlotteorr.com/
We look forward to seeing you!