23rd Nov – 9th Dec at Signal Films, Barrow 104 Abbey Road · Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria LA14 5QR
PREVIEW 22nd Nov – 6pm at Barrow in Furness Station, 6:30pm at Signal Films
TIME BACK WAY BACK will feature 6 new works inspired by the lost stations of Barrow – concrete graves, digital projection mapping, remixed archive film, performance, VR, and a giant cast iron fidget spinner. The works are fragments of the present, viewed backwards through the lens of a distant future. Taking great liberties with inspiration from Russell Hoban’s cult sci-fi ‘Riddley Walker‘ (oddly enough this months choice for Guardian book group), the show mixes Riddley’s despairing declarations with the prophetic poetry of Cumbrian school children from 2001, and live tweets from Barrovians, rendered in analogue video text and cement stencil.
I am showing new work as part of this group print show exploring the use of spectacles in cinema, which will be sited (or even ‘sighted’) on the 1st and 2nd floor exhibition spaces of Manchesters HOME cinema / theatre. This is the second show curated by Society of the Spectacles – the fun living, pun loving arts and film enthusiasts Susan platt and Rob Hamilton. The show features 24 artists from various practices ( graphic design, film-making, illustration, fine art and photography).
My own piece is called ‘Natural Vision’, and is a reference to the 3D cinema system developed for the first ever colour 3D film – Bwana Devil. The film (or more precisely, it’s audience) is also famously depicted on the cover of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle – a text which is referenced by more than one work in the show. I wont post my final piece here, but I thought I’d share some of the images from my research in the meantime.
Reinterpreting the heritage of NW textile industry, whilst documenting the current reality of the ‘work’, Punchcard Economy is a machine-knitted banner based on the ‘8 hours labour, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest’ slogan coined by Robert Owens of the Eight Hour Day movement. The design incorporates data collected from a range of ‘workers’ in the digital, creative and cultural industries. The final work is produced on a domestic knitting machine using a combination of digital imaging tools and traditional punchcard systems.
February 2015 – Time & Motion: Redefining Working Life – Transmediale 15’, Berlin, Germany
January 2015 – Future Everything, Manchester, UK
November 2013 – Time & Motion: Redefining Working Life – FACT Liverpool, UK
Winner of the Northern Artists’ Film Commission.
Psychogeography meets Open University in this surreal instructional video for sociologists, film-makers and of course property developers looking to “rightly read an area”. Employing a variety of film-making techniques, ONE SQUARE MILE hints at the rich diversity of urban spaces whilst demonstrating the absurdity of trying to represent them in any meaningful way.
Featuring soundtrack by Graham Massey.
One Square Mile was co-commissioned by University of Salford and Quays Culture.
29th November – 10th December 2017 – screening as part of POLYRHYTHMIA, Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces, Manchester, UK
ONE SQUARE MILE – a new artist film commission by myself and Chris Paul Daniels, premieres at LIGHTWAVES festival in Salford, from 9th – 18th December. The film is one of four artists films that have been curated as part of the Northern Artist Film Programme, which is in itself part of a much larger festival of digital art works that will be installed in and around Salford Quays
At 7 minutes, our film is mercifully short, but incredibly rich, comprised of a variety of film-making experiments and techniques that aimed to canvas the diversity of spaces within our One Square Mile ‘area of investigation’, whilst at the same time highlighting the absurdity of trying to represent and quantify a place as complex as Salford and Media City. The film was shot over 3 months, using a questionable research methodlogy that produced many hours of fantastic footage, that was then distilled down to it’s final form. Psychogeography meets Open University only to be co-opted by the Re-Generation Game. I am extremely proud of our ‘film baby’.
One Square Mile was co-commissioned by Univeristy of Salford and Quays Culture, and will at some print, I believe, be screened as a pre-feature short at HOME, Manchester.
Through interviews and visual research, Sam Meech has developed a series of works in response to and in collaboration with the knitting factories who share Crusader Mill with Rogue Artists Studios. Together they playfully experiment with the traditional artists’ portrait, explore the notion of ‘uniqueness’ in digital art and knitwear production, and propose an internet-age copyleft christmas jumper. Binary scarves, appropriated patterns and even knitted punchbags, feature in this unusual exhibition of knitted textiles that gives an insight into the factory life and the people who work there.
As neighbours to Rogue, businesses such as Dream Knitwear, Imperial Knitwear and Unique Knitwear often cross paths with Rogue artists on the old stairwells of Crusader Mill, but rarely do the communities cross-over. Since April, Sam Meech has been tentatively building relations with the workers and business owners, sharing his own practice and conducting initial visual and technical research into their working environments and manufacturing processes.
This residency has allowed him to find parallels with his own artistic practice using domestic knitting machines, and also identify opportunities to potentially creatively document their work and experiences, and collaborate in developing new artworks and even new knitwear.
I’m really pleased to be respresenting Rogue Artists Studios and Project Space at The Manchester Contemporary art fair this weekend. It’s a chance to show some of the work that artists at Rogue develop, and re-state the importance of Rogue in the Manchester art ecology, and indeed the importance of all affordable space for artists in supporting practice.
That said, I have some reservations about showing my work in the context of an art market, as I’m not used to exhibiting in order to ‘sell’ work. My experience at Kinetica Art Fair in 2014 was enlightening, though financially costly (£566 on materials, travel, acoomodation and stall fixtures), and only emphasised to me that on the whole I do not make things for market, but instead survive through the commission itself, or more often sharing the process through workshops. The truth is, I am no craftsman, and I cannot make things that are good enough to sell; instead I make works that exist to prompt an idea or question, usually in a specific context. At Kinetica I tried to approach this by offering my artistic labour for sale – an idea that many people felt was conceptually engaging (one chap said that my work was “the closest thing I’ve seen to art in here”), but which failed to translate into any actual bookings for me to ‘work’.
This time round, I have decided to look at the notion of value again, but this time questioning the value and originality of the art object in the context of the Art Fair. I have produced a number of knitted copies of the UNIQUE KNITWEAR LTD sign belonging to our Rogue neighbours at Crusader Mill. Each sign is exactly the same (bar mistakes and dropped stitches), and is part of an ‘unlimited’ edition. They are essentially stock – no one sign is special, there is no ‘series’. I can knock these out whenever I like. I have also priced them based on measurable variables – materials, overheads, and of course, labour, plus a 20% agency fee for Rogue. It is a practical and economic approach to an absurd environment in which value is often ascribed and opaque.