Thursday, 16 November 2017

Jetpack Dinosaur at Foodstory Projects!

With the dreaded feeling of Christmas fast approaching now is perhaps a good time to start thinking about how you wish to shows the special people in your life you care about them. This year ill be attempting to shop only at local stores, no chains and also to focus on purchasing from local makers (you can read about my last attempt at this here). Luckily Aberdeen is jammed full of cool creatives and with pop up events like Flock at Woodend Barn and HAAN Design Market there's plenty of opportunities to speak to makers and to purchase something special. Its that bit about being able to meet the person behind the work that really interests me. One such person is Chris Bisset aka Jetpack Dinosaur.

I first connected with Chris via instagram, having lots of mutual friends and both skating I figured we'd cross paths in the real world but before that I started to see a flurry of posts, ink style drawings with a big red dot, almost Japanese in style and execution. Each new day brought a new drawing or image, a Jetpack daily as Chris called them. The idea was simple, draw something every day and share it. I was astounded, having seen numerous artists do the same, often opting for a work in progress or a rough sketch yet Chris seemed to be producing finished pieces, day in day out. He put my own creative out put to shame but more than that I admired his willingness to share so openly. I say this as sometimes people spend years building up to a show and they only have a handful of small paintings. The quantity of work isn't always an issue but it seems like most believe less is more and sometimes I want to be overloaded, like the amazing Seripop show from a few years back!

Now a year on Chris is still posting fairly regular but has translated some of his sketches into prints. If you've read my NEOS post then you'll have seen some of these before but there's more than enough new work and he also takes commissions  original piece. Currently holed up in the new Foodstory Projects space (find out about their Solsta events programme here), up stairs at Foodstory, you'll find the back wall adorned with Chris work, unframed and all up for sale. The prints look so good if I had the space I would fill an entire room with them, the simple play of black and red on white paper is so effective and looks even better en masse. I've already got a whale print, a reference piece for his Painted Door but ill be picking up some more prints to add to the collection, sometimes you have to treat yourself before thinking of others!

But seriously, Chris is one of the nicest guys I've met and his good vibes permeate through his work and should be on your wall. Also the fact he hasn't quite cottoned onto pricing his work properly means you might pick up a few bargains. You can catch him at Foodstory Projects this week and keep up to speed with his drawing adventures via instagram.


Monday, 13 November 2017

'A Sum of Parts' by Suzann Ross at Aberdeen Art Centre!

'A Sum of Parts' is the current show by Suzann Ross, an Aberdeenshire based artist. On display in the gallery at Aberdeen Art Centre, her show opened on the 6th November and marks her first outing since the degree show. Suzann graduated this summer from Grays School of Art and has been continuing her theme of cataloguing and archiving, the use of books and paper translated through painted forms. Her current show takes a step away from her book paintings and instead focuses on capturing abstract architectural forms, the strange shape you see when you mask off a small section of a building or the things you see through a strangers window. 

A mixture of paintings have been produced by Suzann with the simplest of architectural features taking on a new beauty through her brush strokes. I've always enjoyed seeing the city and its buildings from a new perspective and we're often guilty of missing the finer details but these paintings along with the more ephemeral works gives us an extra moment or two to think, ponder and enjoy the life beyond the glass.   

'A Sum of Parts aims to explore the sustainability and relevance of archival material when only fragments remain. Is it still relevant and a true source of information, or has it been diminished in terms of its synergy. The application of different marks and surfaces within an individual artwork and the choice of its support are significant to the delivery of my ideas. The fragile connection that exists between the tangible object and our grasp of the life it documents is explored.'

'A Sum of Parts' will be on show until the end of November and all the artworks are for sale, quite reasonably priced too so if you're out and about pop along for a look, the team at ACT provide a much needed outlet for artists and performers and always have interesting things on too. Also Suzann won the open call for Painted Doors Aberdeen so you might catch her this weekend finishing off her triple doors on the side of the indoor market, if you do be sure to buy her a coffee, she'll need a few in these temperatures!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

'Release The Pressure' at Transition Extreme 2016!

One of my highlights from last year has to be the UV ARTS 'Release The Pressure' graffiti festival that saw the Victorian arches of Union Terrace Gardens get a much needed make over. The festival brought a mix of UK graff veterans and international talent to Aberdeen, some of whom went on to paint a few doors as part of the Painted Doors project. But beyond that they all did a pretty stunning full wall down at the TX legal wall at the beach. Luckily I managed to get down and took some photos before the work was covered over.

From left to right you have Peter SheridanInkie, Treze with skull by Dead ILW, Mark WorstDarren John, Gucci by unknown and Darren John again. I've been spending a bit of time trying to sort out my archive of graffiti pics, a lot of the tags and pieces have been buffed or or in some cases demolished so its good to have a record of whats happened whether last week or 10 years ago. As Aberdeen embraces the world of street art through festivals like Nuart Aberdeen and Release The Pressure I think its important to look at whats come before and to also understand what it is that makes the graffiti movement so important and powerful. You can check out the start of my graffiti archiving on flickr

It's an interesting concept where guys like Inkie and Darren John can earn a living from painting, travelling all over the world creating artworks, many of which will be looked after and preserved, yet they're just as happy to paint a wall that might be buffed within a few hours. Certainly all the pieces here didn't last longer than a few months, especially with legal wall space being at a premium in Aberdeen. I've always looked at the tags and throw ups in Aberdeen and marvelled at their execution but also wondered about the people who created them. Its certainly been interesting to see the debates pop up around street art vs graffiti and what should be protected and what should be buffed.

Hopefully people will embrace the different aspects of each art form and well see a little more colour on the streets of Aberdeen and a little less gray! Massive shout out to UV ARTS for bringing the crew to Aberdeen and for the encouragement to pick up the cans again! 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

'Darkness Can't Exist In The Light' by Jo Muir at The Anatomy Rooms!

If you've been in town recently then you'll certainly have seen the banners and posters proclaiming "Art is the new Oil" although I think its less a proclamation as it is a question. The poster is part of a campaign by Citymoves Dance Agency to promote their 3 week festival of dance which finished a few weeks back. Now partner organisation with The Anatomy Rooms (Citymoves have taken on the large open plan dissection rooms) they aim to bring contemporary dance to the forefront of Aberdeens cultural offering. I'm sad to say I couldn't make it the various events but did get a look at Jo Muir's exhibition, organised to coincide with the festival.

Jo is one of the numerous artists based in the Anatomy Rooms studios and has spent the last 12 months hiding from day light and working out her ideas. She was finally ready to present a new body of work which seemed like a perfect fit with Dance Live and so over the course of 3 weekends the show was open to the public. Made up from a series of film loops and decorative head dresses and costumes, the show was quite beautiful. Perhaps not in the normal sense of the word but beautiful in its openess. Certainly with any performance, artistic or otherwise it takes a certain amount of courage, putting yourself out there takes guts. Having know Jo for quite some time I can remember an earlier performance piece carried out as a semi protest to a private viewing at Aberdeen Art Gallery (see the video here) and the opening to 'Darkness...' also featured a performative element but with a deeper undertone, looking inward and trying to make sense of what she see's. 

"An expression of moments in time. 
    A feeling of pain and happiness. 
      A sense of being overwhelmed. 
         The idea that everything is not what it seems." 


Through personal loss and heartbreak, Jo has found a way to channel her experiences into her work. After a year of rigorous experimentation she's come across something which works by combining sculpture, performance and video. Its only after watching the films, seeing the tears well up in Jo's eyes, the covering of her own body in paint as she tries to disappear and the act of wearing the larger centre piece, watching as people move around her exemplifies what these pieces are, body armour! Encapsulating the aura and grandeur of the 1930's flapper dress, the use of sequins gives the work an elegance which faces off against the harsh lines of the card head dresses, softened again by baubels and loose threads. The materials are simple but hold their shape, its incredible what you can do with cardboard really. The video bear an honesty, a show of what we perceive as weakness when in fact it takes real strength to show yourself in this way and all the while the soft shaped cardboard stands rigid, ready to be worn to the next battle.

As always there's far more happening than I could ever hope to keep up with but its worth checking out these events and openings if you can. Through the past year I've been thinking a lot about what makes Aberdeen special and for me its the fact that against the odds we still have a bustling creative scene that goes from small scale DIY gigs and events right up to huge scale festivals like Spectra and Look Again. I've seen comments online from people belittling the 'Art is the new oil' slogan, instantly failing in the opportunity to explore something new and to step out of their comfort zones. And of course everyone is entitled to their opinions but if you feel like Aberdeen has stagnated or somehow been left behind while other cities flourish then maybe you need to step out and try something new. Certainly for me being involved in events, writing for this blog and trying to support artists where I can has been hugely beneficial, in both understanding why they do what they do but also in challenging my own ideas about what art can be. So next time someone says "Aberdeen is shit, nothing ever happens here" strap on your cardboard armour and charge into battle!