Art, Modernity, Post (post)Modernity and New York
New York is a story of many things. Art is a real page-turner in the NY story, both in the past and and the present. I have been awarded an artist residency at the iconic League's Artist Residency there, and I look forward to working there soon. New York's past (geology) and its future (climate change) resonate with my Polar self Portrait project.
My sketch/note book will be my close companion, and will publish some of my visual logbook. Logbooks, sketchbooks and journals are part and parcel of being an explorer (polar or otherwise), a scientist or an artist. Reading entries in journals of expedition members is educational not just about the what, but about the how and why. Critical reading de-covers transferable skills, character studies, and generates self reflection.
Today's selfie mania documents life indiscriminately. Documenting the story has colonized living the story. In this wider context of past and present attitudes to 'logbooks', can a visual logbook still be coherent, and even meaningful to the self and others? Still. Worth a try.
Poetic connection between spaces of water
The Polar self Portrait project makes poetic connections, among others, between spaces of water. The exhibition/video installations will be in England, France, the Arctic and the Antarctic. A school and an old Victorian pub in England, an even older château in France, an art gallery in the Arctic and a science base in Antarctica --- connected by the visual art about the self and its relationship with the polar regions of the planet, displayed in a statement of synchronicity. The age of 'selfie' obsession on the one hand, and the hottest year ever on record in 2015, with 2016 predicted as even hotter, provide the relevant and ironic context. London's past (geology) and its future vulnerability (its geography) provides further resonance.
Art matters, certainly. If people have experience of a degree of engagement with the art and the artists, well then, art has an even better chance to matter. Public engagement can mean that art nourishes people experiencing the encounter, but it can also nourish the artist and the artistic process.
Back from my work in NY, I'll be giving talks, workshops, facilitate flash mobs in various contexts and for various audiences. Venues tend to signal the audiences, and will include the Apple flagship store in England, a school, a pub, an art museum, a university.
Exhibition is, really, one of the most common ways of public engagement. Telling others what we are doing -- be it an art exhibition a science conference or a trade fair. I'm working on a curatorial exhibition project, one aspect of the Icecap project, bringing fellow artists in on the theme of climate change. My own work is part of the group exhibitions as well as a solo exhibition in dialogue with the work of a polar scientist.
Storytelling around the fire, around the well and on digital platforms
Storytelling 'platforms' of old -- around the fire and the well -- have transfigured into digital ones, but not exclusively. Work in artist residencies, public engagement, exhibitions, writing up, documenting online -- all storytelling, experience-sharing in different guises. Online images from the Icecap project will follow, like the galleries of Arctic Pillows, Here There Now Then, and so on.
Climate change in my work
How does a theme, such as climate change, become the focus of an artist's work? Often a complex process, punctuated by decisive moments. One such moment in this particular case is directly linked, appropriately, with London's wide open space of nature: the Hampstead Heath.
During one of my peripatetic 'office hours' on the Heath, absorbed in thinking to the rhythm of my moving body, I stopped dead in my tracks, my feet rooted to the ground. I'm ridge-walking on... Arctic glaciers, that's what I'm doing -- came the sudden rush of insight, inspired no doubt by my research into the geology of London.
The energy of this moment launched me on long journey to drop in on those glaciers back home, in the High Arctic. Facing the glaciers up close and personal, I created there land art installations, a flash mob, ink paintings, photography, sketches -- and immersed in the Arctic experience like my camera floating underwater hugging the icebergs.
Some of the series of works out of this long process is Arctic Pillows, Arctic Quilts, Arctic Dreams and so on. Some exhibited in London at the Royal Institution, others in France or in Google NY. Some images below.