Before I get into the Metaphor lecture from Prof Clive Cazeaux I want to talk about the exhibitions I saw in Manchester on Saturday with my daughter (Lucy), Dad (Stuart) and step Mum (Judith).
My favourite galleries in Manchester when I was a student in Salford where the Castlefield and the Cornerhouse. When I tried to find them recently, I failed. I turned to the internet and discovered they both still existed, but Cornerhouse was now called HOME. This time I was with Lucy who had recently been to the Castlefield, and they confirmed that they had indeed moved at some point in the last 25 years.
Chatting to Dad over lunch, we discussed the reactions of an artist when the viewer sees something they hadn’t in their work (an Ice cream cone perhaps?). Dad had been discussing this with his philosophy group and had been explaining that the Artist uses a different part of the brain to make, than to analyse the work so we too can see things in the work overtime that we are not conscious of during the making process and therefore welcome alternative interpretations from elsewhere. He was frustrated by the fact that the intelligent group of philosophers didn’t ‘get’ Art.
The Castlefield gallery is literally, set back a little admittedly but the only thing between the bar/restaurant and the Train station. I had looked on the website and had a feeling this exhibition would be controversial as the work was quite challenging aesthetically. Nina Chua’s drawings are playful and chaotic. She talks (YouTube interview on the gallery website) about wanting the drawing to “..escape from any intension..” which I love. She uses felt tip pens and there is a lot of colour and different mark making. They remind me of drawing I did as a child. Judith liked there controlled, ribbon like marks but not the writing and was drawn to the the monochrome work more than the colourful ones.
Accompanying Chua’s drawings are Sculptures by Daniel Silvers. Made in clay and painted in oil paint they are also playful and colourful. Dad talked about how the materials chosen are known for their malleability, but the artist had chosen to present the work when the materials where almost as close to their natural form as they could be while still being recognisable as figures. We spent ages in the gallery discussing the work and it grew on us while we were there.
The exhibition I really wanted to see was at Home, a massive new shiny glass building behind where the Cornerhouse used to be, towering over the old brick railway arches. Brigitte Jurack is described as ‘artist, maker, educator and climate activist.’. Her exhibition “Fieldnotes” is her largest solo show and contains sculpture, drawings, photographs, and interactive activities. Again, there is a playful feel to the work, especially the ceramic animals scattered around the large space. Foxes and crows face each other off and monkeys watch from pedestals. The animals are full of expression and animated emotion. The photographs are of a collaborative happenings with her students from Manchester school of Art in Spain. The drawings, of rock and fungi found in a Welsh slate quarry were made during lockdown. These two sets of images are displayed opposite each other and “function as a homage to water, an increasingly scarce natural resource.”
Finally, the work I found most interesting was the workshop set up, where people had been building straw beehives. She calls this workshop “Best done in Winter” and says “The project calls into question the impact of industrial scale argi-chemical farming on biodiversity and interdependency of species. Pollination and the importance of crop rotation in food production, through the reengagement in this craft” This is essentially what I want to do with my peg loom project, weaving with silage wrap and bailing twine. I want to start a discussion about waste and how we can use/reduce waste but also introduce the subject of learning from the past by engaging in an ancient craft, to inform future sustainability. The beehive sessions had been 80mins long , therefore not long enough to make a full beehive (an experienced maker would take 2 days) participants would contributed to one that had already been started "inadvertently team working with those from previous sessions".
Another activity which was there for anyone to do was a table covered in sticks which had been painted white and visitors were invited to decorate them and pieces of slate with felt tip pens. Dad managed to fine a relatively clean one and wrote ‘STICKY’ on it.
Everyone loved this exhibition, especially the animals. I am lucky that my family are so engaged with the Arts. Dad commented on what a pleasure it was to be in our company and what a joy it was to have a granddaughter who is so articulate and knowledgeable when it comes to discussing art.
And so to Uni and a lecture in Metaphor from Professor of Aesthetics, Clive Cazeaux and strangely we talk about how others interpret our work just as Dad and I had been doing two days before. First however Cazeaux talked about metaphors and what they are, different ways of defining them and how to use them. The difference between metaphor and simile, Interactionist theory, synaesthesia and critical sensibility. Metaphor is reliant on shared experience and understanding. The nature of perception, truth and lies and how sensory processing is a form of metaphor. Of course I got excited when we got to materials as metaphor but there wasn’t much time to delve into that much however I have got avenues to explore, David Gauntlett’s Creative Exploration, for example.
We looked a two pieces of work by fellow students and tried to understand what the artist was trying to say. This proved difficult with a piece of pottery, as the artists frustration was more evident than his concept in the photograph presented which proved interesting as we dicsovered his true intention.
Metaphor: one thing as something else. An invitation to play.
It was lovely to see everyones work up in the studio and we had Erin who is on a fellowship (I think) join us as we did a crit. André popped in briefly as he had been very impressed that we were doing this without him and of our own will. Erin was lovely about my work describing it as magical and other worldly. Rosie's new work is a great development from the architectural to the domestic and André joined the discussion encouraging her to go bigger before he had to see to the first years. After the crit, I took my work down and we went to the pub. It was lovely to spend some chill time with the girls and I am hoping to go out with them to see Caitlin and her bloke play.