'Zentools (Fools Gold Is Precious Too)' by Fiona McCubbins & David Hanes at Seventeen!

Fiona McCubbins graduated from Grays School of Art in 2014 and has spent the last year exploring different practices and themes. Her latest exhibition, a collaboration with David Hanes see's Fiona's work eveolve and morph into new areas and new materials. Enetitled 'Zentools (Fools Gold Is Precious Too' the show combines almost ritualistic objects with other pieces showing geometric patterns and assembled geometric video montages.

Fiona was kind enough to do an interview about the show and her work which you can read below and I've made a short video trying to capture the work as it stood in Seventeen. Anyone who refrences Douglas Coupland is alright in my book!

So could you tell me a little bit about your work and how the show came about?

The exhibition Zentools (fools gold is precious too) was representation of a continued dialogue between myself David Hanes and Sarah Watson. This dialogue began on Toronto Island, in June 2014 where I spent time as an artist in residence at Artscape Gibraltar point.

Hanes and myself discovered a shared interest in the ritualistic process of material experimentation and a desire to explore the meditative functions within ornamentation.

Sounds pretty cool. The exhibition contains a lot of objects created from different materials, what was the process like for choosing these materials and working with them?

I am interested in relationship and exchange; the relationship between light and perception, and the exchange of energy, words and thought. I wanted to create a slurred conflation of truth and illusion.

I have an interest in the performative nature of 'dousing', a pseudo-scientific practices and belief systems which is driven purely by intuition and sensory impulse. This led me to recreate these Y and L shaped apparatus originally constructed from organic matter as imagined artefacts, equally as ornamental and instrumental.

While on a residency at Scottish Sculpture workshop I discovered  traditional techniques within Blacksmithing to create a series of 6 forged steel dousing rods. I found this process lends itself to be very intuitive, mirroring its function. 

The work is titled 'To be led down the garden path' in which there is a flirtation between the romantic and the cynical, in a constant yet contented battle between logic and feeling.

Yeah I had an interesting conversation recently about dousing methods and its legitimacy, I was suprised as not that many people are aware of it nowadays. The metal dousing rods reaffirm the contrast in your work also bringing a cold, hard material which has to be processed and created these quite rough objects but they also hold a beauty in their shape and also their finish. I guess the almost polar opposite to these is the small ceramic shapes you made. Could you tell me a little bit about them and the process behind them?

The porcelain Möbius Strips! This form is a surface with only one side and only one boundary. If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed the entire length of the strip (on both sides) without ever crossing an edge. I wanted to use stoneware porcelain as it has certain qualities to the material such as toughness and translucency yet has a delicate fragility. 

The work was titled 'Recurving'. The term, taken from the novel 'Generation X' by Douglas Coupland, meaning to leave one job to take another that pays less but places one back on the learning curve.

Wow. Generation X was one of those books which effected me when I read it and I've been a huge fan of his work ever since! I like the idea of the infinity aspect to the mobius strips, infinity being a word that makes me think of the huge and yet the mobius strips are small and delicate.

With regards to David's work how do you feel your pieces sit together, is there a crossing of boundaries and how do you view the show overall?

When I think about the infinite it is a reminder we are all small and somewhat insignificant. But, I take comfort in this as it prompts me to recurve.

David has an expanded sculptural approach to his practice, focusing on the architecture of the internet and digital forms of communicating. He contemplates the effects of distorted truths and the nature of expression, with a meditative approach to form and abstraction he investigates the calibration of online/offline relationships and the resulting visual theatre.

David' constructs meditative video collages in which movement an passivity coexist in constructive tension. 'Untitled or Something That Always Stays With You And That Will Always Remind You And That You Can Always Count On (against stagnation)' is a single channel video comprised of footage both shot on an iPhone and high definition SLRs.

The work sits comfortably together in aesthetic form, and there is certainly a shared indulgence in the illusionistic and transcendental potential of repetition and symmetry.

Certainly when I went down to see the show I took me a bit of time to figure out who did what as the show fitted together so well. What sort of role did (ill insert her name forgot it) play in bringing things together and the curation process?

Sarah had prior contexts to both of our work and she therefore could provide some kind of 
connection and insight into the development of both of our practices. I suppose it began as 
a very casual dialogue and progressed from there, bringing her to write the exhibition text.






Best Girl Athlete at St Machars Cathedral!


Something pretty special happened last night. Local band Best Girl Athlete played the first gig of their short Scottish tour and which brings them to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburgh tonight and Glasgow's Pipe Factory tomorrow. But last night saw them grace the stage of St Machars Cathedral and it was incredible. 

Bringing a host of talented friends with them it wasn't just Best Girl Athlete who blew me away but everyone who played. Philip Joseph Rae delivered a swathe of downtempo, heartfelt songs which dealt with themes all too appropriate for a church setting, the lychen covered gravestones outside must surely have been moved by the performance. And The Great Bear also tackled some deep themes dedicating his first poem to his beloved whom he married in that very church although I'm not sure she was too happy about the wording of his grandfathers poem, alluding to being cheated into marrying a lass on false pretences of imminent child birth. The Great Bears performance was vastly different to the quiet person I'd met, instead commanding the stage with ease and confidence, no mean feat when your face with a 130 strong audience in Gods house! And especially one as majestic as St Machars Catherdral.

Finally after a quick run around to see some old friends who'd popped up on various church pews it was time to settle in for Best Girl Athlete. Now having worked on the video's for Leave It All Behind and more recently Hills I've developed a great appreciation for debut album Carve Every Word so I was excited to see how things would play out. Bringing in master celloist Pete Harvey and the incredibly talented Chemical Callum on the piano it was sure to be a special performance and it didn't dissapoint. From the first strums of Best Girl Athlete I started to feel my cheecks tingle, a feeling I usually get when seeing something special like Radiohead in Oxford in 2001, Sigur Ros at the Barrowland when () came out and now Best Girl Athlete at St Machars Cathedral. 

The next 50 odd minutes heartfelt dedications, some embarrising poo stories, incredible cello solo's, with a few CS Buchan classics and beautiful renditions of Leave It All Behind & Hills. Katie's vocal range is absolutley stunning, harmonising but never over reaching and creating some beautiful and evocative sounds in that stunning setting. Things got a little overwhelming for Best Girl when her dad brought out a suprise birthday cake though, after all its not everyday you get turn 16  while playing songs which you've put your heart into in a cathedral filled with your friends and family. And its this family bond, this support and group of friends which makes not only Best Girl Athlete but the whole Fitlike Records ethos worth supporting. Not to mention the wealth of talent they're uncovering up North!

To think this is only the beggining for Katie and already shes recorded an incredible debut album and is holding her own on stage. Incredible to see her grow with each performance and I can't recommend enough seeing her live before she really takes off! Debut Carve Every Word is available here. And hats off to Still Burning Photography for capturing these stunning shots which really say it all!

'Grimescapes' by Grant McNicoll at Newave Gallery!

'Grimescapes' is Grant McNicolls first show since graduating from Grays School of Art in 2014. Continuing where his degree show left off, Grant explores spaces and their meaning within society whether its the highly curated artist studio or the grimey forgotten back door of a local corner shop. Grants ability to capture the dirt and grit of overlooked spaces is achieved through a combination of techniques including a photo transfer process which is later embelished with hand painted elements, bringing to the fore the graffiti, signs and architectural details while allowing the rest of the image to drift into the background as they often do in real life. 

The series is on display at the newly founded Newave Gallery situated 1 floor up next to Blackfriars pub at the Castlegate. Started by another notable talent Tomasz Wrobel who's incredible painted landscapes stood out at the 2013 degree show. So it looks like there's another reason for graduates from Grays to stick around in Aberdeen with Newave Gallery providing that much needed platform for them to show new work post art school. 

The scale of Grants work is interesting with small panels making up the majority of his work with a few larger scale pieces helping highlight his skill with a paintbrush. It was great to meet Grant at his opening and being able to ask him about his process and finding out a little more about his practice. One of my favourite pieces from the show is his train view scene, one I'm familiar with after taking many trains to and from Prestwick, the familiar giant letters pieces of SWAE adorning the rooftops of Glasgow's South Side. Another solid piece depicts the inside of a phonebox complete with tags and detritus, all that was missing is the smell of stale urine!

A great show and another reason to head up to the Castlegate what with Peacock Visual Arts being just across the road. Might even be time to start some kind of gallery posse tour! Anyway keep an eye on the Newave Gallery as they have some more exciting shows coming up and catch 'Grimescapes' before it closes on the 28th!

'Stealing Stuff And Putting It Back Again' by Sarah J Stanley!


Finally, the wait is over, Sarah has made a book. Sarah is one of those people who doesn't seem to sit still, whether its buying a shop and setting up a cafe or working on some new super tech app designs (see her drawings for sale here) her talents know no bounds!

'Stealing Stuff and Putting It Back Again' is Sarahs first foray into the world of publishing although I think shes been building up to it for a while. So what in store for anyone who's brave enough to pre order a copy of Stealing Stuff? Well...... you'll just have to bloody wait and see! It's sure to involve loads of petty theft, a google search, some shit lamps and a whole lot more! Sarah has always possessed a great sense of humour which often shines through in her work but she also has an ability to take on serious issues and some of her app designs are pretty much sheer genius. I'm well getting one of those Slide Phones when they come out!

You can see some snippets from the book below and pre order your copy now for £10 from here. The hard copy book will be dropping at a special launch event at Stans cafe in Glasgow on Saturday 30th of May! I wonder how she'd feel if I stole a copy........

'The Erinsborough Fringe' at BUZZCUT Festival!

Its not every day you get invited to film a live soap opera. But then Susannah Hewlett isn't your average artist. If her name rings a bell then don't be suprised, Su is the woman behind one of the installations from last years Lily & Mim show curated by John Walters and a soap opera fanatic! 

The Erinsborough Fringe was a tribute to the king of soaps, Neighbours who just happen to be celebrating a big birthday this year. But the 2 and a half hour performance didn't just cover dodgy Australian accents and psychopathic cafe owners (when Harold went mad was is my favourite Neighbours memory), instead it explored the wider issues faced by many a soap star like know it all faith leaders, juvenile delinquents and the trials and tribulations, deaths, incest and murder mysteries that many soap families face. It would be fair to say the performance was 2 parts neighbours, 2 parts Eastenders, 1 part River City and 1 part bat shit crazy as evidenced by the stills below! Of course being part of Glasgows BUZZCUT Festival you should expect something a little different. 

Off the bat the BUZZCUT team have been welcoming and friendly and worked hard to pull together a full programme of contemporary performance art which covered a wide range of  themes, some serious and other more light hearted like the Fringe piece. Working from their base at the Pearce Institute in Govan, the team managed to pull off something pretty special which seemed to go beyond the comprehension of many of the people from Govan and yet never excluded them with one performance actually transcending the barrier between people and place as documented by the Guardians review of the festival. And the performance weren't restricted to the PI either with a collaborative show taking place at Stereo with the TYCI ladies. 

All in all it was a great introduction to the BUZZCUT Festival and a chance to not only help some talented artists and performers but also a chance to challenge my own views and ideas about performance art and best of all, the chance to make some new friends! Big love to Su, Steve,the wonderful Karl and all those screen stars who made The Erinsborough Fringe such a captivating watch!

'Evident Care' by Miranda Blennerhassett at The Suttie Art Space!

'Evident Care' is the latest big scale show up at the Suttie Art Space, located just off one of the main corridors in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. A series of large scale murals have been created by Miranda Blennerhassett, each one painstakingly hand painted and taking hundreds of hours to complete. 

Each piece is almost perfectly symetrical, hinting at some OCD style precision. And the effect is stunning, the skill and patience it must have taken to complete the murals is incredible while the actual patters and motifs of each design hint towards some of Aberdeen's own history in the form of the mosaic tiled floors which adorn many a tenemant building. Each design employs its own motifs but share a common palette, quite understated and slightly muted, allowing the shapes to speak for themselves.

Its also interesting to note how the process behind each piece can be viewed from the bottom up with the initial lines slowly morphing into more detailed sketches before morphing into the final paintings along the top. Its a level of precision thats hard to comprehend but especially when you see how big these paintings are!

Another great show from the team at Grampian Hospitals Art Trust and just one of many projects the team have been working on so give them a follow to keep up to speed on all their efforts, facebook here & twitter here. Also check out Mirandas website to see some more cool projects and check out this cool timelapse video showing how she builds up her murals!