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    Entries in Visual Arts (9)


    Jaume Plensa @ Yorkshire Sculpture Park 

    Today I am rolling on to Simon's turf and writing a blog on our visit to the Jaume Plensa exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s really my turf too as Plensa hails from my second home, Spain. During my studies I created many projects and a dissertation on Spanish art/artists and the very famous sculptor Antoní Gaudí so I feel like this is something of interest to me too.

    Last Friday I had the unique opportunity to attend the private viewing of Plensa’s exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and see Plensa in the flesh. Firstly, I must say that my view on art has always been quite simple. For me, art is good for one of two reasons: either because it is technically exceptional or, and most importantly, it moves me in some way; the expression of the artist has managed to work its way through me and touch my emotions. My view has never changed no matter how many books I have read on the analysis of art.

    I can say that Plensa and his work tick both those boxes and seeing his work at YSP has reaffirmed that sculpture really stands out and is one of my favourite forms of art. Seeing the photographs of Plensa’s work beforehand was nothing by comparison to being surrounded by his work. I was in awe of everything I saw and I shamefully admit, even though I have visited so many art museums and parks in Spain, this is actually the first time I have had the pleasure of visiting YSP. I cannot put my finger on what exactly made me feel the same calm I feel while walking around Park Guell (created by Gaudí in Barcelona), but it was so nice to feel it again; that inspiration and contentment that comes from the mixture of nature and art together.

    ''Plensa often refers to his belief that our life experiences leave indelible yet invisible marks on us which can be read by those who know us best. This belief is expressed in a family of figurative works with text tattooed across their skin. Even when the face or the body seem closed and focused on internal thoughts, the words on these figures give us access to what is happening within the body.'' YSP

    When Simon and I arrived, I spotted Plensa straight away and I was very excited he was at the event. After looking around the exhibition I saw him talking to his friends and associates in Spanish and I took the opportunity to eaves drop. As I closed my eyes I could imagine myself back in Spain, being around my creative friends, talking music, art and philosophy. People were congratulating him and I almost felt like a kid again. I wanted to say "hello" to him but I was a little scared. As I have a slight obsession with the great late Catalan artist Gaudí (as well as having love for Dalí, Miro and poet Garcia Lorca), and I never had the chance to meet him, I knew I needed to step up, congratulate Jaume and get a photo with him or regret it forever. Forget your 'celebrities', these are the kind of people I want to have the pleasure of talking to! After passing him a few times as I wandered around the exhibition I finally asked him, nicely, in Spanish to have a photo with me. He was so gracious and kind, and after our snapshot I congratulated him on the exhibition and ran off all happy and kind of in love ;). Yes I am a geek and yes I don’t care :-) At this point I think Simon had bailed on me and told his art friends he didn’t know who I was (although he did stay around long enough to take the picture.)

    The exhibition itself was inspiring. Everything about Plensa's work is people orientated, whether it be the actual physical statues or simply the words of different people used in his work. The use of poetry mixed with art was so interesting and I spent almost 15 minutes reading along the Twenty-Nine Palms lettered curtains, bumping into people along the way. I read the Spanish, Catalan and English language and I only read a small part of the full length of the curtains. These were taken from some of Plensas favourite poets. The trees with bronze versions of Jaume's body hugging them created a peaceful feeling and yet again, I circled them all to read of the names [of famous musicians] printed on them. Having not read a lot on Plensa beforehand I felt like his personality was coming across to me through his work; the effect poetry and words have had on his life. This is important to me as I find the biography of an artist just as interesting as the work itself.

    I felt so many different emotions while entering each exhibition room. At first I was happy and calm walking outside and seeing the various figures, made from letters and symbols, shining in the sun. When I entered the rooms with the lit up figures I felt the panic, the stress and the anxiety that the figures did. The most bizarre feeling I felt was when I entered the room with the elongated stone heads. I felt like I was in a stretched photo and my eyes just would not adjust, the whole effect of the room was quite trippy. Some of the heads were carved and finished, others seemed half done. It felt as if they were once big ancient statues that had fallen down and these were the remains.

    In Jerusalem AKA 'the gong room' it was nice to see so many people interacting with the art. Even the gongs were inscribed with words, which were from the Songs Of Solomon. I love anything biblical so after attempting to successfully 'gong' a gong (to no avail!) I walked around and had a read of each text and then had a look at the rest of the exhibition. It included quotes from Plensa himself, a piece of art which seemed like a hanging mobile made from metal and filled with poetry and a room full of models of all his work. All in all an amazing experience and I already have my books on Plensa and his work on order! Congratulations Jaume Plensa and we hope, once again, you will enjoy your time here in Yorkshire.

    Photo Tour

    When we arrived the sun was shining and the atmosphere was lovely at YSPThe Heart Of Trees: A bronze cast of Jaume himself, surrounding the trees The figures covered in the names of famous musiciansA photographer capturing the letters on the statuesInside the House Of KnowledgeThe House Of KnowledgeThe figures are made from 8 different alphabets and overflow The Hearts Of Trees, the large wired heads above the gallery and Plensa's other works in the distanceThe view of the heads from aboveTwenty-Nine Palms, curtains made from poems in many languagesSpanish poetry within the lettered curtains Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil PanicStressHysteriaThese alabaster heads are like an optical illusion; as if the room has been stretchedSome of the heads are finished, some are not, adding to the confusionJerusalem; The gong room All the gongs engraved with words from the Songs of SolomonWord of Spanish Poet Jose Sorente on a piece shaped like a kids play mobileIn The Midst Of Dreams: a tribute to Oscar WildeAnd finishing off with one more photo of the amazing curtains


    Looking back to the Perverse Library, and ahead to a residency at the Whitechapel Gallery

    Greville Worthington's 'Black Library' containing carbonised books, on display at Shandy Hall as part of The Perverse Library exhibition.Back in October 2010 I worked with the Laurence Sterne Trust and a York-based artists' publishing collective, information as material, on an exhibition of 'conceptual writing' at Shandy Hall in Coxwold. The Perverse Library (previous blog posts can be found here and here) was a success for all involved with good coverage in the press, including a review in the Independent and a feature in the Guardian Guide, inspiring lots of people to make the journey up to North Yorkshire.

    Visitors to The Perverse Library gather around 'Invisible Bookshelves', now on display at the Whitechapel Gallery as part of information as material's yearlong residency.True to the spirit of Laurence Sterne, an opening party (the 'Grand Vernissage) was held on the final day of the exhibition. With the aid of a double decker, red Route Master bus (lent to us by a friend of the museum - thank you!) more than 50 people descended on Sterne's former home for a day of viewings, guided tours and conversation, followed by an evening of local cider and home-made curry at the village hall where a new documentary film, Making Nothing Happen, was premiered in the presence of its subject, the expatriate Czech artist and winner of the 2009 Northern Art Prize, Pavel Buchler. Two new information as material publications (The Perverse Library, by Prof. Craig Dworkin and Getting Inside Jack Kerouac's Head, by Simon Morris) were also launched on the night.

    A view through the 'Invisible Bookshelves' onto John Baldessari’s 'Learn to Read' poster (2003)I could spend the next five minutes listing all the fascinating people I met at the event, but I won't. Instead, I will say that looking around throughout the day and seeing major artists, curators, collectors and the directors of national art institutions sharing cider and conversation with exhibition visitors, students and local people made me proud to be involved in a project that, despite the challenging and conceptual nature of its content, managed to remain totally welcoming to a truly diverse audience.

    One name I will mention is Clive Phillpot, former director of the MoMa library, with whom I talked about a truly amazing project he co-curated at the Pompidou Centre, Paris. For Voids: A Retrospective, Phillot and his colleagues managed to make a successful case to the Pompidou to empty their galleries, in order to make space for the recreation of nine historic ‘empty’ art exhibitions, including Yves Klein’s legendary ‘The Void’. An epic achievement by any standards and totally relevant to The Perverse Library, an exhibition curated by a team interested in "works by artists who use extant material – selecting and reframing it in order to generate new meanings – and who, in doing so, disrupt the existing order of things."

    Simon Morris and Nick Thurston unloading at the Whitechapel ready to install 'Invisible Bookshelves' in the Foyle Reading Room.Shortly after the exhibition I was invited by information as material to join their editorial board (to which I said YES PLEASE!), and shortly after that we were offered a yearlong residency at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (yes, it really is all down to my joining the board... honest!?). The programme for information as material's time as Writers in Residence will be announced at a launch event in London, on 28 April 2010. Tickets for the launch event can be booked online now.

    The sign at Aldgate East, something I hope to see lots over the year or so.I'll be posting the odd update about the residency, as well as the odd interview with the artists involved. So, as they say, watch this space...

    All information as material publications, along with the new documentary film about Pavel Buchler are avaliable to buy from


    The Stag and Hound: Dutton & Swindells at Project Space Leeds

    The Hebe Media team are spending two days filling a large and empty room with ideas and plans for the next few months. Exciting but exhausting times, and I've escaped for five minutes to post this insightful video.

    Dutton & Swindells took part in the Writing Encounters event I helped to organise back in 2009, at York St. John University, where they talked about their residency in Korea and the formation of the Institute of Beasts. I've been down to PSL a few times since their residency began in January 2011, and had intended to post something about the way the exhibition has evolved. However, courtesy of the wonderful Axis, you get to hear about the monkey nuts straight from the organ grinder... you will get that if you watch the video!


    INTRODUCING: Shahin Haghjou


    To say that he’s a “natural” might seem like a cheesy way of describing a person’s talent, but for someone that is yet to complete his degree Shahin has a lot to be proud of. The first time I met him a couple of years ago, he already had several stunning freelance projects as a designer under his belt. He was also commissioned by IED to do some of their ad and print campaigns, already during his 3rd semester. Shahin has also worked with us on a couple of impressive projects, most recently the Hebe Media branding, including the logo and graphics for the website and prints!

    Since then he’s developed his skills towards motion design and print, with some of the most notable freelance projects being; Jamon Barcelona for the legendary San Francisco skateboard label For The City, FTC, and more recently; video and motion project Vamos a la Playa together with the Catalan videographer and photographer Hector Ferreño(They are also rumored to be launching their own studio soon, but don’t tell anyone!) 

    At the moment he’s at the Barcelonian super star studio Vasava, following the foot steps of last weeks “Introducing” Albin Holmqvist

    I had the pleasure to catch up with Shahin, so I asked him about a couple of questions on creativity and the future of graphic design and art direction. Here’s what he had to say. 

    What is your ideal environment to be creative?

    My ideal environment would be my balcony, normally when I'm stuck with something or if I have run out of ideas I'll go sit there for 15 min or so, and nine out of ten times the ideas come. The good thing about my balcony is that it's facing a wall, so there's no distractions. I'm very easily distracted, so it might as well work with a pair of those sleeping glasses you get on the airplane, haven't tried it yet but might just work!  

    The second best would be anywhere where there's likeminded people that you can share your ideas with, the space itself doesn't really matter, it could be at the local bar or in the park, as long as you're with the right people the creativity will flow. 

    What is important for an aspiring art director/graphic designer today? 

    I think it's really important to try to get work constantly and not to be picky. Yes, some jobs might be boring as hell, but you'll always learn new things. Try to work for or with people that have experience and do not expect to learn everything just by signing up for an expensive design school. You might learn a lot from going to school, but you'll always learn more from real life situations. Keep your steam up and work hard, cause as we all know by now, if you snooze you lose! And finally, never think you already know everything, not even if you have been working all your life. 

     Why is the future in motion graphics? 

    I honestly don't know how to answer this question, I love motion graphics and think there's many opportunities within it, but I don't think you should limit yourself to just one specific thing. Cudos too those who can earn a living from drawing the same thing over and over again. Either you have the skills to do that, or you try to broaden yourself which in the long run I think is more satisfactory. 

    Check out some of Shahin’s recent work here:, some of his little less current here: The Boo Hoo Boy, and even older, but still cool, here: The Equally Foolish

    We wish Shahin all the best, and we strongly recommend keeping an eye out for whatever he’s up to next! 


    The Northern Art Prize In Pictures