Sir George Robey goes on Tour Lucy, one of the conductors at the Big Night at the Tower, sent me these pictures. I gave her part of the big painting of the music hall performer dressed as a washerwoman and in proper conductor fashion Lucy used it to make some work of her own.
Big thank you to everybody who were at the party - my chance to say thank you for all your generous support with this ridiculously ambitious and complex project. Here's some pictures of the making of the prestigious awards - as you can see there was no expense spared by my nubile band of studio assistants.
And here are some of the lucky winners
And of course no award ceremony would be complete without some misbehaving A listers :
And finally a call to action :
Next show ! Lets get on with scoping out venues and artists for a group show that builds on the energy in the #opensignapse group.
There is also talk of a follow on Shelf Lives event, which I'm already working on. Lets get on with both (it's later than we think). I'll be setting up the next #opensignapse early next month.
The Big Night at the Tower was a powerful experience for me, mostly because of the strong engagement between the visitors and the work. I can honestly say I've never seen a crowd so collectively and openly engaged at an art event. Here's a short documentary make by Eileen Aldous and Stuart Brindle at EMP creative video :
The visitors weren't browsing, they were looking actively and talking to each other about what they saw. That's always been what I wanted for my work after it walks out of the studio on it's own legs :
The reason for that was the conductors - members of the #opensignapse group who carried torches and established connections between the visitors and the work :
I'm at Jaywick Martello Tower taking the show down on Monday, and will be posting the legacy material - three films, documentary stills and catalogue over the next few days.
In a couple of weeks the studio will be open for #opensignapse 6, please get in touch if you are interested in being part of this maker led group. We are already planning follow up shows and more group events.
#opensignapse 6 will the the chance to see some of the work, as well as projection quality versions of the Shelf Lives animation :
The Pinchbeck and Armin live action short made by EMP creative video :
as well as the documentary of the Big Night at the Tower.
More to follow - but now I really have to get off this pesky laptop and and watch some paint dry.
Today is the launch of this unique are event in an amazing space. Firstly big thanks to Kerith Ririe and everybody @JaywickTower for welcoming such an adventure into their beautiful building. The static show will stay up until the end of June, but tonight and tomorrow is the only chance to get the full fat experience :
The Big Night at the Tower : Sat 23 May 7 - 9.30pm
Bring a Thing Day : Sun 24 May 11 - 2.0pm
I'll be drawing and talking with visitors about their keepsakes, memorabilia and special objects. It's loosely based on BBC Antiques Roadshow, but to be fair, not much. Bring a Thing and get involved. Here's where this wonderful adventure started, I made a card hanging plan of the venue :
This important solo show is a combination of drawing, painting, small sculpts combined with animated film and performance. It's a body of work I've been on for nearly three years. It launches on the Big Night at the Tower on Sat 23 May 7.00 - 9.30pm at Jaywick Martello Tower, Belsize Ave. Essex CO15 2LF on the East Coast UK. I hope to welcome you there.
I'm also doing an open access family event called Bring a Thing day, on Sunday 24 May at the tower. It's loosely based on the Antiques Roadshow, and is interested in personal memorabilia and keepsakes.
When my dad died in 2003 he left three suitcases stuffed with personal odds and sods. I didn't go near them for months. But there they were, waiting : Tiny pocket diaries from 1936 - 1947, with the middle five years mostly empty. Wads of paper, medals, postcards. The maintenance logs for the 3 tonner he drove with his unit in 2nd. Company 8 Army Signals. Posters his ENSA concerts on the way up Italy to Monte Cassino. Shots of his mates all looking hard as nails in the Tunisian desert. Signed photos of gorgeous but unspecified Italian girls. It made me cry because there was a young man reaching out of all that stuff. I could almost feel the electric charge of memory in some of the objects when I picked them up.
That was a trigger for this work. If you want three words to get you started for your journey through this show, here they are :
This show is definitely not about my dad, or my memories of him. This body of work is my attempt to make work that you can use as an emotional battery. It's about how some objects somehow keep the touch of the people who lived with them. They are storage devices, or emotional batteries.
In a way that's always been an artists work, to make pictures and objects that attract and store and give back an emotional charge. Rembrandt's drawings of Saskia, Frances Bacons paintings of George Dyer, Joseph Cornell's boxes of found objects. It's always been the artists job to make analogue backups of the world they lived through and it's out job as viewers to give them a recharge every time we look at them.
Shelf Lives opens at Jaywick Martello Tower on the UK East Coast in three weeks time. This unique art event combines new paintings, boxworks and small sculpts, two films and a live performance.
We hope to see you there !
The Big Night at the Tower is the only time to see all elements of my work together. It presents a body of work that reflects on where we keep the objects that matter to us, the keepsakes that are charged with our memory, our story and our history. It also reflects on the relationship between film and painting, and how each retains the marks of it's time and it's making.
Bring a Thing day is a family fun day, bring some keepsakes, memorabilia or photographs and get involved. Nobody goes home empty handed.
I will be putting out regular updates on social media, but if you would like more information or a media contact please email me.
Many of us live on top of a mountain of stuff, with our heads in a cloud of information. This makes it harder to find the 'keepers', the objects that really matter. Shelf Lives sees 'keeper' objects as analogue storage devices for memories, ideas and events. This show unpacks our cabinet of keepers so we can see and share them more clearly.
Here is the press details and pics for this show. Please get in touch with me orWendy Bailey PRif you'd like more information or print ready images.
Shelf Lives is an art event by Doug Selway presented from 27 April to 25 June 2015 at Jaywick Martello Tower, Essex, CO15 2LF
It begins with Doug Selway leading Artist in Residence activities at Jaywick Martello Tower for 4 weeks from 27 April. These include open access activities and workshops.
The main event, a performance and film screening is during May Bank Holiday Weekend 23 – 25 May 2015
Starting with The Big Night at the Tower on Sat 23 May 18.30 -21.00
A whole floor of new paintings, small sculptures and box installations, live performances, film, and more than a few surprises. It’s the only opportunity to see all the different aspects of the work together.
The static show opens at 18hrs30, performance starts at 19.45. The film will be screened in the dark at 20hrs30. Event closes at 21hrs00.
Sunday 24 May is ‘Bring a thing’ day. From 11.00 - 14.00. This is a family fun day with a range of activities, loosely based on BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow.
#opensignapse 3 was another corker, with several new people. Conversations kicked off with Lisa Temple Cox's new drawing and small boxworks.She has built up a substantial body of drawing in different medical collections around the world. We talked about the denial of death, about memento mori and the collective blind spot that mainstream media has about bodily imperfections. Riffle through the lifestyle mags in a doctors waiting room (there's an irony for a start), watch any adverts and you've wandered into a collective delusion where nobody ever becomes frail, gets old, or dies. There is such a pathological fear of blemishes and misfits. This delusion has always made me feel queasy. Lisa's quiet and intensely observed drawings awaken you from the delusion, gently at first because they are very beautiful but then with the violent recognition that you are looking at your own frailty. She's curating a show (working title The Last Taboo - but that will almost certainly change) of artists from UK, Europe and USA. So they got me rootling about in the store to pull out the drawings and monotypes from my Likeness show in 2007.
The last one is a drawing I made of my dad when he was dying. I don't often get that one out of the store.
We then reviewed the of the filmed live action for Shelf Lives. Stuart Brindle and Eileen Aldous from East Media Productionsput together a rough assemble of all the footage and then made this first cut teaser/trailer. With apologies about the sound, and for my voicing skills neither of which will make it to the final mix :
How lucky am I to be working with them ? Finally here's an updated text about the Shelf Lives show. Wall texts have always made my heart sink whenever I see them at a show, so I won't be having any at the actual show, but writing them for the #opensignapse sessions has been really interesting.
Shelf Lives at JMT : Paint, make, film and perform
The launch event on 23 May 2015 is the central statement of this work. Paint, make, film and perform. I use film to animate static objects (paintings and small sculpts) and I use performers to free audiences from the passive assumptions of static art.
My motivations are individual memory and how it enlivens our shared history. I'm interested in how many meanings and objects we share and how many of them remain after we are gone. My hope is to be met by an active audience, who feel able to bring their own memories and responses.
Accounts ? Surely I should have assistants for that kind of work by now ?
This Rare Beauty was passed on to me by my philosophical best friend Shug Aitken. He is a very good example of why your best friends should be smarter than you are, and why you should always listen carefully to them.
It's a poem by Dylan Thomas about why we take our work so serously, why the creative endeavour is so ridiculous compared to the struggle to find clean drinking water, why it's also more important than nearly everybody realises, and why it's nothing and nowhow never and whatsoever anything at all to do with a hobby or any kind of self realisation therapy.
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.
From Deaths and Entrances by Dylan Thomas 1946
I've spent the time off when working at Art in Action on the sketchbook, thinking about how the puppets should be in the animation for Shelf Life.
I've had lots of discussions recently about how paradoxical this job is - to take a job so seriously when it is evidently so ridiculous. The only reason to do this job is because you believe the work demands it. Success is not a motivator for me. It's my job to ask interesting questions, it's up to other people to decide how successful the answers are. I'd imagine that success needs as much mental strength to deal with as it's opposite. If you are successful you are almost certain to be working for people who see what you do as an adornment to an already cluttered life, as a product or as an 'investment' to keep in an already over stuffed strong room. If you are not successful you have to pull off the rare and delicate trick of getting up each day and working as hard as you can because you think the work deserves it. It's simple for me though, drawing and painting are the things I care about most and that's why I do them every day. I'm blessed that I have the time to do this.
I've started a collection of rare beauties - the small discoveries I sometimes find in the wreckage of a working day. Rare beauties are timid and they have to be ready to be found. If they are not ready I usually miss them. But once they are ready I know them immediately.
Rare beauties are very perplexing, mostly because they are so effortless. I work so hard to carry effortless beauty for any distance in my work and it rarely arrives intact. I truly love the zen irony of that. Paint has always been the material of choice if zen irony is your hearts desire. I guess I'm learning to be both more ambitious and more modest at the same time. Aiming for what my wise friend Nigel called "Informed simplicity".
My collection of rare beauties remind me that this work must always have an individual human beginning. It has to start with a person's ideas, their observations. They have to care about it. It all comes down to somebody doing a day's work. Somebody has to commit their skills, their fears and obsessions to carrying the work through one day and into another. Good artists learn to carry it past their own working life and on to others so they can recognise themselves in it as well. Really good (and lucky) artists carry it far enough away for it to be recognised by many other people who may not share their language or culture or history. Really, really good artists can keep on doing this after all personal trace of them or their working lives have disappeared.
We always know this good stuff when we see it because we recognise the best of ourselves in it. It really doesn't matter wether it's a painting or a flint arrow head or a sketch of somebody we'll never know.
Everything else is just retailing or interior decoration.
Goose painting ! Something interesting is happening with the Shelf Life project. I'm working on the wire figures and the props at the same time as the paintings. It's as if the painting process is design development for the set and the film. Thinking with and through paint. Another discovery in my obsession about the relationship between paint and film.
As for the goose thing, it's a combination of the guard geese at the farm in Devon I used to stay at when I was a kid and some truly magical writing at the end of Austerlitz by WG Sebald. A family of street performers process past us, in age order and at the end is a white goose. Couldn't find the quote in my studio journals but if you haven't read this book, I'd say it's definitely worth the time.