Archive for the 'art' Category

The Theatre

August 3rd, 2010

Shakespeare souvenir from The Theatre

Any history buffs or theatre buffs out there might already know that two years ago some of the ruins of the first ever theatre in London were uncovered during an archeological investigation by the Museum of London.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to join one of the last invite only tours of the ruins of The Theatre and an introduction to the plans of the new theatre that will be built in it’s place for the Tower Theatre Company; I got more than just a little wrapped up in the excitement of what they are doing and how poetic it is.

The Theatre was built in 1576 by James Burbage, located in Shoreditch which at the time was just north of the City of London and thus able to escape the persecution of the authorities who back then weren’t too fond of theatre players.

This was back in a time when people would go out for dinner or a drink and might happen upon some entertainment, not in a time when they would intentionally go out and pay for entertainment in advance.

A huge shift in how people thought about entertainment, and the venue that saw some of the first works of William Shakespeare both as an actor and as a playwright. It was not to last though as the landlord would not renew the lease and thus The Theatre was taken apart and transported where they then were used in the construction of the famous Globe Theatre.

One of life’s wonders then that the ruins of London’s first theatre should be found after being lost for so long, only to be found whilst the Tower Theatre Company were hunting for a new premises of their own having lost the lease on their existing premises.

The Tower Theatre Company were founded in 1932 and are a non-profit performing and acting group that not only present up to 18 productions on a yearly basis.

Unfortunately due to funding limitations the archeological dig at the ruins  of The Theatre close in two weeks time, but what has been found will be preserved in situ and the new theatre being built in it’s place will be gracefully showcasing the ruins.

The new theatre is will be the first permanent home for the Tower Theatre Company and will also house rehearsal spaces, costume storage, meeting rooms and already has big plans for community outreach in terms of education and theatre coaching.

The groups appeal to raise money for the construction of the theatre has made good progress but still has £3,100,000 to raise.

I’m really hoping that our company is going to get involved in the fund raising efforts, especially after the compelling introduction we received from Tower Theatre chairman Jeff Kelly and a chilling rendition of The Seven Ages of Man by Sir Ian McKellen.

If you’re interested in finding out more or contributing to the fund raising efforts:

Scribbles & Murmurs at The Rag Factory

June 23rd, 2010

Scribbles and Murmurs

If you’re working or wandering near Brick Lane it’s worth going to check out the new art event hosting a collection of art by students, first timers and professionals across the country at The Rag Factory on Heneage Street.

The concept is based around producing an atmosphere of a growing visual noise, composed of a mixture of literature and visual artwork with pieces ranging from poetry, performance art, film, sculpture, painting, illustration and creative writing.

Emma Bridgeman, Rokia Begum, Jack Coffin

My highlights at Scribbles and Murmurs would have to be Emma Bridgeman’s “Weight Of The Subconscious” (which unfortunately Emma can’t bring herself to part with), and work by Rokia Begum and Jack Coffin.

It’s great to see young talent making a name for themselves, if you want to see the work for yourself make sure you get down there on Friday 25th for the closing night.

Remember to chip in a small donation towards the artists, these events always involve a lot of time and effort on their part, and not forgetting The Rag Factory who are a non-profit organisation designed to support the creative fabric of London.

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at Barbican

March 21st, 2010

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

The Curve at the Barbican has been taken over by flock of zebra finches that like to rock out, they seem to have expensive taste too – £1,500 Gibson Les Pauls for the lead guitar loving finches and £1,000 Gibson SG Standard Bass for the finches that like it heavy.

The installation by French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot is supposed to draw on the rhythms of daily life  to produce sound in unexpected ways, with the finches freely able to fly between the electric and bass guitars, microphone stands, and cymbals filled with either seeds or water.

Some of the guitars seemed to be open game for any of the finches to fly to and use as a perch, but others had two finches attempting to build nests on them and any other finches that tried to perch there would be shooed off.

The nesting finches seemed to lay down a rhythm, as they would frequently fly off to root out something to use to build the nest, then fly back and land on the guitar stings in a number of places. Other finches would crash loudly onto the bass guitars but not stick around for long.

The cymbals were an interesting idea, as the finches peck at the seeds they bash the cymbal, depending on where the cymbal is bashed you get a slightly different sound.

Overall with the various guitars sounding (with some reverb and delay), alongside the cymbals sounding and of course the finches own bird song, you get a strong ambient vibe from the installation that essentially is just nature doing it’s thing, not composed and completely unique.

Despite really enjoying being in an environment where sound was being created in such a unique way, I have to admit I came back with mixed feelings. Guitar surfaces are lacquered and as such the finches that were attempting to nest efforts were in vein; anything they built up eventually slipped off onto the floor. The finches were slipping around on the guitars too.  Seems a tad cruel, I’d expect more from the Barbican.

Admission to the installation is free and it’s open until 23 May 2010; due to the open nature of space there is a limit of 25 visitors at a time, so expect a bit of a queue (30 mins roughly) if you’re going during peak times.

Museum Of Small Things at Selfridges

February 6th, 2010

Museum Of Small Things

Walking along Oxford Street with Keith this evening we were commenting on the awful choices of window displays outside Selfridges (the first being one suggesting you choose your hero, the second being an announcement that Peter Andre would be making an in-store appearance?!), when we noticed a tiny little gallery called the Museum Of Small Things.

It’s a pop-up exhibition put together by Pocko, a creative boutique, and Kit Grover the artist and designer that has been working with the Tate Modern since it’s opening.

The small space in the basement at Selfridges manages to pack in work from 28 different artists, some wonderful, others a little creepy, but all absolutely tiny and worth admiring.

My favourite piece has to be the one that I would have missed if Keith hadn’t pointed it out, “Beyond The Sky, Beyond The Forest” by Momo (Momoko Tamura) which shows a forest scene in great detail, and a sky / clouds scene also in great detail with lots of small creatures, which on closer inspection all appear to have been shot or decapitated!

Second to that was “Consumer Sacrifice” by Adam Hayes which is basically a shredder with a choice of consumer bargains on paper nearby, in the year of recession you have to pick your offering to the almighty God of Consumption.

If you’re in the area it’s a nice surprise and doesn’t cost a penny, exhibition is open until March 7th.

Decode: Digital Design Sensations at V&A

January 24th, 2010

Decode: Digital Design Sensations

I work at a digital agency in London, we’re one of the biggest in Europe however we’re mostly recognised for the work that comes out of our creative team’s art directors and designers, not so much for big builds that happen in our technology department.

It seems to be a fairly wide spread feeling that programmers, developers, technologists, whatever the coined phrase is these days, aren’t all that creative or artistic.

That’s one of the things that really appealed to me about visiting the new exhibition at the V&A yesterday, Decode. It’s a collection of all digital, some interactive and some not exhibitions that I think really are art, and almost all of them are supposedly by artists that would consider themselves programmers rather than designers.

It only costs £5 to get in, so if you’re even remotely geeky and have 30-60 minutes free then it’s worth popping along to the V&A to have a look (though if you don’t frequent the V&A I’d allow an extra few hours because the rest of the gallery will eat you up with it’s maze of interesting things).

The start of the journey walking through a field of reactive grass was a fun gimmick, a few installations that show programmatic generation of imagery were fairly cool, especially the ones that react to sound, though I didn’t really see that as anything new, how long have Windows Media Player or even Winamp had visualiations for music?

The digital tree projected against a wall that only blows in accordance with the wind speed being measured by a weather station outside the V&A was interesting, as was the giant display of hundreds of videos of people kissing, and some of the more fun interactive colour painting and video recording booths.

Best of all in my mind though was a giant mirror that captures images of the people standing in front of it but displays them in a time-lapse fashion. If you stand still for long enough you get a remarkably clear but eerie image of yourself, when you walk away, you slowly fade away like a ghost past!

Keith raised a very good point though as we were wandering around the rest of the V&A. There are some collections with pieces that are centuries old or more and they amaze with the care, craftsmanship and skill that was taken to make them in their day. In theory digital art should be able to stand the test of time, but will anybody be housing a gallery a century to look back at the digital art produced today?

Anyway, at least today programmers can be happy that their fellow geek-kind have made it into the V&A, let’s see more programmers breaking out of their boxes!