Assemble and the Turner Prize

I’ve been meaning to write this post since the Turner was announced. My previous post about Public Art has prompted me to get on with it!

I was excited by Assemble’s nomination for the Turner for Granby Four Street  ( see below) as it demonstrated a move away from gallery-based commodity art into art within the public domain. I’ve mentioned Assemble in a previous post ‘Giving credit where credit is due

IMG_9346Showing collaborative, community and participative practice which has been absent in the Turner before now apart from in 2010 when the Otolith Group were nominated.

Otolith are not a community/ participative group but one based on found documentation and documentary image  through  discursive collaborative practice .

Writing this has reminded of their fascinating but dense work.I must look again at their work….Very different from Assemble.

There has apparently been a lot of controversy about Assemble’s work..’not being (modern) art’....Even dear old Muriel Gray it seems…see this BBC report…..a long way from her open-mindedness in the days of ‘The Tube’!

I personally think it reflects the growth of interest in, if not the funding of, participative community-based art but with extra twists with, for me are where the controversy lies.

  • The gallery exhibition installation for the prize is based on the idea of a shop. It sells things that the project has made – at relatively reasonable prices.This challenges the ‘art market’ directly and also the idea of individual authorship as the objects for sale are made by the group- ‘artists and members of the community with whom they worked.
  • It considers  the concept of social space and everyday life .
  • The ‘artists’ leading the project are actually architects and designers – not “Fine Artists”. It was bad enough when it was awarded to Grayson Perry who refuses to call himself a ceramicist but is a potter.

To award the Prize to this group is then very controversial but well overdue.

As with Grayson Perry, and years ago in 2001 ( was it really that long ago..) with Martin Creed’s Lights Turning On and Off, I wonder, was the prize awarded because the winner really does address a Zeitgeist that a wider public are now aware of or was it awarded just to cause controversy…

I hope not the latter, but whatever the reason I’m excited by the win and looking forwards to seeing the impact, if any, on how art is perceived by a wider public.

And to discussing it with some of the community groups I work with.

Should be a lively discussion…and after all that’s what it’s all about!

Maybe it will inspire and lead to some exciting local collaborations………

The Reading Room Event: Last-minute set-up and Preparation


So, it’s been the longest time since a post at the time when I should have been posting almost daily! A lesson learnt there.

I’ve been and installed at Camberwell for the MA interim show and been to the PV. Detail of all that was involved to follow as I’ve been busy doing and reflecting ‘on-the-go’.

In a few hours I’ll be at The Reading Room hoping that some people will get in touch and that the phone signal  and Broadband will be sufficient to make contact and maybe even stream a Live Event via Google-Hangouts…

I think I’ve got it sort of sorted as much as I can before I get there….

Thanks to my elder son for the loan of his Chromebook, as my Macbook is too old an OS for Google hangouts!!

My younger son has also sent me some QRCodes for my Soundcloud stream  ( apparently I’m not computer literate, so I wouldn’t be able to follow his instructions in how to make them……!) so people can hear some of the recordings…

QR Code for Soundcloud for Reading Room QR Code for You Tube Chanel for Reading Room Participants

(Sorry Martin W if you listen to them… I know the quality leaves a lot to be desired..)

I have yet to go and pick up a package from the Post Office Sorting Office which I think is some newspapers that have been sent from Japan? Not sure if I’ll get there before I have to go to set up.

The cakes will be being made by Jane as I write. I can see her icing  them in her kitchen, in my mind’s eye. I really have no idea if anyone will come.

Nothing has been posted on the Croughton website but Jane has put something in the newsletter which is delivered by hand to every house, There are posters in the Co-op and pub and the bus shelter and I left leaflets out in the Co-op and the Reading Room too. Jane left some in the pub when she went to clean.

I’ve not posted the videos yet on YouTube but that is a ‘To do’… more of an archive than a piece of work.

I’ve just got to print out some H&S warnings for the linocut and some other info  to encourage on going contact.

I went over on Thursday morning to try the slide projector out in the small bar and also set out the materials. Richard has said that he will put to the tables and chairs this morning.IMG_2298

I’d better get on. Give me a call if you want to know what’s happening. 07956159954

Participation session with Jonathan

2 weeks ago I had to miss the session on Participation because of a meeting… which involved ironically talking about participation of a different sort…my community based work which doesn’t directly involve my own practice at all… but of course both inform each other…

I watched the video about Blast Theory and the I’ll Hide you Game and  also the lecture by Matt Adams.It made me think of the huge range of ways in which artists make participative work and what that means.

In my own case I work with people and ask them for their co operation, Friends, colleagues sometimes other artists, members of the public, in a relationship where I rely on them for the making of the work.

They become part of the the work as they help me to film and document it .

The actions I make , whether as part of my own practice or in the context of leading workshops for others, in simple water-colour or drawing technique, are only a small part of the equation .

The others make the work happen also..

My community workshop work of course would not exist without the participants!

In my own work, sometimes this is not the case.

I can do something with no-one watching or documenting ( if I do not need physical help to carry it out) but the final document is often made by them, the witnesses of the event .

This document becomes the evidence of the work.

rather than my memory of the event

This often / usually shows a completely different interpretation of the action from the one experienced by me.

I hope to take this apart a bit more when I post the Salt Way ‘final’ videos and hope that there will be a conversation of sorts between Helen ( who helped me to make the work by holding the projector) and my self and maybe others through Comments.

Also, the lecture refers to external funding  and how that may change the work.

This is an area I have thought about long and hard wrt vulnerable groups and who funds, what they want, what the artists want, what the participants want… if they are supposed to be involved in this choice… the artist’s role as agent and what sort of agent…Claire Bishop’s ideas around the nature of the work produced… whether the process is the work or the final documentation/ exhibit/ wall hanging/ video…

Big Big questions about participation and control…. I’ve thought about these and written about them a fair bit… here.

Depends on the individual context I guess is the easy answer.. but still something which makes me feel very very uncomfortable if i don’t feel it is ‘right’ in  some circumstances… Particularly art delivered in the context of care and ‘therapy’.

I could rant and rant about uncomfortable experiences from well intentioned projects and people but I won’t now.

Just that last weeks meeting and the session I missed all bought up the same internal discussions for me…political and personal