Filtering by Category: Exhibition review

The Triennial Effect

Added on by Stella Chapman.

As the Folkestone Triennial draws to a close, our thoughts turn to which artist's work will join the permanent Folkestone Artworks collection. This 'gallery without walls' is made up from 27 works from the past 3 Triennials by artists including Tracey Emin, Mark Wallinger, Pablo Bronstein, Yoko Ono and Richard Wilson.

A friend recently asked how often the Triennial came to Folkestone as I was always talking about it. I told her the clue is in the name! Every 3 years artists are commissioned to create public installations that form an art trail around the town. We love the lead up to the event – discovering which artists will be exhibiting and what the theme will be. This year was particularly exciting as we were one of 3 agencies shortlisted in a 3-stage pitch for the Triennial branding. A great achievement for Salt and something we are keen to win in the future.

This is our 2nd Triennial since relocating from London 6 years ago. Attracting creatives and tourists to the area by 'rebranding' Folkestone as a creative hub is the Creative Foundation's mission – with the Triennial being their flagship project. And it seems to be taking hold. There’s a definite buzz in the Creative Quarter this year, with local artists referring to the ‘Triennial effect’ increasing their sales as tourists look to take away a piece of the action.

Hitting the art trail with a 6 year old means it's as much about the experience as it is the concepts behind the pieces. There was a beautifully designed family guide this year to keep the kids engaged, as well as a programme of free family workshops at Block 67, Tontine Street. Here's what we've enjoyed and whether we think they will stay.

Richard Woods' colourful cartoon holiday homes were standout pieces for us – with 6 homes to spot floating in the harbour and dotted around the beach and cliff tops. Like the seasonal residents that inspired these installations, they are surely temporary. Midway through the 2014 Triennial a Banksy piece entitled 'Art Buff' appeared. Unfortunately these 'Holiday Homes' have been decorated with less welcome graffiti.

Richard Woods – Holiday Home

Richard Woods – Holiday Home

Likewise, the Antony Gormley cast-iron figures, which despite looking very much at home beneath arches or staring out to sea, were only ever visiting. 

A teetering white wall by Alex Hartley is perhaps the most immediate expression of this year's theme 'Double Edge' – exploring anxiety (being on the edge), boundaries and balance. Its future seems precarious.

Alex Hartley - Wall
Alex Hartley – Wall

Alex Hartley – Wall

When we visited Lubaina Himid’s ‘Jelly Mould Pavilion' it was being used to frame a bride and groom on their wedding day – already paying its way as a local landmark!

Lubaina Himid – Jelly Mould Pavilion

Lubaina Himid – Jelly Mould Pavilion

We enjoyed discovering new parts of Folkestone and gaining new perspectives. Sometimes it's as simple as looking up – to see Jonathan Wright's little boats perched on tall poles, or taking a moment to listen, to Emily Peasgood's sound installation 'Halfway to Heaven' in an18th-century Baptist graveyard. We’d like to think the giant 'Siren' by Marc Schmitz and Dolgor Ser-Od could have the longevity of the concrete 'listening ear' at nearby Dungeness that it references.

Marc Schmitz & Dolgor Ser-Od – Siren

Marc Schmitz & Dolgor Ser-Od – Siren

A Guardian review was not being complementary when it commented that some of the artworks ‘put design some way before art’, mentioning Sinta Tantra's colourful paintwork for the Cube Building and the Gothic plywood structure by Studio Ben Allen transforming the Quarterhouse Clearing Cafe. For us that is no bad thing. Art and design may have different roles, but they are both about emotional engagement. About challenging and changing perceptions. If art is about questions, design is about solutions, with the Triennial being one solution to the ongoing regeneration and repositioning of Folkestone.

The Folkestone Triennial finishes on 5th November. For more information www.folkestonetriennial.org.uk

Photography kindly provided by Kevan Smith www.smithstudios.co.uk

 

Design and Dungeness

Added on by Stella Chapman.

Summer is over but I'll still visit my favourite beach, Dungeness  – a vast expanse of shingle on the Kent coast. What it lacks in traditional seaside charm, it more than makes up for in character, and if you look closely, design.

The monolithic Dungeness nuclear power station sets the tone of the unique landscape, which the Guardian perfectly described as 'the wild west meets the post apocalyptic'. It's this otherworldly, unconventional atmosphere that keeps artists and creatives visiting, and if they are lucky, making their homes here.

Design and Dungeness - View towards Mini Moderns beach house

Mini Moderns beach house

The two designers behind one of our favourite interior brands, Mini Moderns chose Dungeness for their retreat from London life. The 468 acre Dungeness Estate is home to only a handful of residents so they were lucky to snap up one of the Victorian railway carriages that were converted into homes for local workers in the 1920s. They stripped it back to reveal original features, opened up the space and gave it a signature retro twist with mid century furniture and their fabric, prints and homeware collections on show. There are some great before and after pictures, an overview and comments from designers Mark and Keith on this Design Sponge blog.

The living room

The living room

The living room view / kitchen detail

The living room view / kitchen detail

Inspired by their visits to Dungeness, Mini Moderns created the The Hinterland Collection including wallpaper and fabric featuring the two lighthouses that the beach house sits between. The collection is featured in Issue 4 of the collectable Penny Newspapers, which is sold out but has been published online here.

Dungeness Wallpaper – Mini Moderns

Dungeness Wallpaper – Mini Moderns

Dungeness Fish Shack sign inspired Mini Moderns typographic fabric prints

Dungeness Fish Shack sign inspired Mini Moderns typographic fabric prints

Contemporary architecture

Yes, Dungeness is a bit ramshackle, littered with old fishing boats, bits and bobs from the Second World War and discarded bits of machinery. Even the contemporary architecture that has been added over the last decade does its best to fit into this patchwork. The Pobble House by Guy Hollaway Architects, The Shingle House by NORD for Living Architecture and Gelon Hanna House by Simon Conder Associates were designed to meet strict planning rules. But they are all the more creative for it – black rubber cladding and other materials designed not only to withstand a battering from the storms, but look better for it. The Pobble and Shingle houses are available as holiday rentals if getting 'back to basics' in style is your thing.

The Pobble House – Guy Hollaway Architects

The Pobble House – Guy Hollaway Architects

The Pobble House

The Pobble House

The Shingle House – NORD Architecture

The Shingle House – NORD Architecture

The Shingle House view

The Shingle House view

Prospect Cottage

You can't mention Dungeness without Prospect Cottage. The most famous resident, filmmaker Derek Jarman, spent his last years here in the former fisherman's cottage, where he created a stunning garden which is well maintained today. It feels both wild and sculpted and its development is lovingly described in his book 'Derek Jarman's Garden' – his last and an inspiring read 11 years on. Dungeness is classified as a National Nature Reserve, filled with unique wildlife and over 600 different types of plants. That said, it seems Jarman had his work cut out getting plants to grow in the barren shingle!

Prospect Cottage itself is also memorable – it's black walls filled with the lines from a poem and gorse yellow window frames. I'm not a gardener but would love to give my coastal garden some Dungeness style. 

Prospect Cottage

Prospect Cottage

The Sun Rising by John Donne   

The Sun Rising by John Donne 

Dungeness spirit

If Dungeness was a font, it would look like ‘RX12’ by artist Paddy Hamilton at Dungeness Open Studios, inspired by hand painted roadside signs. Romney Marsh Brewery commissioned a bottle label, pint glasses and pump badge design using this lino-cut alphabet, which is available to buy in a digital format or as artwork featuring a personalised message.

Dungeness font in production

Dungeness font in production

Romney Marsh Brewery packaging

Romney Marsh Brewery packaging

If you visit Dungeness, the first thing you notice is the magical light. Then you notice the details, the unusual textures, patterns and forms. This exhibition by Philip Hughes Art captures this spirit – the scale, colour and energy. It's currently on tour and will be back at their London Studios next month to view. 

Dungeness Exhibition by Philip Hughes Art

Dungeness Exhibition by Philip Hughes Art

So, although creativity is flourishing in Dungeness, it remains unspoilt, peaceful and unique, and there's always something new to explore.

For an entertaining local's guided tour see www.dungeness.org.uk/what-to-see

My son George exploring Dungeness

My son George exploring Dungeness

 

The World of Charles and Ray Eames

Added on by Stella Chapman.

We have a love of all things mid-century so were pleased to catch The World of Charles and Ray Eames retrospective exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in its final weeks.

We were most familiar with the American design duo's iconic chairs designed in the 1950s, still regularly featured in our favourite style magazine Elle Decoration. We also knew Charles and Ray Eames were a husband and wife team, described as the amongst the most influential designers of the 20th century, but the scale and breath of their work over more than four decades was a surprise.

The beautifully presented exhibition by 6a Architects shows there wasn't much Charles and Ray Eames didn't design – from the familiar furniture pieces to architecture, products, film, photography, graphics and exhibitions. Here's our quick tour of all things Eames...

Eames_Exhibition

On display are, of course, the many Eames design classics in plywood, aluminium, fibreglass and steel, including their first moulded plastic chair and a range of prototypes and sketches. Connecting them all was their desire to make "the best quality, to the most people, for the least money". As Ray Eames put it "What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts".

Eames_chairs.jpg

In 1999 Time magazine named the 'LCW' chair as The Best Design of the 20th Century. It's body hugging curves came from Charles' designs for plywood leg splints for the US Air Force!

Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW), 1945

Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW), 1945

The plywood Eames Elephant as part of the children's seating exhibit deserves a mention too. Designed in 1945 as a toy, it never went into production but is now produced by Vitra in moulded plastic.

Eames_Elephant

We loved the chairs that had been doodled on by illustrator Saul Steinberg, a friend of the couple, proving design classics don't need to take themselves too seriously!

Saul Steinberg armchairs

Saul Steinberg armchairs

Charles Eames (1907–1978) was an architect and photographer and Ray Eames (1912–1988) an artist, graphic designer and art director. Visual communications was a major part of their work and there were some wonderful examples of graphic design for product advertising, literature and editorial design. This display shows Ray's gorgeous covers for Arts & Architecture magazine. 

Arts & Architecture covers, 1942 – 1946

Arts & Architecture covers, 1942 – 1946

House of Cards: Charles & Ray Eames, 1950s 

House of Cards: Charles & Ray Eames, 1950s 

Eames Lounge Chair advert, 1956

Eames Lounge Chair advert, 1956

The home Charles and Ray designed and built in Pacific Palisades, California was bought to life with scale models, original drawings and film. It's thought to be one of the most important post-war residences anywhere in the world, and today the studio is used for the continuing work of the Eames Office. We liked the contrast between the prefabricated sleek steel exterior and the warm and highly personal interior filled with toys and artefacts collected on their travels, some of which were on colourful display at the exhibition.

The Eames House, California 1949

The Eames House, California 1949

The Eames House, California, 1949

The Eames House, California, 1949

The model room designed for the Exhibition For Modern Living, Detroit Institute of Arts, 1949 looks as fresh as ever and featured flat-pack storage furniture for a new attitude to living. We liked the peg wall and the sculptural curves of the 'La Chaise'.

Room display collage : Exhibition For Modern Living, 1949

Room display collage : Exhibition For Modern Living, 1949

La Chaise : Charles & Ray Eames, 1948

La Chaise : Charles & Ray Eames, 1948

We enjoyed the glimpses into Charles and Ray Eames' relationship and their playful approach to life and design through private letters, back of envelope sketches, photos and scribbled notes. In one touching but amusing handwritten letter Charles wrote to Ray "I am 34 (almost) years old, single (again) and broke. I love you very much and would like to marry you very very soon".

A letter from Ray to Charles

A letter from Ray to Charles

We couldn't take photos, but we were pleased to take home a piece of Eames design for ourselves – the Dot Pattern tote bag, just £15 for the abstract print designed for a textiles competition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1947, but never produced in their lifetime.

Ray Eames : Dot Pattern Textile 1947

Ray Eames : Dot Pattern Textile 1947

An exhibition visitor had commented you can see Eames furniture for free at the London Vitra store, but whether you know a little or a lot about them, we think there's something to fascinate and inspire almost everyone. And if you didn't make it, The World of Charles and Ray Eames Catalogue by exhibition curator Catherine Ince is a great keepsake and source of reference.

The World of Charles and Ray Eames Catalogue

The World of Charles and Ray Eames Catalogue

Charles_and Ray_Eames

The World of Charles and Ray Eames : 21 October 2015 - 14 February 2016 : Barbican Art Gallery

Find out more about Charles and Ray Eames on artsy.net/artist/charles-and-ray-eames