Georgia Tucker, Conniveo, VR Installation, 2020

Artist Georgia Tucker, who showed at the end of 2019 as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial, has been busy working on a new commission as part of the BBC New Creatives scheme. Conniveo, the resulting exhibition, comprised of a VR and physical installation, opens at Stryx on 6 March and then tours.

 

Georgia Tucker, Conniveo, VR Installation, 2020

 

Can you tell us more about the starting point for the Conniveo project?

Rural Media’s website advertised the BBC New Creatives scheme, co-funded by Arts Council and BBC Arts. They have been after mainly film and audio artists but also interactive artworks which includes VR. I applied for it with a project idea last June. The project wasn’t called Conniveo at the time but the idea was very similar – about plastic pollution and the oceans. I found out in August that I’d been selected for a commission so that I could develop the VR and physical installation sides of the exhibition which will be on display at Stryx.

 

What will the Stryx exhibition involve?

Everything for the physical installation has been made using recycled materials and sourced environmentally, apart from the VR technology, so that the experience isn’t affected. I’m incorporating fishing nets that have been donated by people who collect plastic waste from beaches and scaffolding as it’s always re-used. The scaffolding installation will house the VR. Some prints on display have been taken from the VR – digital renders that you wouldn’t see when navigating the virtual environment such as under the sea bed and from above. I’ve made a light box from a broken TV. I have also produced an animation of the experience as there is only space for one headset and one area to walk around in. It means that people who can’t view VR, or don’t want to, can watch the animation.

 

Is the exhibition touring?

Yes, it’s going to be shown at Birmingham School of Art 6 – 17 April and then to Backlit Gallery 5 – 14 June in Nottingham, which will be a group show that has an open call out at the moment, and then at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth for the whole of August. It’s the first time the aquarium have worked with an artist. The room where it will be shown has a wall which forms part of an actual aquarium with fish swimming past. Conniveo will then be touring around for the rest of the year in other locations.

 

Georgia Tucker, Conniveo, VR Installation, 2020

 

What does the open call out involve?

Not necessarily VR, but artists exploring environmental concerns. I want to bring together people who have similar views but shown in different media. The open call is still live and images and statements can be emailed to me. It would be helpful if people sent the work they want to show rather than a portfolio. The work selected needs to work alongside what I’m showing and I will pick my personal favourites. Scale of work will determine how many others are selected. Rural Media and a curator are assisting with selection.

 

What impact do you hope this work will have in terms of the issues it raises?

Rural Media have helped me with marketing, particularly how to push my social media and as a result I’ve got meetings with some large organisations including charities who want to use the work for their lobbying efforts. The environmental impact is that VR helps immerse the viewer and forces them to engage with the topic more actively. I’ve been surprised that a lot of people that are following the work are not necessarily interested in VR but are following it because of the work’s environmental content.

 

Georgia Tucker, Conniveo, VR Installation, 2020

 

And the impact in terms of your practice?

I’ve again got meetings and potential commissions with some very large companies and even though VR has been around for a long time it is still somehow new. These companies are looking at their environmental impact, developing schemes for going greener and are therefore after the combination of the technology, the artwork and the content. These experiences have made me change the way I think about my practice in terms of making a living from it. I didn’t expect there to be corporations hiring creatives but it seems to be the way forward. A lot of companies are saying to me that in the future you may be able to replace some job roles but that they can’t replace creatives.

 

 

Applications for the open call can be emailed directly to Georgia at georgiaktucker@btinternet.com by Sunday 1 March.

Artist Georgia Tucker, who showed at the end of 2019 as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial, has been busy working on a new commission as part of the BBC New Creatives scheme. Conniveo, the resulting exhibition, comprised of a VR and physical installation, opens at Stryx in March.

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

A critical review of Stryx Gallery’s SOUP Pt V: BLENDER residency by Emily Scarrott – via a-n reviews

Still Anarchy (2017-ongoing), installation view, Chris Alton. Image courtesy of Patrick Dandy.

Laura O’Leary reviews Three Models for Change which took place at Stryx, Birmingham from 9-16 June 2018.

Three Models for Change, was a group show of artists Chris Alton, Ian Giles and Greta Hauer curated by University of Birmingham students Ryan Kearney, Alice O’Rourke and Ariadne Tzika in association with Grand Union. The exhibition presented three separate works, all made between 2016-18 that engage with how to form communities and ripple the product of proactive conversations into society.

After BUTT (2018) Installation view, Ian Giles. Image courtesy of Patrick Dandy.

In Ian Giles’ After BUTT (2018), mattresses were strewn across the floor creating a comfortable bed to watch his thirty-four minute film, in which a group of stylish readers in their twenties enacted conversations that he conducted with the founders and those involved in the making of BUTT, a gay magazine that featured half lifestyle and half pornography content, published between 2001-2011. Questions included why the magazine  started, by whom, it’s design, and legacy.

The perspective of the group oscillates around the room, shot in a soft light. In the film, a reader comments that BUTT made it okay “to have a small dick and a pot belly.” BUTT displayed body diversity, instead of the mainstream presentation of men in gay magazines that was “clean” and “commercial”, an aesthetic that was familiar to the founders Gert Jonkers and Jop Van Bennekom pre-BUTT. However, as the conversation draws out, we find out  the magazine was not inclusive, and provoked questions regarding the magazine’s treatment of race and gender.

Gay culture is discussed with emotion and humour in this highly organised, scripted conversation. A casual life-like nature to the dialogue is portrayed, due to beer cans sitting next to reader’s trainers, as though I was witnessing a self-reflexive conversation. Whilst sinking deeper into the mattress, re-watching the film, I considered why these artists are brought together in the same room.

Chris Alton’s Still Anarchy (2017-ongoing) is an installation of three embellished leather jackets, embroidered with statements such as “Defend the Sacred”. Copies of his A Quaker Zine #Volume 1 commissioned for this exhibition are displayed, which include snippets of conversations, collages, drawings and small texts made during a workshop in May 2018 at Friend’s House, London, with “a group of former Punks, now Quakers and others.” The zine indicates to resistance, demonstrated in the imagery of police arrests at protests and also, constructions of identity. Such as, “I turn back to the [14-year-old] girl in the denim jacket, the girl who used to be a Mod but now considered herself a Quaker, the girl who admires Edie Sedgwick and gets turned on by Day-Glo running shoes.” The extract is a part of this document which demonstrates the recent exchanges Alton had with the group.

In Alton’s installation of leather jackets, he brings together two seemingly disparate groups; Punks and Quakers, and turns them into a fictional band, imagined and sought by the artist. Typified by a pull-out poster in the zine, with a “MEMBERS WANTED” sign – seek band mates, reminiscent of handmade posters found in the back of music stores. Tabs at the bottom of the poster display the artist’s digits. The (retro) term “digits” used, as the aesthetic of the poster harks back pre-digital times, where these types of messages were not shared online but infiltrated the walls of buildings, where these groups would pass through; forming networks. The leather jackets that hang from chains vacantly await the band, ready to fuse a new narrative.

Installation view, Image courtesy of Patrick Dandy.

In Greta Hauer’s work – the final “Model for Change” – her commissioned film Vigorous Activities (2016-2018) sheds light on the fictional activities taking place on Nishinoshima, a volcanic island ~1000km off the coast of Japan. Nishinoshima was confirmed as an island in 2013 and is expanding overtime, consequently broadening the Japanese economic zone. The work lasts for nine minutes and begins with a large title: VIGOROUS ACTIVITIES in the opening sequence and a documentary style aesthetic follows, in which a character that plays “the presenter” details the redevelopment of Nishinoshima as a tourist hotbed, notorious for its seafood delicacies; a by-product of men in suits tampering with the ecosystems of the island. By reflecting on a fictional future for Nishinoshima; a new self-building island, it presents the site of the exhibition as a space to reflect on the formation of communities, which in themselves could be seen as self-building systems and the possibility of re-defining places by investigating their political and cultural remit.

Three Models for Change offered a gateway into prototypes of queer dialogues, the intersection between Punks/Quakers and into possible futures of un-told, uninhabited places. What draws to the surface, is the unrest of desire for spaces for organic conversations, in a structured, harmonious sense. How by critically addressing the histories and futures of communities, even fictitious, can be a good diving board to enter into how to discuss issues through these networks, to quote from Ian Giles’ work – “how there’s not one way to do anything.”

Laura O’Leary (based Birmingham/Derby) is a freelance writer and Programme Assistant at QUAD, Derby.

 

Laura O’Leary reviews Three Models for Change which took place at Stryx, Birmingham from 9-16 June 2018, a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Grand Union.

Ian Andrews, installation view at Artists Workhouse in Studley

 

Some fresh tasty vegetables [talent], a dash of hot sauce [ideas], knob of butter [agency], a glug of ageing wine [experience], a crumble of stock [collaboration]? Then there is the cooking … time, space and don’t get me started on the utensils! 

Ian Andrews, installation view at Artists Workhouse in Studley

The complexities of ‘what ingredients make for a successful artist?’ led Stryx, an independent art space in Birmingham to set up their SOUP residency programme back in 2015. SOUP representing in simple terms, a mixing of artists in a shared studio space for a length of time.

 

The SOUP residency, now in its fourth year, has given over twenty artists the chance to work collaboratively in a large multifunctional studio space for a two-month period, framed by three open-studio exhibitions. This gave audiences the chance to see how a group of artists can progress with their work during a residency period.

 

In 2017, the SOUP residency entered new culinary territories with the launch of SLOW COOKER: SOUP PT IV with the support of Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council. This version of the residency saw the SOUP residency transform and transpose into a two-month paid residency for six artists: Ian Andrews, Hannah Taylor + Emily Scarrott, Thomas Kilby, Amy McLelland and Frederick Hubble. The project then morphed into a touring exhibition spanning across the West Midlands area. Working in collaboration with Asylum Gallery in Wolverhampton, Meter Room in Coventry, Direct Art Action in Sutton Coldfield and Artist Workhouse in Studley, Warwickshire.

 

As an alumnus of 2016 SOUP PT III, I observed and followed this recent transformation of the SOUP to SLOW COOKER residency, in an attempt to reveal the ups and downs of such an experience and its role in nurturing artistic talent.

 

I kept a keen eye on the SLOW COOKER artistic residency programme, with regular engagements with those involved. I will begin by highlighting some of the radiant outcomes. First and foremost, it has given momentum to six artists to allow themselves the time and space make and show work. The importance of this should never be underestimated. The SOUP residencies, like many before, have given a chance for artists to reconnect, reapply and re-energise their practices. For some, this experience has given them reason to make again, for others it has given them a fresh opportunity to experiment with new ways of working and showing. This includes the encouragement to explore ways in which to engage with the public, gained through a number of public exhibitions, engagements and participatory events.

 

The three open-studio exhibitions that were on at show at Stryx Gallery between May 2017 and July 2017 were, as ever, well curated, considered and received, with the knowledgeable support of the directors of the gallery: Karolina Korupczynska and Anna Katarzyna Domejko; as well as vital input from curator Roma Piotrowska who delivered four useful curatorial and mentoring workshops for the artists during their residencies.

 

These exhibitions consisted of a series of mixed media, process and live works. As a viewer I gained a sensation that all of the works in some way revealed a sense of curiosity about the seemingly bizarre and capitalist world in which we live. These works spanned research including magical displays of faux food, exploration of artworld fame, to repetitive body-based performances themed around social trauma, to the mythical origins and futures of our natural oceans.

 

Exhibition shot. Frederick Hubble

 

The audience responded well to these shows triggering a host of feedback, conversations and questions. All three of these open-studio events were marketed within with Birmingham’s Digbeth First Friday event showcase, which, as expected, added to the exhilaration of the event.  As with many exhibitions, artworks themselves only really become works when the audiences see them, but, even more so during a mid-residency open-studio event, whereby the artist very often puts their work in front of an audience without knowing how it may be received. This is a vulnerable and vital step in the development of a piece of work.

 

The final exhibition was then re-curated, appropriated and toured around the other four venues between July and December 2017. During this period, the shift of focus changed from being foremost about process and testing, to management, outcome and display. The satisfaction and tension between the making and displaying of work became a valuable albeit stressful experience, especially for the artists in the group whom tend to make responsive and live works.

 

The spaces chosen were located across the West Midlands, and varied in size, ethos, management aims, focus and organisational support. Some set up times being weeks, other being a matter of hours. This proved to be a realistic if challenging experience of what planning exhibitions of work can be like, leaving a legacy of key logistical skills that make up a significant part being a successful contemporary artist.

 

Another area of enquiry has been engagement and opportunity. As SLOW COOKER became the first paid SOUP residency, this has had a direct and positive impact on the quality, engagement and reach of the residency. Meaning this year, more than ever, the artists seemed to have made more ambitious work with a greater impact and reach.

 

The mixing of six very different practitioners during the residency allowed for collaboration, support and conversations to emerge, but as ever, due to the precarious life of being an artist, the later touring shows became more challenging as the artists had to begin to develop other financial avenues to support their on going practice beyond these touring works, as explained by a few of the participants. This is a problem encountered for many artists, indeed creative types, after paid work. Momentum and funding don’t always go hand in hand. The rights of artist workers have and I assume always will be a contested issue for a world that revolves around financial capital and investments. But, having said this, Stryx did an excellent job on ensuring, when possible, travel and associated expenses were covered in these later stages to the project.

 

During and after the residency, all the artists involved seemed to have revived confidences in both their artworks and their audiences. A few have already jumped into future opportunities and collaborations directly or indirectly related to the experience. Frederick Hubble has already secured a solo show titled FIRN at Asylum Arts Space in collaboration with a local curator Karina Cabanikova. This is a perfect example of how this experience is already starting to have impact in terms of collaboration, reach and the development of artistic [and indeed facilitative] practices.

  Gavin Rogers, 2018

Gavin Rogers responds to SLOW COOKER PT IV, an artist residency programme delivered by Stryx Gallery Birmingham from May to Dec 2017.