New Grayson Perry exhibition opening at Firstsite, Colchester

“Our deeds still travel with us from afar/And what we have been makes us what we are.” – George Eliot, Middlemarch

18 November saw the opening of Firstsite’s latest exhibition, The Life of Julie Cope by Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry. The show features four large-scale tapestries, woodcuts and ceramic works among other work related to Perry’s A House for Essex (2015) – all playing on the theme of local identity.

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Grayson Perry. Julie and Rob, 2013. Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry. 400 x 300cm. Published by Paragon. c. Grayson Perry. Courtesy the artist, Paragon | Contemporary Editions Ltd and Victoria Miro, London

The protagonist of this show, Julie Cope, lives out her days on a trail from Canvey Island through to Colchester high street where an unfortunate collision with a delivery drive on a moped cuts her life short. The tapestries, on loan from the Crafts Council Collection, are strewn with Perry’s usual subtleties, all pointing at the common theme of identity and social history in Essex. As Perry himself has said of the work, it represents ‘the trials, tribulations, celebration and mistakes of an average life’. Cope’s journey across Essex is both physical and emotional, echoing George Eliot’s sentiment of where we have been making us who we are today.

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Grayson Perry. In a Familiarity Golden, 2015. Tapestry. 290 x 343 cm. Published by Paragon. c. Grayson Perry. Courtesy the artist, Paragon | Contemporary Editions Ltd and Victoria Miro, London

A House for Essex lies in Wrabness, overlooking the Stour Estuary in north-east Essex. Perry designed the house in 2015 in collaboration with Charles Holland of FAT Architeture. It has been described by Holland as a ‘radical statement about the capacity of architecture for narrative and communication to tell a rich and complex story.’ Acting as a ‘shrine’ to fictional character Julie Cope, the building is described as an ‘ornate ceramic-clad, gingerbread-like edifice’. It is chapel-like, stunningly secular and notably ‘Perry’ in its bright colours and patterns that contrast so heavily with the drab Essex countryside. It was commissioned by Living Architecture, which was founded to change public perceptions about modern architecture.

The meticulous design of the house includes everything from the patented ‘Julie tile’ that depicts totems of Julie’s life: a nappy pin, a mixtape and the letter J. Woodcuts from the project that depict 6 stages of Julie’s life will also appear in the show, alongside an audio recording of The Ballad of Julie Cope: Perry’s penned epic that both opens and closes Julie’s life.

This exhibition entwines narrative with local culture, hopes with dream and love with loss. Perry’s usual dry observations of contemporary British culture align themselves with the quietness of life, providing a new sentimental angle to his work about his home county.

The Life of Julie Cope runs from 18 November 2017 until 18 February. For more details, visit www.firstsite.uk

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‘It’s how well you bounce’ at Bethlem Gallery

Bethlem Gallery is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new group exhibition entitled It’s how well you bounce, which explores resilience and its relationship to the imagination and artistic practice. The gallery is an art focused platform for former and current patients of the historic Royal Bethlem Hospital in Bromley, supporting artists with lived experience of mental illness to involve themselves in the positive direction of art making. ArtAttack chats with Bethlem Gallery’s curator Sam Curtis about the show’s themes, the gallery’s milestone anniversary and what the future holds.

Bethlem Gallery, Mr X, 1 September 2017, Photo Ed Watts, Courtesy Bethlem Gallery[1].jpg
Mr X outside Bethlem Gallery. Photo Ed Watts, Courtesy Bethlem Gallery
 How does the theme of resilience manifest itself in the works in the exhibition?

The theme of resilience manifests itself in the works in the exhibition in diverse ways, we see the works of artists who draw on the imagination as a positive and strategic response to life pressures, works that are born out of the artist’s ability to adapt and survive to new and often challenging circumstances, artists that resist or document resistance to social and political pressures, artists that reroute negative thoughts into something more positive through their art making, artists that map, shape and transform their identity through art making and therapy and importantly we can encounter artworks and projects that critique the notion of resilience that says we need to ‘man or woman-up’ and bounce back from adversity . It’s how well you bounce includes artworks that explore a specific aspect of resilience as well as artworks that come from artistic practice that is itself a form of resilience.

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Installation view of Grayson Perry, Map of an Englishman, 2004. Photo: Ed Watts. Courtesy: Bethlem Gallery

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Disco Ball Soul: ArtAttack Interviews Emma Elizabeth Tillman

Opening on 11 August 2017 is photographer Emma Elizabeth Tillman’s debut solo show entitled Disco Ball Soul. The exhibition, consisting of more than 90 collages created over a ten-year period, is an accumulation of photographs and texts taken from her new book of the same title. Tillman began this body of work in 2007, recording precious moments, including her meeting of her now husband Josh.

1. Louisville, Kentucky, 2012 © Emma Elizabeth Tillman, by courtesy of the artist.jpg
Louisville, Kentucky, 2012 © Emma Elizabeth Tillman, by courtesy of the artist

ArtAttack caught up with Emma to find out more about her thoughts on film, travel and making the private public.

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New Geographies launches today!

Today, 18th July, marks the launch of The East Contemporary Visual Arts Network’s (ECVAN) New Geographies, a three-year Arts Council England-funded project that invites members of the public to choose locations for 10 major site-specific visual arts commissions across the east of England.

Petrified Oak Forest of Mundon, Essex © Glyn Baker.jpg
Petrified Oak Forest of Mundon, Essex © Glyn Baker

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A Turner Prize Nominee comes to Firstsite: Lubaina Himid’s ‘Warp and Weft’

This Saturday 1st July sees the opening of Lubaina Himid: Warp and Weft, a survey of works by the 2017 Turner Prize nominee at Firstsite gallery in Colchester.

1. Naming the Money, 2004. Collection of National Museum Liverpool International Slavery Museum, and the artist. Photo Spike Island © the artist copy.png
Naming the Money, 2004. Courtesy the artist, Hollybush Gardens and National Museums Liverpool: International Slavery Museum. Photo Spike Island © the artist

A key figure in the Black Arts Movement, Himid first came to prominence in the 1980s when she began organising exhibitions of work by her peers, who were underrepresented in the contemporary art scene. Her diverse approach disrupts preconceptions of the world by introducing historical and contemporary stories of racial bias and acts of violence inflicted upon oppressed communities.

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Explore the Unexplored with ‘Ed Gold: Other Worlds’ at Firstsite

Opening this weekend on Saturday 17th June at Firstsite, Colchester (private view tonight from 6-9pm!) is Ed Gold: Other Worlds, a compelling presentation of 100 photographs by the  social documentary photographer taken over the past 30 years during his time spent living in various isolated communities across the globe. There are five bodies of work by Ed being shown in the retrospective: Patagonia, Country Folk (Essex, Wales & Scotland), Afghanistan Bed Spaces, Positive Futures and Nowitna and each series is an in-depth look at what it really is like to be a part of those communities.

M’Hula Crew, Country Folk, 1999, Digital print, Dimensions variable.jpg

M’Hula Crew, Country Folk, 1999, Digital print, Dimensions variable

 

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A £10,000 prize will make this year’s HIX Award more exciting than ever!

The HIX Award is back this year and more exciting than ever with a £10,000 cash prize to be awarded to the overall winner thanks to new sponsors Coutts and Baxterstory! The award itself is even designed by art world legend Damien Hirst so artists, we’d suggest you get submitting as soon as possible!

The annual emerging art award, which is open to current students and recent graduates of UK art colleges alike, was created five years ago by restaurateur and art aficionado, Mark Hix, to give young artists a platform to showcase their work and take their first steps in their professional careers.

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Mark Hix

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‘An elegant dance’ between poetry and art: Robert Perkins’s ‘The Written Image’

Thursday 24th May sees the opening of Robert Perkins: The Written Image at Benjamin Spademan Rare Books, the first of a two-part exhibition of the American artist’s 45-year collaboration with poets.

From Seamus Heaney to Allen Ginsberg, Perkins has worked with the best of the best when it comes to the world of poetry. In fact, his journey began back in the 1970’s when he was a student at Harvard University and took poet, Elizabeth Bishop’s creative writing seminar. Perkins explains that when he told Bishop that he’d always wanted to be an artist, she wrote out a copy of her poem The Fish and asked him to illustrate it.

This assignment launched The Written Image, which Perkins describes as ‘self-portraits of the poet in the moment.’ To begin a work, he takes the poet’s hand-written text and then melds it with his own imagery, thus constructing a visual representation around the words.

11. Robert Perkins, Jon Galassi, Knot, 2000 © Robert Perkins. Courtesy the Artist and Benjamin Spademan Rare Books. Photo by Louie Fasciolo.jpg
Robert Perkins, Jon Galassi, Knot, 2000 © Robert Perkins. Courtesy the Artist and Benjamin Spademan Rare Books. Photo by Louie Fasciolo

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Simon Patterson Presents a Safari at the De La Warr Pavilion

From 20th May, the De La Warr Pavilion will present Safari: An exhibition as expedition, an anthology of works by the British artist, Simon Patterson.

8. ...words fly up...,, 1996 (detail) © Simon Patterson, by courtesy of the artist .jpg
…words fly up…,, 1996 (detail) © Simon Patterson, by courtesy of the artist 

Interspersed throughout the gallery space and hence taking the viewers on their own mini safari, the works on view will span a quarter century of Patterson’s career and feature wall drawings, sculpture, prints, photographs video and installation, as well as a public intervention, a site-specific commission and on opening day, a staged sea battle in collaboration with Bexhill Sailing Club!

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Simon Patterson, rehearsal of Seascape, 2017, with Bexhill Sailing Club. Photo: Sin Bozkurt

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