Two weeks ago we had the chance to meet the 2015-17 Children’s Laureate, political cartoonist and children's book illustrator, Chris Riddell at his home in Brighton. For this occasion, we were accompanied by Kalila, pupil at Steyning Primary School and her mum. Kalila, a big fan of Chris Riddell, was delighted to meet her hero on her 10th birthday. Feeling a little nervous before getting to Chris's house, she then fully enjoyed what became a very special day for her. After having Kalila's book signed, we all went to the artist's studio for an exciting filming session during which she asked Chris some questions she had prepared with her classmates such as “Why is drawing a good thing to do?”, “Why are libraries important?” or more random questions like “What pets do you have?”...
Chris Riddell has been invited by HOUSE and project partner Photoworks to lead a free family drawing and photography event called Home Is Where The Heart Is. Chris is keen to get involved in the festival, meeting children and families and promoting the joys of reading, drawing and libraries. The first workshop will take place at the Jubilee Library in Brighton on 14th May, but we would love to have the opportunity to take it to other venues. In order to do this, we are running a crowd funding campaign, which is soon to go live! Stay tuned for this exciting project!
Written by Fanny LeJeune, intern for HOUSE 2016
The photo above is of staff on the balconies of the Grand Hotel on the day it re-opened after the 1984 bombing. This event was the starting point for City Collective’s film installed at the Regency Town House Basement.
Amanda Loomes use to be a civil engineer working in the construction industry (that’s why she knows more about concrete than most artists).
Nathan Coley had never been to Brighton before being asked to be Invited Artist for HOUSE 2015. ‘It’s full of DJs and the IRA bombed a hotel there…’
Patrick Magee's pseudonym under which he checked into the Grand Hotel in 1984 was Roy Walsh, hence Nathan Coley's title Roy Walsh meets Patrick Magee for one of his pieces in the Portraits of Dissension exhibition at The Regency Town House.
Joseph Popper made the jungle landscape which features in his installation The Same Face by stuffing foam into a food processor and dyeing it green.
The cost of building a property like The Regency Town House (where Nathan Coley’s Portraits of Dissension is being shown) ranged from £3,000 to £5,000 in the early 1800s. A similar amount could be spent on furnishings. Servants’ wages were between £10 and £65 per annum.
The location for Nathan Coley’s You Imagine What You Desire, St Nicholas Church, is the oldest surviving building in Brighton. It was the town’s parish church for over seven centuries and is still referred to today as the Mother Church of Brighton.
On Clifton Street near Brighton Station, we are transforming an old wood yard into a pop-up cinema. The site has been derelict for 10 years and this is a one-off project for HOUSE 2015 as the wood yard is being developed.
HOUSE 2015 is supported by 44 volunteers who invigilate the exhibitions, talk to visitors, help with the installation process and ensure the security of the work. They are integral to the running of HOUSE every year and we value their contribution immensely!
Judy Stevens and Chris Lord love art so much one festival wasn't enough, so as well as running Artists Open Houses for 10 years, they decided to set up HOUSE 7 years ago.
The lure of the big red button...
Joseph Popper’s instillation The Same Face is a 1:1 scale set of a drone command centre that explores the boundaries between the video game world and modern warfare. Despite its deeper meaning which questions our potential for destruction, I have been captivated by the more playful side of the piece.
While invigilating, I have found the best game has been watching people struggle with the moral dilemma of whether to touch it or not. Just as the smell of fish and chips on the beach entices us to forget our diets, the promise of the flashing red buttons were clearly just too good for some to resist.
One man said to his partner:
“I know I’m not allowed to, but I can’t resist. Who can have a red button in front of them and not touch it?”
The more we try not to do something the more it plays on our minds, and the more likely we are to give in and do it. So go on, I dare you to NOT do something mischievous today.
Lucy Bird, volunteer invigilator, HOUSE 2015
We've been listening to a range of audience feedback to various HOUSE 2015 exhibitions.
Responses to Joseph Popper’s The Same Face:
> [a father to his child] Do you want one of these in your bedroom?
> I want my own drone to control to blow up things..
> [two friends] This reminds me of something… this is YOU at the controls in your house… it’s so funny, this really sums you up. [the other friend, in response, gesturing to the red buttons] …and these would be the missile launchers.
> What’s really weird is the whole thing’s like something out of Dr Who.
> As a child I used to have a joystick identical to this one - it’s weird not to be able to touch it.
> It’s really hard not to touch it - with all those red buttons.
> If you pressed a button here it would be terrible.
> It’s a wicked space to put it the installation in.
> I love the way you’ve got different layers of the surrounding walls exposed.
> We’ve seen some really interesting things today.
> It would have had more power if it was real photographs
> It’s not Dr Who-like it’s Blue Peter-like, and it’s very gendered, like model railways. It makes you want to fiddle with it. It’s very much a boys thing to make. I’m liking it more now we’ve talked about it.
Responses to Nathan Coley’s Portraits of Dissension:
> It’s a very formative space… it doesn’t take anything away from the artwork.
> I like the way you don’t realise until you go around the back… the things that have happened to it… the things that made it successful.
> This is beautiful.
Response to Amanda Loomes’ Relict Material:
> She must have asked really good questions because the answers weren’t benign, like what’s your favourite aggregate? - Sand. We really loved that Amanda Loomes one, didn’t we…
Intuitive Visions: Shifting the Margins at Phoenix Brighton
Partner Project with HOUSE 2015
Outside In provides a platform for artists who define themselves as facing barriers to the art world due to health, disability, social circumstance or isolation.
Here, they describe their work, in there own words:
It is almost as if I live my life to create beautiful art; inspiration seems to come from everywhere. I do not wish to control the progression of my work but rather to allow the flow of spontaneity to lead the way, as if I am on a journey of discovery. With the blind drawings I start with a blank piece of paper, close my eyes and draw a head. I then open my eyes and add colour.
I doodle on pieces of paper, inspired by everyday life; sitting on the bus, looking out of windows. These drawings are the basis for my textile pieces. I like sewing as it is tactile and homely. You can say quite serious things and disguise them in a homely way. I often pick up materials from charity shops; fabrics that already have a history of their own. I then stamp, spray and sew to give them a new life.
I have been creating visual art ever since I was young, with more productive periods interspersed with fallow times. I am a colour obsessive, as well as a ‘magpie’ for images, textiles and metals, plus beach and street plastic flotsam. I rarely pre-plan a piece, but work very quickly and intuitively with the available recycled and found materials, very often to create a piece that will decorate - or be functional in - a particular area of my living space.
The medium I use most is batik because the process is so experimental. I never know what I’m going to end up with and I really enjoy the actual process of doing it. I start from doodles, always experimenting with batik, paint, dye, bleach; whatever I can get my hands on. My influences are everything I see, feel and experience, as well as other art forms including graffiti, music, dance and sculpture.
I find the only way to arrive at something new is to actually start the process of making as I don’t like to plan what I do. I always seem to end up using the drawing with a sewing machine technique on fabric as it enables me to produce the figures that are in my head. Making for me is like a meditation in which you can lose yourself for minutes, hours or days.
Michelle creates her work in the Project Art Works studio, and in recent years has refined a dense and highly personalised approach to making images. Working methodically across each canvas, section by section, she creates colourful and complex worlds; each with a distinct logic and meaning that connect to her own life. Michelle starts by building layers of patterns, working from left to right and top to bottom, before selectively filling the shapes with colour.
After becoming involved with illicit substances in my early twenties, I found myself expressing what was going on in my mind by making art; one piece after another. I found the intensity of what I was producing was a reflection of my subconscious and what I was feeling. I usually find that once I start on a piece, I might leave it half way through and begin another. It all depends on how I feel.
Jonathan Kenneth William Pettitt
I usually begin with an image in my mind, then as I work, I find different things coming in. I see things as I go; angels, fairies, gnomes. I’m inspired by spiritual things, as well as other artists including Paul Klee, Picasso, El Greco, Bosch and Dali, and the stories of Rudyard Kipling, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. I use acrylic on canvas, and encourage the viewer to see joy and hope, and sometimes a lesson.
I work in pencil and enjoy making 3D models of my images in papier mache. I find inspiration from copying images, so when I saw the image of the predator dinosaurs in a book, I drew all of them. My art work is a personal process for me and sometimes I make work based on stories that I am writing. Drawing makes me happy and I would like to do more of it.
Intuitive Visions: Shifting the Margins at Phoenix Brighton
Partner Project with HOUSE 2015
Outside In provides a platform for artists who define themselves as facing barriers to the art world due to health, disability, social circumstance or isolation. This year’s exhibition, Intuitive Visions: Shifting the Margins, features works by nine artists at Phoenix Brighton.
In January and February we called for Outside In artists based in East Sussex to submit work for possible inclusion. After the submission deadline, five Brighton-based selectors chose the final works to be included in the exhibition, bearing in mind the overall theme of HOUSE 2015; Edge and Shift.
The selectors were Karin Mori, Artistic Programme Manager at Phoenix Brighton; a Director from HOUSE Festival; David Jones, a Brighton-based Outside In Award Winning artist; Simon Powell, co-Founder of Creative Future, a Brighton-based organisation nurturing marginalised artists and writers in their creative development; and Jim Sanders, a Brighton-based contemporary artist.
In the run up to the submissions deadline, Outside In held four Surgery Days across East Sussex including at Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, Hastings Museum, Grace Eyre Day Centre and Brighton and Hove Foyer. These one-to-one sessions helped artists who needed extra support to submit their work to the HOUSE Festival and create an online gallery on the Outside In website.
HOUSE 2015 artist, Joseph Popper, on low-budget creation, getting political and the lone ‘drone’ protagonist.
Co-commissioning partner Lighthouse talks to Joseph about his exploration of space travel and technological endeavour through film, photography and installations; how cinematic special effects have inspired his work; and how his transformation of found locations and everyday objects is used to simulate speculative scenarios and create fictional experiences.
In his current installation, The Same Face, a combined video and physical set plays upon the similarities between a drone command centre and a flight simulator, within which both pilots are situated in rooms, filled with screens and joy sticks, only one is loaded with the potential for destruction and one isn’t.
For HOUSE 2015 Joseph has responded to the theme 'Edge and Shift' with an installation of a scale set of a drone command centre. The work will play upon the uneasy similarities between an enthusiast’s handmade flight simulator and an actual drone command centre.
Among the monitors; control panels and headsets, a labour of love and an act of war share the same face. Films simulating on-board camera footage will illuminate the room. The work takes the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton as a point of departure, where the location of the event is one of a series of landscapes reimagined from 5000ft high. The imagery will further explore how modern warfare is rendered as if a video game platform, where the edges of the real and the virtual blur in the transmission of animated pixels.
The command centre will hold three main video monitors, displaying aerial films of three distinct scenes. Model landscapes will be made employing the techniques of miniature model making, akin to the style and scale of model railway train sets. This hobbyist aesthetic further plays into the themes of the work. The scenes comprise the Grand Hotel, an airport and a jungle (pictured here): local and remote locations, captured in the style of drone camera footage. Drones exemplify how technology has joined the fighter pilot with the wider global audience in a remote viewing of conflict, where their absence from the sky is mediated by instruments and imagery.