Friday, 20 December 2013

Celebrating 20 years: Highlights of 2013 at East Street Arts

With 2014 almost upon us, Leeds Art Scene invited East Street Arts to share its highlights of the past year.

2013 has been a busy one at East Street Arts. It marked the 20th anniversary of the organisation, which was set up by Jon Wakeman and Karen Watson at East Street Mills in 1993.

To celebrate this landmark year, Leeds-based designers Thompson Brand Partners created a new brand identity, complete with a sparkling website that will be launched in the coming months.

East Street Arts is now the largest charitable provider of affordable workspace for artists outside of London, and a new permanent studio site was launched at Gateshead Old Town Hall, in partnership with Sage Gateshead in 2013.

In Situ spaces, including sites in Wrexham, Pontefract, Barnsley and even Hornsea, have created studios, exhibitions, events and pop-up galleries in locations across the country, culminating in a BBC feature last month ‘The Creative Boom in Empty Buildings’.

Warren Street, one of our temporary spaces in a former lighting showroom in Central London, hosted an array of exhibitions of members’ work and a group show with NY-based Imagination in Space.

As part of the exchange members exhibited work with Test Space, turning a working architect’s office into a temporary art gallery and shop for a one week pop-up on the Lower East Side.

Colony, Anarch’s 16 day programme based on the letters of Gordon Matta-Clark, features a commission by Andrew T Cross and is currently open at Warren Street until the 20th December.

In October, the annual Open Studios event took place at locations across the North.

East Street Arts commissioned the team at Mexico to curate an exhibition from members’ work at Union 105 in Chapeltown. And events took place at various sites over the weekend

Juliana’s Bike – a festival of art and cycling - was held during the summer in Leeds. Four times BAFTA nominated Blast Theory are world renowned as pioneers of interactive art and immersive theatre, they brought their Rider Spoke project to Patrick Studios encouraging cyclists to discover the secrets and confessions of the city’s streets.

As part of the city’s preparations for 2014’s Tour de France, Juliana’s Bike formed part of the Grand Départ Cultural Festival.

This year also saw the launch of the first specialist ceramic facility in Leeds.

Based at East Street Arts’ Barkston House studio in Holbeck, eight studios spaces have been developed with a functioning classroom and a separate kiln room.

Facilities include three kilns, a pug mill, an electric wheel, washout sinks, purpose-built mobile drying storage, and ‘hot benching’ for short-term firings/projects.

Coming up next year, Delta, East Street Arts’ new International Residency and Exchange Programme, begins with a residency by French artists Arnaud Verley and Philémon « Société Volatile ».

They are developing a sculptural work inspired by the concept of a seer, with sound recordings from the local area as part of their installation.

Another major project for 2014 is the launch of the first Live/Work space for artists in Leeds.

Based in Beeston, it aims to provide affordable creative live/work space, new opportunities for artists, and will also support East Street Arts’ community engagement programme.

If you are interested in finding out more about East Street Arts, or would like to become a member of our community, visit:

Monday, 16 December 2013

Alfred Drury to be shown at Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery

The work of Alfred Drury, one of the leading sculptors of the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods, will be on display at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery from January 15, 2014.

Famed for his bronze nude light bearer statues on City Square, the exhibition will review the art and life of Alfred Drury RA (1856-1944), and will examine his role in the New Sculpture movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Alfred Drury, The Age of Innocence, (1897)

Included within the exhibition will be some of Drury’s most important, smaller-scale, sculptural works, including Griselda, The Age of Innocence and Lilith.

Alongside sculptural works by Alfred Drury, the exhibition will display paintings and medals by the artist, and also documents and photographs from the period.

The exhibition will also include works by Aimé Jules Dalou, Auguste Rodin, Lord Leighton, and Alfred Stevens.

Alfred Drury and the New Sculpture will be on display at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery from January 15 to April 13. The gallery is open to the public, Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Senses and Sculpture: Highlights of 2013 at the Henry Moore Institute

With 2013 coming to an end, Leeds Art Scene invited the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, to share its highlights of the past year.

This year’s program at the Henry Moore Institute has not only been a spectacular treat for the eyes, but for all the senses.

At the beginning of 2013, visitors saw the first solo UK institutional exhibition dedicated to Robert Filliou (1926-87), The Institute of Endless Possibilities.

During the exhibition, the Institute restaged a game called ‘Leeds’ that was first orchestrated by Filliou at Leeds College of Art in 1969.

The game involves two blindfolded card players and a surrounding audience that guides each player through their moves – throughout the game the players must work together with the spectators and trust their judgment.

This summer during Indifferent Matter: From Object to Sculpture, audiences were greeted by Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s (1957-96) gleaming field of silver-wrapped sweets, “Untitled’ (Placebo)’, and Andy Warhol’s (1928-87) ‘Silver Clouds’.

Visitors were invited to consume the pineapple-flavoured sweets and throughout the course of the exhibition the Institute was tasked with returning the sculpture to its ideal mass each day.

Similarly, the Institute needed to maintain ‘Silver Clouds’, which involved a set of strategically placed fans and numerous half-filled helium balloons. Often a balloon slowly floating around the gallery space would drop out of circulation and would sink to the floor - in which case an information assistant would re-launch the rogue balloon back up towards the ceiling.

Last week the Institute ignited a flare sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011) entitled ‘Narrow Mind’.

Sounds, smells and smoke filled the atmosphere as the flares burned on top of the steps outside the building. The spent flares were then removed from their blackened wooden frames and hung on the wall of the Institute’s reception.

The event was one of three that will take place during Thought Collision Factories, an exhibition that explores Oppenheim’s use of fireworks, flares and machines as sculptural materials.

Every day at 12 noon the machines are switched on and visitors can experience them running for a short period of time. One machine is a launching pad for fireworks and the other involves candy floss - both works produce processes rather than products.

Dennis Oppenheim: Thought Collision Factories is paired with Stephen Cripps: Pyrotechnic Sculptor in the Upper Sculpture Study Gallery, and Jean Tinguely: 'Spiral' (1965) in Gallery 4 until January 5, 2014. The exhibition celebrates the 2013 acquisition of Stephen Cripps’ archive for the Henry Moore Institute and can been viewed until February 16, 2014.

What do you think was the highlight at the Henry Moore Institute this year? Please leave your comments below.

New exhibition of Workers' Education Association student art

Students who attend Workers’ Educational Association classes across Leeds will be exhibiting their work at Leeds Central Library from December 17 to January 14.

Community centre members who would not normally get the opportunity to exhibit their art and craft work are being supported by volunteers at Leeds Metropolitan University and the WEA who are helping to hang and curate the work.

The celebration launch will be at 2pm on December 17. All are welcome, but if you wish to attend the launch, please ring Karen at WEA on 0113 245 3304 to book as places are limited. Light refreshments will be served.

WEA tutor Paul Digby, who has been a practising artist for over sixteen years and teaching for over ten said: “I welcome the opportunity for students to exhibit their work. I am proud of Leeds as a city that demonstrates its interest in all kind of art, not just mainstream.

“The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, sculpture and ceramics, and demonstrates the difference and diversity that WEA supports within Adult Community Education.

“Being absorbed in painting a canvas helps us let go of our worldly concerns for at least the space of the class. Art and craft classes also help banish social isolation as going to a group can give everyone a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.”

WEA organiser Christine Sharman, said: “art classes develop creativity. This can be written into CVs as a further skill.

“Employers often look for this, as imaginative people make great team members – people who can see inventive solutions, where others cannot.

“Additionally art classes give the students all kinds of future possibilities, gained through the understanding of civilisations, which helps work towards a peaceful, inclusive society.”

All works in the exhibition are for sale.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Mind your language - artists and the media

by Jon Cronshaw

Why do some artists receive good media coverage while others are completely ignored?

Jon Cronshaw explains why getting coverage in the press has nothing to do with talent or quality.

Artists often complain that their work is overlooked or ignored by the mainstream media – there is a very simple reason for this: artists need to mind their language.

Over the past few years I've been working as a freelance journalist, writing arts and culture pieces for a variety of publications including national and regional newspapers.

Being a journalist isn't the easiest job in the world – there's always a lot to get done and not enough time to do it.

Artists can help journalists, and moreover themselves, by empathising with the pressures that journalists are under.

So if your innovative and ground-breaking exhibition gets ignored, but the local watercolour society get a double-page feature piece, you have to ask yourself why.

The simple fact is that watercolours of ducks and trees are easier to explain than something which is more philosophical or obscure.

This is where the artist can help – if they are clear, concise and avoid art speak, they may be in with a chance of getting their work featured.

It's a simple case of knowing your audience – not everyone went to art school, and most journalists don't know what words like 'architectonic', 'performative' and 'metanarrative' mean, and they probably don't have time to find out.

Imagine you're trying to explain your work to a child – that's probably not a bad starting point.

Have you had success dealing with the media? Leave comments below to share your experiences.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Hepworth celebrates its one millionth visitor

The Hepworth Wakefield welcomed its millionth visitor today, just two and a half years since the gallery opened to the public.

The millionth visitor, Pauline Mackiewicz, from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia was over 10,000 miles away from home when Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council and Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield congratulated her as the millionth visitor just before 11.30am.

Pauline received limited edition prints, an exclusive Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle Experience, including tours at all four venues (Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park), a Yorkshire hamper and an overnight stay in a top Leeds hotel.

Frances Quinn, winner of The Great British Bake Off 2013, helped the gallery to celebrate the arrival of its millionth visitor with a special bake. Visitors tucked into the unique taste sensation based on millionaire’s shortbread, inspired by the art of Barbara Hepworth.

The Hepworth Wakefield’s one millionth visitor, Pauline Mackiewicz said: ”I feel very privileged to be chosen as the millionth visitor, it was so unexpected and a little overwhelming.

“It’s my first visit to the gallery and what a stunning building it is. I have loved seeing the Hepworth plasters and that amazing view over the weir.

“And thanks to my friends from London and Wakefield who brought me here today.”

Since opening in May 2011, The Hepworth Wakefield has exceeded expectations, achieving its original annual target of 150,000 visitors per year in the first five weeks of opening. As well as exceeding visitor targets, the gallery has generated nearly £16m for the local economy and played an important part in the regeneration of Wakefield Waterfront and putting Wakefield on the international map.

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: “Reaching the one million milestone is a very special moment for the whole of the team, our volunteers and supporters.

“It’s wonderful to see the gallery celebrating this landmark after only two and a half years. And of course, our congratulations to Pauline for being our special millionth visitor.”

The gallery will continue its week-long celebrations until December 8, with surprise visitor giveaways to mark the occasion and thank visitors for their continued support. These include limited edition prints, posters and goody bags to free gallery membership, afternoon tea in the Café Bar or even a private tour of the gallery with friends and family.

What do you think of the Hepworth Wakefield? Leave your comments below.

Pictures during the week-long celebrations will be posted on the gallery’s new Instagram site:


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Tom Price set for Sculpture Park exhibition

An exhibition of sculpture, animation and work on paper by British artist Tom Price will be on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park from January 4 to April 27, 2014.

Inspired by public observation, magazine images and historic sculpture, Price is rapidly establishing a strong reputation for his mastery of traditional techniques, his representation of contemporary subject matter and his consideration of identity.

The artist uses bronze to depict composite portraits of ‘the man in the street’.

An in-conversation event between the artist and Melissa Hamnett, Sculpture Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, accompanies the exhibition in spring 2014.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Behind the mask of Mr Faceless - Lee Coleman at Art's Cafe

by Jon Cronshaw

Scunthorpe-based artist Lee Coleman has channelled his responses to his challenging day job into his work. Jon Cronshaw spoke to him.

Best known for his trademark character Mr Faceless, Lee Coleman’s latest exhibition at Art's Cafe, Leeds, is a fascinating one man show that displays a thought-provoking series of images.

Lee Coleman

But the Scunthorpe-based artist also earns his living as a full-time paramedic – and it was after a traumatic event on the job that he came up with the idea of Mr Faceless.

“I had to give a lady the unfortunate news one day that I couldn’t revive her husband – and obviously that news is very devastating. It’s a powerful emotion that people go through when dealing with a loss like that,” says Coleman.

“I wondered if I could get that level of emotion onto a sheet of paper without showing a facial expression – could you express it with body language and location?

“And that’s where the idea of Mr Faceless came in.

"I came home and started doodling, and asked myself if I could do it – if I could start using emotional settings and scenarios," he says.

"It’s amazing that something so unfortunate for a patient has blossomed into something visual. Mr Faceless is part of me really.”

Although Coleman was not formally trained at an art college or university, he honed his craft for over 20 years by producing caricatures for family and friends.

He grew tired of this, and gave up on drawing until he felt that he had something meaningful to say.

“If you have a passion for something artistic, whether it’s cooking, music, art, or whatever it is, you eventually evolve and grow and start to challenge yourself – it’s been more organic than anything,” he says.

Once he opened himself up to dealing with emotional subjects and drawing on his working life, Coleman became more than a caricaturist – he became an artist.

“Being a paramedic, we see such an array of colourful characters and scenarios that you can’t help but absorb it really," says Coleman.

"As an artist, a lot of your work ends up being autobiographical because it’s part of your soul. A lot of the things I experience can sneak their way in without you really knowing it sometimes.
 “I want people to go away and think about what they’ve seen. I really want people to be affected by it. I want it to stop people in their tracks and think ‘bloomin’ heck, that really makes me think’. That’s all that matters to me.”

Coleman explained that having an outlet for expression has been necessary for dealing with difficulties he faces on a day-to-day basis.

“Like any job, you have good and bad days, but my bad day is unfortunately that somebody might have lost their life in quite a traumatic way – and that does affect you," says Coleman.

"So when you come home, it’s good to be able to channel that energy – I don’t drink, I don’t smoke – 
I play guitar, or I produce artwork.

“It’s definitely therapeutic – it’s an emotionally lifting experience when you produce artworks out of something that’s quite awful.”

Coleman has worked for East Midlands Ambulance Service for over a decade and a state registered paramedic for almost seven years. However, he has no intention of giving up the day job to become a full-time artist.

“It’s the best job in the world – it’s very challenging and very rewarding," says Coleman.

"It can break your heart but it can make you smile.”

Have you been to the exhibition? What do you think? Leave comments below.

Lee Coleman's work is currently on display at Art's Cafe, Leeds.


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Rembrandt's etchings to go on display at Temple Newsam

An exhibition of etchings by Rembrandt from the Leeds Collections will be on display at Temple Newsam, Leeds, from November 29.

The exhibition will consist of two displays. The first will examine Rembrandt's portraits and figure studies and the second, will showcase a selection of Rembrandt's biblical prints.

Rembrandt’s career as a printmaker ran parallel with his painting, but he rarely treated the same subject in both medium and only on a few occasions did he reproduce his paintings in print.

Indeed for Rembrandt, print was a distinct art form which he pursued as actively as he did his painting; quickly learning the technical skills involved in etching

His impact and contribution to printmaking is unprecedented and is so significant that it is still reflected in etchings produced today.

Rembrandt: Etchings from the Leeds Collection will be on display at Temple Newsam, Leeds, from November 29, 2013, to July 20, 2014.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hepworth and Moore go head-to-head

This winter The Hepworth Wakefield opens two new exhibitions that invite visitors to experience the work of two Yorkshire greats - Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

For the first time, the gallery is presenting the work of these peers concurrently as the artists go head to head with displays that showcase two recurrent themes within their work. Both Henry Moore's Reclining Figures and Barbara Hepworth's Two Forms will be on display at The Hepworth Wakefield until May 2014.

Barbara Hepworth, Mother and Child, 1934 from the new Barbara Hepworth Two Forms exhibition. Copyright Bowness, Hepworth Estate. Photo Jonty Wilde.

Frances Guy, Head of Collection and Exhibitions said: “It’s fascinating to show the work of Moore and Hepworth side by side and invite visitors to see for themselves the similarities and contrasts between these peers, encapsulated in two of their most popular themes.”

Henry Moore's Reclining Figures spans five decades of Moore’s career and focuses on a theme that was “an absolute obsession” for the artist. The display features two sculptures from the Wakefield Collection, alongside a group of small-scale maquettes and a monumentally scaled bronze sculpture on loan from The Henry Moore Foundation. Visitors can get hands-on with Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4, 1961, by using protective gloves to experience the deeply textured surface of this bronze work.

Henry Moore Reclining Figures Exhibition Opens at The Hepworth Wakefield, featuring Henry Moore's Large Four Piece Reclining Figure, 1972-73. Photo Bob Collier-PA Wire.

The display coincides with the opening of a new Henry Moore exhibits in the region. Working Model for Draped Reclining Figure (1979), the third reclining figure by Moore in Wakefield’s collection, is to go on show at the new Castleford Forum.

In contrast, Barbara Hepworth: Two Forms is a more intimate display that brings together a group of sculptures that trace the shift in Hepworth's work from figurative to abstract through the Mother and Child motif. Wakefield’s much loved Mother and Child, 1934 will be back on display, presented alongside key loans from the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney and several private collections.

Many of Hepworth's early sculptures relevant to the new display were lost or destroyed during the Second World War. To represent these, a superb series of photographs taken by Hepworth herself and by photographers William Darby and Paul Laib, appear in the display, documenting the years 1932–1937, a critical period in Hepworth’s practice.

For full details of The Hepworth Wakefield’s winter programme of exhibitions, events and family-friendly activities visit or telephone 01924 247360.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

An interview with Amar Kanwar at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

by Jon Cronshaw

The work of one of India’s leading artists and film-makers is on display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Jon Cronshaw met Amar Kanwar.

There have been few exhibitions in recent memory as moving as Amar Kanwar’s The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories currently on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The exhibition reveals how large multinational corporations are destroying rural life in India by appropriating vast areas of land for mining – the authorities are unwilling or powerless to intervene.

“I feel compelled – it’s a kind of need – to find out what is happening around me,” says Kanwar.

“I look for multiple ways to comprehend. I find that legal ways, journalistic ways, formal ways, forensic ways – many of these established ways which are used to comprehend these crimes – they do illuminate, they do inform, but they do not necessarily help you to understand the scale, the meaning, or the depth of what is happening. A lot of my work has been to try and find a method to do just that.”

Kanwar aims to present stories and evidence through films, poems, photographs, documents and objects to highlight the deeper meaning of land and community.

“In one way there’s this economic boom taking place in India, which is a positive development. But at the same time, there are many things being destroyed along with it,” says Kanwar.

For Kanwar, land is linked to communities, knowledge and traditions. When that land is lost, generations of knowledge disappear with it.

Within the exhibition is a display of 272 different species of rice. Beautifully lit, and carefully arranged, they demonstrate Kanwar’s issues with industrialised farming.

“Land is not just dimensions. If you lose a piece of land, and the state wants to compensate you for that piece of land, the method for working out the value of the land is a multiplication of the area on the basis of real estate price at that time,” he says.

“You have 272 varieties of rice here, which is a knowledge system. So if you lose this knowledge system which has been tried, tested, shared and re-tested over so many decades, how do you place a value on this loss?”

Not everything in the exhibition is symbolic or poetic. The final room in the exhibition presents mountains of evidence from deeds and documents to one particularly graphic photograph of a victim of brutal violence.

“Sometimes if something is quite graphic and hard to see, then you have to consider the intention with which you show that,” say Kanwar. “First, and most important, is your intention. If you’re clear and honest about your intention, then I think people understand why you do that.

“Violence is a part of our lives, and people need to know that these things happened in a particular way, so it’s necessary for me to include that image, but I try and do it in the most respectful way that I can.”

The exhibition continues outside to the gardens of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. A series of ‘Listening Benches’ use audio recordings of Kanwar telling stories to add further layers to those presented in the gallery.

“For a long time I’ve wanted to find a way I could take the stories and give them a form that exists outdoors,” he says. “The benches are very simple – they are functional, they have a use.

“I wanted to make the benches here out of local wood from Yorkshire – some waste wood from either fallen timber or pre-existing wood.”

The benches were built from wood recycled from a large disassembled church organ which was once housed in the Sculpture Park’s chapel.

“Nobody knew what the wood inside of the organ would be like – all you see is what's on the outside.

“When the organ was ripped apart, they had all types of wood – small pieces, long planks. So we made the benches as they emerged from the wood,” says Kanwar.

“We just picked up pieces of wood to see what goes with what. We didn't cut it, we didn't define it, we didn't saw it, we worked with the material that was there.”

Have you seen the exhibition? What did you think? Leave comments below.

The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories is on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park until February 2, 2014.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Tetley - Leeds' newest contemporary art gallery

The inaugural programme for The Tetley will unpick the fabric of the building, its history and future use, to present a series of exhibitions, discussions, events and residencies that will involve artists and audiences.

Entitled A New Reality, the building will be repurposed as a contemporary art space, taking the themes of labour, the telling of overlooked or fading history and the process of change as a starting point for its transformation.

A mixture of contemporary artists have been invited to create art that is sensitive to its past. These creative interpretations of the building’s heritage will present an opportunity for visitors to experience the future of contemporary art through the work of emerging artists, within an environment steeped in history.

From November 29 to Spring 2014, A New Reality will encourage audiences and artists to consider the role of a dedicated home for contemporary art in Leeds, helping to map out its future curatorial approach.

Managed and curated by Project Space Leeds [PSL], a contemporary visual arts charity, The Tetley will maintain a focus on emerging and innovative art.

Projects within A New Reality will occupy the full range of first floor spaces at The Tetley, including a new triple-height central atrium gallery and smaller spaces within the former offices.

Selected by co-founder and director Kerry Harker and curator Zoë Sawyer, artists featuring in A New Reality include James Clarkson, Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman, Simon Lewandowski and Sam Belinfante, Rehana Zaman

Have you visited The Tetley? What were your first impressions? Please leave comments below.

The Tetley will open on November 29.

Photos courtest of the The Tetley.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Interview with Dana Schutz at the Hepworth

by Jon Cronshaw

The walls of the Hepworth have been brought to life by the colourful paintings of acclaimed US artist Dana Schutz. Jon Cronshaw met her.

One of the brightest hopes for the future of American painting, Dana Schutz, has finally made it to Yorkshire from her home in Brooklyn, New York, for her first UK solo exhibition.

“I’m really excited because I’ve never shown my work over here before – it’s been amazing,” says Schutz. “The Hepworth is so gorgeous, the way it sits right on the river and just lets in all this natural light. The sky is amazing in Yorkshire – it’s just incredible. How low the clouds are, and the shifting light – it’s insane, it’s really beautiful.

“I wondered how it would work because all the rooms in the gallery are different sizes, and there are no right angles in the entire building. I didn’t see at first how the paintings would work on the walls, but it’s actually been great.”

The exhibition brings together 13 of Schutz’s large-scale paintings produced between 2010 and 2013 which all give a strange twist or an unusual composition to familiar everyday scenes – from shaving to dressing.

A new painting which dominates an entire wall depicts a familiar scene at all art schools – a life drawing class with a group of students sitting at their easels.

The scene is given a surreal spin with the inclusion of a giant octopus modelling for the students, its tentacles thrashing around and causing the type of chaos one would expect from the presence of a giant octopus in a classroom.

“It’s been really weird – some of these paintings have never been seen together,” says Schutz.

“It’s been really interesting for me to see how my technique has changed, or how themes and ideas have cropped up in different places. There are a couple of paintings in the show that I haven’t seen in a long time, so it’s been really nice to see them again.”

The pictures take their inspiration from some of the greatest painters of the 20th century, but bring their ideas up-to-date with references to popular culture and her use of bright and bold colours.

There are subtle references to paintings by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Alex Katz and David Hockney.

“I like the way that space is constructed and the way the colours work in those paintings,” says Schutz.

“I do look at a lot of paintings, and I think that the way I relate to other art is that I don’t think I’m trying to make a comment on it or anything like that – it only becomes a problem if it’s too heavy with the reference.”

Schutz started painting as a teenager growing up in Livonia, Michigan a suburb of Detroit – a city with a heritage of car manufacturing and soul music. “When I was 14 or 15 I remember thinking that art was something that I could see myself doing,” she says.

“I knew at the time that I wasn’t very good at it – but I liked it, and that was enough to at least get me started. If you like something, and you have a lot of time, you can really put a lot into it.

“I think there’s something quite romantic about art when you’re that age. When you’re in school, it doesn’t feel like a lot of people were making paintings, so it’s 
quite an exciting thing to be doing.

“I remember taking one of those aptitude tests that you have to take when you’re in the ninth grade in the US, 
and it said that I’d be a bricklayer because I liked the outdoors and could work with my hands. At the time I thought that was really depressing – but I think secretly I would have quite liked to do that.”

Have you seen the exhibition? What did you think? Leave comments below.

Dana Shutz’s exhibition is at The Hepworth, Wakefield until January 26, 2014.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Review: Sign Painters @ Leeds International Film Festival

The decline of traditional crafts and industries is at the heart of Faythe Levine and Sam Macon's documentary about artists who, in the face of technological advances and cheaper production methods, dedicate their working lives to the creation of hand-painted signs, shop-fronts and murals.

The film-makers travelled across America to document a once great industry which was destroyed virtually overnight by the invention of vinyl cutting machinery, rendering the role of the traditional sign painter as practically redundant.

In the 1950s sign painting houses across America employed thousands, today the industry is kept alive by dedicated individuals who spend years as apprentices to perfect their craft and work on a job-by-job basis to earn a meagre living.

You get the impression from the artists that continue to paint signs, that the craft is more than a mere job – it is a calling.

It's difficult not to be infected by the passion to keep the craft from being lost in annuls of time, to be replaced by computer-designed, soulless signage that saps the identity out of our towns and cities.

There's a heartbreaking sadness that runs through the film, a sense of nostalgia for a more innocent time. It's a nostalgia not just for the heyday of sign painting, but a yearning for individualism and the return of home-grown, craft-led industries that have declined in the face of faster and cheaper world.

But the film ends with a sense of hope – the traditional crafts are seeing a resurgence, and the documentary leaves you feeling that we're on the cusp of a sea change.

Four stars

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Material questions raised in new exhibition

An exhibition which explores how light is reflected in different sculptural surfaces will be on display at Leeds City Art Gallery from November 21 to May 1, 2014.

Polychromies: Surface, Light and Colour will be exhibited in the recently refurbished sculpture galleries on the lower floor of the museum and will feature a range of artists from Antonio Canova to Rebecca Warren.

The exhibition has been made possible by a substantial Arts Council Renaissance National Programme grant and will be curated by staff at the Henry Moore Institute.


Image courtesy of Leeds Museums and Galleries and the artist.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Preview: Leeds International Film Festival

by Jon Cronshaw

Yorkshire's film fans are a lucky bunch. With a great selection of independent cinemas and film festivals across the region, and of course the National media museum on our doorstep, there's plenty to keep even the most discerning film buffs interested.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown of Yorkshire's ilm calendar is the Leeds International Film Festival.

Now into its 27th year, the festival attracts ilmmakers and movie lovers from around the world for a fortnight of cinematic bliss – and this year's line-up doesn't disappoint.

For the festival's gala opening at Everyman cinema last night, audiences were treated to the Uk premiere of Alfonso Cuarón's glorious science fiction saga Gravity, screened in breathtaking 3D.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Poppy sculpture to commemorate war dead

Visitors to the Royal Armouries, Leeds, will be invited to dedicate and insert a poppy into a brand new sculpture due to be installed on November 4.

The sculpture honours the one million UK and Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War is part of an exciting new venture, organised by The Royal British Legion and international award-winning artist designer Mark Humphrey. A share of donations will also go to the Never Such Innocence Charity.

From next year, the Royal British Legion and Royal Armouries are hoping the public will personalise and dedicate a poppy to an armed forces or family member who has died as a result of conflict.

Royal Armouries is home to the national collections of arms, armour and artillery. The poppy sculpture will form one of the focal points at the museum’s Armistice Day service on Monday, November 11, from 10.45am to 11.30am, led by the Rev Gordon Warren, Chaplain of the Royal Navy.

Royal Armouries’ Head of Creative Programmes Karen Whitting, said: “As Britain’s oldest public museum, Royal Armouries aims to honour and acknowledge the huge debt that Britain owes to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and their role in shaping history. This sculpture allows everyone to pay their own personal and individual tribute and we are delighted to be participating in this way.

“The sculpture will be placed within our Leeds museum’s Hall of Steel, and we are sure people will appreciate the poignancy and significance of the sculpture at a time when our minds are firmly focused on Remembrance.”

Artist Mark Humphrey said: “Our poppy sculptures are temporary memorials of remembrance, utilising The Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal, designed to be installed in public spaces across the UK.

“The installations are an emotive and interactive symbol, commemorating the great sacrifices made by all the soldiers who died in World War One. An educational Public Art Centenary, generating pride for our communities: built by us, for us, remembering us…’

This year, sculptures are also being placed at London landmarks, including Victoria, Cardinal Place and Waterloo Station, plus the RAF Museum.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Last remnants of war documented in photo exhibition

The work of acclaimed photographer Marc Wilson will be on display at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, from November 8.

The Last Stand exhibition documents some of the last physical remnants of 20th century warfare in the UK and Northern Europe through a series of carefully composed photographs. 

A winner of the prestigious Terry O’Neill award for photography, Wilson is renowned for powerful but understated images that encourage people to reflect on the defiance, pathos and tragedy of war.

The Last Stand will be on display at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, from November 8 to March 8, 2014.

Visit: .

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Contemporary ceramics goes wild

An exhibition of contemporary ceramics will be on display at the Craft Centre and Design Gallery, Leeds, from November 2.

Wild Things features Nichola Theakston’s limited edition and unique ceramic animal sculptures displayed alongside Claire Ireland’s Saggar beasts and bears in this themed showcase of wild animals.

Accompanying these freestanding pieces are wall-hung works by Rosie O’Connor, whose quirky automata delight audiences across the UK.

Wild Things will be on display from November 2, 2013, to January 11, 2014.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Capturing the Brontes - Charlotte Cory at the Parsonage Museum

 by Jon Cronshaw

A surreal portrait of the19th century is the focus of Charlotte Cory’s latest exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Jon Cronshaw spoke to the artist about her work and lifelong passion for the Brontës.

Artist and novelist Charlotte Cory’s latest exhibition creates a surreal world where Victorian men and women become anthropomorphic animals.

But rather than being drawn or painted from the artist’s imagination, the images are made by using computer technology to seamlessly merge early photographs with images of taxidermied animals.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Nicholsons back together at Leeds City Art Gallery

The work of two of the UK’s most important 20th century painters, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, will be showcased at Leeds Art Gallery from Friday.

As part of the Art and Life exhibition, the duos work both individually and in collaboration with friends and fellow artists Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, and the potter William Staite Murray will be on display.

Visitors will be given unique access and insight into the archive, history and work of the artists, which will include key pieces from public and private collections in the UK as well as loans from Europe.

Curated in collaboration with art historian and curator Jovan Nicholson, Winifred and Ben’s grandson, the exhibition will focus on the years of Ben and Winifred’s marriage from 1920 – 1931 and look at how their work shaped and informed the story of 20th century modern art in this country.

During its run at Leeds Art Gallery, a range of events and talks will also accompany the display. This will include the opportunity to hear from curator Jovan Nicholson who will speak at Leeds Art Gallery on 27 November from 6pm-7pm.

Talks on a number of different aspects of the display will also be held regularly every Thursday, and for families there will also be a programme of activities to take part in and enjoy.

Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said: “It really is fantastic news that the work of Ben and Winifred Nicholson will be displayed at Leeds Art Gallery as part of the ‘Art and Life’ exhibition.

“A range of interesting talks and events will also accompany this exhibition, in what promises to be a personal and intimate look at both their work and legacy.”

Art and Life exhibition opens October 18 until January 12, 2014.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Hepworth Wakefield appoints new chief

The Hepworth Wakefield has appointed Andrew Bonacina as its new chief curator and will play a lead role in the artistic programming of the gallery.

As the former curator of International Project Space in Birmingham, Andrew built on his reputation for working with artists at a pivotal stage in their careers including Andrea Büttner, Cally Spooner, Laure Prouvost and Redmond Entwistle.

As director and founder of the non-profit curatorial organisation The Island, he curated projects at The Clocktower Gallery in New York, Whitstable Biennial 2012 and Art Dubai Special Projects (UAE).

Andrew Bonacina said: “In only two years The Hepworth Wakefield has firmly established itself as one of the most significant new galleries in the UK.

“I’m delighted to be joining the team at this exciting moment and look forward to working on its increasingly ambitious programme of historical and contemporary exhibitions.”

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: “I’m delighted to welcome Andrew to the team at this exciting time with the gallery expanding its existing offer with the opening of The Calder and the further development of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle.

“The exhibitions and events programme in our new contemporary art space will provide even more opportunities for creative collaborations and to engage with a wider audience. Andrew’s expertise will contribute significantly to helping us to realise this.”

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sculpted benches on Yearsley Moor - an interview with Jonathan Newdick

by Jon Cronshaw

From his cat statues that prowl York’s rooftops, to his Lady of the Lake carved from a fallen tree in Kirby Sigston, Jonathan Newdick’s contribution to Yorkshire’s landscape has been impressive.

Over the past three decades Newdick has carved a reputation for being one of the region’s finest sculptors.

The York-based artist was recently commissioned by North York Moors National Park to produce five carved benches which take their inspiration from the rich history of Yearsley Moor.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Leeds bids farewell to Cygan

by Jon Cronshaw

A campaign to buy the 1950s robot Cygan for Leeds was unsuccessful yesterday when the robot fetched £17,500 at auction.

The campaign to buy the robot was organised by the group Playful Leeds who are launching a year-long series of creative events under the banner March of the Robots.

Cygan, nicknamed Mr Moto, was a fixture in Leeds during the early-1970s when the robot was displayed outside of a Ford dealership in the city.

Playful Leeds raised £7,179 from 117 separate pledges to try and buy Cygan for the city, but were outbid on the day by a private collector in the UK.

But all is not lost. Playful Leeds will be building a 'robot for Leeds' in 2014.

Emma Bearman, chief of play at Playful Leeds, said: “The whole thing has been such a fantastic story so we're not too disappointed that we didn't get him. I think the disappointment will come if we don't find out who the new owner is.

“We really want to invite them to Leeds and keep up with what Cygan is doing.

“The BBC said 'Leeds loses Cygan bid, and I think that it's misleading to put in those terms because it sounds like a failure.

“What it's shown is that there's an appetite in the community to make stuff happen.

“In April we want to build our own robot for Leeds. We want to find out from people what it should look and feel like, what it should do,” added Emma.

Cygan the robot was created in the 1950s by Italian engineer Dr Ing Fiorito.

The robot could walk, turn and lift objects, but has long been deactivated.

Cygan was owned by a private collector from the late-70s until it was sold at Christie's yesterday.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Art in Twelve Parts at Leeds Met MA Art & Design Show

A knitting installation and a photography series exploring the theme of fantasy are just two of the innovative student artworks set to be unveiled at Leeds Metropolitan University.

The MA Art & Design Show entitled Art in Twelve Parts, is being held at the University’s City Campus, on the first and second floor of Broadcasting Place’s B Building. The event launch will be open to the public from 6pm-8.30pm on Wednesday 28 August and will run until Saturday 31 August between 11am-4pm each day.

Projects to be displayed include Electroknit by student Elizabeth Chadwick, which is an installation about the hacking of an electronic knitting machine made in the late 1980’s. The idea promotes the importance of knowledge, self-cultivation and self-expression through the medium of textiles. Another project which consists of a collection of objects, put together by student Tracey Means, will be interactive as the public are invited to add further objects to the installation.

Student Marianne Springham, who designed the event publication, commented: “We have an incredible mixture of art in this MA show, which has been curated by both students and staff and is split into 12 parts: eleven students exhibiting, eight graduating students and three year one students. The twelfth person referred to in the title - Art in Twelve Parts - references our collaborative projects, including a project in partnership with Leeds Art Gallery and a trip to London where we visited artist Simon Tyszko’s home-based installation.”

Course Leader Peter Lewis, added: “The MA Show at Leeds Met annually presents works made over the course of one or two years. These are the result of thematic, curatorial projects, engaging the public with artists and critics outside the University. The show itself is one aspect of the overall commitment of the students in their theoretical and practical undertaking inside the university, giving the group the opportunity to organise and install works at the high level demanded of a professional exhibition.”

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

New artspace opens in Mirfield

A new art gallery and artists' studios has opened this week in Mirfield, West Yorkshire.

Based in the former Vale Cinema in the centre of Mirfield, The Creative Arts Hub offers studio space for up to fifteen artists and a gallery space displaying regular exhibitions.

The not-for-profit organisation was set up by artistic director Mark Milnes, who founded the organisation to support artists in the development and creation of new artwork.

The Hub's inaugural exhibition runs until September 15, and showcases the work of artists participating in the local open studio trail.


Monday, 12 August 2013

Sweet delights at the Henry Moore Institute

by Jon Cronshaw

Thousands of boiled sweets and floating silver balloons sound like the perfect addition to any ten-year-old’s birthday party, but these objects are currently on display at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, alongside ancient Chinese jades, a lump of asphalt and a tiny indoor garden.

Indifferent Matter: From Object to Sculpture takes its name from the idea that objects become meaningful through the ways people interact with them – from the names they are given to the functions they perform.

“The exhibition title refers to the idea that these objects remain the same however they are labelled,” says Pavel Pyś, displays and exhibitions curator at the Henry Moore Institute. “They can be given a name and they are indifferent to it – it doesn’t change their properties. The objects are indifferent to the meanings we give them.”

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Printmaker set for solo exhibition

Work by printmaker June Russell will be on display at Cartwright Hall, Bradford, from August 9.

Working from her studio at South Square in Thornton, her work is based on observation and drawing, and is always about real or imagined places.

Russell uses a wide range of traditional and contemporary printmaking methods including etching and drypoint etching.

Being There: June Russell, Cartwright Hall, Bradford. August 9 to February 9, 2014.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Maurice Carlin: Performance Poetry

by Jon Cronshaw

Over the next few months artist Maurice Carlin will be transforming the drab interior of abandoned warehouse into a vibrant space filled with over 400 colourful prints.

But it is not an exhibition in the traditional sense, the processes of making the prints and the ways that the audience are encouraged to interact with the space sets Performance Publishing apart from your average exhibition.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Seizure at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park - an interview with Roger Hiorns

by Jon Cronshaw

In 2008, contemporary artist Roger Hiorns oversaw the creation of one of most unique works of art in recent memory by pumping over 74,000 litres of copper sulphate solution into a condemned London flat. The result saw the building’s interior coated with otherworldly blue crystals that formed on the walls, floor, ceiling, and even a bathtub.

The work, entitled Seizure, saw Hiorns receive a nomination for the 2009 Turner Prize. But in 2010 developers had set their sights on demolishing the block of flats that housed the artwork

“This wasn’t a work that we wanted to be destroyed,” explains Roger, “it took a lot of time and effort to make and I didn’t want it to become just a memory for people.”

The artist was concerned that the same fate that saw the demolition of Rachel Whiteread’s iconic 1993 work House – a plaster-cast of the interior of a London terrace – would happen to Seizure.

“House has become quite folklorey and about something in the past,” says Roger, “I wanted Seizure to go on being experience in the present.”

Luckily, Seizure was saved from destruction and has recently been installed in a custom-built exhibition space at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

“The developers said ‘look, we’re going to start demolishing, so you need to make a decision about you want to do’,” recalls Clare Lilley, head curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, “Caroline Douglas, head of the Arts Council Collection, very quickly pulled people together and said ‘look, we’ve got an opportunity to save this thing’.

“It happened really quickly – maybe less than two weeks, which for something as adventurous as this piece is pretty fast.”

“It’s quite a coup to get this work – it’s very iconic.

Seizure was the culmination of years of experimentation with the process of trying to harness the natural crystallisation of copper sulphate.

“I started experimenting with copper sulphate by dipping model cathedrals into large buckets and allowing them to crystallise,” explains the artist, “I’ve transformed things like car engines into these crystalline forms – I like the idea of taking an object and removing its usefulness beyond the object itself.”

“I’m interested in this idea of allowing nature to do its work – all I provide is the proposition.”

But as the artist reveals, Seizure wasn’t initially intended to be made in an abandoned flat at all.

“Originally I had the idea of making this work in the interior of a 737,” recalls Roger, “but I live on a 1960s estate in central London and there are lots of derelict flats. So I found a bedsit on Harper Road in the Elephant and Castle area, and after negotiating with the resident’s association, the flat was turned into a factory.”

The interior of the flat was made water-proof, and equipment including boilers and industrial pumps were installed to handle the copper sulphate.

“It was a strange experience,” recalls Roger, “every day, a group of youths would sit on a wall and just watch what we were doing. It took quite a few days to set things up, and then it took a few weeks for the crystals to set – there was a lot of waiting around for things to happen.”

Going into the project, the artist had no idea how the work would turn out. It was a big risk on the part of all involved, as the artist had only mastered the technique on a much smaller scale.

“There was a worry that when we were making Seizure that it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to,” explains Roger.

“There are ways of documenting things, and presenting the process as a work of art, but it would have been quite an anti-climax.

When unveiled in 2008, Seizure quickly became a cult hit. It gain reputation for being a site of introspection and meditation, with audiences travelling from miles around to get lost in the shimmering blue glow of the work’s alien interior.

“What I found most interesting was that Seizure became a site of a kind of New Age religious experience. People would come to the space to meditate and try and connect with some kind of spiritual experience.”

The urban landscape of south London may seem worlds apart from the beauty of the Yorkshire countryside, but Roger sees parallels between Seizure’s original site and its new home.

“When you look around at the rolling hills and the cultivated landscape of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park it’s natural to question how this work relates to its context.

“With the park and with Seizure you get this proposition – this idea of nature being controlled and directed.”

Seizure was such a difficult project both in terms of its scope and planning that Roger believes that he is unlikely to attempt anything as ambitious again.

“I don’t have any plans at the moment to anything like Seizure – it was such a massive undertaking,” admits the artist.

“I’m going to be burying a Boeing 737 underground which will be a walk in the park compared to pulling off something like Seizure.”

Monday, 10 June 2013

William Scott at The Hepworth

by Jon Cronshaw

To commemorate the centenary of his birth, a fascinating exhibition highlighting the work of pioneering abstract artist William Scott is currently on display at The Hepworth gallery, Wakefield.

Jon Cronshaw spoke to William Scott’s eldest son Robert Scott and the Head of Exhibitions at The Hepworth, Francis Guy, about the artist’s legacy.

On display in The Hepworth, in an archive showcase, is a photograph of an exhibition in New York from 1954 which has the work of Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth and William Scott being shown together with equal prominence.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Roger Hiorns' Seizure acquired by Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park has acquired an important contemporary sculpture Seizure by Turner Prize nominated artist Roger Hiorns.

The piece, which was acquired with help of Arts Council England, was created when Hiorns pumped 75,000 litres of copper sulphate solution into a Southwark council flat.

The result was a strangely beautiful and menacing crystalline growth that covered the floor, walls and ceiling of the abandoned home.

Image courtesy YSP. 

Seizure will be on display in the Bothy Garden from June 15.


Saturday, 25 May 2013

Saltaire Arts Trail now into its seventh year

 by Jon Cronshaw 

Now in its seventh year, the Saltaire Arts Trail brings the village to life as thousands of people come to see craft fairs, art exhibitions and displays in open houses.

It grew out of September’s annual Saltaire Festival which brings together many different art forms including music, performance and food. Because so many of Saltaire Festival’s visitors were drawn specifically to the visual arts on display, a decision was made to launch the Saltaire Arts Trail. And in 2011 the Arts Trail broke off from the festival and moved to May.

Since its inception, the Arts Trail has been run by a dedicated team of volunteers, who have worked hard over the year to make the event on a par with the well-funded galleries and events around Yorkshire. What makes it stand out, however, is that it is run by the local community in Saltaire.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Forms and functions - an interview with Haroon Mirza

by Jon Cronshaw

Former Northern Art Prize winner Haroon Mirza’s new installation is about to be unveiled at The Hepworth Wakefield.

Artist Haroon Mirza’s latest exhibition, which goes on display this month, takes inspiration from its host gallery.

Utilising the adjacent River Calder to create a unique audio composition, the new installation of light, sound and found objects uses The Hepworth Wakefield’s art collection as materials for his own work.