Stefan Bladh’s ‘The Family’ photography project began in Turkey in 2002, while he was studying in Istanbul. While there he came across the Kaplan family sitting around a fire under a overpass on a highway. He went over to them to talk to them, they offered him tea and he stayed. That act of kindness led to a long friendship during which Bladh documented their hard life on the road; constantly moving, without access to healthcare, education or jobs. No heat, electricity or clean water.
Marc Lawrence’s mixed media paintings are rooted in his career as a designer and motion graphic artist in the broadcasting industry, his pictures a journey along the borders of abstraction and representational imagery.
Nicol Vizioli’s portrait photographs are rooted in her formal training as a painter, each picture carefully composed, her use of chiaroscuro techniques, dramatic poses and mythological motifs echoing past masters from the Renaissance and Baroque period.
The first time I came across the wonderful comic artist David Kochalka was over 15 years ago when I fell in love with his comic ‘Paradise Sucks’. I was struck by the originality, spontaneity and assuredness of his brush work. It was a style that opened up new possibilities for my own comic art at the time. My own autobiographical work. And it is autobiography that lies at the heart of ‘American Elf’, an online comic diary that has been going for nearly 15 years.
Terry Drahos, director of Uncommon Common Art, based in Nova Scotia, recently sent me on the latest photographs from this incredible art project. I first came across the work last year and was bowled over by the art and their mission; the largesse, the sheer scale and desire of the participants and organisers of the project.
Susan Worsham’s photographs from ‘Some Fox Trails In Virginia’ is a poignant work that explores her personal history through her family, childhood home and the memories that have left their mark on her life.
Tierney Gearon’s photographs from ‘Alphabet Book’ are a wonderful collection of pictures that bring the photographers children into the spotlight and highlight the joy and unbridled imagination that children live in until the weight of the rational world finally puts an end to their bright, colourful and immersive dreamscape in which everything is possible.
Many people know of Gearon, or at least her work, from a controversial incident back in 2001 when two pictures of her naked children, from her ‘I Am Camera’ exhibition, were taken down following a public outcry in London - an incident that echoed the issues surrounding the work of Sally Mann back in the 1970s when she too turned the camera on her children living a idyllic life in the wilds of New York State.
Since that incident Gearon has gone on to create a great body of work but in this series revisits her favourite subject, her children, and creates a piece of art, a beautiful book, that is a testament to love, family and the wonder and joy of youth.
Each photograph represents a letter, A to Z, and is essentially a collaborative effort between her and her family as she said in a statement about the project:
The book is a complete friend-family collaboration, made with my two youngest children and their friends. It is a playful book — what I call an art book for children, or a children’s book for adults
While the premise is simple, and her knowledge of her subjects intimate, Gearon manages to elevate the images to a universal level. The pictures not so much a personal diary as a series of pictures that bear witness to the joys of childhood, the fun of dressing up and playing in our imaginations. Above all these photographs remind us of how precious children are, how much fun they are to be with and how much we have to learn from them. Here’s what she said to Time magazine about the difficulties of turning an adult concept into a childrens game:
When I started the alphabet book four years ago I thought it was going to be a fun, easy art project I would do with my children. Little did I know I was about to launch on the hardest project I have done to date. Every image was like directing a different scene in a movie, or even a different movie for each image. The calculated kid-chaos playtime I set up with my children and their friends with different costumes and settings for each letter was not nearly as effortless as I’d imagined it would be.
Not every scenario went off without a hitch, of course. Take “Naughty nurse,” for instance. We were on holiday in Positano, Italy. We spent an hour carefully setting up the nurse station and special bandages that had to be wrapped just right. Grace [Tierney’s youngest daughter] wore a costume I bought for my oldest daughter, Emilee, 13 years ago. (I knew it would come in handy at some point.] Walker [Tierney's son] was the perfect wounded-soldier patient. The problem getting all set up was, for them, the fun part. The minute I got my camera out, they said they were too hot and were done. I just snapped away as they complained. We somehow got the shot—a crying and moaning kid. Perfect!
It’s time to revisit the collages of David Kettner, an artist whose work is becoming more relevant to me as my daughter grows older – she’s nearly five – draws more, begins naturally collaging, doing what we as adults call ‘mixed media art’. For her its a natural progression, an obvious step forward, an intuitive process, a making because it should be, feels right, looks good, is honest and true and all the more artless for it.
Rick Brigg’s paintings take on the emotional and psychological weight that many artists have to deal with on a daily basis and transforms it into pictures that are both self-referential and therapeutic, each painting acknowledging the difficulty of not making it, not selling, being anonymous, holding down a day job in the hope that someday you’ll be able to quit it and head into the studio for the entire day and night.
Thomas Prior’s photographs are all about the image, a statement of the obvious perhaps but too often you come across many photographers who rely on digital techniques to manipulate their pictures; extentuate colour, light and form to make the perfect image. With Prior it’s all about what’s infront of him, how he perceives the moment in which he stands, is present.
Petra Collins may only by 20 years old yet her photographs from ‘The Teenage Gaze’ are defined by a knowing and an ability to visually define a moment in time when we are not one thing or the other, we are in between, in that nebulous space between childhood and adulthood.
our next DIY arts festival, the Trash Culture Revue, will take place sometime towards the end of the year. So if you want to create, produce, get involved, play, experiment, try stuff out, have fun, design, administrate, organise, volunteer or just come along then let me know
we provide free creative and production skills for your arts projects and events through our skills exchange so you can experiment, fail, make and play no matter who you are, where you are, what you do or when you do it.