patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘Clay Smith

Now Has Already Gone! (How Soon is Now, Abstract painting in Nottingham)

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Still on the theme of shows I cannot get to, there’s even this one in Nottingham for the next few days, and although I live there I am just not around enough to actually get there. This is especially annoying as I am the one often complaining that it’s difficult to see abstract art on show around here.

That it is a pop up show means it’s here and gone in no time so aptly titled “How Soon is Now?” (27 Jan to 3 Feb only, with an opening night on Saturday 30 January from 6.30pm till 8.30)

Claudia Bose, Make Words Flow, 30 x 30cm

Claudia Bose, Make Words Flow, 30 x 30cm

So a very hurried post this one to highlight what’s happening and maybe to say more about it another day.

The venue is the Nottingham Society of Artists gallery, 71 Friar Lane, Nottingham NG1 6DH

Twelve artists work are featured in the show, spanning a range of disciplines; painting, mixed media, screen-printing, photo montage and sculpture. Showing fifty artworks highlighting the inter-connectivity of the featured artists’ work, in particular; adroit handling of colour and imaginative reworking of everyday materials.

lenoela Counterflow-Khaki

Noela Bewery, Counterflow-Khaki

Many of the artists are primarily painters, Noela Bewery, Lois Sabet, Claudia Boese for example, make paintings that are full of colour: acid yellows, warm pinks and vibrant greens. Jai Llewellyn, David Manley and Terry Greene all have a careful eye for colour, form and geometrical arrangements, mapping out elegant, sophisticated paintings.

The work of Rachael Pinks, Lauri Hopkins, John Stockton and Laine Tomkinson transform discarded book covers, cardboard, waste materials or rejected screen prints, re- imagined as vibrant digital collages or stunning mixed media works.

LOIS Eclipse

Lois Sabet, Eclipse

Clay Smith and John Stockton make beguiling photo montages that have an immediate and disruping political connection; featuring aircraft, sheep/cars in surreal displacement, or views of the landscape as if from an intrusive reconnaissance flight.

John StocktonUntitled-254 small

John StocktonUntitled-254 small

That’s it…more another day!

 

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Dystopia at HMS: Interview with Clay Smith

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Viewing images by photomontage artist Clay Smith in the exhibition Dystopia at Harrington Mill Studios, I am reminded of the constructedness of our present and that we do not necessarily live in the best of all possible worlds. All is not what it seems, just beneath the surface of civilisation is flesh and the ‘civilising’ itself may not be a good thing. There’s a series of images here that runs in a sequence revealing the process of social and technological development as beginning with control and ending in cannibalism. Yet all the images have beauty, whether in the soft magenta and tan colours or in the subtle blemishes that are as near to painterly that a photo can get. They pose questions for me about beauty, meaning and process. Rather than attempting to think through these questions on my own, I asked the artist for an interview. My questions are shown as headings with Clay Smith’s responses below each one.

Clay Smith, Blue Collar 1, 2012, image by courtesy of the artist

Clay Smith, Blue Collar 1, 2012, C-type print. Image by courtesy of the artist

To what degree do you think of your images as “abstract”?

My works are very recognisable, you can easily spot the imagery in them but I use them in a way that changes the culture or meaning of the originality of the image. I see that as an abstract variant. I change the meaning and use of the image, making the viewer look differently at the work, to think about the piece perhaps on an abstracted level. I love abstract paintings, I even tried it myself many years ago, but failed terribly! I prefer to look at paintings than photography as they allow the viewer to interpret the piece as they wish. I’d like people to perhaps do the same with my work although not abstract in aesthetic they could be abstracts in how we would deal with them intellectually.

How do you make them? Surely not physically cut out, nor likely to have been made in a darkroom, are they digitally manipulated?

I use photographic slides, I find them, buy them and get given them. I also make my own. I look through hundreds of them to find the images that I need, then I scan them. I used to send them to the Palm Labs in Birmingham but I now own my own scanner so I do them myself. When they are scanned and made into TIFF files I only adjust the contrast a little and that is it! I leave everything else as it was, the dust specks, the hairs, water stains and grit. I love em! Then they get printed onto light sensitive papers using a Chromira printer. The files are projected onto the paper as light, then it goes through another machine that fixes the image, then hey-presto! Out it pops. So, they are kinda produced in a dark room but on a modern technological ground.

Clay Smith, Landscape with Superimposed Cannibalism, 2012, Image by courtesy of the artist

Clay Smith, Landscape with Superimposed Cannibalism, 2012, Image by courtesy of the artist

Do they exist primarily as digital images that could then be printed, or are the physical images the artworks?

I usually have an issue of say 3-15 depending on the work, but I would like to start working on issues of just 1 so that the piece would be the artwork. I’d like to make photography just as important as painting, and for it to be viewed the same. I don’t like the idea of reprinting work over and over again, to me that takes away some kind of layer from the piece. Perhaps it begins to destroy its originality and heart. The sizes of my work mean a lot. Depending on the condition of the slide and its content, I will only print the work to a size according to how best the image will be displayed. Some of my pieces can only be printed at a small size due to the unfocused nature of the image or how busy the image is, and some can only be printed large because of the content of the image. For example, open mountain scenes that are pretty well composed and shot can be printed large as this gives a better impact.

Earlier you were using real moths, clearly a mix of digital and real, has that changed?

I was going through a transitional state when I was using moths and butterflies. I wanted to use two different ‘cultures’ with my work so I tried using insects and photography as a way of displaying two different objects within the same frame and making them work. My photographic work still uses two or even three different images in the same way as the butterflies did but I have gone completely photographic now. There is more material out there and of course I can make my own. With my new work I want to get across something very different then the butterfly work.

What specifically is the difference?

The butterfly works were objects of collage that would just be looked upon as objects of collage. Any attachments people would  have had would be more about how the two collaged objects worked well together. My new works are more about how the photographic images create an entirely different meaning and direction to the original image. They hopefully question the image, create dialogue that will change the way we look at images perhaps, if it’s only whilst looking at my work. I want the images that we recognize in the work to have new meaning for the viewer.  I have a lot more scope and flexibility with pure photography then I did when using insects. This alone gives my work more freedom of expression and expansion that’s open to reinterpretation and analysis.

Clay Smith, Landscape with Superimposed Masters, 2013. Image by courtesy of the artist

Clay Smith, Landscape with Superimposed Masters, 2013. Image by courtesy of the artist

Do your pictures come together by assembling disparate found images or do you have images in mind and go looking for them?

I collect as many slides as possible (good and bad) and go through them to find images that I am currently working with like open landscapes, empty townscapes or planes. I organise my slides into sections of ‘landscapes’ ‘planes’ ‘medical’ ‘towns’ ‘people’ etc. If I need to find some people to put into a medical image I know where to find them. If I receive a bag of slides I may just make a series of work from that one bag, keeping them together. I was given a bag of slides from the artist Laura Ellen Bacon and with the slides I was able to make just one image, that’s good enough for me! It is a good image. So sometimes I will keep a collection together or I will mix and match to find what I want from other collections.

Clay Smith, Hedonic. Image by courtesy of the artist

Clay Smith, Hedonic Nothing. C-type print. Image by courtesy of the artist

How important is the content for you? And what are your main interests in relation to the content?

The content is everything but its meaning means nothing to me. I try to par images together in order to create for the images a completely different objective. Images that I work with are usually amateur holiday and family snap shots, when I make my images they become semi political and questions societies and their cultures a little. Using slide film allows me to flip the image around which also allows me to flip its content around, this works well for me as I feel the world from how people see it should be flipped about a bit!

What artists do you appreciate?

I tend to lean towards established artists for various reasons: Werner Herzog the film maker for his directing methods and character/actor choices. Shomie Tomatsu for his ambiguous photograph of the glass bottle, Jan Saudek for his backgrounds, Gottfried Helnwein for his scale and the ability to prove just how powerful art can be and Alberto Burri for his choice of material.

Clay Smith, Plane 4, 2014. Image by courtesy of the artiist

Clay Smith, Inverted Space, Demagogic Device, 2014. C-type print. Image by courtesy of the artiist

To what extent do you see your work as participating in a tradition?

My work lends itself to exploration of a theme rather than tradition. It is because of this I’ve been able to find myself as an artist. Tradition to me is craft, and I think a lot of artists get trapped in the tradition of making and not creating. I use photography but I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, far from it. I am an artist that uses photography. In fact I could go as far as to not even call myself an artist! To call yourself something traps you in its meaning which doesn’t allow you to breath properly. I see really amazing printers using acid, copper, etching etc, but some of them are trapped in their tradition as printers and produce work that only displays a great skill in printmaking and not art. I can say perhaps that I am a photomontage artist.

When people look at your pictures what do you hope they will experience?

I hope that they will walk away feeling a little different then they did when they walked in, and that they will say ‘thank you’ when they leave.

Clay Smith, Stenographic Child 10, 2014. Image by courtesy of the artist

Clay Smith, Stenographic Child 10, 2014. C-type print. Image by courtesy of the artist

Some of your images have shock value (some for example are obscene) is that a reaction you seek?

I think some people are shocked by viewing something in a gallery that has an erection in it or scenes of a medical nature because of the environment they are in. These same people wouldn’t think twice about flicking on the t.v and watching A&E or enjoying some private time with an erection or two! Some of my images are extreme, such as the use of Marilyn Monroe. I find her very extreme, nothing normal about Marilyn at all, so I will use an image that I think is equally as extreme but taken from the other side of the wall. In the Marilyn case I used an image of a medical nature, and it worked. I have used pornography, but after I have worked with it the final piece of work no longer has any attachments to pornography because I have perhaps merged it with a photograph of an English gentleman. I think it’s this that people are offended by. People don’t like to view things out of its rightful context. I don’t make work in order to shock, that would be too easy, I use certain imagery in order to get across the extremism of people.

Why are the aeroplanes upside down?

To give us the viewer the impression that something isn’t quite right. To establish a kind of dystopian environment to which I feel we created by how we treat each other. The abnormal and surreal action of the plane is a metaphor for our times.

 

The exhibition Dystopia is on at Harrington Mill Studios. Long Eaton until 7 October 2014.

Written by Andy Parkinson

September 9, 2014 at 8:00 am

Only quick at first sight

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Whilst this pattern looks visually ‘quick’ it is really only quick at first sight. Prolonged study elicits multiple interpretations.

Quaduo, 2012, Acrylic on Canvas, 10″x10″

How to encourage the viewer to linger a while, that’s the question.

A few days ago I delivered one of my new paintings to the Old Lockup Studio in Cromford, ready for our pop up show Salon 1, on 18 August. Whilst I was there I tried to persuade Clay Smith and Rachael Pinks that my work took only a few minutes to make and that anyone could do it. When Rachael suggested that there was more thinking time than I was letting on I dismissed her comment, genuinely believing that I did very little of that. Since then I have become more aware of just how long I spend viewing and thinking (sometimes with little or no internal dialogue and sometimes with lots of it – two very different modes of ‘viewing’). Because I enjoy it so much, time flies and I hadn’t been noticing the passing of time. It turns out that it is hours a day, looking, thinking, editing by which I mean turning canvases around to see different variations and paying attention to what changes and how the colour behaves. Early mornings, sometimes I find that I have spent an hour without realising that I had been doing anything it all. And it is through these time distorting experiences that I come to appreciate that these patterns are indeed much slower than they may seem at first sight.

Written by Andy Parkinson

August 13, 2012 at 7:30 am

Pop up at the old lock up

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The artists exhibiting at the pop-up exhibition Salon 1, the  Summer Exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Old Lock Up Studio in Cromford on the 18th August 2012 are: Diane Atherton, Jackie Berridge, Clay Smith, Nick Hersey, Ivan Smith, Anthony Hall, Rachael Pinks, Jen Aitken, Filomena Rodriguez, Amanda Collis, Kim Sharratt, Vitor Azevedo, Nicola Eleanor Waite, Gareth Buxton, David Manley, Andy Parkinson, Justine Nettleton, Deb Allit and Dermot Punnett.

Having a quick look at the web sites has got me in the mood for seeing interesting work of many different types, whether abstract paintings by David Manley, narrative paintings by Jackie Berridge, photomontage of Clay Smith (by the way, am I the only one making a distinction these days between montage and collage, and have I even got it right?) abstract landscape collage paintings by Rachael Pinks, sculpture (?) by Ivan Smith etc.

What I am noticing most is that much of the work is classifiable with a / sign, whether it is sculpture/environmental art, painting/collage, abstract/figurative. I like the “neither this nor that/both this and that” of many of the kinds of work being exhibited. Even my own work which mostly stays put in one specific discipline is increasingly becoming painting/construction.

I think it promises to be a really interesting exhibition, and with music by Corey Mwamba an excellent evening. Come and see it if you can!

Salon 1 at the Old Lock Up Studio, Cromford

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Another event I am looking forward to (not least because I am taking part) is Salon 1, the  Summer Exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Old Lock Up Studio in Cromford on the 18th August 2012, for one night only!

Corey Mwamba will be providing the music, a real treat. Catch him on you tube here

What better for a summer’s evening? Come along if you are anywhere near.