28 May 2015

Recipe Swap with Daniela Pălimariu and Sligo Global Kitchen

Sligo Global Kitchen in collaboration with artist-in-residence Daniela Palimariu will host a recipe swap at the B.R.A this Friday 29 May from 3 – 5pm. Come along and bring a treasured recipe, savoury or sweet and taste some of ours! All are welcome. This project has been supported by the Arts Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme managed by Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts.

Posted By

Erin Fox

12 May 2015

Interview with Michael J Strand

“I did not see a path into art before taking my first ceramics class, and after this moment of discovery I knew this would be in some manner my life’s work.”

American Ceramist Michael J Strand visits The Model this week to present a talk on his work in the Bureau of Radical Accessibility. Ahead of his visit, I had a chance to ask Michael about some of his projects, his achievements and his artistic and social practice.

EF: I read that your work begins by scrutinising the function of art and craft in contemporary society. What do you think the function is? What do you think it should be?
MS: Traditionally function and craft has been related to how it in some manner enables the consumption of food, storage, etc (in the case of ceramics). For other crafts, there are equivalent functions iron works – tools, etc – and that function has served humanity as technology. There was a time when ceramic innovation via vessels was a high technology. So I examine this history and consider new ways that functional objects can operate – for instance, can a cup be a part of a mediation process, of course it can – and it has historically. But what other social functions can ceramic objects serve? These are the questions that drive my practice.

EF: Your artistic practice investigates the potential of craft as a catalyst for social change. How might you advise other designers use their craft in this way?
MS: Consider the space between what we make and the public as a viable space to design. That is, how we acquire, interact, encounter an object that is made and how that object serves a social situation is wide open for innovation.

EF: How did the Misfit Cup Liberation Project influence Cuplomacy?
MS: Cuplomacy actually began before Misfit Cup Liberation Project – but it is a highly complex project that is aiming to infiltrate a very powerful social system. The project, which will be delivered in September, has taken five years to develop. But with that in mind, when I developed the Misfit Cup Liberation Project I learned a great deal about the power of the narrative, the story. So the key to unlocking how to complete Cuplomacy came with the realisation that I needed to reengage with the public through a similar questionnaire that I used for misfit cup. When I engaged in this, the project moved forward very quickly, because the project was no longer extending from one opinion about the state of our political system, rather from nearly 1000 North Dakotans.

EF: What was the most interesting cup in the Misfit Cup Liberation Project?
MS: There are many – but I love the cup that I received from an elderly woman from an Island off of Tallinn, Estonia. The morning of the exhibition at the Applied Arts Triennial, she heard about the project from a television program and immediately booked a ferry knowing she had a cup for the project. She arrived at the opening, never having been to the museum and personally presented her cup – the last remaining cup issued by the Soviet Union that she had in her household. It was a moment of relief – this cup is a treasure, not for its material worth but rather for its connection to this moment of exchange.

EF: I read you studied psychology before switching to ceramics, did you have an interest in crafts and design prior to this?
MS: I really had no connection to art other than a really great high school art teacher. I did not see a path into art before taking my first ceramics class, and after this moment of discovery I knew this would be in some manner my life’s work.

EF: Having studied psychology and then ceramics, can you describe your journey from making objects to working as a social practitioner?
MS: The term social practitioner is a problematic term from my perspective. Although it accurately describes how I operate my practice, I have always pushed against any form of category. But certainly, my interest in psychology and social justice has a large impact on the reasons I engage in the social realm. I rather prefer the term a “Village Potter” – but examine the village in new ways. As a village potter, I assume a similar role historically, it is that I have extended function into new realms.

EF: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
MS: The ability to do the amount of work that I do, and maintain a great family life, for example my eleven year old son Ian is along for my time in Sligo. My son Malcolm was with me for a month in Europe for project development last summer and I plan on traveling with my mother-in-law to South Africa in February of next year. Specifically to my career – being named Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly is something I could never have imagined, but what I am most pleased about with that award is the reality that it recognised an artist who is working beyond object innovation – and recognise what I do is not simply service but also an artistic practice.

EF: What is an important lesson life has taught you?
MS: I have had very low points in my life, like many people. Over the past eight years I have lost 200 pounds of weight and have remained sober for over a decade. My second chance at life, literally has provided a lifetimes worth of energy and direction. The lesson in all of this for me is to maintain a steady, consistent pace and focus on what you value. At times there will be opposition, but to remain true to the goals you have.

EF: Which artist do you most admire?
MS: The former mayor of Bogota, Colombia – Antanas Mockus – a social scientist who became a politician and utilised creative acts as a mechanism to transform Bogota during the late 90s. Also the late Samuel Mockbee – architect and director of the Rural Studio – who transformed architectural education as an applied and socially minded endeavor. Artists are interesting, but I look to other fields for primary inspiration.

EF: You’ve used cups and bowls as catalysts for social change, what’s next?
MS: I work in a highly organic nature – If I knew what was next, there would be no reason to continue. I am on the cusp of moving towards more issues around food and wellness within my own work – and with significant agency within these two areas via personal experience – I am looking at ways of merging my practice to include ceramics, wellness and food (which makes complete sense) I just do not know exactly how this will manifest.

EF: What do you hope to get out of your visit to Sligo?
MS: I am really looking forward to engaging with the community and the landscape of Sligo. I hope to plant a seed for future work – and to connect with interesting people. I am also looking forward to reconnecting with Megan Johnston the Director – a curator that I admire.

EF: What do you think of Irish craft and design?
MS: I am most familiar with Irish ceramics which has a long tradition of outstanding makers. Michael Moore and Ewelina Wojtowicz are two artists that come to mind when considering Irish based ceramic practice. I also very much appreciate the alignment of craft and design in contemporary Irish practice.

Michael will hold B.R.A office hours this week. His talk takes place at 3pm on Wednesday 13 May.

Posted By

Erin Fox

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9 May 2015

Michael J. Strand at the Bureau of Radical Accessibility this week

We are delighted to welcome 2015 Ceramic Artist of the Year Michael Strand to The Model this week. On Wednesday, Strand will hold BRA hours and lead an artists talk from 3pm, all are most welcome to attend.

Michael J. Strand is an Associate Professor and Head of Visual Arts at North Dakota State University. With a background as a functional potter, Michael’s work has moved seamlessly into social and community engagement while remaining dedicated to the traditional object as he investigates the
potential of craft as a catalyst for social change.

In 2014, Strand was named 2015 Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly, the largest publication internationally for ceramic art. In the same year, Strand was awarded a two-year Bush Foundation Fellowship. With this award he will focus on the potential of functional design to
facilitate cross-cultural communication and understanding in political and social spheres extending from his home state of North Dakota to international locations such as Brazil, China, South Africa and Europe. In 2013, Strand was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award for the Hixon-Lied
College of Fine and Performing Arts at his graduate school alma mater, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Strand’s work has been published internationally, with articles in American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics Art and Perception, Studio Potter, Hemslojen, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Public Art Review. His recent Artstimulus projects were cited in the Yale University Press publication 40 Under 40: Craft Futures by Smithsonian curator Nicholas Bell.

Strand lectures extensively with recent engagements at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., the Estonian Academy of Art, American Craft Council, University of Kentucky, University of Florida, Kansas State University, University of Nebraska, Museum of Contemporary
Craft in Portland, OR, SOFA Chicago and the Glassell School of Art in Houston, TX, The Ohio State University, The Clay Art Center ­ NY, University Federal San Joao Del Rei in Brazil and Universidad Caxias Do Sul in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil.

In 2015 Strand will lecture and lead workshops at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Society of North American Goldsmiths ­ Boston Annual Conference, The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Asheville, NC, The Model, Sligo – Ireland, and the Dandelion Speaker Series in Guernsey,
Channel Islands.

Posted By

Denise Rushe

1 May 2015

Artist Anne Labovitz in the B.R.A

Artist Anne Labovitz visited the B.R.A this week and I got the chance to chat to Anne during her time here about her influences, her work and her practice and her love of people. In her project Conversant Portraits, Anne painted people while interviewing them, channeling their emotions onto canvas. Anne painted my portrait, however I interviewed her instead.

EF: What influenced you to become an artist?
AL: My grandmother Ella Labovitz was an artist. She used to paint me as a child, she was eccentric, loving and very intense. I recognised her spirit, it inspired me. Deeply sentimental, I have always had the need to create as early as in high school I was a photographer. As a child I was inspired and comforted by the natural world, which continues to inspire me.

EF: What drew you to socially engaged art?
AL: Social practice is compelling for me because it is a natural flow from my art making practice for 25 years as well as a synthesis of many areas of interest. I love the human spirit and the perseverance of humans throughout our existence. I studied psychology, art education in college which informed my existence and social practice.

EF: How would you describe your creative process?
AL: Utilising painting, drawing, and printmaking techniques, video, audio, my work examines the personal and universal exchanges found in contemporary portraiture. Through using expressive color, luminosity and gestural mark marking. The notion of temporality is central to my process; documenting human connections, dialogues and relationships as they morph over time. My imagery begins with, but is not limited to, the human form. Recent text-based works stem from conversations with or between subjects and serves, in part, to narrate my relationship with them. The driving force behind my work is an enduring interest in people; in the human spirit, its emotional resonance and the way over time it manifests in our relationships with others. Throughout my life and professional career I have kept journals, photos and mementos documenting my interactions, conversations and connections with other humans. My text paintings are explorations into the universality of human connections and conditions.

EF: Scenery and landscapes have inspired some of your previous work, how will your visit to Sligo influence future works?
AL: Great questions, as all of life’s experiences inform my work. Striking for me is the history here and the people. The landscape with the lakes and the rivers are stunning. I am eager to see how my visit to Sligo may influence my work.

EF: You’ve painted portraits and landscapes, how does your latest project differ to previous work?
AL: My recent work is a synthesis of several threads of concentration in my work. Including family, human interest, community involvement, art making practice, social media and social practice. 122 Conversations (122conversations.com) incorporates portraiture through human interviews in 6 countries.

EF: How different would the outcome of Conversant Portraits have been had you not interviewed the participants?
AL: The project Conversant Portraits which took place during Northern Spark at Weisman Art Museum was dependent on the interviews with participants by design. The interview process was intramural to the project, every word and interaction I had with participants was recorded into the paintings. Each successive person over the top of the last participant’s responses.

EF: Is conversation integral to your artistic practice?
AL: Great question, INDEED! Conversation and connection. Is a form of research and learning? Currently conversations are the source material of my work.

Posted By

Erin Fox

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30 Apr. 2015

The Lowdown on May Day Celebrations at The Model

Good morning from a wonderfully sunny day here in Sligo. We’re getting ready to prepare The Model for an epic, access-all-areas night of music, visuals and MAYHEM for our May Day celebrations tonight. Long time Model friend Donal Dineen has co-curated a stellar night of music along with our music programmer Tara McGowan.

We asked Tara some questions about the night so you don’t miss out on anything!

What time do festivities kick off at?
Officially from 8pm, but The Model will be open after our official hours so pop in any time really.

Where are the gigs on?
Three spaces: The Atrium, one of the Gallery Spaces and our Theatre Space.

Who’s on first and what’s the schedule like for the night?
We kick off at 8pm, as we have three different stages, you’ll need to see the timetable below:

The Atrium
8 – 9pm Turn It On (DJS)
9 -10pm Melted Lady (DJS)
10 – 11pm DJ Barra
12.30am – 1.15pm Melted Lady

The Gallery
9.10pm Conor Walsh
10.40pm Chequerboard

8.30pm James Kelly Screening
8.40pm Somerville
10pm Myles Manley
11.10pm James Kelly Screening
11.0pm Somerville
11.35pm Katie Kim
12.15pm – 1.45am Donal Dineen

BBQ @ The Gallery Café
8-10pm (subject to food lasting!)
The Gallery Café will also have a veggie hotpot on for the evening too.
_The Gallery Café will run a full bar – please note, it is not permitted to bring your own alcohol
Can we still buy tickets?
Yes! We still have tickets on sale via our website here, or by calling our Box Office on 071 9141405, and we will have some on sale on the door tonight.

For more information, follow our tweets @ModelSligo

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The Model, Sligo

10 Apr. 2015

Is this Art?

Is this Art? is a new initiative we are launching at The Model this weekend. Visitors to the exhibitions and activities we host here are invited to answer the question and post their comments on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Posted By

Erin Fox

8 Apr. 2015

Accessibility Auditing Workshop with Carmen Papalia

Accessibility Auditing, a workshop by Carmen Papalia took place yesterday in the B.R.A. (see below for a description of the B.R.A.). Carmen showed us some of his previous projects including the Blind Field Shuttle Walking Tour. Carmen led this project with a group of people who walked with their eyes closed throughout the city of Portland. As part of Carmen’s residency, he re-enacted this accessibility awareness exercise in Sligo.

We got to experience this walking tour for ourselves Sligo style in The Model’s gallery space!

Paired up, we took turns to provide an audio description of the artwork and gallery surroundings to our partner whose eyes were kept shut throughout the experience. As someone who is profoundly deaf, the short experience of walking around the galleries with no vision was exciting as much as it was nerve-racking. With Carmen as my guide, I focused on two things: his voice and what my feet were doing. Without the aid of lip-reading in the noisy environment, focusing on hearing alone proved to be difficult. When I was unsure of what I’d heard Carmen say, feeling the floor beneath my feet confirmed his description. Tuning into other things such as the speed at which Carmen walked told me there was something in the pathway; feeling heat on my legs told me we were in the sunny atrium; the feeling of the floor gave me clues to which gallery we were in.

For those of us who took part in the workshop, we then compared our experiences of being guided. We agreed that even though we were familiar with the building, issues of trust arose. I can only imagine how it must have been taking part in the Blind Field Shuttle Walk around the city of Portland!

You can watch Carmen’s Blind Field Shuttle Walk here Carmen and Kristen Lantz are here in the BRA for the rest of the week conducting a series of workshops. Feel free to visit them and ask about their work.

The Bureau of Radical Accessibility (B.R.A.) is a site-specific intervention in The Model foyer area. Staffed by Model employees and artists-in-residence, the B.R.A. is set up in direct defiance to the closed-off office spaces in order to meet, hold discussions and conduct interviews with the public, colleagues and others.

Posted By

Erin Fox

5 Apr. 2015

Carmen Papalia and Kristen Lantz

Artists-in-residence Carmen Papalia and Kristen Lantz are here at the B.R.A to conduct a series of workshops. Check out what their plans are and feel free to come along to participate!

Tuesday, April 7 – Accessibility Auditing workshop with Carmen
13:00 – 17:00
Open to 15 participants, including Model staff & community members. Feel free to invite your family members, friends and community partners—all ages, embodiments, identities and learning styles are welcome! We’ll be discussing open models for access and will conduct an audit of the Model based on our subjective perceptions regarding what is accessible.

Wednesday, April 8 – “Redistributing your Access” talk & workshop
introduction with Kristin
15:00 – 17:00
Kristin will be sharing the work she has done in the past, the work that informs her practice and what she is currently up to in Vancouver. She will finish by proposing her project for her remaining time in residence—in which she will support staff in redistributing their
institutional access to a community member in a mutual exchange.

Thursday, April 9 – “Redistributing your Access” workshop with Kristin
14:00 – 17:00
Kristin will kick off this session by inviting Portland-based friends Travis Neel and Erin Charpentier to lead an exercise about collaborating with community from their Social Practice Workbook. The second half of this session will focus on the task of mapping your institutional access and identifying collaborators with whom to conduct an exchange.

Friday, April 10 – Individual “Redistributing your Access” project
check-in time with Kristin
10:00 – 17:00
Kristin will be scheduling one-on-one meetings with staff to support them in developing their exchange with a community member.

Monday, April 13 – installing statements from auditing workshop with
Carmen & Kristin
10:00 – 17:00
Write your sentiments on gallery walls and other related spaces with curatorial support from Carmen & Kristin.

Tuesday, April 14 – sharing & goodbye meeting with Carmen & Kristin
15:00 – 17:00

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The Model

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3 Apr. 2015

Interview with Paul Seawright

Image: Paul Seawright (b. 1965), Void 2014, Pigment print 1/3 from an edition of 3 + 1 AP

Making News: Things Left Unsaid, a new exhibition by renowned photographer Paul Seawright opens here at The Model this Saturday, 04 April. I spoke to him this week about his latest body of work, a series of photographs taken in American television news stations.

Much of Seawright’s work reads between the lines of visual narrative. While most photography focuses on the subject itself and what we can see, Seawright’s work looks at things that are not easy to see. He describes this as the opposite of what photography is meant to be about.

“That idea with things being between the lines is also to do with things being inherently invisible, nonvisual, or inherently not easy to see. And that’s the kind of subject I’ve always dealt with,” he told me. “How can photography deal with anything that’s not inherently visual? That’s kind of the starting premise and therefore the project itself is about the things we don’t see or are left out and that would chime with all the work I have done in the past. The thing I’m trying to get engaged with is not actually in the picture.”

Reading between the lines is also what sets him apart from a photojournalist. What Seawright’s work has in common with photojournalism is themes such as conflict, violence and post-war landscapes. The principle difference is the language in which they operate. Seawright says that photojournalism is about providing answers to our questions and giving up the meaning, whereas photography is temporal. Seawright explains “When you look at an editorial photograph you look at it for a very short period of time, 10-15 seconds. In a gallery you are more likely to spend more time looking at it. Therefore, there is a slowness to the experience that is more important to how the work functions, and immediacy is something I’m trying to work against.”

Seawright’s approach and purpose encourages the viewer to ask more questions. So does he think that photojournalism should be more like this?

“To be fair, recently what I think you might call photojournalism is becoming more sophisticated. There’s space now for different kinds of photojournalism particularly because the market for photojournalism is diminishing. So, it’s changing, much more of it is online where you’re mixing different kinds of media together where one moment you could be watching a video and the next you could be listening to an audio piece. That has changed the way people consume photojournalism. I think the people working in that market have developed more sophisticated ways to deal with subject matter than they have in the past so I think that that’s an improved position, and I think artists are also flirting with some of those ideas as well. The boundaries are definitely blurring.”

In terms of his working process, Seawright says his work is not about responding to what he sees. “It’s not about me driving about in a car until I see something like some nice light or something I want to photograph. That is a very photographic way of working but it’s not the way I work.” Instead, his projects begin with a methodology that predetermines the location and the content of his photographs.

All photos featured in Things Left Unsaid were made in television news stations in America. “That of course immediately determines where you’re making the picture and when you get there sometimes there’s nothing to take a photo of. That takes a huge number of factors out of the equation right away.”

Seawright elaborates on this point by referencing the manner in which the media reported on the Gulf War in the early 1990s,
“There were these photographs of journalists outside hotels with all the lights and they might as well have been on holiday somewhere. They were all reporting from outside these hotels in Dubai and Kuwait and they were beautifully dressed, super clean and very false. That was the image of how television news was stuck trying to report that war and I was thinking of doing something with that.” The media tried to visualise something that wasn’t visual which led Paul to think about how the news has a veneer of truth and transparency “…when of course we all know that deep down it’s highly constructed and full of holes.”

Referencing drones, Seawright noted similarities between the technology of drone pilot stations and the technology of a television station. “That made me think there’s really now something to be done about the sheer idea of technology being at the centre of how we consume war from our sofas and being at the centre of war itself.”

While waiting to do an interview about his project, Volunteer, on a TV show in America, a news report about a murdered soldier inspired him to take a photo which would serve as a sketch for Things Left Unsaid.

“The idea originally was that I would wait until they talk about Afghanistan or Iraq and I would make a picture at that moment and so there was more of a performing element to it. That’s what I did, I made this one picture at the moment they talked about Afghanistan and Iraq. I thought that was great and I liked the picture very much and it worked.”

During a visit to a second TV station there was no mention of the war which lead him to think that the project wouldn’t work. “But I thought actually the idea with the technology could still work. Maybe then you do exactly the opposite, you emphasise the idea that they don’t talk about the war and that they’re not talking about the war for a reason.” Three years later when Seawright was making the project he noticed people hardly talked about the war in many cases. Encouragement from a curator further inspired Seawright to make a project out of the idea, “I got a researcher and we spent three months setting up a 6000-mile trip around America. Over five weeks I photographed 39 studios and that’s the project.”

Paul Seawright will join Director of The Model Megan Johnston and journalist Susan McKay in conversation at 6pm tomorrow night at the opening of the exhibition.

Posted By

Erin Fox

25 Mar. 2015

Live Music, Good Food & Share The Love Week at this month's Friday Night Social

Friday Night Social is a good excuse to head out after work and enjoy an early evening of good food, culture and discussions. Join us this Friday between 5 – 8pm when we will be joined by Sligo’s own Pearse McGloughlin plus tunes from the vinyl duo from Turn It On, and tasty bites from The Gallery Cafe.

We also welcome Kate Brennan Harding and Donal Adams to our Atrium stage at 6PM for a discussion entitled “We Do” to mark the end of ‘Share the Love Week’ and the upcoming Marriage Equality referendum.

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The Model, Sligo