Autumn 2017

Over the past year I’ve been struggling to establish my own work amongst the commissions and illustrations I create for other people. I have enjoyed working with other people for many years but slowly the themes that interest me have been buried under a busy schedule of album covers and organising group exhibitions for ConnectCollect. I knew I needed to make a change and I feel I’ve now turned the page on a new chapter. I started in June this year with a trip away to my studio in Cambieure and little house in Limoux with Kevin Acott (writer) and Bill Mudge (photographer/musician).

Reversing the Spectator
Kevin, Bill and I spent a week together in the South Of France during the June heatwave of 2017. We didn’t have a plan about what we wanted to do, what we might create together. I slowly filled my sketchbook with vignettes of village life. Bill, suffering under the relentless sun, retreated to the night-time streets of Limoux and Cambieure, photographing the midnight cats and silent buildings. While Kevin worked on a set of short stories that had been inspired by his travels through the USA, Greenland and now France.
On the 14th June 2017 we walked from the Petite Rue du Palais to the cemetery in Rue Saint-François in Limoux. It was a pilgrimage to visit the grave of Madame Mongin, a neighbour who had died the previous year. Starting at Madame Mongin’s former home we wandered through the largely deserted streets of Limoux. Slowly we were separated along the sun-bleached route, eventually meeting once again at the cemetery.
Reversing the Spectator is a 16 page chapbook published by our family company Sampson Low and features my drawings and Kevin Acott’s words. Buy it HERE for £2.60 (+£1.20 P&P).

Exhibitions
The Art of Caring has once again proved a huge success, first gracing the walls of St George’s Hospital in Tooting and then transferring to St Pancras Hospital for a 3 month run (closes 19th October 2017). We have exhibited 330 artworks in both locations. I exhibited a piece in the Droitwich Mail Art exhibition during August 2017, curated by Tamara Jelača. Here are a few more exhibitions that are just about to happen and I’m involved in….

Far Out  (2 Sept – 1 Oct 2017) at the Galleri Nexus, Tinglev, Denmark. An exhibition of science fiction inspired artwork by international artists including a performance by Brut Interstellar. I’ve created a huge wall of imagined worlds that can be coloured-in by visitors to the exhibition.

Off the Record (1 – 30 Sept 2017) at The Quarry Theatre, Bedford, MK40 2NN. It is an exhibition of imagined album covers as part of the Conscia Jazz Festival. I have created two pieces for the exhibition, including one cover of one-line drawings from a night sketching at Kansas Smitty’s during the summer. https://www.conscia.org

51Zero Festival (27 Oct – 2 Nov 2017) where my silent film Aspic will be screened alongside live music, sound art on the launch night, 27th October 2017 in Rochester Cathedral crypt, Kent, ME1 1SX. And also with recorded sound in Rochester Cathedral crypt and in the Main Chamber, Guildhall Museum, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1PY from the 28th October to the 2nd November. Aspic was inspired by a short residency at the TANE house on the Isle of Wight. https://www.51zero.org

Album Art
Over the past few months I’ve been working on album cover work for Andy Fleet, Stefanos Tsourelis and the Balagan Café Band. All these groups/musicians will be releasing their albums in the next few months. A sketch of mine also features in a new release, Transitions by the Julian Costello Quartet.

Instagram
I have established a new way of working since coming back from France this summer. I try and complete a drawing in the morning before switching to emails and other contact with gallery and artists. So excuse me if I’m slower than usual to respond to you. I also try and get this drawing onto Instagram, you can find me at https://www.instagram.com/albanart/ I’m often inspired by the things I see around me, especially the strange happening in Suburbia or London’s unusual inhabitants.

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Summer 2017

As ever it’s been a busy and varied 6 months looking after my own work and organising exhibition for other artists. The Art of Jazz exhibition at the Robert Phillips Gallery in Walton-on-Thames (January 2017) was a real success with a good number of visitors and a fabulous launch night with the Stefanos Tsourelis Trio. Thank you to everyone who came and for those who bought some of the original sketches to take home.

Samuel Eagles’ SPIRIT – Ask, Seek, Knock

Album Art
Album covers still play a large role in every working day and there seems to be no end to the varied projects I’m getting involved in. Recently I’ve finished work for Samuel Eagles’ SPIRIT, New York Standards Quartet, Yana, Collective X and George Colligan. In the next few weeks I’ve got an interesting new project by Juan Maria Solare called Sombras Blancas (White Shadows) and then something really new to me from the Balagan Cafe Band.

The Art of Caring
In May 2017 we opened the Art of Caring 2017 exhibition at St George’s Hospital. It had an immediate and favourable response from patients and staff at the hospital as they walked past our display of postcards and haiku pill bottles.  330 artworks from 150+ artists and authors is hard work to organise but worth every minute when you consider the Carers, Nurses, NHS and patients who need our support. We also had a important visitor, Jane Cummings, who is the Chief Nurse at NHS England. She viewed the whole exhibition and enjoyed the diversity on the work.

Chapbooks
Several of these little 16 pages gems have been published since the turn of the year and they continue be well received. They include Colouring Walls by Stella Tripp, Christina’s Moon by Jill Hedges, Altogether Elsewhere by Jazzman John Robert Clarke, Theatre of Rages by Francesca Albini, Villiers Path by Lucy Furlong, 5 chapbooks from Debbie Chessell in a new series for the Confronting Rape Culture group and another new series for Kevin Acott as he travels round the world in pursuit of the poet inspiration.
I recently did an interview for Sphinx Poetry and Pamphlet Review website – Read about it here.

CUBE Live Performance
In March I performed at the Shaw Gallery in Croydon with Bill Mudge on keyboard and sound effects. We were contained within a 2 meter square paper cube. Cut off from the audience I created a drawn narrative using spirit ink that leached from the inside of the box to the outside. This gave the appearance that the drawings were coming from an invisible hand. As I drew Bill created improvised sounds and we spent a particularly surreal 40 minutes engrossed in a game of cat and mouse with the gallery visitors. If you would like to see what it looked like we’ve made a film. Watch it HERE

A World In London
I still sketch every week at live venues, getting out to gigs and finding new music and performers is part of London’s charm. I spend most Wednesday’s at Resonance FM in Borough where they transmit A World In London with DJ Ritu. It’s been one of the highlights of my year so far, each week I discover new musicans, new music and wonderfully varied cultures. You can see all my sketches on the Art of Jazz blog.

Stepping Out
There are several interesting projects on the horizon. I’ve been commissioned to create a Walking Literary Map of Walton-on-Thames for the Elmbridge Literary Festival in November 2017, which has meant several enjoyable trips to Walton, scouting out nuggets of interest and meeting people from the local area. I’m hoping to be part of a Science Fiction exhibition in Denmark called Far Out in September, organised by Eskild Beck. I’m in the early stages of organising a Secret Art Sale for the Charley Paige Trust that will be at Squires Gallery in Shepperton in September 2017.

AL.

On the map exhibition

33%_on_the_map_poster_3a

I’m currently researching my map for this interesting exhibition at the Sunbury Embroidery Gallery.

For the ON THE MAP exhibition I’m bringing together artists from around the UK to create contemporary maps that are a conceptual adventure challenging our relationship to the environment we pass through. Some of the maps are local to Sunbury others are further afield. This is a three fold exhibition including an exhibition, physical walks that anyone can complete and a series of published maps.

Keep Thursday 23rd April free for the Private View at the Sunbury Embroidery Gallery.

The exhibition will run from the 14th April to 10th May.
The Sunbury Embroidery Gallery,
The Walled Garden,
Thames Street,
Sunbury-on-Thames,
TW16 6AB
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm (summer) 10am – 4pm (winter)

The other map makers include –

Natasha Day
Peter S Smith
Bill Mudge
Robert Good
Jill Hedges
Melanie Ezra & Rose Davies
Dean Reddick
Bryan Benge
Glyn Walton

What’s real is home exhibition

Alban_Low_art_mental_health

Role-players take in the exhibition photo by Bill Mudge

Earlier this month I exhibited my most recent artwork from my time on the simulated mental health ward at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London.  ‘What’s real is home’ included over 30 sketches at the Scene Of Crime House, Kingston University. It is a body of artistic work that has enabled me to delve even deeper into the mental health labyrinth. It has also increased my appreciation of the people who help guide us through it’s twists and turns.

This time last year I took my first tentative steps into the simulated mental health ward at Kingston University and St George’s, University London. I was unprepared for the process and theatre that awaited me. Since then my artistic life has dovetailed with the course, actors and staff. The sketches from last year formed a successful exhibition, a film which was screened at the BFI London, a loan of work to the Recovery exhibition at the Institute of Mental Health (Nottingham) and a series of articles online and in print.

Putting up the show

Putting up the show. Photo by Bill Mudge

I returned to the ward in 2014 alongside psychotherapist and tutor Harvey Wells. In addition to sketching, we also recorded the dialogue between patients and nurses on the simulated ward. These sound recordings inspired two short films that have been embraced by the international film circuit.

‘Ping Pong Paranoia’ was screened at the MORPHOS Immersive Video Dome Art festival in Los Angeles, USA.

‘What’s Real Is Home’ features the poetry of Robin Vaughan-Williams and premiered at the Filmpoem Festival (2014) in Antwerp, Belgium.

This year we recorded the voices of the ‘patients’ on the ward. We used these monologues as a creative springboard to explore a whole range of mental health themes. One of the most powerful sound recordings was from ‘Sandra’ who is played by actor Lindsay Shepherd. We were honoured that Lindsay attended the opening of the exhibition with some of the fellow role-players. It is her voice that appears alongside experimental jazz trio Toy Rokit on the film ‘Ping Pong Paranoia’. The film explores the ever increasing anxiety and claustrophobia felt by the paranoid patient ‘Sandra’ as she voices her concerns about being stuck on the ward.

Kevin_Acott_mental_health

Sketch of Kevin Acott. Photo by Bill Mudge

The story isn’t over for ‘Ping Pong Paranoia’ either, just last night I attended another screening of the film at the Greenhorn Film Festival’s Animation Freakatorium in Crouch End. Amongst a high quality programme of short films, our modest film held its own despite its small budget. The full programme can be found at http://www.greenhornfestival.com/programme-2014/film-programme

It was both unnerving and exciting to be able to hang the exhibition at the Scene of Crime House at Kingston University. It was one of those nights that seemed very dark indeed. Luckily we had the services of photographer Bill Mudge, who captured some evocative images on his camera. See his full portfolio from the night here – http://mudgephoto.wordpress.com/portfolio/whats-real-is-home/

One part of the exhibition that brought a smile to everyone’s lips was the Train or Ward installation. This was comprised of 48 vignettes that documented one-sided conversations heard on trains from around the UK and within the Simulated Mental Health ward. Visitors to the exhibition were asked to guess where each conversation originated from. Was it Train or Ward?

courtesy of Bill Mudge

Outside the Scene of Crime House. Photo by Bill Mudge

These vignettes were first exhibited at the NOSE Festival in Exeter on the 29th March 2014 as a set of magnetic artworks each measuring 5 x 7cm. They were placed on lampposts and railings throughout the city. The public were invited to pick them up and collect or to leave for people to discover throughout the festival. Harvey Wells joined me both in installing the magnets and in the simulated ward where we instigated the project.

The ‘Train or Ward’ instillation aims to break down the boundaries by taking Art out of the gallery and into public spaces but also by challenging attitudes towards Mental Health in the community. The ‘normal’ lines are blurred, it is impossible to detect whether a conversation has originated from the mental health ward or the local train. It is clear though that there is humour and pathos in abundance in both these environments.

AL.

Summer’s Out!

From Spring to summer has been a heavy time with work, at last I’m gaining a little breathing space to write some of it down before I take my annual trip to France in July.

Art Jazzed Up album

Art Jazzed Up album

Art Jazzed Up
The album, CD and booklet has now been released!
On the 11th November 2013 the Art Jazzed Up exhibition was opened to the public along with a unique performance that combined live art and music. The audience sat facing 3 blank paper canvases while Mike DiRubbo (alto saxophone), Duncan Eagles (tenor/soprano saxophone), Bill Mudge (piano), Max Luthert (Bass) and Dave Storey (drums) were hidden behind the white screens. Between the audience and musicians I was drawing in spirit ink on the canvases. My black lines slowly seeped through to the audience’s side and the images started to magically appear.

As well as filming the event (WATCH HERE) the sound was also recorded by engineer Nick Pugh of Session Corner and we’ve produced an 8 page booklet with a CD that includes 6 tracks from these talented musicians from London and New York. The booklet includes all the artwork from the performance as well as written pieces about all the performers and myself.

You can buy the CD/Booklet on AMAZON or order from your local library.

Vortex Dome LA

Vortex Dome LA

Ping Pong Paranoia at MORPOS Los Angeles
My first film, ‘Ping Pong Paranoia’, from the simulated mental health ward residency at Kingston University and St George’s University London will be receiving its international premiere in Los Angeles, California later this month. It will be shown as part of MORPHOS Immersive Video Dome Art festival on the 27th June 2014. MORPHOS is a one night immersive video experience featuring the world premiere of new experimental immersive and interactive video art in the Vortex LA Dome.

This current crop of films use sound recordings taken from the simulated mental health ward itself as its inspiration. The first film features both the voice of role-player Lindsay Shepherd and a soundtrack by experimental improvisation trio Toy Rokit. The film, Ping Pong Paranoia, explores the ever increasing anxiety and feeling of claustrophobia felt by the paranoid patient ‘Sandra’ as she voices her concerns about being stuck on the ward.
Link here to the Morphos website and information.

Filmpoem poster

Filmpoem poster

‘What’s real is home’ film at Filmpoem Festival Antwerp
I was delighted and surprised to learn that another film from the residency ‘What’s real is home’ is going to screened at the Filmpoem Festival, held this year in the Felix Archief in Antwerp in partnership with Felix Poetry Festival and in association with The Poetry Society. It will be screened on the 14th June as part of the Open Programme between 3-3.45pm.

The film was made in collaboration with poet Robin Vaughan-Williams who I met a few months ago when we worked together on the Jawspring exhibition together. Robin took the original transcription I made on the simulated  mental ward to create a new literary work. You know me, I couldn’t resist a jazz inspired score and this time it was courtesy of Leo Appleyard and his quartet. They are just about to release their debut album, Pembroke Road, on the F-IRE label in September 2014.

FAB Fridge crowd 2014

FAB Fridge crowd 2014

FAB Fridge 2014 at Fringe Arts Bath
We had fantastic day out in Bath in May at the Fringe Arts Bath Festival. We placed 320 magnets on the streets for eager art collectors to pick up from 124 artists. It was a little bit wet but we didn’t let that dampen our enthusiasm.

See more pictures and read about the exhibition – LINK HERE

Album Art
Apart from our very own Art Jazzed Up, I have been busy with Max Luthert new release ‘Orbital’ (Whirlwind Recordings) and Leo Appleyard’s debut ‘Pembroke Road’ (F-IRE). I have just heard the first track from Partikel’s new album which has a string quartet at its heart, Sounds AMAZING! Lets hope the artwork lives up to the music, the pressure will be on.

Books
Thomas Yocum’s 148 page guide to the Lingala language of Kinshasa and the Democratic Republic of Congo is all finished. I drew 45 illustrations for it as well the cover design. In the near future we’ll be releasing at as a free resource through Tom’s Loba Lingala website.

Bernie Family Commission

Bernie Family Commission

Private Commissions
Now some of these are secret but I have just finished a picture for The Madden Family and I have another which I must keep under my hat. I am revisiting a conceptual eye portrait for the Harwood-Matthews clan and finally a portrait of Ben Starkie is waiting to be started.

Jazz Sheet Music
In the past month I have started working for Sheet music specialist at Kevin Bell Music on their Big Jazz Face website. The paintings of Jazz’s great and good will adorn their sheet music hopefully for years to come.

Art Of Jazz
Life on the circuit is varied and exciting at the moment and it’s not all jazz. London is such a rich melting pot of music styles and creative energies.
Last week I had the fortune of sketching B-Movie beauty Jane Badler at the Groucho Club. You never know what’s going to pop in your inbox from one week to the next.
ART OF JAZZ Website

Future
I would appreciate a quieter period to get a bit of creative energy back into these bones. I have an eye on a collaboration with improvisation trio Toy Rokit for some films and album later in the year, and am visiting the Isle of Wight for the first time to scout out an inspirational location.

and finally……

Twickenham Alive Film Festival - Special Mention

Twickenham Alive Film Festival – Special Mention

Special Mention at the Twickenham Film Festival 2014
The first ever film we made, The River has been awarded a Special Mention at the Twickenham Alive Film Festival this week. Now in its second year the Festival celebrates the ingenuity and originality that is bubbling up in the local area as well as internationally.

10 films were screened on the night with 3 major awards presented for Original Cinematography, Young Filmmaker and International Drama. There were a further 7 Special Mentions, of which we were the proud recipients of one.
The River is one long continuous drawing of the River Crane in Twickenham. The soundtrack is by Partikel (Eric Ford, Duncan Eagles and Max Luthert) and was inspired by the River Thames at Kingston where two of the trio used to live.