Winter / Spring 2019

Being Human, Bloomsbury, Brut and Bury St Edmunds

I finished off 2018 with a hectic schedule of commissioned works, walks and residencies. Kevin Acott and I spent a brilliant week with Barbara Dougan at Grove Projects creating new work. It was a precious opportunity for us both, not only was it a rare chance to work uninterrupted for 6 days but we created new and unexpected work that we presented in a exhibition in Bury St Edmunds. We started the week by creating two new chapbooks Limey and Trial and Error which were published and in bookstores like Waterstones within 5 days. The second half of our week was spent exploring Bury St Edmunds and writing songs after we stumbled across the story of Nick Cave’s time spent in the East Anglian town, and also a fun trip to the Hoo Ha Record Club one evening.

In November we took some of our work and performed it at Rich Mix in London as part of the Poem Brut series run by SJ Fowler.

I worked on a really interesting collaboration with The Rutledge Lab, at the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, inviting the public to talk about their perceptions of mental health and explore how this interacts with approaches taken by researchers and clinicians. Dear World Project was an installation featuring a post box where members of the public anonymously sent postcards about their own mental wellbeing which was then be organised at a sorting office. Scientists were on hand to discuss how we use symptom categories and diagnostic labels in neuroscience and psychiatric research.

In recognition and celebration of the 70th anniversary of the NHS, I worked in partnership with Prof Harvey Wells and curator Richard Meunier to discover the traces of East London’s medical history. We created a guide map commissioned by Queen Mary University of London that reveals the hidden relics of the hospitals that existed prior to the inception of the NHS. The map links together the Queen Mary sites that exist today: St Bartholomew’s Hospital founded in 1123 which is the oldest hospital in England to have provided continuous care for patients on the same site, The Royal London Hospital founded in 1740 which was once the largest general hospital in the country and where Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man was treated and Queen Mary’s Mile End campus which is situated next to Mile End Hospital. We launched the map at the Royal London Hospital Museum and created a video of the walk.

Before the NHS: A walk through East London’s medical past from Alban Low on Vimeo.

Love Tokens and Bad Pennies / The Art of Caring

I’m involved in two exhibition this Spring. During the Valentine month the artists and writers from CollectConnect explore the flip-sided theme of Love Tokens and Bad Pennies with an exhibition of 34 miniature sculptures. These objects are placed in public places (#unsettledgallery), helping us to remember those who we hold dear – or cast off those who we would rather forget. Every day throughout February we feature one of these tokens/pennies. A writer will also use the art as inspiration to create something new and fresh. Find out more HERE.

I was interviewed about the exhibition by Andrew Stuck for the Talking Walking podcast. Listen here – https://www.talkingwalking.net/alban-low-talking-walking/

We’ve got an open call to artists for this year’s Art of Caring. Now in its 5th year The Art of Caring is needed more than ever to show support for Nurses, Carers, and the NHS. This is your chance to exhibit an artwork that demonstrates your passion for this theme. If this is your first time then check out Anna Bowman’s documentary film about last year’s exhibition HERE.

Album Covers and Books

I’m currently working on the album artwork for Georgia Mancio and Kate Williams new release. Also a new Juan Maria Solare album of Erik Satie compositions. For only the second time in my career my artwork will grace a new vinyl release, this time a 7″ sleeve for the new single from Firefay.

My album art appeared on the latest release from Momentum and one of my live sketches featured on the cover of Al Shields’ latest EP.

Chapbooks are still a passion for me and our publishing company Sampson Low. As the year turned from 2018 to 2019 I worked on a fabulous new series from Robin Helweg-Larsen in the Bahamas. The “Potcake Chapbook” series is named for the dogs of the Bahamas and the Caribbean – strays that live off the burnt scrapings of cooking pots. The poems in the series are a mixed bunch – but the potcake of our logo wears a bow tie to show that he and all the poems are formal. These poems are memorable in part because they rhyme and scan, as all truly memorable poetry does. We subscribe to the use of form, no matter how formless the times in which we live.

I’ve also illustrated a new chapbook from Emily Wooden, and 10 chapbooks as part of the Elmbridge Literary Competition.

Coming Up

This summer I’ll be exhibiting in the new Blavatnik Building at the Tate Modern from 10th to 16th June. Working with Harvey Wells and Kevin Acott, we’re creating a new interactive version of the Relationship Map we published for Mental Health Awareness week a few years ago.

 

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Summer/Autumn 2018

WP_20180727_001I have just got back from two weeks with the family in Limoux and Cambieure (France), and at last I can find some time to tell you about what I’ve been doing over the past six months, and also what the future has to offer. France is always a time to take stock and I enjoy drawing for myself. I start off will charcoal drawings and then re-draw in ink to create more direct images. I’ve become a rather disinterested photographer and these drawings help me remember the evocative moments I experience, and are often triggers for new ideas and future themes.

Small World Futures, Grove Residency and Poem Brut
Last year I spent a week in France with Bill Mudge and Kevin Acott. This time inspired me to work on some new ideas with Kevin and also to try and carve out more time to escape London. In June we performed together at the Crouch End Festival in the Intimate Space at St Mary’s Church Tower. We also worked on a fabulous exhibition together called Small World Futures. It was the highlight of my Spring, featuring 16 artists who had created new miniature future worlds. We exhibited on the streets around London Bridge and asked writers to create words to describe these worlds. It was such a success we published a small book (£3.70 + P&P) which you can buy HERE.

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Small World Future – Alban Low (and Kevin Acott)

Kevin and I wanted more time to work through some of the Small World Future ideas and we applied for an artist’s residency at Grove in Bury St Edmunds. We were lucky to be awarded this opportunity and are taking up residency from 17-22 September to produce some new work together. We will publish a book during this week as well as explore some ideas about film and film noir. #EastAngliaNoir
There will be a short exhibition of the work on the 22nd September at Grove.
We’ll also be showcasing some of the work for a London audience at Rich Mix on 10th November 2018 (7pm, Free Entry) as part of the progressive Poem Brut night.

small_world_future_aabenraa_1The Small World Futures exhibition has travelled to Aabenraa in Denmark where it has caused quite a stir at Eskild Beck’s gallery space. It will have a new life at the Gallery Nexus in Denmark during the Autumn of 2018.

The next CollectConnect exhibition will probably be a Money/Banknote/Coin/Currency themed show. We will put out a call in the Autumn.

Art of Caring
Once again the Art of Caring exhibition had a huge impact on my life. As you probably know we have been running it with CollectConnect for four years now, and have exhibited over 1000 artworks in hospitals and public spaces. It is really hard work but I think it is needed in our community. Since starting as a fulltime artist in 2000 I’ve seen many ‘Open’ art exhibitions disappear completely, the majority of those that remain take advantage of artists by charging them for submission and even have the audacity to reject their work once they have pocketed the entry fee. The Art of Caring has its flaws but it is a beacon for many artists and remains a totally inclusive exhibition (no submission fee, no rejection, exhibited in a public place with free entry).

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Art of Caring at St Pancras Hospital

The title for this year’s Art of Caring exhibition was Health is a Human Right, inspired by the 2018 International Nurses’ Day theme. We started at St George’s Hospital, London in May, and we were also asked to put on a special exhibition to celebrate 70 years of the NHS in July. We published a colouring chapbook for this special occasion. More info HERE.

The Art of Caring culminated with the wonderful exhibition at St Pancras Hospital (19th July – 18th October 2018), with singing, dancing and a fine array of original artwork. Long may this exhibition continue, it is now established as a unique exhibition in the Arts Calendar.

QMUL_festival_of_communities_1aCommunity Festivals
This year has seen me get involved with more collaborators and reach new audiences by working with the universities at Kingston, St Georges, Queen Mary, and UCL.

I started with the Festival of Communities at Stepney Green Park where I created a life-size Operation game with Harvey Wells at Queen Mary University London.

Over the next few months I’ll be collaborating with the Max Planck Centre and UCL at the Bloomsbury Festival (17-21 October). In November I’ll be creating a walking map with Harvey again for the Being Human Festival.

Geoff_Berner_word_4_50%Album Art and Jazz
It has been a quieter few months for me with the album art but one album that particularly stands out is Pete Lee’s debut album, The Velvet Rage, on Ubuntu Music. I’ve also been lucky enough to create covers for Ornate – Terry Emm and Two – Tumultuous Tenors.

I’ve been experimenting with a new style in my gig sketches (see right, Geoff Berner). It’s been another brilliant few months as artist-in-resident on the radio show A World in London with DJ Ritu. I love going in every Wednesday and drawing the musicians as they perform. I was even lucky enough to be interviewed when I launched by London Violins chapbook and exhibition. You can listen to me chatting with violinists Alice Barron and Richard Jones by following this link… http://artofjazz.blogspot.com/2018/06/london-violins-world-in-london-with-dj.html