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.

SwF_Alban_Low_4_33%

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).

wAOC_2018_6

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

 

Advertisements

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.

Spring News

Jawspring Poster

Jawspring Poster

Jawspring Exhibition

It has been a very busy start to 2014 and at times it has been hard to keep up. My main focus has been the imminent Jawspring exhibition at the Village Hall Gallery, Wimbledon on the 21st March. The exhibition combines the work of 17 Merton Poets and 26 artists who have been inspired by their poems. We’ll be celebrating World Poetry Day on the 21st, with a party at 6-8pm with wine and a poetry performance from 7pm onwards.

The next few weeks will be concerned with framing and printing before the big night itself. All the details are on the Jawspring website – http://www.jawspring.blogspot.co.uk
The exhibition runs from the 19th-23rd March and all the opening times are on the website.
There are activities for children as well as budding adult poets too, so please come along.

Simulations

In January I stepped once again into the Simulated Mental Health ward at Kingston University and St George’s University London. I have written up the experience here, along with a range of sketches – Day One / Day Two. I worked closely with psychotherapist Harvey Wells on the project last year and this time around was no different. Branching out from last year’s successful exhibition was our desire and we’ve already scored a hit. We recorded the voices from the ‘patients’ and start to work with them as a resource for creative expression.

Train or Ward Poster Publication

Train or Ward Poster Publication

Art or Train? NOSE
We have taken some of the one-sided conversations from the simulated mental health ward and combined them with monologues heard on public transport to produce this innovative public art installation. We were lucky enough to be selected for the NOSE Festival in Exeter on the 29th March 2014, where we will be placing 48 magnetic vignettes on the city streets. As part of this we are publishing a 5 pages pamphlet with A3 fold out poster to celebrate the exhibition.
It is available on Amazon for £3 and from publishers Sampson Low Ltd. ISBN  978-0-9534712-6-3

Film – Poetry – Music – Toy Rokit
The simulations is proving a hotbed of inspiration and we have received our first poems inspired by monologues we recorded in the mental health ward. I’m busy transforming Robin Vaughan-Williams work into a poetry-film and awaiting Kevin Acott’s first contributions to the project.
Our first film has been completed with a soundtrack from fearless improvisation trio Toy Rokit. They recorded it live at Survival Studios in Acton whilst the film was projected on a screen in front of them.
http://youtu.be/DpwYMNhGL3U

Opportunity FAB Fridge

If you would like to join me exhibiting on the streets of Bath this spring then I’m organising the FAB Fridge exhibition.
Open to all, just get involved at http://fabfridge.blogspot.co.uk/

Album Art

I’m currently working on Leo Appleyard’s debut album ‘Through the Façade”.
Samuel Eagles debut ‘Next Beginning’ is at the printers and will be released on F-IRE later this year.
Max Luthert’s debut  is ready to be printed too.

The Music of the Centaur Juan Maria Solare

The Music of the Centaur
Juan Maria Solare

Books

Tom Yocum’s ‘Loba Lingala’ is being edited as we I write this and is nearly ready for my illustrations.
Teresa Hunt’s ‘The Bats’ is finished and just needs the final design work to pull it together.
Juan Maria Solare’s book “The Music of the Centaur” is ready to be released.

Jazz

I have started to venture out back onto the Jazz circuit after a quiet January. Check out recent sketches of  Partikel and Chico Chica at http://artofjazz.blogspot.co.uk/

January News

2014 is already filling up with exhibitions and opportunities. I hope you’ll join me at some point along the way either as a contributor or meeting up at one of my exhibitions.
 
Jeffrey's Anxiety Pill

Jeffrey’s Anxiety Pill

Simulations
Last year I spent two days in the Simulated Mental Health ward at Kingston University and St Georges University London. Under the guidance of psychotherapist Harvey Wells and Dr Julia Gale  I have been fortunate enough to be awarded artist-in-residence status by the award winning initiative. January sees my return to the fray, where I’ll be sketching in the ward environment and recording the conversations between client and nurse. The aim is to produce a film like last year and use the information, drawings and sound as a positive creative force. There is talk of teaming up with experimental Jazz trio Toy Rokit to produce some soundscapes, possibly with performances and recordings.

Exhibition Opportunities
I have two exhibitions on the horizon.
The first is the Jawspring Exhibition which fuses poetry and art.  The writers from the Wimbledon and Merton Poetry Circle have given their poems to 25 artists from around the world to be interpreted. We will exhibit both poems and inspired artwork at the Village Hall Trust Gallery (Wimbledon) from 19-24th March with a party and private view on 21st March 2014 (World Poetry Day). So please come along. If you’re feeling adventurous why not join in. We have 100 spaces available for anyone who can write a haiku. We’ll be printing these onto toy sushi and exhibiting them in the gallery. Just follow this link to get involved.
 
The second exhibition is with our fantastic collective of artists who recently created the thought provoking Cardboard City exhibition alongside the Southbank, London in December. This time we have been awarded a coveted curatorial slot at the Fringe Arts Bath Festival in May/June this year for our inclusive FAB Fridge exhibition. We are inviting artists of any style, age and discipline to send us their artworks and we will be exhibiting them on the streets of Bath, UK. We will be transforming their art into magnets and along with a band of CollectConnect volunteers placing in public spaces where discerning art collectors can pick them up for FREE. Please get involved it’s a fabulous opportunity for all who believe that Art is for everyone. Find the FAB Fridge submission details here.
 
Max Luthert - debut album art

Max Luthert – debut album art

Album Artwork
I’m working on several album covers at the moment. Leo Appleyard’s debut album artwork is in its very early stages. The hot one is Max Luthert’s debut which is near completion. Catalan pianist Jaume Gispert’s is being printed as I write this, it’s my first vinyl LP and I really appreciate the extra canvas to work on. Samuel Eagles artwork is finished too all ready for release in 2014. Next month I’m back in the studio with Partikel for their 3rd album, along with a string quartet!

Jazz
I’m keeping busy on the jazz circuit with gig sketches/reviews . You can see what I’m up to at www.artofjazz.blogspot.com Work has slowed a little as online artist-in-residence on the Rainlore’s World Website due to the ill health of my mentor Rich Rainlore but I hope to embark on some new adventures as soon as he’s back on form. Rainlore’s World Website
 
Books
I’m working with Thomas Yocum on his language/travel book Loba Lingala which we will also publish at Sampson Low Ltd. It will be the definitive book on learning and speaking the Lingala language which has over 10 million speakers, many in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Mr Yocum resides.
I am also working with Teresa Hunt on her novel ‘The Bats’. We are currently illustrating the front cover.
 
Film
Along with the Mental Health films and a interesting project with poet Robin Vaughan-Williams I have another new film to create this year. This one is for American songwriter/singer Diane Taber and her dark and feisty tune ‘Piranha’.Future
Over the next year I’ll be co-author (with Chris Hart and Harvey Wells) on the book “Working with People with Mental Health Problems” for the Open University Press. Obviously I’m very excited about this and the year ahead.

Alban