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.

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

 

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.

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/