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.

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Whats Real Is Home

33%_flyer_what's_real_exhibition copy copy

What’s Real Is Home

 

What’s Real Is Home exhibition

After the success of last year’s exhibition – ‘Eternal Art of the Simulated Mind’ – I returned to the Kingston University’s Simulated Mental Health Ward in 2014, where students from the School of Nursing learn their craft. As well as documenting this unique experience in my sketchbook, I also captured the care and chaos of the ward environment in a series of live recordings. This experience inspired two films that have recently been screened at the Morphos Dome in Los Angeles and at Antwerp’s Filmpoem Festival.

On 5th November I’ll be showing the whole body of work at the Scene of Crime House, 14 Fassett Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 2TF. Come and join us from 5-7pm for films, paintings, sketches and atmospheric sound recordings.

 

Greenhorn Festival
One of our films from the Simulated Mental Health Ward is to be shown at the Greenhorn Festival.  Ping Pong Paranoia will help close the festival during the aptly named Animation Freakatorium on Sunday 16th Nov, 6.30-8pm, Arthouse, Crouch End, 159A Tottenham Lane, London N8 9BT. Get your tickets here – http://www.arthousecrouchend.co.uk/programme/?programme_id=720104

Films in production – Grand Designs
It has been a cinematic couple of months. I have already completed 5 films for experimental jazz trio Toy Rokit and I have another to come. The films are inspired by one of the houses from the Grand Designs TV programme. Bill Mudge and my very own family were lucky enough to stay in the residence in July 2013. Toy Rokit are now being inspired by my visuals in turn. We hope to produce a body of work that will result in an exhibition, live performances and a publication and CD.

They go film

They go film

Films in production – Juan Maria Solare
I have started a new project with Modern Tango supremo Juan María Solare. He was born in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1966 and has lived in Germany since 1993 as a composer and pianist. Currently he teaches Tango Music at the University of Bremen and Composition and Arrangements at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen. At the Jacobs University Bremen he conducts the Jacobs Chamber Orchestra, which repertory a stress on classical music.

The films use both simple word sequences and visuals to create undercurrents of meaning, intrigue and humour. As you know my usual practice is tight and relies heavily on good technique, but this is type of work plays with ambiguity, which is a tool I’m just learning to use.

A33%_Partikel_string_theory_album_artlbum Art
All the albums below include my album art. I’ve been busy!

Max Luthert released his debut album at Pizza Express Soho last week on Whirlwind Recordings.
http://www.whirlwindrecordings.com/orbital/

Both Samuel Eagles (Next Beginning) and Leo Appleyard (Pembroke Road) release their debut albums on F-IRE Records next month at the London Jazz Festival – http://www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk/events/info/leo-appleyard-and-samuel-eagles-f-ire-records-double-bill

I’ve also contributed to Emily Saunders latest album Outsiders Insiders which will be launched also at this year’s LJF, 229 The Venue
Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PN, 8.30pm.
http://www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk/events/info/emily-saunders-partikel-jazz-dj

Partikel’s 3rd album String Theory is nearly ready for the printers too. Here’s a sneak peek at what it’s going to look like.

 

 

 

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