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.

 

 

 

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.

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/