Nottingham Contemporary. Marguerite Humeau. 

Marguerite Humeau has described herself as an “Indiana Jones in Google times.” The London-based French artist’s work embarks on epic quests in time and space. FOXP2 is her first major solo show in the UK. Humeau’s new works grew out of conversations with zoologists and other experts. 


One sound installation takes the form of a “choir” of 108 billion voices, re-enacting the moment when a gene – FOXP2 – mutated, allowing our ancestors to develop language. This leads on to what Humeau calls a “biological showroom” of elephants, engaged in an elaborate mourning ritual. The installations take us back to the origins of life, while also imagining a future without us.FOXP2 has been conceived by the Palais de Tokyo, where it opened in June 2016. The exhibition presented here is a collaboration between Nottingham Contemporary and the Palais de Tokyo.

Nottingham Contemporary. Otobong Nkanga

Otobong Nkanga exhibits huge tapestries, performances, drawings and installations that trace all kinds of different botanical and geological histories in the work. This is the Antwerp-based Nigerian artist’s first solo show in this country.

The exhibition is made up of two site-specific installations. One, a new commission, is a constellation of museum display cases, a vast wall drawing and a large two-part tapestry. Next door Nkanga has created a new version of her installation Taste of a Stone, which brings the natural world into the gallery to create a landscape of boulders, pebbles, trees and other plants. This environment for contemplation is used by local storytellers and musicians

LCA MA Creative Practice end of year show

Viewed the work of graduating students from Leeds Collage of Art MA Creative Practice end of year show, at Studio 24 in Leeds.The MA Creative Practice exhibition showcases work by: John Gamble, Kara Zichittella, Kieran Hadley, Lesley Wood, Lorna Jewitt, Richard Dennis, Rory Menage, Sally Cooke, Sarah Bates, Morticia and Sorel Hirst.

Flesh. York Art Gallery

The latest exhibition the York Art Gallery looks at: flesh does not have to be of, or from the naked body.  Flesh proffers the life processes, boundaries and liminalities concealed by our bodies, and explores issues of transience and time.

 Figuring Flesh introduces  nudes from the Renaissance such as Fiorenzo di Lorenzo’s “Virgin and Child” – but these are  contrasted by Francis Bacon’s “Henrietta Moraes on a Blue Couch” where vulnerable contorted flesh  is shown. 

Still Life, shows Sam Taylor-Johnson’s silent time lapse film “Still Life” featuring a hare ravaged by maggots: a mesmerising work as bleak as it is beautiful. Berlinde De Bruyckere’s “Romeu ‘my deer’” (a wax layered sculpture of a flayed carcass teetering over the edge of a plinth) resonated with the 17th century Dutch still life paintings hung nearby. 

 Abstract Flesh featured artists’ manipulation of flesh and focus on its tactile and sensory traits. The Boyle Family’s monochrome photograph “Skin series (No.8)” was an elaborate work. A highly magnified image  akin to the surface of human flesh itself, capturing the complex latticework of skin. 

Steve McQueen’s first major project Bear, a silent film of two interlocking male bodies, displayed in a dark, confined space. Featured shots of indeterminate limbs panned across a screen of epic proportions. We are gaining an appreciation for the human flesh in all its various guises.

Eva Rothschild. Alternative to Power – The New Art Gallery, Wallsal

Eva Rothschild is one of the leading sculptors of her generation and has gained extensive international recognition for her work.

Her practice is informed by an ongoing interest in the meeting points between spirituality, power, visual perception and the nature of materiality.

She works across a range of media including steel, leather, resin, plastic and fabric and her work is often characterised by the use of unstable geometric forms. 

Alternative to Power is the artist’s first exhibition in the Midlands and includes a specially commissioned work involving leather, a material at the centre of Walsall’s manufacturing industry.


 

Rothschild has created a new body of work for The New Art Gallery Walsall that is characterised by the use of co-dependent forms: each piece is made up of multiple elements relying on one another for support. Taking on a range of formats, her columns, frames, arches and benches form a fragile union of physical components, in which our experience of them is determined contextually by the temporary groupings the works inhabit for the duration of the exhibition.
 

Paul Hawkins. Place Waste Dissent – Bank Street Arts

An exhibition of selected text and artwork from poet Paul Hawkins’ book of the same name, including screenings of Neil Goodwin and Mayyada Al-Malazi’s Life in the Fast Lane: the No M11 Story and John Smith and Jocelyn Pook’s Blight, and reading by local poets.Having spent three years in the early 1990s occupying properties and protesting in Claremont Road, east London, poet Paul Hawkins maps the run-off, rackets and resistance along the route of the proposed M11 Link Road.


He explores place, waste and dissent: the stake the Thatcher/Major Tory government was driving into the heart of the UK.

“From Claremont Road to Cameron via surveillance culture and Occupy: transient-beta memory traces re-surfacing along the A12. This collection is an important reflection on a historic site of resistance, offering us illumination, ideas and inspiration for the future.”

Dinh Q. Lê. The Colony – Site Gallery

Dinh Q Lê was born in Hà Tiên in then South Vietnam in 1968. In the late 1970s, his family escaped by boat before eventually settling in the US where he completed his education.

As the first of Dinh Q. Lê’s film installations which does not directly reference the Vietnam War, The Colony marks a significant development in his practice. However, the plight of individuals caught up in the currents of history which has characterised some of his most powerful work remains as a central theme.
The islands in Lê’s films are home to huge colonies of birds, where mountains of guano have built up and when its fertilizing properties were recognised, the deposits became one of the most valuable natural resources in the world. In the mid-nineteenth century, the islands were contested by different powers, each determined to exert control over their exceptional natural wealth. At the height of the “Great Guano Rush” bonded Chinese labourers were forced to work there under brutal conditions to collect the guano. Nobody lives on the islands now, but harvesting still occasionally takes place.
For The Colony, Lê has filmed the islands from a number of different perspectives, from a boat circling the land and video drones giving a bird’s eye view. Also we see labourers involved in the backbreaking work, transporting and loading the guano onto boats. The arid and unforgiving landscape and the drones’ unmanned explorations of empty and abandoned buildings, with their traces of existence from past inhabitants, leave viewers in no doubt of the human suffering and isolation that haunt the island landscapes.

Immersing the viewer in panoramic scenes of timeless and desolate islands, Dinh Q. Lê’s new film installation The Colony gradually reveals a sublime landscape with a complex history; set in the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru, the rocky home to an enormous colony of birds.By the middle of the 19th century the islands had become mountains of guano. A potent fertiliser, guano quickly became one of the world’s most valuable natural resources. British merchants controlled its trade, using indentured Chinese labourers working under brutal conditions. War was triggered by Spanish, American and Peruvian forces scrambling for control of the islands and in 1856, the US Congress Guano Act enabled it to seize uninhabited islands around the world. 

The islands have not been permanently inhabited for more than a century, but labourers return to harvest the guano by hand every few years. Accompanied by Daniel Wohl’s elegiac soundtrack, Lê films from a boat approaching the islands, cameras on the ground and drones circling above to capture a bleak landscape haunted by its brutal past. 

It is part of The Artangel Collection, an initiative to bring outstanding film and video to galleries and museums across the UK. The Artangel Collection has been developed in partnership with Tate, is generously supported by funding from Arts Council England.

He is known for using photographic strips and weaving them into an image. His woven photographs consist of several layers, which immediately attract and combine one’s perception into mixed feelings. A mixture of joyfulness and sorrow is seen in the interlacing of a colorful fantasy and mournful pictures of the Vietnam War. 

Stars on Starting Out. Paul Simmonds, Timorous Beasties. 

Noted for its surreal and provocative textiles and wallpapers, the design studio Timorous Beasties was founded in Glasgow in 1990 by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, who had met while studying textile design at Glasgow School of Art. Timorous Beasties was shortlisted for the Designer of the Year prize in 2005.
Their Inspiration is very indirect, it can take lots of different shapes and forms which can also be influenced by timing. To name but a few: Dutch design, Josef Frank, William Morris, Joseph Beuys, Paul Klee, Leonardo, Picasso, Ridley Scott, Tom Kirk, Chuck Mitchell, Italian motorcycles, Jake and Dinos Chapman.

By depicting uncompromisingly contemporary images on traditional textiles and wallpapers, Timorous Beasties has defined an iconoclastic style of design once described as “William Morris on acid.

Typical is the Glasgow Toile. At first glance it looks like one of the magnificent vistas portrayed on early 1800s Toile de Jouy wallpaper, but closer inspection reveals a nightmarish vision of contemporary Glasgow.

Some of the scenes are from an area of Glasgow where we lived and worked for a big part of our lives. The scenes are sinister, funny and moral. A junkie shoots up in a graveyard – the graveyard is a famous Glasgow landmark, called the Necropolis, where junkies go. The moral tale being that if you shoot up, you will literally end up in a graveyard. A young man pees against a tree in a park. A tramp takes a swig from a can of beer. The moral here is that if you start misbehaving early in life you may end up in the park later on. All this is happening as the Glasgow University Tower looms above like a fairy tale castle. Other landmarks are the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Church situated in Maryhill, a poor area of Glasgow where we used to have a studio, while Norman Foster’s Armadillo building represents the changes along the Clyde, a once booming industrial port. The urban landscape in many UK cities seems to change all the time. Modern buildings have become icons that give us a strong sense of identity, therefore the Glasgow Toile seemed a perfect expression of where we were coming from. To sum things up, we do love some of the traditional designs from the past, but it’s great fun to give them a new angle, to make them speak to us in the present.

Timorous Beasties was founded in Glasgow in 1990 by Alistair McAuley, born in Duntocher in 1967, and Paul Simmons, born in Brighton in 1967, who met as students at Glasgow School of Art. After beginning by designing fabrics and wallpapers for production by other companies, Timorous Beasties then started to manufacture its designs and recently opened a shop on the Great Western Road in Glasgow. McAuley and Simmons also execute special commissions, such as fabrics for Philip Treacy’s hats and for the interiors of the Arches Theatre in Glasgow and 50 Piccadilly, a London casino.

Clients include Famous Grouse, Nike, Fortnum & Mason, and Philip Treacy as well as exclusive lines for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Brintons carpets, Liberty London, and John Lewis Department Stores.

As their working practise as designer-makers has progressed, Timorous Beasties have become increasingly experimental in their approach to both hand-printing and machine production. 


These changes are reflected in their evolving aesthetic: from early wayward interpretations of naturalistic images of insects, plants and fish; to a searingly contemporary graphic style which, as Glasgow Toile illustrates, explores social and political issues.

Clients for whom the Beasties have supplied special commissions, are; fabric for the fashion world’s hat extremist Philip Treacy, as well as interiors for a London casino and Glasgow’s Arches venue. When the Wellcome Trust wanted lampshades for its London HQ, Simmons and McAuley decorated 48 shades with paisley designs made from germs, argyle checks made from syringes, and patterns drawn from images of human foetuses and tsetse flies. The shades hung as a double helix in the Trust’s 5m-high windows, mimicking the shape of DNA.