CLOSING EVENT Saturday 7th April 7:30pm FREE @ BasementArtsProject
Keeping the Aspidistra Flying
And so it is on a warm sunny morning in late March, with the smell of oil paint and turps hanging on the air, that BasementArtsProject turns a corner and enters a new phase in its existence. ‘Responding to the Beeston Series’ is an exhibition by artist Philip Gurrey looking at the development of his practice via a series of paintings produced in 2008. ‘The Beeston Series’ is a set of portraits depicting members of the Beeston community; the series came about as a response to the negative press that the area received after the London bombings of 2007. Gurrey’s motivation for this project was not political, but was in fact about the desire to depict a less biased account of this community than in the media.
‘Responding to the Beeston Series’ was an idea that Gurrey brought to BasementArtsProject as a potential project. Gurrey’s interest in this type of portraiture had come from a love of 17th Century Dutch painters such as Frans Hals, Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck and the Beeston series came out of a desire to capture people in a very particular way. As with many basement projects of the last year the locus of activity was divided between the basement and the house itself, only here the intention was less to do with practicality than it was to do with the deployment of an aesthetic.
With the exhibition occurring in a home that behaves like a gallery a dilemma occurs in how the work is positioned; do you approach it in a gallery manner with a mean average eye level as the default position or the home display, that being slightly higher, taking into consideration the size of the rooms and the height of the ceilings? In the end a compromise between the two ensures a solution that refers to the gallery intention whilst acknowledging and highlighting the necessary sensitivity of their actual surroundings.
Every evening upon arriving home from work I find that various artworks have been re-arranged on the living room wall, some removed completely with just the hangings left behind. Venturing downstairs into the basement I find the same thing occurring only here there are new works emerging next to the original pieces presented to the public only four days ago. These new works display all of the energy and vigour of Gurrey’s enthusiastic style of working, andit is at this point that the fairy tale concerning the elves and the shoemaker springs to mind.
With Saturday night’s opening event out of the way, the door between kitchen and Basement now stands open, and will do for the remainder of these two weeks, as Gurrey re-visits these older pieces in order to create new work during his residency at BasementArtsProject. On Saturday 7th April 2012 BasementArtsProject will be opening its doors for a second time as we present the product of Gurrey’s two weeks in the house.
Please contact Bruce Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be sent an invitation to the closing event for Philips exhibition / residency.
We at BasementArtsProject would like to thank Philip Gurrey for his involvement with our project
Selected exhibitions by Philip Gurrey include:
Fondation Francés, Senlis, France (Solo), Houldsworth Gallery, London (Solo), Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles, Madder139 Gallery, London (Solo), The Pulse Art Fair, New York (2008 Prize Winner), The Next Art Fair, Chicago, SWG3, Glasgow (Solo), Siena Art Institute, Italy, The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
Opening Event 24th March 2012, 7 – 9pm
Closing Event 7th April 2012, 7 – 9pm
In 2008 Philip Gurrey produced a series of portraits of the people of Beeston, Leeds. With no political agenda his purpose was to portray a less biased reality than was being portrayed at the time in the national media. In March 2012 Gurrrey will begin a two week residency at BasementArtsProject, Leeds’ smallest arts venue, based in Beeston. In the intervening years Gurrey has been pursuing other avenues within the painting medium, but at BasementArtsProject he will be using those very personal images from 2008 as a starting point for a new site specific work generated over the course of his two week residency.
For the opening night Gurrey will be making use of the intimate, domestic setting that is BasementArtsProject, by inviting the subjects of his 2008 portraits to this first public exhibition of the works for which they sat.
To signal the end of Gurrey’s two week residency BasementArtsProject will stage a closing event that will showcase the site specific work alongside the original pieces.
We hope that you will be able to join us for one or both of these events that will kick start 2012’s programme of events based here in Beeston, the doorstep of Leeds.
Philip Gurrey is a Yorkshire born artist currently undertaking a Masters of Letters, post graduate, programme in painting at the Glasgow School of Art. Gurrey has exhibited worldwide and through his continued investigation of the substance of paint he often opens up space in which to wrestle with themes permeated by the human condition.
Some images from the SCIBASE stall at the Stockholm Independent Art Fair Supermarket 2012
Big Thanks to all of those who assisted us with making this project happen.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation at this afternoon’s debate around the value of art. (Except for the niggardly feeling that maybe I should go back to school and get my PhD)
This is a deep topic – here’s what I have been thinking.
It seems to me that art is deeply linked to the experience of H. sapiens. We know that before sapiens arrived Homo (neanderthalis for sure, but also maybe Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis) had practiced ritual burial- bodies placed in symbolic positions in a grave, bodies marked with ocher. So the numinous experience, a relationship with death and the longing for the continuation of the self after death is not uniquely human. Our predecessors may also have decorated themselves and their clothes, so perhaps even visual expression is not entirely unique, and I am quite sure that one could make an argument that many species appreciate beauty (even if this adoration is in fact sparked by the selfish gene). But when sapiens arrives in the world we see for the first time (we believe) art supported by and embedded in culture.
The great cave paintings of so many cultures still move us, viewers are awed by their expressive beauty (which is spectacular – but beauty is an idea for another day and has no bearing on value). What I am thinking about here in a discussion on value is the consumption of resources that it takes to create such spectacle. Putting aside the question of why we did it, or the amount (enormous) of skill required to create such deceptively graceful rendering with such poor tools – what I am thinking about is the actual tools, the consumption of material and the investment of capital in the form of time, materials and labor in such an epic undertaking, those walls didn’t paint themselves. For example, scaffolding had to be erected, which required a great deal of skilled manual labor, someone had to flake a flint to cut the tree, someone had to cut it,someone had to haul it into a cave, someone had to dig a post hole, someone had to lash it (with some kind of rope-like material made by someone else). All these actions indicate to me, that the communities creating these images believed the image had great value. Now anthropologists and art historians and neuro-scientists can argue themselves blue in the face over why we did it, and why we valued this activity. But the evidence points to the fact that at this moment in time, for what ever reason, humanity valued art so highly as to devote life changing amounts of capital to this activity. And that no other species did (or does). Like Nigel Spivey I think that making art and being human are linked, perhaps so deeply entwined with one another as to be inseparable.
Flash Forward to the Romanesque or Gothic period, when civic pride clothed Europe in “a mantle of white churches”. Here again we see a moment in history when the creation of art has taken on such powerful meaning (value) that the entire capital of towns and cities is diverted into the production of stunning art ( for the glory of God or the bragging rights of the city fathers makes little difference).
My argument for the value of art then is its essential humanity. Children all over the world begin to create images of what they see in developmentally similar ways, human beings/cultures make images.
This is the point from which all arguments should depart. Making images requires a certain leap in abstraction that only our species has made (and before anyone tells me about elephants that paint in the zoo – I remind you I am not aware of any elephants that paint in the wild). I feel (because I don’t have the education or research to back this up) that making images expanded our ability to abstract. It is part of our intellectual birthright.
Art today is of course about more than making images, or even making at all. The creative impulse behind art is for me the most fundamentally human intellectual activity. I art therefore I am.
Guest post by Debra Eck
Debra Eck is an artist and a lecturer at Jamestown University, New York.
Debra also exhibited as part of the SciBase contribution to the Stockholm Independent Art Fair Supermarket 2012
We arrived in Stockholm on Wed afternoon in flurries of snow and a bitingly cold wind. Our arrival marked the end of four months of collaborative planning, via e-mail, between BasementArtsProject, Leeds and Sci based in the Northwest. Since Wednesday the collaboration has been the physical realisation of the previous four months work.
Although ‘Bring a Box’ was the title initially given to this exhibition the project as a whole has come to symbolise a great deal more.
Transportability and practicality have been central concerns from the outset for every artist involved but other considerations have, somewhat unconsciously, also found their way in. As far as collaborative projects go this is quite an unusual one with some of the artists never actually having met before; but in the age of the internet the vast distance between the UK, Stockholm and the USA is not so vast, allowing for a network of activity to evolve virtually before the eventual realisation of any exhibition.
Since the initiation of this project in late September last year distinct alliances have been formed over time that have enabled the artists to negotiate the development of their work. Kimbal Bumstead has been travelling across Europe since late January, couch surfing and hitch-hiking in order to arrive in time for the Stockholm Independent Art Fair where he will present one of his travelogues documenting the process. In doing this Kimbal has gone via artist Andrew Crighton, also exhibiting as part of SCIBASE and currently living in Trellborg, to collect postcards sent by many participants on behalf of Leeds based artist David Cotton. Cotton’s work mirrors the archaeological process as those assembling the project in Sweden are faced with the task of working out how to piece together the creature depicted in the postcards; also facing the prospect of getting it wrong and having to start again. Debra Eck is an artist based in Jamestown, New York who made contact with BasementArtsProject through social media networks and has joined us here in Stockholm to meet some of the artists that she will be exhibiting with for the first time.
For some the idea of collaboration in art can mean working together on one piece of work, for others the production of work must be a solitary endeavour. Here though the collaborations are more discursive, a machine by which events can be engineered, artists have been able to work out ideas, concepts and possibilities to achieve a coherent and pleasing end result.
‘If I was an artist and I was in the studio then whatever I was doing in the studio must have been art’
Whilst art may be the final physical object at the end of a long process, for many artists the process is equally, if not more, important than the object itself and really it is this concept that the project has come to symbolise.
Sat 18th Feb 2012
. . . . and so here we are, finally on the right side of Christmas with the days lengthening as we head towards Spring 2012 and a whole new set of projects. For the first of these projects BasementArtsProjects will be swapping the chill Yorkshire air for the frozen Swedish air of the Stockholm Independent Art Fair. Artists taking part in this event between17th & 19th February will be:
WalkerHill (Michael Walker / Martyn Hill
What follows is a gallery of previous work by some of the artists involved . . .
Finally here is the PDF format of the SPEAKEASY: art in an age of prohibition catalogue.
We hope you like it with profiles of each artist and their work, and essays by Derek Horton and Bruce Davies . . . oh and plenty of images too!
If you have an affinity with us here at BasementArtsProject and feel the last thing you want to do immediately after Christmas is SPEND, then we cordially invite you to our last event of the year.
Tell the sales to BOGOFF and instead bring a dish of leftovers and a bottle; enjoy some company, music, homemade mince pies and perhaps a left over tipple.
To keep the atmosphere warm and cosy we have a limited number of 20 (free of course) tickets.
To obtain a ticket for this event please visit