Tag Archives: aldeburgh festival

exhibition at aldeburgh gallery : britten centenary

Wednesday 20 November 2013

ahoy there..! after being all at sea for a while, it was nice to be invited to contribute some small artworks for a group exhibition at the aldeburgh gallery, buoyantly entitled britten’s birthday bonanza, which opens later this week on the special occasion of the britten centenary celebrations this weekend – as friday 22nd november 2013 is the centenary of the birth of internationally acclaimed composer benjamin britten.

the exhibition, britten’s birthday bonanza, will feature recent work by three artists: sara johnson (watercolour paintings), gill levin (oil paintings) and chris mound (woodcut prints), alongside a selected exhibition of small artworks by artists associated with the art collective HWAT.

Britten’s Birthday Bonanza
21st – 27th November 2013
Aldeburgh Gallery
143 High Street
Aldeburgh
Suffolk
IP15 5AN

aldeburgh has become synonymous with the life & work of benjamin britten, a lasting legacy of international cultural importance to a once small fishing town on the suffolk coast – and a boon to local trade & tourism.

a leisurely stroll from the car park situated next to maggi hambling’s scallop sculpture (created in response to britten’s peter grimes) along the shingle beach is an idle pleasure later rewarded by the finest fish & chips to be purchased at the very other end of town… never one to push the boat out…

the liminality of sea, shoreline and shingle, a sliver of silver-green sea glinting in sunlight, or the percussive crashing of the waves, rain strumming over the marshes, the dramatic ever-changing skies, all nature’s moody atmospherics, playing out a performance indifferent to us…

benjamin britten was born in lowestoft, further up the suffolk coastline (his childhood home is now a fashionable B&B), and after studying & working in london and travelling to america, he later settled in aldeburgh with his artistic muse & partner, the singer peter pears (their final home, the red house, is now the location of the britten-pears foundation).

in 1948, with the support of peter pears and the writer eric crozier, britten established the aldeburgh festival, an annual event which attracted musicians and performers from far and wide. in 1967 the festival relocated to more spacious surroundings in the conversion of a former maltings building in the nearby village of snape. the new concert hall was officially opened by queen elizabeth II, who later returned to reopen it in 1970 after a fire destroyed the concert hall in 1969 just before the opening of that year’s festival.

the snape maltings complex is now the centre of aldeburgh music: a year-round programme of concerts and performances in tandem with a creative support and education programme for performers and musicians. snape is also the location of the snap art exhibition, and there are some impressive outdoor sculptures too (as written about previously).

suffolk was a source of much creative inspiration to britten; places of significance to britten’s music are included this interactive map of britten. there is more information about benjamin britten, peter pears and the special britten centenary celebrations at these websites:

Britten-Pears Foundation: http://www.brittenpears.org/

Aldeburgh Music’s Britten Centenary: http://www.brittenaldeburgh.co.uk/

BBC Radio & TV programmes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search?q=britten

BBC Radio 3’s Britten Centenary weekend:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio3/posts/Introducing-Radio-3s-Britten-Centenary-Weekend

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:

[Ariel’s Song, The Tempest, William Shakespeare]

art, it’s a snap : mark limbrick & emily richardson

Monday 9 July 2012

more art snaps from Snape…

limn is one of two works by Mark Limbrick included in the recent ‘Snap’ art exhibition at the Aldeburgh Arts and Music Festival.

mark limbrick, installation, art, snape maltings, suffolk

Mark Limbrick, limn, 2012 (steel, wood, electronics, mixed media)

limn comprises a large circular chamber in which a small ‘lamp’ noisily gyrates around the perimeter of what appears to be the suggestion of a cliff or coastline (hence the limn of the title), speeding up and then slowing down… it recalled the movement of ships or blinking lighthouses, of night-time maneouvres or coded communications, or perhaps the covert operations of the cold war era, as Orford Ness is nearby (see below)… it was an interesting work to watch (and listen to), but i could find no further information on this piece…

mark limbrick, installation, art, snape maltings, suffolk

another work by Mark Limbrick is a ‘sound installation’, One, comprising two large trumpet or conch-like white speakers (referencing both the old-fashioned phonograph and forms of the sea). they are spaced some metres apart on the lawn outside the main concert hall (facing each other), conjoined by a telegraph wire, the vibration of which is apparently simultaneously broadcast by the two speakers – atmospheric, disembodied and eerie, as one might expect – listening to the wind is like listening to the sea – we are transported somewhere else.

Mark Limbrick harnesses a ‘resonant’ element of nature (the wind) and artfully broadcasts it on what could be classed as a complex and large musical instrument. one issue with ‘sound’ works like this is that, in the mechanical ‘construction’ of the idea, it feels unavoidably ‘contrived’, and perhaps the ensuing experience is less poetic than if one had come across a similar phenomena naturally in the environment (see quote below).

the naughty cynic whispered that some of it may be pre-recorded (but i didn’t think it was). the wire also suggested an idea that that any translation of these ‘sounds’ into meaningful ‘communication’ is impossible – are the two speakers set apart in such a way to imply there is no communication between them?  furthermore, i wasn’t sure if anyone was allowed to reach over the white cordon and pluck the wire to see what other sounds it could make? it’s an engineered telephonic ‘soundscape’ which didn’t photograph very well, but i have since found a good clip on youtube:

One by Mark Limbrick

In support of this work, Limbrick quotes Thoreau:

As I went under the new telegraph wire, I heard it vibrating like a high harp overhead. It was as the sound of a far-off glorious life, a supernatural life, which came down to us , and vibrated the lattice work of this life of ours.
(Thoreau, 1851)

emily richardson, installation, art, snape maltings, suffolk

Emily Richardson, over the horizon, 2012 (HD video, 20 minutes duration)

emily richardson, installation, art, snape maltings, suffolk

Emily Richardson’s ‘over the horizon’ is a video installation work (in collaboration with Chris Watson) concerned with the history and experience of Orford Ness (or just the Ness), which was once a military radar & surveillance station (then owned by the MOD). it is now a nature reserve (managed by The National Trust) but many of the buildings remain, in various states of decline and decay, nestled along the shingle banks, slowly encrusted with rust or coated in algae, as the relics of the cold war become nesting sites for the shoreline’s birds. it’s a film-maker’s dream, in sound and vision. the video is everything you would expect it to be from such a seemingly desolate location: poignant, muted, layered, melancholic, eerie, bleak, a little bit dystopian – a place that time forgot, lost in the zone, the haunting remains of secret operations or military experiments merging with nature as it goes about its daily business of survival.

over the horizon has some clear similarities with the works of Mark Limbrick, Maggi Hambling and May Cornet in ‘Snap’. in fact, the more memorable works in ‘Snap’ are phenomenological in their intent, exploring sensory responses to the experiences of these locations…

snap, cackle and pop

Sunday 29 May 2011

the YBAs have: ‘grown up, headed for the fields and found fresh inspiration in the countryside of suffolk’

i’ve just been reading all about it over at the guardian/observer newspaper… it conjures up images of them drinking pints of adnams with the locals & taking long country walks in their hunter wellies and barbours… the guardian refers to the YBAs as if it is a definitive artist movement and now they’re moving in on suffolk…

they are putting on a group show called ‘snap’, a new contemporary art exhibition as part of the aldeburgh festival. the festival runs 10-26 june 2011, and will be set up in various locations around snape maltings (home of the aldeburgh music festival), using ‘foyers, derelict buildings and outdoors, offering the chance to see art outside a conventional gallery’ (a nice change from the white cube). it will feature the work of twelve artists: darren almond, don brown, cerith wyn evans, mark fuller, russell haswell, gary hume, johnnie shand kydd, abigail lane, simon liddiment, sarah lucas, julian simmons, juergen teller.

Sarah Lucas, Julian Simmons & Abigail Lane YBA artists. Photograph: ©Andy Hall for the Observer

[Sarah Lucas, Julian Simmons & Abigail Lane. ©Andy Hall/Observer]

only some of these artists could be considered true YBAs (are they perhaps honorary YBAs?), but they have all made links one way or another with east anglia and have come together to make ‘snap‘ happen. the ‘snap‘ exhibition will include photography, site-specific sculpture, video and sound installations. what, no painting, then – but gary hume is involved..? to remove any element of elitism there will be an ‘open day’ instead of a traditional ‘private view’ (does that mean everyone is invited?), serving suffolk aspall cider instead of champagne (they usually have champagne..?). as one of the artists abigail lane explains: “I want the farmers to come in and complain, but actually get a bit drunk with someone who’s come up from London. That’s how it should be.

i think the jolly farmers of suffolk might be busy that day but i’m all for supping some local ‘cyder’ while contemplating contemporary art… will any farmers walk in with mud on their boots and complain about the art? they are more likely to gruff & shrug it off as ‘a load of ol’ squit‘ – but i jest – there is a serious problem with crops and not enough rain right now… and i really wish that the art world/media would not play off the metropolitan with the rural, it seems like a case of us & them, as if we are somehow culturally deprived or lacking and unable to see the nuances of the country without the benefit of their urban vision… (ok, rant over…)

however, i’ll still be intrigued to see how these artists will work with and interpret the suffolk landscape… and snap is a very snappy, apt little title for this exhibition – a small snapshot, a breaking away, loud, sharp and to the point, snapped together, synchronous – but i also wondered if it might be a reference to an erroneous mispelling (or mispronounciation) of the village of snape.

to coincide with the promotion of snap, there is not one but two mentions of the artist sarah lucas (and a few of her artist pals in the process) in the papers this weekend… in the saturday guardian interview she says of her beginnings in art that: “I met somebody there who’d been to art college. I didn’t know about art college before that. That’s when I thought, ‘Oh, that’s something I could do.

i was quite disappointed by that statement, that it was just something to do, she had expressed no creative urge before that moment, there were no childhood stories of pulling the heads of cindy dolls and making crazy, hybrid toys or just making weird-shaped stuff out of potato smash or dirt – no, nothing of that sort was mentioned – but that’s not to say she hasn’t done those sorts of things – because this is what her art seems to do now – playing absurd and sometimes subversive games, as she goes on to say: “when I was little, just making things, because I always did, to keep myself company. I think that sort of continues – the making things to keep yourself company.” so there could be a darker, confessional side to the ‘art’ of sarah lucas just as there is with tracey emin – and perhaps this is why they became the best of friends in the YBA playing ground…

Sarah Lucas in her Suffolk studio. Photograph: ©Eamonn McCabe

[Sarah Lucas in her studio in Suffolk. ©Eamonn McCabe/Guardian]

i wish lucas had ‘fessed up a little bit more about her struggle in ‘making art’ and say it was also a case of being in the right place at the right time, talking to & hanging out with the right crowd of people – but it is good to see that she can now create ironic and refined work, such as the bronze sculpture ‘perceval’ with the two supersize marrows, situated in the grounds of snape (i cast a cucumber in alluminium in 1986, which seems slightly ironic in retrospect…). here’s a quck snap i took of perceval in snape a while back. i saw something similar (but much smaller) in a local charity shop for £20 – i wonder if sarah lucas bought it?

sarah lucas - perceval - shire horse - sculpture - snape maltings

[Perceval by Sarah Lucas – photographed looking east]

according to the guardian, the artists who are included in the snap exhibition are ‘a tight-knit bunch and they started talking about pulling together a group show […] and it was mooted that they could crash the Aldeburgh festival‘… it sounds just like the good old days…

sarah lucas now lives & works in suffolk and her friend, the painter gary hume, apparently also has a studio here in rural suffolk (i wonder if he needs a studio assistant – someone who can paint smooth and ‘dead flat’?) – and just down the leafy lane (so to speak) lives the london gallery owner sadie coles, who represents sarah lucas… the ‘snap’ exhibition sounds mildly exciting and rather marvellous, as if suffolk will be an über-cool locus of contemporary art, if only for a few weeks in the summer.

winter might paint a different picture – sugar beet lorries hog the road, the stench of slurry wafts from the brown fields, and as the slow tractors rumble on a whole lotta mud is laid down in their wake… but there are the expansive skies and the light, and the trees look mysterious shrouded in a morning mist – and then there is the coast… it’s impossible to miss this particular beach find, but rare to find it not crawling with people, such is its tactile charm…

maggi hambling - scallop sculpture - aldeburgh beach

[Scallop by Maggi Hambling – photographed looking out to the sea]

there are, of course, already a lot of artists living & working in suffolk ; i moved from london to rural suffolk in 1993…

i grew up, i headed for the fields and found fresh inspiration in the countryside of suffolk.

i am still trying to get my philosophical head around that career move – so i look forward to seeing what the YBAs(?) will make of the place…

The Saturday Interview: Sarah Lucas | The Guardian

Sarah Lucas: A Country Life | Art and design | The Observer.

The exhibition ‘Snap’ runs from 10-26 June 2011, at Snape in association with the Aldeburgh Music Festival

There will also be Snap: a discussion with Michael Craig-Martin on Thursday 23 June 2011

An edition of twelve large-format prints by the artists is also available at http://www.paulstolper.com