Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fold and Stretch by Sara Cluggish

Fold and Stretch

by Sara Cluggish

Before you are three fleshy, plump, pliable bodies, each weighing approximately 60 kilograms. The faceless, anti-form figures are sexually indeterminate and lack rigidity or strength. They are like lumps of chewy fat, organs without skeletal support, nerves separated from communicative sinews and muscles uncontained by fascia. Theirs is a dense, dead weight that spills outward, continuously disciplined by gravity as their gooey mass - composed of live, multiplying bacteria – expands steadily and imperceptibly.

Fold and Stretch is a tactile, tangible encounter with dough - a living, growing and ancient material with a long socio-economic history. From Asia, where wheat was domesticated, cultivation spread to North Africa and Western Europe enabling humans to form sophisticated agricultural societies, as opposed to nomadic lifestyles. While this historical lineage is of great interest to Wilson (and her collaborators, choreographer Lucy Suggate and baker Martha Brown), her artistic vocabulary remains inherently sculptural and grounded in the process-based aspects of texture, form and fluidity. Wilson’s investigation of substances such as asphalt and brick can take years to complete, and Fold and Stretch is in the nascent stages of such inquisition. She often focuses on the various stages of alchemical transition - molten granite is poured and clay fired – but this performance offers up a laborious manipulation of dough as a pliable material that is not yet fixed and indeed will not become fixed. The three performers wrestle, sever, shape and play with its sticky viscosity on workstations-cum-operating tables, but ultimately the material is stored away and the dough ends in the same place where it began.

Last March, when embarking on the first iteration of this performance at Site Gallery, Sheffield, Wilson instinctually turned to an abundance of sculptural references. She spoke of the bulbous, disturbing anatomy of Hans Bellmer’s life-sized, pubescent dolls in which he often inserted ball bearings that allowed his erotic, monstrous constructions a full range of movements. One can imagine him twisting and turning their limbs in the privacy of his workspace like the performers bent over tables in Fold and Stretch. More recently, the milky, fleshy consistency of Wilson’s dough might remind one of the anthropomorphised, intestine-like NUD forms of Sarah Lucas, whose veiny, netted skin sit globular and contorted on industrial cinderblock surfaces. The curvilinear NUD sculptures have a flesh on flesh quality that is distinctly autoerotic, and, like the dough in Wilson’s performance, provoke a half-liquid, half-solid state simultaneously associated with skin, body organs and excreted fluid.

No practice seems more apt than that of Lynda Benglis who in the 1960s developed a reputation for the process-centered materiality of her encaustic, latex and polyurethane foam works. Like the thick, malleable mixtures of Fold and Stretch Benglis’ performative material investigations are dependent on the pull of gravity and tend to descend towards the ground. During rehearsal’s for Wilson’s performance at Site Gallery an oozing mixture with an overabundance of yeast made its way - completely unaided by performers - from closed container to concrete gallery floor. Poured, layered and embellished, Benglis’ works have a similar appearance of gushing liquid frozen mid-spill, a quality curator Helen Molesworth has referred to as “a radical slippage of coordinates’’ .

Wilson speaks regularly of an interest in bodily form and how one’s hand might intuitively manipulate dough. In Benglis’ early paintings, while the shape varied, the size of each was loosely derived from bodily dimensions such as the artist’s height or the width of her arm. For Benglis and her post minimalist contemporaries this was read as a reaction to the machine aesthetic and cool, reductive work of minimalism, whereas Wilson refers to her work as “a counterpoint to the increasing pace, mechanical production and virtual technologies used today”. The titles of Benglis’ sculptures such as Cocoon (1971) and Embryo I (1967-76), suggest corporeal projections of nascent life forms. The waxy, fluorescent translucence of other works turn towards food-types as in Night Sherbert A (1968) and Night Sherbert B (1968), which allude to melting scopes of ice cream. Benglis used to imprudently refer to her sparkle knots as ‘Nausea Balls’ and the hot wax of her encaustic pieces conjure childhood memories. The artist recalls her fascination with smelling, touching and tasting wax candies at Halloween and birthday parties, giving weight to the ritualistic characterisation of these occasions, while Wilson’s recent experiments have led her to the dark brown, malted Veda Bread of her own Northern Irish upbringing. Both sculptors ground their work in personal, experiential forms of knowledge and deep observation of material transformation. Memory is transferred through substance. Work, labor and pleasure are intimately conflated through processes of kneading, layering, pouring, pressing, folding and stretching.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Fold and Stretch at SPACE

This Saturday 24 September at 4pm I am presenting Fold and Stretch at SPACE in London.

The performance was developed earlier this year for Site Gallery in Sheffield. Over four weeks (15 March – 9 April) I worked with Martha Brown, Founder and Head Baker at Forge Bakehouse in Sheffield and Leeds-based Choreographer Lucy Suggate to investigate the physicality of dough and its relationship to the body, movement and dance.

Please click here for more information and to book.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Politics of Food at Delfina Foundation

I'm really pleased to be a UK Associate Artist in residence at Delfina Foundation this summer 27/06/16 — 18/09/16.

Image: Laura Wilson, Fold and Stretch, 2016. Photo: Jules Lister.

Participants will include: Amy Franceschini (USA), Thomas Pausz (Iceland/France), Forager Collective (India), Fernando Garcia-Dory (Spain), Serkan Taycan (Turkey); Kathrin Böhm (UK), Chris Fite-Wassilak (UK/USA), Jane Levi (UK), Laura Wilson (UK) and more to be announced.

In summer 2016, Delfina Foundation’s The Politics of Food series will enter its third season. Since 2014, this programme has brought together over 70 artists, activists, anthropologists, agronomists, chefs, curators, scientists and writers from 32 countries through residencies, events and exhibitions. The first season in winter 2014 introduced a number of general environmental, economic and social concerns that have guided the overall programme, while the second season in spring 2015 specifically explored the relationship between food and three sub-themes: Sex, Diet & Disaster.
The Politics of Food: Markets and Movements will continue to deepen our investigation of this theme. Over twelve weeks, we will work with artists, curators and thinkers to investigate the production and distribution of food. We will explore complex and urgent issues including, but not limited to, agricultural labour and seasonal migration; developments in biotechnological food sciences; food sovereignty and heritage, from grains to recipes to production methods; how food features in radical collective political movements as well as the increase of individual consumer choice and its impact on the wider global food economy.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Contact: A Festival of New Experimental Film and video

I'm really pleased to be presenting a new performance next Sunday 8 May as part of Contact: A Festival of New Experimental Film and video at Apiary Studios curated by Andrew Vallance and Simon Payne.

My new work entitled 800 lights in 177 years (2016) will be performed at 7.30pm.
Please find more information below and click here for the full schedule and to book tickets.

A festival of experimental film and video showing the work of over 70 UK based artists/ filmmakers, featuring single-screen films, multi-screen/performance-related works and site-specific installations..

Artists: Maria Anastassiou, Luke Aspell, Jenny Baines, Steven Ball and Martin Blažíček, Kerry Baldry, Oliver Bancroft, George Barber, Dan Brackenbury and Joe Gilmore, Ian Bourn, Savinder Bual, Marek Budzynski, Nick Collins, David Cunningham, Amy Dickson, Karel Doing, Malgorzata Drohomirecka, Louisa Fairclough, Patti Gaal-Holmes, Sally Golding and Spatial, Nicky Hamlyn, Bea Haut, Laura Hindmarsh, James Holcombe and Secluded Bronte, Riccardo Iacono, Jamie Jenkinson, Deniz Johns, Conor Kelly, Hilary Koob-Sassen, Adam Kossoff, Malcolm Le Grice, David Leister, Steve Littman, Lynn Loo, Juile Marsh, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Jennifer Nightingale, Matthew Noel-Tod, Jayne Parker and Joan Key, Simon Payne, Heather Phillipson, Gareth Polmeer, Greg Pope and Kostis Kilymis, William Raban, Karolina Raczynski and Anita Konarska, Samantha Rebello, Duncan Reekie, Lis Rhodes, Emily Richardson, Ben Rivers, Cathy Rogers, Guy Sherwin, John Smith, Vicky Smith, Mary Stark, Francesco Tacchini and Oliver Smith, Anna Thew, Jennet Thomas, Andrew Vallance, Mark Watson, Ian Wiblin, Laura Wilson, Andrea Luka Zimmerman.
Accompanied by a publication including discussion pieces by Luke Aspell and collectiv-iz (on collective practices), Sally Golding, James Holcombe and Cathy Rogers (on different manifestations of contemporary expanded cinema), and short essays by Maria Palacios Cruz (LUX, Deputy Director), William Fowler (BFI, curator of artists’ moving image) and Nicky Hamlyn (filmmaker and writer), plus the complete listings.
The Contact festival is programmed by Andrew Vallance and Simon Payne.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Photos from Fold and Stretch at Site Gallery

Please find below a selection of images from Fold and Stretch at Site Gallery on Saturday 9 April, 4pm. Thanks to Martha Brown, Lucy Suggate, Kirsty Arnold, Hannah Buckley, the the team at Site Gallery and all who came along.
Photos: Tim Dennell

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Fold and Stretch at Site Gallery

I'm in Sheffield for the next few weeks developing a new work entitled Fold and Stretch at Site Gallery, 15 March - 9 April. If you are up this way, do pop by and say hello.

For the residency I am bringing together dancers and bread bakers to investigate the physicality of dough and its relationship to the body, movement and dance. Working alongside Martha Brown, Founder and Head Baker at Forge Bakehouse in Sheffield, and Leeds-based Choreographer Lucy Suggate, I am staging a series of rehearsals in the gallery, while working towards the completion of a new video work and final performance on Saturday 9 April, 4pm (click here to book).

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Images from Brick Project at RIBA

Thanks to all who came to hear me talk about bricks at RIBA London on Tuesday 8 March, please click here for some images from the evening.

 Photo: Joanna Brinton

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Brick Project at RIBA

I'm looking forward to presenting Brick Project as part of the public programme for the exhibition Creation from Catastrophe at RIBA, London on Tuesday 8 March, 7pm. For more information click here.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Workshop Projects @ Workshop East, 22 January

Some images of the installation of The Bakers at Workshop East on 22 January, thanks to all who came to the event and to Frankie Gallagher for inviting me to be involved in it.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Site Gallery, 16 January

It was great speaking with Alison Proctor from Siobhan Davies Studios and Martha Brown from Forge Bakehouse at Site Gallery on Saturday. Looking forward to working with Martha up in Sheffield during my residency 15 March - 9 April 2016.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Workshop Projects: Friday 22 January

On Friday 22 January I'm presenting a new work The Bakers (2015) as part of an evening of screenings at Workshop East, London alongside work by Rebecca Birch and Debra Welch. The first screening is at 7.30pm.

Friday, 8 January 2016

In Conversation at Site Gallery: Saturday 16 January, 2pm

If you are in Sheffield next Saturday... I will be speaking with Alison Proctor from Siobhan Davies Studios and Martha Brown from Forge Bakehouse about my forthcoming residency at Site Gallery. More info below...

Click here to book a place.

Join us for this introduction to artist Laura Wilson’s forthcoming Platform residency. Laura will be joined by Alison Proctor (Siobhan Davies Studios, London) and Martha Brown (Forge Bakehouse, Sheffield). They will discuss the themes of the residency, including Laura’s interest in the physicality of dough as a live material, its relationship to the human body and how this can be expressed through dance/movement.

Laura’s residency (15 March – 9 April 2016) will bring together professional dancers and bread bakers. The two groups will share skills and embark on the development of a series of performances, investigating the crossover between movement and the tactile, malleable quality of dough. The project will explore the traditions and historical development of both crafts, while Laura works towards making an extended video work and final performance.

Speaker Biographies
Laura Wilson (b. 1983, Belfast, based in London) works across a wide range of mediums producing sculpture, installation, drawing, video and performance. Selected exhibitions include: Black Top, Whitstable Biennale 2014, Whitstable, UK (2014); Pattern for a Dark Lantern, for Café Curio at Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (2013); Brick Project at Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2013), OUTPOST, Norwich, UK (2012) and W139, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2012); Tweespoor: Kunstparcours, De Warande, Turnhout, Belgium (2012); Portrait of Space, Clonlea Studios, Dublin, Ireland (2011); Header Stretcher Soldier Sailor Shiner Rowlock, Vitrine Gallery, London, UK (2011); Horse of a Different Colour, Siobhan Davies Studios, London, UK (2010). She was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Travel Fellowship (2011) to research bricks in China, Peru, The Netherlands and Belgium. In March 2016 Laura is presenting Brick Project at RIBA, London.

Martha Brown is the Founder and Head Baker at Forge Bakehouse, which opened November 2012 and moved to its premises and current location on Abbeydale Road in December 2014.
Martha is a native Sheffielder with a passion for baking. For her, bread baking combines science with creativity and is not too dissimilar to how bread has been traditionally made for thousands of years. She writes:
‘The environment of the bake house is full of sounds, smells, tastes and textures that engross you in the process. Dough is tactile. It’s fun to play around with and responsive to the hand’s movements and forces exerted on it. You are working with a living breathing mass of dough until it is baked. It’s so effected by the seasons, temperature and ingredients that you need a real understanding to work with those changes to ensure you are still making a consistent product.’

Alison Proctor is the Programme & Producing Manager at Siobhan Davies Dance, responsible for the arts programme at the company’s London studios and overseeing the production and touring of its performative work. She worked closely with Laura Wilson on her 2010 exhibition at Siobhan Davies Studios in London. Alison originally trained in dance and visual art, graduating from Roehampton University, London with a combined BA (Hons) degree. Following an injury, Alison retrained in lighting design. She was awarded a bursary for lighting design in dance by the Arts Council, worked with companies such as Rambert and Merce Cunningham, and joined the renowned lighting designer David Hersey. Alison now splits her time between her own ceramics practice and working for Siobhan Davies Dance.