twelve months on from the last time i wrote about the year in art, i am going to open it with pretty much the same words. a lot has happened over the past 12 months, and i would not have been expecting to close the year out working at a national gallery, having left behind a city i had just been falling for. yet these things happen don’t they? it also means that over the course of 2012 i have shifted from spending my days in the most exciting new gallery around to working with a collection of major historic importance to this country and beyond. as i have continued to develop a relationship with the appreciation of art, here are a handful of shows which stood out for me over the course of 2012…
one of the first exhibitions which i saw this year, and easily one of the most enjoyable. here fact brought the moon to liverpool, with seven artists declaring their vision for lunar life. the standout work was definitely agnes meyer brandis’ the moon goose analogue, a fantastic project which followed the artist putting a team of geese through their training ready to fly to the moon. alongside the documentation of the training regime the artist had constructed a full lunar control room from which you could see the ‘astronauts’ at work on their moon base (also known as pollinaria in italy).
for this exhibtion dummond created a series of ‘scores’ which provided the soundtrack to the city of sheffield. placing words into a world without music, drummond created a new means for negotiating thoughts about the city, how it relates to the inhabitants, and visa versa. the scores were placed throughout the city, and led followers around sheffield, with instructions to say hello to birds along the way amongst other actions. seeing the scores together in the gallery space at site, all of a sudden the static words on the page became a passionate landscape vision of a city. this was truly wonderful.
heather & ivan morison, ben rivers and david thorpe – the hepworth wakefield
the first of two exhibitions from my former place of work, the spring 2012 group show brought together three displays looking at notion of utopia and apocalypse. i did enjoy david thorpe’s intricate cabinets and paintings, but this exhibition was really about the interplay between ben rivers’ film slow action and heather & ivan morison’s installation/object theatre/puppet performance anna. where rivers created/edited four forms of utopia, the morisons constructed a world in a state of assault from creeping ice based on anna kavan’s fiction. to have had the opportunity to work with these displays was an absolute joy.
louisa may parker works with notions of drawing in a way very similar to an artist who appeared in this list last year, and i think that is one of the things which i saw in this display in one of the front rooms of bank street arts in sheffield. alongside a series of intricate and beautiful works on paper, the artist had installed table, book – a sculpture/drawing which consisted of a table, book and weight covered entirely in graphite.
i’m not sure that there is much to be said about jeremy deller which hasn’t already been said. ever since seeing his procession at manchester international festival in 2009, i have felt a connection with deller’s work – and more importantly the inspiration behind it. here is an artist who is more interested in the people he is making art about that creating some vaunted conceptual piece. this retrospective at the hayward gallery gathered together work from across the artist’s career, from a recreation of the exhibition he staged in his parents house through to the battle of orgreave (which was also shown at the wonderful s1 artspace this year).
i have loved stuart roy clarke’s photography for a long time. family holidays as a kid tended to head towards the lake district, which for me was always a great things as it meant i could pester my dad to take me to the homes of football gallery in ambleside. kicking things off for the newly manchester-ed national football museum, clarke’s photography more than ever reminds me about why i love football, at a time when my attachment to the top/professional ranks of the game is growing weaker with each passing bout of silliness which is tearing football apart. much like deller’s art revolves around participants, clarke’s photography is about the things, and more importantly the people around football. don’t expect pictures of big name players engaged in prepared dance routines; this is football from the terraces, and for the terrace. a triumph. (oh, and did i mention that the display is soundtracked by british sea power?)
another display of photography, this time from one of the most iconic american photographers of the twentieth century. i think possibly the most affecting images in this exhibition are not the huge waterscapes for which adams is rightly famous, but actually the handful of photographs which were taken by a teenage adams, with a simple box brownie camera. the depth of image which he was capturing even at this stage when he was learning how photography worked is stunning.
richard long and luke fowler – the hepworth wakefield
my final pick of the year, and the second at the hepworth wakefield, includes two artists whose work always inspires me. to have had the chance to see both of them in action whilst installing their work, and get to have a chat with them only acted to confirm how much i love their work. in this display a selection of richard long’s works on paper were installed alongside three large scale floor pieces, one floor to ceiling wall drawing and a prototype grass sculpture. alongside these very physical pieces, luke fowler’s film the poor stockinger, the luddite cropper and the deluded followers of joanna southcott delved into the workers’ education association and the writing of e.p. thompson in and around yorkshire. the same traits of editing, sound and linear camera movement can be seen through this piece and fowler’s hugely well deserved turner prize nominated all divided selves. on face value it isn’t overly clear how well these two artists would complement each other in a gallery space, but the shift between the natural world and evolution of education was actually a real masterstroke.