Monday, 28 October 2013

AirSpace Graduate Residency - Chloe Ashley - "Domestic Space /1"

Chloe Ashley
Domestic Space /1
AirSpace Gallery
1st November - 6th November

My underlying interests with the uncanny and its relationship with domestic has led to a photographic investigation of 4 Broad Street, examining the interior space and its link to the unheimlich. The decaying space of the house visibly evokes the jarring, however what is perhaps interesting is the disappearance of the homely that was once evidently present within the house.This deterioration of the domestic emerges through the dilapidated interior, and is particularly evoked through the transformation of the everyday objects which occupy the space. These objects have lost their ability to function, taking on new forms which interact with the space in bizarre ways. A toilet cistern overflows with insulation, a light bulb lies within a sink. A pink pipe emerges from the wall only to be taped over. It occasionally gurgles. The everyday objects have become unfamiliar and absurd due to the regression of the homely, creating a surreal and uncanny atmosphere within the space.

AirSpace Graduate Residency - Bob Catterall, Monolithic Mastaba (2)

Bob Catterall
Monolithic Mastaba
AirSpace Gallery
28th October - 1st November, 2013

Sunday, 27 October 2013

AirSpace Graduate Residency - Bob Catterall, Monolithic Mastaba

Halfway through their 6 month residencies at AirSpace Gallery, 2013 graduates Bob Catterall and Chloe Ashley have the opportunity to test some ideas and works out with an interim exhibition.

The venue is the gallery's window exhibiting space, which has its plusses and minuses.

On the negative side, physically, it is a really difficult space to create work for and site it in. So, whilst it is really tall which is a good thing, the space is very shallow - only a metre or so deep.

The really difficult thing though is the central partition. The temptation is often to split works in to two parts because of the two-paned formation, though this isn't necessarily the correct way forward.

The major plus is the visibility of the space. The footfall is several hundred passers-by a day and added to that, the traffic lights directly outside mean regular stationary cars and buses provide momentary captive audiences in the shape of their passengers.

Bob Catterall's has taken the vaguaries of the space on board and has responded with a new work, entitled Monolithic Mastaba.
The sculptural installation operates on a macro and micro level. At first sight, the large scale imposing sculptural forms mask the intricate micro mirroring happening at floor level. And in this way effectively overcomes the limitations of the space by presenting something large and impressive - something to catch the eye from a distance - yet there is something which draws the viewer closer, enticed by what might be happening in the two "mouse holes" at the bottom of the obelisk.
The viewer is rewarded with a pair of model miniature dioramas, perfectly rendered in great detail, and which really subvert one's sense of scale.

The work will be unveiled to the public tomorrow, 28th October, 2013 and will be on show until November 1st.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Poetry of AirSpace Gallery - IRIS OF A PEEPING EYE

IRIS OF A PEEPING EYE is an anthology of brand new poetry by national and international poets, celebrating the exciting diversity of art works in the West Midlands.

Art in the Heart which highlights the cultural offerings of 23 of the West Midlands Arts Venues - including AirSpace Gallery -  commissioned a special poetry programme to run alongside its calendar of exhibitions and drew inspiration from the stunning artwork on display across the region. 
This started with a series of poetry workshops - Birmingham based poet Philip Monks, Art in the Heart’s official ‘poet in residence’ ran a number of exciting poetry workshops at Art in the Heart venues, writing his own poems in response to artworks on display and inspiring members of the public to have a go themselves. 

Art in the Heart's Book of Poems - IRIS OF A PEEPING EYE resulted from these workshops and requests to a number of other leading poets to write new poems inspired by their own personal favourite artworks from the programmes of Art in the Hearts' member's programmes. Selected poems from the poetry workshops, alongside works by Philip Monks and other leading poets feature in the publication which had its launch at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham earlier this month.
AirSpace Gallery's poem, A Field Guide by David Morley, was written in response to Sarah R. Key's painting, Wheatear, which formed part of her series, "Birdsongs To My Father" in the Speaking in Tongues exhibition held at the Gallery in May this year. 

David Morley's beautiful poem imbues the painting with a new dimension, animating it with a view separate from the artist, but making a connection between artist and viewer not always possible or prevalent within the gallery experience.

Iris of a Peeping Eye is 64 pages, with 24 beautiful poems and full colour prints - including Andrew Motion, Bob AndRoberta Smith David Morley, Sarah R Key, Victor Rodriguez Nunez, Helen Monks and many more.

Over the past decade, Sarah R Key has developed a profile in contemporary painting, both nationally and internationally, exhibiting in major art venues in London, Stockholm and Dresden. Sarah’s work is represented in numerous private collections, has been awarded Arts Council Grants, as well as garnering significant art prizes and nominations. In 2010 her work was selected for the Royal Academy Summer Show; in 2011 for the prestigious Mostyn Open and Threadneedle Prize, where Sarah was a shortlisted finalist. Currently Senior Lecturer and Award Leader in Fine Art at Staffordshire University, Sarah has been teaching in higher education since completing her MA in Painting at Wimbledon School of Art in 2001. During this period she also completed a PhD in Fine Art at Loughborough University.
David Morley is a leading British poet, critic and ecologist. He has published 23 books, including 11 collections of poetry. His poetry and prose have been translated into several languages and his book on creative writing The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing is a bestseller around the world.His new collection of poems from Carcanet is The Gypsy and the Poet, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
His previous collection Enchantment was a Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year.The Invisible Kings was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and a TLS Book of the Year. His Selected Poems Biographies of Birds and Flowers is due from Carcanet in Spring 2015.David is also known for his pioneering ecological poetry installations within natural landscapes and the creation of ‘slow poetry’ sculptures and I-Cast poetry films. David’s creative writing podcasts are among the most popular literature downloads on iTunes worldwide.Two episodes of his 'writing challenges' are now preloaded onto all demo macs used in Apple Stores across the world.
David read Zoology at Bristol University, gaining on graduation a fellowship from the Freshwater Biological Association. He then conducted research on acid rain. David read Zoology at Bristol University, gaining on graduation a fellowship from the Freshwater Biological Association. He then conducted research on acid rain. David Morley then directed the National Association of Writers in Education. He was elected deputy chair of The Poetry Society (UK) and co-founded The Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden.


The Walking Encyclopaedia - More Content Arrives

Two wonderful parcels arrived at AirSpace HQ this morning - more material to add to our growing Walking Encyclopaedia. Thanks to Luce Choules and Walter Siegried.

Luce Choules“With combined interests in cartography, geography, architecture and cinematography, ‘viewpoints’ are collected in the field while walking, cycle-touring or climbing. My practice involves photographic recording of elemental details found deep within the natural landscape and at the edges of urban communities. Activities using slow travel allow a more reflective time to encounter the physical landscape and make a connection with the wider issues of human passage. These ideas are explored through a series of themes – OrientationLandmarksStronghold andBarriers. Narratives involving a notion of ‘place’ and ‘situation’ are constructed through single-image reference points, conceptual films and experiential maps.”

Walter Siegfried Born in 1949 in Zofingen. Youth and studies in Switzerland. 1977 PhD at the University of Zurich in the combination of subjects psychology, art history and philosophy. After teaching about exercise and dance at several universities and academies. From 1982, research (MPIV, Seewiesen) about: aesthetics, behavior - on the model of the human dance - published in: Beauty and the Brain. Birkhauser, Basel, Boston, Berlin, 1988.

Since 1986, art projects and performances . 1986-2005 continued teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and at the University of Art and Design in Zurich.
Siegfried's work was funded and awarded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Pro Helvetia, the Siemens program and culture of the City of Munich, and by Philip Morris and the Board of Trustees Aargau.

To find out more and to add your walking artist content in readiness for The Walking Encyclopaedia exhibition at AirSpace in February 2014, click the link.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

AirSpace Graduate Residency - Chloe Ashley - a Mid-Term Look

AirSpace Graduate Resident Chloe Ashley has been incredibly busy over the first 3 months of her time at the gallery.

Here, Chloe has kept a blog of her works, workings, findings and research

in her own words
Chloe Ashley is a fine art practitioner specialising within archaic and alternative photographic techniques. Recently completing her BA (Hons) Fine Art at Loughborough University, Ashley has exhibited frequently across the Midlands.
Influenced by artist such as Mariah Robertson and John Stezaker, her interests revolve around the notion of the uncanny; this is investigated through photographic distortion to discover the jarring from the mundane. Ashley’s current fascination with Sigmund Freud’s discussion of the Unheimlich as a ‘species of the frightening that goes back to what was once well known and has long been familiar’ (Freud, 1919: 124), has directed her exploration of the unfamiliar/familiar within the everyday. The focus on the contemporary everyday is due to its association with the familiar, alongside the cognitive dissonance that is provoked through the exploration of contemporary spaces and objects with archaic photographic processes.
In pursuing distortion through photography, a vast range of alternative processes has featured within the practice. Though at present, her focus on Collage and Bleach processes has occurred due to the level of distortion these can generate. The creation of the preparatory imagery occurs primarily with the use of a Houghton Quarter Plate Camera, manufactured in 1911, loaded with large format film.

AirSpace Graduate Residency - Bob Catterall's Diary - Work for the Guerilla Ceramics Trail

AirSpace Graduate Resident Bob Catterall documents his part in the Guerilla Ceramics Trail - a walk/artwork trail from Hanley Bandstand to Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, as part of the British Ceramics Biennial, 2013.

AirSpace Graduate Residency - Bob Catterall's Diary - October 2013

Robert Catterall is one of two Graduate Residents at AirSpace Gallery - free studio space, monthly mentoring sessions, access to all Gallery facilities and an end-of-residency solo show.

Roughly halfway through the residency, here is his diary entry for October, 2013

Bob says of his practice
My practice starts off with narratives that are developed from my research, which has a focus on inequity and iniquity in current international political and social affairs. These narratives often have apocalyptic and dystopian themes, inspired by the unjust reality portrayed through main stream media. Like the media I filter the information available to the viewer to suit my intent, offering excerpts in descriptions and publications.

From these narratives I construct architectural models, sculptures and installations that illustrate my stories, giving hints to the morals behind them. Though I work in miniature scales, my interest in space and the way it is interacted with has lead me to produce large scale pieces.

Photography also plays a large role in my practice, both as means of presentation and as one of the mixed media used in the creation of three dimensional pieces. I find lenses to be a great means for adding atmosphere to my work; using studio lighting, smoke effects and processes such as stop animation, I to try add elements of realism to my work and breath life into otherwise vacant imagery. 


In September 2013, AirSpace gallery commissioned Hazel France as artist-in-residence for its Park Traces project. Following on from the Summer's Site Responsive Residency, we wanted to task an artist with continuing the documentation of the park, but in particular for an artist to use drawing to capture the park as it is today, and to develop a responsive artwork, which proposes the park's future.

Hazel response to the call, stated - 
As a method of exploring the park and becoming familiar with it’s landscape and functions I propose to use running as a research tool. I’m interested in repetition as an important element in learning and running through the park daily would be a repetitive exercise, thus my knowledge would be increased. This also relates to the primary functions of the park at the Academy in Athens. Running is a very ordinary use of a park, through which I can explore the extraordinary.

We invited Hazel to keep a blog of her findings, and here are the results.

ONE - Park Traces Residency: Hazel France

This is my first time in Stoke-on-Trent, and my Park Traces Residency is well under way.

To date, my practice has been predominantly concerned with cinema, the projected image and slideshows. I was recently invited to give a talk about my work and preparing for this was an opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate my practice. I'm interested in how we process information and the role that repetition plays in this.

As a method of exploring and becoming familiar with Hanley Park's landscape and functions I am running every day. I’m interested in repetition as an important element in learning and running through the park daily will be a repetitive exercise, and therefore my knowledge of the park will be increased. I also like that running is a really normal way of using a park.

Me after one such run. So vibrant. à

Hanley Park was designed to be the 'lungs' or 'breathing space' of the city, a welcome dose of greenery and fresh air in industrial Stoke-on-Trent with the noise and pollution of the potteries. Therefore, I have decided to focus on the plant-life in the park.

After my first few days in Hanley park, walking, running, sitting, drawing, taking photographs etc. I'm interested in the design of the park's planting. The park was designed by Thomas Mawson and opened in 1897. Having spent some time in the City Archives, I have been reading about how the trees were planted to hide the industrial surroundings from people in the park and there are so many trees as they had to be planted in clumps to protect each other from the heavily polluted air. In the past, planting had to consider the damage from pollution and today vandalism is a major consideration.

In other news, on Wednesday I saved this worm that had found itself in the middle of an astroturf pitch in the park and was making a confused yet valiant effort at burying its head in the ground. I put him on the real grass. Good deed done.



à  Link à




FOUR - (untitled post)


FIVE - The Hanley Park Horticultural Fete of 1897

The other day and excellent morning was spent at the City Archives in Stoke-on-Trent Central library doing some research on the history of the Hanley Park. The archive system itself is fascinating. The database from which you search for your required information is a chest of long thin alphabetised wooden drawers, each full of cards of paper that you flick through to find the reference of the book/cutting/microfilm/map/pamphlet that you want. You fill out a paper slip with the relevant details, and then give it to staff member who then brings you the corresponding article.

One of the articles I wanted to look at was from the Staffordshire Advertiser about a two day Horticultural Fete in Hanley park in 1897. The article was on a microfilm to be viewed on this reader...

The Hanley Park Horticultural Fete in July, 1897 sounds like a dreamland. Four large tents housed flower and vegetables displays and competitions including: orchids, hydrangeas, begonias, caladiums, ferns, lillies, roses, geraniums, bamboos, carnations, palms, cacti, gloxinias, table decoration displays and cut flowers including sweet peas, stocks, sweetwilliams, gallardias, strawberries, cherries, nectarines, melons, delphiniums, bees, honey, grapes, greenhouse plants, caladiums, fuchsias, pansies, gloxinias, carrots, potatoes, french beans, cucumbers, peas, cauliflowers, spring onions, onions, tomatoes, hanging baskets, bouquets and button holes.

There were luncheons, children's competitions (for which so many prizes had been donated that almost everyone received a prize), practical lectures on bee keeping, pottery demonstrations, pipers, the Hanley Town Band, dancing on the tennis lawn, carousels, acrobats and high wire performers who rode a bicycle along a wire 50ft off the ground. A Mrs Maude Brooks went up in a hot air balloon and parachuted down a few miles away.

"In the evening the grounds were illuminated with many thousand coloured lights and lanterns, and the effect was very pretty, particularly in the lower part of the neighbourhood of the lake. When it was dark, Messrs. Pain and Sons of Liverpool and London commenced a grand display of fireworks, which lasted for nearly tow hours."

20,000 people were in the park on the first day, and almost as many on the second.

Imagine this happening today? It's easy go get lost in reading about magical days such as this in the park, but I don't want to lose sight of what's actually going on today. Looking at the past and days such as this, however, can provide great inspiration for things that could happen in the future.


SIX - Slide Scanner Test


SEVEN - Hanley Park on Google Maps


EIGHT - Thomas Mawson

The most useful book I found in the library was written by Hanley Park's landscape designer, Thomas H. Mawson. The book, simply titled Hanley Park, was written before the park was built and gives details of the proposed design of the park. He writes so beautifully. See excerpts below:

The Public Park: It's use & beauty
"It may, however, be asked, "If planning or an arrangement of recreation grounds does not constitute a park what does? On this point there is something fascinating in the expressions of the late J.D. Sedding. He says of a garden - which is equally true of a park - " It is a man's report of earth at her best. It is earth emancipated from the commonplace... It is man's love of loveliness carried to excess. Man's craving for the ideal grown to a fine lunacy." Again he says, " So we arrive at these conclusions - a garden is made to express man's delight in beauty, and to gratify his instincts for idealisation."... Sedding's expressions may be rather too poetic, they nevertheless show that he had a very high conception of the possibilities of garden imagery."

Lawns and Plantations
"However much failure there may be in the Plantations owing to the smoke and fumes, there is no question at to the possibility of obtaining a refreshing green sward, and that is something to be thankful for."

"Respecting the Plantations I wish to repeat, that single specimen trees are out of the question altogether. It is only by planting in large masses of those things which have been proved to succeed in the neighbourhood, that anything like effect can be obtained."

"A straight row of trees or an avenue may give an effect the reverse to monotonous, and a mass of foliage may also be arranged so as to give the most pleasing variety; but it should be borne in mind that the very same ground outline may, through injudicious arrangement, give and impression analoglous to that produced by a piece of vulgar sculpture."

To be continued...







Thomas Mawson's list of plants that were thought able to survive life in Hanley Park


TWELVE - Roberto Burle Marx


THIRTEEN - Spode China Hall

Spode, the Stoke-on-Trent based pottery company founded in 1770 closed it's factory in 2008. Since then, the building has been pretty much empty, apart from being home to the British Ceramics Biennial for a few months every two years. This years Bienniel opens on the 28th of this month. I was lucky enough to get to have a nose around the China Hall as preparations were under way.


FOURTEEN - China Carnation


FIFTEEN - Július Koller


SIXTEEN - The Wood Between the Worlds

Link   here 


SEVENTEEN - Hanley Park on Google Maps




NINETEEN - Berlin, 2011


TWENTY - Friends of Hanley Park

Yesterday morning I went for a run at 9am, and the weekly Parkrun was well under way... so I was accidentally almost joining in... but going the wrong way round. There were a good number of people taking park in the run, of all ages. Having a look online, it turns out I witnessed their 101st run. See the Parkrun website and course here. The route they run each week is a 5k, so I'll give that a go and report back.

At 10:30am I went to a meeting of the Friends of Hanley Park where people from the local area and the Park Liason officer discussed all matters on the park. This included maintenance projects, the Heritage Lottery Fund application, police reports, events and funding. Interviews have been taking place to find a suitable park restoration firm and hopes and aspirations of users of the park are bing compiled, which will all feed into the Heritage Lottery Fund application. A tree survey has been completed, looking at the condition of the trees, which trees obstruct the original design, the relevance of new planting etc. It's interesting the need for striking a balance between the original design of the park and it's contemporary functions. Also, not being too sentimental about old trees that might be in poor condition, even diseased and therefore detrimental to the park in the long run. There was discussion of opening up the canal area, which is currently densely planted and quite separate from the rest of the park, despite the fact it runs right through the middle. In Thomas Mawson's original designs he wanted to hide the canal as much as possible as he thought it ugly and much too industrial as it would have been a very busy stretch carrying clay and coal though the city. Now the function of the canal has changed and it's primary function is recreational.

In short, it was a fascinating meeting and there are many exciting things ahead I'd highly recommend becoming a friend of Hanley Park!


TWENTY ONE - Shrubbery


TWENTY TWO - Other Blogs

See also:


TWENTY THREE - Man's craving for the ideal grown to a fine lunacy

Man's craving for the ideal grown to a fine lunacy


TWENTY FOUR - Silvery Grey

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Yesterday was a particularly silvery grey day on which I made a silvery grey t-shirt in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent.
The t-shirt has been made to wear whilst running in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent.
It was made between 12noon and 5:55pm on Monday September 23rd in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent. 

1. Fabric purchased in Hanley town centre, along with needle, thread, pins and scissors.
2. Paper picked up from Airspace Gallery.
3. Went to the park and chose a nice quiet spot up at the top of the football pitches.
4. Drew round an old t-shirt I often run in.
5. Cut out template for back section, pinned and cut fabric.
6. Altered template to make a front section, pinned and cut fabric.
7. Hemmed sleeves, neck and along the bottom of each half.
8. Sewed the two halves together.

 It was a very quiet afternoon.
 There were lots of couples walking in the park, particularly at 4:15.


TWENTY FIVE - Plant Shaking

From collaborative work with the Information Delivery Service, 2012.








TWENTY NINE - St John's Wort


THIRTY - China flowers at Spode


THIRTY ONE - Peg Board

Peg boards ready to go to for the Guerrilla Ceramics Trail on Saturday in Stoke-on-Trent...




THIRTY THREE - Pyschogeographic Explorations

Second year fine art students took part in a reading and practice session today, where we first looked at a reading from Merlin Coverley's 'Psychogeography' the section called Walking the City with De Certeau. We discussed the ideas within the reading around governance and the human experience of such. And the idea that Walking might be an act of rebellion or subversion.Then each student was given a gps point to go to, and then take one hour to walk from that point to the Hanley Park bandstand, paying attention to everything, both significant and insignificant, and taking a record of the journey.
This is Jess Thornton's response: whenever Jess' route was interrupted she took a panoramic photograph.
And then Below is Ali Steventon's observation: the area around the park has a lot of litter, and a big problem with fly tipping.






THIRTY SIX - Guerrilla Ceramics Trail: Sat 12th October‏


THIRTY SEVEN - Hanley parkrun #104 - 12/10/2013

Distance: 5k
Position: 77
Parkrunner: Hazel FRANCE
Time: 31:10
Age Cat: 20-24
Age Grade: 47.49%
Gender: F
Gender Pos: 24
Club: none Note:
First Timer Total Runs: 1



T-shirt made in Hanley Park to be worn to run in Hanley Park. Worn on Parkrun #104, October 12th 2013.




FORTY - Buttonholes

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