On Thursday 1 May 2014 we were asked to attend the Council House so that students from Marjon’s University could document the exhibition.
We met up with two students, one of which was Harry Chance. Unfortunately, he did not seem well prepared and he also didn’t realize that this was a PCA project and simply thought it was an exhibition by Lee McDonald. He interviewed Lee with questions which seemed to be based on briefly looking at Lee’s website. Furthermore, although Lee said that Harry should speak to all of us because it was a group project – he was not particularly interested in interviewing myself, Kath Howard or Maddy Crossley but did so nevertheless.
Although we had no feedback as to where we could find Marjon’s documentation of the exhibition, I managed to track down the page online and was slightly disappointed that Plymouth College of Art was not mentioned at all:
Following my email to Judith Robinson from the group re the proposal and risk assessment, we received a reply on 14 April 2014 as follows:
There was quite a lot of aspects in Judith’s email – some of which could be easily answered. However, as she was on leave until 22 April, we would not be able to discuss these queries until after she had returned. This was particularly of concern to the group because her email mentioned that the install would be on 24 April and this would only leave us less than 2 days to rectify any issues. Fortunately our tutor Edith Doove contacted Judith to arrange a change of installation date to 28 April 2014 to give the group more time due to the studio being closed over the Easter break and our other assignment deadlines. Furthermore Edith also arranged for Judith and Neil Wressell, Senior Conservator & Exhibitions Registrar at Plymouth City Council to visit Studio 11 on 22 April to discuss Judith’s email. During the meeting we covered the following points as per email:
1. Please can you send us a diagram of the proposed sculpture, a list of materials, a wiring diagram and a weight estimate? :
Judith given plan (she couldnt open original attachment.
2. Please ensure that the electrics are PAT tested and that the work is sited adjacent to an electrical source. An electrical cover on a flex will not be sufficient in this space as the lighting is quite low and it is a mixed use space.
No electrics involved and measurements had already been taken (as per plan) to ensure the sculpture would not interfere with the lighting.
3. In terms of protecting the building, if you can provide a weight, we will then need to ascertain the load bearing capacity go the floor. A simple floor protection is probably advisable.
Adhesive carpet tiles were used on base of sculpture.
4. In terms of access for the sculpture, please ensure that you have walked the route with a tape measure and provide us with a plan of this. You will need to take account of width of doorways and height of light fittings etc as it is not a purpose built gallery space.
Measurements had already been taken of all the space including doorways and the sculpture would be delivered in sections to allow it to be easily transported through the building.
5. Barriers are mentioned on the risk assessment. Will you be supplying this or would you like us to supply, if we have enough available? Please note that the standard distance for barriers is 80cms, so please can you check that there is enough space to accommodate this requirement.
We decided on Lee McDonald’s suggestion that we would create 4 plinths with smaller viewfinding devices on each. These would be placed around the sculpture with stretch rope/wire attached between each plinth (Museum to provide this).
6. If the work is to be constructed on site, we will need the risk assessment to cover tools, methods etc.
Sculpture to be constructed on site: tools and materials include – drill, hammer, screwdriver, paint brushes, dust sheet, filler, palette knife.
7. Is the work kinetic? How will it be maintained? Are there elements that can be removed? Does it need to be turned on and off?
The work is of a kinetic nature but is manually moved as opposed to electronically motored and therefore does not need to be switched on and off.
It was also decided that the exhibition would be open to the public from 1.30pm-4pm every Friday and two group members would invigilate.
Judith and Neil seemed particularly intrigued by our sculpture which was still in pieces – so to speak but our plan seemed to give a better vision of how the piece would look once installed. They also expressed their interest and pleasure in the wall pieces and could see that we had thought about the Council House space and the concept Th Future of Plymouth extremely well and were looking forward to seeing something different in the space.
The following is a brief summary of the ideas discussed following our meeting with Councillor Penberthy:
Clad a section of the existing panelled walls in foyer with different sized wooden panels in block colour from floor to ceiling;
Colour: blue to reflect “Ocean City” – also a serene colour;
Coloured panels to gradually transition from the solid edge to edge coloured panels section to the existing panelled walls – creating a breakaway effect i.e. a transition of the old panelled walls to the new “walls”.
Coloured panels to be of differing depths to create a “landscape” to the wall and change the existing effect of the existing panelled walls.
To do list:
Everyone to collect wood for panels i.e. plywood, hardwood etc and store in Studio 11 and blue paint(?);
Arrange to measure wall space in Council House (also see wall plans attached on earlier post);
Arrange to meet up in Studio 11 at least once a week to start preparing panels.
Also considering two sculptural installations: light and viewfinder.
Items to remain in space: plants (can be rearranged), lights, bookcases (can be moved), Warspite photo, model ships, awards to stay in glass cabinets on back wall, chairs/tables (can be rearranged), food bank box (can be altered).
Items to remain in space: trophies/awards in display cabinets, pictures/photos on walls.
Additional things to consider:
Theme: Future of Plymouth;
Exhibition to take place on or around 24th April (install of exhibition will likely commence from this date);
Building used 5 days a week;
All committee, fostering/adoption, licensing meetings take place in Council House – formal space;
Council Chamber off limits;
Use picture hooks on panelled walls only – no permanent fixings;
Lord Mayors event will be taking place during exhibition;
Reception room on upper floor can be included in exhibition (holds up to 200people and will be used for Lord Mayors event) – although large canvasses on wall are disguising bleached areas where pictures have been hung previously;
Technology: bear in mind that any technological equipment would have be turned on and off everyday;
Sound – can be ambient but if loud, it will need to be timetabled in as a special event;
If controversial work is being considered by students, it would be best to put this forward to Councillor Penberthy and the rest of the committee before moving forward.
The student group met in Studio 11, Regent Street to discuss our progress thus far and how we could move forward. Our tutor Edith Doove advised that the Council House exhibition is to open on 24th April 2014.
Via our social network group we had discussed several ideas throughout the week, of how we could contribute to the Council House exhibition and perhaps create some pieces which could compliment Lee McDonald’s work and tie into our theme of the machine and moving forward.
We decided that we would like to work on pieces collectively instead of individually and several ideas were brainstormed including:
mechanical photographic imagery;
film of group interacting with Lee’s sculptures – perhaps projected over sculpture;
audio pieces of Lee’s sculptures ( – use of headphones to avoid noise disturbance;
artwork created using the sound waves produced from Lee’s sculptures;
create video pieces by filming the everyday, “invisible” machines used as transitional objects i.e. escalators, elevators, revolving doors etc.
Student Notes from Meeting
These ideas were discussed in more depth during the meeting – particularly the later. However, we felt that the best course of action at present, would be to arrange a suitable time with Lee McDonald to visit the Council House together, refreshing ourselves of the space.
Following our discussions we sent the following email to Lee:
Further to my last email, I have now had the chance to discuss this project in more depth with the group.
We think it would be best to meet together at the Council House, so we can get a better understanding of the space. This would allow you to see how your work could fit into the space and environment.
Would you be available either Wednesday or Friday next week?
Unfortunately, we are limited to funding and therefore can’t commission you to make a new piece however, as a group we are particularly interested in your Sonic Reverber. As mentioned previously, there may be an issue with sound but we are specifically interested in the mechanical, kinetic relationship of functional and dysfunctional objects.
He later advised that he would not be available until after 11th February. We advised our tutor of our plans and asked if she could arrange a suitable time with Judith Robinson, Exhibitions Officer at Plymouth City Council for us to visit the Council between the dates of 11th and 14th February. We now await a response.
On Thursday 16th January 2014, the BA(Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices students discussed the curatorial opportunities and possibilities to be undertaken as part of our CURA300 assignment.
We were yet to have specific dates for when the Council House exhibition would take place, so we discussed possible themes and ideas.
As mentioned in my earlier post, I had initially thought about the word “hub” and its meaning, with regard to the axle and movement. I presented my idea to the group and the relevance of how Plymouth City Council has become more and more supportive of the arts in recent years – moving forward toward a more creative future.
I suggested a way of possibly demonstrating this would be through some kind of kinetic sculpture, which would perhaps be completely unexpected within the traditional environment of the Council building.
My suggestions seemed to be met with positive responses from the group and we went on to discuss possible ways of moving this idea forward.
We discussed the possibility of either making a sculpture ourselves, commissioning an artist and/or borrowing work from Plymouth Museum’s collection.
Other ideas and problems which we may encounter were discussed as follows:
sound – no loud sound can be used because meetings take place within the building and this could be disruptive. However, if a video/sound piece was used, headphones could be used to allow audience members to listen to works without causing a disturbance;
lighting – the Council House lighting is artificial, with no direct natural light. The group discussed the possibility of using filters or screens over the lighting to change the intrusive lighting. Also suggested was whether kinetic mobiles could be hung from the ceiling or lighting.
video projection – if a film/video piece was used, the work could relate to the Council House’s existing relationship to the sea (each room is named after a ship and there are already large model ships within the space) by projecting a video onto a sail.
funding – we were unsure whether there would be any funding for the exhibition and briefly discussed methods of generating funding i.e. Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/) and crowdsourced funding initiatives.
The student group confirmed to work on the Council House exhibition, including myself is:
William Danby http://danbynation.wordpress.com/
Maddy Crossley http://madelainelouise.wordpress.com/
Kath Howard http://kathhoward.wordpress.com/
Tiffany Smith http://tiffanysmithcura.wordpress.com/
Jess Bent http://jessicabentcura300.wordpress.com/
As part of our CURA300 project, we have been asked to submit a curatorial proposal for an exhibition. One opportunity we have been offered, is the possibility of creating an exhibition of artwork in the City Council House’s members’ lobby which we, as a student group visited on Friday 15 November 2013.
The Council House has recently started a new scheme called Open Art which gives local artists the opportunity to display their work, as the Council website highlights:
This is a new scheme designed to demonstrate the breadth of contemporary visual art and craft currently being produced in Plymouth. It also aims to highlight the commitment of the Council to creativity and to Plymouth’s aspirations to be a City of Culture in the future (Plymouth City Council, 2014)
The Council House blog further emphasizes that this is a free opportunity and sets out its objectives:
By opening up a Council building, it aims to provide a free opportunity for Plymouth visual artists to raise their profile and showcase their work in an inspiring and iconic city centre location.
In devising a new Open Art Display, we hope to:
establish a transparent and representative open call and selection process
establish a selection committee made up of key Council Members from both parties
develop a series of programme of changing displays of original artworks by local artists for display in the main hall on the ground floor
provide an opportunity for artists to raise their profile amongst Council Members and the wider public, through display, promotion and events held in the Council House and Council Chamber
further develop display cases to allow 3D works / craft to be displayed (Council House Art, 2014)
The first thing that struck me as soon as I entered the lobby was the wooden paneled walls, chequered marble floor and artificial light. The space did not strike me as a typical gallery space for displaying work and although there is a sense of authority and a stereotypical official environment, it does seem a little antiquated for my taste.
At present, artworks selected by Plymouth Councillors of 26 graduates of Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth University and the University of St Mark and St John are being displayed in the lobby.
The works on display are inoffensive and fairly ‘safe’ which I presume is because, after all it is a serious, governmental building. There is one work which is a cast of a woman’s vulva in white and although this may seem shocking to some, I did not find it shocking at all, especially when you think of ancient greek sculptures of nude men and women, Da Vinci or Michaelangelo sculptures or the multitude of paintings of nude women over the centuries. However, it seemed, that as a compromise for anyone who was offended by the piece, a portable display text was placed near the work and could be wheeled in front of it at any time.
From what I gather, there would perhaps be a limit on what mediums could be used i.e. sound pieces may be a problem when Councillors are holding meetings. Furthermore, as mentioned above, there will probably be some restriction on what can be displayed in terms of how offensive a work may deem to be.
There are several tables and chairs in the area that could be rearranged if necessary, but with fixed warning wall signs and equipment i.e. fire extinguishers, toilet signs etc, these cannot be removed due to health and safety and will need to be considered when curating an exhibition.
Council House Art (2014) About [online] WordPress. Available from: http://councilhouseart.wordpress.com/
Plymouth City Council (2014) Council Buildings [online]. Plymouth: Plymouth City Council. Available from: http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/homepage/councilanddemocracy/aboutus/lordmayoralty/councilbuilding.htm
Plymouth City Council (2014) Council House – Open Art Display [online] Plymouth: Plymouth City Council. Available from: http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/homepage/creativityandculture/museums/artdevelopment/artsprojects/artscouncilhousedisplay.htm
BA (Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices