Alan Baker is an artist based in Shropshire who specialises in drawing and sculpture. Having completed a MA in Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2013 and a BA (hons) Degree from the University of Huddersfield in 2012, he is now continuing his artistic practice at his studio based in the North West.
This exhibition presented a selection of Baker’s ongoing sequence of pencil drawings from a larger series called Trap and Snare. These drawings are essentially of constructed mantraps; built using found and reclaimed objects and assembled in the artists studio. Replacing what would be feral objects with domestic items, these sculptural forms are transformed by the medium of pencil into intricate depictions of temporary structures, suspended in a permanent state.
?To consider the boundaries of what it means to be human rather than animal? (O?Reilly,2009,p.149.) is a quote he has used as a guiding principle in his work to address questions about the residual traces left by animals, looking at the spaces animals inhabit and turning them into sculptural forms.
Baker was recently selected to exhibit this series of drawings at the National Assembly of South Korea in Seoul. ‘The Beginning’ was a showcase of emerging UK artists funded by UK Young Artists Ltd and curated by Abingdon Studios Director, Garth Gratrix.
The nature of this collaboration at Abingdon Studios Project Space (ASPS) was to provide exceptional opportunity for presenting individuals works in new and unexpected ways. The Abingdon Experiment aimed to create an immersive space where objects come together and investigate themes of allowance and control and the vitality and agency of matter, whilst addressing the issues of assemblage and complexity in a collaborative zone.
In March 2017, Tomlinson and Bramley exhibited together in the industrial gallery space of S24 in Leeds. There had been movements in both practices in terms of form, colour and materials as well as the combination of these elements now demanding further conscious collaborative space and time.
The collaboration was not expected and exciting to both artists? practices who agreed that this was a process to be further pursued and developed. In efforts to continue evolving themes, the artists have since exchanged ongoing photographs of work and sent each other works described as ?unfinished? by post and allowing their counterpart to ?complete? or develop. An excellent body of work is culminating.
We do not live close to one another and do not know each other personally – we have been introduced as artists who have developed along similar trajectories?
Both artists began as painters and have moved into investigating the liminal space between painting in the expanded field and sculpture. Their practices both compliment and contrast with each other as they attempt to find a balance between artist led intervention, networked assemblage and the agency of materials.
Underpinning Polly’s sculpture and installations are a fundamental search for something through action, grappling with materials and manipulating until a kind of truth or realisation is released during the process, allowing the intrinsic properties of the material to arise. The work avoids obvious connotations and is non-representational; it is, ‘about sculpture’.
Polly enters into a mental dialogue with the material as to what is required and the process allows her to move beyond metaphor and into something more directly experienced. She is in a place of ‘flow’ is and completely absorbed in the making of the work.
Influenced by the human body and how it leaves a memory of its action on the material, the work is physical and confrontational. Polly both isolates and absorbs herself in the making process to allow the materials to dictate their form. She is keen to find out about the materials and what they need on one hand, whilst controlling them on the other; this balance is central and sought.
Polly is concerned with the expansion of taste. Taste in terms of what can be accepted in the making process, and what cannot. Within these concerns is an awareness of the potential space for creativity, the heightened idea of potentiality through the process of making. When is the mark or the action encouraged, nurtured and honed, and when is it eradicated or altered? Such a potential space is paramount in the work and occupies a place where language and communication occur.
Paul Bramley is an artist whose work is situated within both the expanded fields of painting and sculpture. His materials are often those of the building site or hardware shop, the discarded, the readymade, jumble and leftovers that are salvaged, recycled and repurposed to create ‘things’ – things that inhabit the threshold space between representation and non-representation. The selection of products such as used sandpaper, decorator’s rags and copper piping acts as an index of the lived labour; an indication of the subjectivity of the artist, providing a valuable resource pool for art practice adding a personal narrative to the work.
Paul has a long-term fascination with displacement and deterritorialisation and his repurposing of materials not traditionally associated with the fine arts is symbolic of a wider interest in the cultural and economic ramifications of globalization. The notion of not belonging to a fixed territory, but to shifting territories is of central importance to Paul’s practice, allowing him to make medium-unspecific work, moving quickly from one contrasting set of materials to another, working with whatever resources present themselves.
The provisional nature of the assemblage methods in the work is significant in that it is emblematic of both the complexity and potential of human agency. The wrapping, knotting and binding act as ciphers for the extraordinary contemporary narratives brought about by the cultural and spatial displacement of subjects. The work focuses on the human need for identification and the consequences that a redefinition of formerly pre-established identities can bring.
Twelve emerging young artists are were selected arrive in Blackpool this Friday for the first ever weekender residency scheme exploring popular culture.
The weekend has been organised as part of a pilot to explore new ways for artists aged 18-30 to come together to learn and share ideas.
Born out of an ongoing collaboration between UK Young Artists (UKYA) and town centre space Abingdon Studios above Abingdon Street Market, the ambition was to create a national scheme allowing young artists to develop new work.
Whilst in residence the artists heard from industry professionals including Michael Trainor, Artistic Director of LeftCoast who have supported the project, and well established artists and curators including Richard Smith, Tom Ireland, Andrew Gannon, Thomas Small and Claudio Zecchi.
Within the three day period the artists collaborated with Andrew Gannon to conceive and develop an exhibition open to the public as well as workshop and work presentations led by Thomas Small.
The Weekender Residency is now a scheme that will be repeated and responsive to studio provisions in St Ives, UK in April 2018.
It is a short film about things like Buffy The Vampire Slayer on the beach, joining the police or joining a gang, the beach, finding a job or losing a job, falling in love or just being friends, getting wasted at school, in the cinema or on the beach, being a monster but not worrying what other people think, giving up on work and leisure and just playing.
Organs for Water (2016) was developed as part of WORK/LEISURE: a programme of five residencies conceived and delivered by Abingdon Studios in 2016.
Ralph Dorey was the second artist in residence as part of WORK/LEISURE.
The screening of Organs for Water coincided with the opening of two new exhibitions at Grundy Art Gallery; Jenny Steele: An Architecture of Joy and Louise Giovanelli; From Here to Here (Part 2)
WORK/LEISURE was funded by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts and supported by LeftCoast, Blackpool Council and Grundy Art Gallery
Canadian artist Adam Bassanta undertook a micro residency at Abingdon Studios in 2016 as part of ?Other Worlds Festival funded by Arts Council England and supported by Abingdon Studios and Supercollider.
Bassanta’ recent work exclusively makes use of objects from the world of commercial sound reproduction technologies. Disrupting their technical and economic functions, thus nullifying their potential as instruments of mass communication, these objects are transformed into sculptural sound? producing centrepieces.
In 2017 Adam Bassanta was winner of the Aesthetica Art Prize with ‘The Curtain’ whose prototype was developed during this week residency.
Abingdon Studios presented an exhibition by Benjamin Orlow; the first in a series of presentations by artists delivered through Abingdon Studios’ Work/Leisure residency programme.
Bringing together new works, made whilst in residence at Abingdon Studios, Blackpool during March 2016 and recent works from the artist’s oeuvre, the exhibition continues Benjamin’s ongoing research into the body as a domestic animal.
The body as a domestic animal (ongoing since 2012) posits that ‘Leisure and self improvement are a new utopia; activities, destinations, travel and special objects are the means for achieving a happier life, being more relaxed, stress free and possibly even more productive as a result of all of this. Work and ordinary life can feel heavy but certain situations and methods exist to cancel the built up tensions and make us achieve more in life, profanely and spiritually’.
Throughout the project, Benjamin acts as an explorer, in this sought after leisure-realm, experiencing the activities and products that exist to obtain what is desired; health, improvement, new skills, new knowledge, vacation, relaxation etc.
Abingdon Studios Project Space (ASPS) was pleased to have housed a new commissioned body of work by photographer Mark Page.
Sodley-On-Sea has featured as part of Enlighten festival of light in Manchester and also SPECTRA festival in Aberdeen. During its time in Blackpool the work was placed acrosss five cultural venues; Grundy Art Gallery, Central Library, Winter Gardens, Grand Theatre and Abingdon Studios and reached over 8000 visitors over the course of a week.
Sodley-On-Sea was made possible through Arts Council England and managed by Curated Place and produced by Garth Gratrix
In-Deference was a collaboration between studio artist Jayne Simpson and visual art photographer Claire Griffiths; exhibited in Jan 2016.
This is an ongoing project discovering re-developments and celebrating memories ?in Blackpool.
This collaboration investigates time, space and place through a series of images created through new media and brings artistic disciplines together to explore and respond?to a variety of sites in an ever changing landscape.
In-Difference highlights and reflects on a domestic and working history ?imprinted on the memories of people and place and to some extent seeks to memorialise and catalogue these shifts and alterations in a contemporary context.
Work/Leisure was a pilot programme of five residencies, inviting emerging and mid-career artists to work alongside the community of resident artists based at Abingdon Studios, Blackpool. These?short term residencies were non-prescriptive and designed to enable artists to research and develop?new work in the historically and culturally unique location of Blackpool.
5 artists residencies were granted and hosted by Abingdon Studios.
For further information about Work/Leisure can be found via the website