Sunday, May 30, 2010


If you don’t understand what is written maybe you haven't made an effort.

If a reader doesn’t immediately understand something they are quick to blame the writer for using unnecessarily “big” words. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but most of the time if you can’t understand something easily it is because it is not easy. It is written for intelligent people who will take the time to read something complex and difficult rather than dismissing it because they didn’t understand it immediately. Much popular writing is written to be easily consumed on the train, to the reading level of a ten-year old. But that writing isn’t about big ideas or new ways of thinking.

When an artist uses the language of their profession it is often dismissed as "artspeak". Other professions are not ridiculed for using terms that relate to their work. Engineers are not accused of deliberately using difficult language when they speak about their subject. Physicists talking about complex topics are not told to simplify their language so that everyone can understand. But artists and art critics are derided for their manner of writing and speaking about art, an often difficult subject. It is commonly accepted that those writing about art try to make it “sound important” and purposefully use complicated language in an attempt to hide the fact that they have nothing to say or to be exclusionary.

Writing about a piece of visual art is a difficult thing. Do you describe it, judge it, explain it, talk about the maker or all of the above? And who are you to judge it or explain it? If a picture is worth a thousand words then what about a complex picture with ten years of build-up behind it? How do you write about a mind-mending, multi-faceted, hard-to-grasp concept, about something you understand with your eyes, not with words? Art writers are making the word-less into words. To simplify the idea I will modify the anonymous quote: Writing about art is like dancing about architecture.

If an artist works at expressing a new philosophy visually it may take ten years of making work about that set of ideas to get to a point where the artist feels the idea is well communicated. If it is a complex idea then why would someone writing about the work not need to use complex terms? If the artist took ten years to explore an idea and then shares the results with us, why would you think it could be explained in a paragraph that could be read in one minute? The artist put in the effort, the writer put in the effort, if you want to know what they are talking about you will need to put in some effort, too.

Sometimes understanding a work of art is easy but writing about it might be difficult and reading that writing might be difficult but will probably be fascinating. Sometimes understanding a work of art is hard so reading what someone has written about it will probably be hard, too. It is fashionable to bash “artspeak”. But, the next time you hear someone doing it think for a minute about how hard the artist and writer worked and ask the speaker if they actually tried to understand it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oh I Do Like to Be...Beside the Lee!

Oh I Do Like to Be...Beside the Lee!

Exhibition of artwork themed around the Lee Valley Nature Reserve and Lee River.

In the Lee Valley the city jostles with nature. This beauty, variety and contradiction have inspired artists from the Waltham Forest Arts Club to create and exhibit their work at the WaterWorks Nature Reserve and Golf Centre.

6-26 June 2010
Launch Party 6th June, 3:30 - 5:00pm

at the WaterWorks Nature Reserve Golf Course Cafe in Lee Valley Park.
Lammas Road, London E10 7NU. Off Lea Bridge Road near Rig Approach.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

ArtWorks Open 2010

ArtWorks Project Space Exhibition
at Blackhorse Lane Studios in Walthamstow (a 5-minute walk from Blackhorse Road Station on the Victoria line.)

11th to 25th June 2010. Check site for opening hours.

Selected by Graham Crowley and Timothy Hyman.

This is a small work exhibition: all work will be 50x50cm or less.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lisa Peachey - A vestige, ghosted - exhibition

Lisa Peachey will be at the ArtWorks Project Space at Blackhorse Lane Studios May 27 to 30.
Her work is really beautiful.

Open times: Friday 28 to Sunday 30 May 12-6pm.
Private view: Thursday 27 May, 7-10pm.

A vestige, ghosted

Ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars.
Walter Benjamin.

A silent thing. Enjoyed only because it is, and continues to be, there. But what is it for? It has no purpose. It is a remnant of a previous place, where things made meant something, signified something: something shared. When figurines dancing on weary shoulders hushed a city. When god was seen in a block of marble. When things were worth their weight in gold.

It endures. And it is cherished, sometimes. Sentiment, ritual, habit (or market force, for some). Beyond a lifetime, perhaps. Or in a timeless minute of unrecognised care, like being carried by my father in moonlight.

What’s yours is definitely not mine. But you will persist in dusting it. I just hope that it at least ends up at the Salvation Army, instead of being put out with the bins at night.

The object’s tender silence leaves me dumbfounded. Yet from it I gain a sense of identity, and identify with it – despite, or because of, its immutable inaccessibility, its dissolubility, its seemingness only to warm momentarily to my palm. As if in an anechoic chamber, the absence of any murmur of response only focuses and reverberates internal conversations until it appears to whisper volumes, greater than its infinitely empty core.

The works exhibited have one small, domestic thing in common: I made them. They are of me, over time. That is all. They mimic those things that I live with: that sticky brown care of a chair over-varnished and over-polished day after day; the light and shadow of a winter, spent looking for meaning for them in the only place I can – the place where they are. They have a familiar presence. They cannot claim a purpose, or a meaning, except that unspoken and insular lament that objects often conceal – that we chose them and loved them and they couldn’t love us back.

Lisa Peachey studied at De Montfort University, Leicester (1996), and The Slade, London (2006). Previous exhibitions include Olympolis Project, Litohoro, Greece (2008), and the Jerwood Drawing Prize, London (2006). In 2008 she was shortlisted for the MaxMara art prize, in association with the Whitechapel Art Gallery. She has also curated projects, including ‘In its wake’, at Elevator Gallery, London, and has written texts for Moot, Nottingham and Site Gallery, Sheffield. She lives and works in London.