Author Archives: Danny May

New sculpture at Stackpole Gardens.

Sculpture Stackpole Gardens

I’ve installed some new cast concrete sculptures for an exhibition at the Stackpole Walled Gardens, in Pembrokeshire. On show till further notice.

 

 

 

 

More detail about the exhibition as a part of Art out West can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/ArtOutWest

R&D 12 | Creativity Uncertainty

Danny May's Shed gallery at The Centre for Alternative Technology

Creativity uncertainty.

By Ben Lloyd.

Last summer in Danny May’s shed-gallery installation at the Centre for Alternative Technology, we had found ourselves discussing art process rather than product, and agreeing on non-objective creative tasks for ourselves. Our aim was to freely experiment, to see what happened and where that took us. Much later whilst writing about the idea of the creative process for my PGCE I was reminded of those conversations, specifically whether creativity could be taught, learnt or assessed. And when I reached the following sentence it got me straight back to that time spent collaborating with Danny –

“Belluigi places particular emphasis on the importance of ‘uncertainty’ in the enabling of creativity (2013: 4).  Whilst this notion of ‘uncertainty’ is not something that can be conventionally taught, she explains that the learner should engage in heuristic tasks without specific outcomes or objectives and develop a feeling of confidence within this uncertainty (Belluigi, 2013, 4-5).”

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I mulled Belluigi’s comments over whilst thinking of the collaboration, then scanning through previous posts on this blog, I noticed Danny’s statements such as “I’d like to think of this as a methodology towards thinking out of the box” and his desire to be “..one step removed from the creative process”.  In fact, throughout there are quite a few similar comments, which are further corroborated by how he expressed the project theme in person. Generally, as an artists he has a tendency to focus on the product, the outcome; i.e. to design the thing and then make the thing according to that design. So this project was been all about him stepping away from a design and make format, toward a more spontaneous creative uncertainty.  

Inviting uncertainty into the artistic process is certainly more in line with our previous blog-post comments on Surrealism and a step away from the design/make process.  In fact, as I think of it, the Automatic method of Surrealism is the antithesis of the design/make process.. And as Andre Breton states, “Pure psychic automatism, by which one seeks to express, is the real working of the mind. Dictated by the unconsciousness, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, and free from aesthetic or moral preoccupations.”

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I believe there previously has been a struggle between,what he identifies as these imbalances in his practice, being design on one hand and free unconscious thought on the other.  Perhaps, to me the point is they don’t need to struggle and they don’t need to be opposites. And also, perhaps they both have a place it’s just about knowing when and where to utilise them. I think the work that was made on the R&D project did just that, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to what comes next.

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Belluigi, D. Z. (2013) ‘A proposed schema for the conditions of creativity in fine art studio practice’. International Journal of Education and the Arts.  Available at: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=037a62e5-766c-4d11-98d2-f6e9d5479dae%40sessionmgr4005&vid=29&hid=4101 [Accessed: 27th January 2016].

Breton, A. (1929) Manifesto du Surréalisme. Paris, Editions KRA.


This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the Ben Lloyd

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 11 | Newfangled Spanner

Newfangled Spanner

This artwork considers the experience of an ordinary person. This person, imagined in a garden shed or toy-room, tries to make sense of the world through his drawings and toy-like assemblages. These hobby ‘projects’ enable him to better cope with and relate to the technological and incomprehensible objects that now surrounds and govern our daily lives

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This project is funded by a ‘Research and Development’ grant from the Arts Council of Wales. This support has enabled me with a period of time to be more experimental in my working method.The project which has been documented through this series of Blog posts, has culminated for now in a short exhibition at CAT, created in collaboration with Ben Lloyd

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My main aim throughout this project has been to try out new methods of thinking about, making and presenting my work. Specifically I have focused on a methodology that encourages the medium of play, colour, adaption and versatility of presentation.

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The overall inspiration for this projects theme has come mainly from living so close to the Centre for Alternative Technology, in West Wales.  Overtime, the centre has established within our community (amongst other things), an atmosphere focused on engineering as well as environmentalism.

CAT’s short courses such as those that have demonstrated How to build a wind powered turbine, include for example learning skills needed to carve wooden turbine blades. To me this blade-shaping science could also be thought of as a method to represent and encapsulate the wind in condensed and crude, physical form.

As a visually minded person I began then to imagine technology as being essentially just manifested moments of natural forces. It later occurred to me that this overly simplified way of thinking was no more sophisticated than my own two-year-old son’s take-it-for-granted view of the world.

To imagine technology so literally is useful on some occasions, such as with these turbine blades, or in comparing electrical flow to the flow of a river.. Yet mostly the analogy fails to represent whatsoever the complexities and mysteries of either science or nature.

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Like most people I am bewildered by present day technology. Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that even basic knowledge (in the sense of true understanding), cannot be rationalised and is unobtainable to me. I think that Art, through abstract metaphor can help to express the unexplainable and therefore contributes towards a language for better discussing the stuff of the Universe.

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I think of my abstract artwork to be not unlike a landscape painters attempts to capture the beauty of a landscape. Each is essentially, mostly about the language of aesthetics and serves no practical purpose beyond expressing a human fascination with anything and everything. Yet science, as with art relates to beauty as being an undefinable constant, as in – it is an idea only. Beauty as in relativity theory, or as in what is beautiful, momentarily exists perhaps only in the eye of the beholder.

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This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the Ben Lloyd

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 10 | Play 2

Each construction was based on play with a loose direction, then the installation was photographed and dismantled and we started again from scratch.
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The whole process took part in this shed purpose built by Danny and installed in the grounds of the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth.

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The last installation, below, was based on constructivist ideas of space and time.

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In my next post I will be reflecting on these days of collaboration and the R & D project on the whole

 

 

 

 

 


 

This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the Ben Lloyd

 

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 9 | Colour, taste and narrative

I’m looking forward to this exciting trying-it-out stage and have load of questions. In this post I aim to come up with questions that may help realise the project more successfully, they don’t necessarily need answers.

As I understand it, you have made a small wooden room in which to stage a experimental changeable exhibition that will be created/constructed from coloured chunks/elements of wood.

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Is this based on anything in particular?  The photo of it being constructed reminds me of a Play House for kids and the drawing, top right, looking like a Sentry Box.  Are these familiarities intended?  Or if they are not how do you feel about work being read this way?

Will the inside of the space be covered, painted or left bare?

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Ronnie Hiorn’s ‘Seizure’

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WASSERSCHEIDE (DESIREALLPUTTOGETHER) by Markus Linnenbrick

What are the things you will be trying out and why? Should experimentation have a reason? What is it called?  I know that this is a R&D project but where are you trying to get to? What do you hope to achieve?

When I visited CAT recently, I saw your sculptures and really enjoyed their comedic feeling.   On one hand they seem like remnants of some huge serious machine from a bygone era and on the other hand they are like cartoons of the machine aesthetic.  Clearly they are well made and that plus the thought of how they are made is impressive too, but I already knew you are a perfectionist that likes to push the possible and take things to the limit.  Perhaps that is what is funny, that you seem to be poking fun at the industrialised world by making it useless.

sculpture danny may

So are we to see the same sense in the next work or has it moved somewhere else? I know that this project wants to look into painted wood and thats a good thing in my view as the general public don’t seem to like painted wood, they see it as vulgar not tasteful, which must be a reaction to things they see as childish and in reality actually like.  I suppose to have taste is middle class and grown up. Does tasteful just mean acceptable and therefore just mean correct values, and if so who is the judge?

horses-159x159 6a00d8341c964853ef014e88d853b8970d-800wi-copy-159x159Vulgar?                                                   

Tasteful?

I don’t know if you have read it but I’ll bring along the book ‘Chromophobia‘ by David Batchelor, to quote its sleeve, “Chromophobia – a fear of corruption or contamination through colour – has lurked within Western Culture since ancient times. This is apparent in the many attempts to purge colour from art, literature and architecture, either by making it the property of some ‘foreign’ body – the oriental, the feminine, the infantile, the vulgar or the pathological – or by relegating it to the realm of the superficial, the inessential or the cosmetic, which in many cases amounts to the same thing.”

Its a fantastic book and one that can definitely inform this project.

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So that is quite a lot on colour, I still want to know something about what you feel, are there any narratives connected to this project?

Ben


 

This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the Ben Lloyd


 

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 7 | The cage, the cell and the frame

The constructed containing space of the cage or cell of modern art is what comes to mind following your blogposts ‘Portable gallery’ and ‘The Frame’ Danny.  I know you are really into Louise Bourgeois so it got me wondering why you are into her art and in particular why she made so many cages and how this related to her figurative work.

v0_masterThe Cell (Choisy), 1990

cell-the-last-climbCell (the last climb) 2008

And it may be true that this is autobiographical and in reference to her Agoraphobia but for our purposes it shows it as a device to frame things, as you mention: “Perhaps originally it stems from a desire for control over chaos. A frame is an ultimate series of straight lines. Nature ‘framed’ is generally more appealing than wilderness. The parts within that frame are able to be contained and seen without distraction.”

Giacometti’s drawings and sculpture all have a linear cage,

giacometti_la_cageThe cage, 1950

giving figurative work a context of domesticity or modernity; the man in a modern world.  Always concerning the constructed modern world, whether seen as safety or imprisonment.

jpg_giacometti_nezThe nose, 1947

Guston’s late night painter/klan member/self portrait is always trapped in this claustrophobic

443145c11c29e8cf4d3e5a07a618a595The studio, 1967

s04ccon2xPainting on floor, 1978

modern-manmade-world of lines, edges, nails and stitches.  I am resisting the urge to put Bacon’s caged Pope up here with its reference to Adolf Eichmann, as I feel it is overused and overstated.  How about Peter Halley’s paring down of the modern world into the post modern one where the figurative element has been abstracted and outsourced.

tumblr_ncbdzsgiS21t51cv6o5_400Two cells with Conduit and Underground Chamber, 1983

PHP-85-22LRGGlowing cell with Conduits, 1985

This ubiquitous device is clearly a way of framing art (literally like the frame has now been integrated within the work) and also is a response to the constructed modern world and its constricting industrialised and now computerised society.  What I want to know now is what you would like to achieve with through using it? What autobiographical content is there in your using it, will that ever be explicit?


 

This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the artist Ben Lloyd


 

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 6 | The frame

A cube, seen as a room or cage or frame surrounding or containing something is a common device in art.

Perhaps originally it stems from a desire for control over chaos. A frame is an ultimate series of straight lines. Nature ‘framed’ is generally more appealing than wilderness. The parts within that frame are able to be contained and seen without distraction.

A frame can also be a window, a doorway or a portal to another place. Typically to somewhere divine and otherworldly as in Giotto’s early renaissance painting  Annunciation to St. Anne. In this case the artist has opened up one side of a building to enable (like a stage set), us to witness the miracle of an angel speaking with Christ’s grandmother. The fact that the act is contained in a managed virtual-reality emboldens the viewer with a temporary leap of faith. The message being that this imagined idea is a safe, isolated way to deal with the supernatural. The device is no different to that of watching television today

Giotto, Annunciation to St. Anne, Scrovegni Chapel. 1305

All of us spend a great deal of time within a box of some sort, and ultimately within the box of our own minds. Surrealist artists such as as Ernst explored this box of the subconscious through visual metaphor, which includes, (as with Giotto’s painting), linear perspective and windows to other realities.

Surrealists were mostly about encapsulating the Victorian fascination with the subconscious. Doll-house’s were for children, but also represent that period’s obsession with private, inner worlds. They loved rooms and houses, straight and  upright control, madness and chemical wallpapers and invented psychoses. At the time words such as histrionic were synonymous with nature, femininity and chaos, sanity was for rational, maleness.

Artists such as Ernst enabled an expression of our new understanding of visionary phenomena as being a personal rather than religious right.

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more Max Ernst

At the same time artists such as Joseph Cornell focused on a pagan nature as being the weirdness which represents our our minds fears and lusts etc.

The frame device he utilises enables a civilized window into that strangeness. Horror is scary, but exciting.

Triple Canopy – Joseph Cornell

Later Modernists such as Francis Bacon borrowed the frame device from surrealism. His paintings, says Matthew Collings in This is Modern Art puts, are mostly ‘something nasty inside something geometric’.

In a way his gold framed visions and nightmares are a twisted take on the religious painting of the renaissance – Lovely colours, geometry & people being weird.

Francis Bacon, spent too much time in small rooms

It is hard not to see the idea of a frame or room as visual metaphor for the subconscious. True subconscious imagined realities rely on base facts such as fear, sex, madness and other acts of the the bedroom.

Duchamps last act was to leave a work of art that juxtaposes these facts with his own legacy as a  man both equally afraid and obsessed with creation and death. These days, he says we may still be born from wilderness, but now we enter into a box, we live in a box, we leave in a box.

Marcel Duchamp. Étant donnés

 


This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the artist Ben Lloyd


 

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 5 | The Portable gallery

I have spent the last week building a demountable and portable gallery / play room / cell.

One more week then it will be completed.

Next, what to fill it with..

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This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the artist Ben Lloyd


 

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales