David Hepher (17/12/2015)

David Hepher is a painter. He creates art which lies in-between the conventions of both traditional and conceptual art. He doesn’t fully fit into any style of art (due to his quirky style). His subject matter often features various man-made structures, like houses and tower-blocks (although he has also been known to paint landscapes of fields and trees, typically in France), and he often uses materials like concrete or wallpaper to add to construct his work, in the same way an architect would. He has created many pieces of artwork for various well known and renowned galleries, like the Tate, and has been a lecturer at art schools like the Chelsea School of Art.

In the video Hepher talks about how his painting style is quite unique and how, in landscape, he wants the spectator to look at the whole piece as opposed to just focusing on the center- which he argues is what happens in a portrait. Each of his landscapes focus around an estate. He says they usually become a “consuming interest for two or three years” and that he “gets to know the place” throughout the painting process by collecting visual information (he isn’t interested in getting involved in the social aspect of the community).   He calls them landscapes as he wants to put his position of viewing the buildings on them. He sees blocks of flats as quite impressive as opposed to ‘ugly’ or ‘beautiful’.

Angie I

Hepher experiments using mixed media in his work, like concrete and graffiti. In the video he talks about what it’s like to paint on concrete. He sprays graffiti on the painting too. He describes using these materials as “the art of the real”. The more traditional background painting contrasts the sprayed graffiti and use of “real” materials.

St Aman's II

He also creates nature landscapes, usually of French countrysides. They’re quite conventional and possess a traditional style of painting landscapes. He hopes they will be seen as a contrast to his London paintings (despite the background paintings being similar in technique). He thinks the French paintings are an “antidote” to what he creates of London.

Hepher believes what he’s doing should and will last over time and encourages interpretation of his work.

I love Hepher’s use of mixed media in order to create such realistic (and interesting) paintings. I love the use of graffiti and concrete which defy conventional art forms and classical ways of constructing a painting. I find this fascinating. I also love his housing estate subject matter. Large blocks of flats are things I’ve often found interesting myself personally. I find them fascinating due to their seemingly “ugly” look but interesting personality which can be portrayed in it’s surroundings (and also the fact they house hundreds and so contain hundreds of lives and secrets- something Hepher doesn’t explore himself). I love how Hepher uses materials relevant to his subject, like graffiti and concrete, which set the painting out against the traditionally painted background image. The actual housing estate image rarely covers the whole canvas and the graffiti ties the whole piece together often by filling empty space at the edges.

I am not as keen on his more traditional French landscapes because I love his unconventional use of mixed media so much in his London pictures. The French landscapes ooze conventional use of materials and don’t have the same appeal as the run down housing estates for me.

I am influenced by Hepher’s work to explore subject matter that’s often classed as “too ugly” to be captured in art, like the block of flats. I will explore using mixed media more in my work more too to create a visually stimulating piece which can almost be deconstructed into different layers- both physically and metaphorically.

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Barbican’s Rain Room (14/12/2015)

The Rain Room, at the Barbican, is an experimental artwork installation which comes alive when audiences interact with the piece.  The Rain Room is their largest installation to date. It features a 100 square metre field where water falls. Visitors are invited to walk on the square and allowed an insight as to how it might feel to control the rain as the water stops falling wherever you are walking. On entry to the rain platform there is a sound of water and rain and it feels moist in the air. The raindrops around them respond to their movements and their general presence and respond accordingly by stopping.

The installation was designed by “Random International” (who are  a collection of artists and a collaborative studio for experimental practice of art and design within contemporary art). They originally set out to look at printing and inks that react to water. The idea blossomed into the rain room eventually. The installation requires interaction to showcase it’s clever design features. Random International wanted to observe people’s reactions to the idea of controlling rain when on the mat. They describe it as “social science” and that they have created “an installation to be experienced”.

http://random-international.com/ (I found their website extremely fascinating to look at)

There is a lot of science that goes into the design. The area is tracked using 3D depth cameras either side of the mat which detect 3D objects, like people, and valves are individually turned on and off according to if a person is stood underneath them.

Personally I love the idea of the Rain Room. I think it’s fascinating from both an artistic design point of view but also from a scientific point of view. It leaves me wondering if this could be an ingenious idea for everyday life- it’s extraordinarily convenient.  Some could argue that it’s a pointless installation that isn’t necessarily art. I would argue against that though because I think it’s interesting in it’s experimentation (and the water used in it is recycled).

The installation has influenced me to think outside of the box in my work. The Rain Room challenges nature which is ordinarily out of our bounds and combines technology with art and also nature itself. I will try and work more creatively in my ideas and even explore the impossible!

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Tate Shots: Jim Dine (26/11/2015)

Jim Dine is a painter, sculptor, photographer, print maker, set designer and illustrator. He also does performance art and poetry. He is arguably most famous for his involvement in the “pop art” movement. His early work, from the 60s, heavily features clothing and domestic objects. He works by repeating his themes over and over again in a range of different medias. He explores and reinvents common images in a way we don’t often see. He is considered a “modern individualist”.

Tinsnip - Jim Dine

In 1960 and 1970s Dine refined his techniques in painting and therefore took more control in his artwork. As a result of this his work evolved to become more romantic and somewhat quieter. His art has still evolved and changed further to suit times and what he wants to do himself.

Walking Dream with a Four Foot Clamp - Jim Dine

Dine produces vast quantities of paintings, among pieces in other mediums like drawings, prints, sculptures and illustrated books (he also dabbles in stage and set design).

In this episode of Tate shots, we watch Dine as he sets up his latest exhibition which features an installation of 52 books. Each book has a hole drilled through it and is suspended from the ceiling with a sort of string. Each book contains photographs. Some books contain photographs of items like tools- which he has “always been enchanted by” as they’re made by “anonymous hands”. Dine tells that a lot of the books are “based on his handwriting”. Many tell poems that he has written. Also featured was a wall of outtakes from the books.

In the exhibition, Dine had a whole room dedicated to his Pinocchio sculptures as a result of his fascination for the Disney film of the same name.


“The whole exhibition is about my ability to look and my ability to draw and to observe closely”


I love the way Dine uses different mediums to create breathtaking installations as a continuation of himself as an artist. I love the idea of hanging books and being influenced by handwriting as I think handwriting itself is very interesting to study. I love how he incorporates words and poetry into his work as I quite like poetry myself. I am influenced to be brave with mixing mediums and being bold in exploring different medias. It has inspired me to work with mixed media in my own work.

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Tate Shots: Martin Parr (26/11/2015)

Martin Parr is a photographer who captures the world from a different, and all together unique, angle and perspective. His photographs are strange, some exaggerated and shocking, and his using of colour and perspective is unusual and perhaps quite strange. He labels the mass onslaught of the power of published images as “propaganda” in which he counteracts using his own photographs. To do  this he uses seduction, criticism and humor. As a result of this, his photographs are visually stimulating, easily accessible (and understandable), entertaining and- above all- entertaining. Whilst the ideas are perhaps quite shocking it shows us, as the public, in the way we live and how we present ourselves to others and what we value in society. He draws on themes ad concepts of consumption, leisure and communications which he has studied over years of worldwide research.

In this episode of Tate Shots it begins by having Parr talk about his photography roots. He tells that he began photography in the 70s by taking photos, usually in black and white, of people living in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. His photos showed and exemplified the traditional style of living and photographing people.

In the 80s Parr began to work with colour. He began to use photography as a means of critiquing society (as well as being somewhat affectionate) and perhaps even exposing people. He started to take photos of people and places in and from different angles (both literally and metaphorically). He noticed that in documentary photography of that era that only often the very rich and wealthy people and the poorest people were shown. He wanted to fulfill the missing gap in the middle- the middle classes. His agenda is to photograph the first world as opposed to the third world and those in famine in wars (these are popular subjects in photographs). He tries to show things as he finds them as opposed to fully altering the piece as though it’s propaganda and trying to sell an idea to you. He now works with larger brands- like Urban Outfitters.

I love how his photographs are so typical of the middle classes in Britain and how he is sort of exposing them to the world as it’s seldom seen in more conservative photography. I also love how his photos tell a narrative. I am influenced to look at art from a different angle in and for  my work. This is something that I want to explore in further detail as I am intrigued by this exposure of people as though it’s a secret middle part between the rich and the poor (which most of us fit in to). His photographs are almost comical.

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Tate Shots: Street Art (26/11/2015)

Street art is a form of visual art created in public locations so it can be seen by many. It’s usually art outside of traditional art galleries and graces the walls of many buildings. In the early 1980s there was a graffiti art boom and so the phrase “street art” gained popularity. Whilst not as popular now, we tend to refer to graffiti-like designs and installations in a similar way. Modern street art can be created in many different ways; stencil graffiti, sculptures or street installations. wheat-pasted poster art or sticker art. Since the turn of the century- nearly 16 years ago- more modern techniques like video projection, Lock On (installations created by attaching sculptures to public property, like lampposts, using items such as bike locks and lengths of chain to do so) and yarn bombing (graffiti which uses colourful displays of knitted/crocheted wool, yarn or fibers rather than using traditional methods like paint or chalk). With the exceptions of vandalism and territorial graffiti, street artwork is often referred to in other ways such as “urban art”, “post-graffiti”, “guerrilla art” and “neo-graffiti”.

Street art has become popular for many artists who choose the streets as their canvas, and also their gallery, as though their art is a performance piece as much as an art installation. You can often feel immersed and very involved in the artwork as you watch it take place in front of your eyes (which, in more traditional artwork, is very rare). It is an easy way to communicate directly with the public and break through the traditional conformations of galleries and the art world. Many pieces are socially relevant and therefore connect with the world and people around it. These pieces of art are created to attract attention or as a form of “art provocation”- it evokes an emotional response.

banksy art in london

It is not uncommon for street artists to travel the world in order to spread their artwork. Some street artists have gained a huge following and media and art world attention. Many of these have gone on to work in a more commercial style whereby their work is known on the streets and can even sell for millions of pounds. Perhaps one of the most famous- and obvious- examples of this is Banksy. He creates stylized street art which often coveys powerful, shocking and somewhat emotional messages.

In this episode of Tate Shots we follow a group of Madrid-based street artists in the creation of project with Tate Modern whereby the artists make work in the streets surrounding the gallery. We see how different artists respond to such a challenge in a variety of different ways.

http://www2.tate.org.uk/streetart/index_hd.html (you can do a virtual tour of the Tate’s street art here)

The first installation sees an old building transformed as though “there’s a monster inside”. The artist has used a large inflatable tongue (and eye) which hangs out of the window. Cut outs or sticker like pieces are also used to create the look of a monster peering out of windows and exploding from the current building. The artist also used paint to help us “see what’s inside the building”. He believes the streets are another way to express yourself and that it’s easy to get critiques quickly.

“Spok” creates exquisite pieces of hyper-realistic artwork using traditional spray paint. He insists it’s done “just for the hell of it” as opposed to actually gaining profit or money for it.

The third artist we see renovates old signs collected around cities. He takes the signs back to his studio where he works on them to create visually stimulating pieces of artwork using typography (created with things like marker pens) in order to bring old and abandoned shops back to life. He juxtaposes the abandoned shop with the bright and colourful signs he creates. His work uses typography and signs to carry powerful messages- this, in itself, is not too dissimilar to art by artists such as Tracey Emin (and her sign project) and those seen in the Signs for the Homeless project. He talks about death, time and other “classical” things in his artwork.

Finally, we meet a pair of artists- one artist comes from “the graffiti background” and the other from “the architecture side”. They work together to create street art. They create evolving artwork with line. They work with the colour and line of the place to improve buildings and add beauty as oppose to ruin buildings. They do it in order to create a sense of reflection and to create social art.

I like the way street art constantly evolves in order to evoke meanings and responses. I love how it makes cities seem more colourful and exciting and creates a, sometimes controversial, response to social issues. I like how street art can convey so much meaning when some people view it as wholly unacceptable. I think it’s an innovative form of modern art which we should embrace (when it’s done sensitively and well). I particularly like the use of scale as it’s very large and works with the (metaphorical) canvas that they’re given. It only improves the building in the cases we’re shown.

However, for me there’s a very fine line between art and vandalism where by some forms of the artwork are done sensitively and work with the backdrop of the world perfectly and with great thought. Although for me there are some forms of “graffiti” which do not add as much to the surroundings and could be seen as just vandalism. I think it’s a matter of opinion. As much as I enjoy the colourful artwork made in such a manner I think there must be a point in which we draw the line before everywhere becomes filled with street art- some with better intentions than others.

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Tate Shots: Nigel Coates (09/11/2015)

Nigel Coates is an architect and designer who has a passion for making spaces with atmosphere. He enjoys how cities are creative and have a sometimes chaotic environment and he thrives on it. He believes all architecture should have an element of art in it’s production and design process. Furniture and lighting are his specialty, however he makes products on a large and small scale to fit the needs of those who require (and acquire) it.

In this episode of Tate Shots we see Nigel Coates unleash his imagination in order to create London’s skyline and imagine a future of a modern London. He does this by using surprising materials like Bourbon and Custard Cream biscuits, Liquorice Allsorts, Golf Balls and all sorts of other wacky (and perhaps even kitsch) materials. He also embraces new 3D printing techniques to create complex structures.

He talks about how some of his art may seem wacky and strange but how it is mostly all possible. I found the idea of a hand shaped bridge to be interesting and quite exciting in terms of achievable modern architecture. These designs do not scream practicality and amazing functionality though but they seep artistic intention and creative influence.

It was part of an exhibition at the Tate which asked artists to re-imagine 10 global cities and their futures. Coates was invited to do so for the Tate by the gallery themselves.

I like the way Coates uses random objects, like biscuits and thread bobbins, to create a meticulously planned and executed piece of art shaped by artistic influence and the idea of London in the future. I love how the objects used are so mundane but the outcome products are so exciting and fascinating to look at. I will look at using “normal” objects in my art to explore an exciting and innovative outcome like Coates has achieved.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/pineapplebun/ 1612945981

Tate Shots: Bob and Roberta Smith (09/11/2015)

‘Bob and Roberta Smith’ (surprisingly one person) is a pseudonym undertaken by British artist Patrick Brill. He creates large, quite typographical, pieces by using sign writers ink and brushes to create a crisp and clean finish. His work is often laced with political issues and absurdity but his passion for art and the arts seeps through into every piece he creates.   His work is somewhat revolutionary and points out honest statements about life in general. He also creates letters in this way written to politicians.


In this episode of Tate Shots, Smith shows us two of his pieces. They are described as “slogans for life”. One of which is a large piece with only the words “Make Art Not War” on it- a piece of advice from his Father (who was blown up and “sewn back together” in the war). The top half has a white background and the lower half has an orange background. It uses black, blue and white Edwardian fonts (from 1910 or so) and shadowing to make the text stand out. It is simple with a powerful message.

The other piece we are shown is a piece whereby the 8 foot long piece of Plywood is long and quite thin. The words are capitalized and go over onto other lines (if they’re too long). The lettering is done in a similar way to above and there are odd green and blue letters. Again, a powerful message is portrayed. The words written are “when Donald Judd comes to our place he has super brew. At his we get cheepo titan” and refers to the famous sculptor Donald Judd. The text suggests that Judd, who is well-known, is someone who might buy and drink low-quality alcohol. The text reads as though Smith is almost disappointed in and by this. Judd is commonly seen as a macho artist who was known for drinking in bars (and so such an accusation may be seen as absurd).

Bob and Roberta Smith ‘When Donald Judd Comes to our Place...’, 1997 © Bob and Roberta Smith

I love his work. I think it’s particularly exciting and interesting. I love his use of text in order to create a powerful message. I think this, in some ways, is similar to some of the other artists I have looked at, like Tracey Emin’s wall hangings and The Homeless Sign Project. Although these messages are not as shocking as perhaps Emin’s are, I think they share many similar qualities. For example, both use text in order to convey a message and perhaps the things said are seen as “absurd” by others.

I am influenced to try and consider using text in my work. I love how text has been used to covey a message and I would like to use this technique in my own work too.

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