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  • Re-Launch of UCL Art Museum HQ

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 28 May 2015

    UCL Art Museum Re-Launch Private ViewIt’s been an exciting few months for UCL Art Museum’s HQ with the completion of reburbishment work and the opening of our Re-Launch summer exhibition. Our main space may sit on a footprint that is just short of that of half a tennis court but for a space so small we have big ambitions and a wide reach. The room is designed on the model of a traditional Print Room with over 8,000 works on paper carefully stored in our cabinets, the earliest dating back to 1470’s and works are right up to the present day with Slade school of art prize winners being added, making our collection alive and current. We’re a little gem of a collection, hidden away to the right of the main portico in Wilkin’s neoclassical main building. The aim of the re-furbishment was to shine a light on this gem of a space collection and make it more accessible and practical to use for our audience, improve our teaching and research facilities and enable us to welcome more people into the Art Museum. A lot of the re-burbishement is invisible; electrical wiring behind walls and under floor boards, new security measures, improved use of space and some new lighting to show off our beautiful flaxman plasters.

    Janne Malmros' work The Hunt on paper

    The Hunt (with Origin of the Species), Janne Malmros, 2015

    At the same time as re-opening the space we launched our summer exhibition Re-Launch. This exhibition presents a selection of objects, prints and video made in response to our collections and the theme of re-launch. Its contributors hail from the Slade School of Fine Art and have participated as students in our celebrated annual Slade/UCL Art Museum collaborations over the course of the past six years. The exhibition’s run is from 27 April-12 June, Mon-Fri, 1pm-5pm.

    Participating artists in the exhibition are; Ian Giles, Jonathan Kipps, Katja Larsson, Nadine Mahoney, Julia McKinlay, Milou van der Maaden,Janne Malmros, Kate Keara Pelen, Cyrus Shroff, Printers’ Symphony

    UCL Art Museum Re-Launch exhibition

    Column, Jonathan Kipps, 2015

    UCL Art Musuem Re-Launch

    Another More Extended Sleight-of-hand, Cyrus Shroff, 2015

    We had over 400 people come to our Private View events in April and May and it was wonderful to welcome artists, supporters, students, colleagues, art professionals and academics to celebrate and share in our achievements with us. You can see more photos from the events on UCL News Flickr. Since opening we’ve had 1,300 people come and see the exhibition and have been getting lots of really positive comments back.

    Re-Launch exhibition Private View

    UCL Art Museum Re-Launch exhibition Private View

    As part of the public programme accompanying Re-Launch we have run a number of events including a lunchtime talk with artist Nadine Mahoney on 12 May about her work Once More with Feeling, included in the exhibition. She also talked about how she’d taken inspiration from the collection by taking on the daunting task of looking at every single portrait we have, paying particular interest to those portraits where the sitter is anonymous.

    UCL Art Museum Relaunch Private View

    Once More with Feeling, Nadine Mahoney, 2015

    We also worked in partnership with Zabludowicz Collection on a two day symposium Collecting the Emerging, which involved academics, curators, collectors and artists coming together to examine issues around collecting new and experimental art and what it means to be an emerging artist. It was a fascinating few days with over 200 people in attendance, some great speakers and some lively debates covering economic and aesthetic value in the emerging art market; emerging practice and its relationship to historical narratives and collections; and how the current enthusiasm for collecting contemporary art impacts on artists practices that are still at an early stage. Speakers included Edward Allington Professor of Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, Louisa Buck independent critic/Contemporary Art Correspondent, The Art Newspaper, Dr. Ben Cranfield Director, Doctoral Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies, School of Arts, Birkbeck and Sarah Thelwall Creative and Cultural Industries Strategist amongst others. Dr Tim Vermuelen, Assistant Professor in Cultural Studies and Theory at the University of Nijmegen gave the key note speech with highlights including anaologies of the art market being like the film Finding Nemo; in the sense that we’re all swimming in our own specific waters and this affects how we behave as artists, collectors, art professionals, to discussions around Nirvana, Tony Blair, consumeriam and the cultural state of the 1990’s compared to now, creating a comparison with our current cultural experience.

    Collecting the Emerging SymposiumOn the Friday evening we went to Zabludowicz Collection to have a guided tour of their 20 Years exhibition and to experience an amazing performance piece by artist Laura Buckley, commissioned especially for the symposium. Throughout the symposium, the conversations ranged from the academic, theoretical, philosophical, commercial to the very practical ways in which emerging artists can survice and keep their practice going. We were delighted to be able to partner with Zabludowicz Collection on this and hope that this will just be the start of a continuing relationship with them and a chance for us to programme similar events and collaborations where the Art Museum initates, hosts and engages in issues around contemporary art supported by a historical and collections based background of research and experience.

    Jenny Wedgbury is Learning and Access Officer for UCL Art Museum

    Strange Creatures: The Art of Unknown Animals opens today

    By Jack Ashby, on 16 March 2015

    Imagine that you are in a place no-one from your country has ever been before. You have just set eyes on an animal incomparible to anything you’ve ever encountered – it might as well be an alien. Cameras haven’t been invented. It will take a year for you or anything you send to reach home. Your job is to communicate what you’ve discovered to the people back home.

    The artistic outcomes of scenarios like this are the basis for much of our exhibition Strange Creatures: The Art of Unknown Animals, which opens today.

    The Kongouro from New Holland (Kangaroo), George Stubbs (1772). ZBA5754 (L6685-001). National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London*

    The Kongouro from New Holland (Kangaroo), George Stubbs (1772). ZBA5754 (L6685-001). National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

    The natural history of art; the art history of nature

    By examining the world of animal representations, the exhibition explores how imagery has been used to bring newly discovered animals into the public eye. From the earliest days of exploration, visual depictions in artworks, books, the media and even toys have been essential in representing exotic species that are alien to people at home.

    Strange Creatures investigates what we can learn about art history by researching natural history, and what art history can contribute to natural history.

    (more…)

    Work Experience at UCL Art Museum

    By Martine Rouleau, on 14 July 2014

    This blog was written by Ellie who is in year 10 at Kingsmead School. She was on work experience at UCL for a week between 7th-11th July. She spent a day shadowing Dr Martine Rouleau, Learning and Access Officer at UCL Art Museum.

    LDUCS-2176_IMG1 - TurnerAs I’m on work experience here, I didn’t know anything about UCL Art Museum. I’ve been here for 2 days and I now know a lot of information about the history and collections at the art museum.

    I’ve learnt that there are over 10,000 pieces of art here created by a variety of artists, some that are very well known and some that aren’t. They’re very different and they all have different meanings and explanations of why they were produced. However, they have one thing in common and that is being under the same roof.

    UCL has the artwork of Turner, de Wint, Cox and Rowlandson. They also have work by students that have won competitions such as best art work in their year at University (the William Coldstream Memorial Prize).

    (more…)

    One Day in the City Festival

    By Helen R Cobby, on 12 June 2014

    One Day in the City Festival at UCL

    Balloons in the south cloisters UCLOne Day in the City Festival taking place on Friday 13th June brings together a celebration of literature, art, music and culture in London. The framework is broad. Nick Shepley, the founder and organiser of the festival, and Teaching Fellow in English Literature at UCL, acknowledges this and says he has not tried to narrow it down to specific themes: “It is about opening out and trying to bring people to something that is a simple celebration of the city, its literature and art, and its cultural richness.” These are areas people work on everyday across various departments at UCL with their own audiences. Nick wants to harness this, and “break down the potential separation of audiences with the One Day festival, encouraging a wider demographic to come along.”

    The festival’s centre will be in the UCL South Cloisters, decorated with a fun and artistic skyline created through lighting and architectural constructions. There will also be a multitude of balloons lining the Cloisters and leading the way to various events. These events will include a debate about taboo language with Inda Knight (journalist and author), Will Self (novelist) and Tim Clare (poet), a Caribbean carnival and seminars on topics related to creativity in London. In the UCL Art Museum there will be a talk by one of the Slade students, Helena Hunter, a poetry workshop and live performances as well as Slade students distributing prints of their work. For a full list, see the One Day website here.

    'Fonte' by Maxima Smith

    ‘Fonte’ by Maxima Smith

    The UCL Art Museum is located in the South Cloisters, so it will be at the hub of the festival’s activities. The remit of ‘One Day’ also links the artwork in the current exhibition at UCL Art Museum to the festival. This exhibition, called ‘Second Person Looking Out’, is the result of this year’s annual UCL Art Museum and Slade collaboration. It features an eclectic range of artwork from time-based media pieces to bronze sculpture and slate engravings. Have a look at my previous blog posts, reviewing the exhibition and talking to Ling the co-Curator, to find out more. (more…)

    Reflections on the Printing Techniques Workshop

    By Helen R Cobby, on 6 June 2014

    Slade students, artists and curious print-making novices both from within and outside of UCL got together for a Pop Up lunch-time talk by artist and UCL Art Museum Curatorial Assistant, Ling Chiu on 27th May in the UCL Art Museum. When she is not at the Museum, Ling works at a printmaking studio in southeast London, helping artists such as Ray Richardson and Peter Blake to create prints in screenprint, etching and lithography.

    Jack Miller’s 'Weird Tales'

    Jack Miller’s ‘Weird Tales’

    Ling introduced us to fine art printing techniques, referring to the UCL Art Museum’s extensive collection of prints as inspirational examples. We were encouraged to look at a diverse selection before the workshop started, and then to reflect on them again after we had learnt about some of the printing techniques. This produced different engagements with the work, and was a fun way of relating techniques back to the art objects. The most popular print Ling displayed from the collection was Jack Miller’s ‘Weird Tales’ (UCL Art Museum 9239), which had a textured, velvet effect produced by combining flocking with screenprint techniques (think Andy Warhol meets 18th century floral wallpaper!).

    The workshop followed on from an earlier session Ling had taken at the UCL Art Museum that looked at traditional printing methods typically used before 1850. This included relief printing (where the ink sits on top of the printing surface, and by which woodcuts and linocuts are made), intaglio printing (where the ink sits inside the printing plate, and is used to produce etchings and dry points), and planograph printing (which involves a chemical rather than physical change, and is used for lithography and screen-printing). With planographs, Ling used examples of her own work and some from the UCL Art Museum collection to describe how you work directly on the surface of the printing plate. You are also able to work on a large scale and in lots of colour as this is a painterly method of printing. However, each colour is drawn on a different stone, making the process relatively complex. One of Ling’s examples, Ludwig Grüner’s Sistine Chapel (UCL Art Museum 2872), took about 11 stones to achieve the subtle and extensive range of colours!  (more…)

    ‘Second Person Looking Out’: The Sixth Annual Slade School of Fine Art / UCL Art Museum collaboration

    By Helen R Cobby, on 29 May 2014

    'Getting close but then again not close at all' by Olga Koroleva

    ‘Getting close but then again not close at all’ by Olga Koroleva

    The themes, materials and presentations of the annual collaborations have varied immensely, and this year there is a great diversity within the exhibition itself. The range of media is particularly striking, as is the way digital technologies have been used and portrayed to give new experiences of space – particularly the spaces of the UCL Art Museum itself.

    There are four time-based media works and one beautifully crafted light box installation, giving emphasis to technological media within the show. However, an array of oil paintings, intricate drawings, etchings and even a bronze cast are also part of this exhibition.

     

    'Entombment' by Lara Smithson

    ‘Entombment’ by Lara Smithson

    Glowing at the back of the UCL Art Museum, in between the cupboards storing prints, is one of the most enchanting works of all. This is the light box, which constitutes the installation entitled ‘Entombment’ by Lara Smithson. It cleverly depicts the somewhat hidden UCL Art Museum painting store, giving us a glimpse of the racks of paintings mostly by former Slade students. This image has been overlaid with a painting by the artist herself, which results in a merging of different types of artistic spaces and temporalities. ‘Entombment’ seems to reveal things behind the surface (most notably the UCL painting store), while also reflecting on the (literal) surface of painting and the material properties – or potentials – of glass.

    Another work that interrogates the materiality of its medium alongside its processes of production is a bronze cast work called ‘Fonte’ by Maxima Smith. This artwork achieves this using the word ‘fonte’ as both the subject matter and form of the work. In this way, the work prompts investigation into the etymology of the word ‘fonte’. The meanings include ‘to spring’ and ‘to pour’, actions that can be linked to the process and discourse of bronze casting itself.

    'Fonte' by Maxima Smith

    ‘Fonte’ by Maxima Smith

    A play with words is also immediately apparent in Katja Larsson’s hand carved slate, entitled ‘Hullmandel 4:3’. Here the artist has decontextualised a phrase she has taken from Charles Joseph Hullmandel’s 1835 lithography manual. Using this lithographic manual as a source is both a subtle and pertinent reference to the main body of the UCL Art Museum’s collection of artworks, which are prints. The artist’s chosen words are beautifully carved onto the slate – a process that mirrors the processes of printmaking. Using slate as the medium also reminds us of the lithographic process, being a traditional tool and material in lithographic production. This emphasis on process and action reflects one of the dominant themes in the entire exhibition.

    ‘Second Person Looking Out’ is on show at the UCL Art Museum weekdays 1-5pm until 13 June. On Friday 13 June the exhibition will become part of the One Day Festival in the City with several of the artists from the exhibition extending ideas from their work to engage visitors in interactive installations and other creative activities. More information on this to follow, so check this blog again soon. 

     

    Helen Cobby is a volunteer at UCL Art Museum and studying for an MA in the History of Art at UCL

    In the Making: The UCL Art Museum and Slade Collaboration Exhibition

    By Helen R Cobby, on 6 May 2014

    Art Museum ExhibitionThis is the sixth year of the Slade/UCL Collaboration. It started in 2009, encouraging Slade students to submit work inspired by art in the UCL Art Museum collection for an exhibition within the Museum’s space and the Strang Print Room. Initially, this involves Slade students attending meetings with the Art Museum staff and booking appointments to see certain works from the collection. The artists can also create pieces that are inspired by the tools, spaces, traditions and methodologies that the Museum offers. A good working relationship between the two institutions has been built up over the years.

    The Slade students enter the project out of their own choosing. It is a rich opportunity, allowing these students to learn how to produce work for outside of the studio and how to present their work to curators, which includes writing an in-depth proposal. The collaboration also enables a chance to work with a professional archive. In return, the project helps to introduce new audiences to the Art Museum, to change and develop the use of its spaces, and encourage creative engagement with the collection.  (more…)

    Museum Week: Behind The Art

    By Helen R Cobby, on 27 March 2014

    'Under Milk Wood' by Paula Rego, 1954, Oil on canvas

    ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Paula Rego, 1954, Oil on canvas

    It’s Museum Week, which is proving to be a brilliant opportunity to get to know new galleries, explore a museum’s history and join in with celebrating the wonderful work that museums do – not to mention the art they have and the imaginative spaces they create!

    There has been a different theme each day – and today it’s ‘Behind The Art’. Here at UCL Art Museum we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to rediscover some of the many female artists that studied at The Slade next door and whose work is part of the UCL Art Museum collections. We’re thinking Gwen John, Winifred Knights and Paula Rego.  (more…)

    Reflections on Time-Based Media Exhibition at UCL Art Museum

    By Helen R Cobby, on 27 February 2014

    1 – 5pm Monday to Friday, until Friday 28th March

    I am unique and so is everyone else (video still)This exhibition gathers together some of the most prolific time-based work from UCL Art Museum’s growing collection, which centre around the dependence upon and manipulation of technology with respect to time. The artists exhibiting are graduates from the Slade School and have each been awarded the annual William Coldstream Memorial Prize that selects outstanding achievements over the whole academic year. This accounts for the diverse collections of artwork on display, illustrating the eclectic variety of contemporary time-based media works.

    It is a refreshing and new type of exhibition for the UCL Art Museum, completely immersed in technology, conceptual installations and time-based media techniques. You will be greeted by many television screens that allow for a sense of unity to the works and for you to make comparisons between the way some of the themes are expressed. The screens are also placed with enough distance for each piece to be absorbed in contemplative isolation. Intriguing sounds also drift around the gallery, enticing you to follow your senses and discover and explore their source.  (more…)

    How to Stop Worrying and Love (running)

    By Helen R Cobby, on 6 February 2014

    20 ways running can transform your worldWorking up to the event on Wed 26th Feb 6.30 – 7.30pm, in UCL Art Museum.

    On 26th February there is the chance to meet the artist and Slade School PhD Graduate Kai Syng Tan and take part in her experimental, multidisciplinary event based around the positive powers of running. This is the opportunity to learn about running as a potentially playful and subversive activity within an artistic framework.

    Kai is sprinting forward with latest research that focuses on the body and its dialogue with technology and social media networks. Her website creatively communicates this unusual project, which is constantly evolving. Come expecting to be made curious, surprised and energized.

    Intrigued to find out more before the event, I met up with Kai to talk about how her work explores notions of playfulness, natural endorphins and the meaning of life.

     

    You have many different roles and identities, being an artist, educator and researcher. How do you see them interacting and influencing each other?

    Many artists today have multiple identities. I have been an artist for nearly 20 years, but I have done many different things within this role. It involves showing my work in public spaces and online in spaces not always considered part of the art world. As a new media artist I have also had a parallel career; lecturing is how I bring home the bacon.  (more…)