CRITgroup Blog

Six months since the seminal meeting, MadLab felt very much like ‘home’ for the fourth group meeting. Five of us came along this month and there were plenty of varied projects to cover with some interesting debates being generated in many cases.

James Pashley started by sharing the exciting news that he has now confirmed an offer of employment working as a teaching assistant in Japan! He will be working as part of a cultural exchange programme to support English teaching beginning in late July or early August. While his insights and contributions will be missed in meetings, we are all looking forward to seeing his new website, which we briefly discussed, and to hearing updates on his experiences via his new blog. Meanwhile I am wondering if this means we can now label CRITgroup as an international art collective…!

Christine Wilcox-Baker who joined us for the first time last month to tease us with a hint of her work in the areas of art and gardening then shared details of what sounds like a very exciting and potentially high profile project working with the Cheshire Gardens Trust. The Caldwell’s Nurseries Project will be creating a garden at the RHS Tatton Flower Show in July for which Christine has designed a 3.3m by 4.5m sculptural stainless steel gazebo and a mosaic. The garden will reference the King Canute legend about how Knutsford came to be named as well as raising awareness of the Trust’s project to record written and oral histories relating to the historic Caldwell’s Nurseries. The conversation turned to a discussion of the benefits of voluntary projects, which whilst being carried out ‘for the love of it’ can still be very demanding. It was agreed that the networking opportunities and CV building potential of such projects was very valuable, however, there are also times where paid employment becomes a priority! We also talked about the onerous task of seeking sponsorship (easier if linked to a charity),  ways of promoting events and ideas for getting national press coverage (including the pros and cons of inviting a range of celebrities to your opening!). The RHS Tatton Flower Show is open to the public from the 18th to the 22nd of July and I look forward to both a visit and to sharing photos of Christine’s gazebo!

This month, Kevin Linnane brought along some photos he has taken for display as part of a project with MMU for the new childrens’ hospital being built in Manchester. Each of the floors in the new building will be themed and Kevin has responded to the ‘Manchester Explored’ areas from the starting point of linking Manchester to its extensive canal network. His photographs depict various areas around the canals in Manchester with the common element that they have all been taken reflected in the canal; many of the images have become abstract as a result. The group agreed that the textural effects of water as well as the unusual angles and subtle use of colour produce a series which not only respond well to the theme but perhaps more importantly demonstrate an awareness of audience. Comments included recognition of the calming nature of water and the suggestion that an abstract composition provided a greater opportunity for sick or bed-bound children to use their imaginations than more conventional imagery. I hope to share some of these images soon.

James Sharp brought along some of his textile journalsfor us to see and perhaps what is more important with his work, to hold, open and flick through! After a brief discussion of possible practical applications (James has also produced re-usable book covers and a way of making binders from plastic wallets) it was fairly unanimously agreed that the main value of the books is simply as art objects or, more accurately, artist’s books. Whilst James reported that his High Peak journals were selling well he also recognised that most of his work came in as commissions for a variety of objects from laptop covers to shopping bags. It was suggested that it would be worth pursuing display in Artist’s Book exhibitions as well as his current representations in Chapel En Le Frith and Bermondsey. James also offers tours of his garden and studio and expects to be involved in the RHS Tatton 2013 Flower Show with the Creative Recycling Gallery (there are a lot of green fingers in CRITgroup it seems!)

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Written by Annabeth