JL Williams and Catherine Street | In Conservation

about, artists, JL Williams

For our final week of In Detail, we have been talking to JL Williams and Catherine Street, discussing their inspirations, creative process and the different ways in which their projects  take place.


A lot of your work is performative. When did you first start to become interested in Spoken Word? Are there any Spoken Word artists who you particularly admire?

JL Williams: I once saw the poet Michael Longley read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and he was asked at the end of the event whether he thought poetry belonged on the page or on the tongue. He answered that he thought poetry was (pointing to his mouth) first oral, then (pointing to his ear) aural, and then for the page. This rang true to me.

In my experience, poetry comes as emotion, sound, observation, reflection, story, image. I hear the words and write the words that form in my head so I can remember them and share them with people who aren’t in the room with me. If people are in the room, then I am eager to share the work by reading out these written down words, or sometimes even singing them. I don’t separate the two (written/spoken) in the act of creation. I don’t think of some of my work as specifically for the page and some as specifically for performance, and I would not call myself a Performance Poet or a Spoken Word Artist. Performance Poetry and Spoken Word are diverse categories, and there are artists I admire and cultures associated with these forms that I enjoy very much. I respect these categories but in my own performance and curatorial work I strive to break down divisions between the written and spoken poetic word. I find it more rewarding and creative to think of how we share poetic work in a fluid and responsive way… what does the poem desire? What does the moment desire?

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Collections

Collections

Acquired

Between poles and tides, Kate V Robertson: Object (hood), Michael Barr: HOSTIPITALIDADE and The Torrie Collection, all coming to a close this week, have each used, appropriated and explored various facets of the University of Edinburgh’s art collection.

We spoke to Edinburgh University’s Art Collections Curator Neil Lebeter to understand the process behind building a public facing, contemporary, university collection.


#1 FIND YOUR ARTISTS AT THE DEGREE SHOW

The ECA final year degree show happens every summer, around the beginning of June. This is an opportunity for graduating art and design students to show case their new work, often as an amalgamation of their research and practice throughout their degree.

It is also an opportunity to get their name and practice recognised and to (hopefully) sell a few pieces. Since Edinburgh University began building a contemporary art collection, the degree show has been the first port of a call when purchasing new artworks.

Each year, a group of four to five academics attend the degree show in the hopes of scouting out exactly what they need to build upon and diversify the growing collection. This group of individuals includes both Neil Lebeter and the academic honorary curator, Gordon Brennan ever year, after that a selection of academics from across disciplines are asked to attend to help decide which artists to pick.

Opening Bracket / Closing Bracket

JL Williams

In February 2016, Dundee’s Cooper Gallery hosted an evening of dance and poetry in response to the exhibition ‘ALL SYSTEMS…go’, which explored the body in relation to modern mobile systems. At this event, J. L. Williams performed “Opening Bracket /  Closing Bracket: An Object Lesson in Levitation”, a piece written as a reaction to the choreography found in the gallery.

For more info: https://groupcriticalwriting.dundee.ac.uk/jl-williams-opening-bracket-closing-bracket-an-object-lesson-in-levitation/

Introduction | JL Williams

about, Introduction, JL Williams

Originally from New Jersey, US, artist, poet and performer, JL Williams studied for an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University. Throughout her career Williams has worked across a vast array of cultural projects, from the writing of an Opera to creating workshops and performing at live poetry events.

Collaboration and performance play an important role in the development of both poetry and language within her practice. Williams has collaborated with numerous artists, poets and musicians, Iain Morris, James Iremonger, Anna Chapman and Alastair Cook to name a few. One of Williams’ most prominent collaborations throughout her career has been with artist and friend, Catherine Street, performing and writing together throughout several exhibitions and sound-performances.

This collaboration is ever-present within Between poles and tides. Whilst walking through the exhibition, visitors can listen to an emotive audio recording of Williams in an abstract and imagined dialogue with Street. This dialogue became a reality at the end of last month when the two women performed the piece in the gallery space, creating a live, poetic environment.

Lauren Hawkins, Talbot Rice Gallery Intern

The Importance of the Garden

Ian Hamilton Finlay

The following writers have focused on the importance of Finlay’s conception of the garden and the experience a viewer has within Little Sparta.

Prudence Carlson revisiting nature for Flash Art

“At every turn along Little Sparta’s paths or in its woods, language — now plaintively, now aggressively — waylays the visitor. Plaques and tablets, benches, bridges, planters, column bases or capitals, urns and more all carry words or other signage.  This language, in relation to the objects upon which it is inscribed and the landscape in which it is positioned, functions in the end metaphorically to conjure up a radical space of the mind beyond sight or touch — a space stretching, in Finlay’s poetics, as far both as the Ocean, in all its possible meanings, and as Classicism’s mythical Golden Age.”

Fiona Watson (a hopeful Little Sparta gardener) for Harper’s Bazaar

“It’s an unsettling place, both protective and disruptive. One moment you move among the birch-trees where a set of pan pipes, half hidden in leaves, tells you: ‘When the wind blows/ venerate the sound’; the next moment you meet a stone tortoise on whose shell is written ‘panzer leader’… What are people meant to make of all this paradox?”

Jonny Bruce discussing Finlay’s garden in relation to Paul Nash  for the Financial Times

“Artists have the ability to infuse landscape and gardens with meaning; to engage us more deeply and to question our preconceptions. We are very comfortable with a certain set of expectations when it comes to gardens. One such is the idea of the garden as an escape; that, whether it is from the heat of the day or a family argument, the garden is somewhere to find peace. The artist-poet Ian Hamilton Finlay had no truck with this perception, writing: “Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks.””

James Campbell reviewing a Tate exhibition for the Guardian 

“It was an important principle of Finlay’s thinking that his garden, one of the wonders of 20th-century art, was not the idyllic creation that some well-intentioned admirers mistook it for. Rather it was, like all gardens, in a permanent state of revolution. Whereas the grove may be cultivated, nature, its governing force, is wild. “Life is full of problems,” Finlay wrote… “Not least the moles, which can RUIN a good garden-poem overnight.” Violent action is required, with hoe, spade, axe – or water pistol – to preserve a state of order.”

Image Credit: Flickr/ergonomilk

ARTIST ROOMS

Ian Hamilton Finlay

 

During 2013, Ian Hamilton Finlay was exhibited as a part of the touring exhibition series, ARTIST ROOMS, produced in collaboration with Tate and institutions throughout the UK. ARTIST ROOMS, was established in 2008, through the donation of over 1,600 pieces of contemporary art by the collector Antony D’offay. It aims to provide the public with regular and accessible opportunities to view work from important contemporary artists.

Finlay was exhibited at: The Park Gallery, Falkirk

Nature over again after Poussin 1979–1980

24 August 16 November 2013
artist_rooms_ian_hamilton_finlay_-_falkirk
Image: Tate Modern

Introduction | Ian Hamilton Finlay

about, artists, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Introduction

The late Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925 -2006) forged a career as one of Scotland’s most successful and distinguished artists. Finlay was born and raised in both Glasgow and the Orkney Islands, but later moved to practice in Edinburgh where he became a founding member of the Concrete Poetry movement.

Katie Paterson | Studio

artists, Katie Paterson

The concepts behind Katie Paterson’s practice take her all around the globe, transforming her studio from Berlin to nomadic at times.

For her work Future Library, she made her way up north to Oslo where a forest has been planted ready to supply the paper for 100 new texts to be printed in 100 years time, in 2114.

A secretive artwork with an uncertain future audience who will receive what could be a beautiful gift from the past.

Katie Paterson_Future Library_PRESS