Saturday, 25 September 2010

there is beauty in the city meets the stranger at the party

artist cara lockley has a day long programme of interactive and investigative arts in the public realm of the Old Market area of Bristol happening today. The day consists of a variety of projects, one of which will see 200 beauty in the city magnets given out - encouraging a reframing of how this rundown, but still beautiful urban area is seen. we're looking forward to seeing a rich variety of images.

The Stranger at the Party combines a contemporary art event and curatorial intervention, which employs temporary actions and presentations in public space.

The project's title is appropriated from the 1961 theory of human behavior by Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman. In 'Encounters' Goffman considers the structure of everyday experiences in relation to the manipulation of the individual by society as a whole. Goffman's 'stranger at the party' anchors the gathering of multiple social groups as a mode of focused interaction or memorable experience. The project intends to provoke encounters and investigate the formation of tactics for building relationships between artworks and audiences.

The encounter; a brief, casual, often chance meeting or conflict, here acts as a device that cultivates relationships between artworks and audiences. By considering the project as a constructed situation, the performances and visual artworks presented respond to the social context within which they are displayed, and in most cases within which they have been conceived. The Stranger at the Party blends-in, hides, confronts, provokes, investigates, and causes ruptures, whilst recognizing the significance of the art of encounters in the changing economic climate.

Old Market suffered significantly in the Bristol Blitz during World War Two, and was subsequently not rebuilt by Bristol planners, which caused the loss of a vital balance. During the 1960s radical plans began to emerge which resulted in massive changes to the area including; the construction of an underpass, and the vast demolition of housing on Old Market's two main streets. The Stranger at the Party celebrates the diverse social history of the area, and in essence, re-activates the streets in celebration of the past, present and future of Old Market. It aims to bring back some of the liveliness that has been displaced during the area's development. Temporality and unpredictability here become curatorial frames which link art with human interaction and social context.

The Stranger at the Party is curated by Cara Lockley, and is a demonstration of her current curatorial practice.

My hope for The Stranger at the Party is that the participating artists and audiences, including individuals and groups who are aware of the project's existence and accidental passers-by, will thread aspects of their encounters with the world into the fabric of the works and the project as a whole. The project is not intended as a representation of what we know, or documentation of what already exists, but as a way to encourage a rethinking of social relations at large. (Lockley: 2010)

Lockley is an independent curator, currently based in Bristol, UK. She specializes in the production, and manipulation of situations for the presentation of contemporary artworks. Often working in close collaboration with other artists, Lockley's practice deals with the notions of encounter, intervention, and temporality. She engages with these fields of interest through the development, and coordination, of visual arts and performance projects.

Lockley completed her BA Hons in Fine Art at Staffordshire University in 2007, and has since contributed to and initiated a number of contemporary art projects including the Bristol / Cardiff based artist collective Hand In Glove. She is also currently completing an MA in Curating with University College Falmouth incorporating Dartington College of Arts.

Lockley's recent curatorial projects include; Platform 2010, in Bristol, Fragment, in Totnes, Devon and TAKE PLACE, in association with Spacex, Exeter.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

sonja van kerkhoff - leiden, netherlands

sonja van kerkhoff, who is currently hosting There is Beauty in the City:Leiden has sent some images giving an overview of her activities - more to follow!

This photo shows both the magnet bearing the text as well as the shop-studio I'm using in my city for the exhibition on the Aalmarkt, a street that has been a shopping location in Leiden since the middle ages. Here I am 'selling' not only the idea of beauty but that beauty is in the eye of the beholder as demonstated by the diversity of the photographs displayed in the window. 
The first row are photographs chosen by Glen Stoker of photographs from around the world and the second row will grow during the exhibition as artists add their image of what is beauty in Leiden." 
More photos are here:

sonja's main enterprise in her empty shop unit involves the making and installation of Kāinga a roto (Home Within) a structure which will house a series of video pieces. Find out more at 
the firstframes for the installation Kāinga a roto

anna falcini - leominster, uk

many thanks to anna falcini for submitting her symbolic marker between urban and rural, as she explains...  

The photograph was taken in Leominster, Herefordshire, which, is a rural market town.
The particular location is on an old iron bridge which crosses a small river. The pathway leads on to an historic part of Leominster, The Priory Church, which has clusters of old buildings leading up to it.
It is a place I walk often, or cycle. The bridge is for pedestrians only and there is this iron pillar placed centrally at the end of the bridge to stop bicycles but people squeeze their bikes through the gap and consequently the pillar's dome has become scratched by the handlebars of bicycles. I love the inadvertant mark making that has occurred, a layering of the history of movement over this bridge.
I have seen kingfishers fly below the bridge, swans move serenely downstream, seen rats at the shoreline and once saw an otter dive down in the water which was truly magical. It is a threshold between town and country, an ancient boundary.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

there is beauty in the city flew to spain

this project, since its re-incarnation last november has gone from strength to strength. images are coming in from as far and wide as new zealand, usa and hong kong. we have grown from being an online blog project to a fledgling exhibitive extravaganza, with our first show taking place in Stoke-on-Trent in April '10 and our 3rd show presently showing in Leiden, Netherlands. (details sure to follow very soon!).

The summer saw the project's 2nd show open in the northern Spanish coastal city of Gijón and for the first time become a collaboration. Susana lopez fernandez had been an enthusiastic contributor to the project for several months - submitting numerous beautiful, funny and evocative images of her home city at the After a few weeks of talks and with the offer of a free exhibition space firmly in place, we set about advertising the show through word of mouth and fly postering. i selected 14 great images from the project,

printed them up at A2 size and sent them out to susana. from there, she curated the  2 week show There Is Beauty In The City: Gijón which she describes below. A massive thanks to susana for all her efforts.


I have to write some lines to finish this project we are working on since last march, although this trip began nearly seven months ago when I was living in Berlin and one morning I found my magnet “ThereisBeautyintheCity” was in my post box.

Gijón  is a coastal industrial city and a municipality in the region of Asturias, in Spain. Early mediaeval texts mention it as "Gigia". It was an important regional Roman city, although the area has been settled since earliest history. The name was originally applied to a small peninsula presently referred to as Cimadevilla, literally "top of village" between two beaches, one of which has a recreational port today. The main port, one of the largest in the north of Spain, is called “El Musel”

Ezcurdia, 30 _ bajo is an alternative, art space which was born two years ago. It is not a  business art gallery, it is a cultural space which open its door during the summer.

I would like to thanks Glen, Anna and all the people who made possible the opportunity ThereisBeautyintheCity travelled to Spain last august.

Gallery front - showing FELICITY FORD in the doorway, the film of all the project's images is on display in the main window and was shown 24 hours a day for the 2 week duration

The opening was last friday, July 30th. The photos arrived a week before I did, and the work started on wednesday, July 28th.

It was an easy task, because Glen gave me clear instructions before, so in two days we hang up the photos and got the TV ready on the window where it was seen from the street, as you can see in the below photo.

Inside there was the reproduction of a dark room. From outside you could not see what there was inside so this got people´s curiosity and they wanted to get into the space to find out what it was.
Once you got inside, there were dark curtains that made you go to the back of the room, where the photos were on the walls and where people could find something to drinks and also a computer showing the same film that could be seen outside.

Everything was ready on thursday evening, but on Friday morning we hang up the photos in the window, so people could see them from the street and at 1pm the first reproduction of ThereisBeautyintheCity in Gijón started. At 8pm we opened ThereisBeautyintheCity, the film has been running for seven hours it was on the whole night afterwards.
The first people started to arrived and their reactions were diverse, but I think everything  that night and the other 15 days can be summarize in just one word: SURPRISE. They were surprise about the concept of ThereisBeautyintheCity. They were attending an opening that was just a small part of a global project that is being show around the world,   something that it is still live and is growing. They were also impressed in the initial idea was a blog and the whole project is being created by anonymous people on the internet.

In 2001 when I was still in the University I worked in a project about Marshall McLuhan and his Global Village. It was nearly 10 years ago and It was difficult for me understand those ideas, but now I think that ThereisBeautyintheCity, could be an excellent example of Marshal McLuhan´s Global Village. I think that people was talking about that that night always in a colloquial mode.
Some were surprise because they were expecting a conventional painting exhibition where you can buy the pieces and when they arrived they realised what a different kind of exhibition it was. The focus was in the street and it was not possible to buy the work. They were also surprised because it is rare to find this kind of events in a small city in northern Spain.

At 10pm we closed the doors, the video was still working but we need a break before the next 10 days. The photo exhibition was opened till the 10th of August, It was possible to watch the film from the street where it was working day and night and we filmed the reactions of people in the street. I am happy about the success, every night I had to watch and edit the video, but I enjoyed doing it, it was a satisfactory experience.

I think the success of the project was due to the fact that people could watch it from the street, they were part of it.

On Monday, August 9th, we took the decision to move the computer from the back of the room to the window with the TV. This change caught one more time the attention of the people, who after a week started to feel bored of the TV.

I would like to finish talking about the people who were unable to go because of the distance, but all them know about the project and follow us through facebook,  ThereisBeautyintheCity blog and the photos and videos I sent to them. They did not feel so surprise because they knew about the project before but they all have a favourable opinion about ThereisBeautyintheCity.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

bristol and beyond for beauty in the city

september's proving to be a hectic month for the beauty in the city project. following hot on the heels from the gijón exhibition (of which more to follow) we have exciting news of two projects this month.

OPEN/MAKERS is a project based in Leiden, Netherlands using empty shops as a hub for visual and performative arts. 

sonja van kerkhoff, a contributor to this project and a member of the OPEN project is co-ordinating  the third leg of there is beauty in the city's exhibition programme. running from 3rd september until 10th october, this shop window will be displaying 25 of the projects images, printed at postcard size and displayed in a long line at eye-level across the window of the empty shop. each print is accompanied by its respective artist's name and text explaining the significance of the image.

contributors are: AMAE, anna hindocha, bernard charnley, brutus carniollus, chloe arrowsmith, ella klenner, emily tull, emma thackham, felicity ford, iain macleod-brudenell, jania vanderwerff, joshua daniels, juan martin, julie brixey-williams, lester kong, marianne richardson, paul hanson, siobhan tarr, sophie gibson, susana lopez fernandez, teresa leung, tony jones, victor angelo, wai kit lam, yvonne lo.
click on each name to see their images.

the second part of the exhibition will see local leiden residents responding to a call put out by sonja to come to the shop to claim a prized magnet pack. over the next 5-6 weeks, a second line of images, below the first, will be built - this time by residents of leiden who will be flagging the parts of their city they deem to be beautiful. there will also be a tv screening the looped film of all images submitted, totalling nearly 300 by over 70 contributors.

we see this as the perfect format for the project - the plethora of amazing images and contributions to the project so far are being used to inspire the people of a city to celebrate their ideas of urban beauty and encouraging people to reframe and rethink their familiar city spaces.

so watch out over the coming weeks for images celebrating the beauty of leiden.

the second beauty in the city event this month takes place closer to home in bristol on september 25th. artist cara lockley is presenting a project entitled "the stranger at the party".

cara writes..."The project’s title is appropriated from the 1972 theory of human behavior by Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman. In ‘Encounters’ Goffman considers the structure of the everyday encounter in relation to the manipulation of the individual by society as a whole. Goffman's stranger at the party anchors the gathering of multiple social groups as a mode of focused interaction or memorable experience.The project explores the ways in which artists and audiences engage with visual art and performance, by considering the exhibition as a constructed situation, the works presented respond to the social context within which they are exhibited, and in most cases in which they have been produced."

the day-long event combines a contemporary art event and curatorial intervention, which employs temporary actions and presentations in public space and features artwork by: Agnieszka Gojska, Ania Bas, Anna Francis, Dani Abulhawa, Jennifer Campbell, Cara Lockley, Miriam Todd, Tamara Marsh, and Vickie Fear.

there will be loads of opportunities to get involved if you're round and about the old market area of bristol and beauty in the city will be one of the associated projects. click here for to join the project's facebook group.

so - it's all go this month - watch out for all the amazing new images promised - should be a visual, beautiful, urban treat.

yu mayming - hong kong

focussing on native and nationally emblematic plant life, yu mayming writes... Everywhere can see Bauhinia in Hong Kong. This shot is I often pass by road side. I rarely seen Bauhinia so lively and pretty.

Bauhinia blakeana is the floral emblem of Hong Kong, and a stylized orchid tree flower appears on the Hong Kong flag.

Bauhinia is also known as Mountain Ebony, Purple Orchid tree or simply Orchid tree, and 'Kachnar' in India and Pakistan. Bauhinia trees typically reach a height of 6-12 m and their branches spread 3-6 m outwards. The lobed leaves usually are 10-15 cm across.