Pick of the Week 2016

July's Picks selected by Ellen Wilkinson

July 4-10

I'M STAYING: Shaun C Badham

The Old Bookshop, Bristol
Saturday 02 July 2016 – Friday 02 September 2016

I’M STAYING is a statement, a question or perhaps a provocation. The artwork comments on our relationship to place, community and change. Thousands of people voted online to decide future locations of the artwork, which has travelled around Bristol over a two year period.

‘Shaun C Badham’s neon sign has been making its glowing declaration from various buildings in Bristol for two years, and accumulating meaning along the way.

A defiant statement during times of government cuts to the arts? A provocation in gentrified areas of the city? A challenge? A promise? A fiction? A lie? As with all good art, its interpretation falls to us. Two words; so much possibility. Language is slippery. It slithers and skates and stammers.

Badham can’t have known that I’M STAYING would reach its final destination as Britain (well, 52%) chose to leave the EU (the locations of I’M STAYING were also decided by democratic vote). In this moment, these words gather a new poignancy, offering a laconic reflection on turbulent and uncertain times, with none of the heavy-handed ideological certainty of so much art that labels itself ‘political’.

Ironically, I’M STAYING is no longer staying. But wherever it goes next, this disarmingly simple statement will continue to resonate. While it remains still and the world moves around it, its universality will reveal its relevance in situations that we, and the artist, haven’t yet imagined.'

Guest Editor Ellen Wilkinson

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July 11-17

Heather Phillipson: TRUE TO SIZE

Plymouth Arts Centre
Until Saturday 20 August 2016

Heather Phillipson’s commission for the Arts Council Collection’s 70th anniversary, TRUE TO SIZE, is a series of video, audio and sculptural works that presents a sequence of post-human landscapes. Situating mass-produced images and objects of consumption and communication, this is a commission in its freest sense: a world that resembles our own, translated via Phillipson’s imagination into physical space.

'An award winning poet, as well as artist, Heather Phillipson’s multi-layered work collages words, images, video and sound, and crackles with energy and emotion.

Her work is simultaneously poem, environment and screen, in which cultural references collide and numerous voices compete for attention. She presents us with something like a visualisation of a search engine, that regurgitates its endless results, offering us absurd leaps of logic and information of wildly varying relevance. We are left to make sense of Google’s vortex of fragmented words and images.

Phillipson’s work shifts disorientatingly, in continual movement, as 3D is replaced by 2D, 2D becomes 4D, words are now images and images collapse in on themselves. Far from being just surface, the work is expressive and confessional, and for all its digitised gloss, seems to ask where humans are in all this. How do we negotiate this barrage of stuff? Perhaps we should view her environments as contemporary shrines, albeit ones that offer none of the certainties of religion.'

Guest Editor Ellen Wilkinson

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July 18-24

Martin Creed: What You Find

Hauser & Wirth Somerset
Until Sunday 11 September 2016

Hauser & Wirth Somerset is pleased to announce a new solo exhibition by Martin Creed, following the artist’s residency at The Maltings studios in Bruton from April until May 2016.

'Fifteen years since Creed won the Turner Prize with the infamous Work No. 227: The lights going on and off, he continues to chase ideas and find ways to pin them down. Sometimes those ideas are miniscule, barely there, and sometimes they are ‘Everything’ (as Work No. 2665 declares in red neon).   

Creed’s work straddles multiple contradictions: confident and insecure, banal and extraordinary, logical and absurd, and suggests a constant desire to communicate, however difficult and futile.

His work is always efficient, often slight, but his subject is big: ordering objects and ideas to make sense of the world. His idiosyncratic taxonomy is sometimes fascinating and sometimes not. That’s the way it goes. Lydia Davis, the American short story writer, whose work is similarly compact and economical, acknowledges the fact that not all stories will hit the mark. Some will fall flat, and each new piece always comes back to this uncertainty.

Doing something in the face of uncertainty; making art that is at once precious and pointless. There are few things more human.'

Guest Editor Ellen Wilkinson

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July 25-31

Material Nuclear Culture

Karst, Plymouth
Until Saturday 13 August 2016

Material Nuclear Culture is an exhibition exploring the material traces and cultural legacy of nuclear powered submarines in the UK, within the international discourse of deep time aesthetics and memory. The exhibition highlights the complexity of archiving the cultural legacy of submarine heritage within a wider discussion of how to comprehend the deep time challenges of radioactive waste storage.

'As I write this, the House of Commons has voted to renew Trident, and the Labour party continues its own version of Mutually Assured Destruction. 

Since their invention, submarines have caught the imagination: they are sinister and intriguing, representative both of humankind’s capability for curiosity and worst destructive impulses. I can think of few jobs less appealing than being a submariner, apart from being a submariner on a vessel equipped with nuclear warheads.

I’ve cheated a bit with my final Pick of the Week for the month, by selecting a second exhibition in Plymouth (alongside Heather Phillipson), but I’m excited to see how artists deal with such a huge and complex subject. Forget the Berlin Biennale: this July, Plymouth is the place to visit!'

Guest Editor Ellen Wilkinson

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What's On

Free art classes for over 50s

SPACE, 6 West Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS2 0BH

Sunday 06 December 0217 – Wednesday 28 March 2018

Radical Clay: Teaching with the greatest potters of the 1960s

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL

Saturday 22 July 2017 – Sunday 10 June 2018

Sculpture Class at Bath Artists' Studios

Bath Artists' Studios, The Old Malthouse, Comfortable Place, Upper Bristol Road, Bath, BA1 3AJ

Thursday 07 September 2017 – Thursday 14 December 2017

Visual Arts South West

Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.

Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network

Supported by: