Inspiration and the elephant in the room

I’ve missed a week, I started with good intentions of a weekly blog but the elephant happened and I’ll get to that later.

We had a field trip with college to Bristol, we visited the usual art places Spike Island, M Shed, Arolfini and the Bristol Museum.  The idea being to collect reference material for our latest topic “Edges and Overlaps”.  It was nice actually visiting the art exhibitions rather than online virtual experiences, in my opinion experiencing some of the larger art installations in person is the only way to do them justice.

The Vanguard, Bristol Street Art was by far one of the most interesting exhibitions I’ve seen in a long time. I learnt so much about the origins of the whole street art scene and how it has grown and developed over the years. I first moved to Bristol in the mid/late 80’s and feel that I’ve only recently, in the past 20yrs fully appreciated it. So I loved learning more filling the gaps in my understanding and education about what is literally on my doorstep. One artist stood out for me Antony Micallef and I am definitely going to research him further. It felt that it didn’t matter what angle I looked at his painting from, it was lifting out the canvas and very real.

The Vanguard Exhibition M Shed Bristol

As we wandered around the various galleries and museums, I realised that I am drawn to pieces of work that have shapes, colours and texture that resonate with me on a deeper level. In the museum I found myself really admiring the pottery and sculptures.

At Spike Island they had two exhibitors, Lucy Stein and Peggy Ahwesh. I found that some of Lucy Stein’s pieces of work I could take or leave but her large art installation “wet room” and a couple of her other pieces really connected with me on a deeper level. The colours she used and the fact that she references local folklore and mythologies intrigued my spiritual side.

And now for the elephant in the room Peggy Ahwesh, her work Vision Machines was extremely interesting, and in hindsight I should’ve listened to the nagging voice that I’d seen her work before and not to see the films behind the curtain. But nope, I’m with the rest of my class and in fact I’d got lost in the cgi of Vision Machines so entered the room part way through “The Scary Movie”, bizarrely at the same point I walked out of a screening of it in London a number of years ago. Fate trying to tell me something? I don’t know but this movie is the reason I couldn’t write a blog because I had to process how it affected me. I wasn’t prepared for the trauma response it triggered in me. It’s a very dark and disturbing take on gender roles, and exploitation of feminism, through two children acting out a horror movie. It was made around 1993 and I have to give Peggy a lot of credit for how cleverly she tackles these long standing societal issues. However, there are other taboo subjects that this film touches on, like the exploitation of children and the sexualisation of innocent games. The music score, sound effects and final editing were very cleverly done. As much I tried to watch with objectivity, as a parent of a young child I found it difficult to ignore the underlying messages, and as a survivor of abuse I found myself stuck in the past.

A lot of creatives use their chosen mediums to talk about, or highlight what is important to them, or want us to join them on journeys, through words, music, and pictures. Most of the time as onlookers we like what we see and hear, we love the escapism of Tolkien and Dahli, and the moments captured on canvas and film. I feel we shouldn’t ignore or dismiss the storytellers when the subject matter disturbs us in some way. We should be asking ourselves why? What is it that we are uncomfortable with? What, if anything can we do to change either our response, or the story…… How can we mold the future?

On that note, I will leave you with my photo of Lucy Stein’s “wet room” there really is something very peaceful about it.

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