The Skinny Shop & Platform 7 @ Dickens Gallery, Liverpool 1-25 Nov
This November a unique exhibition is arriving in Liverpool; a collaboration between The Skinny and Somewhereto_, two organisations united by a love of emergent art and the number seven. Aimed at 16 to 25 year olds, Somewhereto_ encourage young people to follow their passion by providing free spaces for music, culture and sports. This particular project, entitled Platform 7, presents an exhibition featuring seven emerging artists, brought together by seven young curators to create work exploring themes of the nature of existence and the body. You can read a full preview here.
Showing alongside it is a collection of limited edition prints by seven emergent Scottish artists. Since December 2011, The Skinny has offered prints for sale through a partnership with the online art portal Culture Label, supported by Own Art and Creative Scotland. The seven artists currently included were all previously featured in The Skinny's Showcase section, a monthly spread and online gallery displaying the work of an early career artist or designer. The diverse artists have created work ranging across painting, digital collage, drawing, photography, printmaking and graphic design. The full collection can be viewed at www.theskinny.co.uk/shop.
Rachel MacLean is a digital and video artist based in Glasgow, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009. She's exhibited widely to much acclaim at home and abroad, and recently created music videos for Glasgow favourites Errors and The Phantom Band. For the Culture Label collection she produced two new works, a diptych of prints entitled The Innocents and Massacre of the Innocents. She says, “Broadly speaking I’m influenced by visions or depictions of otherworldly, dreamlike or fantasy spaces. The prints are inspired by the Biblical tale – I’ve always been intrigued by the paintings of this scene in art history. Quite often it's depicted in a kind of Mannerist style, almost eroticised, interlocking flesh, these men throwing babies, women clinging onto babies. I quite like that this very violent event is made into something quite sublime or beautiful, glamourised.
“In the images I’m dressed up as cats, but clearly as a human dressed up as cats. I was keen to have quite a strong notion of gender as well, busty sort of beauty queen type figures and then these macho body builder type men interacting in this world. The two images are mirror images – the first one is this kind of arcadia, referencing a pastoral paradise with these figures lounging around drinking coffee and sort of touching each other up, and the second one references the Massacre of the Innocents images. There’s a shift in the tone of the images. I like the idea of these characters becoming these branded, commodified references.”
Ross Fraser McLean is a photographer who lives, works and teaches in Dundee. He shoots in film on a camera older than he is, and has travelled somewhat extensively having taken on projects in Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, Cuba, Lebanon and across Europe.
"When I was 21 I saved up ten grand and spent nine of it travelling from St Petersburg to Tokyo on the trains with an Olympus OM2M film camera that’s older than me. I shot about 50, 60 films and then from that I used the portfolio I created there to lead me onto other work. Amongst other places in the world I ended up eventually getting to go to Cuba in 2009 which was a dream come true! At this point I was carrying four cameras but I still had my Olympus OM2N. That’s the camera I used to shoot the Culture Label series.
"The series is a selection of some of the stronger images from Cuba. The interesting thing to me about these images is that a lot of them would have been gone if I’d waited more than a second before catching the photograph – they’re all reactions without too much thought being put in. I guess though after that there was quite a bit of time trying to perfect the colours and the level and the tones, from something that was taken in quite a spontaneous, almost throwaway manner, they’ve lived on beyond that.
"It was the 50th anniversary of the end of the revolution in Cuba, which is quite an iconically photographed country in itself. The slightly ironic thing about the images is that they pay homage to the 1970s American photographers, colourists from that era who will never be able to go legally to Cuba. I suppose to me they mark an era in Cuba’s history that I hope will live on.
"Caro, the image of the red car, is quite an iconic image that you might associate with Cuba itself. There’s a vast number of images of cars within the series which kind of pays homage to my dad, a way of getting closer to him I suppose. A lot of them are quite casual in their composition – if you look at Torro, on the beach.. If there had been more than a moment waited it would have been gone.
"Puesta del Sol, that sunset image, is a strong one for me. Even though it was a night shot set up with a tripod and so on it’s deliberately slightly squint, a way of saying ‘Screw you Photoshop!’ It’s good to leave the flaws in."
Jamie Johnson is a recent graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee and is currently based in Edinburgh and working as an illustrator. Through his use of drawing, collage and printmaking techniques, he creates intricate and atmospheric imagery of a surreal and layered nature. For The Skinny Shop he presents a series of new illustrative works including a tower, puppets, a cave and some arcade machines.
He says, "I take observations from everyday narratives and reinterpret them through my own imagination I guess. Characters from growing up – a lot of my older work was heavily influenced from growing up in Leith and the sort of characters you’d see in the streets there, and also growing up skateboarding. My degree show was based around the myriad of weird characters, constructed little shelters. An homage to a sort of lost era. That really influenced my present work as well because I got quite interested in primitive architecture and what these structures mean to people, how they’re constructed and the various types of shelter, and the inhabitants of them.
"The pieces for Culture Label were done specifically for the project. In this case it was a lot of disparate elements brought together in a seemingly random but constructed manner, to further delve into this otherworldy narrative I’m trying to explore, using components from the every day. I have family in South Africa and I was visiting them for the World Cup in 2010; two of the pieces are specifically inspired by visiting townships which harks back to the allotment aesthetic a little bit. One of the pieces [Puppet Quartet] was based on a Johannesburg street fair, a sort of community project to get kids busy, and they made these giant puppets controlled by sticks, and guys had mini bus hats on and were playing trumpets – it was all quite surreal but a really good jovial atmosphere."
Rabiya Choudhry is a painter who lives in Edinburgh. She graduated from ECA in 2006, has shown in Collective, DCA and in the Edinburgh International Festival, and has lately been exhibiting in Edinburgh, Paris and Prague.
“Family’s a big theme for me – a lot of my work comes from memory, the subconscious, dreams. Everything’s threaded from my upbringing. I like to have fun and make pictures I’d like to hang on my wall and make me laugh – there’s always a bit of humour behind everything.
“I grew up in a house where there wasn’t much art, so the television was kind of the exhibition space – that’s where a lot of my influences came from. A lot of cartoons, films. I watch a lot of horror films. I’d say my dad’s a big influence, his religion, his belief in Islam is fascinating to me.
“I made some money for the Culture Label collection. I made three drawings in red ink; money – lack of it, desire for it. I wanted to make these intricate drawings of money and I used red because it’s the colour of blood. Using the designs of the three coins themselves – one pence, two pence, a pound – and doing my own version. That’s what I’m always trying to do, trying to bring things to life more with a sense of humour and make them look a bit better than they do.”
David Lemm is an artist and illustrator who lives in Edinburgh. He studied animation at Duncan of Jordanstone.
“I guess the main thrust of my work is finding structure or some sort of narrative or natural systems that occur within chaos and entropy, particularly within the natural world. I try to apply that to both my commissioned and personal work. I’m fascinated with cosmology and the need we have for structure in a belief system, the need to apply a framework on which we can find meaning in chaos.
“Solar Evolution is a fairly straightforward illustration of the evolution and life of the sun pared down to abstract shapes. Trying to convey that weighty concept as simply and elegantly as possible.”
Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell have been working collaboratively as Good Wives and Warriors since 2007, soon after they graduated from the Painting Department at The Glasgow School of Art. They divide their time between designing large-scale installations for fine art settings and undertaking design commissions for companies in the UK and abroad, including Absolute Vodka, Adidas and Swatch. They have exhibited around the world, including shows in Berlin, Paris, Melbourne, Buenos Aires and San Francisco and have been featured in a number of publications and books including ICON Magazine, Wired Magazine and the Taschen books Illustration Now!3 and Portraits. They are currently based in London, UK. For the Skinny Shop first collection they've put together a selection of prints inspired by mandalas.
Markus Thorsen was born in a small seaside town in Norway. He got a degree in Photography from Edinburgh College of Art, and worked for The Skinny, where he photographed live concerts and artists being interviewed. From his images of concerts around Edinburgh he made a book called LIVE - A Collection of Bands from the Edinburgh Live Scene that also earned him a solo exhibition in the Edinburgh Festival 2010. He was a Fujifilm Student Award 2008 merit winner and got nominated for Event Photographer of the Year at The Scottish New Music Awards 2011. For this collection he offers up a selection of his live music photography, black and white images of artists including Killing Joke, Marina and the Diamonds, Mogwai and the Prodigy.