At Your Service #4
I went to see the exhibition of Catherine Dee, currently on at Yorkshire Artspace until 24th March and one of the selected artists for the Ways of Making exhibition programme. She has used the space in well with her display of branches, belonging to different trees. At first glance it looks as if each one has been painted in light and dark stripes but when you look closely you see that the bark has been carefully stripped off the branches. Even the tiniest of branches has been treated in this manner. It is really delicate and beautiful. Some branches are held in place by bigger branches. Some are suspended by a thin thread and gently move and turn when you walk past.
I also went to see the film 'Brexitannia' by Australian documentary maker Timothy George Kelley who was taking questions from the audience after the showing. The first part of the film was made up of 'talking heads', with approximately 48% of the people talking about why they voted 'Remain' and 52% about why they voted 'Leave'. Interesting to initially hear the same-old-same-old reasons for voting they way people did, but also cleverly edited so that the conversation slowly became about things we all worry about in one way or another - job security, loss of identity, widening gap between those who have and those who don't. Some expressed this in simplistic terms and some were more eloquent and careful. It was the first time that I felt as if I could understand the reasons for voting 'Leave'. My favourite person was the young Northern Irish woman who stated that right now was the best time for her to be alive - she was gay, she was a poet, a woman and independent and she could make connections with anyone in the world through social media. It made me realise that all the talk of needing borders was basically outdated. In a way she made me feel a lot more optimistic about future generations and how they will change the world we currently live in.
The shorter second part of the film was left for the experts to express their opinion An impressive line up, in particular hearing Saskia Sassen - she just explained with a very simple example why people migrate by talking about a plastic bottle filled with drinking water. At what point did anyone in the Western world felt we needed to be able to buy plastic bottles with drinking water when it comes straight from our taps? When we have no shortage of drinking water but extract it from places where water is scarce, where people's lives depend on it, where draughts can lead to wars, starvation and migration? We're all drawn to water to stay alive and when the west has bottled it, then west we go. I'm interested to read her book 'Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy' from 2014 after reading the transcript of an interview with her.
It was a great film. I asked Tim if he felt that, over the time he had shown it to a nationwide audience, the reaction of the audience to the film had changed. He said that it had. Reactions are more nuanced 18 months after the Brexit vote.
I have been working on a portrait of a European employee from Russia. Bizarrely, neither of us knew whether Russia was a European country. I initially felt a bit stupid but Bogdana wasn't quite sure herself where Russia belonged. Interesting conversation with a very quiet intelligent woman.
(Image: Bogdana / Russia. from At Your Service. Gouache on oak veneer. 2018)