I recently received an invitation to submit work as part of the Ealing Open Exhibition 2014 at the PM Gallery & House, Ealing Broadway, west London. I haven’t been there in quite a while so decided to visit the building last week. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the gallery’s current exhibition entitled ‘Living Laboratory’ featuring work by British photographer Richard Pare.
The exhibition features photographs of buildings by Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov. Pare’s work pays attention to the character of solid structures and how, through subtle and yet dramatic effects of light and varied seasonal conditions, they transform into some of the most recognisable examples of modernist architecture.
For over six decades, Le Corbusier revolutionised the ways in which we inhabit space, reinventing the idea of a house, designing radical furniture and proposing a variety of urban planning schemes. Amongst Pare’s work are some of Le Corbusier’s most famous buildings such as the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India and the Villa Savoye near Paris. Execution of the architect’s celebrated ‘ five points of architecture’ are illustrated with fine examples of open plan spaces, free from the requirements of supporting walls,horizontal windows, light- filled interiors and roof gardens that create iconic and immediately recognisable buildings.
Equally, Konstantin Melnikov was one of the leading modernist architects whose radical work emerged during a period of little more than a decade when practitioners were endeavouring to establish a new architecture for a new age. His work in the exhibition includes the family home, which served as an experimental studio and his personal investigation into the concept of the functioning house. The show runs until 11 May 2014.
The PM site comprises Pitzhanger Manor, the Grade 1 listed house designed by British architect Sir John Soane and gallery, located in the extension added in the 1940’s. Ealing Council has started a major programme to conserve and develop Pitzhanger Manor, the gallery and adjacent park.The project vision is to:
“…reveal and restore this remarkable historic villa in its original landscape and – through innovative and imaginative interpretation, activities and education – enrich all visits by local residents, students of architecture and Soane scholars worldwide.”
I’m not normally an advocate for publicly denouncing any individual but I feel compelled to write something about Yara Tschallener, former owner of the Red Gate Gallery in south London. It has been three years since a number of artists have heard from her. Fortunately, we live at a time where technology makes the world a smaller place. We find more about people if we search hard enough. Equally, social media helps to identify those among us who have no morals, decency or integrity with how they treat others. I feel it necessary to highlight my concerns. Due to Yara’s questionable activities and consequent disappearance, there are artists who remain out of pocket whilst she remains, in theory, a good few thousands of pounds richer than she should be!
Yara holds a master’s degree in the applied arts from the Academy of Art in Avignon and has worked over 20 years within the contemporary arts sector. She has a wealth of experience and should know this sector is incestuous and a platform for knowing who is professional and trustworthy. Yara, aka the ’Tasmanian devil’ (as she describes herself in certain circles) is a devil indeed! Currenltly living in Goudargues, south of France, she provides painting and fine arts courses from 300 Euros for beginners and tourists in a former monastery.
In 2011, Yara was evicted from the gallery premises and appeared be in hiding. The Red Gate gallery, a landmark in south London with a 13-year history, was closed whilst the police investigated her whereabouts. According to reports from the local press, Keith Barnfather, landlord for the former gallery premises, issued Miss Tschallener with an eviction notice at the beginning of August 2011 because of unpaid rent, for which she allegedly owed him a four-figure sum. For several days, a number of artists tried to contact Yara without success. Several artists scheduled to exhibit over future months were left without a venue or the money they paid in advance for exhibition space.
One of the artists, Anthony Ruby said Ms Tschallener’s actions were “repulsive”, adding, “When you are gearing up to a certain date and it does not happen because of someone else’s dishonesty, it is not good”. Artist Marta Frankiewicz made me aware of her situation. Marta arrived from Poland to set up her solo exhibition. The show was due to open that week with dignitaries from the Polish community invited to a planned private viewing. She arrived only to find the gallery locked with no access to her work inside which, as you can imagine was most upsetting.
Moving three years on, we can be open minded and even understanding that an individual’s circumstances may contribute to undesirable or unorthodox behavior. We are all human and none of us our without fault. Yara may have her reasons for doing what she did but ,since 2011, there has been no direct communication, no explanation, sign of remorse or gesture of good will to pay a single penny back to each of those affected. Prior to this, like many of the artists affected, I saw Yara as a trustworthy person and friend. What should we conclude about this individual and would you trust her? I leave that up to you! Right, I have some time on my hands. I think I fancy a trip to the south of France for some painting lessons!!
Due to working with children and adults with learning difficulties I’ve become very interested in psychotherapy and how local governments and social services accommodate the skillsets of art psychotherapists.
I was very happy to meet practicing artist and art psychotherapist Carol Phillips who was happy to share her views on the subject.
What exactly is art psychotherapy and how does it work?
Art Psychotherapy is similar to talking therapies in that it draws on common psychotherapeutic theory but is enhanced by the use of image as another tool for expression and as a tangible representation of symptoms, and of change. The use of image also presents an opportunity to view one’s internal world from a distance, offering the individual taking part the chance to objectively reflect on subjective experiences via the creative process and the three-way relationship between client, therapist and image.
What are the social benefits of Art Psychotherapy?
The social benefits can be considered in a number of ways. An individual looking to take part in therapy is usually looking to make developments personally and inter- personally.
Art Psychotherapy, whether it is group therapy or individual one-to-one therapy, will aid the resolution of problems, complexes or symptoms. This will typically enhance social functioning.
What it also does is work along a life affirming, almost spiritual angle allowing an individual to work on the validation of their own individual and unique style and the creation of a meaningful existence.
A deeper connection to self and ‘other’ can be proven to work via the use of commonly known psychotherapeutic techniques, but I believe it is also enhanced through the understanding of self via the therapeutic triad: therapist + image+ client. This puts a different slant on things and works on a deeper level.
Significant to this deeper level of understanding is the acknowledgement of everyone’s connection to universal and archetypal symbols. These things are fundamental to our existence and understanding of the world around us. They have been utilised by ancient and modern civilisations within ritualised and religious practises. These things represent our innate connection to each other and to the universe.
Lastly, the understanding of self through the image is often non-verbal and allows a fluid link to deeply subconscious thoughts, feelings, beliefs and perceptions generated before language was fully developed. A primitive connection to process and form replicates the early mother and child relationship, which usually allows an increased appreciation and attachment to people, places and things.
Is it fair to say your profession and its societal contribution goes unrecognised?
I think that the use of Arts Therapies has grown and that its benefits are more acknowledged now. Art therapy was mostly used within psychiatric settings and now they are used in schools, rehabilitation services, youth services, palliative care and many more. Despite this, and although I haven’t been out of work since I finished training, I feel that it can sometimes be hard getting colleagues, managers, institutions etc to take you seriously. Sometimes you can be working with a young person or adult and the process of development, healing and engagement can be sabotaged by those who don’t respect the need for boundaries, confidentiality, respect for the image and safeguarding of the therapeutic/ artistic space. In short the importance of creativity and its benefits are often minimised, therefore it is at times passed aside or forgotten about and neglected.
I’m an advocate for more community art and increased dialogue between artists and other professions working in the public sector. Is there an advance in the way health, education and social services incorporate art as a therapeutic resource?
I think there are definitely advances in thinking and the use of art image and practice, however I think there is still much more work to be done. Arts therapies are losing out to evidence based therapies that are based on the easy collection of statistics and the use of medicalised assessments.
This type of evaluation is hard to use alongside creative therapies and in a way shouldn’t be used alongside creative therapies. Creative therapies talk about something more subjective, about the human experience, something that is enough in itself and doesn’t need qualifying.
There is in my opinion a tendency to follow whatever is deemed popular by governing bodies, and this acceptance of facts without substance means that art therapies and other arts initiatives are not maintained and supported even though they obviously work well and are beneficial for those taking part. Such fickle swaying from one thing to another is not mature thinking. A balanced approach would see all these things given appropriate space and representation.
How did you get into art and art psychotherapy?
I have always been interested in making art and being creative, and have maintained it within hobbies for many years. I finished studying art, however, at ‘A’ level and moved on to study dance for a short period and then did an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Healing Arts.
During this time I became fascinated by psychotherapeutic practises, especially the process of personality development and an individual’s move towards individuation.
After this course I had in mind the idea that I would do either dance therapy or art psychotherapy. To do an accredited arts therapies course you are required to have two years initial experience working with vulnerable groups. It was during this time working as an activities coordinator within a psychiatric day unit that I fully witnessed the benefits of spontaneous image making for those struggling with emotional difficulties. After this experience I knew for definite that I wanted to make this my career and applied to study at the University of Hertfordshire.
How can artists of various disciplines become further involved in art psychotherapy?
It depends how you want to go about it, I think. Formal training is one thing and any artist, actor or dancer can explore the arts therapies courses that are becoming more widespread within England and abroad, either as short courses or degree courses.
There are usually quite a few opportunities to join art therapists in community-based projects. However it can be difficult to join in with art therapy projects due to the therapeutic boundaries and confidentiality. This would mean the artist working in a way that might seem unnatural for them, although I am sure it would be a positive development and I know artists who work very sensitively with communities. It is also very therapeutic for those taking part.
Art therapy isn’t for everybody, however, and the British Association of Art Therapy regularly holds seminars that are open to everyone. As an artist and a therapist I try to meet up with other artists and get involved with arts projects, exhibitions, and other arts initiatives happening around me.
I wish Carol the very best with her career and look forward to the possibility of working with her. For further information on her services please visit her website carolphillips.yolasite.com
The weekend was quite a relaxing one, celebrating family birthdays and attending a small community gallery in west London for the first time. Located in the heart of Acton, the W3 Gallery celebrates the artistic diversity of its community. The gallery, managed by the Acton Arts Forum, opened in September 2012 and operates with the support of local volunteers. I’m pleased to know it recently secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The gallery’s current show entitled ‘The Gender Agenda’ links to International Women’s Day celebrations and highlights the need for global recognition of women’s achievements, whilst highlighting gender inequalities and issues. The show, curated by local artist Sharon Walters, incorporates an amalgam of mediums such as photography, paintings, sculpture, jewellery design and poetry. Seventeen artists are featured including Syrian born 2D animator and cartoonist Asmahan Alkarjosli, Texan Seana Wilson and Polish architecture graduate Maryla Podarewska Jakubowski.
The show runs until March 30th so if you’re around that area pop in. Please note that some of the pieces employ explicit language that some may find offensive. The gallery is open between 11am- 7pm on Tuesdays-Saturdays and from 12pm-6pm on Sundays.
For further information please visit the W3 Gallery