Yesterday I attended the private viewing of Ittenology. The show features the works of Marita Fraser and Nancy Milner who explore Johannes Itten’s theories regarding the juxtaposition of colour and its perceptual contrasts.
Australian Artist Marita Fraser lives and works in London, graduating from Sydney College of the Arts with first class Honours in 2005, continuing her studies at the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna (2006-2010). The artist has exhibited extensively across Australia and Europe. Fraser has held solo shows with James Dorahy Project Space, Sydney; Kerstin Engholm Gallery, Vienna, and Engen Stadt Museum, Germany, as well as participating in group shows in London, Manchester, Sydney, Perth, Vienna, Eindhoven, Linz, Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin and Frankfurt.
Barnsley born artist Nancy Milner, graduated from The Royal Academy Schools in 2013 and previously studied at the University of Reading. Her resume includes, Royal Academy Schools Show, London; Form from Form, Matthews Yard, London (both 2013), Premiums Interim Projects, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2012); Architectural Fragments, Apiary Studios, London (2011). Nancy won the Jerwood Purchase Prize for Painting, 2012 and was awarded the Abbey Scholarship in Painting, 2014 – 2015 at The British School in Rome.
Unfortunately, despite the merits of the artists and the theme of the show, I found the exhibition, disappointingly uneventful and lacking in energy. Personally, I would have preferred to have seen a more colourful collection of work. The lack of this made me recall a quote from Itten himself – ’ Colour is life; for a world without colours appears to us as dead.’
However, I’m always encouraged and provoked by the work of others. I encourage you to see it and judge yourself. The show runs at the Rook and Raven Gallery London from 22nd January – 5th March, 2016. For further info please visit www.rookandraven.co.uk
This week I found the subjects of a black boycott of the Oscars and UK black actors furthering their careers overseas quite interesting. Fundamentally, the Oscars are meant to celebrate high quality filmmaking, irrespective of ethnicity. Historically, Hollywood has had a problem representing people who aren’t white Americans or European. Moreover, one questions how the Academy celebrates the achievements of actors, producers and directors presenting a more positive, diverse and progressive perspective of filmmaking. I understand a significant and growing percentage of filmgoers in America are from minority groups so there should be some reflection of this on screen and in what the Academy considers award worthy. It has a responsibility to be more reflective and less bias towards its telling of history, its summary of the present and its vision of the future, which half the time paints a very bleak if not non existent picture for those of a darker hue. The Academy’s issues come as no surprise when the decision makers are predominantly white middle aged men, disengaged with a wider society.
White middle aged men, responsible for this kind of gatekeeping, equally suppress black expression and representation in UK arts. They remain gatekeepers in how particularly the western world sees itself and more importantly what it values. This isn’t a new phenomenon because, for a number of years, creative professionals from minority groups, including musicians, performing artists, writers and painters have looked abroad for a beacon of hope and opportunity, to master their talents and feed their aspirations. As a London born artist, I have found some solace in New York, knowing there is a greater degree of support, comradery amongst peers and opportunity to work in chosen fields, with less emphasis on colour. That’s not to say things are completely flawless however. So what is the problem with the UK? Surely there must be a limit on how many period dramas are made and writing negative stereotypical or token roles into depressing soaps operas like EastEnders are by no means the solution.
Whilst this gatekeeping issue is a challenge and we identify culprits responsible for its maintenance, we must also hold ourselves responsible for implementing change, either through boycotting industries or being more vocal and visible in our demand for it.
I have tremendous respect and admiration for David Oyelowo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Idris Elba and others for their success so far. They provide encouragement and hope, despite the odds, to persevere with international careers. I’m equally glad such talented people are realising they must seek opportunities wherever doors are open. Perhaps the grass is greener on the other side? I’m interested to hear others views on this matter.
I’ve now started to use my instagram account and I’m finding it quite a platform for finding some inspirational art and wealth of talent. I’ll be occasionally posting some of my own work too. Please visit https://www.instagram.com/davidemmanuelnoel/
As you may know, I’m currently preparing for another show at Chelsea’s Amsterdam Whitney gallery. I’m particularly looking forward to the possibility of supporting the work of CAMBA by donating 10% of sales from my work. I’ve been a supporter of the charity for a couple of years now and would like to see this organisation achieve its objectives to help many of New Yorkers who are facing a variety of hardships.
Joanne Oplustil, President & CEO, CAMBA / CAMBA Housing Ventures was kind enough to provide answers to some questions I posed to her regarding the agency, it’s mission and future.
Q- Can you provide a summary of the organisations origins and it’s vision?
CAMBA was founded in 1977 as a merchant association in Flatbush to reduce crime and beautify the community. CAMBA’s leadership quickly recognized that commercial revitalization was impossible without creating paths to opportunity for residents, particularly the burgeoning population of immigrants and refugees. CAMBA grew in direct response to community needs, and today we reach 45,000 New Yorkers annually with 160 programs delivered from 70 locations throughout the five boroughs.
- Provides for Basic Needs: This year, CAMBA provided shelter to more than 4,500 people, permanent supportive housing for more than 1,110 individuals and families with special needs, and 45,000 pantry bags to hungry Brooklynites.
- Develops Human Capital: Annually, 9,000 youth attend CAMBA educational and enrichment programs, and 2,000 adults engage in job training, English or adult literacy classes.
- Prevents Harm: CAMBA’s services are designed to help families and individuals avoid an array of societal ills, from preventable hospitalizations, to family violence, to eviction or deportation. Last year, we prevented more than 3,186 families from being evicted.
- Remediates: CAMBA helps stabilize New Yorkers with drug addiction or mental illness, reconnect youth who have left school, and settle refugees who have suffered trauma in their home countries.
What sets us apart from peer organizations is CAMBA’s holistic approach to transforming lives. We know that children succeed only as part of families and communities, so we invest in parenting, education, job training and health in addition to providing safe, sustainable and affordable housing. CAMBA provides essential services to improve client outcomes and help residents attain self-sufficiency. By providing holistic support to help individuals and families gain stability, we fortify the neighborhoods we serve, having community-level and City-wide impact and driving local economic growth.
Q- According to published figures, you’ve helped over 45,000 people in the city. In which areas and issues have you been most effective and why?
We help 45,000 New Yorkers every year! Each of our programs has distinct outcomes we are trying to achieve, but we have an excellent track record of accomplishing what we set out to do. I am particularly proud of our development of more than 1,500 units of permanent affordable housing, in just the first 10 years of developing housing.
We view affordable housing as a platform for individual and family stability and economic success, as well as a cornerstone for community revitalization. Through dedication to design excellence through contextual buildings, attractive façades and durable finishes, CAMBA Housing Ventures’ buildings demonstrate that affordable and supportive housing is a community asset and provides dignity for tenants. Our dedication to design excellence and proactive property management oversight have shifted expectations about what affordable housing looks like, removing the stigma associated with affordable housing and elevating design standards. CAMBA’s developments bring over a half-billion dollars in public/private investment into some of New York City’s most impoverished neighborhoods, bringing much–needed affordable housing, jobs and social services.
CAMBA provides permanent housing and onsite support services to more than 1,100 formerly homeless families and adults, including those struggling with mental illness or HIV/AIDS, at 18 residences throughout New York City. Through financial literacy, healthcare, access to employment, education/job training, independent living skills, and support groups, we help people who have been in and out of hospitals, jail and homeless shelters become stable and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
Q- Growing on the last 35 years of successfully helping communities, where do you see the organisation in the next 30 years?
CAMBA has been growing and responding to change for 38 years. And I believe that’s what we will continue to do – expanding our role in community based health care, creating and preserving safe and affordable housing for New Yorkers in needs, and helping the next generation of young people break the cycle of poverty and gain the skills they need to succeed in education, careers and families. We will continue lift up communities where the needs are more dire by taking a holistic approach to individuals, families and neighborhoods. And I hope I am around to see it!
For further information on CAMBA please visit http://www.camba.org
I’m looking forward to another exciting period working on exhibitions and broader community related projects. Moreover, I’m both happy and privileged to be working with some talented, dedicated and inspiring people. One of the things I’m looking forward to is another exhibition at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea district which is always buzzing with some truly amazing art exhibitions and talks. This year I will be donating 10% of any artwork sold to CAMBA, a non-profit agency that connects people with opportunities to enhance their quality of life.
CAMBA offers more than 150 integrated services and programs in economic development, education and youth development, family support, health, housing and legal services. CAMBA Housing Ventures builds sustainable and affordable apartments for low-income New Yorkers.
CAMBA serves more than 45,000 individuals and families, including 9,000 youth, each year. They help people with low incomes; those moving from welfare to work; people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or transitioning out of homelessness; individuals living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS; immigrants and refugees; children and young adults; entrepreneurs and other groups working to become self-sufficient. The majority of CAMBA’s clients live, work and/or attend school in Brooklyn.
Further details to come!
Wishing you all a great weekend!
This month I’ve been fairly quiet admittedly, spending time enjoying the weather, catching up with friends and preparing work for my next show. This week I spent time in central London visiting a number of galleries for some inspiration. At the top of the list was the National Portrait Gallery’s Portrait Award show. This is a must for anyone who needs to see the brilliance that resides in some people. The work is excellent.
Selected from a record-breaking 2,748 entries by artists from 92 countries around the world, the BP Portrait Award 2015 represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting.From parents to poseurs, figurative nudes to famous faces and expressive sketches to piercing photo-realism, the variety and vitality in the exhibition continues to make it an unmissable highlight of the annual art calendar. Now in its thirty-sixth year at the National Portrait Gallery, and twenty-sixth year of sponsorship by BP, the first prize of £30,000 makes the Award the most prestigious international portrait painting competition of its kind and has launched the careers of many renowned artists.
The show runs from 18th June to the 20th September. For further info please visit http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/bp-portrait-award/exhibition.php
In this exclusive video for the UK Guardian newspaper, philosopher Alain de Botton gives his top five reasons why art is such a vital force for humanity. Are we wrong to like pretty pictures? Why is some art painful to look at? Can art heal your feelings of urban alienation? Relax, watch and find out. This article was originally featured in September 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/video/2014/sep/10/what-is-art-for-alain-de-botton-guide-video