Thursday, 15 September 2011

Artists at Blackhorse Lane

One of the highlights of the recent E17 Art Trail was the open studios at the Barbican Arts Group Trust. I managed to spend an hour out of a busy day there last weekend, and wished I had more time to look at everything properly. There are 28 artists studios and after spending time looking at the first few studios at a leisurely pace, of course I ran out of time and had to skim what may have been equally fascinating things towards the end.
On a buzz from talking art all day, I plucked up courage to ask some of the artists if I could photograph them. Mike Thorn (top) has an enviable light-filled corner studio, in contrast to some of the windowless internal spaces. His portraits of macho men reveal them to be big softies - at least part of the time. Strong stuff, large canvases portraying his subjects larger than life-size. He was happy to pose with his easel and paint table against the current work in progress.
I think the lady above must be Franki Austin but not entirely sure, perhaps because she was the first person I asked and I was unsure of the proper etiquette. She had delicate works on show, somewhere between painting and installation. Really I wanted to capture her as I first saw her, in the centre of a group of visitors, but the camera frightened them off out of shot. I'm hoping a reader will supply the missing information.

Next door, I was impressed by Helen Maurer's plywood paintings, shaped panels with abstract designs superimposed. She has one of the windowless spaces, improved by taking out the false ceiling to let in daylight from the rooflights in the unused loft space above. I copped out of asking to take photographs though.
Near the entrance, Michelle Reader (above) showed papier mâché figures, apparently self-portraits, which I wrote about in my last post. I asked her to pose with her rather photogenic junk pile.

Gisli Bergmann (above) was showing a selection of ceramic objects, each with a tiny framed picture to give a clue as to what they are about. So the object pictured, a tortured grey slab trapped in a nest of wires, is accompanied by a picture of Batman. Some of them are very funny, with just the slightest nod towards representation. The work is displayed on a spacious windowsill, silhouetted surreally against a long vista of Walthamstow back gardens.

Tam Joseph (below) shares the same view but his studio has a different feel, with small framed paintings competing for attention with the centrepiece, a version of Cranach's Adam and Eve. Foliage on one wall half conceals an array of postcard-size paintings based on those prostitute cards you see in telephone boxes. The same temptresses appear in the tree behind Adam and Eve instead of boring old apples.

Finally Julie Caves' colourful abstracts (below) were on show in a windowless internal space but seemed none the less vibrant in the fluorescent light. I just asked to photograph the studio, cleared for the show and paintings stacked and hung against white sheets that conceal the stacked-up studio junk.

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