Welcome to the blog of Spike Dennis; an artist and sometime curator. Trained in London Spike has exhibited widely, from London to Los Angeles, and has delivered projects from Cardiff to Stockholm, for organisations including the Illustration Research network and Cardiff Design Festival amongst Others.
“Oracle”, Mixed media including goat skin, stones and wool
Muriel Decaillet Textile Artist
Muriel Decaillet is a textile artist from Geneva, Switzerland, who works with textiles and creates vibrant multimedia installations. She says that she aims to “express emotions and sketch intimate representations, grazing the universe of femininity and its complexity“.
Muriel’s installations combine traditional two dimensional embroidered canvases with elements that creep out into the space exploring the architecture of their surroundings, often making use of a diverse range of materials. Her work investigates the roots of humanity, our bestial nature, the mystique surrounding our deities and related matriarchal themes that stem from some of these sources of interest.
“Griffons”, Wool on Canvas
These themes can be seen visualised through her use of bestial references to mythical creatures, a repeated use of red thread or yarn, and the use of dolls/female figures in her installations. The use of anthropomorphic mythological creatures is particularly of interest to me in as much as I have used related motifs to explore aspects of our bestial nature.
“Sphinx”, Wool on Canvas
Detail: Out of the Shadows”, mixed media installation
I really like the look of Muriel’s installation “Out of the Shadows” which aims to question different aspects of female identities and makes use of some interesting material combinations. It the centre of the work is a giant day embroidered lampshade which is embellished with laces, hooks, and stockings, and around the lampshade, elements with strong erotic connotations occupy space in a play of shadow and light.
She says that this installation readily references myths and tales, as an exploration of the human psyche through imagined landscapes, and that “all parts of the work present a field of investigation relating to symbols, taboos, perception and vitality of female sexuality and, further, to those of female identity in general”.
I’ve been assisting Layla Holzer with production of her latest film project, Punch and Judy.
We previously collaborated to produce a traditional Punch and Judy glove puppet show as a part of the Pack of Wolves’ Once Upon Again exhibition. You can view a video of that performance here.
Layla’s latest interpretation of Punch and Judy combines live performance with puppetry to explore themes of gender conflict and patriarchy. You can see a an image of Layla dressed as Punch wielding her phallic club above.
As well as being behind the camera for this project I also provided the irritating nasal voice for Punch. You can listen to a snippet of my audio below.
The monster does not need the hero. It is the hero that needs him for his very existence. When the hero confronts the monster, he has yet neither power nor knowledge, the monster is his secret father who will invest him with a power and knowledge that can belong to one man only, and that only the monster can give.
Kathryn Shinko . The words are taken from text messages that she received from an acquaintance called Mike.
Like I’ve been doing with my Unicorn Dating series Kathryn has adopted the format of traditional hand embroidered samplers but having replaced the proverb or religious text with the words from the text messages she received. She has framed the messages with bold and intricate hand embroidered borders which are sexually suggestive:
Framing each message is an embroidered border that starts out as faintly sexual, and then becomes more aggressive, strange, and perverted as the text messages continue. By the third sampler, the situation has obviously gotten out of control. Mike is proposing some very explicit sexual acts, and my anxiety and unsettled feelings about them is shown in the vicious, sinister shapes of the border.
In a similar vein to some of my own work Kathryn is exploring the way men and women conduct themselves in a society in which is becoming increasingly connected through new and developing technologies which are constantly changing and challenging our moral boundaries.
She also highlights the dichotomy between the hours taken to complete these embroidered panels in comparison to seconds in which the original text message was written and delivered. The speed of life seems to be ever increasing and so a time intensive method of making like embroidery makes for a poignant medium through which to reflect.
Behind the Scenes of the Museum – Artists in Collections
Last month I attended ‘Behind the Scenes of the Museum’ which was a symposium at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff delivered by Axisweb in partnership with the National Museum of Wales and supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
Axisweb kindly invited me to write a short blog entry as a part of the documentation of the event. It was a challenge trying to cover everything covered by all of the speakers in such a small space as the event provided lots of food for thought and raised lots of questions.
The Bell, Walthamstow, London, E17 31 May – 15 June 2014
New Folk Visionaries is a new exhibition concept from the Pack of Wolves that will explore our collective interest in folk art traditions in the 21st century. It will be a presentation of neo-folk art from five artists emerging on the outside edge.
We are pilgrims seeking the past, the genuine, the individual.*
Traditionally outsiders, folk people and visionaries are often self-taught, marginalised from mainstream society. Despite our modern socially networked, Wi-Fied, 3Ged times, the Pack of Wolves have never stopped celebrating what it is to be an outsider; standing on the fringes looking in and observing, analysing, forever questioning what we see.
Our work explores contemporary society, values and morals, through storytelling, legend and tradition. Uncanny and obscure motifs are frequent in much of our work as we try to make sense of what we see and experience in this mad world.
Humour is important in ensuring that we aren’t engulfed by the banal horrors of modern living. We frequently poke fun at the norm with our ugly-beauty and tongue-in-cheek commentary on social mores and what is acceptable and what is not.
In keeping with folk art traditions you can expect to encounter work in an array of media including, but not limited to, embroidery, painting, moving image, and 3D collaged objects. Our curiosity has led us to teach ourselves these crafts. We make our puppets from driftwood and our witches eyes from plastic coated bagels. We celebrate the mundane and make it magical.
New Folk Visionaries will be an enchanting and sometimes disturbing exhibition of making, creating, performing, witching, spelling, hoaxing and coaxing, using self-taught traditional skills will be on display, with the emphasis on the way of the outsider.
I visited Chapter last week to attend the Wales Blog Awards. It wouldn’t normally be my kind of event but my Drowning Dogs blog was short-listed for the ‘Best Multimedia Blog’ award.
If you haven’t visited it before, Drowning Dogs is a collection of hand written interviews with artists that are conducted via the postal service. There’s a growing collection of interviews from around the world – do go check them out!
My fellow category finalists were the Blakeson Mashup Video Project and Hello Telegramme. All three finalists are very different blogs and I had no idea which way the judges would vote so I was surprised when Drowning Dogs was announced as the winner.
I was presented with a large Wales Blog Awards trophy, fittingly in the shape of an artists mannequin, and posed for a rather awkward photograph (public appearances and photographs really aren’t my thing!) with Lloyd from Rockadove who had sponsored the award. I declined to take to the mic to thank my mum, my dad and the lord above like the other winners but I did get roped into saying a few words on camera and that will no doubt surface on-line in the not too distant future.