Happy New 365 – beginnings, endings and the fear of failure (FOF!)

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Lights, Bergen Kunsthall – ©2013 Bryan Ecclsehall

Back in January 2013 I reported on a number of 365 projects that I was aware of. These are those projects where someone does something every day for the whole year. A year later, I think it’s time to review them.

Last year’s post is here.

Andy Cropper’s painting-a-day was by far the most ambitious of them all, and the most insane, and I told him so. Andy is a painter and his work varies in style and content, from sublime traditional subjects to candid street captures that have an almost dystopian blandness to them. I talked to him at length about the project and his approach to his subjects, but some of what he finds fascinating completely escapes me.

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‘Good to Go’ – ‘Painting-A-Day’ no.055 – 3rd March 2013 ©Andrew Cropper

That’s no criticism, but it does highlight the futility of trying to analyse his art or compartmentalize it, although there seem to be definite threads.

To my eye, the most successful are the the close-cropped  details, and his painting style produces that contradictory effect of the image seeming to be a photograph and a clearly a painting, simultaneously.

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‘Why, Oh Why, Oh Why, Oh Why, Oh Why on Earth Did I Paint This?’ – ‘Painting-A-Day’ no.020 – 25th January 2013 ©Andrew Cropper

I’ve known Andy for about 10 years (I think), and he’s painfully apologetic about his work. I always want to slap him. A little humility is a good thing but too much can be unhelpul. I wish I could paint like that.
http://paintingsbyandy.blogspot.co.uk/

Inevitably, he couldn’t keep it up and had to admit defeat. Some of the paintings took 14 hours to complete and all the work is evident on the canvas (MDF).

It can be disheartening to have to give up on a project, but sometimes it’s better to retreat rather than push on until you get stressed as that will only lead you to hate your own work, even if you are making work at such a high level.

I had to postpone one of my own projects, No Glove Lost, because I just couldn’t find enough hours in the day for it, particularly given all the things I need to achieve for Bolam Retrospective. Even though it was not a 365 project, or even a daily project, it stills feels like a failure.

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Whatever.

Anyway, to my mind, by far the most successful of the 365 projects is Bryan Eccleshall’s drawing-a-day. Not only is the quality of drawing excellent, but he managed the project very cannily by making the daily achievement not too great, and not requiring himself to do the drawing on the actual day. What’s more, he hasn’t shied away from challenging subjects and the drawing are not merely sketches, they are finished works.
http://2013-365-drawings.blogspot.co.uk/

This is one of my favourites:

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Polythene on Floor, Museum Ludwig, Cologne – ©Bryan Eccleshall 2013

Also, the drawings are for sale and there is an exhibition at Bank Street Arts, Bank Street, Sheffield UK from 8th January until 8th February 2014. The drawings are very reasonably priced and I recommend you go to seem them in the flesh.
http://bankstreetarts.com/exhibitions/365-drawings/

Cindy Cheung is a designer and this shows in her work. Cindy’s notes were not really works of art in themselves, more of an illuminated manuscript. The task for her was not particularly onerous and she seems to have used it as a bit of continuous promotion for the year.
http://www.pinterest.com/missiecindz/cindy-365-notes-challenge/

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I must admit to not actually following Norn Iron Girl’s Twitter feed for the year, but looking back at it now, it’s strangely compelling. I think it’s particularly because I was just a few years older in 1981 and remember many of the same things. The most fascinatingly obsessive behaviour of the then 13-year-old is the recording of the weekly listing of Top 20 singles. I remember all of these songs and, like many teenagers, had a similar obsession with pop music although I didn’t documented it as compulsively as she did.
http://twitter.com/NrnIrnGirl1981

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I can’t deny it was tempting to start a new project on 1st January. However, with the launch of Bolam Retrospective looming, I really need to concentrate on that, and particularly the core document of the project, which is the Catalogue publication. I have only finished one issue so far but am planning a series of 12 that will provide a representative reference to my life’s work (so far).

Although it didn’t start that way, this document has become central to the project. Issue two is underway, but I have a lot of research and writing to do before the series is complete. I am planning to publish the remaining issues one per month during the Retrospective year.

Also, I still have Bolam 365 coming up, running from 24th April 2014 to 23rd April 2015, and it will be managed more like Bryan’s project than Andy’s,  although I will not be committing myself to make a piece of work each day. There will be a scheduled blog post every day for that year, including examples of past work as well as other bits and pieces as the retrospective continues. Subscribe here:
http://bolam365.wordpress.com

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No Glove Lost – Now is the winter of our missed garments

No Glove Lost title

As part of my retrospective I am attempting to finish off some stalled, abandoned or otherwise delayed projects.

No Glove Lost is a project I conceived back in 2007. I had become fascinated by lost gloves and began photographing them in-situ whenever I found them. One of the people I was studying with at the time pointed out to me, with rather poisonous glee, that someone had already created a blog recording lost gloves, and I must admit this stopped me in my tracks. At least it stopped me at that time.

Regular readers will know that I attempt to resist the preciousness of trying to own an idea. This partly stems back to my first visit to the Centre Georges Pompidou (circa 2001) when I was particularly struck how pretty much everything has already been done, often 100 years ago.

For example, in the late 1990s, I was creating mock packages of imagined medications and I only found out later that Damien Hirst had been doing the same thing, and doing it better, at about the same time. I have had many “brilliant” ideas, only to be disappointed that someone else was being more brilliant than me, and earlier.

Whatevah.

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Let’s face it, it’s a bit late to be re-inventing cubism, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add something to its gamut.

Although I can’t actually remember which was the first of the glove collections that I saw, I think it might have been this one that dates back to 2005. This is maintained by photographer Sarah Cole who is also based in Sheffield, and she includes a list of links to other glove-spotters.
http://glovesandmittens.blogspot.co.uk/2005_10_01_archive.html

This café in Berlin has an exhibition of lost gloves, waiting to be reunited with their owners.
http://datenform.de/blog/lost-gloves/

And here is a Google map of lost gloves in Copenhagen.
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=116335434107066498961.00043d3f37b138ba3bab6

Artist Stuart Brisley made a sculpture in 1983 called “1=66,666” which features a rather fetishy re-filling of (I believe to be discarded) gloves hanging in a cage, and I wish I had done that.
http://www.stuartbrisley.com/pages/28/80s/Works/1_66,666/page:5

Anyway, it turns out I am not the only one to find these soiled and potentially intimate items of clothing to be car-crash fascinating. This universal phenomenon has been observed numerous times all over the world.

Whatevah.

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At the time I first had the idea, I was studying an MA in Contemporary Fine Art (never completed) at Sheffield Hallam University and my tutor was Nick Stewart, now Programme Leader & Reader in Fine Art at Winchester School of Art. In a tutorial with him, he suggested creating video that showed me examining the gloves, but at the time, I was resistant to making video as I had already made so much, although I took his point.
http://www.nickstewart.org.uk/index.html

I also had a tutorial with artist Doris Frohnapfel, a visiting lecturer, and I showed her the photographs. She told me that, had it been her, she would have taken the gloves away and made something out of them. That had never occurred to me before. But it has now.
http://www.dorisfrohnapfel.de/

Anyway, I have decided to resurrect the idea and finish off what I started. I had the original idea independently and I still like it, so I will be photographing and collecting gloves over the coming winter months, between the autumn and spring equinoxes.

But what can I do to add something? Well, maybe I should swallow my pride and take the advice of artists more mature than myself and take it further than just the photographs. There is a blog where each glove will be recorded with a new entry. It’s not a daily project and is very open.

It will rely upon wherever I go and whatever I find, so stay tuned…

http://noglovelost.wordpress.com