Mike Collier – a profile

Mike Collier is a lecturer, writer, curator and artist.  He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College before being appointed Gallery Manager at the ICA in London.  He subsequently became a freelance curator and arts organiser, working extensively in the UK and abroad.

7In 1985, he moved to Newcastle upon Tyne to run the Arts Development Strategy at the Laing Art Gallery, where he initiated the Tyne International Exhibition of Contemporary Art.

For the last 25 years he has worked in education and is currently Professor of Visual Art at the University of Sunderland and has a studio in Newcastle at Cobalt Studios.

Mike’s most recent project has involved a collaboration with Dr Bennett Hogg (composer/musician, Newcastle University https://soundcloud.com/bennetthogg), master printmaker Alex Charrington (a Newcastle University Alumni http://www.platformagallery.net/artists/alexcharrington) and natural history sound recordist Geoff Sample, who has his own label called Wildsong (http://geoffsample.com/wildsong.html).

8Together, they have been developing new work that explores the relationship between the natural world, its specific cultures and cultural ecologies, and our own sense of culture/s. In particular, they have embarked on a three-year study of a dawn chorus in Northumberland, representing their research variously as digitally manipulated sonograms and musical transcriptions. This work has formed the basis of a series of screen prints, music and digital prints – work that has been widely seen and enthusiastically received in venues across the North East and the South West of England over the last two years.

The idea of the ‘dawn chorus’ vies with nightingale song as the aspect of birdsong most engaging to the general public, as evidenced by attendance on dawn chorus walks and the gradual proliferation of events celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day. Although the established understanding of birdsong is rooted on the premise that each singing bird is only, or predominantly, concerned with intra-specific communication, listening to the mass of birds singing at dawn we intuitively describe the phenomenon as a chorus. However, new analysis of the whole auditory scene suggests inter-specific structure as well as intra-specific relationships, giving rise to the ‘chorus’ impression, rather than random cacophony. This is the ‘area’ that our project specifically focuses on.

6Contemporary understandings of the relationships of humans to a ‘more-than-human-world’ have begun to move away from a “preservation” model to one of “sustainability”, and we now recognise the inescapable interdependence of humans and their environments, a model that sees humans as participant members of a world rather than its users.  This project links the arts and the environmental sciences, human expression and bird communication in a collaboration, exploring ways of presenting and reimagining our complex, embodied and participatory engagement with a particular aspect of local ecosystems – a dawn chorus.

Mike runs WALK (Walking, Art, Landscape and Knowledge) a research centre at the University of Sunderland which he co-founded with colleagues Tim Brennan and Brian Thompson. WALK aims to explore how cultural practitioners creatively engage with the world as we walk through it.

Mike is on the Advisory Committee for NECVAN; is a Director of Cobalt Studio and is the Visual Art Advisor for The Wordsworth Trust. He has shown and published widely in the UK and abroad and his work is a number of public and private collections.

For more information see http://mikecollier.eu

The Northumberland Milliner reviewed… twice

On 19th November, local milliner Margaret Woodliff Wright came in to talk to the Friends about her work. The following responses to her talk are from two of our fellow members:

A talk by Margaret Woodliff WrightHat and photo © Margaret Woodliff Wright

Margaret introduced her talk by showing a video about the large variety of hats that were available.  Margaret then went on to describe her journey of becoming a Milliner, her training, her exhibitions, her workshop themes and the materials she uses to make her hats. Everyone was very interested in the talk and numerous questions were asked. Margaret brought with her an extensive collection of her hats which were amazing – each one completely different.  It was a very enjoyable evening talk.

Jo Cousin

Hatton’s for Hats

During her talk, Margaret Woodliff Wright led us through her professional and academic career from her position as a Buyer at Fenwick, as a mature graduate in Couture Millinery at Leeds University, to being an exhibitor at London Hat Week.

IMG_9152She explained the inspiration and background to her numerous collections and how she sourced materials to construct her head pieces.

Margaret frequently uses recycled and repurposed materials in her work. It was amazing to see an unwanted jumper donated by a friend designed and created into a unique, couture masterpiece.

Another one of the wonderful exhibition pieces was made from recycled metal formerly part of a weaving loom.

My personal favourite was the carefully researched and inspirational WW1 Collection. In particular the Sweetheart Pincushions, with their most beautiful linings.

Not only does Margaret design hats and fascinators she also has a new range of headbands which are also proving to be very desirable.

As well as her internationally featured millinery business, Margaret accepts commissions and holds teaching workshops and masterclasses to share her expertise.

She is truly an Artist Maker.

Doug Howell MBE.

December’s Featured Friend – Stuart Jones

Sturat Jones by his work in the Friends Summer Exhibition 2019

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for art:
I’m an outdoor landscape painter which involves painting directly from life on location in the open air or ‘en plein air’, a French term coined by the Impressionists.  My passion for art was fostered throughout my education.  I did a foundation Fine Art course at Cleveland College of Art and Design, and then went on to do a BA Hons Fine Art Degree at Northampton University.

I moved back to the North East and worked as an Art Technician in a secondary school and decided to take a two year MA in Fine Art at Newcastle University.  This allowed me to experiment with my art practice though I ultimately turned back to my first love of drawing and painting after graduating.

I studied for a PGCE in Art and Design Education at Northumbria University and used these teaching skills as an Outreach Officer.  After several years of teaching workshops and delivering community projects, I decided to focus on my own art practice again.  My wife and I have two young children and I was able to work part-time, look after the children and pursue my passion for oil painting.

I couldn’t afford to rent an expensive studio and also felt that painting indoors didn’t offer enough excitement.  I wanted to feel inspired by the places around me and so resolved to work almost exclusively outdoors, working quickly to get some energy and life into my paintings.

Fishing at South Shields lighthouse - Stuart Jones
Fishing at South Shields Pier

Everytime there is something new to take your interest.  I love paining at the coast and it’s amazing how water can change its colour and appearance depending on the lighting conditions of the day.

Can you tell us more about the artwork featured on the title page?
This is a plein air painting created during the summer, called Haybales in a Field, Blyth.  I’d set up my equipment near a farmer’s field not far from the seafront promenade.  I was interested in the familiar sight of haybales sitting in a field, working with the seasons and responding to the subject matter at hand. I also enjoyed the way the light was catching the very tops of the bales and the swirling straw effect, which was painted using a hog bristle brush as it leaves wonderful linear marks through the paint.  Showing directional marks of the field and grasses, as well as hedges and a distant church helped provide a bit of context to the scene to tie it all together.

What are you currently working on/planning to work on?
Currently I’m responding to an open call exhibition for Northumberland: Magic and Myth at Woodhorn Museum so am hoping to submit a piece to this in the new year.

I’ve been heading into Northumberland making paintings in which trees play a supporting role to a main subject, as I wanted to capture the changing Autumn colours with the burnt oranges and yellows coming through.  With all the rain we’ve been having lately it has made it tricky to paint in oils and I have had to wipe a few boards that haven’t worked.  That’s all part of the experience of painting plein air though.

When the Winter arrives, I’m looking forward to painting snow scenes in some of the local parks and families playing in the snow.  It’s probably the only time of year when the ground appears as being a lighter value than the sky so it’s an interesting challenge observing and painting the various tints and chromatic whites.

Pavillion steps at Northumberland Park - Stuart Jones
Pavillion steps at Northumberland park

Are there any events/exhibitions upcoming that you’re particularly excited about?
I’m part of the group Winter Art Exhibition at Bistro Du Parc art café in Tynemouth from 22nd November 2019- 6th January 2020.  As well as having original plein air oil paintings available on show,  I’m also excited to offer limited edition archival quality prints for the first time.

Who is your favourite artist and/or what is your favourite art movement?
My favourite art movement has to be the Impressionists for their painterly brushwork and vivid use of colour.  I enjoy Camille Pissarro and British plein air artists like David Curtis ROI RSMA and cityscape painter Peter Brown.  I recently saw the work of Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla at the National Gallery in the exhibition Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light.  His seascapes and ability to capture light on white fabric in his paintings were truly breathtaking and very inspiring.

When did you become a Friend of the Hatton Gallery and why?
I became a Friend of the Hatton after graduating from Newcastle University in 2007/08 and again in around 2016.  I felt having studied on the MA Fine Art course at Newcastle I wanted to continue having a link with the university and supporting the gallery that had displayed my work in the final degree show.  It’s a great way to meet fellow artists in Friends of the Hatton and attend exhibitions by members.  I think it’s important to be part of and actively support the arts community in Newcastle so that it grows for the benefit of new members and audiences.

What is your favourite part of being a Friend of the Hatton Gallery?
I think it’s great we have access to learning opportunities as part of the group and are able to listen to presentations by staff, artists and lecturers about the exhibitions that the Hatton Gallery showcases.  I also think having the opportunity to share your work in group exhibitions is an extremely positive part of being a member as it adds value to the group’s activity as being one that is engaged, active and is a champion for the visual arts to students and the public alike.

You can see more of Stuart’s work on his website.

If you would like to  be our Featured Friend in a future issue , please email Tomke at FotHevents@gmail.com

Short Course in Printmaking II

The print studio during one of our print workshops

This is the second of the printmaking courses offered by Vhairi Cardinal & Caroline Coode

Vhairi and Caroline are offering a short course in Printmaking on Saturdays 25th January & 8th February 2020 (note, this has changed from 1st February to 8th), 10.30am till 4.00pm each day.

The course will be held in the Learning Room, at Hatton Gallery.

They aim to introduce simple screen-printing and revisit the 2 plate process, as well as helping students to continue with other techniques.

Limited places are available.

Cost: £20 per person per day for members plus a small surcharge for materials.

To register for a place on either of these courses, email FOTHevents@gmail.com.

Art and the Creative Process – a talk by Rhonda Fenwick

Abstraction Reeds by Rhonda Fenwick

Rhonda Fenwick is a contemporary/ participatory artist
Tuesday 18th February, Seminar Room, Hatton Gallery, nibbles 6pm talk 6.30 – 7.30.

Rhonda’s work is concerned with Art and the creative process as a way of empowerment and transformation.

As Igor Stravinsky once said “I myself, having been created, cannot help but create”.

It is this example of inspiration which leads me to work with paint, mixed media, collage, write and film making – integrating the different mediums to create.

The talk is an attempt to explain the creative process of what that implies.  Uncovering the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ and the idea that creativity involves stored memories containing them with new incoming data to create something unique.

In the words of Artist Brice Marden, he said “ultimately, I’m using the painting as a sounding board for the spirt…

You can be painting and go into a place where thought stops – where you can just be and it just comes out… I present it as an open situation rather than a closed situation.”

If you would like to come please email Josephinecousin@googlemail.com.

Art and the Creative Process – a workshop

By Peaceful Means, Rhonda Fenwick

Workshop lead by Rhonda Fenwick
Saturday, 29th February, Learning Room, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne 1-3pm

This workshop follows on from Rhonda’s talk and is concerned with the creative process, how silence and meditation can help the artist to unleash creativity, express personal and authentic art especially in paintings.

During the workshop participants will be given a taste of meditation and an explanation as to how this can help them in their creative processes, plus exercises in mark making discovering their own person marks and personal signature.

Participants will be asked to write in their notebooks any ideas, thoughts, feelings, responses, fears etc. to create a personal diary of their work.  Participants will take part in a painting challenge.

Participants will need to bring with them

  • a notebook
  • four A1 sheets of drawing paper
  • mark making tools, e.g. graphite pencils, charcoal, marker pens, pastels, crayons paints and brushes.

Cost: £15.00 for members

For a place please contact: Josephinecousin@googlemail.com.

Talk by Anne Vibeke Mou

Three views of Eruption by Anne Vibeke Mou

Saturday 14th March 2020 11am. Learning Room at the Gallery.

Anne studied at Glasgow School of Art and Royal College of Art, London and lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne. She has exhibited nationally and internationally including residencies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, Upernavik Museum in North West Greenland, and National Glass Centre in Sunderland. A privately commissioned window for St Johns Church, Healey in Northumberland won the Art and Christianity Award 2011.

Anne Vibeke was co-curator, exhibitor and editor of Chance Finds Us, 2014, an exhibition and companion publication of works by eight artists from the North East for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, mima. This project also saw her collaborate with cavers to obtain traces of cave walls from hidden landscapes underground, material which has formed the basis for engravings and a work for National Glass Centre in 2017.

For a place please email Josephinecousin@googlemail.com.

What’s on at the Gallery? Winter 2019

Kurt Schwitters' Merz Barn Wall (detail) - photo by COlin Davison

Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections on Minerva - Photo John McKenzie © National Galleries of Scotland

Roy Lichtenstein, Refelctions on Minerva 1990.
Poto John McKenzie © National GAlleries of Scotland

An exhibition of works by American Pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein.

Until 4 January 2020

Heather Ross:
All the Better to Hear You With

A preformative installation in dialogue with the work of Kurt Schwitters.
Until 15 February 2020

Lothar Götz:
Fairground Abstract

An immersive wall painting by Lothar Götz.
5 October 2019 – 4 January 2020

Illuminating the Self
Featuring original work by Susan Aldworth and Andrew Carnie.
18 January 2020 – 9 May 2020

Origins & Endings
With work by Jordan Baseman, Mark Carroll and Marianne Wilde.
18 January 2020 – 7 March 2020
Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Barn Wall
The Merz Barn Wall is one of the UK’s international art treasures and is on permanent display at the Hatton Gallery. As part of the redevelopment of the Hatton, Schwitters’ Merz Barn Wall underwent essential conservation and is now presented alongside new interpretation.

Hatton Gallery Opening Times: Monday to Saturday. 10am to 5pm

What’s on locally 2019-20

Mining Art Gallery – Bishop Auckland, Co Durham Daily 10 am to 4 pm

Norman Cornish – a slice of life
Until 23rd February – Mon 12pm to 5 pm Sun, Tues-Sat 10 pm to 5pm

Part of a countrywide centenary celebration of the artist’s birth.  The exhibition includes depictions of life underground, bar scenes and domestic settings.  Norman Cornish’s work also being shown at Palace Green Library, Palace Green, Durham.  Norman Cornish the Sketchbooks

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Marjolaine Ryley – This is what I see.
Until 3rd February – Mon-Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun 1pm to 5 pm

A mid-career retrospective of photographic artist Marjolaine Ryley and the first to offer an overview of her entire body of work to date. The Thin Blue Lines the Deep Red Sea are featured in the exhibition.

The Biscuit Factory

India Amos – Presenting a new portrait series, until 23rd February

Rob Van Hoek – Winter Exhibition, until – 23rd February.

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Judy Chicago, until 19th April 2020

Animalesque / Art Across Species and Beings (group exhibition), until 19th April 2020

Joy Labinjo – Our histories cling to us, until 23rd February 2020

Pippa Hale – Play Rebellion, until 23rd February