Tom Davis: Day three

A bit of a frustrating day today. Mainly as I did’t have the right technology to implement the ideas I had. That and the hard drives wern’t playing ball. More on that hopefully in the coming week. My ardunio however arrived and after a trip to Maplin (my third this week) I had it up and running with some basic controlling of the printer windchime. Video posted below.


Tom Davis

Day two and I’ve sort of got my head around this way of working.  I’ve managed to produce something fit for ‘the wall’ – a semi exhibition space in the gallery.

My piece is a printer activated wind chime ,which works in principle but needs a bit of fine tuning.

A video of it working properly will hopefully be posted shortly.



LOOK INTO THE LIGHT FOR A CLEAR VIEW said the S. Mark Gubb public artwork just outside Portsmouth Harbour station. I obeyed the order. During my week-long stint at Aspex I was rewarded with a sky of blue, hot sunshine, a rollercoaster, the Spinnaker Tower and fresh sea air.

The public had been very generous in donating their unwanted items to Working Title. I spent the first couple of days reveling in the Aladdin’s cave of junk. I decided not to make concrete plans immediately, just to react to what I found. In order to warm up, I made a few small works quickly: a little landscape made from jar lids, deflated balloons and images of bonsai; a toast rack of 2D trees; a fire extinguisher which sprayed out a rainbow of colours; a laptop with the keys replaced by upturned rusty screws; a book turned into a laptop with the leftover keys; a dying tree made out of brown paper, copper piping and tyres. It was difficult not to get giddy with all the possibly-maybe useful stuff. I admired my fellow artists (it was a pleasure to work alongside Beata Kozlowska and Andy Parker) for their far more considered approach, which rubbed off on me eventually and I calmed down…

By accident I found that some white tent poles I had hoarded fitted exactly onto small white plastic bottles. I had also been attracted to a large roll of white material (possibly carpet backing). Using a tent pole base as a stencil, I cut circles out of the material. Once threaded onto the poles, I found I had made strange looking structures inspired by my surroundings – they were spindly like the aforementioned Tower, but oddly organic like something growing on the seabed. The structures’ individual elements were no longer useful – but at least I had rescued the material, the bottles and the poles from oblivion (even if only for a short while). The structures were hazy, shadowy things, hovering in the crevices between use, misuse and disuse  – I think they might have been ghosts of sorts.

Nicola Dale


There’ll be an ‘exhibition’ presentation of artwork manufactured during Working Title in the fortnight after the artists have done. It means a ‘framing’ of those artworks deemed successful, they’ll become distinct with space drawn about them. A ‘highlights’ show – like the post-match analysis on Match of the Day or the ‘do-you-recall’ episode of an American Sitcom. The unused scrap will be removed. Aborted works will be chucked. The gallery will be tidied, attention refocused on the product, no longer on its production and producers. The gallery will come to resemble a gallery again.

Some would say aspex‘s gallery resembles a gallery infrequently. And, even when there are images hung on its walls or sculpture mingling amid its columns, it’s nothing akin to The National Gallery, or Southampton City Art Gallery, or the galleries of the Portsmouth City Museum, or even that section of Ikea with its faux canvases. It’s never proper art that aspex shows. But what is proper art?

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power: the art of the Renaissance | great art is concerned with moral imperfections | she studied art in produced by such skill and imagination : his collection of modern art | an exhibition of Tibetan art | [as adj. ] an art critic.creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings, or sculpture : she’s good at art.

It’s a cheap stunt, giving a dictionary definition, but, hey, I’m piloting these words, this post. Let’s look at Working Title in its workshop mode in the light of this OED definition of ‘art’. Nobody can argue that WT fails the initial criteria: it is an ‘expression [and] application of human creative skill and imagination in a visual form’. Really, you can’t argue the contrary without attempting to be contrary. It’s the ‘beauty and emotional power’  that becomes an issue. Or seems to.

Basics. A person uses their skill to shape something to a particular end. A comedian takes the stuff of life and re-engineers it into ‘funny’ – if the audience laughs, it’s a success. If you leave a theatre or cinema, or get off the sofa, entertained in anyway by what you’ve been presented, the production’s been a success. This applies to everything, not just ‘art’ – if a doctor diagnoses an illness an cures it, it’s a success. If a plumber refits a central heating system and it works, a success – if that new system saves you money, releases less toxins into the environment and looks after itself, it’s a great success.

What is the success of an artist? Even, say, Monet, Van Gogh or Picasso, what is their success? A mass of people might respond ‘the success of art is capturing a good likeness’ – it is, if that was the aim of your making, the application of your skill. But there are cameras,  anyone can capture an immense likeness with a shutter’s click. So, now, what is the success of an artist concerned with painting from life – what is the success of a photographer? There is no skill in capturing a likeness, so the success of these artist must be elsewhere. The masses might retort ‘the success is in capturing not just an immediate likeness but in showing the character of what’s depicted’. (There is often talk in art of the ‘thingness of a thing’ – so nebulous is discussion of art practice that it has begun to rely on the nuances of poetry.) But who is to say if the character portrayed is accurate? As all teenagers will state, at sometime, ‘you don’t know me!’. The success of the work lies in the coincidence of the artist’s perception and the viewers’. Even in this simplistic illustration, in two steps, the audience is divided – those who perceive the artwork as a success and those who don’t – and, always, those who don’t care. Now, there are myriad forms, modes and means of making art – they include all the tools, materials, sciences and philosophies that exist. Picasso painting an eye where an ear should be, well, that’s only step four – Picasso’s audience was divided every-which-way. Here and now, it’s so complex, so divided, art has become streamed – into movements firstly,then genres and sub-genres  – but now, really, it’s easier to go with the flow of what appeals to you. This especially applies to those who’ve not studied, attempted to map the constant kaleidoscopic shifting of the art world.

So, the artists involved in Working Title make art that appeals to their sensibilities, developing the skills to best express what they believe needs to be. And, for once, the audience gets to see and question the process. See, art has always to be made. It can be handmade or machined, but it has to become. The artist takes various stuff (anything from traditional materials – paint, canvas etc – to the bric-a-brac of WT) and binds them into something else, art. In this sense, we could apply another (archaic) definition of the word ‘art’

archaic or dialect 2nd person singular present of be .

The artists conjure something out of other things, they bring a newness into ‘being’. Art theory is chocker with debate of the ‘object’. There’s that phrase, ‘objet d’art’ – you might have one on your mantlepiece or sideboard. It means an object of art – where ‘art’ means something of no use beyond its own existence. And. yes, art can be that simple. Something that continues to exist as long as it pleases (itself and you).

I’m writing this, and I’m kind-of aiming at a non-art schooled audience – because, if you’re a practician or theorist or gallerist or, god forbid, critic, then you know all I’m saying (bent into a shape that best it suits you). What I’d like is for all of you out there to visit Working Title before it becomes an exhibition proper, and, then, revisit when it is a curated space. This might be the best documentary on the nature of art you’ll ever experience. Yes, it is a raw experience, it doesn’t look pretty, but it is ‘real’ – this isn’t a depiction of making, not a demonstration (okay, it’s mildly a depiction in the artifice of the environs). Working Title is art as it lives and breathes – it isn’t all art, it isn’t even the greatest art, it has very particular concerns, yes – but it is a fair model of the whole process of art. That is, until we can fluidly experience what someone else (the artist) is experiencing.

Seeing the artworks without the gubbins of their making, without their makers to hand, will I think illustrate a curious and primary phenomenon – how detached the exhibited work is from its maker. This is what becoming an object means in art, something existing on its own terms. It is a mirror of the distance between the disparate elements the artists selects and the play-alchemy that makes them art. It is easy to consider the artist a catalyst.

Like I said, in my previous post as an audience to aspex never expect to like what’s on show. Be prepared to engage with it. Now is a better time than ever.

i am not an artist.

So I write this after 4 days into my second stint at ‘Working title’ so really after 11 days of working with junk to make other stuff with. So this is kind of a stream of consciousness  and also  after 2 pints and half a can, so forgive me for my honesty and bad english. So as I have said before in a previous post i’ve found some kind of creative freedom. I have responded to the objects that have been brought in – I make them talk to me and they tell me what they would rather be – not really.

I am not an artist, i’m not allowed to be an artist cause I have not trained to be one, (god he’s got a hang up) but pretending to be one has been liberating and fun. I made a light yesterday which I would never dream of making normally, as it is a one off. As a designer if I spend time designing a light it’s got to be repeatable, safe, sellable and profitable. This assemblage is not repeatable or safe so it usurps the other things. But it exist now and it works – so it  has to be art, right? – if so maybe it is sellable….

In the first week I put a lot of objects out of context on the wall. Some worked and some I returned to, to do more with like the toaster, It’s like maximising there potential. I’ve now grown in confidence from every new thing I do and i’ve also fed off other artists. Some may say – he’s now cocky.

Jason Taylor

Charlie Hurcombe

‘Constructing the order- part 1′ written by Beata Kozlowska

Beata Kozlowska, Broadening the view, Aspex

Beata Kozlowska, Broadening the View‘Working Title, Aspex

On the first day of my arrival to Aspex gallery on Sunday, I was impressed by the good choice of brought ‘public’ objects.
Following my intuition, I started immediately selecting wide range of objects, part- elements, prefabricates….
The selection of elements is purely improvisational and rather dictated by aesthetic symbiosis within the assemblage.

Beata Kozlowska, After the Fall, Aspex

Beata Kozlowska, The New Eldorado, Aspex

Beata Kozlowska, The New Eldorado, ( detail) Aspex

My first installation is deliberately limited to round shapes, lines, reflection of stripes of randomly selected elements. It became an intriguing  Game for me as an artist and the viewer. I intend to make links between disparate elements and materials with unconscious desire to find HARMONY And CLARITY in unwanted/ rejected/ negative… The necessity to construct a new ORDER based on existing, may have some inner roots in deconstruction similar to metaphor of ‘reborning the Phoenix from Ashes’ for the sake  of clarifying and relieving…

Beata Kozlowska, AnneXing, Aspex (studio view work in progress)

In my practice each element is treated as a part of the linguistic game, which is attempting to re-construct the Masculine Symbolic ( existing in the nature of our everyday logical communication/or rather LANGUAGE). In order to access the Inner primal Order, based on Temporality, adjustment, improvisation and intuition, playful approach is necessary. This leads to the process of dismantling and depriving the function of the original object…hovever, my work has utopian aspirations….Therefore I pay such a close attention to colour and form…