Content Writer Hannah Miller

Category: Exhibitions


It’s the idealistic, yet brilliantly simple concept that got me. Combine art, philanthropy and bicycles and you have a unique mode of art dissemination. Papergirl takes art to the streets and delivers it straight to the people, in the style of a newspaper route. It’s a global art movement in its second year in Vancouver, and as an appreciator of both biking and the arts, I had to get involved. This week, all the donated art was exhibited at the Roundhouse Community Arts Centre and I went along to the opening.

This is the poster I contributed. The only prerequisite was that the art must be able to be rolled up to go into the delivery bags and baskets. When I was apartment hunting, it felt like I visited just about every apartment building in Kitsilano. I noticed that so many of the buildings have these endearing names scrolled on their doors. Being near what Vancouverites call a beach, some of the names have a seaside feel, and others allude to Maple something-or-other in an act of Canadian patriotism I suppose. So I’ve been collecting photographs of these as I stroll the neighbourhood. And that’s what I made, that right there.

Here is a piece that caught my eye because they must have a 3D camera like mine, with the 4 lenses.

Papergirl Vancouver ExhibitionAnd this is a shot of the bicycle sculpture they had dangling overhead. I like the unpretentious peg display method too.

The ‘giftervention’ is happening tomorrow. Papergirls will ride out, placing art in the hands of unsuspecting strangers on an undisclosed route. I wonder if I will spot them!


Feculant Crucifeast

My first stop in getting my bearings within Vancouver’s art scene was naturally the Vancouver Art Gallery. There is currently a pretty rad exhibition on art, hip hop and Aboriginal culture which features skateboards carved to resemble snow shoes and Nikes stitched into first nation inspired masks. What really grabbed me, however, was art from the museum’s general collection; a wall of framed words hung slightly higher than eye level, by local artist Steven Shearer.

I was instantly drawn to Shearer’s Poems, repeating select phrases aloud. Each one was so delightfully grotesque it made my memories of morose teenage headbanging bubble to the surface with uncharacteristic joy. I like the effect the words have on me, they are evocative and shocking – and yet this very effect is made so by the literary ingredients of verse, such as assonance and alliteration. Thus composed, I enjoy the way such vulgarities roll of my tongue. Visually, the text is displayed for the perfect impact; bold white capitals screaming from a black background. Individual words jump out at you, SCATOPHAGUS, DISCHARGE, ROT MUNCHING, PUTRID, CADAVERIC from within the overwhelming message.

I wanted to list for you some of the truly great lines, but each one is as good as than the next. Singled out they are awesome, but together they are epic.

“His mural, billboard, and poster poems inspired by scatological and blasphemous Heavy Metal lyrics and song titles present visions of the nihilistic sublime that would be disturbing if they weren’t so entertainingly hyperbolic.” Lupe Nunez-Fernandez. “Steven Shearer at Ikon, Birmingham.” Saatchi Gallery. Spring 2007.

As poems they are aleatoric, using the cut-up technique popularised in literature by beatnik William S. Burroughs, and used in music by Bowie and Radiohead, to add the element of chance to the final creation. I love the concept of taking an existing text and extracting and rearranging words to create a new meaning. Burroughs said, “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” Yet here in glorious irony, it is being used  to find the divine meaning in the ‘obscenities’ of Heavy Metal.

Self Publishing

When Salford Zine Library put a call out for zine makers to participate in a documentary project last year, I recorded myself answering some of their questions. Being used to being the interviewer rather than the interviewee, it was quite difficult being in front of the camera. Especially since it was just me and the camera, with no one to prompt me. I ended up being a bit of a perfectionist with my answers since I wanted to be sure to give a useable sound bite. I still didn’t know if they would use it at all, but it turns out I might make an appearance or two if the final film. I’ve popped up in a couple of preview chapters that the filmmakers have put online.

Craig Barr interviewed self-publishers across Manchester, including OWT Creative, Vapid Kitten and Manchester Municipal Design Corporation, as well as inviting international film submissions. The film is showing during an exhibition from October 15 to January 29 at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Peel Park Crescent, Salford M5 4WU.

Skull Art

The exhibition was last week and there were some really interesting and diverse responses to the theme. Here’s a look at my contribution, made from a potted brain cactus and modeller’s grass. The curators have also put together a publication titled, “The Rest is Silence: Death and the skull in contemporary art.” It will be launched in February 2012 and can be ordered here.

The book includes skull images and stories by the 100 artists in the show, plus more skull images from near and far, a collection of essays by Christine Schmidt, Helen Macdonald, David McInnes and Helen Huges and introduction by Claire Lambe and Elvis Richardson.

Ugly/Beautiful Online

The entries from the Matchbox Zine project are now online at the Australian Book Arts Journal and will be exhibited there for the next 6 months. Project organiser Linda Douglas wrote, “We were overwhelmed  with and inspired by the standard of the works we received.” My entry is one of four of the zines from this project, which were chosen to appear in the printed December Issue of the journal. The gallery of entries is well worth a look. I especially like the concept of the one titled, “Why Did I Burn All The Matches?” Some really intricate binding techniques featured as well.

Death Be Kind

“The rest is silence” exhibition has been conceived to create a mass object of skulls as an experiential installation where the gallery space becomes a catacomb or a funerial skull cave if you will. Accompanying the exhibition is a printed book that captions the stories behind the skulls and celebrates and critiques the proliferation of skulls in contemporary art and culture.

I’m participating in this exhibition, which will feature over 100 artists’ interpretations of the symbol of the skull. And it’s opening on my birthday.


Dumb Arts

Last night I had a video in the “Dumb Arts” exhibition put on by the folk at Saint One 20. I really enjoyed the way they pitched the premise:

“So here’s my idea; we make art where we deliberately set out to embarrass ourselves. Maybe it won’t even be funny, maybe it will be so damn stupid, so ridiculously dumb that we create awkward silences and people look away uncomfortably. Maybe this art is in the form of stupid drawings of your dog’s butt, maybe it’s Polaroid photos of yourself rolling around covered in scrambled eggs, maybe it’s a performance piece where you just stand in the middle of the room and make fart noises – I don’t know. That’s up to you.”

Oh and I like this part that drives the point home minus the butts, eggs and farts:

“Thing is, though, I believe that to be truly funny you can’t take yourself too seriously and you can’t be afraid of looking like a fool. I think us artists are really bloody scared of looking like idiots but I think that if we’re ever going to be any good, we have to overcome that fear.”

Here’s the video I contributed (best viewed full screen and in a continuous loop):

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/25924968 w=500&h=280]

This is one particularly eccentric gent I met during a recent trip to Spain where I did El Camino de Santiago.  Turning to me at a communal dinner, Gustavo introduced himself to me with a ‘tache wiggle that made me jump out of my seat (to grab the camera!).  I like the way that without the sound of laughter, he just looks kind of weathered, miserable and potentially deranged – yet he’s doing something damn silly.

Exhibition Opened!

Last night was the opening of our Don’t Give Up Your Day Job exhibition at Hogan Gallery.  I had photographs from my People I’ve Slept With project framed.  I was also selling my zines there, along with limited edition screen-printed pillowslips and very special comfort packs.  Thanks to everyone who came and showed their support, the turnout was very impressive!  All the artists in the exhibition produced brilliant work and we were very proud of the result when we finished hanging at 1am in the morning, looked around and realised what a creative bunch we are.  There was even a performance by Jessie Ngaio – you never know what will come out of her wondrous brain.