Curator's Choice: Night vision and glass as artSOUTH presents ten commissions

| 19 August 2013

Curator’s Choice: From Claire Barclay in Bournemouth to Tom Hall’s rocket rendezvous on the Isle of Wight, artSOUTH is about to send an influx of inventive artists across Hampshire. Curator Judy Adam tells us more...

A photo of a woman and two men in colourful clothing prancing balletically
Mel Brimfield, Dickie Beau as legendary music hall act Wilson, Keppel and Betty. From An Audience With Willy Little (2013)© Courtesy Mel Brimfield / Ceri Hand Gallery. Photo: Edward Moore
“Back in 2011 I was invited to come on board as Curator of artSOUTH : collaborations. It’s an ambitious contemporary visual art project presenting newly commissioned artworks in diverse locations across central southern England.

My role as curator was to help shape the project and make it a reality, working closely with the arts team at Hampshire County Council, John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, Aspex in Portsmouth, Mottisfont (National Trust) and 11 other partners, including galleries, universities, local authorities and artist-run spaces.

Our partnership of 15 organisations called for artist-led proposals for new commissions, to be realised in collaboration with specialists from other fields or disciplines that would in some way reveal the Hampshire region.

Artists were invited to suggest specific partners and locations where they would like their work to be presented, or to put forward the kind of idea they had in mind so that we could help.

A photo of an ornately painted glass jar
Bouke de Vries, Memory Vessels© Courtesy Bouke de Vries
Our aim, therefore, was to provide a chance for artists to extend their practice in ways which are accessible to both informed and incidental visitors, many of whom might have had little or no previous experience of contemporary visual art.

All ten commissions are still in the process of being completed. The unveiling remains an exciting treat in store.

It is impossible here to describe the very different selected proposals. So here, instead, are two examples to demonstrate the range and scope of what’s going on.

The British artist Graham Gussin wanted to work with night vision technology, normally used by soldiers to perform actions and activities under the cover of darkness.

Graham wanted to harness it to record a very different kind of choreography. This led to a working partnership with contemporary dancers from the New Movement Collective who choreographed movement across the backdrop of the Longmoor Military Training Camp.

It was recorded in an unforgettable one-night film shoot by a combination of an army combat camera crew and the director of photography, with whom Graham has worked with in the past.

The resulting three-screen video installation will be shown in total darkness at the Winchester Discovery Centre from the first week in September.

In a very different kind of collaboration, the Dutch-born artist Bouke de Vries has worked with Southampton City Council Museum Collections to select damaged pieces of ceramics.

A green photo of a camera still of a person covering their face on an urban street
Graham Gussin, work in progress (2013)© Courtesy Graham Gussin / Marlborough Contemporary
He has then worked with a master glassblower to create glass vessels using the original shape of the broken object.

De Vries is concerned with exploring memory, history and the nature of beauty. Using damaged ceramics as a starting point and drawing on skills honed in his daily work as a conservator of ceramics and glass, this project investigates different angles and interpretations of art, history and beauty.

He has also been commissioned by the University of Portsmouth to create a memory vessel from the collection of Portsmouth Museums and Galleries which will be shown at Aspex, and another with fragments from Lymington which will be shown at St Barbe Museum in Hampshire."

  • artSOUTH : collaboration opens on September 7 2013. Most commissions run until December 1. Visit artsouth.org.uk for more.
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