AZ…

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ALREADY! April’s flown by!…zee end iz here and I’m halfway left behind with issues to resolve and a big catch up to do… MAY be I need twice as long to reach the finish post… soZ…zzz (back soon!)

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Q is for QuestionMarc

with the A to Z challenge!

Questionmarc  is /was an anonymous artist responsible for a number of public art statements around Nottingham during approx 2008-2009 – somewhere I have some archived news cuttings and screenshots myself as it was fascinating as live art / public art – especially one evening seeing live on the council’s web cam overlooking Nottingham’s Market Square as a team of sweepers took to the thin covering of snow with brooms to clear a four letter word beginning with C – I did actually get screenshots myself. Soon after that Nottingham City Council stopped public access  to images from that web cam, which was a shame. While I can’t dig out my archive files at the moment, I’m borrowing these images from the artist’s website (it does allude to permission for non-commercial use).

The following cutting was one of the initial articles before the local paper got wind of these poster campaigns being ‘art’. This one was a response to the lack of public toilet facilities in Nottingham City Centre in the evenings.

Pop art on the city’s college wall (previously named ‘People’s College at the time of this art work, now called ‘Castle College’, unless it’s changed name again) one of a number of public art works by the anonymous Nottingham artist only known as ‘QuestionMarc‘ – you can see more at their website by clicking the link. (They’ve been less less obvious since around 2009

Hopefully back with the letter R tomorrow (and catching up with recent delayed posts asap!)

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Something Special for Someday soon…

This should have been a ‘Something Special for Sunday’ post, but as I’m still not quite ready to bounce back with the workload of posting properly, i’ll be updating the page as soon as – hoping to catch up with the A to Z challenge posts from tomorrow too! Days pass so quickly, can’t believe I’ve missed four already!

L is for Looking…

…looking and learning with the A to Z challenge!

I’ll admit to lagging with our L post for today. While we had thought one or both of us could make it to the Glenn Ligon curated exhibition, neither of us has yet – and my outing’s tomorrow not today, so any hope of a Ligon inspired post has to be deferred to Saturday’s post under ‘Panthers’ for P. Unless I  change my mind again before then, because these posts tend to become spontaneous.

We considered ‘Local art’ scenes – but then what to include…? Colette exists between two localities, her birth-town of King’s Lynn and Nottingham City. She says that ‘local’ can’t really be applied to  Nottingham City as including the urban sprawl, to where she is now a ‘local’, it’s such a wide area. She would still claim to also be ‘local’ to the rural town of Lynn – and that all locals only call it ‘Lynn’ and not by it’s full name King’s Lynn. So, a couple of Colette’s loosely drawn quick pencil sketches made during a stay in Lynn.

Sketches made in Lynn during July 2010. On the left is a graphite sketch made at the quayside looking at the banks of the River Ouse and the view seaward; the colour pencil sketch on the right is of the Red Mount in King's lynn's town centre park known as 'The Walks'
Sketches by Colette Bates, made in Lynn during July 2010. On the left is a graphite sketch made at the quayside looking at the banks of the River Ouse and the view seaward; the colour pencil sketch on the right is of the Red Mount in King’s Lynn’s town centre park known as ‘The Walks’

Looking at art on the internet… if I’d been considering local Nottingham contemporary art for this post, I might have started with Surface Gallery’s le-loo-vre – a resident artist exhibition space in the gallery’s first floor bathroom! I’ve since abandoned the Nottingham topic for today! I did however read a fantastic blog post about a performance art event and installation called ‘Lost in Gloss’ and written by a gallery volunteer at the Surface gallery blog.

One of the most amazing and look-worthy artist’s websites I’ve ever been pointed to is that of professional artist Neil Pittaway. Colette first saw his work in 2010 and/or 2011 at King’s Lynn Art Centre. She thought his prints might be lithographic so could be mentioned under ‘L’ – on checking I’m not sure they are lithography but they might be. There are lots of images, dry-point and etchings, drawings, some lino-cut prints and also loose and fluid colour sketches. The artist’s website has a large variety of fantastic images – his print-making and etchings, colour-rich paintings, slide-shows of sketchbook images and also photographs from his visual research travels in places like the Himalayas and Nepal. ~lynn-cus-hs~Neil was commissioned to produce a limited edition print (2011) showing the above Customs House combined with the town’s Guildhall.

Neil Pittaway’s work demonstates fantastic visual observation, intricacy and imaginative creativity as well as superb technical skill – the quality and precision of line in his etchings and drawings are astounding and the overall impact of his works intriguing and quite staggering, whichever medium he is working with. If you’d like look at some proper art, Neil Pittaway’s website is a fantastic place for a look around, one of his works can be found here, (current exhibition work) Longitude and in public collections his work  The London Connection. Check out his links, he produces a variety of spectacular images including some watercolour’s and I imagine there’s something to please almost everyone’s personal visual taste.

With London in mind, a couple of artist’s documentation photos from the UK’s capital London during the walk between Tate Britain and the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre. London, near Tate Britain (art gallery and museum) london eye~ london3~ Today’s L has been for LOOKING… and thanks for looking… back tomorrow with Mmm… 50ee9-atoz2b255b2015255d2b-2bbanner2b-2b910

Kubin and Kafou inspired

…keeping up with the A to Z challenge!

Today’s post introduces, via Nottingham Contemporary‘s past exhibitions, Alfred KUBIN and the Haitian group exhibition ‘KAFOU’ (meaning crossroads) via works produced in reflective practice by my artistic friend – as I have permission to share her work here. I’ll update with links to resources another time(!)

Alfred Kubin, born in Austria 1877, died 1959, studied in Munich around 1900.

Described in gallery literature ‘..as a late Symbolist…’ with much emphasis in the discourse placed on his alleged sexual deviance and mental state. The brochure describes ‘…phantasmagorical imagery…Sexual torment and confusion pervades.. anguish and violence in Kubin’s work…The femme fatale…a misogynistic reaction…to the ‘new woman’ at that time.’

I only saw this exhibition once as a guest at the preview evening. I was struck by the works attributed to Alfred Kubin as appearing to be made by a number of different artists and still wonder to this day if somehow in the academic and art industry course of archiving students work, others have been attributed to Kubin to discredit his reputation.

In the final paragraph of the brochure it states ‘Around 1903 the hallucinations that had been fuelling Kubin’s art began to diminish. The drawings continued, but at a slower rate, without the atmospheric qualities of early work.’

Colette spent extra time in the gallery gathering title names and source information. As photographs weren’t permitted she made sketches to capture something of images unavailable in the brochures or the book accompanying the exhibition (she bought that too). We looked on the internet for other Kubin works and those we found appeared quite different in style and flavour to many of those attributed to Kubin in the gallery show, although they were made in later life.

Colette made the following study of one of the drawings, the background was darkened but she didn’t complete shading the background on her sketch. Following this is a poem she wrote.

study sketch by Colette Bates 2012 of Alfred Kubin's 'Swamp Plant'.
study sketch by Colette Bates 2012 of Alfred Kubin’s ‘Swamp Plant’.

Swamp Plant (a poem by Colette Bates, Sept 2012)

Sleeping, bound by the surreal misfortunes of my
Waking life.
All days begin, continue, end in much the same
Malaise.
Plentiful my dream garden grows in fertile ground,
Paradisian.
Left behind are the scars that never heal,
Ambivolent.
Nymph-like dream self rests in peace at last,
Torment-free.

KAFOU  was the exhibition that followed the Kubin show. Colette attended some gallery training between the two shows. One of the workshops provided contextual information about the Kafou artists. The task was to paint non-objectively, in surreal style, from a still-life arrangement (pointillism was suggested but Colette chose to work with her own style). Art work images from promotional material provided and some preliminary glimpses of the artworks were possible by looking through gallery doorways as the paintings were stood on the floor against the walls while being arranged.

The following painting was heavily influenced by contextual information about the premature deaths of some of the Haitian artists. Accompanying stories of the Vodou lwa, especially Agwe a god of the sea who when angered would claim lives of individuals at sea influenced Colette’s subjectivity whilst looking at the still-life objects – such as the young painter, Camy Rocher, who drowned at sea aged 21 after a sense of foreboding that Agwe was displeased with him.

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painting by Colette Bates, Oct 2012, influenced by Kafou exhibiiton art works.

KAFOU (a poem by Colette Bates, Dec 2012)

Kouzen Zaka, appease the land and for the mighty mapou trees;
Agwe and Lasiren calm the seas and hold back Erzuli
Freda’s striking vengeance as Bawon Samedi tolls death knells.
Ogou rise again for the people enslaved by impoverishment.
Unknown and ancient lwa give strength in universal symbols.

To see some of the available gallery images of original Alfred Kubin works from the exhibition or those from the Kafou show, visit the Nottingham Contemporary website.

Back to tomorrow with the letter L…

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Journeying with Jean Genet

  is our final letter of this week with the A to Z challenge!

Journeying today with the influential writer Jean Genet,  French poet and writer born 1910, died 1986. His work (and artworks inspired by his works) have influenced both myself and my artistic friend Colette, with whom I am working collaboratively. Nottingham Contemporary hosted an exhibition reflecting on Genet’s work in summer 2011. Colette and I hadn’t become acquainted at that point but we’d both attended this exhibition and different events.

Jean Genet was the subject of David Bowie’s 1972 hit single ‘Jean Genie’ – that gives me an excuse to show here another of Colette’s drawings – a genie-type spirit guide she imagined…

Genie drawing by Colette Bates (2012) - although he (named zjzt) has the appearance of being 'black', as drawn in graphite, Colette says he is actually purple and green with a golden shimmer!
Genie drawing by Colette Bates (2012)

Although this genie (named zjzt) has the appearance of being ‘black’, as drawn in graphite, Colette says he is actually purple and green with a golden sparkle!

I attended a series of creative writing workshops based on the Genet exhibition and so was fortunate to be introduced to his writing. We were given some extracts to work from but I managed to spend a couple of afternoons in the Study at n0c0 reading Genets ‘the Blacks (A Clown Story)’ published in 1958. It’s a fantastic play and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’m delighted to have now found Genet’s ‘The Balcony’, published in 1958, available online as a PDF file.

Nottingham Contemporary’s exhibition guide for the Genet show is also available online as a PDF, if you’d like to see something of it. There are also some media files to watch past public events and they sometimes broadcast some of the public programme events live online.

Colette took the photos shown below after the  Lili Reynaud-Dewar performance which took place around Lili’s sculptural installation ‘Four Walls Speaking of Revolt, Media and Beauty’.

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sketchbook sheets produced by performance artist in act of silent translation (Lili Reynaud-Dewar performance Sep14th 2011 at Nottingham Contemporary).

lily~The performance consisted of three performance artists moving around the sculpture, spoken word by two and silent translation by the third written onto sketchbook pages in capital letters with charcoal. As each page was filled with translated text,  these were then torn away from the sketchbook and dropped to the floor. The spoken word and translation were based on extracts from Genet texts ‘The Prisoner of Love’ and ‘The Declared Enemy’. The gallery photos show the sculpture much more clearly.

Other things I might have written and shared during today’s post will have to wait for another day – such as my writing ‘Journeying with Justice’ and ‘Just a Question’ – perhaps they’ll be linked from here in the future.

Kicking back Monday with the letter K!

Jolly glad there’s no Sunday A to Z post but thoroughly enjoying the challenge! Have a nice day 🙂

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imagine (the second I)

IMAGINE, a second I post for the A to Z challenge! This one’s very short with  two pictures to share today.

The first is a doodle type drawing my friend, Colette Bates made in her first full-time year at art college in 1991, but not as course-related work. Slightly intoxication-influenced perhaps, or maybe not, certainly an excercising of imagination.

image-in~The image below is one she made on the anniversary of the Twin Towers atrocity, during the day of 11/09/2011. Most people old enough to recall those events, probably all over the world, felt horrified, shocked and devastated by those events when they occurred and ever after. The world changed forever that day. For the distance between our homeland territories and our removed veiwpoint as mere observers, we cannot possibly imagine the tremendous impacts on those people closer to events, especially in New York.

Colette was very deeply affected by having seen the atrocities unfold live on television that day, during the time she would always have Sky News on and not feeling able to turn it off or stop watching. From a UK resident perspective, it must have been a very different experience to have seen it as it was happening, as live broadcast, rather than later.

She says her drawing (below) doesn’t do justice as a commemoration. It is however an emotional and expressive response, reflecting deep sadness. She hasn’t made something every year, just this particular year as she feels strongly it’s somehow not right to make art with that memory and that this was very personal, not an annual excercise. It was, she says, undoubtedly influenced by the art exhibition she’d seen lots of that summer, in colour choices particularly.

~II-110911~~We wonder about sharing such an image, if it’s upsetting or offensive? Or somehow taking advantage of such an event and excusing ourselves presenting art made reflecting those events? Should such things never be shared or seen? Experiencing the atrocities from so far away perhaps gives us no right to feel or respond or reflect those things which will have so very deeply have affected those much closer. So we’re sharing to pose those questions, because it was a way of an artist-minded person making something in commemoration and another art-minded person appreciating and selecting it for inclusion in today’s post for the letter I, this post actually being the second post for today, thus, II.

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Colette’s been using the 6bloc9 tag for many years, but overtly since 2011 and used it as her signature on this work shown above. I’ve been using 6bloc9 attached to my name, with her permission, since January 2015 to start making something more real of our collaborative ideas than just talk. 6bloc9 was her planned studio / studio group name – but she still doesn’t have a studio. She had however convinced one or two-plus of us to combine our amateur creative energies (or rather lack of energies!) and collaborate toward eventual progression somehow someday with our planned projects. Virtual space in many ways provides us all the studio room / gallery space we need.

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I is for information, inclusion and internetting art

inspired I with the A to Z challenge!

This is the first of two posts with the letter I at this blog for today! I’d started something else earlier, became side-tracked, made a piece of writing that’s the nearest thing to an essay that I’ve written in years. Be aware it’s quite lengthy. You  might not wish to read it and that’s fine – but please feel free to add a comment even if you’ve not read this page, if you have anything to say about inclusion, institution, or internet visiting / review information regarding contemporary art, or anything else, as we love discussion and conversation at Corner2Corner.

A shorter post for the letter I will follow soon after, with a picture or two to share, when my original post is completed. So, most people have two eyes, however well they might or might not function. So, we are having two ‘I’s too.

I’ve been considering INCLUSION and INSTITUTIONAL INFLUENCES in contemporary art appreciation, I don’t necessarily tackle those issues well here. I’ve also been thinking about art in virtual space.

For myself, my friend and other acquaintances, immediate current access to local contemporary art is inhibited by dire government-inflicted war on welfare near-holocaust strategies. Investigating local contemporary art via the internet is always a disappointment in comparison to a visit in person. It can become painfully so – especially when accessing art is a therapeutic strategy toward building capability and stamina toward being able to hopefully return to work. The financial means to access art, being almost as essential to a creative personality as accessing travel, food, shelter and warmth – which are also being removed from the disadvantaged and disabled. Access to art is removed whilst socio-political soundbites promote equality and disabled access to culture and the arts.

The art world itself functions not only on private investment and donations but on the back of government, local authority and charitable funding geared toward inclusion and particularly of minority groups including the disabled and disadvantaged. The benefits of those funding streams reach only as far as the institutional coffers and the professionals and employees they support – with a small number of token beneficiaries from those minority groups contributing to the tick-box strategies that keep those financial investments flowing. It seems perverse somehow, to have local and national arts funding while people are deprived of basic needs.

Having received the email newsletter from Nottingham Contemporary for the current Glenn Ligon exhibition, I could have started there with issues of inclusion or Ligon’s being inspired by Jean-Michel Bisquiat’s Inner Workings currently being exhibited elsewhere.

Or even with the Guardian’s headline question ‘Is Britain ready for Glenn Ligon?’ in Jason Farago’s article interviewing the artist Glenn Ligon.

Nottingham Contemporary has some online resources to explore in relation to the exhibitions – I don’t usually read anything at all first, but I have seen some of Glenn Ligon’s work before so made an exception but saving browsing gallery resources until after visiting.

We’ll perhaps feature something of this exhibition for ‘L’ with one or both of us hoping to manage a real-time visit before whatever day is ‘L’ day – Tuesday next week I think! Failing that deadline it’ll maybe be for ‘P’ with some of our 2011 ‘Panthers’ experience from the Genet show (I should of course say ‘Black Panthers’ but I’ve been poorly educated culturally as a non-white person of palour to refrain from use of the word ‘black’!)
Here I found Zoe Pilger’s review at the Independent newspaper website. ( Zoe is possibly a former Nottingham Trent University graduate as her name’s given in the gallery newsletter and some were interns, so benefit from gallery promotion in their career progressions. (NTU=polytechnic college quality university, better quality art grad output as a polytechnic college! No longer a quality art institution but an art-parrot-factory by sayings-of-all-local-real people-in-the-know-accounts! – that’s not a personal reflection of Zoe Pilger! whoops! ) Colette wonders that Zoe’s perhaps one of the top students she became aware of while attending lectures! Listen to the local-art-world-big-it-all-up-talk and with our ground-down-level responses no wonder some real folk are being excluded! (not by the gallery – as long as we can get there! – yet, at least! )

Zoe mentions Ligon’s inspirations and refers to intertextuality as ‘that annoying word, which is a favourite of critical theory.’ Surely only an art graduate would write such a thing! So I’ve had to include that word in my acrostic poem for today for the AtoZ at my poetry blog . Today’s poem ‘Illuminate’  was inspired by the Glenn Ligon work Zoe refers to in her published review for the Independent.

At least the article is an individual response to apparently having seen the exhibition rather than an interview that’s perhaps taken place some distance from the exhibition in isolation from the immediacy of that context or reliant on information in the press release and publically available sources. However, personal interaction and reflection of the exhibition cuts short early on and reverts to what appears to be use of formal discourse regarding the artist’s history and collaborations.

Zoe Pilger’s view is that the exhibition ‘…lacks impact… the only unifying theme is his own taste.’ (referring to Ligon). That’s a brave and bold statement in itself and I now can’t wait to see the exhibition – I hadn’t expected to be overly interested but statements like that inspire me to see for myself and to wonder how long did it take to arrive at such conclusions as are drawn in this review? I understand the curation to be a collaborative arrangement with gallery professionals and curatorial teamwork, so maybe Zoe’s not been a gallery-insider and is someone else.

Some artists and art writers are too far wrapped up in their own insular worlds bound in formalism perhaps. Perhaps we are guilty of that too in our invalidated, non-included insular isolations. (I’ve read the article on the phone to Colette and we’ve had some conversation about today’s post).

In the Independent’s review of the Ligon curated exhibition, the writer’s personal statements interspersed in the discourse stick out like a sore thumb. Zoe writes ‘There is an attempt in this show to connect the history of civil rights with today, but it is muddled by the inclusion of mediocre conceptual artworks that do not do justice to the subject.’ Perhaps she should try dressing down while assuming some poor woman’s underpriveleged identity, getting beaten by a police officer, arrested and spending 24hours under police wraps to gain some insight and experience of minority issues.

Maybe she has such experience, I’ve no way of knowing other than what I’ve heard from others about these ‘top-level-students!’ Perhaps a visit to a hypnotherapist to free her mind from academic trappings when considering what to write in review – I suppose it is at least an honest response to the work but one that speaks of highermiddle class prejudices and formalised mindset.

I’d be devastated to set in stone in published print such daring a commentary regarding the creativity of another person of any status. But who the hell am I? And here I am dressing-down a national publication’s art writer! Oh dear! (and of course incorrectly beginning my sentence with And…) Again, I’ve now realised the potential of an editor’s role in the finished article and haven’t read what may have been excluded – if she had anything else to say.

I’ve been exploring some of the few photos I’ve found so far, only having those provided from links at these articles and I’ve seen a couple of Ligon art works at the 2011 Genet exhibition. I guess maybe Zoe Pilger (and / or her editor) just doesn’t relate to such conceptual art. Some conceptual art is particularly challenging, but they’re often the most interesting, if given time and engaging in conversation with the work, wondering, questioning – not necessarily investigating but inquiring – or simply waiting for that unexpected moment when a delayed realisation occurs.

Zoe refers to the neon works America and Run from Fear, Fun from Rear as suggesting ‘the garish contradictions of consumerism, but it is facile, even hateful’.

(Excuse me while I check the meaning of facile! Ok, no apologies Zoe, but that’s exactly how I’d describe this article i’m reading! Facile and maybe not as strong as ‘hateful’ but the negativity perhaps bound in academic prejudices and the disadvantages of privelege. Facile=Superficial, ignoring the true complexities of an issue.)

Zoe reflects momentarily on these works by merely stating ‘it seems obvious’ – perhaps that’s by way of leaving space for individual exploration of multiciplicity of meaning, but also appears as critic excusing themselves anything intelligent to say about it?
The Ligon work AME RICA can be seen at

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/apr/02/white-malcolm-x-black-panther-obamas-favourite-artist-in-pictures#img-3 and other pictures at the Guardian’s online gallery are in that slideshow too.

I’ve seperated the text (AME RICA) as the two segments are clearly seperated by their wiring, maybe just for the transformers and a technicality and maybe my interpretations are ‘incorrect’ or misassociated based on my own experiences and understandings. Within moments this had appeared to be two very seperate words simply placed together to form what appears to be ‘America’ but suggests Africa on the right and ‘AME’ could be interpreted many ways, both parts could be – there’s also Costa Rica of course and AME not only makes me think of an individual, ‘a me’ but also ‘amigo’. As a whole it speaks many potential things – I’m not going into personal interpretation any further here either.

Maybe meaning is obvious and doesn’t need stating, but this review seems switched off to this particular artist from the beginning, by reverting to academic discourse for the major part of the exploration – those are all things we can find out for ourselves.

The work consists of more than simply ‘black neon letters on the wall’ and I’m surprised an editor was desperate enough to accept and publish this article – but then the quality of journalism in the UK is acceptably dire as standard. My personal opinion if we can’t reach the work, is that it would be preferable to read an individual reflective response away from the academic discourse or to have quality images and read very little opinion or discourse at all. Expressive reflective interpretation is often lacking in available literature or media regarding contemporary art – but it’s what I’d prefer to be reading.

Zoe closes the paragraph discussing the film Babel by Dave McKenzie 2006 by writing ‘the work makes you think’ and I wonder about those thoughts – what I’ve just read in that paragraph? You’re kidding? That shallow? Really?

Zoe’s final closing sentences for this article tells me: ‘…An essay by Audre Lorde is included in the catalogue. She asks a poignant question: “To whom do I owe the symbols of my survival?” Falteringly, this exhibition tries to give an answer.’

Is it the writer’s own faltering that she refers to? Is the exhibition attempting to answer that question? Is that a fair judgement? I hope soon to find out for myself. This paragraph tells me nothing about the essay, only that it’s in this catologue that I can’t afford to buy and won’t have time to read in a flying visit to the gallery between bus times on a day I have an appointment with no other available visiting potential.

Now I’m hell-bent on going to see it for myself asap. I hadn’t intended writing this post, but it fits with some of my earlier outline thinking anyway and I’ve had some kind of essay-writing practise, however badly!

So, thanks Zoe / Zoe’s editor, because that article has so motivated me to go and see what it is that’s so faltering – although the taste in my mouth from the writing leaves me feeling it’s the writer’s own point of view that is the faltering, not the work of the artist nor the curated works shown (those that have inspired the artist’s work over the years).

Maybe others enjoy her article from a different perspective and I do hope so. At least it’s freely accessible unlike the link for the Times as this requires a subscription – and it might only be £1 but I don’t have £1 in my bank to make an online payment with and if I did I’d rather save two or three and buy the paper once a month on a Sunday! The internet was founded on the basis of free and wide access to content.  If you’re already or would like to be a willing Times subscriber, the link is here but I’ve no idea if it’s worth reading or it would be free! – to those with no access apologies for including a money-grabbing link to inaccessible information!

Florence Waters at Wallpaper writes a short, upbeat, positive article about the same Ligon exhibition. In her closing statement she writes of it as ‘a revealing and sophisticated study of the way in which images are used by society, and how their meaning extends far beyond their gallery contexts.’ There are only seven Ligon works in the exhibition currently showing at Nottingham Contemporary, but I hope to be spending a few moments quality time with each of them sometime very soon and will be very grateful for the privelege when I do.
I cannot believe my word-count today! Thankyou for reading or skimming 2200 words (rounded up) if you’ve reached this far down this page!

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