Dear Professor: A Chronicle of Absences

Posted in Failure by chrisfremantle on November 28, 2016

What art have I seen? Muirhead Bone

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on November 25, 2016

Exhibition at Roselle House of Scottish artist known for his prints and drawings of industrial Glasgow and his work as the first War Artist. He was connected with Ayr and Pamela Conacher put the Inspiring Landscapes exhibition together as part of WW1 remembrance. Master Printmaker Ian Nicol contributed participatiry workshops.

Design Research Failures

Posted in Failure, Research by chrisfremantle on October 29, 2016

This project by Soren Rosenbak was developed for the Design Research Society conference 2016 and now has a web site with all the submissions and the opportunity to comment on them.

Interesting as part of the Design Research Society’s 50 year anniversary. Humble. Participatory in the right ways – community building and empowering. Causing of reflection. 

What art have I seen? The Context is Half the Work

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 28, 2016

The Context is Half the Work: A Partial History of the Artist Placement Group.

Went looking for descriptions in the letters and documents of what APG said an artist is and what they do… 

What art have I seen? E.A.T. Experiments in Art and Technology

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 14, 2016

What art have I seen? William Kentridge, The Guerrilla Girls, Jannis Kounellis

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 13, 2016

William Kentridge environments and Guerrilla Girls on European galleries and museums and the women they show and collect bothe at The Whitechapel Gallery

Jannis Kounellis at White Cube.

What art have I seen? Sunken Cities

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 12, 2016

Sunken Cities at the British Museum. Jake pointed out that the pitch the Lighting Designer made was to give a sense of being underwater with strong directional pools of light. It’s too much – the shadows on this utterly astounding carving of a woman with a diaphonous dress was so bad there were big areas in shadow.

What art have I seen? Marie Velardi

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on September 22, 2016

‘Lost Islands and other Works’ by Marie Velardi at Peacock Visual Arts including the timeline of human development according to Sci-fi literature.

I was invited to respond to the work as part of a Creative Carbon Scotland Green Tease. Anne Douglas and published an essay in the Elemental: Art and Ecology Reader earlier this year talking about the way that the Harrisons use inconsistency and contradiction in their works. This seemed relevant in relation to Velardi’s works, perhaps most obviously the timeline but also the works about islands and coastlines. Keeping contradictory truths in tension is an important skill and capacity that artists use in their works. Having just been at Tim Ingold’s lecture on the Sustainability of Everything this point is relevant to how we conceptualise living and carrying on. 

What art have I seen? Out There: Our Post-War Public Art

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on September 14, 2016

Walked past this yesterday and today went to see the Historic England exhibition on post-war public art. Highlights how the Festival of Britain in 1951 acted as a platform for new work perhaps in a similar way to how the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and 2014 Commonwealth Games have provided a platform for a new cross artform sited work.

Tagged with:

What art have I seen? Surreal Encounters

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 27, 2016
Tagged with: ,

Failure, with intention

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 26, 2016

“To fail meant we took a risk, and because we did it with intention, knowing what we were aiming for and what went wrong, we could immediately go back to the drawing board and approach it again.”

What art have I seen? Jo Spence

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 17, 2016

Jo Spence at Stills.  Three groups of work that clearly demonstrate the radical approaches to photography being used by Spence and her various colleagues.  Put this alongside the ‘Context is Half the Work: Partial History of the Artist Placement Group’ at Summerhalland its a salutory reminder of what radical practice looks like.

Good review here

Tagged with:

What art have I seen? Alice Neel and Jess Johnson

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 16, 2016

Two exhibitions at the Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh.  Alice Neel, New York portrait painter. The drawings in the Playfair Library on the ground floor and the balcony are well worth the trouble.  The influence of the Expressionists is really strong, but it’s clearly NYC.  The show links biography with work which is fascinating, but a bit distracting.  The mark making is great!

Jess Johnson’s Eclectrc Panoptic drawings, video and VR environment are all enthralling – the VR environment is really successful  transposition of the drawings – it is a linear exploration and not ‘gamified’ but I suspect that the real quality is in the work with Simon Ward to make it feel like you are moving through the drawings.

Design Research Failure

Posted in Failure, Research by chrisfremantle on August 11, 2016

What art have I seen? A partial history of the Artist Placement Group

Posted in Exhibitions, Research by chrisfremantle on August 6, 2016

Roger Coward speaking about his Placement with the Department of the Environment in Small Heath, Birmingham

What art have I seen? Charles Jencks + Alex Rigg

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 4, 2016

Failure and Mental Health

Posted in Failure by chrisfremantle on August 2, 2016

We were challenged in the q&a after our presentation on the Art(s) of Failure at the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities Summer School on the question of mental health.

There is no smart relationship between working with failure and mental health issues.  Anyone saying to someone depressed or with other mental health challenges that they need to learn to ‘work with failure’ is wrong.  Using failure as part of a creative process requires a degree of mental strength and resilience.  It just does.  Only the person knows what they can do.  All the serious advice on mental health and depression says to support the individual, not give them any sort of ‘get over it’.

If you know someone with mental health issues then please don’t advise them to find ways to use their failures.  Rather support them appropriately.  If you are not sure, here are a couple of links.

Scottish Association for Mental Health

Advice for friends and family from MIND


Tagged with:

What art have I seen? Dia Beacon

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 24, 2016

‘Best of minimalism’. The good tracks were Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra, Robert Irwin, On Kawara, Fred Sandback. Having come from Mass MOCA it is apparent that Dia need to have a space for one artist to be focused on in depth.

What art have I seen? Mass MOCA

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 23, 2016

This is part of Michael Oatman’s ‘All Utopias Fell’, a strange spin on solar energy and communication with the stars. The Jetstream is about 3 stories up and contains amongst other things a library and archive.

The three floors of Sol Lewitt’s work arranged Early, Mid and Late. 

Explode Every Day – an inquiry into the phenomena of wonder – standout pieces by Michael Light’s ‘100 Suns’ (photos from the Los Alamos National Laboratories); Rachel Sussman’s ‘(Selected) History of the Space Time Continuum’; Ryan and Trevor Oakes’ drawings exploring perspective; Tristan Duke’s scratch holograms; and Julianne Swartz’ trembling, rattling ‘Bone Scores’.

Three works from the Hall Foundation by Anselm Kiefer, one of which immediately physically connected with Kilmahew.

What art have I seen? Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 17, 2016


In the Yellow Room we find Whistler’s ‘Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach’ along with a Matisse, a Degas, a Sargent and another Whistler.  Having been to Hearst Castle last year, we wondered what the difference was?

What art have I seen? Simon Starling

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 6, 2016

What art have I seen? GSA MFA

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on June 25, 2016

Glasgow School of Art MFA at the Glue Factory. Liked Yeonkyoung Lee’s disco inspired installation – v nicely composed. Uesung Lee’s drawings and detritus of drawing as a form of labour. Also Jamie Green’s Shankland ‘Sun Never Sets’ – v clever curatorial exercise. Finally like Sian Collins and Westmoreland Stones.

Holding the paradox

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 29, 2016

On The Edge Research

hands by Chris photos: Chris Fremantle

How can art respond to complex social and ethical problems? When should the demand for solutions be resisted? And how might this affect our understanding of cultural leadership?

These were among the questions keenly debated in the first of our series of full day seminars on Cultural leadership and the place of the Artist which took place in Edinburgh on Friday 20th May.  Our thanks go to the artists, researchers and cultural organisers who attended and contributed so fully.  The day brought together participants from various phases of On The Edge research alongside new friends and colleagues from our project partners Creative Scotland and ENCATC.

Discussion ranged across different understandings of what is meant by leadership and how it relates to artistic production.  This led on to questions about the role of art in public life.  Some compelling suggestions were made about the distinctive capacity…

View original post 595 more words

What art jave I seen? Deep in the Heart of Your Brain

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 27, 2016


Jacqueline Donachie’s exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Three groups of work: drawings of lamposts – sources of illumination in the modern urban landscape; sculptures which use the materials of accessibility infrastructure (ramps and handrails) but perhaps seen from the perspective of someone for whom they don’t work or maybe just that they evoke the precariousness of the people for whom they are designed; finally videos speaking to sisters, speaking to feelings of doubt, but also playful.  Powerful stuff. (Oh and a piece of armour –  a boot – that could flex more than you expected.)

What art have I seen? Scottish Endarkenment

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 19, 2016

What art have I seen? Sarah Barker

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 19, 2016

What art have I seen? When the future was about Fracking

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 9, 2016
Tagged with: , ,

CV of failures: Princeton professor publishes resume of his career lows | Education | The Guardian

Posted in Failure by chrisfremantle on April 30, 2016

Elizabeth Reeder and I are going to be talking about failure at the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities in June and the reversal that this achieves is exactly the point. Like Hockney including an apology letter from a photolab in a collage or Deller exhibiting his failed design for the cover of the Tube map, failures are materials for new things.

Chicago; 3rd novel; Essays

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on April 9, 2016

In June Elizabeth and I are doing a joint session for the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities on the subject of Failure. She’done sessions on the Essay for Phd students at Gray’s which unfortunately I missed, but I’m very much looking forward to the Chapbook promised for the summer and the investigation of the essay form later this year, more details below.

Elizabeth K Reeder

A Trip to Chicago; The Third Novel

We’ve just made a spur of the moment trip Stateside. We swung through Iowa and played ping-pong with family (there may have been some singing and dancing too) and then spent some time in Chicago. It’s April but the city seemed to have forgotten this and typical Mid-western weather welcomed us: ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change.’ Including more than one blustery bout of snow when we walked Chicago’s version of the highline – the 606. We walked quite a lot in the cold, determined rain. We even braved the weather on an open top bus to tour Chicago neighborhoods run by the Chicago Architectural Foundation.

During February and March I worked to finish a full draft of my third novel, Those We Buried. In this book I not only create buildings but I burn them down…

View original post 729 more words

Questioning cultural leadership

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on April 1, 2016

On The Edge Research

Who do you depend upon to make your role in the arts possible? Who looks to you for support? What form of change would you most like to see happen – and who can help you bring it about?

IMG_9477 Photos: Graeme MacDonald

On The Edge posed these questions to a diverse group of artists, researchers and organisers at the first event of its new AHRC investigation, Cultural leadership and the place of the artist, on 14th March at Woodend Barn, Banchory. Each question was approached through the viewpoints of a range of archetypal roles: artist, funder, teacher, policy maker, board member, parent, venue manager, volunteer.  We built a network in miniature of the relationships and forms of influence through which our actions are shaped in aesthetic, organisational and social contexts.  Opening up issues of leadership in culture beyond the operation of hierarchies, we tried to understand the…

View original post 344 more words

What art have I seen? Gray’s Graduates in Residence

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on March 25, 2016

They’ve called it Only the improvisation remains constant, a quote from the Harrisons


This is a detail of one of Tako Taal’s works.

A postcard from Brussels

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 23, 2016

From Jon Price in Brussels

On The Edge Research

Benoit tearI’ve always loved travelling through Maelbeek metro station, as I often do when staying at my regular apartment in Brussels, going from local stop Merode towards the centre. Until yesterday Maelbeek was most distinguished for its fabulous station artwork, completed in 2001 by the Belgian artist Benoît van Innis.   This series of 8 faces would gaze benignly from the white tiled walls, deceptively simple line drawings fired in ceramic.  They look at first glance like someone has drawn them on with a marker.

Benoît’s faces, echoes and anticipations of the passing commuters who stared blankly back at them on a daily basis, have been a reassuring presence on this route through the EU quarter.  They are also a symbol of the city’s cosmopolitanism, with their sparse detail sufficient to suggest diversity and their open expressions inviting self-identification.  I found myself looking for their images on the internet last night…

View original post 656 more words

NEA Magazine: The Art of Failure: The Importance of Risk and Experimentation

Posted in Failure by chrisfremantle on March 13, 2016

What art have I seen? Anselm Kiefer

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on February 14, 2016

What art have I seen? Musee Art Moderne, Paris

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on February 13, 2016

Dufy, de Chirico, Braque and Picasso, Matisse, Sekula (Museum Guardroom), Duchamp, Bourgeois, Messenger.

What art have I seen? Another Minimalism

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 22, 2016

Another Minimalism: Art After California Light and Space at The Fruitmarket, Edinburgh – I saw Robert Irwin’s 2 year installation at the Dia in NYC in 2000 in deep midwinter. The exploration of formal and sensory experience in this show is really well curated with a spectrum of works by key people. I particularly liked the retinal afterglow from the Olafur Eliasson.

What art have I seen? Island Drift and Nick Hedges

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on January 21, 2016

Streetlevel have an exhibition of work done with NVA in the Loch Lomond national park exploring light in a dark landscape. Light is brought to life almost as another albeit strange and new entity in the landscape. In the Trongate 103 Foyer Nick Hedges photographs from the Gorbals in the 70s are a reminder of what highrise housing was replacing – slum tenaments – but Hedges photography doesn’t just capture the issue – it’s as beautifully composed as a Vuillard.

What art have I seen? Drawn into tomorrow

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on January 19, 2016
Tagged with: ,

BBH story on recent Arts and health projects

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on January 15, 2016

Better Building in Healthcare ran the story Arts and health – more than just a picture a couple of weeks ago featuring the ‘Podium Landmarking’ project by Rachel Mimiec, Graphical House and Haa Design for the Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals in Glasgow.  The landmarks are designed to work like landmarks in towns and cities, telling you that you are at an important junction.  The conventional signage works like street names and directions.  They compliment each other.

Rachel and the team did some workshops with staff and patients to understand what constituted a ‘landmark’ and the answer they came back with was ‘something quirky’ that stood out.  They then asked some 25 members of staff (current and retired) to tell them about something quirky that happened to them.  The result was distilled down in discussion with the NHS Capital Planning Team and then developed by Graphical House working with Haa Design into 3d illustrations eventually built by specialist fabricators, Interior Solutions in Corian (the Dupont kitchen surface product).

That’s how you get a jar of beach sweeties or a pair of flying saucers (or 19 other quirky images) working as landmarks helping people remember where they’ve been in a hospital.

You can also see more about the project on Ginkgo Projects and NHSGGC’s Arts & Health

What art have I seen? Simon Starling

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 15, 2016

Nine Feet Later by Simon Starling at The Modern Institute. Nice evocation of multiple timescales, almost an iteration of Latham’s Time Base Roller in a group of objects (from bamboo to fossilised wood), including the sense of the ghostly half seen past created by the Dageurrotypes of (reconstructed) previous exhibitions in the space.

What art have I seen? Burnt Sierra and the Ship of Theseus

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on January 6, 2016

What art have I seen? Turner Prize

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on December 30, 2015


Sadly Janice Kerbel’s choral piece was ‘off’ for the hols, but the juxtaposition between Assemble’s ‘craftivist’ community-focused regeneration of Four Streets in Granby, Liverpool, on the one hand and Bonnie Camplin’s study centre on the community kidnapped by extra-terrestrials was compelling. In one room we found a catalogue of hand-made objects which spoke to our desire for the worthy poor to have quality fittings (for which we might read ‘to become middle class’). And of course we can buy the objects ourselves, reinforcing our sense of our own good taste. In the other we are faced with a wholly other ‘other’, clearly a population of nutjobs with whom we have nothing in common. Except that in the library (and I’ll admit to a particular fondness for libraries – see previous writing on the Martha Rosler Library and of course the ecoartscotland library) there are books that I have on my shelves. I hope everyone found something that they connected with, bringing them one or two steps closer to the individuals in the video interviews – I watched a bit with a woman talking about reptilian aliens.
It would have been the obvious decision to give the prize to this or the room with fur coats over the backs of chairs – perhaps the red topped newspapers wouldn’t even have bothered making the usual fuss. The provocative decision was to award the prize to Assemble, but they aren’t exactly radical social practice – they lack a sharp enough political edge.

Accidents will happen

Posted in Failure by chrisfremantle on December 29, 2015

More on failure, this time in relation to innovation. Article proposes three conditions:
1. Time and space for experimentation (always an issue eroded by ‘good’ project management, the hurry to evaluate, modularisation, time and motion studies, etc);
2. Knowledge ‘push’ is valuable too, and sometimes relevance becomes apparent later (‘pull’ is very popular but people need to know what’s possible in order to pull);
3. Connectivity – tell people about failures (links to ‘open’ methods but also to publishing failure, critical reflection not just KE, etc).

Tagged with:

The Hope of Something Different – a piece for A Restless Art

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 24, 2015

Invited piece for Francois Matarasso’s A Restless Art unpacking some of the similarities between community/social and environmental/ecological art practices.

Old to New in Hospitals: Echoes of Grace

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on December 7, 2015
Marlene Creates, Echoes of Grace (detail), 2001

Marlene Creates, Echoes of Grace (detail), 2001

Marlene Creates, the Canadian artist poet known for her deep exploration of the human relation to place, undertook a project demonstrating ways to connect an old hospital with a new one, in particular focusing on staff and their experience of change.  The image above is one of a series of panels comprising images, found text (graffiti written on the walls by the staff during the last days they worked there) as well as more formal text.  View the project on MARLENE CREATES website.

What art have I seen? Transmissions

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on December 1, 2015

Transmissions is an exhibition of work produced from the ASCUS micro-residency at the Centre for Immunity Infection and Evolution in the University of Edinburgh. Works by Mark Doyle, Anne Milne, and Jo Hodges & Robbie Coleman.
Comes back to the question provoked by Matthew Dalziel’s presentation at the North Light Arts Conference in 2014. He reminded us of the question “Who speaks for the wolves?” This prompts the question for our culture “Who speaks for MRSA (or Malaria or SARS)?” This exhibition begins to address that question.

Edward Snowden meets Arundhati Roy and John Cusack: ‘He was small and lithe, like a house cat’ | Life and style | The Guardian

Posted in Failure by chrisfremantle on November 29, 2015

What art have I seen? Devils in the Making

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 29, 2015

Cultural leadership and the place of the artist

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on October 21, 2015

Really excited to be working on a new phase of artists and leadership

On The Edge Research

Traditional Sicilian puppets at Rustico's restaurant, AberdeenOn The Edge has secured a new £100,000 international project to develop professional engagement with its research into artistic and cultural leadership at Gray’s School of Art. Establishing new relationships with the Clore Leadership Programme, Creative Scotland and ENCATC (the European network of cultural management and cultural policy education), the work will generate events and discussions with the cultural sector in London, Edinburgh and Brussels. New publications will be produced and the project aims to inform new developments in cultural leadership training, theory and practice.

The year-long initiative is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with further support from the three partners. It builds on the longstanding ‘Artist as Leader’ research as well as Jonathan Price’s Ph.D research into ‘Discourses of Cultural Leadership’ (2012-2015).  Price will co-ordinate the new project while Professor Anne Douglas and Chris Fremantle, the co-authors of the Artist as Leader report, will…

View original post 368 more words

Remember Nature

Posted in Civics, Exhibitions, News by chrisfremantle on October 21, 2015

Julia Peyton Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine wrote to ask us to participate and circulate this invitation.

We Invite you to Remember Nature by creating your own event, action, performance intervention or artwork, on social media, in a gallery, a college campus, in the street…

Institutions: Register your interest to recieve specially designed posters to support your event, giving details of name, email and postal address before Fri 23rd Oct.

Individuals: Register your interest to participate in this event

All we ask is that you send us evidence of your contribution however small – for example, you might create photos, films, or other documentary evidence. Once you have run your event please use the WeTransfer service to send us your digital artifacts. Send them to:

Just copy and paste the above email address into WeTransfer. Send us your evidence before 30 November 2015.

Example of event for Remember Nature at your campus
Gustav Metzger co-curated the programme of last years’ Serpentine Marathon titled Extinction: Visions of the Future on 18th and 19th Oct 2014. During this time his work, Mass Media: Today and Yesterday was livestreamed from Herbert Read Gallery into the Serpentine Gallery throughout the course of the Marathon.  Fine Art students from University for the Creative Arts created a media wall from newspapers for 18 hours over two days. Students were fully immersed in this work, scouring newspapers, silently cutting out key texts relating to extinction, working in pairs for 2 hour blocks. This exhibition was curated by Andrea Gregson, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, at UCA Farnham.

Continue reading How to get involved

For more on extinction it’s worth checking out the previous post on Thom Van Dooren’s work.

%d bloggers like this: