CHRIS FREMANTLE

What art have I seen? Jac Leirner

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 20, 2017

At the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh. Art made from the everyday. I think that resistance affects how long a piece of wire can connect a socket to a bulb?

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What art have I seen? Soul of a Nation

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 9, 2017

Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern

Lorraine O’Grady, ‘Art is…’ (detail) 1983

Compelling exhibition bringing together many distinct groups of artists (East Coast, Los Angeles, Abstraction, Graphic Design, etc) tackling vital and complex questions starting in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Aspects such as self organising galleries are common to many artists groups. Addressing lynchings and the bombings of churches not so much. You couldn’t have a more complex exhibition on ‘representation’.

David Braine 1940-2017 RIP

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 3, 2017

I was one of David’s amenuenses in the late 80s also living in Greenlaw Court for nearly 3 years. The obituary in the Catholic Herald pretty much says it all.

The Archive of Failure

Posted in Failure, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 16, 2017

What art have I seen? Piero Gilardi

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 20, 2017

The rules of hospital art: ‘If you can’t clean it, you can’t have it’

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 19, 2017

The ambitious programme for the new Children’s Hospital in Dublin here highlighted in the press with the importance of maintenance, “If you can’t clean it, you can’t have it”. Clearly this strategy aims to focus on the needs of the patient and is being led by the Youth Council. They want a building that doesn’t look like a hospital, but can they use the constraints of cleaning and maintenance creatively? For more on that thought read my blog on the London Arts in Health Forum.

What art have I seen? Collection Gori

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 18, 2017

What art have I seen? Dreamers Awake

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 6, 2017

Dreamers Awake must be the largest exhibition comprising only women artists that I’ve ever seen – good on White Cube for mounting it. As the reviewers have said, Surrealism is very much associated with men but this shows that it’s a thread running through the 20th and into 21st Century.

What art have I seen? Random Archive at Bury Art Museum

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 24, 2017

Random Archive at Bury Art Museum – excellent, challenging and provocative installation including the rant above. 
Drifts into the permanent collection, elegantly curated mix of new and old including Paul Scott’s ceramics. One wall has work from a life drawing class which would appear to take place in the space (evidence in the form of easels). In fact there are tables for art classes pretty much everywhere intimating a very used and animated space.

What art have I seen? Patricia Cain’s ‘Seeing Beyond’ at Gracefield Arts Centre

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 15, 2017


Patricia Cain’s Seeing Beyond at Gracefield Arts Centre and the Seeing Beyond the Immediate seminar in partnership with Upland.
The exhibition emerges from a residency and includes works by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. It explores the relationship between figuation and abstraction through the eyes and hand of the artist. 

Touring to Hawick and Glasgow.

What art have I seen? Tschabalala Self and Richard Wright

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 9, 2017

Tschabalala Self at the Tramway and Richard Wright at The Modern Institute. In passing saw Florian Hecker at the Tramway and Manfred Pernice at The Modern Institute.

Transformations 2017

Posted in CV, Research, Texts, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 6, 2017

Abstract for the Transformations 2017 conference in Dundee. Accepted.


ecoart as a practice of understanding the world

In 2007 the artist Eve Mosher drew a line on the streets of New York based on current science indicating the impact of a major storm surge – a hundred-year flood. The line followed the contour 10 feet above sea level. Mosher used a ‘heavy hitter,’ the wheelbarrow-like device used to mark the lines on sports fields. Mosher worked on High Water Line, as she titled the project, on and off for six months, photographing the line as she made it. The context was the noted total lack of discussion of climate change in the City and National elections.

Not long after Hurricane Sandy struck New York in 2012 The New Yorker magazine carried a story (Kolbert) about High Water Line. In the article Mosher is quoted saying, “I wanted to leave this visually interesting mark, to open up a space for conversation…” and goes on to say, “The other part of the project was to try to prod some kind of conversation on a government level.”

Some artists describe what they do as ‘eco-art’ (and themselves as ‘ecoartists’). This neologism is a contraction of “art (or arts) and ecology”. It represents a still emergent form of practice (albeit with a history back to the late 1960s) which is distinctive in several aspects, not least in seeking to ‘do good in the world’.

Key elements of ecoart include a focus on context and a concern with human interaction with ecological systems; the frequency of interdisciplinarity between artists and scientists (natural and social) drawing out the complexity of these ecological interactions; the embedding of dialogue leading to wider learning by others living and working in the context.

These elements, along with more formal considerations of making art, combine to form the aesthetic, the tangible and experiential quality of the work, the focus of judgement by the artists concerned.

Mosher’s High Water Line demonstrates all of these characteristics. The context, New York, is where Mosher lives and the work explores the relationship between the artist, other inhabitants and the immediate ecological systems. The context is also the issue of climate change, and in particular the issue of public discourse at the community and civic levels. Mosher drew on readily available science modelling the increase frequency of storm surges. Mosher was doing a field study of published science, exploring what it ‘looks like on the ground’ and what it means to inhabitants. In terms of formal considerations the work, the use of everyday, non-art equipment and materials, the temporal intervention where ‘the work’ exists in documentation, and the performative and social character situate the work in relation to other artists’ practices. Critiques of this work might ask whether it is a work in its own right, or simply and illustration of existing science? Is it merely an exercise in climate change communications, or an artwork in its own right? A key question is the status of learning, Mosher’s own and her intended audiences, within the work – does if form an essential aspect of the aesthetic of the work?

There has been considerable focus on developing our understanding of the aesthetics of social and participatory practices (Bourriaud 1998, Helguera 2011, Jackson 2011, Kester 2004, 2011), but less attention has been paid to ecoart practice. Specific attempts (Kagan 2011) to explore ecoart as an art engaged with sustainability have drawn on thinking about auto-poesis as well as Gregory Bateson’s writings. Others (Douglas and Fremantle 2016a, 2016b) have focused on the formal aspects that are rooted in what might be called core art practices such as composition and improvisation.

The purpose of this paper will be to propose an understanding of education and learning within the practices of selected ecoartists.

Bourriaud, N. 1998. Relational Aesthetics. Les Presse du Reel

Douglas, A. and Fremantle, C. 2016. ‘What Poetry Does Best: The Harrisons’ Poetics of Being and Acting in the World’ in Harrison, H.M. and Harrison, N. The Time of the Force Majeure: After 45 Years Counterforce Is on the Horizon. Prestel, pp 455-460

Douglas, A. and Fremantle, C. 2016. ‘Inconsistency and Contradiction: Lessons in Improvisation in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’. In Elemental: an Arts and Ecology Reader. The Gaia Project, pp 153-181.

Helguera, P., 2011. Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. Jorge Pinto Books

Jackson, S., 2011. Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. London and New York: Routledge

Kagan, S. 2011. Art and Sustainability: Connecting Patterns for a Culture of Complexity. Transcript Verlag

Kester, G. H., 2011. The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Duke University Press

Kester, G. H., 2004. Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art. University of California Press

Kolbert, E., Crossing the Line, The New Yorker, November 12, 2012 accessed at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/11/12/crossing-the-line-3, 31 October 2016

Imagining the Mediterranean

Posted in Failure, Research, Texts, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 4, 2017

This abstract was submitted to the Imagining The Mediterranean Congress scheduled for September. Unfortunately it wasn’t accepted.


Science and Cultural Heritage: Transdisciplinary Practices and Artists

Current socio-political contexts are shaped in increasingly complex ways by environmental issues which in turn are informed on the one hand by natural sciences and on the other by cultural factors. There are considerable challenges in adequately integrating specialist scientific perspectives with those from the humanities: yet policies (particularly for change adaptation and resilience) are likely to be much more successful if they take on more holistic approaches.

The intergovernmental Convention on Wetlands, the Ramsar Convention, established to protect the values and functions of wetlands, addresses this challenge through the Ramsar Culture Network. The Network includes interest groups and specialist experts in thematic areas ranging from indigenous knowledge and spiritual values to agriculture and food, youth, tourism, art and architecture.

This paper will focus on the role of artists (a term which will be explained as embracing contemporary practices that may surprise some readers by the variety of scientific and socio-political roles that are played), highlighting key examples of artists involved in wetland biodiversity and related cultural heritage. Some artists choose to engage with non-arts contexts, including projects with scientists, planners, landowners and local communities.

In the immediate Spanish context, artists have been drawn to record and represent Las Tablas de Daimiel, one of the first Ramsar designated wetlands in Spain. In particular Ignacio de Meco whose paintings document the landscape and form an important record of a changing environment (2010).

Lillian Ball’s GO Doñana (2008) project, part of an on-going series based on the game of Go, was an invited part of the International Bienal of Sevilla. As the audience interacted with the projected Go board, each move activated the video/sound viewpoints of scientists, farmers, environmentalists, landowners, and park guides.

In a wider Mediterranean context the artist, biologist and environmental activist Brandon Ballengée has worked with the Parco Arte Vivente in Turin (2011). His ongoing project Malamp, focusing on mutations in amphibians, is pursued throughscientific enquiry, art installations and “eco-actions” involving varied communities in field work.

Further examples include Liz Nicol’s on-going work in the Venice Lagoon and Shai Zakai’s work Concrete Creek (1999-2002) in Israel as well as Jane Ingram Allen’s ongoing Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project.

Some of the strongest impetus for attention to these matters in the Ramsar context has come from initiatives pioneered in the Mediterranean region, and global leadership continues to be provided from this part of the world. The paper will draw out the transdisciplinary characteristics of artists’ practices which address both the cultural and scientific aspects of environmental contexts and policies.

Bibliography

Allen, Jane Ingram. Cheng-Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project. https://artproject4wetland.wordpress.com/about/

Alvarez-Cobelas, M., Cirujano, S. and Meco, A. ‘The Man and Las Tablas de Daimiel’ in Ecology of Threatened Semi-Arid Wetlands: Long-Term Research in Las Tablas de Daimiel. Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York: Springer. 2010

Cravero, Claudio. Praeter Naturam: Brandon Ballengée. Parco Arte Vivente, Centro D’Arte Contemporanea, Torino. 2011.

Culture and Wetlands: A Ramsar Guidance Document. Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, 1971) Culture Working Group. Gland. 2008. http://www.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/documents/library/cop10_culture_group_e.pdf accessed 26 April 2017

Zakai, S. Concrete Creek: Artist’s Statement 1999. http://www.shaizakai.com/text.php?NID=256 accessed 30 April 2017

Oxford Futures Forum 2017

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 1, 2017

Abstract accepted by Oxford Futures Forum (2-3 June 2017). Heading there now.

What is the role of artists in relation to land use?

Lucy R Lippard says in her recent book Undermining (2014) that she finds ‘landscape’ to be a difficult word, trapped in the art domain, and that living in the American West the term ‘land use’ is more relevant.

This affirmed a line of research and writing I’ve been engaged in for more than 18 months, concerned particularly with artists whose work addresses land use and could contribute to Land Use Policy. This is only one aspect of artists’ working with environmental and ecological issues, but it is an area of key relevance to the Oxford Future Forum agenda. ‘Land use’ directly describes the current construction of human use of land as a resource, with all the implied contradictions. Whilst artists and designers are sometimes involved to support ‘public engagement’ through creative approaches, I’m interested in the work of artists who also work strategically imagining different futures and sometimes work to deliver them. Practices such as Collins and Goto, Stephen Hurrel, Kate Foster, John Wallace, Anne-Marie Culhane and internationally Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison are drawing on social/cultural histories as well as scientific disciplines (eg Forest Ecology, Soil Science, Coastal Defence or Marine Biology) to synthesise new understandings of specific places at a range of scales. This can be understood as the formation of scenarios, albeit presented as artworks.

The development of Ecosystems Services Assessment makes this work more significant given that it specifically includes the Cultural dimension, an area which the sciences and environmental management find challenging to move beyond obvious designations of scenic beauty (spiritual value) or path networks (leisure value). But it is worth noting that the artistic practices cited above , through cultural approaches, can also address the Provisioning (i.e. products obtained including food and fuel), Regulating (e.g. water purification) and Supporting (e.g. soil formation and photosynthesis) aspects of Ecosystems Services Assessment. An apparently cultural approach to river ecology might envisage interventions which affect water quality and flow management. A good example is the Harrisons’ Atempause Für Den Save Flüss / Breathing Space for the Sava River (1990) which proposed an ecosystemic approach to cleaning the Sava River which was also implemented on the nearby Drava River.

Artists are in some cases able to go beyond representing landscape to create value in areas not previously perceived as valuable through conceptual, policy and practical interventions produced with communities, environmental managers, engineers and scientists. In doing so they demonstrate complex skill sets including social engagement, collaboration and interdisciplinarity as well as the production of process and object-based art.

The challenge is to engage policy makers (as well as curators) at regional and national level in understanding the value of these practices. Another challenge is to understand how to extend this type of work, which currently exists as unique projects, across multiple different administrative regions.


I work as a researcher and producer across arts & ecologies and arts & health. I was the producer for the Harrisons’ Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom and have recently co-authored two chapters on their aesthetics. I’ve worked with a number of the artists mentioned above. I established ecoartscotland as a platform for research and practice in 2010. ecoartscotland is multi-dimensional, collaborating with the Land Art Generator Initiative on a major project for Glasgow, participating in exhibitions at Edinburgh College of Art and Summerhall Arts Centre, publishing ‘occasional papers’ under an ISSN, and connecting a large network of practitioners through a blog.

REFERENCES

Harrison, Helen Mayer and Harrison, Newton, Atempause Für Den Save Flüss, Ljubljana: Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Moderna Galerija, 1990
Lippard, Lucy, R. Undermining: A Wild Ride Through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West, New York: The New Press, 2014

What art have I seen? Souvenir

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 28, 2017


Souvenir by Victoria Bianchi on Ayr Beachfront. A journey back to the heyday of Ayr Beach, reminiscing without being corny or stereotypical, this was physical, engaging and touching by turns.

What art have I seen? Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn’s The Things That Make You Sick at the ICA

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 26, 2017

The Things That Make You Sick: East London Health Campaigning, 1977-1980 by Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn at the ICA until 2 July.

Brilliant to revisit the serious radicalism of these artists work with local Unions and Trades Councils to support local campaigns against hospital closures as well as raise issues of ‘health over profits’ and women’s rights. The issues are the same today though I’m not sure the art practices have the political alignment or intention. These artists put themselves at the service of local people’s needs as part of campaigns – they felt that it was better not being instigators (as they had been in a previous project). Lots to learn.

What art have I seen?Picasso: Minotaurs and Matadors at Gagosian

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 26, 2017


Picasso: Minotaurs and Matadors at Gagosian 

Good lessons in working in series, good lessons in not caring about mixing styles, fabulous sheets of bulls preparatory for making ceramics.

What art have I seen? Cerith Wyn Evans

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 25, 2017

No Maintenance: Chris Dooks

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 10, 2017

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Can taking ‘no maintenance’ as a creative challenge inspire new approaches to art in healthcare settings? This is the challenge I posed in a blog for the London Arts in Health Forum based on a paper published in the new Design for Health Journal.

The intention is to provoke new approaches to making public art (or sited work) for hospitals and healthcare settings. Having considerable experience of managing the commissioning process, it seems to me that we need new ways to think about the challenge and the particularly difficult requirements of ‘no maintenance’ in a high ‘wear and tear’ context like a hospital. But the intention is to raise deeper philosophical and theoretical issues around ‘care’ and ‘maintenance’, and underlying questions of value.

One of the artists who has responded is interdisciplinary artist, composer and researcher Chris Dooks. In 2014 Dooks completed The Fragmented Filmmaker, Emancipating The Exhausted Artist, his Phd on his art practice in relation to his Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS-ME). The Phd took the form of three vinyl records (yellow, blue and red) and an autoethnographic text. Despite this condition Dooks has undertaken residencies in Berlin as well as with Woodend Barn, Aberdeenshire; Timespan in Helmsdale; and made work in response to the Dark Skies Park in the South West of Scotland.

Dooks’ research proposes that making art could be a way of coping with his CFS-ME even though the very character of the condition limits the ability to do the things normally associated with making art.

Dooks proposes that ways of making art, in particular ‘bricolage’, defined as ‘construction achieved by using whatever comes to hand’, are compatible with ‘low energy’ generally and his condition specifically. Dooks says, “The Holy Grail is to make something with conceptual value without actually ‘making’ anything at all.”
Each of Dooks three works for his Phd addresses a different method and a different challenge. He describes each of the three projects as experiments within a personal arts laboratory. One is focused by cosmology, another by the limitations of a broken harmonium and the third by what you can record from your windowsill.
In each case they address specific challenges of CFS-ME, such as not being able to leave your house, or the need for aids to sleep. Dooks says of this last challenge, “…one aspect of that is to create ‘soporific sonics’ – where tones to aid sleep and rest are cherished prizes, when found.” But each is also much more. Each demonstrates the potential of making art from whatever comes to hand, including broken instruments, conversations with strangers and ambient sounds.

In the sleeve notes for Ciga{r}les (the yellow album) Dooks explores the relationship between his own “predicament”, the “unpleasant and inconvenient limitations” he lives with, in relation to the wider importance of limitation and context in the making of any artwork. He juxtaposes these limitations with the necessity of limiting oneself when making an artwork, selecting what to work with and what to leave aside, editing and in the end knowing when to stop.

The question that I’m raising is asking artists to shift ‘no maintenance’ from an external limitation into a self-imposed creative constraint. Dooks’ work also explores using his illness as a part of his creative process, both for his own wellbeing and as part of cultural projects.

Of course one of the sharpest aspects is that whilst Dooks constructs sound with care for his own wellbeing and for our pleasure, most healthcare environments, and in particular hospitals, are characterised by monitors and alarms, a constant barrage of random noise. Although most work made for hospitals and healthcare settings is visual and applied art, Dooks’ work makes a compelling case for needing to address the sonic environments.

No Maintenance – a creative challenge for public art in healthcare settings

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 3, 2017

Thanks to the London Arts and Health Forum for the opportunity to share the idea that maintenance can be a creative inspiration for art in hospitals.

London Arts in Health Forum blog

By Chris Fremantle

Maintenance is one of the most difficult challenges in public art, especially working with the public sector, because no-one wants to commit to long term costs. As a result many briefs, and I’ve written my share of them recently for new projects in hospitals, specify zero or at best low maintenance. They go on to stipulate that any cleaning must utilise equipment already in use. Art must be able to cope with chlorine-based cleaning products and even with steam cleaning. Often the response is to do what we normally do but to specify more robust materials.

What if we imagined ‘no maintenance’ as a positive opportunity? What if zero maintenance was a creative challenge for artists and designers and a benefit for hospital patients, families, carers and staff (medical, nursing and support)? Could we still provide a positive distraction, aid way-finding, support patient dignity, make distinctive ‘places’…

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What art have I seen? Forms of Action

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 10, 2017

What art have I seen? A Caledonian Decoy

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 23, 2017

What art have I seen? D’Arcy Thompson

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 28, 2016

Sketch of the Universe: Art, Science and the influence of D’Arcy Thompson and Peter Randall-Page at the City Arts Centre and William Kentridge at the Fruitmarket. The D’Arcy Thompson exhibition is work collected by and commissioned for the Zoology Museum at the University of Dundee. Excellent.

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.”
https://hbr.org/2009/05/how-artistleaders-do-things-di

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.

What art have I seen? Charles Jencks + Alex Rigg

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 4, 2016

What art have I seen? Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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

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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

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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? 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.
https://www.themoderninstitute.com/exhibitions/3-the-modern-institute-3-airds-lane2015-11-14/5352/

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.

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…

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Collective Futures Final Report — #COFUTURES

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on October 10, 2015

#CoFutures Report is a really valuable source on Collectives across art, design and craft in Scotland – used design thinking methods, residents, events and tools to understand character, issues and challenges as well as values and structures.
http://www.collectivefutures.net/blog/2015/2/12/collective-futures-final-report

Help Place of Origin

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 13, 2015

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We need your help. Kemnay Community Councillor David Evans just contacted me about a proposal to further surround Place of Origin with housing.  Some of you will know that when I was Director of the Scottish Sculpture Workshop we worked with three artists John Maine RA, Glen Onwin RSA and Brad Goldberg (Texas) to create a landscape and viewpoint at Kemnay Quarry called Place of Origin.  John Maine framed it as making landscape as art.
So Place of Origin as an artwork made out of 100,000 tonnes of quarry waste and about 7000 trees mirroring Bennachie in the way the Japanese gardens mirrored the wider landscape is all about views.  When you are standing at the top you have views for 360 degrees with the quarry in front of you and Aberdeenshire’s beautiful countryside around with Bennachie in the distance.  The artists also thought hard about how the landscape and viewpoint would look in the context of Kemnay village.
Anyway there is a proposal from a volume house builder for 49 new houses on greenfield immediately adjacent to the artwork.  At present as you ascent the viewpoint you rise above all the housing on Fyfe Park, but this stuff will be on higher ground and will immediately be in your face.
The developer tried to get the housing into the Local Development Plan a couple of years ago and it was refused so they appealed – the Scottish Government’s Reporter commented as follows, “The site is on rising ground and any development would be elevated above the existing housing adjacent to the A933. When viewed from the approach to Kemnay from the east, particularly from the B993, a development on site H1 would seriously intrude on the view of the ‘Place of Origin’. Furthermore, the development would seriously detract from views southwards from the ‘Place of Origin’ viewpoint. Consequently, it is considered that site H1 should not be allocated for housing.”
We are so grateful that Kemnay Community Council are strenuously objecting and they have noted a number of reasons including impacts on the school, the medical centre, the traffic and the stormwater drainage as well as the impact on the artwork.  I hope that you will take the time to go online and make a comment.  I think frankly you can pretty much reiterate the comments of the Scottish Government Reporter and note that the artwork won both an Aberdeenshire Council Planning Award, as well as a national Saltire Award.  You might also make a general reference to Aberdeenshire Council’s various policies on Landscape and in particular the value of place-making.
If you can take the time to object I would appreciate it a lot as would the people in Kemnay who look after Place of Origin. The link, email address and postal address for objections are all on the web page.

What art have I seen? Rachel Nolan

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 3, 2015

What art have I seen? Ian McNicol

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 3, 2015

Moving Image Season: Clyde Reflections, from art-science team Hurrel and Brennan, 28 May – 5 July 2015

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 12, 2015

Very much looking forward to chairing the discussion on 13 June…

Gallery Of Modern Art

'Still from video: Hurrel & Brennan (from underwater footage by Howard Wood)' courtesy and © the artists ‘Still from video: Hurrel & Brennan (from underwater footage by Howard Wood)’ courtesy and © the artists

There are a host of brilliant events and openings happening  this month in GoMA, including the next installment of the Moving Image Season, Gallery 1. Clyde Reflections, an audio-video installation by the collaborative art/science team artist Stephen Hurrel and social ecologist Ruth Brennan, was selected by the curatorial team as beautiful and thought provoking work to continue the programme in the main gallery. It also relates to ongoing conversations that the gallery has been having about climate change, Glasgow and the visual arts while hosting Early Warning Signs, by Ellie Harrison and for Glasgow Green Year 2015.

 “We are delighted that Clyde Reflections has found a temporary home at GoMA as part of the upcoming Moving Image Season. Our approach to producing this film was to interview a diverse range…

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What art have I seen? Danish Diaspora Scotland

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on April 11, 2015

Write, Erase, Do It Over: On Failure, Risk and Writing Outside Yourself

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 13, 2015

Terry Pratchett RIP

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 13, 2015

In about 1990/91 I was knocked off my bike and spent 3 weeks in St Thomas’. My brother brought me a paperback of Weird Sisters. I laughed so much. Mind you I was on morphine based painkillers.

What art have I seen? Drawing at RSA

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 19, 2015

Scottish Drawing exhibition at the RSA in Edinburgh – a few thoughts on what was unexpected, familiar, unfamiliar, obsessibe, a reminder, revealing, evocative, relational, quiet, surprising, severe, known and unknown, small.

Unexpected
Most Marion Smith
Next Will Maclean
But also Glen Onwin one unexpectedly direct Galena; one intriguingly complex – The unchanging and the changing; and one I think I knew about – Flow of Near Solids (A proposal)

Familiar from recent encounters David Blyth.

Unfamiliar Alfons Bytautus, Lorna McIntosh.

Obsessive Charles Stiven.

Reminder James Castle.

Revealing Joe Fan, particularly Spring Time Chaos.

Evocative Annie Cattrell Sustain, Sustain I and II

Relationships between for instance Frances Pelly’s PI, a concertina of drawings of a sleeping dog and CameronWebster’s visual narrative of house from sketch to completion.

Quiet works including Andy Cranston and Anne Douglas

Surprising Leon Morrocco. Vibrant, engaging, challenging the chromophobia of drawing.

Severe Arthur Watson

Known Frances Walker and Doug Cocker and unknown Fiona Dean.

The smallest revealing the most – Andy Stenhouse’s Tone Poem : Tone Dee (Harbour).

Missing Donald Urquhart,

The Question of Light: Tilda Swinton’s speech at the Rothko Chapel | Connerhabib’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 9, 2015

Having been to the Rothko Chapel and having lived in Scotland for more than thirty years and spending the best (and worst) of that working with artists, this resonates… the older I get, the more I realise, “both this and that are true at once…”
http://connerhabib.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/the-question-of-light-tilda-swintons-speech-at-the-mark-rothko-chapel/

What art have I seen? Joseph Kosuth

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 27, 2015

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Joseph Kosuth’s neon works installed Spruth Magers. The banding on the photo is I assume a frequency related to the neon/camera interaction. This work in the basement made the Greek myths into daily appointments. Upstairs  the neon treatment of Freud’s proofs of the galleys was one of a sequence of manifestations of others’ works including artists (including Judd and Calvin and Hobbes), theorists (including Adorno) and scientists (including Darwin).

What art have I seen? Adventures of the Black Square

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 25, 2015

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Whitechapel Gallery’s first class exhibition, Adventures of the Black Square. They take us for a very interesting walk following the black square in the 20th Century art, dance, design, architecture and craft. Particularly appreciated juxtaposition with David Batchelor’s Monochrome – 500 white quadrilaterals he’s found on his travels (and in the corner one screen showing the black ones).

What art have I seen? David Blyth

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 11, 2014

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David Blyth’s astounding exhibition at RGU. Exploring and exploding taxidermy. Stories of Cyril the Squirrel and the Blyth’s Fitch Ranch in Manitoba  in the 30s and 40s. Years of stripping back stories.

Ten thoughts from Johnny Galley

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 6, 2014

Read Johnny Galley’s blog on the seminar at Talbot Rice. I’ve posted on Tim Rollins and the K.O.S. before and was privileged to be at this event. I also use Tim Ingold and Elizabeth Hallam’s observation about innovation and improvisation.

Tim Rollins & K.O.S.

gang Tim Rollins and KOS, New York, late eighties

In August 2012, Tim Rollins and KOS arrived in Edinburgh in advance of the opening of their exhibition, The Black Spot, at the Talbot Rice Gallery. In partnership with the gallery, Artworks Scotland organised a day’s seminar for practicing artists and educators, which sought to explore   ‘what was there to learn from Tim’s long practice?’  By gathering written responses of the seminar from five practicing artists and educators, we have sought to collate multiple responses that may be of transference to other educators working in the field:

The following are some ten thoughts, responding to the artists’ reviews, of what artists’ might take from Tim Rollins’ practice.

 1. Charisma

There is no doubt that Tim has presence.  Attendees talked of being ‘intoxicated’ by Tim’s presentation, and by his style of presentation.  Holding a room, being confident, being a performer…

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