Saturday, 24 September 2011

Tracey Emin says my art looks like a plane crash

As some people will know, one of our cats, Marius, got hit a by a car a couple of weeks or so, which has left us running round like headless chickens getting him operated on at the vet (he now has a pin holding his leg together and is really going to have problems going through airport security from now on), sorting out his palatial accommodation for the prescribed 8 weeks cage-rest, and trying to get money together to pay the vet bill. (Many thanks to Powys Animal Welfare, the RSPCA, and Tailwaggers Club Trust for helping out!).

The patient, prior to losing an argument about right of way with a 4WD
We now have some time, finally, to continue preparations for the Open Studio which starts next Saturday (eek!), but I thought I'd just chip in a little bit about the finale to the British Airways Gret Britons competition. Having got through to the finalists' short-list of 10 candidates, you'll recall I went down to London for interview with the distinguished panel, and in the light of having no updates to the contrary, you've probably gathered that I didn't win (obligatory frowny face). Well, technically speaking there was only a 10% chance, but of course it's disappointing to have gone through a lot of hard work, time, effort and indeed money to no avail. Everyone's standard response is, of course, "Well, at least it's something good to put on the CV", but it remains to be seen whether that actually sways anyone's opinion when I'm applying for other projects...

So now, at least I can show a couple of the designs which got me onto the shortlist.....
The all-over option. Copyright © 2011 by Martin Herbert

Tail only ....  Copyright © 2011 by Martin Herbert
The contest was eventually won by Pascal Anson, a designer based in Brighton who went to the Royal College of Art (same as Tracey Emin ... hmm... ) and has already represented Britain in various overseas exhibitions/events. It seems the selection panel might have been playing a bit safe in picking someone who already has a track-record, but I'm sure his designs are well worthy of the prize. We won't be able to see for ourselves, unfortunately, until the newly decorated planes actually roll out onto the tarmac in March 2012.

One thing I did get out of the whole experience was being forced to actually sit down for the best part of three weeks and really think about where my art is going, what I want to say, etc. etc. I suspect that may prove, in the long run, to be the real gain. Oh, and one other thing - that title to this post? Well, it was worth going through the whole show just for one quote - when I'd finished my presentation and it was question and answer time, Tracey Emin picked out one of my designs and said (more or less) "Well, if I saw a plane sitting on the tarmac with that painted on it, I wouldn't want to get on it, 'cos it already looks like a plane crash....!"
The offending article - Would you get on this plane?
Copyright © 2011 by Martin Herbert
Fortunately there were other designs she liked a lot better. The following day, we managed to get to see her retrospective "Love is what you want" at the Hayward Gallery - seeing a lot of her work in context, with the accompanying texts, we both felt we have a much better understanding of it. It's easy to dismiss if you've never seen it close up and in depth, and a lot of people do. (One reaction from an artist friend when I told them I'd entered a contest in which part of the prize was mentoring from Tracey Emin was "Are you sure it shouldn't be the other way round?"). I think maybe that understanding was another good thing I gained from the process. Vivi-Mari wrote a great review of the exhibition and Tracey's work here - well worth a read.

So it's on to new projects - I've entered a piece for the National Open Art Competition, and the Open Studio starts next week. By the end of October I hope to be ready to announce a new project which will be a taking up a lot of my time and energy for the next few months .... until then, if anyone wants a painting of a plane crash .....

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