free webpage hit counter

‘I’m shocked’: the artist who posted a giant sign for refugees at sea to read | Art

P.Nestled above the promenade west of Newhaven, as visible to refugees at sea as it is to dogwalkers strolling along the front, is a huge message written in bright carnival lights, held aloft by five-meter-high scaffolding. “Imagine what you want,” says the text sculpture, one of six by Glasgow artist Nathan Coley that are currently installed in various locations in the Sussex landscape.

“It’s at the end of the trail,” says Coley of Newhaven, “where people drive picnics – and it’s deliberately in front of the water.” Here the ferry takes vacationers to and from Dieppe but, beyond that official corridor, the English Channel also carries thousands of souls from places beyond continental Europe. “Of all the locations, that is the most politically charged,” says the 54-year-old, carefully choosing his words in his bright and quiet studio in Whiskey Bond, a co-working space in Speirs Locks on the Glasgow canal.

The words are taken from a quote by playwright George Bernard Shaw on the origins of creativity but, as with all of Coley’s textual works, it is the setting that adds its own meaning. “The idea – of people who travel this far, seek refuge, risk crossing the English Channel, which is notoriously dangerous – is all about imagining a better life and wanting something for their children that is more than what they have in the world. this moment. “She stops and runs her hands through her hair.” Like most people, I am shocked that as a country we have forgotten how we grew up, through immigration. “

Coley's I Don't Have Another Land was installed in Charleston, East Sussex.
I don’t have another Coley’s land installed in Charleston. Director of photography: Keith Hunter

Almost by accident, this sculpture was first illuminated on the day Interior Minister Priti Patel announced plans to send asylum seekers arriving in the UK to Rwanda. “I was wondering what his parents, who fled persecution in Uganda, imagined for their children, for their daughter”. Commissioned by the Sussex Modern art network and Coley’s largest outdoor exhibition ever organized, the series includes a new piece, I Don’t Have Another Land, which is installed in Charleston, the former Bloomsbury artists’ home. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

Coley’s material resides in the ordinary and the heard, the notion of readymade, something taken from one place and repositioned elsewhere. In this case, “I have no other land” was a line of graffiti he found on a wall in Jerusalem in 2005. As always, there are multiple interpretations available and Coley doesn’t prescribe one over the other, although there is. it is also a playfulness in this position: “When you think you know what the artwork is about, it will fall into your fingers,” he says mischievously.

Public space – both as a physical reality and as a concept – is significant to Coley’s work. So how has the pandemic, which has so restricted the movement of people, affected her practice and the wider public understanding of shared arenas? She “secretly loved” the first lockdown, she says, admitting it was “the first time I’ve stopped since graduating.” It’s been 30 years since the Glasgow School of Art. He was encouraged by the fact that the parks near where he lives, in the south of Glasgow, “have never been used since they were designed by the Victorians” – especially by young people.

'I'm happy enough to be anonymous' ... Nathan Coley.
‘I’m happy enough to be anonymous’ … Nathan Coley. Director of photography: Murdo MacLeod / The Guardian

He thinks that working from home, as well as the constraints of the lockdown, have sharpened the questions about who owns and how we use the space that is home and not. He calls them “these other arenas where we gather, and where there are rituals and rules, even if they aren’t written down. We are too close to really understand this, but there has been a revaluation of space not controlled by commerce, the church or the railways. “

A former Turner Prize nominee, whose work is held in private and public collections internationally, Coley stresses his privilege as he criticizes the “suspended funding” of the arts in Scotland and calls for a zero-tax policy on cultural workers, as is the case in Ireland.

“Visual art, particularly in Scotland, is absolutely on its knees,” he says. “It’s also due to the fact that there have been years where Scotland-based artists have boxed above their weight – it has been perceived that all is well. But there are fewer opportunities than when I graduated. “

Coley likes to talk about sculpture as if it has needs of its own, insisting that he is “happy enough to be anonymous”. Ideally, she believes, the sculptures should be “long enough to disappear before they finish”. She takes the dog for a walk. For the first few weeks it’s all you see, but as time goes by she stops noticing it. “Then they are taken away and become visible again: ‘That thing is gone. Can you remember what he said? ‘”

And he continues: “All this happens because it is not a private space. It is not controlled. It’s not like the supermarket. It’s not like your phone. It’s a different deal. “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous post A makeup artist tells us how to properly cover and hide pimples
Next post The biggest stadium ever? The artist shows what a 1,000,000-seat arena would look like