The Catlin Guide to New Artists in the UK – see the contemporaryist of today’s contemporary art

The elegant cloth-bound 2015 edition of the Catlin Guide to New Artists in the UK is now available. If you have been round all the degree shows at all the UK’s art schools you won’t need it, but if you haven’t this book is a useful guide to all that is most contemporary in the UK art world.

Now in its sixth year the Catlin Guide is compiled by Justin Hammond, who somehow reduces the thousands of new artists he sees each year to only forty. No doubt many deserving artists are left out, and it can only be a brief overview of current practice, nevertheless it is a way to learn about the very latest artists that Hammond regards as having potential.

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Fanny Wickström, ‘Frances’ 2014, Chicken wire, papier mache, clay, acrylic, fabric and fake hair

Artists from London art schools predominate, but there are artists from around the country, including Wolverhampton and the University of Bedfordshire. Graduates from both BA and MA courses have been chosen, and an image or two of each artist’s work is shown along with a short interview which gives an insight into their work, personality and quirks. Patrick Cole regards himself as a modern-day bard, Mette Sterre is inspired by the Fibonacci numbers in nature whilst Nicholas William Johnson likes the dissonance his work creates around current discourses in art.

Artists that stand out include Lauren Cohen, from the RCA, who is experimenting with stop motion animation and painting. Lou Macnamara, who studied at  Central St Martins has investigated photojournalism in the age of the smartphone and social media in her piece #Watchingthewar. Mandy Niewohner of Goldsmiths has been working on a project called Man for a Day which challengers gender perceptions.

The variety of work being produced in the UK is very hard to summarise in one book of 124 pages. With just forty artists chosen, the Catlin guide doesn’t aim to be a complete survey of new artists, but is a welcome peek at some of the work being produced by recent graduates in the UK today.

Selected artists from the book will compete for the Catlin Art Prize which be exhibited at Londonewcastle Project Space, London 7th – 30th May 2015.

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Debut album You Can Have All The Wonders by From Kid @wearefromkid

Nice of From Kid to offer such a prize for listening! And indeed Professor Brian Cox may want a listen – should anyone crave musical accompaniment for stargazing in line with the good Professor’s exploration of the startlingly brilliant cosmos of which the Earth is such a small part, you could do worse even if you don’t happen to have a direct line to Greenwich or Jodrell Bank. Pick just the right evening, head outside & look to the twinkling spots of light in the sky- not forgetting From Kid through your headphones of course.

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“…the contrast between an urban world and a rich nature” is the theme here, & ”shimmering” guitars should set the tone as well as making for a rather pleasing mental image. Even if it’s not quite what Pythagoras meant in outlining his idea of musica universalis, it’ll do nicely. For is there not something of the night about the whole enterprise? It might not surprise you to learn that Mother Nature has a hand here too, the old girl acting as a muse…

”The ideas for their songs often occur to them when they’re travelling, with the duo’s reactions to their surroundings, the natural world they explore and the people they meet clearly permeating their music. ”. Which might be shorthand for ”expect to hear this in a David Attenborough documentary in the near future”. But to dismiss the likes of Come In as mere background is to miss the point, even if that vocation might serve well. An as live sound permeates, and if Itself isn’t being sung along to by festival crowds one summer in the near future several hats will require eating. That is if they can get over the sensation that Of Kid are performing to everyone – there’s a sense of intimacy which suggests they could be sitting right next to you.

Wonders indeed. And when they promise you the universe, you’d be forgiven for being a little disappointed that it’s not yours to play with already. Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension? Have you? If not, this is the ideal moment for such pondering. ”If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?” Maybe those very birds are those which ”sing your song” according to Water Flows. Fight fire with stones indeed. Its a big world/universe, so explore to your heart’s content. Free your mind & your spirit will follow…

You can have all the wonders is available 2nd Feb

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by Christopher Morley, a citizen of the universe, and a gentleman to boot.

Download The Flaneur London Review Podcast – Theatre from the Barbican and Southwark Playhouse and the London Art Fair

Episode 11 of the The London Review Podcast from The Flaneur is available to download for free. Click here to add the podcast to your iTunes account, or here to get the feed for other podcast readers.

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Click above to subscribe for free via iTunes

A breezy eight minutes long, this week’s show includes reviews of:

Upper Cut at the Southwark Playhouse

Light at the Barbican Pit

The London Art Fair in Islington.

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Food for Thought by Joan Hus: Guidelines for New Creative Work

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Experimental Drawing, pen and ink, 76cm x 107cm, Joan Hus

One day, while preparing lunch, I noticed the puzzled expression in the mirror over the kitchen sink. I looked myself in the eye and said, ‘You look like a biologist beating his brains out about a camel-something with wings and a fishtail, the size of an ant.’ In a way, this far-fetched comparison was correct. I was thinking about Art, no doubt, a matter of great puzzlement. As I see it, Art is a product of western civilization. It is permeated with the scientific spirit essential to Western culture. With its origins in the illuminated breviaries from the Middle Ages – such as the Ebbo Gospels – it has a lasting link to literacy, and thus to knowledge, reality and truth. Hence, the Theatrum Mundi mentality of its producers. Artists give the public a glimpse into the world, seen through their eyes, i.e. the eyes of exceptionally gifted people. In 1917, Marcel Duchamp had demonstrated that Art was over. Yet, judging by the works of art which were currently produced and traded, his conclusion had not been understood. Finding a way to spell out that ‘Art is a thing from the past’ seemed a mission impossible. Hence, the puzzled expression on my face.

After lunch, I lay down on the couch in my study. Smoking hookah, I racked my brains. Maybe, it would be better to invent some new forms of creativity. Instead of fighting a battle, we, creative people, needed to make an active contribution to the opening up of new avenues. But, how on earth could we do this? After some puffing and coughing, it dawned on me that in the world in which I lived Art could not mediate in disputes between people with different cultural backgrounds because of its inherent Illuminated-Western-Cultural approach. The fact that all over the world, academic trained artists made works which everyone everywhere would agree upon as being Art, does not contradict that assertion. It is not because people identify something as Art that they identify themselves with it. It is not because Art is universally acknowledged as being Art, that people do not experience it as something alien. It is not because Art is universally recognized as such, that it is universally consistent with all possible cultures. Art depends on culture just like everything else, and the culture which it is dependent on is Western culture. Taking into account the fact that from east to west, from north to south, from the arid deserts to the snow-capped mountains, conflicting cultural values constitute a major obstacle, not to say the main obstacle on the path to peace, I eventually came to the conclusion that new forms of creativity should enable people to come together. Therefore, the new forms of creativity should not be culturally determined. The new forms of creativity that I had in mind should provide a kind of middle ground; some sort of playground, where people with different cultural backgrounds could meet to play together for recreation – in the broad sense of enjoyment.

‘Right’, I said jumping to my feet. ‘To begin with, let’s try to establish a checklist for new creative work’. I sat down at my desk and started working. The result is a set of ‘Guidelines for New Creative Work’, which I present below in the form of a checklist, together with a picture of an experimental drawing which, I think, meets the requirements. All of this, is of course, open to discussion.

Checklist for new creative work

New creative work must be:

– material (composed of physical substances)

– environmentally friendly (the process of creation must have been very slow in order to prevent overproduction)

– socially accessible (everyone should be able to enjoy it)

– economically justified (it was not funded with taxpayer money – neither directly nor indirectly through tax exemption)- unique (in the same sense as the genetic code of some living creature is unique)

– inimitable (it should be a hopeless task to try and reproduce the work – requires too much effort, perseverance, time, etc. to produce a copy of it)

– devoid of meaning (expresses nothing – no feelings, no beliefs or ideas)

– inexplicable, indefinable (cannot be put into words)

– free from interpretation (its audience is completely free to feel and think as it likes)

– sensory (can only be experienced through the senses)

– fascinating (it attracts and delights)

by Joan Hus