Managed to pop into Hales Gallery today to catch the final day of Laura Oldfield Ford‘s show, ‘Transmissions from a Discarded Future’. Oldfield Ford’s delicate, yet bitingly political ballpoint drawings of mundane scenes of abandoned housing estates, deserted tower blocks, derelict shopping arcades, advertisements and tall billboard posters are hugely powerful and distinctive. Taking their cue from the August riots, they fizzle with anger, casting a new light on the forgotten corners of the urban landscape.
[Images: Transmissions from a Discarded Future #1, 2011, Ink on Tyvek, 239.5x169cm and Transmissions from a Discarded Future #1, 2011, Ink on Tyvek, 239.5x169cm by Laura Oldfield Ford, via Hales Gallery]
It’s always so difficult to choose my favourite exhibitions of the year, and this year particularly so as there were many that I missed that I would like to have seen. But after some deliberation, and in keeping with tradition, here are my top five for 2011:
Right at the beginning of the year I saw Algerian filmmaker Philippe Parenno’s memorable solo show at the Serpentine. Parenno transformed the gallery with this atmospheric, immersive and magical exhibition (complete with fake snow blowing past the gallery windows) to provoke a lovely sense of childlike wonder.
At the beginning of this year, I don’t think I would ever have guessed that an exhibition from that overexposed YBA-er and friend of the Tories Tracey Emin would make it onto my ‘top five’ list. But the Hayward Gallery’s rich, varied and well-curated retrospective of her career took me by surprise, and gave me the opportunity to rediscover her sometimes jaunty, sometimes irreverent, often uncomfortable but always engaging body of work.
Another thumbs up for the Hayward comes in the shape of this solo exhibition by Pipilotti Rist, one of my favourite artists. My expectations for this exhibition were especially high, but although it wasn’t perhaps quite everything I wanted it to be, it certainly delivered all the quirky, unexpected joyfulness I’ve come to expect from Rist’s delightful work.
I always enjoy Tate Britain’s exhibitions, but Susan Hiller’s solo show earlier this year was a real stand-out for me. I wasn’t hugely familiar with Hiller’s work before, but found the artworks in this show intriguing, intelligent and thought-provoking: from her anthropological collections of everything from seaside postcards to bottles of holy water; to the powerful installation Witness (pictured), full of wonder and strangeness.
It’s an installation rather than a conventional exhibition, but my top choice for 2011 has to be fashion designer and artist Yohji Yamamoto’s extraordinary site-specific installation at the Wapping Project. Making Waves saw the Boiler House space flooded with dark rippling water, which visitors could cross in a small rowing boat, allowing them to take a look at the beautiful oversized silk wedding dress suspended above it. Mesmeric, meditative and eerily beautiful, this installation was also hugely fun – an enchantingly playful response to the gallery space.
Finally (and because I like cheating) here are a couple of extras…
A special mention must also go to Dark Matters at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester for one of my favourite works of the year – ‘Still Life No. 1′, an enchanting new commission by the collective Brass Art, as part of Asia Triennial Manchester 2011.
And of course I can’t possibly finish off my review of the year without briefly mentioning the Booktrust Best New Illustrators 2011 exhibition, organised by yours truly, which features the work of 10 fantastic up-and-coming illustrators like Katie Cleminson whose work is below. It’s been everywhere from London Book Fair to Plymouth Art Gallery & Museum, the Free Word Centre to the National Galleries of Scotland this year, but it can currently see as part of Picture This at Gallery Oldham.
It’s actually quite interesting looking over all the exhibitions you’ve seen in a year: on reflection, I realise that without particularly meaning to do so, I’ve ended up seeing mainly the big ‘blockbuster’ shows at London’s biggest and best known galleries. My resolution for 2012 is to see more exhibitions at smaller, less well-known galleries and artist-led spaces.
Do you have any arts or cultural resolutions for 2012? And what were your favourite exhibitions of 2011?
[For all image credits in full, please see the original posts]
Together with Spike Jonze, she has also createdMourir Auprès de Toi, a quirky stop-animated film about book characters that come to life after dark in the famous Parisian bookshop Shakespeare & Company.
You can watch the film in full here, and read more about how it came to be made, but an excerpt is below.
I don’t usually do this kind of post but I thought it might be fun for a change! Stuck for what to buy the contemporary art fan in your life this Christmas? Fear not: the Follow the Yellow Christmas gift guide is here with some handy art-related gift ideas:
1. Take your style inspiration from Salvador Dali with this moustache necklace from ace jewellers Tatty Devine. Don’t worry if you’re not a Dali fan: they also have a Gilbert and George necklace inspired by that classic art gallery essential, the black-framed glasses.
2. Brighten up the home with some loveliness from designer Donna Wilson, who had a solo exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park this year. I particularly like this amazing badger cushion.
3. I love the Topshop make-up range: there’s something about the scribbly packaging and rainbow colours that makes it feel like a selection of art materials for your face. Give some of their bright nail polishes for a touch of winter brightness.
4. The perfect 2012 diary for illustration fans, the beautiful cloth-bound Frankie Diary features lovely artwork by Amy Borrell. Bonus cool points because you have to order it online, from Australia.
5. These Lazy Oafbadges from the Tate shop make a fun stocking filler.
6. Every gallery-goer needs a beret. As well as making you look all French and insouciant, your head will stay warm! This leopard print one is from Topshop.
7. Sharpies! Buy them in lots of colours and scribble on anything and everything.
8. A colourful satchel is the perfect accessory for toting your art supplies from place to place. This classic version is from the Cambridge Satchel Company: they do them in a brilliant range of colours, but for me it’s always about the RED ONE.
9. Let’s Make Some Great Art, created by illustrator Marion Deuchars, is a fun interactive book packed with drawings and activities to help spark your creative imagination. Complete the Mona Lisa’s smile or design your own Jackson Pollock inspired artwork. Perfect for aspiring artists of all ages.
10. If you’re really stuck for ideas, then membership to a favourite gallerymakes a great gift for any art fan. This membership pack from Tate gives the recipient unlimited free entry to all exhibitions, a subscription to Tate Etc magazine, access to special members rooms, and special viewing opportunities – and it all comes in a cool box designed by artist Fiona Rae.