Get Your Own Art – for Free!

OwnArt

Own Art is an Arts Council England initiative which gives interest free loans to individuals, in order to make purchasing contemporary art and craft easy and affordable.  They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, and, as part of the festivities, have commissioned Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller to create a digital animation.  This work, which will be based on that he did for the Venice Biennale 2013, is to be split into 10,000 stills that will be available to download as individual unique works of art.

To be one of the lucky 10,000, subscribe (anytime from now onwards) to The Space newsletter at http://www.thespace.org/artwork/view/wesit#.U5wnqyJwZeU.  Once you’ve confirmed your subscription, they will send you an email with a link to claim your work, which will then be downloadable from Monday, 7 July 2014.

The full animation will be premiered on screen on Saturday, 19 July, at both Westfield Stratford and Westfield London.

Own Art was created to inspire individuals to take their first steps and buyers and collectors of contemporary art and craft, as well as to assist the galleries they work with, along with their artists, to be more sustainable as businesses.  Customers can borrow from £100 to £2,500 interest free, and spread the cost of repayment over 10 months.  A quarter of the loan amount each year, on average, is to customers with an annual income of £25,000 or less.  Since the scheme began in 2004, it has financed in excess of £25 million worth of sales.

Jeremy Deller has been making art since the early 1990s.  He won the Turner Prize in 2004 for the documentary Memory Bucket, and his work covers subjects ranging from exotic wrestler Adrian Street to international fans of 1980s band Depeche Model.  He has exhibited widely throughout the world, and in 2013 represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.

For more information on Own Art visit www.ownart.org.uk.  You can find out more about Jeremy Deller at www.jeremydeller.org.

 

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With Your Hands You Clap Clap Clap!

Co-opera Co presents Hansel and Gretel at John McIntosh Arts Centre

I thought I wasn’t familiar with this opera before last night: as a child studying music. Humperdinck was not one of the composers I learnt about, and I’m afraid I encountered the music of the 1960s Englebert before I realised he was named after an eminent musical predecessor.   However, upon hearing that I was attending Hansel and Gretel that evening, a colleague advised me that I would recognise lots of songs from my childhood.  He was right, the aria which provides the title of this piece being but one of them (I have been singing it all day).  This, of course, added a lovely sense of recognition to my enjoyment of the evening.

The action was initially set in 1950s Britain, but later seemed to move forward in time; with the witch using an overhead projector and a camera vintage 70s or 80s, and marking the contents of her fridge “Best Before 2013.”  The set was broadly based around the mother’s washing business, and some of the garments from the washing line were used as Chinese lanterns at the end of the story to great effect.

Musically, this was of a high standard, starting with the orchestra (conducted by Stephen Higgins), whose overture set the tone for the night, being both beautiful and haunting.  There was no chorus, so the production was the work of only five singers (mother doubling with witch).  All five gave excellent vocal performances, with Rahel Moore’s Sandman being particularly evocative.

The show was very well choreographed, and the cast’s movement skills were wonderful, especially Carris Jones’ drag queen witch, and Gretel’s jerky puppet steps.  Lone man Stephen John Svanholm played the exuberant, drunken father very well, and Susanne Holmes portrayed Hansel with all the exuberance of boyhood.  With such a tight cast and consistent performance, it is difficult to pick out a favourite, but personally I was particularly impressed by Llio Evans (Gretel).

When an adult woman plays a small child, there is a very real danger of her ending up looking like Baby Jane.  The audience had nothing to worry about on that score, however, as Llio’s physicality perfectly captured that of a little girl.  The way she stood, walked, moved her arms, and her facial expressions were all ideally calculated to convey Gretel’s emotions (her terror in the forest at night is a good example).  Her singing was consistently skilful and accomplised: I especially enjoyed her opening aria of Act II.

All in all, Co-opera Co have done a marvellous job with Hansel and Gretel, and much credit is due to director James Bonas, working with the company for the first time.  As he said when I interviewed him prior to the performance, (Hansel and Gretel is) “an absurdly brilliant opera.  It’s full of music so delicious you want to eat it and it’s joyfully short but densely written so that it’s packed with action.”  The same can be said for this production.

Hansel and Gretel, along with Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute will now go on a nationwide tour.  For more information, please visit www.co-opera-co.org.

Mary Tynan

Twiglets, Cocaine and Formaldehyde

Co-opera Co presents Don Giovanni at John McIntosh Arts Centre

This is the second production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni I have seen this year (I reviewed the production at Heaven back in April  – see One Night in Heaven).  Although Co-opera’s was not as hilariously smutty as the gay offering, it was nevertheless a very sexy, and funny, performance.

Right from the outset the orchestra set the tone – the playing was flawless and evocative throughout the evening, led by conductor Tim Murray.

The standard of acting in this performance was high from the start: David Milner-Pearce played the Don as a dissolute Damien Hirst-type artist to perfection, whilst Yair Polishook (Leporello) made an excellent sidekick.  The opening rape scene was very effective with Lisa Wilson (Donna Anna) playing the victim very well.  Susanna Fairbairn (Donna Elvira) made a good jilted lover, whilst Jerome Knox (Mazetto) gave a solid performance throughout the show, with the stage combat between him and David Milner-Pearce being particularly well executed.

I had been told that the production was to be anything but traditional, and that was certainly the case.  Much of the action was set in the Don’s art gallery where naked shop dummies (with pubic hair) continued the Hirst theme.  There were many amusing and interesting touches such as the Don photographing the dead father on his mobile phone; a smartphone ap (Leporello’s) which keeps a record of all the women the Don has seduced – Yair Polishook singing very well on this aria; the Don singing a serenade to the backing of a ringtone (aptly rendered by the orchestra);  the Don’s lines “I find the working class is only turned on by clothes that come from Primark” and “Since I’m spending so much money, I expect to be amused” as he is eating take away chips and pizza from yellow plastic boxes.  Twiglets and cocaine also make appearances.

Vocally, there were many wonderful moments.  Some of my favourites were Donna Elvira’s “Rip out that Heart with Glee”, the chorus number “Pleasure Tonight”, Robyn Allegra Parton (Zerlina)’s first duet with the Don, Don Ottavio, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, disguised Ali-G style, singing “Avenge my broken heart,” Don Giovanni and Leporello’s “Glorius I shall return.”  For my money the best male vocal performance was by David Menezes (Don Ottavio), but overall the women outshone the men, with Donna Anna’s solo “The God I cherish will come and grant me rest” being hauntingly beautiful.

The opera finishes with Il Commendatore (Matthew Tomko) returning to the grave to drag the Don down to hell, and this he does in a suitably menacing and eerie manner.  The chorus close by singing “That’s the fate of evil men” as Don Giovanni goes to join his own artistic creations, becoming yet another glass case dummy in a rather Roald Dahl-esque ending.

Don Giovanni’s second night is 24 August 2012, Hansel and Gretel is on 23 and 25 2012, all shows at 7.30pm at John McIntosh Theatre, Seagrove Road, London SW6 1RX.  Tickets are priced between £10-25 and can be purchased online at http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=xxx&query=schedule&promoter=co-opera.  The theatre is wheelchair accessible, and free parking is available next to the John McIntosh Arts Centre.  Both operas, along with The Magic Flute, will then go on tour nationwide.  For more information, please visit www.co-opera-co.org.

Mary Tynan