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Experimenting with filigree effects for my Christmas cards – from left to right:
metallic pigment mixed with tempera medium and poured on (out of focus); pigment scattered, tempera medium and water poured on, then spread with palette knife; pigment scattered onto tempera medium (?) then poured. The effect works best when water is squirted onto the pigment and the whole lot is then moved around.


Today is my last day to work on this piece at Bury Art Museum. Will I manage to add
To Witness
To Not Get CynicalTo Ask Good Questions
To Do What Needs To Be Done
To Be Willing to Start Again
Potentially Infinite

At 12 we have a closing crit/artists’ talk, followed by cake and cordials at 3.

A whistlestop tour of the blogposts I would have written if I was on top of all that social media stuff:

Manifesto #2 – installed at AirSpace Gallery in Stoke for their Yardenfest, the closing event of the excellent and provocative Pigdog and Monkeyfestos exhibition, a cornucopia (or should I say stomach purge) of artist’s manifestoes, including a concrete marrowfesto from Sarah Lucas and some great work by Dom from Luton and someone whose name I can’t remember but whose love letter to General Gordon made me laugh a lot.

C PAGES artist exchange with CG Associates and Extra Special People, hosted by TOAST in Manchester and Stryx in Birmingham.

Marina Abramovic at the Serpentine – stillness and safety in the city, or a disquieting demonstration of our will to obedience, and desire to put our trust in a charismatic authority figure.

British Folk Art at the Tate – amazing work, but why so much more male than female production? Why a whole room of figureheads?

BAA – exhibition at Bury Art Gallery – a physical manifestation of the BAA manifesto; my piece, about the responsibility of the artist – a golden (boom boom) opportunity to gild a mushroom (but the mushroom inclusions were inspired to pick up the airdrying clay by the Island Universes exhibition at Piccadilly Place, a fitting swansong for that free art space).

Bioremediation II was an exhibition of the remnants of the original Bioremediation installation – some nicely eaten up paintings – along with documentation, supporting work and research. It took place at the Biospheric Foundation in Salford in October 2012, as part of the Free For Arts Festival.

Bioremediation Ii

Bioremediation II

Bioremediation II

Bioremediation II









Bioremediation III was an experiment, a collaborative residency in the Biospheric Foundation during Free For Arts with Ben Atkinson, Rebecca Lyons and Natalie Pownall. Each artist came into the space and spent a day making work with me, drawing on the themes of mushrooms, bioremediation, John Cage and Alan Turing. Below are some images of my work – Ben, Rebecca and Natalie’s will follow.

Bioremediation III

Bioremediation III

Nothing Whatever Must Be Clung To V

Nothing Whatever Must Be Clung To V

Nothing Whatever Must Be Clung To V detail

Nothing Whatever Must Be Clung To V detail

Today I put two bags of cardboard impregnated with oyster mushroom spawn out for “shocking” – this should spur them into producing mushrooms. I’ve left it a bit late so it’s unlikely I’ll get any mushrooms before Boremediation III finishes on 28th October – but I can but try.

I’m feeling generally nervous about the exhibition. I try to reassure myself by reminding myself that this is natural and to be expected. The exhibition is in two parts:
Bioremediation II – exhibition of the remnants of the eaten-away paintings from Bioremediation I – Hayek, Friedman, Blankfein et al after detoxification by oyster mushrooms, along with photos (being delivered tomorrow morning), a larger version of the timeline, a mini-library and my mushroom research.
and Bioremediation III – new work made in and with the Biospheric Foundation over the next week, with a preview on Friday 26th October which will feature sloe gin cocktails and a sound performance by Helmut Lemke.
I’m confident it will be a good exhibition; I’m not confident about getting everything done in time without ending up in a state of collapse. And there are competing events on the 26th, and the Biospheric is a little out of the way, though only 15 minutes from Victoria (and I’ve just found out you can follow the Irwell to get there)  – so I hope people come – otherwise I’ll have a lot of sloe gin to drink.
Here’s the opening hours:
Opening hours:
Bioremediation II
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October: 12 till 6
Monday 22 to Thursday 25 October: 1 till 5
Friday 26 October: closed.
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October: 12 till 6
Bioremediation III
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October: 12 till 6
The Biospheric Foundation

Irwell House
East Philip Street
M3 7LE

You can follow me on Twitter: @janethehat

I have lucked out workwise – I am spending a day a week cycling round Liverpool with Kerry Morrison surveying brownfield sites for her Counter Culture Nature project. So far, we have only been rained on once – mostly it’s been a pleasure riding around in the fresh Liverpool air, with big skies and views over the Mersey. The project is a follow-up to a survey Kerry did six years ago, where she logged all the brownfield sites she found on a big ring route round the centre of Liverpool. Most of them are still there, but many that used to be accessable have now been fenced off – so no more short cuts or dog walking for the locals. Last week we went to a great site in Toxteth, which is in a completely different place to where I thought – I thought it was north east of Lime Street, but it’s south west. This site was half tidy lawn and half overgrown den central, with viper’s bugloss and yellow rattle, which I had just found out a few days before is said to be very good for controlling couch grass.



What to do when I have an exhibition and residency to promote and organise, but the sun is shining…well, this time the garden won out, and in a frenzy of tidying (or something) I took ALL the ivy off the wall, which I hope won’t now fall down, dug loads of little plants up out of the paving and potted them up for the next Chorlton Plant Swap, swept up loads of piles of earth and lovely fat worms from the path, weathreproofed the deck and tried to tame the enormous aloes that were taking over the lounge. Which, given that it’s the weekend, I think is a reasonable choice.

I’ve been to the Tate Gallery twice over the past two days. Yesterday I went to see/experience/participate in the current turbine hall artwork, Tino Sehgal’s These Associations. I went to see my mum, who is part of the artwork – well done mum! It’s a fantastic piece which I don’t want to say much about – I think it is probably best experienced without expectations. But what I loved about it, apart from some fantastic moments of theatre/spectacle with voice and darkness, was that people come and talk to you, and tell you really simple stories but speak from the heart. One woman talked to me about stamps, one man talked about a friend who was really good at choosing presents – and both these stories had significance, both exchanges felt very open-hearted. Why don’t we communicate like this all the time? Or at least more of it – without jockeying for position, protecting ourselves, second-guessing. Maybe in part it is the kind of magic that can happen with a stranger who you’ll never see again; there can be a freedom in that kind of exchange. But I don’t think it’s only that. People were talking about subjects that meant something to them, without expecting anything in return, so it felt like receiving a series of very moving gifts.

What a contrast to today’s outing, with a friend and her children who wanted to see the Damien Hirst exhibition. Going round this show, I felt angry at the vacuousness of so much of the work. I still found the animal vitrines really powerful – being able to contemplate an intact dead animal, to really scrutinise it, to think about the carcass without the animating impulse. But they lose some of their power when shown together, for me they seemed more churned out than when I first saw them at the Turner Prize exhibition back in 1995. Although this is often a problem for me with retrospectives,  work can lose power from being shown en masse, when it wasn’t originally intended to be seen like that.

There are spot paintings galore, and these seem sub-Ikea interior decor. I much prefer the first exhibit, a set of candy gloss painted saucepans that would make a great nail varnish range (Damien Hirst by Nails Inc – I can’t believe they haven’t done it already!)

A Thousand Years, the vitrine full of flies feeding off a {fake} cow’s head, flying around, breeding and being executed, is compelling and gross. And shows up my insect-related hypocrisy, in that, while I don’t love watching any creature dying, I don’t feel outraged about breeding flies for show and death in the same way that I do butterflies. A recreation of the piece In And Out of Love has a room with some monochrome paintings with butterflies attached to the surface and a load of minging cigarette ends and a room which has been made into a butterfly house. I went in prepared to be outraged – but what I found was dozens of exceptionally beautiful tropical butterflies flying around, resting and feeding. Of course they are living out their lives in a totally unnatural environment, with no fresh air and surrounded by humans; but watching them was magical. Where does this leave my ethics? Are the butterflies suffering? Or is it just wrong to take other beings from their natural home and use them purely for human benefit? One of the arguments both for zoos is that, although the animals are in prison, seeing them might inspire a greater care for non-human nature. I asked how long the butterflies lived, and the longest lived ones lives for about two weeks. The Tate brings new ones in every day to replenish the stock. That feels wrong – but why? It would seem like a more “honest” artwork if there was one set of pupae which hatched out and lived and mated and died (apparently the butterflies do mate but the conditions aren’t right for the eggs to develop so they are collected and taken away). But then it would be a much shorter show.

So I left In And Out of Love feeling uneasy but full of joy and wonder at the butterflies. I had very little equivocation about the big butterfly “paintings” – stained glass window-type designs made up of tens of thousands of dead butterflies. I could see no justification for the breeding and killing. While they did look beautiful from a distance, close up the dead lustreless wings were ugly and brought home the reality of the cost of the artworks. Is this inconsistent? After all, many butterflies will die in the course of In And Out of Love – possibly enough that, scooped up, they can be made into another enormous butterfly painting.

And onto one of the last rooms  – here the function of the art as interior decor for oligarchs was revealed in its full grossness – lots of shiny gold and Swarovski crystal. This stuff would make perfect nightclub decor for some grim place full of sugar daddies. I love tack and glitter as much as the next person – but this stuff didn’t seem like honest tack and glitter. A gold cabinet filled with nearly 30,000 manufactured diamonds is called Judgement Day. Really?

I find it hard to know what to make of Damien Hirst. Or rather, my criticisms focus partly on his intentions, and how can I know what they really are? I think he is sincere in his preoccupations with death, what it is to be human, the desire to connect with other people – and yet so much of the work seems superficial. I came out of the show angry and slightly despairing. Of course there is a shop, where you can buy a plastic spin-painted skull for £35,000, and it was full of people admiring the butterfly merchandise and spot prints.  It all seems to be surface. I wonder what would happen if he tried to market the fly pieces in the same way as the butterfly ones? A giant round painting covered in treacly globs of dead flies for me was one of the more beautiful pieces in the show, and yet again pointed up my fly-related callousness. Is the Damien Hirst audience ready to eat off fly-print platters yet?