The Blackwater Polytechnic began when Freddie Robins and I started converting a sixteenth century timber framed barn to live and work in. The barn is on the family blackcurrant farm in beautiful North Essex. There was a need to retrain ourselves and our team in order to be able to complete the project how we envisioned it, so the Polytechnic was born. The Polytechnic combines construction, farming, forestry, art, craft and collecting. These are the activities we have committed to by living in this place in this way. How we resolve the tensions between those disciplines and our lives is the material and project of the Polytechnic.
Devised & designed by Kaavous Clayton & Ben Coode-Adams
Together Kaavous Clayton and I have come up with a scintillating exhibition. It reflects some of our shared areas of interest over the last few years; colour, pattern, scale, craft, powerful god figures, very fine sanding and wool. You know, all the – ‘whoa hold on tiger’ – bits of art/design/craft (definitions are all a bit blurry in this show – no helpful hierarchies) that send a shiver down your spine.
The galleries at the Minories will be completely transformed – I know you’ve heard that before but this time it’s true. We’ve new walls, floors and ceilings to transport you to aesthetic joy. Panoplies of wood and wool in combination and separately. And thoroughly detailed paintings. New perspectives will unfold in delightful and enchanting combinations that will make you want to come back again and again.
Thank you so much to Kaavous, the Minories staff and Colchester Institute for hosting this exhibition. Thank you to the Arts Council for funding us, to make and show new work and produce a catalogue. And thank you to all the artists for making great work and allowing us to show it. Thank you to Nicol Wilson for all your hard work. And thanks to you people for making the effort to come to the show.
Announcing my first exhibition in Berlin since 2004. Exciting times. Well I’m excited. Do please pass this invite on to your Berlin friends. I’d love to meet them. I will be in the gallery a good deal from 19th November up to and including 24th November. I’ve bought some new paper so will be painting away.
an exhibition of art by Ben Coode-Adams & Jakob Roepke
Knesebeckstr. 13 10623 Berlin
Opening 18.00-20.00 Friday 18th November 2016
Ben Coode-Adams and Jakob Roepke go to work every day making art. People need tangible images not just ideas. Roepke and Coode-Adams have been providing satisfying images for people to put in their homes and workplaces for a long time. This kind of workmanlike dedication has amazing consequences. It produces richness and depth – little explosions of magic. You know, that feeling when art really touches you in a way you can’t explain, because it’s not about words but visual intelligence. You can appreciate it with your eyes and that strange part of your brain.
Owl Gods Ben Coode-Adams W85cm x H66cm watercolour on paper 2015
Ben Coode-Adams is an artist, from rural Essex, North East of London where he lives and works on the family blackcurrant farm (Schwarze Johannisbeere). For most of his career he produced large scale public sculptures alongside a drawing practice. In 2013 he fell ill. Unable to produce sculptures he turned to making watercolours which led to exhibitions in New York, London and Essex. For Coode-Adams’ painting involves a quantum delving into the spirit world from which a host of spectral personages flood onto the page. Veils of beautiful colour coalesce and oscillate, spun from ‘the lower world’ in which lurk truth and beauty.
Jakob Roepke is an artist, who has lived and worked in Berlin for many years. In 1996 he began a series of 13x12cm collages based on Jiu Jitsu and Yoga manuals. The protagonists in these collages are often caught in life-threatening circumstances, wrestling crocodiles or each other. Alongside these collages he makes austere abstract reliefs. In a more fluid mode he uses silhouette paper and scissors to make detailed organic cutouts. For Roepke these bodies of work, of fixed parameters, record the slipping between the on-and-on-ness of it all, and the profound newness of every day.
untitled (numbered) Jakob Roepke from the Collage Series, 13×12 cm, Gouache, Ink on Paper, 1996-2016
Roepke and Coode-Adams have known each other for more than thirty years. They met at Edinburgh College of Art in nineteen eighty something long ago. At that time the education at ECA was stuck at post-Impressionism, already old old fashioned by London, New York and Berlin standards. For Roepke and Coode-Adams this was not enough. They needed to square this archaic education with contemporary practice, and with political events. They needed to make sense of their own lives. They needed to still their own turbulent hearts. For both artists there is a sense in which their artworks are votive offerings, an invocation to the day, an apotropaic message, to avert peril on behalf of all of us.
Reliefs, serially numbered Jakob Roepke heavy cardboard, pigment, chalk, wax. Size of each element c. 22 x 15 x 6 cm since 1996
The Perfectly Good Wife Ben Coode-Adams W119 x H102.5 cms watercolour on paper 2015
Gallerie dreiZehn is a new venture founded by Monika Krause & Mark Williams, the proprietors of GLASKAR Berlin. Next to their main shop is a smaller shop unit that was being used as a store room. This space has been tidied up and repurposed as a gallery. Krause and Williams have no great pretensions for the gallery. It’s a working space to be used by artists for interesting projects. ‘Same Difference’ is a prototype for how Krause and Williams might use and operate the gallery. The details will be worked out. It’s action research. Sometimes you can’t wait for everything to be perfect, you just have to get on with it and see what happens with what’s available. In the meantime do please keep in touch for general information, opening times and special events. It’s going to be fun.
The exhibition will be open by appointment. Contact Mark on email@example.com to visit. Ben Coode-Adams will be around until 24th November and working in the gallery. He’ll announce the times on instagram: @bcoodeadams facebook: Ben Coode-Adams and twitter: @BenCoodeAdams.
We had a brilliant weekend with many delightful visitors who I would like to thank for coming, buying our stuff, enjoying our café and looking hard and intelligently at our art. Thank you visitors. Heart heart. We love you the people.
Thank you Freddie Robins for your tremendous hard work organising and cleaning up the Lambros Café. It does become a bit like the Augean Stables over the winter.
A huge thank you to all our artists for bringing your wonderful work, for your patience, forbearance and good humour.
Thank you Julie Arkell for bringing all you lovely objects and bringing Douglas Bevans who cooked and cleaned to keep us all going, so thank you to Douglas too. And thank you for the loaf of bread, just finished!
Thank you Annabel Dover and Alex Pearl for bringing all you enchanting objects, and helping with and advising on the ‘gallery’ show, and the yummy madeleines.
Thank you Simon Emery for bringing a wonderful sparkle to the show in your work, bringing the twinkle in your eye, some fine cars to brighten up the place and bringing Amanda Emery. I’d like to thank her for her delicious baking and helping out in the café.
Thank you Sara Impey for stitching all year to bring us your profound serious work and invigilating in the gallery.
A massive thank you to Justin Knopp not only for showing great work but for operating the letterpress creche, the ever popular attraction giving the gift of type. Tyler Emery is a complete convert and probably your next intern. Justin Knopp helped Freddie with her prints and introduced us to the Big Steam Print project which set Freddie off in the fruitful and poignant printmaking direction.
Thank you Freddie Robins for so much hard work in preparing and operating the Open Studio. I know how much it takes out of you but your hard work is very much appreciated by all of us, artists and visitors alike.
Thank you Caroline Wright for showing your intelligent beautiful work and spending time with us all at such a trying and scary time in your life.
In the nick of time we tacked on Dervorgilla Elmes’ beautiful eerie mirror so thank you to her for bringing that along and Florence for helping in the Café. Thank you Sonia Coode-Adams for being our biggest supporter, for the sausage rolls and helping out in the café. Thank you Henri and Imogen Guest for your baking and helping. Thank you Nicol Wilson for all you hard work behind the scenes in keeping the Blackwater Polytechnic going.
Annabel Dover has kindly agreed to take part in our Open Studio event – ‘Flat-out Lowlanders’ 1st+2nd October 11am-5pm Feering Bury Farm Barn, Coggeshall Road, Feering, Colchester, Essex, CO5 9RB. Do please come and see her delightful and intriguing paintings.
Annabel Dover is a painter and maker whose subject appears to be the surface of things. This impression is reinforced by the way she makes her images. They are slick, as in shiny, and slippery, as in the evidence of the paint sliding around on the ground is relished. She chooses subjects that are all about surface too, like gems and photographs. But the surface is just that. Beneath what you can see in her work is another world which will eventually, when taken as whole, be revealed to somehow fit into an enormous cohesive Proustian narrative. Looking at her work is like trying to catch bubbles, each piece is exquisitely beautiful, but constantly floating out of reach, defiant of logic but hinting at and obeying presently unknowable laws. Like catching bubbles her work even at its most sad and melancholic is pure joy.
Freddie Robins’ contribution to our Flat-out Lowlanders Open Studio is born from the boiler of a steam roller and yes it does involve bunnies. This coming weekend 1st & 2nd October 11am-5pm come and see what she has been up to. Freddie went from standing start to Usain Bolt in printmaking with the Big Steam Print project initiated by Ditching Museum of Arts and Crafts making a giant print in the process, squashing the love out of bunnies, monkeys, an elephant and assorted bears. But don’t worry that love is imprinted on paper that you can buy and take away. In going from 3D to 2D she is saving you space but the cuddles remain undiminished.
We are beginning to assemble all the pretty things ready for display this coming weekend 1st & 2nd October 11am-5pm. We have a good mix of shiny and matt. One of the shiniest, as ever, will be the work of Simon Emery who has been working on a wonderful Porsche 356 bonnet. If you own a vintage Porsche 356 you might want to buy this cracking bonnet and swap out the plain boring original for some much needed individuality and chutzpah. Or you might just want a bit of Simon’s magnificent sparkly work which comes with the most subtly curvaceous hood of all time for free.
Suffolk artist Caroline Wright works often with performance but she also makes the most beautiful drawings. Tapping into the long and muscular tradition of British women surrealist artists, such as Leonora Carrington, Eileen Agar and Prunella Clough she combines disparate objects including the ubiquitous surrealist egg in potent totems.
Like Clough a good deal of her inspiration comes from the littoral zone, between shore and sea, the non-site where poetic juxtapositions can grow like delicate crystal crustaceans. And let’s face it her drawings are damn sexy. Ares’ ram’s horn and a hank of golden Venus hair? I mean please… Be caressed by her pencil.
Caroline has been short listed for the Derwent Art Prize.
I am in a wonderful exhibition at the Sentinel Gallery in Wivenhoe. I was delighted to be asked to participate by Jane Lewis. It has some great work in it, most of which I was unfamiliar with. I love seeing new work. It is a beautifully hung show with delightful and intelligent juxtapositions, put together by Pru Green and Rosie Harman. There are some fascinating correspondences between abstract and figurative work which I really like. It runs until 25th September so do see if you can make it down.
Here’s me with my painting ‘Moon boy’, a James Faure Walker and a Clive Davis plate.
A cracking group with two of my paintings, two by Jane Lewis and one by James Faure Walker
A great corner with my painting ‘Apollo Garden’ on the left; Bridget Moore’s ‘Yellow Room’ and Caroline McAdam Clark’s ‘Promised Land’ and more ceramics by Clive Davis. Bridget’s work has a Sickert like use of dark but the lightness of touch of Bonnard. Caroline’s landscape uses intriguing and beguiling patterns combined with collage elements. Both are really lovely.
On the right here are Gertie Young’s wonderfully whimsical landscapes always with a dark shadow of looming evil lurking in the background. And on the left Wendy Jacob’s sand dune. The exhibition also features the work of Debbie Ayles whose work I couldn’t photograph very well but she is the featured artist at the Minories shop in Colchester at the moment.
In further Watercolour News I have been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Watercolour Prize. Hurrah! The shortlisted works will be shown at the Mall Galleries, London from 19 – 24 September 2016, and will continue to tour to venues across the UK, including Parabola Arts centre, Cheltenham (24 – 29 October 2016) and Guildford House Gallery, Guildford (10 December 2016 – 28 January 2017). Below is my painting ‘Lily White Boys’ which made the cut. The title refers to the English folk song ‘Green Grow the Rushes – Ho’ which is obscure in meaning but vivid in imagery. I like to peer behind the curtain of the obvious. I like not knowing.
Mil Stricevic is arriving from Glasgow today to start our first residency in our completed Silo. He will be working with our Professor of Wood, Nicol Wilson, on a new Sonic Vista bench updated from the 2002 project Mil and I undertook in Barrow-in-Furness. Hopefully the prototype will be available for our Open Studio. It will then be pimped by Simon Emery at the Paintbox.
Balustrade made of sweet chestnut and cherry harvested by Alex Morton (@alex.gardenlore) and Mike Polom (@hugsparty), built by Nicol Wilson with David Howe.
Mil Stricevic in 2002 with the original Sonic Vista bench in Barrow-in-Furness