Occupying both the indoor and outdoor space of this living and working environment, the works cohabit with domestic objects and explore the multiple contradictions we live on a daily basis from the comfort of home. These contradictions are channeled through both the specific context of the Old Fire Station as well as the wider context of the city which includes the abrupt relationship between the interior of the building and the polluted aggression of the road outside; the gigantic warehouses of Amazon and Sainsbury’s that overlook this residential complex for artists; and the ways in which individuals access notions of community or connectivity from the private intimacy of the domestic sphere.
City & Guilds London Art School,
18 years after graduating from his MFA at The Glasgow School of Art Alex Frost presents ‘Late Developer’ his first mid-career degree show at City & Guilds of London Art School.
City & Guilds of London Art School was built on an ethos that believed in a strong connection between fine art, craft and design. In its early days it trained students for the pottery trade as well as bridging connections between students and manufacturing trades in Lambeth. Considering the recent degradation of “site-specificity” as an artistic approach – in addition to fluctuating attitudes towards the artisan in contemporary art – Late Developer draws parallels between property development and personal artistic development. The degree show “moment” is adopted as a makeshift bridge between instances of interiority and exteriority. Like the boarded up remains of a building in perpetual transition, the art school is a site of expectation, growth, progress and failure. The makeshift partition walls and time-worn plinths reflect the hoardings and Heras fencing of local developments and provide the setting for a series of amalgam ceramic works created whilst in residence.
Alex Frost was the 2015-16 City & Guilds of London Art School Artist-in-Residence.
Flat Time House, London.
5 June – 2 August 2015.
An exhibition of new mixed media sculptures and drawings using and manipulating motifs relating to the home and domesticity, from Alex Frost’s residency at Flat Time House. A reflexive exercise, these works were made whilst living and working in a home, gallery and archive. They have developed out of an investigation into the role of artists within a community, and the way in which the living conditions of artists have been politicised through the current culture of property speculation, and property guardianship. This work is made not from a critical distance but rather from a conflicted and implicated position.
The objects are playful and poetic reconfigurations of domestic detritus through homespun processes including pewter casts of objects – keys, coins and frozen foods – found around the house and made using Flat Time House’s barbecue as a home foundry or mint. Other works are made from objects left behind by previous artist-in-residence – a hotel key card, a book and comb – and hoarded ceramic ornaments – novelty mugs, jugs, teapots, and piggy banks – that have been smashed and reassembled into new and unlikely forms. Channelling childhood experimentation, Frost has shrunken food packaging for domesticated animals which he then petrified and preserved within resin tablets. Finally there is a sand sculpture of a brick barbecue in the garden containing a pet deterrent spray, degrading over the duration of the exhibition.
This collection of objects is intended be seen in its entirety and so specific titles have been eschewed. This is further emphasised by the blacking out of all the gallery windows, heightening the private/public dichotomy that is at the root of this work.
Alongside Property Guardian runs the Peckham Art Press Release Archive, an archive of paper press releases from exhibitions, events and projects in Peckham since 2000. During the exhibition Alex Frost will be taking submissions to this archive. This archive incorporates items from the John Latham Archive, in particular those referencing the Bellenden Renewal Project – to which Latham contributed the book sculpture that punctures the Face of the Flat Time House.
Cove Park, Argyll & Bute, Scotland.
June – September 2014.
“This work begins with a structure that recreates John Kibble’s first version of what is now known as the Kibble Palace: the iconic glasshouses at Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens in the west end of the city. This early version, commissioned by Kibble for his house at nearby Coulport, was extended before it was sailed down the Clyde to Glasgow in 1873 and where Kibble intended it would act as a ‘Crystal Art Palace’, hosting concerts and talks and housing sculptures.
In addition to this new folly are 3 ruin sites, made primarily from sand and water and based upon elements reminiscent of Victorian sandstone architecture. Cumulatively, these sites will eventually dissolve into the ground (with some extra help from the wind, rain, sun, cows and sheep). As these forms degrade, the coins, bones and ceramic elements within these structures will reveal themselves, acting as an archaeological site in reverse.
To complement each sculpture Alex has sourced poems and prose written by a number of our former literature residents (Polly Clark, Joe Dunthorne, W N Herbert and Nicola White). These works all refer to the specific character of Cove Park as either an outstanding natural landscape, a place of contemplation or in its proximity to Coulport, the site since 1963 of the Royal Navy Armaments Depot (built on the original site of Kibble’s home and conservatory).
The patrons of the title are in one sense historical: the Victorian industrialists who built their summer homes around the Rosneath peninsula, having made their fortunes through colonial trade. This is alluded to through the original Kibble Palace, the sand sculptures of elements from ruined Victorian buildings and the inclusion in these of coins collected from Commonwealth countries. But there is also a reference to the residency as a particular system of patronage; a system, especially in the case of Cove Park, that does not necessarily prescribe the making of objects but offers space to reflect, develop and encourage exchange between artists, art forms and audiences.”
Taken from the guidebook that accompanies ‘The Patrons’.
Download the guidebook.
Mr. John Kibble of Coulport
Smoke rises from the woods at Ardentinny.
Was it a day still as this, John, that you cycled on the loch?
Shore to shore on the turn of the tide.
Inventor, you were a man for marvels.
I see you incongruously top-hatted,
Pedalling hard to keep momentum through the swell.
Spindrift caught in your beard,
Plumes of water rising from your somehow-floating tires.
If the horse had pulled your camera to the shore at Peaton Layo,
You might have captured your fantastic voyage.
Why make a camera big as a room, John,
If not to show us all we missed?
Those wild Victorian days. So quiet here now.
I want to go back to Coulport as it was,
To look up through the revolving roof of your observatory
and see the red orbit of Mars,
To look up through the radiating spokes of your conservatory
and see the blinding sun.
A pantheon of light in a web of iron.
Another missing photo: The glass palace afloat,
Moving down the water, flashing farewells to the hills.
Your gift to the city, O lucky Glasgow!
And coming the other way, something black.
A machine beyond your ken, John.
Your mansion is gone, but beneath your gardens
Sleep such wonders would make your head reel;
Oppenheimer’s centrifuge, Kali’s whirl, The Great Wind.
The things that men have wrought.
A pantheon of light in a web of iron.
Nicola White, 2014
Two Views of a Submarine
The loch is a factory where darkness
is welded and sparked into life,
sent up to breathe like a whale,
the water shattering from its back.
Ferries cross in shiny home-comings,
the loch trembles with a soft pulse
and an echo is sent to live in my skin.
It is a call to witness a miracle:
my wish in its flat black hat
ballooning out of the waves.
When I imagined exactly this
tilt and drift into the dark
I thought I would go mad for you,
that I would forgive everything.
But as I slowly press these walls
like Alice in her Wonderland
who was a child, and simply
reached for whatever caught her eye
and then suddenly did not fit her life,
I know that I would give you up
instantly for oxygen, or hope.
My murmured bargain creaks:
it is being considered, deeply.
I close my eyes and my wish
is granted: I wake open-mouthed,
drenched, cold, in flickering air.
From Take Me With You, Bloodaxe Books, 2006
The setting sun picked out trees on the shore. Highland cows flicked their fringes in
golden light. Later, I watched the moon rise from the marshland, pouring silver into the
lake. There is nothing more lethal to creativity than a beautiful view. I was at a desk in a
room overlooking Loch Long, completely unable to write.
But luckily for me, our nation’s nuclear defence soon came to the rescue. Trident
submarine slid through the water with tugboats at its flanks and speedboats front and
back, cruising at the speed of a funeral cortege. I had time to take in its radar-absorbent
paint, a reflection-less black. I walked down to the shore and from there, saw the military
base further down the loch, a brutal concrete bunker scooped out of the hillside. When I
went back to my desk, I was ready to begin.
From Mount London: Ascents in the Vertical City, edited by Tom Chivers and
Martin Kratz, Penned in the Margins, 2014
(for Polly and Julian)
The rain would like to make us all Chinese.
I climb the hill with my umbrella fanned,
through bracken drooping like a sleeve’s brocade
where hands with long quartz nails have been withdrawn.
My feet are fussy as a scholar’s clogs
as I traverse the wire-suspended bridge:
two studded planks above the thickened burn
that imitates a southern love song heard
last night, and all the grasses wave the pearls
they’ve caught in their sharp tentacles. I stop
and look back at the loch, the dark felt hills
beyond: a centipede of mist crawls down
and, waving its antennae, starts to cross
the water, while a rainbow’s banner hangs
from trees, and on Loch Long the character
for ‘submarine’ tears in its wake.
W. N. Herbert
From Bad Shaman Blues, Bloodaxe Books, 2006
Glasgow Print Studio Gallery,
Glasgow International 2014
Reproduction investigates themes of multiplicity, uniqueness and reproduction.
Alex Frost has analysed the points of intersection between image reproduction and human/social reproduction. The resultant artworks respond to both their immediate context of an exhibition within a specialist print studio complex and the social context of recently increasing birth rates in Britain (1) This continues on from previous works that address the particularities of the site – its location, its former use or its role within a community. He is not working from a critical distance but from a more conflicted position.
For Reproduction Frost presents a sculpture made from the debris of a stag/hen night reconfigured into an ‘adult fun’ Prometheus. This sits alongside a sculpture of a stack of paper constructed from sand and ‘impregnated’ with the love /trust hormone Oxytocin. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone which plays an important role in the neuroanatomy of intimacy. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and plays a huge role in pair bonding. This hormone is also greatly stimulated during sex, birth and breast-feeding. The artist purchased this hormone online as a body spray called ‘Liquid Trust’. It is expected that this sand sculpture will disintegrate as the water (and oxytocin) evaporates.
Additionally Frost has created a number of ‘screen rubbings’ including that of a dialogue between the old Skin Horse and the Rabbit in the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – a reference borrowed from ‘The Ecstasy of Influence – A plagiarism’ by
Jonathan Lethem (2) And additionally, ‘screen rubbings’ of Sherrie Levine’s 1979 rephotographs of Walker Evans’ depression era photographs of the Burroughs family, a family of sharecroppers in Alabama. Taken from Michael Mandiberg’s 2001 online art project.
1. British birth rate leaps by 18% in a decade, The Independent, Emily Dugan, 4 Feb 2014.
2. Source: http://harpers.org/archive/2
The Park Gallery, Callendar House, Falkirk.
30th November 2013 – 25th January 2014.
‘Self-Defence & Other Hobbies’ features a range of techniques and materials that reference some of the more lugubrious sides to leisure and entertainment today.
All artworks made in 2013 for The Park Gallery, Callendar House.
The Stand-In (season 5, episode 16)
Written by Larry David, 1994.
GEORGE: It’s just not good, it’s not good.
JERRY: It’s not good.
GEORGE: I’m bored. She’s boring, I’m boring, we’re both boring. We got out to eat, we both read newspapers.
JERRY: Well at breakfast everybody reads.
GEORGE: No. Lunch we read, dinner we read.
JERRY: You read during lunch?
JERRY: Oh, well.
GEORGE: There’s nothing to talk about.
JERRY: Ya, what’s there to talk about.
GEORGE: Well at least you and I are talking about how there’s nothing to talk about.
JERRY: Why don’t you talk to her about how there’s nothing to talk about?
GEORGE: She knows there is nothing to talk about.
JERRY: At least you’ll be talking.
GEORGE: Oh shut up.
A residency and exhibition at Walled Garden, Glasgow.
Four sand sculptures depict a classical-style ruin site within Glasgow’s Walled Garden. These temporary sculptures were installed on the footprint of an old bathroom within the site of the former cleansing depot in Glasgow city centre.
On a vacant ‘Stalled Space’ in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, beside the Forth & Clyde canal The Bothy Project set up a sculpture garden, bothy studio and events space. Throughout the summer of 2013 this Walled Garden hosted a series of artist residencies and events: www.thebothyproject.org.
Glasgow City Council created the ‘Stalled Spaces’ programme to “encourage temporary use of vacant land, under utilised open space and sites earmarked for development though stalled.”
A solo exhibition at Wewerka Pavilion, Münster, Germany,
June – August 2013.
3 x chairs (sand, water and spray paint);
3 x chairs (biodegradable materials);
1 x table (biodegradable materials);
3 x clothed figures with small scale local sculptures as heads, feet and hands (mixed media);
3 x outdoor podiums (sand and water).
12. October, 2012.
Thank-you for showing me around Münster and Dusseldorf. I’m so pleased to have made it back to Münster. My previous visits to the city had been during the Sculpture Project but it was so good to see the city in more normal circumstances.
Thank-you too for the information about Stefan Wewerka’s pavilion. I didn’t know that it was first constructed in Kassel for Documenta 8 back in 1987. Knowing this I cannot help ‘unpicking’ the building – working out how it could’ve been packed and reassembled in its current location.
I have to confess that I didn’t know much about Stefan Wewerka’s buildings, sculptures or furniture until I started investigating it. I’m now a fan. I like his mix of wit and elegance.
I’ve been given some photographs of the pavilion from when it was in Kassel. Some of these photos are of the first exhibition for Documenta 8. The photos came from Axel Bruchhäuser from the company Tecta in Lauenförde, where they have an earlier version of this pavilion.
As far as I can gather the first exhibition held in the Münster pavilion was a collection of Stefan Wewerka’s eccentric chairs. For my exhibition at the Wewerka pavilion this summer I think I will try to recreate this first exhibition in Kassel. I have some figuring out to do as there are gaps in the documentation that I have been given.
I look forward to seeing you again in the summer.
N.B. A German translation of this letter was displayed within the exhibition.