Mik’s Considering Silesia Newsletter – November 2015
It’s three years since I last wrote a newsletter, so I guess this is well overdue, but I’ll just give the highlights of what I’ve been up to: –
The big news is that I am currently working towards a large solo exhibition creating a ‘digital survey’ of a ruined Silesian Nazi Mausoleum for the gallery newly built at the Attenborough Arts Centre of the University of Leicester. This new work will be a mix of painting and digital work, the most ambitious element of my project Considering Silesia, begun in 2003, but the show won’t be until 2019 at the earliest. Focussing on iPad stuff and work on paper until I can raise funds for more substantial materials, it’s looking good so far but I have big plans!
Indeed, I’ve now focussed almost exclusively on iPad work for over a year for all my work: it allows me to create even large scale work relatively quickly (no waiting for paint to dry) testing ideas, and – until printing – is cheap and without storage issues. I’ve had a number of top quality archival giclée test prints done at John E Wrights, with the expert guidance of Adrian Nicholls, and even entered my favourite iPad painting into the national John Moores Painting Prize competition – unusually, the rules don’t say “no digital” – so wish me luck!
As if Silesia
My before-going-to-Silesia field studies have been enormously assisted by a series of commissions from City Arts / Creative Quarter (funded by EU Regional Development Fund), First Art and Wash Arts (both funded by Arts Council England), Staffordshire University and Nottingham Castle. These field studies are a training programme of tests, experiments, and thinking for when I eventually go to Silesia – perhaps a bit like Turner in the Alps with an iPad? Begun originally in Heanor and Codnor, I am happy to be asked to go to other places, meet other people. A recent review of iPad landscape sketches at the Lace Market Gallery said: –
Mik Godley’s drawings of scenes glimpsed from buses in north Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are the dominating feature of the gallery.
Godley has become one of the best, and best known, exponents of drawing using iPhone and iPad apps in the region and this work ably demonstrates that his drawing talent is just as expressive on a screen as it is on paper or canvas.
Mark Patterson, Nottingham Post, January 28 2015
Last year’s interview with Kayt Hughes in Left Lion also gives a good overview: –
As well as East Midlands Visual Arts Network feature “Meet the Artist”: –
A City Arts commission for Light Night generated terrific public feedback, a feature on BBC East Midlands Today, interviews on both NottsTV and BBC Radio Nottingham and local press coverage. You can see the BBC feature on my YouTube channel here: –
East Midlands Today posted an “out-takes” video clip on FaceBook that had over 4,000 views in just two days, on top of the thousands of TV viewers on the night.
Now I’m working on new (second!) commissions for Wash Arts – “Unexamined Lives” a project to investigate 20th C heritage of Borrowash near Derby, where I’m under instructions to visit the local pub. I’ve just done a series of drawings documenting Mansfield’s Christmas Lights Switch-on ceremony, again for First Art, and City Arts have also asked me back to create a series of portraits of “older people in care” for the Imagine project and next years Light Night festival – which could be seen as training for a proposal I have to meet any remaining WW2 refugees of former eastern German states who settled in Chicago en masse in 1953, if I can raise the money.
Last year I finally began looking at the controversial subject of post war recriminations and expulsion in former eastern German states in a presentation at PRIMARY. “Document Sudetenland” was a test installation of iPad and smart-phone prints, paintings of dying German soldiers from a US Army documentary film and charcoal drawing on tracing paper over a ten metre long mirror – people could see themselves in the gaps – with beer and German sausages for the audience. Laurence Ismay kindly created a short “trailer” video of the show which you can see here: –
I was very pleased that my Silesian portrait painting was published as the cover for “Representations of Flight and Expulsion in East German Prose Works” by Bill Niven (Prof. School of Arts & Humanities, Nottingham Trent University) by Camden House in Rochester, New York USA. An academic book, so not cheap, but I’m hoping that it will be seen by people that I might work with in the future.
Also on the academic front “Anthropology & Aging Quarterly” published a portfolio of portraits that had featured in “Winter Fires – Art and agency in old age” by François Matarasso, published by The Baring Foundation. Editor Jason Danely (Rhode Island College, USA) said “Ever since I saw Godley’s portraits, they have been lingering in my mind. He does with portraiture what a good ethnographer does with writing.”
I still have my much loved “day-job” (I think students are hilarious – most of the time – and teaching is an important contribution to society, though pay in Further Education is pathetic) despite the education minister telling students not to study arts and a halving of Art & Design Foundation students since the banking crash. So I must thank the many people who wrote letters of support during the redundancy fight – I don’t know what I’d do without this job – sweep streets perhaps? Indeed I have been presented with a Long Service Award of 25 years at Chesterfield College, which is going towards a new iPad Pro.
Realising the potential of an ‘entry level’ smart-phone to draw with for a couple of years, I’ve invested in a much larger “phablet” – basically a pocket tablet that I can make calls on. The new phone has a 5.5 inch screen that has as many pixels as my 27 inch iMac, so I’m now testing what I can do with this – it’s promising so far.
With all the activity on commissions, I did manage a few exhibitions too. (detail) curated by Andrew Bracey went to Bangkok, London & Lincoln, a show of the Light Night drawings at City Arts, a small solo show at Leeds University (see link below) and the aforementioned drawing show at New College Nottingham’s Lace Market Gallery.
PRIMARY continues to grow despite the scarcity of arts funding, but as a founding member having completed the maximum possible of nine years on the board of trustees (actually twelve years from starting) I am stepping down to devote more time to my work.
It’s been fun to see the press reports on the Silesian Nazi Gold Train – a long running “myth” – in Albert Speer’s “Der Riese” tunnels that I have been investigating, below the bunkers I painted. That should help bring a bit of attention to the project – especially if the Polish Army excavations really do find it.
I created a showreel of some of my best iPad and phone drawings for the show at University of Leeds, School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies. You can see it on my YouTube channel here: –
P.S. The text link to YouTube shows at a higher resolution