Mik’s Considering Silesia Newsletter – November 2015

25 Słowicza, Wałbrzych, Lower Silesia, via Google Street View, 27 July 2015 - vector app Paintbook on iPad2 This drawing took several days to produce: it's quite a big file created at 9x16 proportions with the aim of printing at a large scale - about 4 x 7 feet - so there is enough detail to look at close to

25 Słowicza, Wałbrzych, Lower Silesia, via Google Street View, 27 July 2015 – vector app Paintbook on iPad2
This drawing took several days to produce: it’s quite a big file created at 9×16 proportions with the aim of printing at a large scale – about 4 x 7 feet – so there is enough detail to look at close to

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: –

http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/title/mik-godley/id/6780

As well as East Midlands Visual Arts Network feature “Meet the Artist”: –

http://www.emvan.net/content/meet-artist-mik-godley

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: –

https://youtu.be/6ogrXakiAKY

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.

Roy from the Greenway Centre, Sneinton, Nottingham, for City Arts and Night Light. App Bruishes on iPad2

Roy from the Greenway Centre, Sneinton, Nottingham, for City Arts and Night Light.
App Bruishes on iPad2

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: –

https://youtu.be/UXdrXupv1oI

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: –

https://youtu.be/Ka3xSrHU01g

P.S. The text link to YouTube shows at a higher resolution

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9 thoughts on “Mik’s Considering Silesia Newsletter – November 2015

  1. Love to see how the very big gyclee turns out Mik. FE is a nightmare and I hope Osborne doesn’t put you on the streets. You deserve far better than that- I remember writing part-time contracts in the 80’s where we paid much more as an hourly rate than they do now. Good luck with the John Moores. Best wishes Steve Simpson

    • Yes Steve – I remember the 23.5% pay cut I got from Chesterfield twenty years ago – but had two little kids, so I’m still there! These days I have to find other work just to stay alive, but I still like teaching – and you got me into it in the first place!!! 🙂

  2. Hi Mik so I have taken ages to get around to reading this and still need to give it my full attention… I hardly ever visit Linked in as I have very little to post about myself but today I was updating stuff and saw you and posted this a while ago will come back later to view properly but wow have you done a lot!

  3. Bit late on this one- just seen the LinkedIn message (not my fav social media app!)… You’ve been busy and had some great coverage. Were you accepted into John Moores? I look forward to you exhibiting at my work place and maybe you can do some workshops to coincide with the exhibition?

    • Hello Lucy – I’m even later in responding – I’ve just seen this – WordPress is attached to an old email address.
      Sadly John Moores didn’t accept me, again. I guess it was a bit cheeky submitting a digital piece, but Richard, who was on this years panel, told me that the panel members were so disparate that it was difficult for any one voice to get through – a few of his faves didn’t make it.
      Anyway, I am planning to show some of these at the Attenborough Art Centre (work for the show has been my main focus for a while) if I get some funding to print & frame them, and workshops would be a great idea.
      I need to get down to Leicester pretty soon and check out the new space, have a chat with Sam, etc. so I hope to see you then – perhaps we could have a chat about the potential?
      Cheers, Mik

      • Hi Mik and Ive only just seen this! It would be good to catch up soon. I’m leaving AAC to work at NTU starting 13 Feb, so might bump into each other there!

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