15 October 2007 Hello Sebastian Good to catch up with you again on Sunday, I was very interested to hear more about how you run i-cabin and was good to talk through my work with you. My website (see below) is now updated with the recent forgery project I was telling you about. If you are interested in what I am up to it would be great to meet up in the future to talk through how things are going. I'm currently working on a couple of new projects, one with a gallery where my proposal consists of the question 'How can I be of use to you?', I am also designing a large charity donation box sculpture for 'unpopular' charities and series of drawings for a hypothetical ÂŁ1.23 coin. Any questions just ask away. regards Barry Sykes www.barrysykes.info +44(0)7951039663 9 January 2008 Lewis Amar and Jemima Stehli : Video Works 2005 & 2006 Opening Party - Wednesday Jan 16th 6-9pm January 17th - February 3rd Thursday - Sunday 12.00 - 6.00pm i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937. www.i-cabin.co.uk NEAREST TUBE: Highbury and Islington 10 January 2008 Hello Seb It's a shame I can't make this as it would be good to catch up with you, as well as Lewis and Jemima. I'm out of the country until very late that night but will try and get along to see the show the following weekend, will you be there? I'm off to Finland for a residency on Feb 1st and it would be good to talk my plans through with you. Good luck for the opening. Barry Sykes www.barrysykes.info +44(0)7951039663 10 January 2008 Hey Barry, i'm here all the time happily! come by will be excellent to chat seb
20 January 2008, Hi Barry, it was great to talk yesterday, I've been thinking a bit about the collaboration and I've been pondering the possibility of our considering 'importance' as a theme. As I said I've been trying to shift the scope of the i-cabin offsite projects mainly becuase I was worried about the importance of the peramiters of the projects I was doing. There's two projects which really led to this change of heart. The first (which was the second offsite project i-cabin authored) was Cabin Baggage, for Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in NY. (http://www.icabin.co.uk/icabsatellites.htm). For this we built a wooden crate which was the exact dimensions of the cabin baggage allowance for the American Airlines flight we were taking to NY. We then commissioned a range of artworks from artists who we considered important to the history of i-cabin, all the works were designed to fit within the case. Some of the artists were what I call 'project artists' and made new works in response to the project and others made more of a simple miniaturization of their works for us. The result was a kind if micro-museum of icabin, which had obvious similarities to Duchamp's 'Boite en Valise'. The second was Z006, where we commissioned a group of artists, writers, musicians and an ex-gallerist to make a works for a book, which we then turned into a set of posters to be sold at Zoo Art Fair. The edition was limited to the number which sold at the fair, i.e. if two sold the edition would be of two or if fifty sold...etc. Therefore by buying a copy the purchaser was raising the edition number, therefore lowering the value of the work. With regards to this project it was really the sale strategy which made up the interesting part of the piece. Now both works were really beautiful and I am really proud of them, they function almost exactly in the way I like artworks to function, i.e. they are, in my mind, almost perfect artworks! However I began to doubt the importance of commissioning work to what I came to think of as a type of almost arbitrary brief. By doing so, were we ending up with a piece of work from an artist which was just contaminated with our brief for it's own sake? What the hell is the point in that? As we were saying, is it just that collaboration is 'what artists do' and that it is inherently good, it seems to justify itself just because there's an 'exchange' which must be good eh?? So the fourth offsite project is 'What is it?' which is a film, footage of artists talking. I decided it was far sounder to collect a set of 'important'(?)(I hoped) ideas without my having any useless input into the physical outcome of a work. My thinking is that artworks are more often than not completely pathetic playful attempts to reference ideas (often someone else's) simply because the artist 'likes' the idea ( as per ******. etc) and because the game of 'being an artist' is is completely vain. I am ruthlessly critical of 'non-importance'! (So I have some hideous ideas for works which are simply philanthropic gestures which would be documented or in some way exhibited, which is obviously precisely for my own vanity, but at least the action of the work itself would be vaguely justifiable as 'important' if one believes, sickeningly, that 'helping' people (to get what they want?) is important).
Would you be interested in our working together to somehow specify an importance, either within Art of outside of it? Just an idea. Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 22 January 2008 13:18:53 +0000 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com: subject: Re: collaboration Hi Seb, Thanks for the mail, I also really enjoyed our conversation on Saturday and am loking forward to the product of our collaboration. I like the way you have kicked off the converation with the 'importance' theme, i didn't see that coming! If this project can allow both of us to reconsider the methods and outcomes of our work, so much the better. I also have an ongoing concern with my 'use value' and where my work operates in broader social interactions, excercised in works like the forgery project, the PCSO and the 'stolen, then returned' watercolours. I can see your viewpoint on the methods overshadowing the content in some works, However, I am a big fan of the processes involved in a works creation being foregrounded as the subject (simon starling being a simplistic illustration of this, I am also reminded of the Hut Projects 'Lead' work at Zoo this year or your Rehberger piece). I also don't believe that a work that that is philanthropic or helpful is any better than work that is not, it all depends on the boundaries and focus the work defines for itself and how well it invokes it's own question. That is not to say that 'helping' is not a potent area to make artwork, far from it but I think that as an artwork it must be questioning those motivations as much as aspiring to them. I do agree with your point about artists 'quoting' other sources, it's also a pet hate of mine. When I used to collaborate with Sean Parfitt we did a number of works almost spoofing the added weight artists like to give works by relating it to a great work of literature or film (or failed modernist architecture!). Our position instead revelled in the overtly parasitic, vicarious experience of using someone else's work.
In conclusion (apologies for not matching your word count!) I actually find a kind
of generosity in the gesture of some of the restrictions you have thus far imposed on artists, spaces and yourself and perhaps a conflation of these two positions might be the way to go. So lets meet up for tea/beer and carry on developing whatever this framework will be, I'd like to hear some of your 'hideous philanthropic gestures' which might be a great place to start. We also need to define the practicalities of operating at arms length this way and if/how that will be evident to the gallery goers. I could meet up later this week or early next week. Feel free to come down to my studio in deptford in the day or eve or we could go central if more convenient. cheers Barry
25 January 2008, hi mate, have a look at this, its a collaboration bursary. http://www.criticalnetwork.co.uk/displayopportunities.php?id=55 seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
26 January 2008 Hi Seb, That's very interesting. I'm all for having our time paid for! Can you meet up this Mon or Tues eve (or possibly Wed daytime) to talk these ideas through? Let me know when's good for you. cheers Barry
26 January 2008, Hi Barry, wednesday afternoon would be best for me, I'm going up to Birmingham for mon and tue, what day do you go away? I could abandon the trip if absolutely necessary. Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
27 January 2008 HI Seb. I leave first thing on Friday morning. Weds afternoon is good for me if you can come down to my deptford studio - SE8 4RJ, one stop out of London Bridge then a minutes walk. Very good of you to offer to cancel your trip but it's not necessary. Barry 27 January 2008 wicked buddy, see you then, I'll give you a call when I get into London, actually I don't have your number, can you text it to me mine is 07813 764 937 cheers matey, Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
27 January 2008 Text Message Hi seb, my number is 07951039663. See you weds pm. B. 30 January 2008 Text Message Hi seb, what time you heading over? Barry 30 January 2008 Text Message Hi mate, i'll get on the train from birmingham at 1, should be with you about 3:30. Deptford station? 30 January 2008 Text Message Great. Just text me when you arrive at deptford rail station and i'll come over. 31 January 2008 Text Message Have just set up messenger with my firstname.lastname@example.org email. See if you can contact me? 31 January 2008 Text Message Am just on my way to the gallery, will try just after 12! 31 January 2008 Text Message Great.
31 January 2008 Text Message It seems that messanger only supports pc/windows. No mac unfortunately. I'll hunt about for an alternative! 2 February 2008 Text Message Managed to get messenger, am looking for you now. Hows finland looking? 2 February 2008 Text Message White! Just on the 5hr train to vaasa after a night in helsinki. Will email when settled in. cheers B. 2 February 2008 Text Message Right-o, this reminds me somewhat of graham gussin's 'remote viewer'! Enjoy. Seb. 3 February 2008 Well, greetings from the below-zero nordic. Had the day reconoitering Vaasa. Tramping through the snow and and a quick walk out onto the sea ice. Tomorrow will be my first day in the studio so I'll start building my basecamp. There's no internet in the studio at the moment but there's wireless here in my apartment. so maybe mornings are good to do any specific web communications. Already met a pair of designers who work on typography and branding and do a lot of the gallery's layout work. They seem like an interesting couple and have just moved to the space next to Platform. I've also seen a good theatre (though only the nice attached cafe will be much use to me), two local art museums with slightly shabby municipal exhibition spaces, a couple of good looking libraries that apparently carry some english language boks and periodicals and a spanking new 50m swimming pool. I'll get back to you tomorrow after I feel like i've started work. cheers, B채rry p.s. can you forward me Lewis' email as I've lost it and he phoned me about something. ta. 5 February 2008 Sounds great there, I'm beginning to become jealous, perhaps we should swap ends of this exchange! I am quite inclined to receive a few detailed descriptions of the place and things there, I may start to construct some kind of image from them, perhaps this could be something nice to play with alongside the other project, a remote-view. I saw on wiki that someone known as Mathilda Wrede - "Friend of the inmates" came from Vaasa, see if anyone has heard of her. (just that this seems to be a local philanthropist, maybe we can go in search of a few more...) Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937
/ www.i-cabin.co.uk 7 February 2008 Hello Seb, Yes, it is a curious mixture of the dramatic and mundane here. Let me paint you a picture… I reside as the only tenant in an old soap factory. Each morning, after a quick shower-down in the roll top bath set in the middle of the open plan flat – but next to the plywood kitchen unit - I layer up coat-over-jacket-overcontemporarycardigan-over-shirt-over-Tshirt&jeans-over-fullthermalsuit, and on with the wellies. Then it's down the corridor and stairs and opening the heavy door into the chill outdoors. It is, as I said, predominantly white. Whether it's the sea to my left or the tarmac underfoot, everything is now deep in bleached out snow. Locals have all been waiting months through a grey winter for the snow to come down and dress up the bleakness. This was due to arrive last November. On the Sunday morning, after my first nights sleep in the factory, Ulrika and I went out for a walk in the newly fallen snow. We headed down to the water’s edge (Vaasa is nearly an island, having coastline on three sides) and the coastal winds had delicately smoothed over the deep snow into dunes and peaked quiffs. We headed over a rail bridge to a small island just off the coast and walked onto what would normally a beach – a strange feeling, but not as odd as then walking out onto the frozen sea ice. I couldn’t resist a jump to test its strength. The roads are quiet. Even counting Finland’s small population the weather keeps most people indoors. So no loitering, it’s strictly A-B as quick as you can without coming a cropper on the ice. Pavements and roads are smoothed over by the morning snowploughs, leaving a 2ft high ridge of packed snow on every curbside. My studio is in an old Army barracks. Apparently they moved out of town about ten years ago. There is an officer’s bar - still extant - but it was mainly for the young guys doing their military service – which has now been moved to a more convenient spot further inland. It occupies a few blocks with a series of similar pale green wooden single story wooden buildings. My studio (which I guess was a dormitory) is near enough twice the length and width of my Deptford studio. There are only a few vernacular clues to its old life; the odd sign, some chevron painted sentry boxes, some king of clocking in board and at one end of the building are the toilets - with a large antechamber kitted out with two huge, rotationally symmetrical communal sinks. Your reference to the ‘Friend of the inmates’ popped back into my head whilst being driven over to the studio in a new direction yesterday. Ulrika (one of the team at platform, who was my contact there and has been fantastic at showing me around and setting me up, a real diamond) pointed out Vaasa Prison on our right, and just around the corner from my studio! It was stereotypical grimy red brick topped rolls of barbed wire. It has a small square footprint and four floors and sits on the very edge of the main road, backing onto the sea. All she could tell me about it was that there may be a shop selling crafts made by the
inmates. Here's a link to their list of wares http://www.vankeinhoito.fi/17499.htm My current ideas for the show (for our work and my own) are slowly becoming more defined so it would be good to run them past you soon for some honest response. cheers Barry 8 February 2008 04:10:39 PM Hi Buddy, sounds incredibly cold, I hope the studio is well heated or progress there might be pretty slow. The description is good, keep it coming. I had a look at the products from the prison. I think a site visit there could be useful, take some photographs if you can, and ask where the money goes. Is it towards prison costs or do the inmates earn money/perks by working in the workshop, as I imagine might be the case. I am wondering about what philanthropy is there, what kind of do-gooding or even charity is there? Are the people well off, you mention that the cold keeps people indoors to some degree, what is the affects of this do you think? I have often considered when I travel the challenge of homelessness in different climates/cultures. In the heat/street market culture of Brazil I saw what I thought to be a very peaceful confident drifter type homeless. In Japan they have their own self-built homes and possessions which are left with complete confidence as crime is almost unheard of it seems, however they are completely ostracized by the community who try to ignore them as much as possible, or act disgustedly. In London the homeless are always downtrodden by drugs and by the terrible cold. But there, perhaps living on the streets is impossible, so what happens? Let me know what ideas are forming at your end. cheers mate, chat soon Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 10 February 2008 Hi Seb, Things are coming together I think. I'm trying out a few ideas at the moment but feel very aware of the time slipping away and making the most of the opportunity. Ulrika thinks we should have the show open around the 8th so I have less time than I thought - though agree with her that I should have a week here whilst the show is open. I didn't get a chance to talk to you about the sketchy list of ideas I gave you did I. Things have shifted of course and some of
them I'm not interested in any more or are inappropriate and others have occurred to me since I've got here. I guess I'm thinking about a selection of four works for the show but am still unsure which. Just wondered what your thoughts were - our project obviously being one of them. The one's i'm very keen on at the moment are the outline font as a wall painting and the one where I commission my dad to take and print a photo(s). I am of course going to head down to the prison shop, it's a nice list of products isn't it. I'll get as much info as I can off whoever works there tomorrow. In regards to the homelessness thing I was talking to Maria, another of the Platform team, in heslinki and she was telling me that during the summer there was a group of about 6 Roma gypsies begging in the town centre and it was a big issue as this doesn't normally happen there. She was telling me about a journalist friend (she does the layouts for the swedish language paper there) who was sent to Romania to see if life was really so much worse for them there. There isn't much racism at all in finland apparently but mainly beacause there aren't that many visibly different or poorer races so it hasn't had a chance to develop. However once the weather got cold they dissappeared, who knows where. I haven't actually notice any social deprivation or exclusion - or responses to these things - so nothing leaps out as something to base any HPGs (hideous philanthropic gestures!) on but maybe the prison is somewhere to start. In terms of the method of our discussion I am doing a lot of skype which allows you to type conversations aswell as use headsets to talk. Have you got this? did you say you had messenger sorted too? I guess we should clarify some kind of methodology for how this is going to build up. I've also started a flickr page as a few people have asked to see photos of where I am. if you want to put soem visuals with my descriptions take a look, it's at www.flickr.com/photos/brockleysinger Oh, and do you have Lewis' email. I think it's something like email@example.com but can't track it down. cheers. Barry p.s. attached is a photo of my position in relationship to the prison. I did it the other night, you end up doing strange things in these long winter evenings
(IMAGE ATTACHED BUT NEVER VIEWED BY SEBASTIAN CRAIG/ICABIN)
11 February 2008 03:17:46 PM Hi Barry, Wow that is soon! Remind me about the outline font? It's slipped my mind but I love the sound of text wall=paintings! Very up my street, and your dads photo's too in terms of a sort of clinging to the home from afar for some guidance, good stuff. With the HGP's I thought about something like you buying a piece of furniture from the prison, as this might go towards helping the prisoners financially (spending the institutions money/ or my money/ or your money?), or writing to a prisoner-craftsman/sending a gift? although the furniture shop is really the perfect point of access...what do you think about this type of course of action? I would like to draw in image of the town from only your descriptions ( I wont look at your pictures) perhaps this could be sent to the craftsman or put in the drawer of the item you choose from the shop, which then you might use as a gift...etc...etc??? For someone who either does/or does not need it. Philanthropy is often more about the giver than the receiver isn't it. With regards to our having a chat/seminar lets do a messenger test. My computer is at i-cabin, i'll be there tuesday afternoon, i'll text you to see if you're near your messenger or arrange a better time. I can't find Lewis' email address in my contacts, perhaps send it to Jemima, hers is firstname.lastname@example.org Cheers buddy,
Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
11 February 2008 Hi Seb, That link I sent you with the list is one page of a great website detailing how it all functions so reccommended reading for someone wanting to get a understand details from afar. Nice and matter of fact. I had a great visit there today. Unfortunately the guy in the Shop - who looked just liek a prison guard - didn't speak any english so couldn't work out muh details, thought the website says they make 90c an hour for the crafts. I like the idea of using the shop as the point of access as this is how it presents itself. Much my preferred way to operate as opposed to crow-barring your way into where you're not wanted. Then of course you are free to take more liberties as they have invited you over the threshold themselves. I like the idea of corresponding with the craftsman but think it may be legally impossible! but some kind of subversion, adaptation or reemplyment of their work could be great. And philanthropy is entirely about the giver, I agree. Now, I've just put a load of photos of the shop onto the flickr page so you can see all the products - think of it as a catalogue! - and my photos are just of isolated spots in town and a few of the flat so maybe it's a good idea to take a look.i don't want to compromise your 'remote view' but these are the advantages the technology has given us. I would love you to do a drawing, or to generate any other matter in response that I can present. I'm happy for us to push the dialogue/debate idea further too. Can you explain a bit more about what you mean by ...'then you might use as a gift etc... etc... etc...' Are you thinking about some kind of ongoing exchange? Tuesday might be a bit tricky and I'm off to helsinki for a few days until the weekend. I really need to hit the ground running when I get back so that might be a good time for more rapid conversation. I'm fine with emails until then. I met someone who teaches at the afterschool club in the opposite 'barracks' from us today and offered to do a talk about my work to the kids so that'll be interesting. I've done one before at a school to some 9 year olds and they responded really well. Hope to conjure up some audience for the show from them too. I've also got a talk scheduled at the nearby artschool organised by the gallery. Quite like testing reactions to my work with different audiences so that'll be good. Had a good day today thinking through my other ideas so i'll report back in a bit. Thanks for your thoughts.
Barry 12 February 2008 Hi Seb, Was having a think about the project today and remembered two things we had discussed in that first meeting at i-cabin that seemed really pivotal at the time and could be good to refocus on. One was your analogy with the designer as a methodology for dealing with each situation and the other was a 'cards on the table' honesty with each other. I'm still really keen on the use of the Inmates crafts as a starting point - I think it would be a great thing to bring into the gallery - but it's worth thinking about all the different ways that could work. I'm intruiged by your drawing, I've not seen a drawing of yours so cannot imagine what it'd look like and the remote view has always been a good idea. The designer idea also made me wonder what would happen if you designed some kind of adaptation, exension or improvement to their work. It would nicely broach the subject that these things are essentially worthy but could obviously be improved, and as purchasers we are at liberty to do that. Can this design encapsulate our discussions? Did you see the phots, could you come up with something? Just a thought B. 13 February 2008 Text Message I'm on messenger now, are you near a computer buddy? 13 February 2008 Text Message Did you get my mail. Am on a train to helsinki (thinking a lot about inmates crafts!). back by a computer at weekend. Sorry. 13 February 2008 Text Message Yes i got it, am looking and thinking now! 20 February 2008 01:14:59 AM Hi Barry, sorry I have been offline for a few days holidaying in Devon. I agree with what you say. Quickly in reply to your other email, I meant 'use as a gift etc' to mean that you
might consider using the item purchased from the prison as a gift after we had finished with it, or as the work itself, which could form a philanthropic gesture perhaps. It seems to me that the appropriate adaptation would be the attachment of an appendage to house the drawing I'll produce. Therefore the item should be a chair or a table. I'm still trying to think this through fully but the drawing should have the function of providing a new (blind) view of the users local environment. This is something to do with the whole purpose of your being invited in the first place I think. (This may be unrelated but in a way I an fulfilling part of the function of you being there (the outside view) from here because I can fulfill it more thoroughly from here. Does this relate in any way to the photographs your Dad is producing for you?) [I feel we are getting somewhere! Somewhere!] Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 20 February 2008 Hello Seb, Have only just got back today myself. Been a bit of a whirl with a few days in helsinki then a busy weekend back here showing sophie round and we had Ulrika's opening at the Art Hall and a talk by me at the gallery to introduce the locals to my work. It was scheduled for this weekend as the rest of the Platform team have been out of the area until now, which has been a shame as the gallery has not really felt like the hub for my work or a useful site for social activities (our 'importance' workshops for example). Mon and Tues were also out of town as i was asked to give another talk to the BA students at an art college in Nykarleby (1hr norh of vaasa) with links to the gallery. I also gave 1hr tutorials to a number of students. I try and rethink the structure of my artist talk every time I do it so the one in Vaasa was about my work when responding to a new place or situation and the one to the students was how I kep going as an artist. There were obviously many overlaps but as it spanned everything from one work I made 10 years ago for my degree show (which I haven't talked about for many, many years!) to my 'Animals in Wire' business (that I have never talked about in this context!). So todays the first day back in the saddle after what seems like a while. It really feels like the big push, where every day needs to be doing something towards a work in the show. The talks have helped clarify which projects I am most interested in but of course there is a lot of dvelpoment left to do. It feel very much like our project and the one with my Dad are the main pairing, with a couple of other works used as pertinent counterpoint.
To elaborate on my Dad project I am sending him a series of directives for activities leading to photographs. After sounding him out about it over the phone from here we agreed that i could just send him a short outline and then leave him to get on with it. My first 'Directive' went as follows... So here’s your first ‘directive’. #1: Go out of the house after dark and photograph any house with a window that you can see someone through. Take as many as you like but make one A3 print of the shot you’re happiest with then send it out to me. More to follow... Thank you. As he works full time in the city all week these are weekend jobs, somthing I see him doing on an afternoon or evening in a couple of hours. they will all be possible to complete close to home i think though I have yet to finalise what the next ones will be. Although i originally thought of it being a one off phot it seems to have the 'legs' to become a series of different directives so I see 3-5 being made in time for the show. As the directive suggests, he can take as many shots as he likes but needs so choose one that he will print up to his satisfaction before sending them all out to me together in time for the show. I have always thought about each phot being in a kind of dyptych with my emailed directive and the display device being made by me. My current idea is to make a box frame for each piece with cheap hardware store woods and household paint. I think a very hand-made frame authored by me is the appropriate counterpoint to his works back home. It is of course an option to just display the print and email as two pieces of paper but I feel like pushing the display format as much as it does the authorship and control issues, not to mention the family relationship. This brings me onto our project, which as you say is definitely getting somewhere. I'm really enjoying the twisting path it's been following since our first chat, and as you say, the way you are also 'responding' to the residency location. However, my thinking in relation to your last email is that it brings it into very close territory with the 'Dad' project (in that it involves someone in the UK sending out a sheet of paper that I insert into a purpose-built construction) and that this might lead the viewer to gloss over the dramatic differences in intention, subject matter and dialogue etc... Do you see what I mean? What about a clearer reversing of the direction of my 'Dad' project by me working with the woodcrafts based on your directives or designs? I am still interested in how our tampering with and re-authoring of their work can be an interesting unpicking of the sentiments involved in this charity economy. I've been doing a lot of 'Skype' conversations which is a lovely free way of sorting thigs out long-distance. Have I mentioned this before? Is it something you can get
on your computer (you'd need a mike and headphones). Might be a good way for us to nail some of these details. I directed someone to your site the other day and saw you had flagged up the collaboration, that's very good of you, it was nice to see! I should clarify that that it isn't that gallery though, I am at Platform, www.platform.fi - There are a couple of shots of the gallery space on there somewhere too. Maybe you could make the word 'Platform' a link to it? could do that to my website too? I'm trying to think of ways to dramatise my links to you and dad in the framing of the show too. Am getting vinyl letters done for the window so should put something there (aside from in the press release of course, and any other printed matter we could come up with together). Am considering calling the show 'Tree Hugger' at the moment, any thoughts? Has over tones of the do-gooder as well as someone trying to physically engage with surroundings and ideas on an emotional level, so seems appropriate. Well, that's probably enough for now... Barry 21 February 2008 06:01:07 PM Hi Barry, I've set up skype, my contact name is sebcraig. I wonder though if messenger is better because we can save the conversation for a text? oh and big apologies for the mistake about the gallery! how awful, have corrected it immediately. I couldn't find a reference to it in the emails so I had to guess from a few clues, guessed wrong! I completely understand what you say about the piece of paper appearing similar to the other work, It would of course be what you say "What about a clearer reversing of the direction of my 'Dad' project by me working with the woodcrafts based on your directives or designs?" as you'd be building my designed appendage, I suppose what I was thinking was something a little like this [image404] (apologies for the 2 minute doodle) but your point is a good one so we'll move on. I just want to think out-loud a minute..we decided to try to work on the idea of our actions as artists being 'important' to the society, or doing something important, rather than just vainly self-important in it's own right (as art). So the idea that the artwork could be a gesture which attempted to do something vaguely quantifiable, or could be a 'good deed' or what we're calling a 'philanthropic gesture'. So the part one of the process is patronising the prison shop, which we think is philanthropic by supporting and perpetuating a scenario whereby inmates are earning money whilst inside which will either aid their comfort inside or be saved for release.
Incorporated into the process is my statement that when making art I use the role of being a designer as a tool to create a quantifiable purpose to my presence as an artist and your position that the object should be actively viewed by raising questions about its history which it may not in itself answer. (this is just a note on how we each make work i suppose). The second part of the process is that we'll work together to alter the purchased item to reflect what we're both interested in about your being there as an outsider and an artist and just trying to do something with that situation. I saw something I liked a year or so ago about people 'guerrilla benching' in London! The thing being that LCC (or someone) had a policy of removing benches because they encourage anti-social behavior because kids hang-out around them, and vagrancy because 'tramps' (thats a great Dickensian image isn't it) sleep on them. So these guys were getting any benches they could find, like old iron garden benches or school benches, and concreting them into the street! They looked brilliant when the style was really out of place! They thought that they were doing Londoners a good turn by giving them somewhere to sit. It's brilliantly what we said about giving being to satisfy the giver, even though it might cause other problems! This is the sort of thing I was thinking we should do with the item after we've finished with it. Something like you should give it to the gallery as a thank-you gift, with loads of ceremony, so they have to accept it even though it'll probably be a burden to them practically! Or give it to someone for their house, preferably someone who has a very cluttered home already. Or put it into the street to further encourage petit-crime (as we've already started encouraging crime directly by easing someone's time in jail). Do you think it's a decent action? So the ONLY reasonable answer is (!!) that rather than me send the blind-view drawing on a piece of paper I send you the sketch and you carve up the chair (I think it should be a chair, or a table) and turn it into the drawing. I mean carve the drawing into it, not just into the surface but make it like a sculpture of the drawing! (the drawing is another gesture to exoticize the familiar environment) Tree Hugger is a brilliant name for the show, perfect in fact. carving is essential! Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 21 February 2008 Seb, You have a point about Skype, just thought it was useful to bash out details but as we've stuck with the plain old written word for so long lets keep with it.
It is quite odd thought isn't it, deciding to collaborate but not speaking after the first two meetings at our respective workplaces. It is a tricky negotiation at the best of times so these 'controlled conditions' are probably key to the whole thing. Might as well tell you that my Skype here is 'platformfi' though, just in case. Glad you understand about the 'Dad' comparison. Liked your attached chair sketch though but we'll keep moving on as you say. Your 'out loud thinking' was abslutely spot on, I happily concur. Your next bit about the guerilla benches is very good, a simple illustration of tricky notions of unsolicited 'good' when in the public realm (I think you have to do somekind of homeless shelter out side your gallery as this is clearly becoming an obsession that needs exorcising!). there is a designer couple with a lovely flat full of scando furniture classics that it could be bequethed too. Also the gallery would struggle to accomodate it so this is another possibility to continue it's journey from the prison workshop. Have to admit i cannot quite picture your idea of a sculptural drawing of your drawing! Are you doing some kind of street plan? Do you need any more info from me? Will it be recognisable? How will you describe to me what to do? I can see the little blue rocking chair working well in this context, although it is in the 'not actually from Vaasa prison' section of the shop. I do have a hankering to get busy sculpting with various pieces from the shop, either carving into, cutting up or combining a few pieces jarringly together. The (ir)reverence it suggests is really nice (I keep picturing some kind of redesign of the products to give them a less homespun, populist aesthetic - building up rough angular shapes or visual references to other more avant-garde wooden design). I'd would like to spend at least 100 euros to feel like we are making a 'difference'. Could do with quite a frequent discussion over the next few days as I'm getting a little anxious about clarifying the feel of the show. cheers B. p.s. I'm enjoying the ambiguities of working with the prisoners' crafts but not sure if we are actually encouraging crime by buying it. Paying them, yes. Being complicit in the system of their incarceration, yes. Making very little difference to their actual lives, possibly. Not sure if crimes are being committed because people are desperate to work with more pine. 22 February 2008 13:04:30 +0000 Buddy, I'd quite like to get on skype just to see how the hell it looks! do you have a web-
cam? I do, we'll do it sometime for fun. The fact that the rocking chair (thats the one I had in mind too) isn't made at Vaasa is either an added cynicism or a big problem. If there are chairs from Vaasa then maybe we should go with that, otherwise the reverse is equally valid in a different way, it's perpetuating the same situation either way. I was only partly joking about encouraging crime, we are doing our TINY bit to make prison life more comfortable, providing occupation and entertainment, but also building a work ethic and employment skills, though perhaps crime-skills as well. Difficult to quantify I guess. Right , the drawing, I have no idea how it will look either, but that is a positive. I always feel happier if I do not visually like the final outcome of a project, it proves to me that I stuck to my guns and was not swayed by visual concerns, so don't worry over it too much. The plan as I saw it is this: I send the drawing, which I haven't done yet so I'm not sure how it looks, then, [refer to image407!] if you hold it up or project it onto the chair at some angle of your choice, then either draw it on or not as you choose, and carve away! would it look something like this [image408] ?? I have no idea. IMAGE407
In reality the drawing is a (smaller?) device to allow is to achieve our other aims, it's in the buying and the giving that the project resides, the drawing is the gesture which talks about our being artists and what that is as a daily occupation, especially for you out there, invited. In a way I pictured a small heavy dark-wood chair with buildings carved up the legs etc...not sure if this is possible. I certainly know what you mean about taking someone's work and changing it, definitely in art here's a wicked history of that, design is really user led, as an architect or furniture designer you have to allow for the users mark/rethink, it's amusing when superstar-designers think they are artists and throw tantrums about
control (even post-completion control with some architects!), creative control is really the difference between the two disciplines. I doubt the prisoners feel much sense of ownership over the products, but this is me having a ridiculous bruteish image of the prisoners and overlooking the natural love of what you make with your hands. Especially in wood! I doubt the craftsmen are the designers, I just can't imagine them giving a care, does it make any difference if they do or not? This all seems to fit for me, you seem less comfortable. Is it fears about the show or are you seeing other inconsistancies? Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
[INSERTED: SYYPE CONVERSATION NO.1 FEBRUARY 22ND 2008] View earlier messages: 1 Day | 1 Week | 2 Weeks | 1 Month | 3 Months | 6 Months | 1 Year | All sebcraig 13:18 Hello, I am an artist working with Barry Sykes, is he in the gallery today? Platform 13:19 I am indeed. This laptop is just sat in my flat, I'm spending a few hours trying to think up more directives for my Dad. sebcraig 13:20 perfect! I'll call you, hang on... Platform 13:20 I thought we had decided never to speak!! sebcraig 13:22 yeah dude thats true, did u get the email i just sent??? Platform 13:22 quite like the speed of this typing chat though so maybe we can conduct a conversation here for a bit, then we still have the text to act as a record. 13:22 will just check on here for email sebcraig 13:23 yes it is great isn't it!! Platform
13:24 just reading your mail, back in a mo'. sebcraig 13:24 right-o 13:27 just as an asde, I made a work with a photograph my dad took, it was called 'photograph of a building designed by a man with no Black friends'. The title is interchangable. 13:28 Also Cerith Wyn evans show photographs by his father. 13:32 Selwyn Evans Platform 13:38 okey doke, re your email: Maybe it is an issue if not from vaasa inmates. The giy in the shop who spoke very little english seemed to be suggesting it was only the first room with chopping boards, piney plinth type things and the hanging iron mongery, and those funny glass pony heads. maybe we should really be limiting our selves to this? though see you point about contributing to the national scheme as a whole. I feel a little uncomfortable about all my projects! that's just the way I work. absolutely nothing personal! However, you do seem to be describing the drawing as a smaller part of the project than the exchange but I think us both reconciling ourselves with each others ideas is the whole part of collaborating, we're just doing it in this absurd arms length way. your sketches are fab by the way, I do like the way it brings up the miss-reading of the objects but don't want it to seem like two different ideas (prisoners/maps) conflated into one project. 13:41 I'm being a bit devils advocate about the map really, just feel i need to know it inside out - but as you say the not knowing might be more fruitful territory. Just don't think it takes a drawing to remind people we are both 'artists'. sebcraig 13:41 I don't think it's about prisoners or maps; it's that we're an artist making a philanthropic gesture as art, the drawing is the design alteration you speak of. 13:42 which is a gesture in tis own way 13:44
its the drawing which reflects our action as artists invited to respond to a given situation about which we have no previous idea Platform 13:44 yes, I certainly love the look of (image 408), would sit very well on the gallery floor. Not much of a carver but could certainly take to it with a jigsaw. sebcraig 13:45 thats the spirit!! Platform 13:45 So what are your thoughts on products from vaasa or not? sebcraig 13:47 well i imagine the income from all the sales go to paying the inmates wages (meagre wages) so i'm not worried really, where are the chairs made??? is it other inmates elswhere or do they just buy them in from unknown source? Platform 13:47 feels like we should be doing a pamphlet with these conversations and your sketches in. feel like doing the layout in word and mailing it over? sebcraig 13:48 certainly, thats a definite. I can have it bound in the i-cabin building if needs be. Would you want it to be part of the show? Platform 13:49 right, the system as a whole is what's relevant, vaasa jail just provides us twith the invited entry point. Do you think we should just buy the chair, or other pieces if your map is more sprawling. sebcraig 13:49 A table could work 13:50 you could project the drawing over as many pieces as you see fit depending on the obliquness of the projection angle! Platform 13:53 defo part of the show if time - the book i mean- though maybe better if conversations run right up to the end. Have you noticed how hard this might be to read back as we are both really operating in parallel conversations, leapfrogging over each others last thought the timeline of the conversation only governed by the stroke of the return key. 13:54 p.s. what was the work you did with your dad's photo? sebcraig
13:55 yep. spoke to my friend in Australia the other day and the delay on the line was so long that the same thing happened over the phone, the answer to my questions came after I'd said the next one! I haven't ever shown the work with dads photo, I just have it as an idea. there's two actually. Platform 13:56 what are the photos of? sebcraig 13:58 one is of a house he designed (he's an architect) that's '...building designed by a man with no Black friends' then there's a photo of the sky he took for me called 'photograph of the sky taken by a man with no gay friends'... the titles are not completely finalised but you get the idea Platform 13:59 I get the idea and I very much like the idea. sebcraig 14:01 thanks! perhaps a dad photo's thing is in the pipeline. The current curator at Cubitt (forget his name) did a show called 'Mum and Dad show' which I assume was things he got his parents to make, I imagine they're not artists. Platform 14:05 Was Tom Morton, who write for frieze. His separated parents were both artists. it was made with old work. Sean Parfitt and I with Alasdair Hopwood have been talking about a Dad Show for years. It seems so twee but is an overt concern of a lot of great work. would be great to think about the events you could have to coincide with it. 14:07 I always liked that it feels like a show you shouldn't do. now even more so with Tom morton's precedent. 14:08 Should have the opening on mother's day sebcraig 14:08 Thats him. Yes it's fearfully twee. A big show of all the works by artists parents is exactly what you might expect from a 'Curating Contemporary Art' student isn't it. Platform 14:10 Some of my best friends were Curating students. sebcraig 14:13 how about 'photograph by a man with no curation student friends' , would have to hunt around as I have quite a few too. anyway we digress into abusive territory for the future reader! 14:16
I'm not against a mum and dad thing but perhaps an extended essay would suffice. 14:20 A show might be too exactly part of a particular curating strategy. Platform 14:20 Utmost respect for readers of the future. Have we decide then that I'll await your drawing, via email, then I'll go shopping for the rocking chair and a few other bits and take it from there. When can you have the drawing ready? Couple of Qs... What are your initial thoughts on the format and schedule for the pamphlet? How shall we title the piece? sebcraig 14:27 Good question. I intend to do the drawing by hand on a reasonable scale, so I'd email a photograph, it'd be too large to scan I suppose, I have a decent camera though, or perhaps I could photograph the drawing and compile a digital image from the components, will see how it goes. Will try to have it done over the weekend. Pamphlet wise: we will continue conversing up to the end, you may need to print off a doc that end last-minute and simply staple the folded pages with some cover. Trim the edges with a scalpel. Title can wait I think, unless you have something in mind? Platform 14:34 or a series of scans that can be pasted together or just individually projected in position on the chair. I find photos of drawings always very unsympathetic to detail. Title not urgent but somehting to think on. Could both have a stab next week and compare. re: the pamphlet, love the sound of you designing/binding there so could be an edition we produce later with a sexy full colour shot of the sculpture amongst the photocopied pages. or if we want the text to exist on it's own maybe it comes with a URL to a nice hi-res shot of it on-line somewhere. something to thinkabout too. sebcraig 14:42 Certainly, i-cabin(texts) can publish it, and we have plenty of web space between us, the entire text could be on the page about the project on i-cabin.co.uk; I once recieved an invite from The Hut Project to a show of theirs where the email invite was a copy of a long email exchange between them over the weeks leading up to the show, it was really really great. since this entry would be a part of the document referencing them it would not be too rude to consider doing the same if needs be, but perhaps not. 14:43
Okay then, I'll get on with the drawing, Are we finished for now then? 14:44 Are you the only user of this skype address? Platform 14:48 ooh, very clever (think i've read that actulally). how can they complain. I am coincidentally thinking of doing a full disclosure rip-off in the show. Think it will be a good counterpoint to our works issues of 'good' and 'importance'. My current shortlist is either to remake Martin creed's line of every nail size into the wall or jonathon monks wire coat hanger bent into a perfect circle. Title will reveal the crime but will still operate in some ways like the original. been wanting to try it for a while as it seems such a obvious thing not to do (but brings out a lot of issues i think other works of mine have). 14:51 yes, until I leave am the only user of this skype. happy to leave it there as should head to studio now. How do we agree to stop? sebcraig 14:51 Yes it bouces off your forgery work. ok, speak soon. Bye Platform 14:52 Bye.
22 February 2008 02:58:21 PM skype doc. i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 22 February 2008 nice work. b.
24 February 2008 09:57:57 PM Barry, drawing coming along ok, feeling a bit under pressure,
should finish tomorrow, then try to skan and send tomorrow night or tuesday.. What do you think about the schedule? Did you get the furniture? The drawing is a bit detailed so the carving will be a matter of your making choices I think. let me know what you're thinking. Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 24 February 2008 hi, you're under pressure?! only joking, it's much appreciated. Tuesday is fine I guess, am working on dad's frames for next few days anyway. I'm going to wait on drawing before I get the furniture. Looking forward to seeing it but will need some interprative leeway on it's usage as all the projects have been shifting and adapting as they go on. Lets have another skype conversation midweek. Had a good day today devising two more directives for my dad. I've pasted them in below. Just one more to think up then I have a good set I think. Apparently he's getting really into them my Mum says, Dad and I have agreed to not discuss them until it's over. Have also put up some more flickr photos. Cheers B.
--------------------------------Hello Dad, So here’s your first ‘directive’. #1: Go out of the house after dark and photograph any house with a window that you can see someone through. Take as many as you like but make one A3 print of the shot you’re happiest with then send it out to me. More to follow... Thank you. Barry Vaasa, Finland, 2008 2008 --------------------------------- Hello Dad, Here’s another for today. #2 Take a photograph of a photograph you wish you had taken. As before, take as many shots as you like but send me just one A3 print of the one you are most satisfied with. Thanks! Barry Finland 2008 ----------------------------------Hi Dad, #3 Build something from scrap wood in the garage, paint it with left-over paint, give it eyes. Then photograph it. As usual, take as many shots of it as you like but choose the one you are most happy with, print it out at A3 and send it out to me with the others. Thanks! Barry Vaasa, Finland, February 2008 ----------------------------------- Hello Dad, #4 Collect together as many things you can find that you’ve been given as presents. Pile them up and photograph with a strong flash.
As before, take as many photos as you like but chose the one you are happiest with, print it out at A3 and send it out to me with the rest. Thanks, Barry Vaasa, Finland, 2008 ------------------------------------Barry. 25 February 2008 02:55:00 PM The directives are wonderful, really sort of heart felt and it says something about your relationship which is warming. With the drawing, I would like us to think of the carving as a sculpture of the drawing, rather than a transcription (which I doubt would be convincingly possible) although I still suggest the process as shown in the sketches I sent. As an aside: (Two people I have discussed it with have raised the point which we haven't yet mentioned that my remote drawing of the town refers in some ways the inmates view.) Skype soon! Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 25 February 2008 Cheers for that. Don't want the 'D.D's to be too sentimental. I know the gifts one can be interpretted as a bit sentimental, as can 'photo of a photo' one. But hopefully it touches on that 'gives as much as it takes' thing that I always aim for. For example apparently he's been having trouble getting the first one done so has now spent a few nights roaming around the neighbourhood in search of a shot! what have I done to him! I guess the drawing does have parallels to the irony of an inmate living in vaasa but rarely seeing it. Not that I'd begin to empathise with the differences between our perspective and theirs. I've been thinking of it as an ideal way of introducing a logical method of abstracting the prison's designs. That your drawing task is a useful way to generate a subjective and unique series of shapes that at the same time have an internal logic. Almost like a randomising program. As well as presenting a nice counterbalance of self-interest to our stab at philanthropy. This is probably irrelevant but in the past two days i have come across two different wethered chairs of varying design. First yesterday i found the extremely grimey and broken remains of the bent plywood support of what looks like an Alvar Aalto recliner http://www.officedesigns.com/productexec/product_id/64/Artek_Aalto_Pension_Chair_406 (but just might be one of those ikea ones!) and today in a design shop round the corner from my studio there is a ex-display model Miura bar stool by Konstantin Grcic.
http://blog.roodo.com/wallace_yang/ddaeea51.jpg It's on sale for 70 euros. laters, B. 26 February 2008 B, yeh totally agree, that's exactly what is taking place, well put. I think we're getting to know this project really well now and it shows in our ability to succinctly describe it. The Grcic stool is a steal, can't see a way that it would be of use to us at the mo. Here is the drawing<<<Well a scanned composite of it, I hope it is usable for the purpose. I am privately quite chuffed with it but at the same time am a bit nervous about sending it, it's been years since I made a drawing, and I'm not sure if i ever made one which took the sort of time this has, was a lot of painful fun working like that. Your part is the hard bit I think! I have labeled the actual buildings you mentioned in your emails, it was drawn in light of what it is going to be used for, I wasn't sure whether or not I should be using that as a criteria but it was a persistent thought so it became the system. Oh yes, I've been intending to send you the actual drawing but it only occurred to me today that we hadn't said whether it is going to be any part of the show. I feel like it should come out to you in any case so send me the mailing address for you but I'm expecting that it will only appear in the text in consideration of the D photo's...thoughts? How are the D frames coming along, tell me a bit about that... Good luck with the jigsaw, send progress pics as soon as possible. Actually, do you feel comfortable with the choice of furniture, ie the rocking chair? It seems good to me as there is an expanse of surface to work with which is the necessary property, if there are any doubts/problems let me know. chat soon, S i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk [Image attached]
26 February 2008 Hi Seb. (might have just sent you an empty reply by mistake so ignore that one. The drawing is superb. reminds me of those 'there be dragons' early maps, but also beautifully geometric. My concern now is that by carving or removing an outline I'll be losing too much of your good work. I'll have a think. Defo send out the drawing though, thanks. Use the platform address which is at the bottom of their homepage. How big is it by the way? Am in a quandry at the mo with dad's frames. Have been thinking a lot about making my own box frames (as a ritual and a sculptural thing), in a slightly cobbled together form, or do I buy myself a bit of time and get them made and maybe just paint them myself (was thinking about grey inside and out.) I was going to get my emails to him engraved in plastic to go with them but think this may be too fussy and will just give them individual titles like "Hi Dad, Take a photograph of a photograph you wish you had taken. Thanks." is tonight good for a skype? If my icons on just call away. Thanks again, Barry 26 February 2008 Just a thought, can you sign, date and locate the drawing? Something like 'Sebastian Craig, I-cabin, London, February 2008'. Do you mind, just tells a bit more of the story that way. chat later, B. 26 February 2008 Hey, It's A1. The D Frames sound good, i'd be inclined to make them myself..which obviously you are too, pesky time restrictions eh! Just to keep everything up to date here's the new version of the drawing with signature/date as requested. Will put it in the post later on. chat later Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk [Image attached]
[INSERTED: SKYPE CONVERSATION NO.3 26 FEBRUARY 2008] sebcraig 16:40 Barry? 16:46 hello Platform 16:47 hello. just got in and opened the lap top. just reading your mail, spooky. sebcraig 16:49 ah perfect, have not sent the drawing today as I wanted to photograph it before sending. Platform 16:55 Looks great. Have been thinking about it today (when am I not!) and would like to hang the drawing on the wall behind the redesigned crafts that are arranged on the floor. Alongside your drawing, aligned with it's top edge would go the receipt from the prison shop. a visual echo of the combined gestures in the sculpture and a nod to the dense background of our discussions leading up to it. really like the dramatic shift in scale too. I think both pieces of paper would be bulldog clipped and hung on screw heads (it's a brick wall you see). 16:59 For some reason because of the layering of the combined scans you took to digitise the image I had an impression it was folded along those join lines. I guess i was just associating it with how you normally see maps spread out but gave it a nice sculptural quality and referred to it being easliy portable. Would that be a stupid thing to do to your lovely map now or is it a relevant gesture. You decide!... sebcraig 17:00 That sounds fine to me, I'd like for us to return to the issue of 'importance' in our discussion. I wonder if we have strayed from it as I have been absorbed in producing the drawing. How do you feel we've performed so far on that topic? 17:06 (I'd rather not fold it up now, purely sentimentality! but perhaps a printed version of the scan could be shown if you prefer that as a visual object, although it will appear in the text which is probably enough) Platform 17:10
Well the donations to the prison funds feels like a good inquiry. It has led us to research some of the details of this structure and negotiate a place within it, enacting tangible difference if not change. The use of Platform's funds to do this has created an economic link within the town that previously did not exist also. But perhaps more than that, at least from my perspective it has brought up the ambiguities inherent in any contrived attempt to achieve those aims. For example: the prisoners only seeing 50-90 cents an hour for these works, it being a drop in the ocean and perhaps of negligible worth to everyone involved; Also, us not actually using our own money but another resource, perhaps trickled down from the same government we are assisiting in the donation - a kind of professional benevolence. I should add that if I don't spend all my production budget the gallery - which is run entirely on a voluntary basis - can keep it for future projects. sebcraig 17:26 Yes, I'm thinking that the original 'hideous philanthropic gestures' which we discussed before you went refferred to homelessness, and we initially saught a cause to work with. The prison, since it's doors were open to us via the shop, presented itself, but do we think that supporting prisons is an importance per se? The after-use of the object is another site for 'hpg', I didn't want to appear too flippant when I said to present it to someone who doesn't want it, I want to assert that flippancy is not the intention, the idea came from our thinking about how philanthropic gestures work in that philanthropy is a conceit or an arrogance (as in bringing Christian civilisaton to Africa in 1900), I suddenly worried that we might have sidestepped the process of actually performing a sincere 'hpg' in favor of ridiculing our own intention? Platform 17:19 Fine about the map folding, that's your call. Can't wait to see it. Who are you sending it with? sebcraig 17:26 (just the post-ofice) Platform 17:27 Can we also consider the projects 'importance', significance and expedience for both of our practices. You talked about the need to redefine a certain approach or intention in your projects, I was looking for strategies to approach the residency with. I think it has succeeded on both counts. sebcraig 17:28 re 17:27_ yes definitely! Platform 17:33 I don't feel it is ridiculing those intentions. My intention would be to try and unpack those motivations and see how it operates. In realtion to the HPG's we could easily have devised a more cynical approach that was more self reflexive. I think ours is actually quite linear. It had no great claims but it has managed to slot itself into both institutions.
sebcraig 17:41 Yes, it was only the last stage which I felt might have appeared flippant, to recap, it was a responce to that re-benching group, in that they gave to people what they thought the people wanted and in doing so brought about a scene where other things which the people did not want could emerge. This feels like the history of British philanthropy. Of course that is a synical reading and concentrates on imperial ideas of philantropy. What are successful philantropic gestures of the past, the welfare state? or are we talking Florence Nightingale? Pending Philanthropy is a line between Florence Nightingale and the Boer War. sebcraig 17:51 We didn't decide whether philanthropy is an importance in itself, it's helpful ( sometimes ), it may be a system for dealing with importances, rather than being one. Platform 17:52 Is it entirely dependant on perspective? As the receiver a vital short term gain could end up with dramatic negative effects ahead, be that loss of freedom or increased dependance. Even the emotional (or tax) motivations of the succesful people who have a need to 'give back' can be called into question if you have a mind to. I would say that an art project that 'gives' - as it is purposefully drawing attention to itself - is in very tricky territory, certainly if the issue at hand is to question motivations. It was your definition of philanthropy as an illustratiion of 'important' work that started us down this rout I think. I suppose other areas where the significance is not financial are literally harder to quantify. sebcraig Pending Yes, it's the 'importance' which is a central theme of how I judge art, the philanthropy is purely a motif for that. It's Intention over Creative Vanity which I hoped to maintain, which is why this text is the central part of the piece we are creating, the importance which you mention is the tackling of the issue of what we are doing. Platform 18:10 You see I do have a soft spot for some well executed creative vanity. Is it not down to how well the art work convinces you of it's respective artist's own criteria for importance. i.e. the best work is one that convinces you of it's world view regardless of whether you subscribe to it. sebcraig 18:13 Ha Ha, the creative vanity is the ' I'm an artist so what I just made is therefore important' line, you're way to insecure for that buddy! I'm glad we took this chance for a quick re-appraisal, I think it was the right moment for it, just as we were ploughing ahead. Platform 18:18
No time for hurling personal insults (but seriously, do you really think I am???) 18:23 An artist who has defined a spotless area for social good or emotive engagement is just as prone to blinkered egotism or wish fulfilment. Self-doubt is the way to go, I'm telling you! I've been doing it for years and the results have been thrillingly mediocre. sebcraig 18:27 It certainly wasn't an insult ! I'm just thinking that your forgery piece was an act of giving more than of forgery, philanthropy is half giving someone what they want/need, and half thinking that what you can provide is what they should want, both artists internal mantras/ battles. and yes I think we're both doubters, though personally I find doubting in those other artists more fun! Platform 18:36 the forgery project was about questiong that need, where it comes from and what you have when you get it, or a replica of it. just sorting out some dinner, can we pick this up later? wanted to talk a bit about how this is going to become a publication and what your current thoughts were. sebcraig 18:41 Sure, if i'm not online just email, chat soon mate, Seb 26 February 2008 09:41:23 PM today's skype. s. i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 26 February 2008 great. thanks. 28 February 2008 08:27:28 PM Hi Barry, the drawing is on it's way out to you, the post office guaranteed less than 5 working days. I'm glad we discussed the project the other day, I hope I didn't add to the pressure you're under over there. Let me know when you begin on the chair! How is the other re-make work coming along? Did you decide on a work? Chat soon,
Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
29 February 2008 Hi, Did you post it today? what day can I expect it. really enjoyed our catch up too, seem to be talking through at least one of the projects with someone once a day, it's great. Lots of people here very taken with the dad idea. In a dramatic turnaround i have decided that i really don't want to frame them myself! i had a brilliant meeting with a framer in a small country village near here and we mocked up what i would be doing. It looked great but I think it starts to overcrowd the project so I'm going to get him to make some lovely simple white box frames instead. I am going to number each of them in the middle of the bottom bar of the frame to make it feel more like an object in a system, a slightly museum feel. Feel much better about that. Bought the prison stuff yesterday and it's great! Got the childs rocking chair, a small table in a simliar colour with a hand-painted flower on, a chopping board and a hefty wooden trophy shield, oh and eight wooden key fobs to bring it up to 100 euros exactly. The guy in the shop couldn't beleive his luck. So here is a subject for discussion... With your drawing now in the show and with the receipt displayed close by we have the link already introduced. I was trying out projections of the map onto the objects and I can't get a feel of how it is going to translate in any legible sense. My thinking is to perhaps just attach all the items together somehow, so they are the sum of their parts but less useful. But perhaps it is just our reappropriation of them that is the distortion. What do you think? The rip-off is going well. I tried out the Jonathon Monk coathangers... http://www.artnet.com/artist/715154/jonathan-monk.html ...yesterday and they look really nice. Apparently it's currently on show in Casino Luxembourg in a show called p2p. He sells them as an unlimited edition. i was thinking of just doing one but according to the frieze review just gone online there are a number of them arranged somehow. have my laptop in the studio now so email when you want.
cheers Barry 29 February 2008 I'll take a photo of the prison stuff and send it out to you later. b. 29 February 2008 Hi Seb, here's a link to the purchases. http://www.flickr.com/photos/brockleysinger/2300139294/ skype later? B. [Image referred to]
29 February 2008 05:28:34 PM The purchases look Fantastic, especially in that arrangement, Perhaps try a top projection, I strongly feel that the carving is ESSENTIAL. I feel like that is what we have been working towards and not to go through with it would be a tragedy. I don't think it needs to be in anyway legible, it should be purely a sculptural version of my drawing done by you as you see fit, so maybe simply select the random shapes generated by the drawing, draw round them as projected and cut out. I really strongly think we have to go on with it, to change the object would need a lot more rationalization and discussion and we may be pressed for time,
it's just that the internal logic is so clear to me. I'm working on the text next week to send it as close to saturday (is that still the opening day) as possible. The next thing to finalise is what we will do with the chair after. You reassured me that the presentation of it as a gift is a qualifiable solution, who are the candidates? And, as this text will be in the show, will we keep our intentions covert from the recipient? speak very soon, Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 1 March 2008 23:28:39 +0000 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: RE: prison purchases! Hello Seb, Thanks for your thoughts. I was merely opening up the options of a continuing evolution of our ideas and registering the changes the project has taken. Every project I have started out with here has undergone shifts and adaptations, perhaps much more than the normal in my 'home' practice and this has felt incredibly healthy. I fear you thought my reconsidering was some kind of backing-out but came out of a deep consideration of our project and its appropriate potential. I think in us now including the map in the show we should be able to rethink these things. I have always wanted to adapt the furniture in some way but felt little need to reiterate your map, though as I have stated before it could provide some kind of framework for decisions. Instead I have come up with an idea that is based on your ‘approach’ to the map. What I like about the drawing is how you had to devise a method to map out your abstract interpretation of the town. Thinking about it today in the studio it is your use of isometric projection that I want to take my cue from. Isometric drawing to me suggests an attempt to visualise an illusory space without the benefit of perspective - an attempt to understand and present that is slightly limited by the processes used. I’ve done a drawing workshop with it before myself and I love how helpful yet deceptive it can be. Coincidentally ‘isometric exercises’ are also a type of fitness regime where
muscles are built up by resistance instead of movement. Rather a good parallel to our long distance, retail-based research don’t you think? So, the key to isometric drawing is the 60° angle that comes between the vertical and horizontal axis to begin defining space and surface. I know you’ve used lots of other angles in your drawing so I propose an average of 45°. This will be the degree of the slice I cut out of each wooden item; providing a visually simple break in the given outlines of the objects, a variable system (approach and depth of slice) and a eloquent link back to your view of Vaasa nearby. But more importantly it acts as an illustration of our attempt to understand and illustrate a system without full knowledge of the context involved - i.e doing good, being of use and the economic system of the prison. I’ll then display them in an arrangement on the floor similar to the photo I showed you. Okay. Be good to know your thoughts. cheers Barry p.s. Gave my dad two final directives today. 5. Take a photo of something you don’t understand. 6. What is the heaviest thing you can lift in the house? Take it out into the garden and photograph it.
2 March 2008 Hi Barry, Yes I must admit I was a little worried, not seeing it as backing-out at all but just a sudden shift in outcome. I thought you were suggesting bolting all the pieces together which seemed to be a different approach entirely. What you suggest sounds much better to me, it's amusing in a way in relation to your 'Dad directives' as the carving is the same process reversed, the drawing being a brief. I think the approach based on the drawing system is a great solution to the problem and I imagine an elegant outcome as you say. I hadn't thought that it was necessary for the drawing to be in the show, as it will appear in the text, the tracing of the system would be a little more discreet or available upon a little research, that is however creating a work which is a bit more like an 'artwork' as usually viewed rather than a 'document artwork', the latter being more to my taste so that combined with the more abstract visual link to the drawing in the carving indicates that that it should be included. Am feeling that the time frame is influencing my ability to tackle the ongoing developments and that practical considerations re the loose ends has become my main concern, this is partly due to my also being very busy this end, and this worries me! I hope I am not letting it slip, apologies for this, I will address the
issue today. I'm happy with the making-of-the-object process, strangely this is becoming almost a hindrance to ongoing debate re the issue of time, since we are producing on a one-attempt basis with no working model I feel that the object will have to be the working model as well as the object and that addressing the projects concerns in terms of addressing the object might be an aid. (many of the major and most interesting developments in i-cabin's practice has come from discomfort regarding our products which are addressed within the work through discussion and text post-finished-object) How long are you there after the opening of the show? That would be the perfect time for our possible online debate. Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 2 March 2008 Hey Seb, Glad you see what I mean. Interesting you talk about how the objects will represent our conversation as i have been trying to describe it in the press release they have asked me to write. It's still a draft so let me know what you think (see attachment). I do not think you have let anything slip. It is quite an artificial situation, us devising this collaboration over such a distance and with only written observations from each end. However it is often the case that such imposed restrictions can force unlikely and illuminating resolutions. I agree that the project has a number of areas for discussion but I am happy that we have paid attention to all formal, practical, conceptual and theoretical areas equally and sufficiently given the time restrictions. It may have slowed down the conversation but it has facilitated and solidified a lot of our questions. I am very happy to consider the display a working model, that reflects our approach and expectations so seems a very comfortable fit. Of course I am aware of the issues of resolving it enough to present to the public but I think they will sit very nicely between matter of fact process documentation and enigmatic, engaging art objects. That could potentially be an awkward tension but somehow i think it will operate well. I am here for a week after the opening so plenty of time for debreifing, documenting and debate! Have a mock up of the cutting that I took today but it's on the other laptop. i'll upload it onto flickr in a bit so you can have a look. cheers
B. [INSERTED: DRAFT PRESS RELEASE] (Gallery info?)
TREE HUGGER New works by Barry Sykes (dates?)
Platform gallery are please to announce the opening of a new exhibition of works by the London based artist Barry Sykes, our current artist in residence. All the works have been conceived and completed in the five weeks since Barry arrived in Finland and includes his first ever collaboration with his father and a joint research project on ‘importance’ with i-cabin gallery, London. Barry works with a wide variety of methods; primarily sculpture and drawing but also singing, stealing, fitness, forgery and lies. Recent projects have led him to impersonate a part-time police officer, make a series of sculptures blindfolded and redesign British currency. His work asks questions about usefulness, experience and appropriate behaviour. The title of the exhibition, Tree Hugger, is used deliberately out of context. Usually used as a derogatory term for ecologists and extreme nature lovers it is instead used to raise questions about the approach, intentions and possible benefits of the works. It also describes a desire to interact with your immediate surroundings and the absurdity of some of the activities this has involved. For this exhibition Barry has devised a number of strategies to create new work in reaction to the expectations of a residency model. He arrived a month ago without any specific plans, preferring to find out what felt appropriate whilst here and relishing the chance to come up with an entire exhibition in this remarkably short time-scale. His only pre-planned tactic was to involve two collaborators working from London, each in very different ways. For the project ‘The Dad Directives’ Barry has sent his father – a keen amateur photographer- 6 short instructions every weekend to take one photograph and send it out to him in Vaasa. These have included ‘Go out of the house after dark and photograph any house with a window that you can see someone through.’ and ‘Take a photograph of a photograph you wish you had taken’. For his research project with i-cabin gallery Barry has undertaken a long email conversation about importance, usefulness and philanthropy. This epic text will be available to read in the gallery alongside a large hand drawn map of Vaasa produced by i-cabin based on Barry’s description of the town and exactly €100 worth of adapted wooden handicrafts purchased from the Vaasa prison inmates shop. Other works in the show will include a blatant rip-off of another artists work, a design for a new font and sculpture of two imaginary wall brackets.
Barry Sykes was born in Essex, England in 1976. He gained his masters from Chelsea College of Art, London in 2000 and lives and works in south east London. His recent exhibitions include Evolution de l’Art, Bratislava (2007); Itchy Park 1,2,4&5, Limehouse Town Hall, London (2004-2008); Putting spark back into your relationships, Gallop design studio, London (2006); Romantic Detachment, PS1 New York and Chapter Arts Cardiff (2004) and Déjà Vu, ProArtibus, Ekenas, Finland (2006). In 2006 he was nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Arts for his collaborative work with the artist Sean Parfitt. Tree Hugger is his first solo show in Finland. www.barrysykes.info www.i-cabin.co.uk 2 March 2008 07:50:22 PM Hi Buddy, have signed off skype now so here's the brief! conversation. Have a look because I don't think you got the last entry. just a little thing about the press release...I'm not sure it should say"joint research project on ‘importance’ with i-cabin gallery, London. " I don't think it's a project "on importance", perhaps it's research into the possibility of making socially important artworks. and..."of Vaasa produced by i-cabin based on Barry’s description of the town and exactly €100 worth of adapted wooden handicrafts purchased from the Vaasa prison inmates shop" should maybe be something like: ...of Vaasa produced by icabin from imagination based on Barry’s description of the town and exactly €100 worth of wooden handicrafts purchased from the Vaasa prison inmates shop and adapted in response to the drawing and the conversation. I understand they probably want something as simple as poss though. Are you ok to print and bind the single copy of the text that end for the show? Still need confirmation that it's on Saturday? Really looking forward to seeing the mock-up. Chat soon, Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
[INSERTED: SKYPE CONVERSATION NO.3
2 MARCH 2008] sebcraig 02/03/2008 15:32 Hi Barry, are you out there buddy!!? sebcraig 02/03/2008 16:57 anybody there???!! Platform 26/02/2008 21:09 sorry, accidentally nearly called you. our vow of silence broken! Just wanted to see if you could copy all tonight's conversation into the document with the previous. thanks. Where did we leave the publication idea. Are we just going to wack it onto the web? am quite tempted by your on-suite book binding operation, maybe we just put it together when I get back, do a handful of copies and put one in your bookshop. might be another good way to debrief. Can't imagine anyone will be plowing through it on the opening night but I also have the week after where we could compile it onto a webpage for our international readers. 'speak' soon Barry 17:25 just got back. how's tricks? 17:29 Am just replying to your email. See you over 'there'. sebcraig 19:32 you still there? Tricks are great. Yeah I thought we could do a little book launch at the space, just a small drinks to relax, so we'll bind up 10 or so copies in case of purchases, and certainly on the web page. What day is the opening at Platform?
2 March 2008 Hey, got that entry just now. a launch is a good idea, be great to debrief and see things in a new context. thanks. regarding the press release, and this is the one actually going to the local papers, brevity really is key. I'd written a slightly longer version and that was edited down. I can take on board those changes for the gallery version of the release, the one I'll
be sending out to people in the UK too, but as this one is for journos this version should be fine. The other big factor is that this first mailout will be translated into Swedish and Finnish so i fear specifics of phrasing may be lost in the end! It's a wierd feeling when you're writing knowing that will happen but there's no real way of me checking up on it without seeming like a control freak given the time constraints! As i say, the one later in the week, with images of completed work will be more thorough and I can take on board those changes. I'll of course send you a draft of it in the next couple of days. Yes, the show is on Saturday, think we open about 7pm. I'll look into the binding of one copy, or at the very least it'll go onto the front page of the platform website. Are you putting the entire text together in chronological order, when would that be ready for? Have you been thinking of any design ideas? My thinking of potential recipients is a nice couple of designers who have a great flat full of lovely things (which this would sit a little awkwardly in). There is the director of the local museum who I get on well with, there is of course the gallery, could it be given back to the gallery to recycle? there's a charity cooperative that we could donate it to. I'll give it some more thought cos i'm not really clear on who's best yet. of course it is a number of different things, the table and childs chair the only ones you'd really be able to use. what's your current thoughts. oh, here's my sketch of the adaptations http://www.flickr.com/photos/brockleysinger/ B. 2 March 2008 10:24:12 PM Hi Mate, yes I thought that'd be the case, all is well, the sketch looks brilliant! Great stuff. I have no real design ideas for the text, just a straight cut-paste-tidy job I think. For the binding that end just a few staples could suffice if necessary, it would be lovely to have the book as a part of the work, it is the key to the objects, perhaps upon the table, it might as well have a function...??? I imagine I'll send it on thursday if thats okay. Lets wonder about the donation for a day or two, current thought is: charity idea sounds interesting, guerilla planting it (re guerilla benchers)?, design couple - also good. (we have a range of objects so perhaps a range of solutions would better fulfill the possibilities?) I am wondering whether to do an i-cabin mail out about the opening at platform, or if it's better to leave it an explain the situation at the point of the book launch, I
remember deciding once to avoid mailing out regarding offsite projects, cannot at this moment recall my reasoning. I like your title for the show and am wondering about title ideas. What did you come up with? Perhaps- Collaborative Study on Blind Philanthropy. (The shelter works are titled Philanthropic Gesture No.1 etc.) so perhaps Collaborative Study on Partially-Sighted Philanthropic Gestures, or Collaborative Study on Art as Partially-Sighted Philanthropic Gesture.... Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
2 March 2008 thurs is fine for text, it's a lot to plough through. Think it should be absolutley everything, starting with your email to me after i came to see you. up until whenever you decide you have to stop. love the titles, will think on. b.
5 March 2008 06:25:38 PM Barry, we have a problem, I have just returned from Birmingham to find my drawing in a pile of mail outside the door of i-cabin, returned by the post-office as 'oversized'. I will have to go in tomorrow and deal with that, it means that it certainly won't be with you by Saturday. Is this a huge problem? I am not so sure that it is and perhaps it will provide us with two working models, one with, one without the drawing. I was in two minds about it's necessity, this will clear up the indecision for us! Do you want to have a stand-in for it, a print of the composite or anything like that?? I do wish the post office was informed about it's own bloody services, it might avoid a stupid waste of time. Idiots. How's the carving going?? And all the other projects, is it getting stressful? Waiting on your press release and title thoughts buddy... Chat tomorrow after I kick-off in the PO! Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
5 March 2008 Yes. That is a problem, as I had planned for it to be in the show. I have always liked it and think it is key to our work, not least the show. I realise our discussion is just that and not something to hastily resolve for the opening day but it a had an important place in the show and I was expecting it. Who at the post office accepted it knowing that it could not reach here? This is a serious mistake and they are obliged to send it on an express service as a courtesy so it reaches me on Friday or saturday morning. To put my frustration in context the Dad photos have been held up in a plane delay and are currently a day late! This has an impact on the framing so fingers very crossed they arrive tomorrow. I have enjoyed the ebb and flow of my pragmatism out here so far but as the exhibition is a couple of days away it is a slightly different scenario. However, if it definitely cannot reach me any other way i would like to show as big as possible print of your scanned drawing. Can you email it over? Peppe at the gallery here has a mail account that can accept huge files, email@example.com. He also suggests sending it by skype but I am not always around for this. You could also send it by skype to 'pepperosvik' as he is always logged into skype. I think an a1 print of that composite scan you did could actually be a good stand in and maybe fits into the distance narrative looking like it has been composed and sent via computer. so if you send it i will try and find some kind of copy shop here that can do that. Thank you of course for your efforts, it's just i feel the show is 'so near and yet so far' at the moment. B. p.s. Carving went very well, no photos yet. Am too tired to rejig PR tonight so will look at in morning. they have put a facebook page up about the show though! And i was interviewed for an arts programme on national finnish radio tonight.
5 March 2008 11:32:32 PM Yes I understand completely, I'm getting a larger jpeg off another computer now and will send it by skype to that address tonight or in the morning, the file is around 20mb. I'll see what can be done at the post office to get it to you in any case as soon as possible. Try not to worry too much, we will have a version of it in the shownone way or another and that is the main thing.
Speak tomorrow, Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
[INSERTED: FAILED SKYPE COMMUNICATION WITH PEPPE ROSVIK 5 MARCH 2008] sebcraig 05/03/2008 23:37 Hello, this is Barry's friend, I'm about to try to send you the file for him, Hope thats okay? ❦ sebcraig posted file seb pic.jpg to members of this chat 05/03/2008 23:46 ❦ sebcraig posted file seb pic.jpg to members of this chat 05/03/2008 23:50 ❦ sebcraig posted file seb pic.jpg to members of this chat 16:39 ❦ sebcraig posted file seb pic.jpg to members of this chat 19:35 5 March 2008 Text Message Hi mate, text me when you log onto skype, peppe has not 'accepted' ? It wont send to him untill he does. I'll send it straight to u. 6 March 2008 cheers Seb. exactly, one version or another has something to give the project. Peppe didn't get it last night as he'd gone to bed. will have to try again at some point. ta! B.
6 March 2008 Hi Seb. Found a place that can do an A1 (or even larger) print of the drawing. Just wanted to know how the text is going. As long as it's on A4 pages and is everything in chronoligical order that will be fine (all typos, sign offs and asides left in). and includes everything we've said until the moment you do the last save and send. would be a good idea to send this to both mine & Peppe's email to make sure. How's this for a new press release. (see attachment) Oh, and the title? ‘Collaborative Study on Partially-Sighted Philanthropic Gestures (Working Model)’, 2008 (with Sebastian Craig/i-cabin, London) 2008 is that okay for a credit? Barry [INSERTED PRESS RELEASE]
Platform gallery presents:
TREE HUGGER New works by Barry Sykes 9th-23rd March 2008 Platform gallery are pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition of works by the London based artist Barry Sykes, our current artist in residence. All the works have been conceived and completed in the five weeks since Barry arrived in Finland and includes his first ever collaboration with his father and a joint research project on ‘importance’ with i-cabin gallery, London. Barry works with a wide variety of methods; primarily sculpture and drawing but also singing, stealing, fitness, forgery and lies. Recent projects have led him to impersonate a part-time police officer, make a series of sculptures blindfolded and redesign British currency. His work asks questions about usefulness, experience and appropriate behaviour. The title of the exhibition, Tree Hugger, is used deliberately out of context. Usually used as a derogatory term for ecologists and extreme nature lovers it is instead used to raise questions about the approach, intentions and possible benefits of the
works. It also describes a desire to interact with your immediate surroundings and the absurdity of some of the activities this has involved. For this exhibition Barry has devised a number of strategies to create new work in reaction to the expectations of a residency model. He arrived a month ago without any specific plans, preferring to find out what felt appropriate whilst here and relishing the chance to come up with an entire exhibition in this remarkably short time-scale. His only pre-planned tactic was to involve two collaborators working from London, each in very different ways. For the project ‘The Dad Directives’ Barry has sent his father – a keen amateur photographer- 6 short instructions every weekend to take one photograph and send it out to him in Vaasa. These have included ‘Go out of the house after dark and photograph any house with a window that you can see someone through.’ and ‘Take a photograph of a photograph you wish you had taken’. For his research project with Sebastian Craig of i-cabin gallery Barry has undertaken a long email conversation about importance, usefulness and philanthropy. This epic text will be available to read in the gallery alongside a large hand drawn map of Vaasa envisioned by i-cabin based on Barry’s description of the town along with exactly €100 worth of wooden handicrafts purchased from the Vaasa prison inmates shop and adapted in response to this conversation. Other works in the show will include an accurate re-make of another artist’s sculpture, a design for a new font and sculpture of two fictitious wall brackets. Barry Sykes was born in Essex, England in 1976. He gained his masters from Chelsea College of Art, London in 2000 and lives and works in south east London. His recent exhibitions include Evolution de l’Art, Bratislava (2007); Itchy Park 1,2,4&5, Limehouse Town Hall, London (2004-2008); Putting spark back into your relationships, Gallop design studio, London (2006); Romantic Detachment, PS1 New York and Chapter Arts Cardiff (2004) and Déjà Vu, ProArtibus, Ekenas, Finland (2006). In 2006 he was nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Arts for his collaborative work with the artist Sean Parfitt. Tree Hugger is his first solo show in Finland. Platform Hovioikeudenpuistikko 3, 65100 Vasa Finland firstname.lastname@example.org Thurs/Sun 14.00 – 18.00 Weds 14.00 – 20.00 www.platform.fi www.barrysykes.info www.i-cabin.co.uk 6 March 2008 This eve might be a good time to skype me with the image. They apparently use
PCs in the repro shop. what is the best format do you think? cheers b. 6 March 2008 01:11:55 PM I'll send you a jpeg, Peppe needs to accept my contact before I can skype anything to him, might as well send it to you, let me know when you are online. The drawing is back on the road to you in a cut down tube, the girl was very helpful as she realised her mistake but in any case it will take 2-3 working days to arrive. It was as much as they could do, and a serious break of rules, to allow me to only pay the difference in price rather than the whole price, then fill in a claim form for my original outlay! I have always been a big fan of the post, but I see now that it is best used for recreational mail rather than business. Chat later Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 6 March 2008 cheers Seb. speak later. should be back home around 7 your time at latest or will skype you from gallery as I'm installing there this afternoon. Dad's photos turned up and they are great. Not how I expected them of course, really nice mixture of the evocative and the mundane. If the press release I attached is ok will send out with an image tonight (either that one with the white triangles or one of my dad's). will you send it out to your list or wait until our launch? have done the 'Sebastian Craig/i-cabin' thing for your credit, that ok? cheers B. 6 March 2008 Hi mate, yes the credit is fine, I still don't like that line in the first paragraph :"a joint research project on â€˜importanceâ€™ with i-cabin gallery, London." I don't think that is right, it sound a bit like a school project, just "a joint research project with i-cabin gallery,
London." would be much better. I'll just send out a few words to my list about it. Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 6 March 2008 17:17:15 Right-o matey, the text is completed up to this moment and comes in at some 53 pages, 17'500 words. Of course we will need to add to it to form the completed version. things on my mind: 1. Analysis of the object (working model) post-completion and your thoughts on the response to it from viewers and Platform staff and our critique. 2. Finalising the donation-strategy to form the final stage of the work, based on our response to the project so far (which donation will be the most important socially??!) Will send you this image file when you log on, Oh yes, the drawing needs to come back after the show with the rest of your works, (what date does the show end actually for my mail out?) presumably Platform will handle all this. I think that it could form part of an ongoing critique between us, could one of the tiny pieces with the angle cut accompany it (and avoid donation)? Can I just say that your choice to represent the system of the drawing (rather than the drawing itself) by means of a slice derived from your assumption of the average angle used across the plane is extremely elegant and a beautiful solution, great stuff. later on, Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk [INSERTED: SKYPE CONVERSATION NO.4 6 MARCH 2008] sebcraig
Pending barry? Pending hello? sebcraig 06/03/2008 19:09 barry Platform 19:49 hey seb, i'm back. Got your mails this afternoon, will reply 'over there'. As for here, do you want to try the map now? sebcraig 19:52 Over there? whats that? Pending here comes the file... â?Ś sebcraig posted file seb pic.jpg to members of this chat 19:52 Platform 19:59 it's been saying 'connecting' for a few minutes now. what's it look like your end? sebcraig 20:00 Appears to have started transfer, looks like it will take 30mins or so. Platform 20:00 ah yes, here we go.... sebcraig 20:01 I need to go out at 8.30, will be back around 10, If a problem occurs we'll meet up then to resend it, is that okay? Hows the hang going? 20:15 I'm stopping the transfer, my wireless is coming and going and the transfer has stopped progressing, this may take several attempts... Platform 20:11 Just laying it all out tonight but looking good. great to see the work in a new room. Have arranged the prison stuff at the front by the window and the map and receipt will go behind to the side. Dad's photos are now beautifully framed and look stunning. they really are quite odd to look at but also very seductive. Jonathon Monk hangers look really good on a wall of their own and these 'imaginary brackets' i've made seem to work too. They are made from wood then glued and painted to look like they are welded metal home-made brackets, then i've used a model makers trick to paint chipped paint and rust markings on them. so they play off the other works adaptations of existing things well by looking real
but having never had a use. hard to describe really but i'll show you some snaps. The only thing in the balance is my outline font. I've just not found anything i'm happy with - suitable enough - to be the object i trace around to make a font. not sure if this is my brain telling me to leave it alone or that there is something staring me in the face and i've just got to recognise. have given myself till morning then I'll drop it. 20:15 okay â?Ś sebcraig posted file seb pic.jpg to members of this chat 20:16 sebcraig 20:19 Yes we never really discussed the brackets or the hangers, am interested to hear about them, however must dash now, speak around 10o'clock my time? Platform 20:19 no probs sebcraig Pending hi buddy, did you get the file ok? [recieved following day] got the map and burnt it to cd. will go and get it printed out tomorrow morn. Ready for the text now. 06/03/2008 22:50 Hey seb, have to go to bed as early start. could you send the text document to my email, i think i have space. otherwise you could try peppe's skype again or his email, both addresses i gave you in a previous chat. cheers B. [SKYPE COMMUNICATION 7 MARCH 2008] sebcraig 12:06 text is 5mb as several images included, best send it this way, are you there? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TEXT SENT TO EXHIBITION 7 March 2008 17:25 Hi Seb, Just had two copies of our conversation printed up and bound and they look
great. You have done such a superb job of compiling it all, I love all the little bits of detail like skype headers and the way you have pasted in each attachment when sent, but the absence of any other book formalities like title, spellcheck or page numbers etc... It is also amusing to think that this is in effect the 18,000 word manual for the strange collection of half-furniture sat in the other room. Every work should have one! Also got the map printed up at the same place and it looks great, the locals love it. Had a press call today with a few regional papers and another radio journo. Did i tell you about the first radio person who interviewed me in the studio on wednesday. After we finished she said that it was a shame she had meetings to go to as she just wanted to go out onto the ice and think about everything. Answered lots of questions today about the different projects and they really seemed to relate to the nuances and questions of our work. one lady said it made her sad to think about a prisoner who misses his child so makes a childs chair in prison, so we had a discussion about projecting your own stories onto these inert objects. Not sure if i took the theory too far but said to her it could just as well be a paedophile doing it for kicks! She also asked me how i felt to go into the prison as she hadn't done it, which contributes to my theory that very few people actually go there and the shop functions on more of a demonstrative, hypothetical level. All the work is now up and happily still equally baffling and making sense (to me i mean, and i guess others) which i take as a good sign immediately after you complete something. The certainties come later. Still not resolved my font project but there is a nice corner that is fine empty but could fit a work in if need be so I'll either put it in tomorrow morn if something comes to me or quite like the idea of dropping a new work in next week at my leasure before i leave. Or alternatively be happy with the room as it is and save it for another show. so I'll keep you posted on other feedback, just off for the customary post-hang cold one. thanks for everything B. 8 March 2008 00:23 Hi Barry, congratulations mate, you deserve that beer i'm sure! It sounds like a great show and I honestly can't wait to see images of it, am just sorry I won't be there to see it. I'm so glad you are happy with the text etc, I didn't do anything really except get lost in a confusing exchange which doesn't always line up! Hopefully the real
drawing will turn up with you next week. I like the idea of you adding the Font piece to the show at some point after the opening, that sits well with what we might do at i-cabin. Sounds like the reactions are great so far. I'm half way through a mail out to my list, I have pasted the entire text into the email as we discussed before, bumped into an old friend tonight who said he'd received it and found it quite funny, an 18,000 word email invite. I'm really happy about how everything has gone, thanks for a great experience, which will continue after the opening when we have a look at what we've done. Speak soon and enjoy the opening, Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 8 Mar 2008 07:16 Hi Seb, like the text email, thanks, like you've upped the anti to the hut projects boys to do an even longer one! (will you be pasting this into the text too and thus doubling it's size?). Thank you for the project too, looking forward to continuing the discussion and debriefing back in dear old blighty. oh, i've had a few people ask me 'what is the i in i-cabin', do you have an explanation i can offer? ta, B. 8 March 2008 Ey up, All the cabins in our building are titled thusly...e-cabin, a-cabin, i-cabin, as the owners were both merchant navy-men before they bought the building. We chanced upon i-cabin, by luck it has a lot of references, not least eye-cabin etc. What are you going to be up to in your time left over there? Send me some photos as soon as you get a chance to take some. I went to Chessington Zoo today. A great experience. Chat soon, Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 10 March 2008 10:41 Ah, Chessington! we went to the theme park on the last day of my foundation course. the head of our course got thrown out of the bubble works for getting out of the boat on the water ride.
Quick update on the show, opening went very well and everyone is responding well the the set up. people reacting really well to the 'tree hugger' scene setting of all the works and people really reacting well to the works individually. I had wondered wether our involved thinking of our project would translate into real life, would our strategy and system mean anything to anyone. well the map is such a great way to lure people into the thinking, it sets up a situation where people become fascinated with alternate views of their town. Then they all have an opinion on what I've done to the furniture, whether it is okay to tamper with the hard work of the prisoners. Some people thinking it sad, others appreciating it aesthetically, the wood reminding people of the shows title again. I guess there are also people who wouldn't have liked the products before i did anything and wouldn't after either, which for some reason i also find interesting. I do also like that is is an showroom and advert for the prison shop too.. I've had two articles in the local press so the network of local links (like the economy between platform and the prison) continues. Can only find the url of one at the mo'. (please ignore my awkward half smile in the photo and concentrate on the art!) http://www.vasabladet.fi/story.aspx?storyID=16522 the other article has photos of the prison stuff too but i have hard copies of both which i'll bring back. Yet to get the articles translated but think are generally positive. Did i tell you about the funny run-in i had with one of the other press photographers? she walked up to one of my dad's photos (after sneakily asking ulrika how they were attached!), took it off the wall and asking me to pose with it by the gallery window. I was obviously baffled as to why she thought she could start manhandling the work but aware of keeping the room 'upbeat' for the rest of the press. However i immediately refused as the work is not some kind of lottery cheque or lost dog in a default photo op. She didn't like this but i got the photo off her and back onto the wall demonstrably checking it for marks or damage. She wasn't done and then thought a better approach might be to ask me to sit on the floor next to the prison stuff. I guess i surprised myself by knowing instantly that these poses although vaguely logical would make me and the work look a little inane so again i refused to her face. It was funny because i couldn't work out if the stiff grimace and glazed eyes she now had was more though me thwarting her over-familiar tactics or embarrassment in front of her colleagues. It goes without saying that i was on my best behaviour through out this, simply stating that i was "not comfortable doing that" and my disdain gradually moved to amusement as the whole thing unfolded. So i just leaned against the wall next to your map and said 'how about this'. She complained that her picture editor preferred horizontal landscape format photos (!) but this would have to do. So, Barry - champion of the artist underdog: 1 / Local light-fingered photo journo: 0. Anyway, on the upside it looks like we have a sale! Dan Holm, the head curator of the Terranova museum wants a version of your map for their collection. It seems that as well as simply liking it as a lovely thing it is of suitable significance that it would be an oversight not to have it, like it has a local cultural significance
- you see the museum has a big art collection but also stuffed animals and artifacts as it takes a more anthropological view of culture. Now i didn't clarify with him whether it was the print of the scan or your original which he was interested in so maybe we should give him a price for both, or just for the original (which has just arrived in the post!), or just the copy if you want the drawing back. I don't think they have a massive budget but it is also an interesting idea that it is going to become part of the town's history. So I guess a few hundred euros but thought you should decide how many. Also of course how we do the split.... Platform won't want a cut but do we do this 50/50, we never discussed that! Obviously it is all your work but part of a joint project, what do you think? cheers, B. 11 March 2008 12:19pm Oh my goodness! That's brilliant! Yes of course 50/50, We should probably think of it as an edition of prints, I guess they should be 200euro? or less if they can't afford that. (but factor in the cost of printing, if there was one, so between 100-200). or for the original could be 600euro. or 500? not less than 500 but 6 if possible. They would ideally be framed for protection's sake, would they deal with that, or should we put it in one first? Title etc for the drawing alone? 'Vasa from imagination, Sebastian Craig & Barry Sykes, 2008.' Well done on holding your own with the photographer, those 'here's me with my lovely work' pics are often pretty foolish unless the work is particularly austere. Saying that, the D photo's look really great, great stuff. Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 19 March 2008 17:06 Hello Seb, Sorry for my silence. Was sorting things out for leaving Vaasa and documenting the show, then a few days in helsinki before I flew back on Monday. I heard from Dan Holm, the director of the Ostrobothnian Museum http://museo.vaasa.fi/. I asked him what he thought of the price quotes and he said 'your numbers are too much'. I asked my how much and he said 'not too much' so we met in the gallery to discuss it. He really liked your pencil original and i got him to agree on 450 Euros (I was going to take less as i'm so interested in it becoming part of local history - what with the museum being a mixture of art collection and local anthropology). Anyway i bump into him on the night before I
leave in a bar and he comes up to me and says we can have the full 500! I was curious as to where it would end up and he says he has a place in mind in the local government chambers. He'll get it framed and we can write a very short text to go on a panel next to it. That's a really great way for it to finish up isn't it? He also wants a copy of the email book for their archive, so i thought we could send him a finished one when we do them. When do you want to do this? the launch at i-cabin I mean. I am busy the next two weekends with weddings, then it's my Dad's 60th and Itchy Park. Could do Sat 19th April at earliest (if it's best on a weekend?) In other sales news I also sold my 'Brackets' piece to the two local graphic designers I have mentioned before. It was lovely as they were so excited to get them. I can't help thinking there was a sort of parallel to the museum sale in that both artworks operated in the opposite way to what these people would normally buy. They collect a lot of designer furniture pieces but never art before, and yet they instantly warmed to my functionless, whethered looking handmade things. And the museum tries to accurately record and present the cultural history of the town and here is an utterly unreliable map from someone who's never been here. So in both instance they sit really well in their new contexts. You know I have a thing about where artworks end up and how they can function to individuals in domestic situations so i've been thinking about it a lot. Platform are also really happy too as these are their first ever sales! They normally do performance festivals and research trips you see so it's never been their agenda. Also as there isn't really a collector base here and people don't travel from helsinki that much. Our discount prices must have had something to do with it too! I'm currently trying to sort out how to best represent the works online so you'll have to wait for a bit before you can see what it looks like. I've just got the DadDirectives done so far, ours is next so let me know what you think. Be good to meet up for a debrief soon, this week or next. Have some finnish souvenirs for you too! cheers Barry 19 March 2008 7:11pm Wow, thats so amazing man, well done and thank-you. I have never really sold anything before except publications, and the first thing goes to a museum! I'm so happy, so will he send us the cheque or what is the arrangement? And he'll just collect the drawing from the gallery after the show? Lets meet on friday, I'm at i-cabin for a meeting 10.30-12ish, then we'll have coffee somewhere if you're free. Going into the government chambers is beyond our wildest dreams for a result for the project, a drawing designed to influence prison life enters the government
psyche. The booklaunch could just as easily be a thursday night in a few weeks. There's 2 images I forgot to include in the text which I'd like to add and we'll talk about binding etc. I think we should each write a post-script to be added after the last email of the original document, summing up what happened next. I'll give u a call tommorrow, cheers buddy Seb i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk 20 March 2008 Text message All up online. Can you let me know what you think and i'll mail it out later. 20 March 2008 Text message It looks great. Glad to see it. I'm using a slightly different title but I don't think that matter a bit. Do you? Great stuff. 20 March 2008 Text message Guess we should use the same title but can look at that tommorrow. Any thoughts on the text? 20 March 2008 Text message I like it, you have a very humble and honest rhetoric, which is good. I'm going to put all the emails on the i-cab page as explanation. Also we should link to eachothers page. 20 March 2008 Text message Of course.
21 March 2008 Text message Train delays so might even be half past! Sorry. See you asap. B. 21March 2008 Text message
Mr Sykes, i just found a very wet and muddy leather glove on holloway rd. I'll pop it in the post incase it is yours! What is your address? 21 March 2008 Text message Wow! Just keep hold of it for now. I'll pick it up next time i see you. Thanks! 30 March 2008 18:34 Hi Seb, how's tricks? Just emailing the museum with an invoice. They want a very short text - 20 words or thereabouts - to go on a label next to it. what do you think of this? Text for Label: ’Map of Vaasa drawn in London by Sebastian Craig based on a brief written description by Barry Sykes on a residency in Vaasa at Platform gallery.’ And what do you think is the drawing's exact title? is it the same as the whole piece or something more specific? Can you get back to me on monday about it as i should get the invoice off ASAP. thanks, Barry p.s. can we talk this week about the publication, maybe a meeting to confirm everything then put it into action. Can we talk to your book binder? 31 March 2008 13:47 Hi mate, i think "Vasa from imagination, Sebastian Craig & Barry Sykes, 2008" for the title, as a single unit i think it's really separate from the whole project. ’Map of Vaasa drawn in London by Sebastian Craig based on a brief description of the city written by Barry Sykes on a residency in Vaasa at Platform gallery.’ what is the cultural implications of the Vaasa/Vasa spelling, it is based on a swedish/finnish thing right? Lets be sure to get it right! I'll be at the gallery tue or wed, I'll get a price on the binding, did you say A4? S. i-cabin, Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ 07813 764 937 / www.i-cabin.co.uk
APPENDIX 1 IMAGES USED FROM BARRY SYKES' FLICKR PAGE
Exactly â‚Ź100 of purchases from the Vaasa Prison Shop
All made of wood; A childs rocking chair, a small table with handpainted flower, a chopping/draining...
Vaasa Prison shop adaptations
Hi Seb, Just a rough illustration of where the 45 degree cuts could be used. I'm pretty happy with the layout so would arange them a bit like this in the space. I've borrowed this really nice japanese style saw that should give some nice clean cuts.
The branded bag from Vaasa Prison shop
I like the logo. Is that sunlight through the bars, or a search light, or hazard sign, or what?
More woodcraft from the Inmates
Metalwork by the inmates
Give the prisoners the chance to make axes, bats then camouflaged clothing, that seems like a good idea.
Axe bottle opener
Engraved with an image of two prisoners shackled together.
Wooden trays, Bats, Axes and Telephones
The axes and phones are just elaborate bottle openers.
The Great Escape
It's a wooden motorbike rocking horse. For kids. Not made in Vaasa but a prisoner elsewhere in the...
More inmates woodwork and metalwork
You can tell it's a Nokia because they've written it on in pencil
Sadly not for sale.
Made in the inhouse workshop
Published by i-cabin(texts) Clarendon Buildings, 11 Ronalds Road, London, N5 1XJ © 2008 Sebastian Craig/i-cabin & Barry Sykes
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the publisher.
“HELLO SEBASTIAN … DID YOU SAY A4?” was written by Sebastian Craig and Barry Sykes during the latter’s residency at Platform gallery, Vaasa, Finland. Each copy of this book comes with an explanatory tasseled bookmark introducing the texts origin, parameters and function. The first six editions of this book also come with a small wooden multiple; a key fob made from Finnish pine shaped into a 12cm x 5cm x 8mm block by inmates of Vaasa Prison. Bought by the authors in the local prison craft shop they were then carefully cut into to remove a 30° slice, the base angle for isometric perspective drawing. Each fob has been cut in a slightly different way.
For more details please visit: i-cabin www.i-cabin.co.uk Barry Sykes www.barrysykes.info Platform www.platform.fi
A discussion between Barry Sykes and Sebastian Craig. The publication comes with a hand-carved item made by Finnish prisoners at Vaasa Pris...
Published on Nov 5, 2010
A discussion between Barry Sykes and Sebastian Craig. The publication comes with a hand-carved item made by Finnish prisoners at Vaasa Pris...