Ocean Studios – Plymouth

Yesterday, I visited the new Ocean Studios Gallery in Plymouth. The exhibition “A Taste of Things to Come” is the first since the space opened and features artists such as Grayson Perry, Richard Deacon and Gillian Wearing. The Gallery is located at Royal William Yard, a grade 1 listed former Royal Navy building and I absolutely love the gallery space they’ve created.

The exhibition itself had key themes of feminism, motherhood and diversity. One of the most interesting pieces was a series of slate scratchings documenting artist Mary Kelly’s son learning to spell his name and slowly gaining independence after beginning school. The piece expresses how she feels at this separation from him.

I think it’s really great that Ocean Studios has opened in Plymouth, it’s aim to revitalise Plymouth culturally, re-engage the public with the arts and be a home for south west artists is fantastic and I will definitely be visiting future exhibitions!

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You can find out more about Ocean Studios here:




The Feminist Takeover.

Tomorrow on the 5th of March there will be a feminist takeover of Manchester art gallery as part of the launch of Wonder Woman week. I helped organise this event with a group of feminists and artists and will be there filming it tomorrow night! We’ve got a huge range of art from women mainly based in the North West.


Taken from the Press Release:

From suffragette smashing windows in the gallery to a breathtaking exhibition of female surrealists, Manchester has a rich heritage of stereotype-smashing women. Yet society, and the art world, is still dominated by men. ‘In Emergency Break Glass’ brings together the North’s best emerging female contemporary artists, performers & creatives to challenge the male-dominated artistic canon, respond to the gallery’s artworks and inspire attendees. Curated by The Feminist Takeover team (made up of feminist artists, curators, writers and researchers, protagonists from No More Page 3, For Book’s Sake, Mighty Heart Theatre and Stirred Poetry),

This Thursday Late will run from 5.30-8, with events beginning in the Atrium at 6pm. Audiences are invited to tour the new contemporary exhibition that we have installed within the permanent collection. Live performances are scheduled all evening throughout the gallery and within the Feminist Takeover hub in the Atrium, and audiences are welcomed to explore the issues for themselves via the interactive arts & artist discussions that will be occurring throughout the evening in the Atrium.

By giving self-identified women a voice in the context of Manchester Art Gallery we aim to encourage discussion and explore the issues around the representation of women within the gallery, the art world and the wider society.

If any of my followers are based in Manchester, this will be a great event and I hope you attend!

The facebook event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1374843142834105/

The Film London Jarman Award 2014

The Jarman Award shortlist is currently touring the UK before the winner is announced in December. It is named after film artist, Derek Jarman who died in 1994. This is the 7th year of the award which is given to the best contemporary film artist of the year.


The screening of the nominees was accompanied by a short Q&A with film artist Redmond Entwistle whose film Walk-Through about the California Institute of the Arts was shown.  He explained during the Q&A that the film was about the comodification of education and was semi-autobiographical having attended the university himself in the past. Overall there were 10 films shown, 2 of which were only excerpts including the widely talked about 20,000 Days on Earth the fictitious documentary about Nick Cave by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

My favourite of the films screened was Peripeteia  by John Akomfrah. The film took two drawings by an artist called Albrecht Durer which are among the earliest western representations of black people. The film imagines these people in a ghostly way explaining how they are now “lost to the winds of history”.

Whilst a few of the films were not to my taste, everything was interesting, original and experimental. It was a great example of contemporary artist filmmaking and I am looking forward to see which film wins.

Mr Turner 2014 Review.

Last night I attended a preview screening of Mr Turner that included a Q&A with director Mike Leigh (Nominee of 7 Oscars).

 Mr Turner is a biopic of the famous British painter J.M.W Turner starring Timothy Spall. I went into the film knowing very little about Turner and his work, I knew who he was and some of his paintings but very little else. One of the things this film does well is show the very physical way in which Turner painted, spitting at his work, blowing powder at it and using powerful brush strokes. Full credit to the cinematographer Dick Pope for this film because visually it was stunning. Many of the scenes alluded to Turner’s work which was a great touch. Leigh explained that they had access to a lot of Turner’s work including his colour charts so they were really able to see how Turner approached colour and could incorporate it into the film’s cinematography which I found really interesting.

I did have a few issues with the film, during the Q&A an audience member praised the portrayal of the women in the film and Turner’s positive relationship with them. I definitely disagree with this opinion, in fact I saw the complete opposite. Turner in the film came accross as deeply misogynistic, sexually abusing his housekeeper and on the whole only interacting with women if he got something in return (usually sex). I also (partly because of this) found Turner’s character to be incredibly unlikable the majority of the time. The whole film takes the angle of empathising with him and portraying him as a gentle man who happened to bIMG_2520e a painting genius and in some ways this was successful, for example I enjoyed his relationship with his father and the scenes at the art gallery. But a lot of the time I found myself really disliking Turner as a character, and I can get on board with unlikeable characters if that was their intended purpose but it was clear from the Q&A that this wasn’t how I was supposed to perceive him. There were a mix of funny and sad moments in the film, it was also clear that Turner was incredibly passionate and forward thinking showing him embracing the new technologies of steam trains and early photography and acknowledging how photography was going to change art. Which of course he was right about. Mike Leigh described Mr Turner as a modern Biopic as it does leave a lot up to your interpretation rather than being strictly factual.

I had the opportunity to meet Mike Leigh after the event, I asked him what his advice would be for aspiring filmmakers and he said “Never compromise” and encouraged me to keep filming lots.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the event but to be honest I wasn’t a big fan of the film.

Filmed Up – North West Filmmakers Night. (September)

Every 3 months the Cornerhouse in Manchester runs a night of selected short films made by the North West film making community. The films vary, including animation, documentary and fiction. At the end of the night you vote for your favourite film and have a chance to talk to some of the filmmakers. The most recent installment of this was on the 25th of September.

Out of the 12 films shown a few stand outs were:

The First Hit – Joseph Malone 

A Documentary about 3 recovering victims of substance misuse reflect on their addiction and how it’s affected them.

This was incredibly hard hitting and moving, it did a great job in discussing the effects an addiction can have on a life but it also ended on a hopeful note.

Angel in Ancoats – Rebecca Luck

After Mark moves to a new area of Manchester (Ancoats), He is struck by the mixture of decay, demolition and construction and wants to make a positive change. This alongside fears of being stuck in his life he takes a unique approach in trying to set the bricks free.

This was my personal favourite of the evening, I liked Mark’s unconventional attitude to the abandoned and disused buildings in Ancoats and how he strived to make a positive change in the area and in himself.

Coast– Sois De Traca

An animated music video exploring the attachment to the things left behind.

This was just a really beautiful animation with a good attitude towards letting go.

The Pig Child – Lucy Campbell, Scout Stuart and Loran Dunn

A Scientist illegally creates an embryo that is part human and part pig and uses herself as the surrogate to bring it into the world. 

This was really well made and brilliantly shot, it was also incredibly disturbing and shocking. The Pig Child was voted the best film of the night.

This was a really great night and a great opportunity to see some of the work made by the local film community and I definitely hope to attend the next installment of this!

Media Arts Exhibition.

I took these images through the installment set up for another student’s work which involved a projector and sheets of sheer fabric that enlarged the projections that ascended through the room. I think the pictures look quite dreamlike.

Media Arts Exhibition 2014 from Emily Steele on Vimeo.

I also filmed part of the exhibition to document my experience there, here is the result.

Women in Art

Painting by Laura Knight
Painting by Laura Knight

I recently went to an exhibition at Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery called “Women in Art”.  This exhibition has work from the Renaissance to the modern day. It features models, portraits and 20th century ceramics surrounding women.

Artists on display include John Waterhouse, Beryl Cook, Prunella Clough, Rose Hilton, Elizabeth Forbes, Anya Gallacio and Kate Nicholson. Ceramics by Clarice Clift, Dorothy Doughty and Lucie Rie.

Next door to this exhibition was a collection of portrait paintings by Laura Knight which I particularly enjoyed.

However, it got me thinking about sexism in the arts and how hard it is for female artists to be taken seriously and be remembered by history.

For example, how many female artists featured in the top 100 auction sales, ranked by price, last year? Gemma Rolls-Bentley, an independent curator, looked at the 2012 list “and spent a couple of hours writing M next to the artists. I got to the end and there wasn’t a single F.” The list was a mixture of living and dead artists, all were highly valued both critically and economically and all were men.

Campaigning group UK Feminista in 2010 showed that 83% of the artists in Tate Modern were men, along with 70% of those in the Saatchi Gallery.

These numbers further reflect women’s marginalisation in art history. It is estimated that only around 5% of the work featured in major permanent collections worldwide is by women. The National Gallery in London, for example, contains more than 2,300 works however only 11 of the artists in their collection are women.

[no title] 1985-90 by Guerrilla Girls null

This is a poster from the Guerrilla Girls, a feminist activist group who started highlighting sexual and racial inequality in the arts in 1985 – while dressed in gorilla masks due to being ignored. Perhaps their most famous poster came in 1989, and featured the female nude from Ingres’s “Grande Odalisque”.

Obviously, this is not just an issue in painting and sculpture but across all artistic mediums.

More information on women in art history: