Bella Easton’s Dog Kennel Hill

Once you walked in the door, you couldn’t miss it.

Bella Easton's "Dog Kennel Hill" from inside the installation

This may have been ALISN’s largest exhibited work yet.

Taking up a great deal of space, Bella Easton’s “Dog Kennel Hill” seemed a magical portal to the unknown.

What was interesting about the main piece featured in ALISN’s latest exhibition was it could not be pinned down.  Engaging and vocal, the work invited the audience to interpret the message that was being conveyed from multiple perspectives.

Dog Kennel Hill

The installation inspired a great deal of conversation.

Having what could be seen as Matisse-like influences, a closer look revealed a montage of tiny pieces of dark paper, hand-coloured to produce an almost stained glass window effect.

At times, the colours met together in a corner of the piece to produce strange, dark faces peering back; and at other times, a city of lights, shimmering water or talking mouths.

Easton’s piece was tactile, and the crowd could not help but climb inside of it’s house-like structure.

There was a spiritual nature to the work, acting as the safety and shelter of a church.

The lighting only added to the feeling of warmth and worship, reflecting the various colours.

A connection with nature

Yet, Dog Kennel Hill still suggests a connection with nature, as the separated pieces do not keep those within the

Bella Easton's "Dog Kennel Hill" - The inner ceiling of the installation

roofed side of the work completely indoors.  This is enhanced by the feeling of shimmering sunlight on the walled piece.

The strength of Easton’s work is that it gathers together different techniques and images that in essence, produce a solid effect, a solid structure.  And Easton seems to have done this in such a way that the final outcome appears serendipitous rather than intensional.

One is seduced into giving much thought to the piece, long after walking away from it.

Easton’s work, ultimately, does what great art is meant to do: challenge the artist’s range of capability and engender a variety of perspectives and discussion.

If Dog Kennel Hill is any indication of Easton’s talent and ability, audiences should expect other great works from her in the future.

For more information about the artist and her work, go to www.bellaeaston.co.uk

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Morning Glory Feels Good

Harrison Ford hasn’t looked this comfortable in years.

Morning Glory is a lesson in what to do with an aging actor, who is incredibly talented, cerebral and still darned handsome.

The film is about young producer Becky Fuller, who’s at the end of her rope when she’s offered a job on a morning show with incredibly low ratings.

The producer, played by the adorable Rachel McAdams, comes up with the plan to replace the perverted, negative anchor on the show with the grumpy, belligerent award-winning reporter, played by Ford.

Ford and Keaton

It was a bit of a masterstroke, placing Diane Keaton opposite Ford as seasoned morning show veteran, Colleen Peck.

The banter between these two seasoned professionals was often acerbic, edgy and rip-roaringly funny.

In fact, it would have been nice if there was quite a bit more of it.

Clearly the two prized stallions of the film could have easily over-shadowed the others.

McAdams held her own

Still, McAdams clearly has chops, and holding her own with Ford and Keaton (no small task) places her as a leading lady with a promising future.

In Morning Glory, McAdams proves not only that she can hold her own as a leading actress, but also that she is potentially a great physical comedian.

Other notable performances were by John Pankow, who’s well-known for his stint on the television hit Mad About You.

As assistant producer, he won audiences over with his tenderness towards McAdams’ character.

Jeff Goldblum, as network television executive Jerry Barnes, provides a fair amount of conflict, as McAdams tries to convince him to fight for the show.

But Goldblum, an actor with great comedic timing, could have been put to better use.

Good writing and  direction

Director Roger Michell has often worked on films in the UK as well as the US and is no stranger to drama and comedy.

He’s directed films such as Notting Hill, Venus and Changing Lanes.

Morning Glory is further evidence that Michell can direct heavy hitters.

His use of montage in Morning Glory was brilliantly put together, eliciting side splitting laughs from the crowds as Diane Keaton was bounced around on the belly of a sumo wrestler.

There was, however, a sloppy job done on sound mixing, which at times seemed choppy and overwhelming as the music sometimes swelled unnecessarily.

Yet, despite these small flaws that only really affected a small area of the film near its end, Morning Glory is a film that will have audiences leaving the theatre feeling an ample amount of gleeful mirth.

The film is clever in so far as it doesn’t shy away from the current discourse regarding television reporting, such as news versus entertainment and is soft news a valid form of journalism.

These issues come up regularly in the banter between Ford and Keaton leaving no room for criticism about a film that asks, ‘What bad things can you say about morning shows that we haven’t already said?’

Writer Aline Brosh Mckenna, who also wrote The Devil Wears Prada, is greatly responsible for this clever handling of the world of morning television news in the film.

Morning Glory delivers quite well and will undoubtedly become a DVD summer favourite.

Off the Clock: From Assistant to Artist

Saturday night, ALISN – an artist-led organisation – presented ‘Off the Clock’, an exhibition featuring artists, who have assisted other well-known artists.

An upclose shot of "Quercus Condido Pt. I-III" by Matt Blackler

The works in ‘Off the Clock’ included paintings, illustrations and sculptures.

Yet, the main focus of the exhibition seemed to be the artist’s assistant, a role typically obscured by the fame of the main artist.

‘Off the Clock’ takes notice of the lack of recognition of artist’s assistants.  In fact, it is done rather well – in part – by a display of emails framed in wood, of responses from major artists.

ALISN reached out to artists whose former or current assistants were asked to exhibit works in ‘Off the Clock’.

Some of the emails actually praised the assistant.  There was, for example, a direct quote from Sir Anthony Caro lauding Gary Doherty for his ten years of assistance.

Other artists, however, responded via employees of the gallery or organisation in which they worked.

The Exhibition

Many of the pieces in ‘Off the Clock’ relayed a common theme of desolation.

Benjamin Deakin, who assists winner of the 2002 Turner Prize, Keith Tyson, created an illustration of a jagged hole in the ground.

By looking closely, one can just see the faded stencilled words that read ‘DEAD ARTIST’.  The drawing depicts an open grave, and ghostly figures seem to dance in and out of the detailed illustration.

A section of "FP 12:16" by Gary Doherty

Gary Doherty’s large drawing depicts a loan woman looking over a city that she seems very much disconnected from.

However, the second image of her in the illustration that appears at the end of a tunnel-like hole indicates that she is somehow watching herself rather than the city.

Reuben Negron’s painting was of a half naked woman alone in a room.  His use of watercolours and gouache were interesting, giving the painting a graphic novel feel.  The images come to life, creating a certain measure of intensity within the loan figure as she pleases herself in bed.

Yet, perhaps the most obvious feeling of desolation was the painting by Allison Edge, who assisted artist Jeff Koons.

Part of her Magic Forest series, Camp Thunderbird, oil on canvas, depicted a campground scene with several tire swings hanging off of a rope.

"Camp Thunderbird" by Allison Edge

Edge’s painting has a magical and eerie feeling, and one is compelled to ask why no children or people inhabit it at all.

Yet, the pieces, which depicted certain ghostly characteristics, were offset by some equally interesting sculptures.

Daryl Brown’s Mother and Cat was a sort of Escher-esque sculpture of wood.

With Brown’s recent Judo Series in mind, it is interesting to see how the artist continues to play with gravity.

The sculpture, though seemingly heavy on the top is held up by a single metal pedestal, which disappears into the bottom of the piece.

Brown has assisted artist Gereon Krebber, who won the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2003.

Another sculpture, which evokes discussion, is Alison Gill’s Stray Object. A model of a tiny brown bird with a broken wing is in the centre of a large cube.

At first, one may think of a bird within a cage, except that the large box-like cube has holes carved in varying sizes, allowing the bird to escape once he is mended.

One side of "Stray Object" by Alison Gill

Gill’s approach asks viewers to contemplate the bird’s circumstance and the bird’s fate.

Gill has assisted YBA member Gavin Turk, who, in a strange turn of events, will assist her on a sculpture in one of the upcoming exhibitions.

Matt Blackler’s work with wood seems to speak loudly of nature.  The round wooden pieces, at first look, seem like slices of a tree – something a lumberjack would produce.

A closer look reveals that the wood has been manipulated in such a way that perhaps alludes to one of its former states.

Blackler, who assists Gordon Cheung, often works with wood, creating sculptures that require a great deal of physical work.

Other artists whose work will be shown in ‘Off the Clock’ are Rachel Beach who has assisted Roxy Paine, Jason Bryant who has assisted Kehinde Wiley, Sy Hackney who has assisted Eamon Everall and Jenny Morgan who has assisted Marilyn Minter.

The ‘Off the Clock’ series, sponsored also by Like the Spice, will continue in both London and New York as follows:

9 to 17 October, The Magnificent Basement Gallery, 128 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3AP

14 October to 14 November, 92Y Tribeca Art Gallery, 200 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013

4 November to 6 December, Like The Spice Gallery, 224 Roebling Street. Brooklyn, NY 11211

4 to 17 November, Mile End Art Pavilion, Mile End Park, Grove Road, London, E3 4QY