Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But do you need to have been to the Royal College of Art to be an artist, or is painting ‘just another way of keeping a diary,’ as Pablo Picasso claims? Or do you, like pop artist Andy Warhol, believe that everyone can create art. ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done,’ he said. ‘Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.’ And now you have the chance to participate as Brighton Festival stages several events this month where the public can explore their own creative talents.
One event, SPECTRA: CAST invites people to help transform part of Brighton beach into a huge canvas by covering it in coloured pebbles. Each pebble represents an artistic opinion depending on its colour. Throughout the day as people continually place their pebbles to symbolise their thoughts, the colours of the canvas and, therefore, the opinion, shifts and changes. As a myriad opinion mounts up, the beach physically represents the diversity of outlook that powers cultural debate. More importantly, as the artwork never remains constant, this is art at its most ephemeral and evanescent.
This event is being overseen by artistic duo Walter & Zoniel, who find playful and engaging ways to explore issues of perception and inclusivity in the art world. They describe the event as, ‘…part performance and part installation that allows everyone to make their mark.’ They work with mixed mediums of installation, sculpture, photographic processes, film and performance but underlying all their work are more profound questions surrounding the nature of humans to one another as well as to the physical elements of their environment.
Behind their artistic visions lay a simple desire: ‘We believe art is for everyone and so part of our practice is creating these giant public art installations. The SPECTRA: CAST installation works on many levels engaging and hopefully empowering people to connect further with art as a whole.’
For the SPECTRA: CAST event there will be the added element of mystery. Participants will be asked three ‘yes/no’ questions and they will be given a coloured pebble (biodegradable paint) to represent their answers. Walter & Zoniel will not reveal what these coloured pebbles represent until the end as they do not want to influence people’s thinking. So the final artwork is like a giant abstract expression of a debate, using peoples’ responses and their corresponding pebbles as the source information. It is taking over about half the beach between Brighton Pier and the Doughnut Groyne, up to the high-tide mark on those dates.
A return to traditional methods of photography presents the public with a second opportunity to participate in the visual arts. In a series of Bright Room workshops acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere invites people to take pictures and make their own cameras from throw away materials, then see their images come to life in a community dark room. Eddie will encourage people to capture, reflect upon, and share their photographic experiences.
Eddie is best known for his photographic portraits of Hip Hop icons of the 1990s and early noughties, of seminal rappers and DJs such as So Solid Crew, Estelle, Goldie, Omar, as well as his official coverage of the Metalheadz: Blue Note sessions 1994-1996. Otchere’s photographs have been exhibited and published worldwide, including on the covers of major international magazines such as Urb, Lodown and Mixmag and on the covers of some of rap music’s seminal albums. He now concentrates on steering groups of young people through projects and creating platforms for them to develop shooting skills, camera techniques, editing and curatorial values for photography as art. He is a regular contributor to the V&A’s education programme, specialising in teaching street and portrait photography to adults and young people.
So what attracted Eddie to this event at the Brighton Festival? The idea came about when he met Kate Tempest, this year’s guest director, and discussed an event which would actively encourage people to take part in the
Festival. He especially wanted to share his passion for traditional methods of photography in an increasingly digitalised world. ‘The beauty of the traditionally printed photo held in a frame, or on the
fridge or in an album is how it continues to reflect back that connection of you to that moment with your brother, your lover, your mother,’ he says. This symbol of basic humanity, is, Eddie argues, important to hold on to.
In his workshops, as well as the practicalities of taking photos, he will get participants to think about light and the lost tactility of photography such as the touch of the camera itself, the rolls of film, contact sheets, and the final photo. Along with light and touch, another important ingredient is the chemical communication. The chemical processes revealing figures, landscapes or even objects indelibly transposed onto a single contact sheet still mesmerises Eddie with their magic and he wants this to rub off on others. ■
Discover the artist in you at Brighton Festival where you can take part in a collaborative canvas and photography workshops. By Jane Dallender