Artists' Takeover: Michelle Hall

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I hope this selection of weblinks finds you well, as we move into Autumn following the equinox earlier this week. It includes performance works and suggestions for your own performative explorations; artists who work with books and artists who make work around experiences of illness, along with material relating to healing and the mystic, including a moment from my own recent travels in Ireland.

Michelle Hall

Image: The Hermit, Michelle Hall, (2017)

PERFORMANCE HOMEWORK is a site created during lockdown that shares instructional performances that anyone can take part in at home. You can view the selection and take part here
JO SPENCE was a British photographer who generously documented her experiences of illness and the health system, which she shared through laminated collages that could be widely shown in both traditional gallery settings as well as non-art settings. She collaborated through photography in many ways throughout her career and her photo-therapy practice is now on view with guided audio tour here
Photo Credit:
Faces Group [Lyn], 1975–1977, Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre
Within her practice she interrogated representations of female identity and challenged traditions of the family album through her documentary and text practice. Her work is housed in the Jo Spence Memorial Library Archive at Birkbeck University of London and pieces from that collection can be seen on their instagram page here
Photo Credit: 'Cultural Sniping: The Art of Transgression' by Jo Spence
The exhibition 'library of exile' by Edmund de Waal is currently showing at the British Museum. It is a library of books written by authors forced into exile and also holds inscriptions of all libraries lost or destroyed throughout history in its walls. You can find out more about the library here and view the artist in conversation with writers of exile here
Following the exhibition, the 'library of exile' will be donated to the University of Mosul in Iraq where thousands of books were destroyed by IS forces in 2015.
Another artist creating interventions with books and libraries is Meriç Algün who created the installation series 'The Library of Unborrowed Books' in several locations around the world. You can find some text on the project after scrolling through images here
Also by Algün is 'Metatext', an audio work composed of sentences taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, which you can listen to here
A further description of the artwork can be found here
Photo credit: 'The Library of Unborrowed Books, Section IV': Centro de Documentación Regional Juan Bautista Vázquez, 12th Cuenca Biennial, 2014.
Throughout lockdown I've been watching films on the streaming platform MUBI which can be accessed for free for a seven day period here
I recommend viewing 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire', a visually beautiful film that is constructed around the painting of a secret portrait and the relationship between its two main female characters. For the first half of the film there is no soundtrack and this silence is suddenly broken by a sound that feels heavy and ominous at first, before it develops into a striking chorus sung and clapped by a group of women gathered around a fire at night. You can find out more about the development of this scene here
Portraits of women continue with drawings by Tina Berning here
On staycation in Co. Clare I visited the Holy Well of St. Brigid at Liscannor. The well grotto is covered with statues, trinkets and offerings of all kinds, along with memorial cards and photographs that people have brought for their loved ones who have passed away. When you step inside the grotto, the temperature gets cooler and you can hear the well water rushing. You can find more information on the historical importance of the well as a site of healing and pagan worship here
Listen to 'Together' by William Shatner featuring Lemonjelly here
My choice from the Hugh Lane Gallery collection are two paintings by George William Russell, 'The Stone Carriers' and 'The Log Carriers'.
Image: The Stone Carriers, George William Russell, Hugh Lane Gallery collection.
Reading that Russell was influenced by mysticism, the landscapes depicted here feel somewhat other-worldly. The female figures move steadily, with balance and composure, as they work together to share the weight of the objects they carry. This theme feels quite appropriate at the moment when everyone in society is being called on to work together and be aware of each others welfare in new and unforeseen ways.
Image: The Log Carriers, George William Russell, Hugh Lane Gallery Collection
Russell was an artist, writer and mystic who also went by the name Aeon represented by the symbol Æ. Below is the first verse of his poem 'By the Margin of the Great Deep'.
'When the breath of twilight blows to flame the misty skies,
All its vapourous sapphire, violet glow and silver gleam
With their magic flood me through the gateway of the eyes;
I am one with the twilight's dream.'
Illustrations, from a 1929 edition of his book 'Deep Weeping (Ariel Poem No. 19)', by Paul Nash.
About the Artist
Michelle Hall is a member of the Hugh Lane Artists, Guides and Lecturers panel. She is a visual artist working across various disciplines including moving image, photography, text and performance. She is currently working on her first public commission for Fingal’s ‘Infrastructure’ Public Art Programme 2017-2021. Recent residencies include the Centre for the Study of Substructured Loss, Berlin 2019 and London 2017, the RHA School & Fingal Arts Studio Award 2018, and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin 2018, awarded through the Prague-based StartPoint Prize in 2017. Hall is also a member of the artist collective 'Child Naming Ceremony'.