Lucy Harrison: THE ABSENT COLLECTOR
Preview: Friday 12 March 2010, 6-9pm
Open: 13 - 14 March 2010, 12-5pm & 19 - 21 March 2010, 12-5pm (Or by appointment)
For the fifth exhibition in CRATE's Bad Translation programme, Lucy Harrison explores interpretation and coincidence through the stories of two people – one from 20th Century Italy, the other from 19th Century Margate.
In the first part of the show, which takes place in CRATE’s Project Space 1, she attempts to piece together the biography of the owner of a collection of letters and postcards found on a roadside in Sicily.
The London-based artist was visiting Palermo last year when she discovered a carrier bag full of correspondence spanning 20 years. She returned home with the letters, intrigued by what they might reveal of their owner – and what they might withhold. With the help of an Italian speaking friend, she found parallels between the found collection and other ephemera belonging to absent family members which she herself owns. Following this, she asked various Italian speakers in Italy and the UK, including in Margate, to translate more of the letters into English, and also to interpret and speculate on what the letters might have meant and what they reveal about the correspondents’ lives and relationships. Her search for Italian connections in the area led her to a local story that casts a different light on what happens to somebody’s possessions when they die.
In Project Space 2, Harrison investigates a pamphlet found in the Margate Local History Archive. ‘A Plain Statement of a Late Base Conspiracy’ is the confusing story of a man in Margate in 1837 who felt persecuted by gossip in the town about why his uncle cut him out of his will. The gossip was literally spread around the streets by graffiti and ‘printed placards’.
The Absent Collector is Harrison’s investigation into the process by which the belongings of one who is no longer there have new value judgments placed on them and are often disseminated to various locations and read without the previous owner’s knowledge of why they were kept, or of the specific relationships between the objects that determined their meaning. By focusing on the idea of an unknown collector, the project considers how others may find or interpret items that were given away, and the way in which those that were kept now signify a void; the writer or receiver of letters no longer being present to clarify points or retell stories.
Harrison’s dissemination of the Sicilian collection is in part an attempt to explore how personal connections and family histories make objects meaningful: that when her collaborators’ input is gathered to form a new collection, it might create a portrait of the vacuum that is created when someone dies. The exhibition also examines the act of ‘reading’ a collection of objects – whether they be letters, objects, photographs - highlighting the role of guesswork in the absence of the original collector, and the extent to which one’s understanding of collections is guided by one’s own desires rather than curatorial or objective agendas. Furthermore, it considers the impact that this act of reinterpretation can have in the real world.
The Absent Collector is part of Bad Translation, CRATE’s programme for 2009/10. It is generously supported by Arts Council England and Kent County Council.
About the artist:
Lucy Harrison is based in London and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1999. Her recent work investigates the subjective nature of the experience of place and connections between memory, location and architecture. It takes the form of photographs, book works, video and various forms of printed and published material. Her projects often engage with the public realm through collaboration, encounter and exchange, and involve residents of a place in the work, such as Canvey Guides, a project on Canvey Island in 2007, for which she formed the Rendezvous Walking Club and worked with people on the island to produce an alternative guidebook and audio guide. Recent projects include Fourteen Interventions (2010) at Swedenborg House, Poetry Machines (2009) at the Saison Poetry Library, London, The Stratford Grapevine (2008) for Art on the Underground at Stratford station and a residency at Lokaal 01, Antwerp in 2008. She was artist in residence at the Institute for Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts at the University of Bath last year, and is developing a new project for SPACE working with residents of an estate in Hackney Wick, London.
Lucy Harrison is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury.
S Mark Gubb + Roadkill Zine: HISTORY OF A TIME TO COME
Preview: Friday 12 February, 2010. 6 - 9pm
Open: 13 - 14 February 2010, 12 - 5pm & 19 - 21 February 2010, 12-5pm (Or by appointment)
Plus Zine Fair 20 February 2010, 12-5pm
For the fourth exhibition in CRATE’s Bad Translation programme, S Mark Gubb is teaming up with a hypnotist and East-Kent based fanzine Road Kill to rediscover his youth - specifically, his late teens, which he spent as a heavy metal and hardcore-loving musician and skateboarder in Margate.
For Gubb, as for anyone between the age of seventeen and twenty-one, these were seminal times, when cultural allegiances were formed and rock-star dreams pursued, while the pressures and realities of adulthood approached quietly. Towards the end of this period, Gubb realised that he had to choose between his beloved music and returning to study art. He chose the latter, but the local DIY music and skateboarding subcultures left a strong imprint on his work, which even now is as likely to refer to Napalm Death as it is to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In fact, Gubb’s work is an exploration of how different subcultures, with their attendant languages, can overlap in contemporary society, creating challenges to notions of independence and originality for those who regard themselves as outsiders (or, indeed, insiders). A single work might find the common ground between the inclusive rhetoric of both the American political right and the independent music scene, but, rather than producing work that critiques this process from rigid ideological standpoint, Gubb explores its potential for good and bad with equal emphasis.
In this new work, he positions himself explicitly as the subject of the actions, decisions and tastes of others – someone whose personal understanding of time and place are part of a larger system of tastes and interpretations. In December 2009, Gubb visited a hypnotist to be ‘regressed’ to his time in Margate. The series of diaristic impressions of the town and the landmarks and events that were important to his time there formed a manuscript, from which Road Kill Zine will be producing a zine and exhibition of drawings.
Road Kill Zine
Road Kill Zine was started in 2007 by Craig Scott and Dan Singer. The pair met skateboarding in Whitstable and Herne Bay, and soon discovered the rich DIY culture and hardcore punk music associated with the sport since the 1980s. Inspired by pioneering hardcore bands Minor Threat and Black Flag (whose singers, Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins skateboarded together as teens), they adopted the ‘straight edge’ mantra (‘Don’t smoke, don’t drink...), and looked to the illustrators and fanzines associated with the bands for examples of how they might fill their evenings without dulling their minds. Their fanzines, which openly recall the subculture of the decade before they were born, take the classic obsessions of teenage misfits – zombies, sex, mistrust of grown-ups and authority figures - mix them with social commentary and weird humour, and render it all in a surreal anthropomorphic graphic style that reclaims each piece of source material, whether it be a slasher movie or a cheap pornographic image, as the subject of a very idiosyncratic imagination and worldview.
For History of a Time to Come Road Kill have produced a fanzine that takes the results of Gubb’s hypnotic regression and applies their skewed approach to his memories of day-to-day life in Margate, which include relatively quotidian events, such arbitrarily deciding to walk an unfamiliar route to his home. The results are tangential and phantasmagorical; a radical remaking of the past and an exploration of the relationship between Gubb, Scott and Singer; suggesting that illusive acts of the imagination and random thoughts are perhaps more substantive areas of commonality than any verifiable facts that might bind the three together.
In addition to the fanzine, which will be available for free from CRATE for the course of the exhibition, Gubb will work with Road Kill to produce a walk-in version of the ‘zine in CRATE’s project space. This could be seen as an attempt to make real those imaginary works the three have formed together. On the other hand, it could also be regarded as a shrine to the teenage bedroom or artists’ studio...
Zine fair CRATE will be holding an exhibition of fanzines and artists’ books to coincide with History of a Time to Come, featuring contributions from Road Kill – who will be bringing hand-printed hoodies and T-shirts as well as zines – and other self-publishers from Kent, including artist Lucy Harrison, who has a solo exhibition at CRATE in March. Other contributors include Duck and Cover Art Journal and Never Grow Up Zine. Entry is free, and all contributors will have work for sale. Non-contributors are welcome to bring their own fanzines to show and swap.
History of a Time to Come is part of Bad Translation, CRATE’s programme for 2009/10. It is generously supported by Arts Council England and Kent County Council.
Download the zine here
Juan Cruz: TRANSLATING CHAPTER TWO
Preview: Friday 11 December 2009,6 - 9pm
Open: 12 - 13 & 18 - 20 December 2009, 12 - 5pm (Or by appointment)
Crate presents two new works by Juan Cruz:
A Translation of El Arbol de la Ciencia (The Tree of Science) by Pío Baroja
A Translation of La Sima (The Chasm) by Pío Baroja (with Naama Yuria)
Translation: Chapter Two is part of Bad Translation, CRATE's programme for 2009-10. The programme is generously supported by Arts Council England and Kent County Council.
About the artists
Juan Cruz was born in Palencia, Spain, in 1970. He is currently based in Liverpool, where he is Head of the Art Department at the Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University. Recent solo exhibitions include Mensch, The Enlightenments, curated by Julianna Engberg as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, 2009, and A Semblance of Activity, a solo Commission as part of ESTRATOS, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, Murcia, Spain. Juan Cruz is represented professionally by Matt’s Gallery, London and Galeria Elba Benitez, Madrid.
Born 1981, Naama Yuria began her intergalactic research in 2020, with a universal exhibition supported by the Supreme Federation of the Southern-east galaxy of Ashphurka. The exhibition included projecting a 20 hours, 16mm film onto the seventh Ashphurkian moon. In 2023, with the generous help of Ashphurkian telepathic transmission, Naama operated the first teleporting gallery, channelling viewers to the exhibition space on planet Antares. As a certified investigator of Irregular Linguistic Celestial Phenomena, Naama founded the ‘Rudimentary Particles’ association, granting substantial support for young artists to explore various methods of infra-linguistic possibilities of navigation. In 2025, Naama completed the construction of the ship, Pantalaucha, on board which she sailed to the North Pole of Planet Earth as part of the Nagwa ‘Gold Dust Quest project’. The festive highlight of this adventure was incarnated in a 90Km x 90Km image of a ‘synchronization contractor’ projected onto a broad ice field from a purple hot air balloon.
Juneau Projects: FORMOSA
Exhibition then opens 15 November & 19 - 22 November, 12 - 5pm, CRATE project space.
For the second show in the Bad Translation programme, CRATE has commissioned Juneau Projects to create a new live work for Margate's famous Shell Grotto. The piece, entitled Formosa (the former name for Taiwan - from the Portuguese word for 'beautiful'), builds upon the artists' ongoing interests in both vernacular architecture and in the potential for crossover between musical performance and artistic production.
It takes as its starting point the enigmatic history of the Grotto and its documented use as a place for séances, also considering the use of electrical technology as a means for recording paranormal activity.
The underground Grotto, in which 4.6 million shells form an uninterrupted 2000sqft mosaic of patterns and symbols, was discovered in 1835 by James Newlove when he lowered his son into a hole that appeared as they were digging a duck pond. Its original purpose is still the subject of much speculation: It has been described variously as a pagan temple, a Georgian folly and the meeting place for a secret cult.
'Formosa' does not offer any conclusions about the 'true purpose' of the Grotto. Instead, it draws on the idea that the Grotto is a place where ideas and sensibilities intersect, falling somewhere between a gig where the performers aren't immediately apparent and a post-apocalyptic gallery where troglodyte survivors make sculptures out of audio-visual equipment whose practical purpose has become obscured by the passing of time. The work will use audio playback from obsolete data cassettes to generate sounds which reverberate throughout the Grotto's labyrinth of underground tunnels. These sounds will be processed digitally to trigger hallucinatory visuals which will animate the shell walls.
About the artists:
This installation is the latest in a line of works by Juneau Projects which explore the relationship between modern technology and folk and pagan traditions, finding untapped ritual or symbolic potential in objects that might normally be regarded as purely functional.
In their earliest work, Juneau Projects ritually destroyed mobile phones, portable CD players and microphones by drill, flame and shredder. The technology they destroyed produced playback as it 'died', 'screaming' in its final seconds. It was hard to determine whether these acts were exorcisms - aimed at expelling the 'ghost' from the machine - or a luddite torture fantasies, savagely mocking the idea that technology's usefulness might provide security against nature, ritual or human vengeance.
Later work has suggested a gentler marriage of folk and pagan traditions with modern technologies. 'Trappencamp', monument the pair were commissioned to produce for Tate Britain last year, was a paradoxical 'ruin', cut from plywood and emblazoned with heraldry that had clearly been generated using computer software. This new work shares with that piece an interest in obsolescence as a signifier of authenticity - a point which will be emphasised by the installation's relocation from the Grotto to CRATE's Project Space after the 13th.
James Howard: DIRT CHEAP FLIGHTS TO CLASSY PARADISE
Open: October 10 - 11 & October 16 - 18 2009, 12 - 5pm
CRATE presents an exhibition of new work by James Howard.
Howard has created two videos and four gigantic banners featuring budget holidays, herbal remedies, coin-operated televisions and pawn shops.
Each piece is a promise of a better life, a consumer con or an offer that is too good to be true: Gold Rush encourages people to steal "Nanna's gold" and turn it into cash, Coin Op Plasmas demands "another few quid" because Jeremy Kyle is on telly. And Dirt Cheap Flights aims to pull crowds away from Britain’s sea-side resorts.
The work takes its cues from advertisements for products and services that are so implausible or immoral that we would normally find them only on the internet - an unpoliced realm. In this exhibition, the advertisements have become real. Rendered at billboard size, they become menacing: reminders that we know little about those shady characters who fill the ‘junk’ in our email and want our credit card details.
And this character has seemingly infiltrated the gallery. Unintimidated by the art world’s refined sensibilities, he has covered every wall of CRATE’s project space with his vulgar propaganda; CRATE is, after all, merely another venue for the potential exploitation of the masses.
But are we able to separate Howard’s intentions from those of the character he seems to inhabit?
James Howard began as a self-proclaimed scammer on the internet in the late 90's – which earned him quick cash and eventually a year in prison. Now Howard's scams found his artistic practice. He attended London's Royal Academy Schools, is included in the forthcoming Saatchi Gallery show: The Power of Paper and has been recently exhibited at Plastic Culture The Legacy of Pop with Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Takeshi Murakami. He is represented by Sartorial Contemporary Art, London.
Bad Translation receives funding
The programme comprises six events due to take place between October 2009 and June 2010. Artists confirmed for the programme include Juneau Projects, Lucy Harrison, Mark Gubb, Tom Duggan, Juan Cruz and James Howard. Bad Translation looks at the challenges that arise when we communicate: a set of differences and absences that stand between subject, speaker and audience. The programme will ask what part these differences and absences play in contemporary life, and how tools designed to aid communication can be used or abused. The programme is also supported by Kent County Council.
ALTURNERTIVE at CRATE August 2009
'GONE TO EARTH' Breaking Ground Nov 2008
Margate Rocks Artist in Residence 2008
In May 2008 Margate Rocks presented its sixth contemporary art festival. The festival celebrates and promotes contemporary art. The theme for Margate Rocks 2008 was Art and Ecology, and under the curatorship of Jessica Baum, the festival presented a programme of commissioned works, exhibitions, workshops and symposia in a variety of spaces. Crate hosted a residency in Project Space 1 during April and May for an artist to create new work for Margate Rocks. For further information on Margate Rocks contact: firstname.lastname@example.org read more>>>
MAN BURIED IN SAND ON MARGATE BEACH May 2008
'In an extraordinary art performance artist Mark McGowan is to be buried in the sand on Margate beach for an incredible 48 hours. Starting on Saturday 3rd May at 12 noon and ending at 12 noon on Bank Holiday Monday 5th May 2008. The performance is an attempt to save the Great British Seaside Holiday and the environment/planet at the same time.' THIS EVENT IS PART OF MARGATE ROCKS http://www.margaterocks.com/ Mark McGowan is resident artist at CRATE during April and May. For more info: http://savetheenviromentandcometomargate.blogspot.com/ http://www.markmcgowan.org/