ART AND SELF
An exchange – Ian Bourn and Anthony Howell
The Double-Mirrored Self and Self-Included Watercolours
Weekends through November from 10 am – 8 pm
Ian Bourn: The Double-Mirrored Self
2-Mirror Self Portrait, version 1 ‘Reflex Action’ (2015), acrylic on paper, 75cm x 100cm
2-Mirror Self Portrait, version 2 ‘Ascension’ (2015), acrylic on paper, 75cm x 100cm
2-Mirror Self Portrait, version 3 ‘Interface/Interlace’ (2015), acrylic on paper, diptych pair, 30cm x 40cm and 75cm x 100cm
2-Mirror Self Portrait, version 4 ‘Cornered’ (2015), acrylic on paper, diptych pair 30cm x 40cm and 75cm x 100cm
That Him (2016), acrylic on canvas, framed triptych, 60cm x 80cm
2-Mirror Self Portrait, version 5 ‘Grimoire’ (2016), acrylic on canvas, mixed media and video sequence
Interface/Interlace (2015), colour video 3 minutes Cornered (2015), colour video 11 minutes
Grimoire (2016), colour video
Ian Bourn Statement
Over recent years, I’ve produced a number of mixed media gallery installations based around the idea of ‘finished paintings’ as essentially ‘remnants’; arrangements of stains and coloured marks left after various performed actions with a paintbrush. In these pieces, the concern has been more with depiction of process than with arrival at a resolved image or visual statement.
In Self-Reflective, an ongoing project begun in 2015, I made a series of works that combined moving image media and painting to create a form of ‘time-based self-portraiture’, with sequences of pre-scripted or improvised image making.
The primary aim was to paint the ‘act’ of painting and record an ‘objective’ view of myself performing in the role of ‘artist’. I devised a method of ‘objective self-observation’ that used two mirrors, allowing a rear-view of my body and a way of seeing myself as ‘someone else’. A video camera filmed the entire process of applying paint, and was set up so that the painting’s composition filled the film-frame exactly.
In 2-Mirror Self-Portrait, Version 4 ‘Cornered’ (2015), the ‘artist’ is seen from behind working on a ‘picture of himself at work’. The image he paints includes the mirror he is using (seen left of the painting itself), and allows glimpses of his face as he refers to it. The ‘artist’, watching and recording his own actions, becomes locked in a perpetual game of catch-up, in which every new brush stroke applied, triggers further modifications, as each ‘picture within the picture’ is updated. In this mise en abyme, of canvases multiplying and reducing in size towards one corner of the composition, the ‘artist’ paints additional versions of himself, each new ‘self’ painted over and slightly obscuring its predecessor.
In 2-Mirror Self-Portrait, Version 5 ‘Grimoire’ (2016), I became preoccupied with the ‘hand trying to paint the hand painting itself’. Its ‘book of spells’ title comes from the growing awareness of my ritualized actions, and refers to an older meaning of ‘art’ in which magic is performed with wand/pencil/brush. The ‘artist’ both paints himself into the picture and paints himself out. The end result is a black canvas, whose visual history lies buried under the layers of over-painting.
This exhibition, originally planned for two years ago, was suggested by Anthony Howell after he saw my nominated presentation at the Juda Foundation Award in 2019. This led to many an interesting conversation between us regarding reflexivity in art.
IAN BOURN: artist, writer and filmmaker
Educated: Ealing School of Art 1973-75, Royal College of Art (MA) 1976-79 Video Fellowship, awarded
Arts Council/Sheffield City Polytechnic 1982-83
Founder and co-director of HOUSEWATCH Artists Collective, formed in1985 whose film/performance
events included: ‘Cinematic Architecture for Pedestrians’ Artangel 1986, ‘Night Assembly’ Scottish
Arts Council/Edinburgh Council 1987, ‘Little Big Horn’ Southbank 1992, ‘Paperhouse/Imaginary Opera’
British Council tour of Japan 1992 and Meltdown Festival, Southbank, London 1994, ‘Conservatory’
Lux/BFI London 1997
Recent Exhibitions and Screenings include:
David & Yuko Juda Art Foundation Award nominee presentation, Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 2019
Self-Portraits and Other Fictions (screening/reading), Close-Up Cinema, London, 2017
Insula (solo retrospective), London Gallery West, University of Westminster, London, March/May,
2017 Subjective Interfaces (screening & book launch), Piece of Paper Press & Peer Gallery, London
Experimenta: LFMC 50 (Curated by James Mackay), BFI Southbank, London, 2016
Contact: Festival of New Experimental Film & Video, Apiary Studios, London, 2016
Video Room: Ian Bourn and Mark Dean (Selected by Paul Noble) Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen,
Rotterdam, NL, June/September, 2014
Interior Domestic: Early Works by Ian Bourn 1979–88, Five Years, London, February/March, 2014
On Dilettantism, Halle14, Leipzig, Germany September/November, 2012, ACC Galerie Weimar, Germany,
Sanctuary|Comraich, Mount Stuart Contemporary Visual Arts Programme, Isle of Bute, Scotland 24th
Film & Video Works include:
Vent 2021 (online video, 7 mins) for Bad Ideas Collective, Five Years & Arts Council
Security 2005 (video, 35 mins)
Black White & Green 2003 (video, 7 mins) Animate Award, Arts Council and Channel 4 TV
Monolog 1998 (video, 46 mins) Arts Council Production Award
Out Of It 1991 (video, 1 min) commissioned Arts Council and BBC2
Sick As A Dog 1989 (video, 25 mins) Arts Council of Great Britain and Channel 4 TV
The End Of The World 1982 (video, 10 mins) shown Channel 4 TV
Lenny’s Documentary 1978 (b/w video, 45 mins) Royal College of Art
Installation Works include:
Romantic Artefacts 2017 (painting, mixed media), for Lubomirov/Angus Hughes, London
Peninsula 2012 (video, mixed media), for ‘On Dilettantism’ ACC, Weimar and Halle14, Leipzig,
Germany and ‘Sanctuary|Comraich’, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, Scotland
Skirting 2011 (video, mixed media), for ‘Archipelago’, Café Gallery Projects, London
Lenny’s Documentary 1978-2010 (video, mixed media), for ‘Polytechnic’, Raven Row, London, 2010
The Kiss 1999 (with John Smith, video installation), for ‘Love’ International Contemporary Art
Show, Tokyo, Japan
Revolver 1997 (with artist Tony Sinden, 21 film projector installation, music Steve Martland),
Commissioned by Canary Wharf, London
Published Writings include:
The Work Programme, The Fortnightly Review, online publication, Dec. 2016:
Subjective Interfaces, (limited edition of 200) Piece Of Paper Press, 2016
Wood and Harrison, The Men Inside My Television, commissioned for ‘Things That Happen’, Carroll /
Fletcher Gallery 2012
Self-Included Watercolours (2007-8)
In the early years of this century I went on several trips to lands where more sun was to be found than in the British Isles, including the Costa Verde and Fuerteventura in the Canaries. My companion and I sunbathed and sketched – and on the Costa Verde we could do this without clothes on.
I became interested in contrasting the vertical pole of the parasol with the curve of the beach and the curves of the body, and this led me to see that my pencil was another vertical which might be used. This led me into including my own hand, my own knees etc in the drawing as I sketched. As I did this, I was reminded of the paintings of John Bratby – of the artist painting a picture – which included the hands of the painter.
When we see, when we type, our self is there within our peripheral vision, but usually we edit this out as we focus on that which has caught or requires our attention. Yet these outcrops of our own body can provide a context for what it is that we see. Portrait gets mixed with self-portrait.
I consider myself a “Sunday Painter” – I don’t care to invest too much significance in what scheme I may devise. I like to preserve my freedom to do anything. In Summer I like to go out and paint what I see, for the pleasure of being outside and of seeing what there is outside. In Winter I may retire into the cave of my imagination, devising games for myself. Back in those idyllic days of campsites and secluded beaches, I wanted to remind myself of my own presence as well as that of my subject.
Anthony Howell: Poet, Novelist, Artist.
Howell’s first book of poems, Inside the Castle, was published in 1969. In 1986 his novel In the Company of Others was published by Marion Boyars. Another novel Consciousness (with Mutilation) has just been published by Odd Volumes at the Fortnightly Review. He was invited to the International Writers Program, University of Iowa in 1971. His Analysis of Performance Art is published by Routledge. His poems have appeared in The New Statesman, The Spectator and The Times Literary Supplement. Articles on visual art, dance, performance and poetry have appeared in many publications including The Fortnightly Review, Art Monthly, The London Magazine, and Harpers & Queen. He is a Hawthornden fellow and in 1997 he was short-listed for a Paul Hamlyn Award for his poetry. His versions of the Silvae of Statius have been well received and Plague Lands, his versions of the poems of Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim, were a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for 2011. He is UK editor of Grey Suit Editions. He has recorded poems for The Poetry Archive. His latest book of Poems is From Inside, the High Window Press. He has worked in Wandsworth, Wormwood Scrubs and Brixton, teaching art and creative writing to inmates: an experience he considers to have been life-changing.
A former dancer with the Royal Ballet, and now a respected teacher of the tango, Howell was founder and director of The Theatre of Mistakes, which created notable performances worldwide in the seventies and eighties – at venues such as the Paris Biennale, the Sydney Biennale, the Paula Cooper Gallery, the Theater for the New City (NY) and at the Tate and the Haywood. Play-scripts of these performances are now being published by Grey Suit Editions.
At The Room, 33 Holcombe Road, Tottenham Hale, London N17 9AS – 0208 801 8577