Monday, 14 May 2012

Steven Appleby

Steven Appleby - As ice-breakers go, a 20 something Steven Appleby clad in full cat-woman costume is a unique way to go about it. This photograph was to set the tone for the rest of the morning and make some quite compulsive viewing. Obsessions featured as both the title and context through which we were guided through the life, work and philosophy of Steven. These included influences from a very early age such as science fiction, which began when his mother introduced him to the work of Philip K Dick, and the more personal of fixations such as secrets, sex, transgender, a fascination with death avoiding it and staying young.    

“I always felt like the world was deceiving me. I try to look at things beyond what they appear on the surface. We all have hidden layers. There's this huge part of us isn’t seen." 

We learn that Steven uses his characters as an outlet for his obsessions. He believes that the key to his success is that he follows personal interest when creating work on a commercial basis. He creates work that he would enjoy reading himself. One of his most renown successes was envisaged whilst day dreaming of an alien invasion. Captain Star was created for new music express in 1984. It received a cult following and made Steven's name in comics. Within 10 years a Tv show had been created and produced and aired in Britain and Canada. The process was hard. Drawings had to be sent backwards and forwards from steven to the animators. Steven would draw the initial sketch, and the animators would have to produce the scene in their best like-for-like ability. The show became a large success and forwarded Steven's career to a new level.  

“One thing I found is that my work is about ideas and creating worlds. Im not limited to drawings. It can be a stage performance or an animation.”  

Steven’s work has appeared in innumerable newspapers and magazines; currently the Loomus comic strip in the Guardian.; he has written over twenty books, The most recent of which is The Coffee Table Book of Doom. He has managed to stretch his capabilities to allow his work to appear on stage in musical play Crocks in Frocks. He is currently working on an art installation and his first novel.  


MiniaturesThe Miniatures exhibition has been organized and hosted by Cupola Gallery. A challenge was set to create work no larger than a £20 note. A total of 87 artists were chosen to display their work, amounting to around 200 pieces from recent graduates and those still studying. With submissions coming from as far as the 'States. 

The body of work on display is staggering. Intricate paintings, engravings and drawings make up around a third of the space. Work from Uclan Illustration's own Ritwik Das sits proudly on the wall and appears to be one of only a few illustrators in the exhibition. 

Much of the display is made 
up of sculpture, carving, craft, glass and ceramics with the remainder being abstract art of photography. There's such a wonderful variety. Not every artist manages to stand up against their neighbor on the wall, but one can tell that each artists has been selected for a reason. This is a display of work that spans disciplines, and tries to represent the young artists about to emerge from the woodwork.

Without engaging each exhibiting artist in review its somewhat difficult to surmise the standard or quality of work. However, I did enjoy my visit. I like the fact that the pieces are small, it encourages the viewer to get up-close and explore the quality of craftsmanship that has gone into the work. Personality flows through gallery, even the wonky floor plays to the honesty of the space.  I should expect that all who visit should find something to spark their imagination and hope for the  creative talent which is clearly very diverse and alive.