Seasons greetings, one and all. Mx
The final work produced during my stay in Toronto was this banner in Yorkville. The banner was produced after group sessions with Oasis Skateboard Factory a remarkable alternative school design program at Scadding Court Community Centre. The group and I worked together to produce texts relating to issues of urban change and gentrification, arriving at the final text ‘Tomorrow should be ours.’
Apparently local resident Drake liked the piece!
In addition to the banner project, using photography by the group I produced a series of 4 posters splitting the ‘Tomorrow should be ours’ text into separate words and allowing for different permutations of the text.
Big thanks to Craig and Lauren and all at OSF and to Darren for being my guide and to Minto for generously sponsoring the project.
As part of my 2012 residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto I was invited to a produce a new exhibition for the AGO’s Toronto Now space. The exhibition entitled “Please believe these days will pass”, was comprised of a text/mirror work on the facade of the museum and a six channel video work inside.
(A 7 minute section of a 45 minute work)
The 6 channels are based on footage of the following elements shot on my Iphone during my stay.
2. Water (Lake Ontario/Rain/Niagara).
3. Urban green space.
4. Henry Moore Two Large Forms (1966-69). Located outside the AGO.
5. The CN Tower.
6. Images of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
The rhythm for the piece was based on a jammed youtube clip caused by a poor internet connection on the first night of my residency. The audio follows the same rhythm. I never attempted to interpret if there was any coherent morse code pattern to the meter.
Please believe these days will pass, Mark Titchner, 2012)
November 3 2012 – April 21 2013
Art Gallery of Ontario
British artist Mark Titchner’s language-based wall paintings and banners demonstrate how text and bold statements can be used to inspire people, communicate to the masses and bring together communities. His work often confronts the viewer with a proposition for a type of modern-day revolution.
As the AGO’s international artist-in-residence this fall, Mark Titchner has been involved with a number of initiatives in the Gallery and throughout the city. In connecting with people and communities around Toronto, he is providing a link to the Toronto Now exhibition series. Titchner has produced a number of art projects during his residency, including a poster project that was developed and executed in conjunction with youth from Oasis Skateboard Factory and the AGO Youth Council. He is also producing a large wall mural for the Drake Hotel.
PLEASE BELIEVE THESE DAYS WILL PASS presents a new language-based vinyl work. Installed on the windows facing Dundas Street, the mirrored vinyl surface reflects the streetscape, including passersby in the process. The slogan can be interpreted as a warning or as reassurance, prompting the viewer to take pause. Inside the gallery, Titchner introduces a new film work based on his observations of and interactions within Toronto. The installation mimics Morse code, producing a staccato snapshot of the city.
Mark Titchner describes his work as “a dialogue about how you receive thoughts and ideas.” Drawing on place, dislocation and self-help mantras, the artist presents conflicting ideologies and outmoded ideas without mockery or cynicism, allowing viewers to form their own conclusions.
- Text by Nancy Campbell, Associate Curator, AGO Special Projects
Through September and October 2012 I was invited to be Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto. The residency was broken into a number of projects, two within the Museum and two in the public realm.
This exhibition entitled ‘D.O.S.’, was based on an installation of wall drawings in the AGO’s Community Gallery. The works were all based on the city slogan ‘Diversity our Strength’ with a colour pallette based on General Ideas ‘Word Virus’. The works were made with the assistance of the AGO’s Youth Council (and Bob and Andrea.) Originally the works were conceived to have an audio component but this was not completed during my stay.
Part of my interest in undertaking the residency at AGO was to produce a series of public realm in a City where the Mayor was on a self confessed war against Graffiti and Street Art.
Graffiti Art is defined as markings made or affixed to properties that are approved by the property owner or occupant, where the markings aesthetically enhance the surface they cover and the general surroundings, having regard to the community character and standards
Graffiti Vandalism is defined as any deliberate markings made or affixed on property that is not currently exempted or regularized by the Graffiti Panel, Executive Director or Council and: was made or affixed without permission of the owner; is considered to be a tag; for which there are reasonable grounds to believe that it may incite hatred or violence against any person or identifiable group; or contains profane vulgar or offensive language.
Th policy also encourages sanctioned works as a means to fight Graffiti:
Murals and Graffiti art are an effective means of deterring graffiti from appearing on structures.
Out of this policy the city has created StreetARTToronto:
StreetARToronto is a new partnership program with an overall mission to counteract graffiti vandalism by developing, supporting, promoting and increasing awareness of street art and its indispensable role to add beauty and character to neighbourhoods across the city.
Toronto also has a grants that program provides up to $5,000 to business and community organisations for outside mural projects in commercial or employment areas. Murals should give ‘potential benefits of the project, including the extent to which the mural project would contribute to community and business pride, promote a unique community theme, leverage partnerships, and attract pedestrians and customers to the commercial area. Identify the anticipated benefits in terms of economic development, community development, and youth involvement’, as well as having appropriate permissions and a defined timescale.
This was the headline of a piece written a few days after my arrival (article below).
On a humid morning this week, the acclaimed British visual artist Mark Titchner was strolling down Queen West toward his new studio at the Art Gallery of Ontario, battling a case of jet lag while taking in the area’s “organic” graffiti mural scene. “There’s actually a lot of stuff up on the walls here,” he observed, “actually more than in London.”
Over the past decade, the clandestine and often ephemeral street-art scene has exploded into the mainstream thanks to the popularity of stars such as Britain’s Banksy, as well as critically successful mural programs in Philadelphia, Miami and Brooklyn – cities where street-art tours have become common among art aficionados.
While street art traces its roots to New York’s graffiti and hip-hop scene from the 1960s and 1970s, the creators today are often young fine-arts grads who lack studio space and want to establish a profile in highly visible spaces, says Steven Harrington, co-founder of BrooklynStreetArt.com, who writes a weekly column on the subject for the Huffington Post. “We’re in a great period of flux.”
Drake curator Mia Nielsen and city officials hope Mr. Titchner, who works in several media, will help ignite Toronto’s indigenous street-art movement, elevating the profile of emerging local artists, such as Dan Bergeron (a.k.a. “Faux Reel”) while signalling residents and property owners that blank exterior walls are good for more than just ads, tags or whitewash.
In fact, his arrival this week coincided with the official unveiling of the first major commission by Street Art Toronto – a spectacular 80-foot mosaic mural at the ferry docks.
From experience in other cities and with state agencies such as Transport for London, Mr. Titchner is keenly aware of the inherent tension – using public spaces or funds, on the one hand, while creating genuinely provocative work on the other.
He offered a clue about the Drake project, which he’ll install in late October. “It’s not really supposed to be about me. … I suppose it has a lot to do with the idea of authority and power, and which voices are heard.”
The Drake project that is mentioned was on the same street as the City’s Graffiti Alley one of the most celebrated Graffiti sites in the city and most contentious.
Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s war on Graffiti has been well publicised this is from todays Toronto Star:
Toronto expands anti-graffiti campaign by hiring private company to remove it
Mayor Rob Ford is heating up the battle against graffiti by hiring a removal company to clean city buildings and structures.
“As you know, I’m obsessed with graffiti and getting it out of the city and keeping it out of the city,” Ford told reporters at a removal demonstration in an Etobicoke park Wednesday.
Toronto has retained Goodbye Graffiti for up to five years, at a cost of about $400,000.
At West Deane Park on Martin Grove Rd., Ford was told the company applies a cleaning product to soften the paint and make it easier to erase with a power washer that uses lots of hot water.
The mayor took his turn using the washer on a graffiti-covered washroom wall. He refused to don a company ball cap that didn’t fit, or other protection, and went at the graffiti in his business suit.
“His technique is a bit off, but I’m sure with a little more training, he’d be just fine,” said Goodbye Graffiti general manager Brent Bowman.
Ford said he was pleased with the results.
“Obviously, what they’ve got going here works,” he said. “The proof’s in the pudding.”
In the 2010 election campaign, Ford declared fighting graffiti a personal priority.
“Starting Aug. 1, Goodbye Graffiti will be responsible for removing graffiti vandalism on any and all city property. Everywhere that there is graffiti, I will guarantee we’ll be removing it.”
Ford urged people to take a photo and call police “if you witness graffiti vandalism in progress.
“Obviously, don’t put yourself in harm’s way, but if you get a picture of the people that are doing the graffiti, that would help the police tremendously on pressing charges.”
Ford also asked people to contact the mayor’s office or the 311 city help line to report graffiti on either public or private property.
As part of my Artist Residency at the Art Gallery of Toronto in 2012 I was commissioned to produce a new work for the Drake Hotel on Queen St. The Drake kindly put me up, part sponsoring my stay, which was spent in the building that the painting is attached too. (Big thanks to all at the Drake!)
Due to the irregularity of the walls and the precarious nature of the roof it was decided that the work would painted off site and installed in panels. The work was painted using oil based enamels onto some heavy duty Canadian ply to help it weather the extremities of the Canadian climate.
The work was painted with Bob and Andrea at McWood Studios. The time I spent there was some of the best I had in Toronto and I can’t thank Bob and Andrea enough for their hospitality, enthusiasm and skill which rekindled some vague, enthusiasm for painting in me! So here’s the work in production and during installation…
The world isn’t working, Mark Titchner.
Manchester Metropolitan University
Manchester, M15 6BQ
The street level location of Pavement Gallery complements this billboard type work, evoking ideas of press and poster banners. The World Isn’t Working has been described as being a “direct reference to the brutal Saatchi & Saatchi advertising strategy”, which was used as part of the Conservative Party campaign in 1979 that led to their election win with the slogan ‘Labour Isn’t Working’. This work demonstrates Titchner’s use of words to satirically echo those of political advertising and mass media campaigns.
The text for this piece was a condensed version of the text found in the video work ‘The last ten years’, 2010, which showed a continuous stream of daily headlines from The New York Times, from the 1st of January 2000 to the 31st of December 2009. The sounds that were processed in the piece were mainly field recordings from city streets, in various states from rush hour to full blown riot. The version above was edited from a recording of the performance I made via my laptop at Manchester Metropolitan University after a talk I gave to coincide with the show at Pavement Gallery. The performance itself was originally supposed to happen in the galleries window space, to be viewed from outside but was relocated because of bad weather. The video accompanying the sound is merely there to accompany the sound.