STUDIOAUDIO: Twelve Audio Commissions Made in Response to 2020

From left to right, from top: Andy Holden & The Grubby Mitts; Fabian Peake; Hardeep Pandhal & Joe Howe; Hamish Fulton; Toby Christian & Good Gear; Merlin James; Phyllida Barlow; Marion Coutts; Jadé Fadojutimi; Sally O’Reilly; Emma Biggs & Matthew Collings with Ian MacMillan; Maria Zahle with Blue Lake

AICA-UK (International Association of Art Critics) in collaboration with PEER present STUDIOAUDIO, a series of new audio commissions by artists, made at a time of significant change in our daily lives. They were premiered on Resonance FM on 21 and 22 October 2020 at 8pm and repeated the following mornings at 10am. You can listen to the broadcasts here.

Collectively, the commissions stand as a record of an extraordinary historical moment and aim to demonstrate how creativity can be a powerful form of resilience. Twelve artists including Phyllida Barlow, Hardeep Pandhal and Hamish Fulton were invited to create a new sound work between three and eight minutes long. Encompassing scripted performances, music, poetry, sound-works and diaristic reflections, the artists explored their relationship to the studio as a place of solitude and creativity. During a period of extreme uncertainty, the commissions responded to the new complex realities that the artists were navigating. 

The responses varied widely. Some artists embraced the time and space that lockdown delivered, while others were severely hit by its consequences, including lost exhibition opportunities and income.

Aiming to provide a platform for new forms of work that engage with the format of radio and online distribution, the project was supported by Art Fund, AICA-UK and PEER. For further background to this project, read the reflections of critic and curator George Vasey.


Phyllida Barlow (UK, 1944): Night Trains, 6 mins 2 secs, 2020 Credit: Rosa Harvest

For more than 50 years, British artist Phyllida Barlow has taken inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be at once menacing and playful. She creates anti-monumental sculptures from inexpensive, low-grade materials such as cardboard, fabric, plywood, polystyrene, scrim and cement. These constructions are often painted in industrial or vibrant colours, the seams of their construction left at times visible, revealing the means of their making. Barlow’s restless invented forms stretch the limits of mass, volume and height as they block, straddle and balance precariously. The audience is challenged into a new relationship with the sculptural object, the gallery environment and the world beyond. ‘There’s something about walking around sculpture that has the possibility of being reflective, like walking through a landscape,’ Barlow has said. ‘The largeness of sculpture has that infinite possibility to make one engage beyond just the object itself and into other realms of experience.’ Barlow has exhibited extensively across institutions internationally and in 2017 represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.

Emma Biggs (UK, 1956) & Matthew Collings (UK, 1955) with Ian McMillan (UK, 1955): Many Colours, 8 mins 16 secs, 2020

Emma Biggs studied Fine Art (Museum Studies) at Leeds University 1976-80. Matthew Collings studied painting at the Byam Shaw Art School 1974-78, and Goldsmith’s College 1990-92. They began their collaboration (as Biggs & Collings) in 2001. They are represented by Vigo Gallery. Biggs and Collings are interested in something they have noticed by looking at art from the past. Art, as it used to be understood, has come to an end. But what strikes them is that old ideas and habits of mind are hard to shake off. Former ways of thinking constantly influence behaviour today. You could say that an example of this phenomenon is the way the aestheticisation of the art object has been replaced by the aestheticisation of the art experience. The thorny issue of how the past is present in what we, as a society, see and do, and the way in which it may differ from what we believe we say and do, is at the heart of Biggs’s and Collings’s work.

Toby Christian (UK, 1983) with Good Gear: Repeller, 4 mins 46 secs, 2020

Toby Christian (born 1983, Boston, Lincolnshire) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions and performances include Burners, Alessandro Albanese, Milan (2019), Old School New Body, Celine, Glasgow (2019), Trippy Scroller, PEER, London, (2018), The News, Swimming Pool, Sofia, curated by David Dale, Glasgow (2017), and Railing, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2017). His forthcoming book Commuters is published by Koenig Books in 2020, who also published his books Measures (2013) and Collar (2017). Good Gear is a lap steel outfit which has been making music from Glasgow and London since 2013.

Marion Coutts (UK, 1964): Galaxies and Other Objects, 6 mins 37 secs, 2020. Credit: Tim Hodgkinson

Marion Coutts is an artist and writer. Her work has been exhibited widely, including solo shows at Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, Chisenhale Gallery, London, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Foksal Gallery, Warsaw. She has held fellowships at Tate Liverpool and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. Her first book, The Iceberg was published in 2014 to wide critical acclaim and won The Wellcome Book Prize in 2015. It was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, The Samuel Johnson Prize and a finalist in the US National Book Critics Circle Awards, 2017. In 2018 she was the recipient of The Islands Arts Writing Residency, Fogo Island, Canada. Pluton, a new publication of text and photographs will come out with Art Metropole, Toronto in 2020. She is a Reader in Art at Goldsmiths College and lives in London.

Jadé Fadojutimi (UK, 1993): Imagination, 3 mins 7 secs, 2020

Jadé Fadojutimi (b.1993) lives and works in London. She earned an MA from the Royal College of Art, London in 2017. Pippy Houldsworth Gallery presented Fadojutimi’s first solo exhibition in London 2017-18, and in early 2019 she was the subject of her first one person institutional exhibition at PEER, London. Acquisitions by Tate London, ICA Miami, and a Promised Gift to Dallas Museum of Art followed soon after. Fadojutimi had a solo exhibition with Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne in 2019, will have her second London solo exhibition at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in September 2020, her first solo exhibition with Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo in March 2021, and will also participate in Liverpool Biennial 2021. She will have her first solo US Museum exhibition at ICA, Miami in late 2021. In addition to the collections of Tate, London; ICA Miami, and Dallas Museum of Art, Fadojutimi’s work is also part of the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection, San Francisco; Rachofsky Collection, Dallas; and Sammlung Scharpff, Bonn.

Hamish Fulton (UK, 1946): A Walking Artist, 5 mins 12 secs, 2020

Walking artist Hamish Fulton was born in 1946 and grew up in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Fulton made his first ‘artwalk’ with other students in February 1967 and since October 1973, has specialised exclusively in the restrained materialisation of his walking experiences. Fulton entirely rejects any association with Land Art. He has exhibited internationally since 1969.

Andy Holden (UK, 1982) & The Grubby Mitts: O.S, 3 mins 56 secs, 2020

Andy Holden is an artist whose work includes sculpture, large installations, painting, pop music, performance, animation and multi-screen-videos. His first major exhibition was Art Now: Andy Holden (2010) at TATE Britain, in which he exhibited Pyramid Piece, an enormous knitted rock based on a chunk of pyramid that he stole from the Great Pyramid of Giza as a boy. Solo exhibitions of his work have included Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time (2011) at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity at the Zabludowicz Collection (2013) and Spike Island Bristol (2014), and Cookham Erratics at the Benaki Museum in Athens (2012). He has also made a large number of temporary outdoor sculptures and staged numerous performances including Tate, ICA, Whitechapel Gallery and Performa New York. Holden creates and releases music with his band The Grubby Mitts and in 2018 opened the gallery Ex-Baldessarre as part of his studio in Bedford, which serves as a platform for curating experimental projects and performances, specialising in exhibitions that would not find a home in more conventional gallery settings.

Merlin James (UK, 1960): 42 Carlton Place, 6 mins, 17 secs, 2020

Merlin James was born in Cardiff in 1960, and studied at the Central School of Art and the Royal College of Art, in London. Since 2004 he has lived in Glasgow. He shows with Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, and Sikkema Jenkins, New York. Solo survey exhibitions in recent years have been held at KW Institute, Berlin; Kunstverein, Freiburg; CCA, Glasgow, and elsewhere. With Carol Rhodes, James set up 42 Carlton Place, an occasional exhibiting venue in Glasgow showing artists including Christina Ramberg, Prunella Clough, Louis Michel Elshemius and Adrian Morris. James’s writing on art has been published extensively.

Hardeep Pandhal (UK, 1985) & Joe Howe (UK, 1983): Specialist Safe Space, 3 mins, 20 secs, 2020

Hardeep Pandhal was born in Birmingham in 1985. He lives and works in Glasgow. He received a Leverhulme Scholarship to complete the MFA programme at The Glasgow School of Art in 2013. Recent solo exhibitions include: Confessions of a Thug: Pakiveli, Tramway, Glasgow (2020); Paranoid Picnic: The Phantom BAME, New Art Exchange and Primary, Nottingham (2018); Self-Loathing Flashmob, Kelvin Hall, Glasgow International 2018, Glasgow; Liar Hydrant, Cubitt, London (2018). Recent group exhibitions include: Is This is Tomorrow?, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2019); 2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage, New Museum, New York (2018). He was shortlisted for the 2018 Film London Jarman Award.

Joe Howes is a composer, performer and sound artist, living in Glasgow. His practice incorporates composition, research, design and performance. Howes regularly works in collaboration with visual artists, adding an aural element to their work, translating conceptual or visual ideas into sound, providing live and recorded arrangements for musical works, or designing and producing performative and theatrical structures.

Sally O’Reilly (UK, 1971): The Open Arms, 10 mins 45 secs, 2020

Sally O’Reilly writes for voice, page and screen, and makes performances for galleries, conferences, opera houses, open-air swimming pools, bathing machines, train tabletops. Opera libretti include And London Burned (Temple Music Foundation, 2016) and The Virtues of Things (Royal Opera, Aldeburgh Music, Opera North, 2015). Publications include the novella The Ambivalents (Cabinet, NY, 2017) and the novel Crude (Eros Press, 2016). Her short fiction has been published by Cabinet magazine, Various Small Fires, Artenol, Contemporary Art Society, Picpus and London Underground. She was writer in residence at Modern Art Oxford (2016) and Whitechapel Art Gallery (2010–11).

Fabian Peake (UK, 1942): Notes for a Poem – Lakes and Islands, 7 mins 23 secs, 2020

Fabian Peake is a painter. He also writes poetry and experimental texts. He is interested in the outer edges of painting and whether there are limits to two-dimensionality. With those thoughts in mind, his work takes on many forms, physical and psychological. Intuition is a key factor in Fabian Peake’s work, leading to experiments whose primary aims are to find beginnings and pathways. Chasing the Unknown is something of paramount importance.

Maria Zahle (Denmark, 1979) with Blue Lake: I Started Dyeing My Own Yarn, 4 mins 36 secs, 2020

Upcoming solo exhibitions include MARIA ZAHLE featuring DEAP, Tørreloft, Copenhagen, DK (2020), and NO STRANGER OR LOVER TO ME, Rønnebæksholm, Næstved, DK (2021). Book of visual poetry MARIA ZAHLE: THE HORSE THE TOE THE SISTER, will be published in 2020 by AkermanDaly and designed by Maria Zahle and An Endless Supply, Birmingham. Recent permanent commissions include UNDER VEJEN, three permanent tunnel commissions in collaboration with Kristine Mogensen, Copenhagen, DK (2017-19) and WITH COLOUR, WITH BODY, The Department of Eenrgy Technology, Aalborg University, DK (2017). Maria Zahle is co-founder of the new cultural venue for art and music POLYCHROME, Copenhagen, DK, and a member of the band Squares & Triangles. Maria Zahle is represented by Arcade, London/Bruxelles.

To listen to the recordings, click here.