Bob and Roberta Smith knows how to make a point. In the exhibition The Art Party USA Comes to the UK at Hales Gallery at the moment (okay, not for much longer but there’s still a chance to catch the show if you’re quick), he’s in full-on soap box mode – he’s even made his own soap boxes for the occasion – in a bid to entice us to join the Art Party of the USA. The starting point for the Art Party was Bob and Roberta Smith’s May 2011 letter to Michael Gove, which he published to encourage others to write in to emphasise the importance of art in the school curriculum. Not a political party in any traditional sense, according to the website in order to join one simply needs to “make some art and encourage others to do so!”
Marcus Coates, Crucifixes for Various Amphibians, 2000
It was flicking though a book at the Grizedale Arts installation at Frieze Art Fair that alerted me to the existence of Marcus Coates’s Crucifixes for Various Amphibians, a simple but intriguing work made of lolly sticks, elastic bands and paper clips. At a time of year when I often get students to make work from a limited range of basic materials – with lolly sticks a popular choice – this was a real find. I’m always happy to come across work that backs up my assertion that art can be made of anything but what makes this work especially pleasing is quite how much Coates has managed to say with a couple of dozen lolly sticks and a few elastic bands and paper clips.