Artists from The Aerodrome: Simon & Tom Bloor

Ikon’s current exhibition The Aerodrome is dedicated to the memory of Michael Stanley, Curator of Ikon before becoming Director of Milton Keynes Gallery and then Modern Art Oxford, who died tragically in 2012. The exhibition features over 40 artists Stanley worked with, all of whom held him in great affection.

Ahead of their upcoming residency on Slow Boat, we spoke to artists Simon & Tom Bloor to find out more about their experience of working with Stanley and his impact on their artistic practice.


Simon & Tom Bloor, Hit and Miss (2019), Installation Ikon


When did you first meet Michael Stanley and how did you come to work together?
We first met Mike in 2001, when he was still curator at Compton Verney. We were working for Ikon gallery—making an off-site project by Andrea Zittel—and he visited during the build. We were in an upper part of the two layer installation when Mike’s head popped up through the hole in the floor and we had a chat. He was so full of energy and enthusiasm it was infectious. Soon after he became the curator at Ikon where we continued to work as part of the install team so we kept in touch, talking about shows he curated, artists we liked and our own work. Mike knew we were interested in creating work beyond the confines of gallery spaces so when he moved to Modern Art Oxford he invited us to make a work for the new Yard space he’d developed there. The gallery were planning their 50th anniversary celebrations so Mike invited us to use the archive in some way, the culmination was our Hit and Miss project.

 
Installation of Andrea Zittel, A-Z Compartment Units (2001), Installation Ikon

Can you tell us about your work which features in The Aerodrome and why/how you selected this piece? 
The work in The Aerodrome is a reworking of the Hit and Miss exhibition we made for Modern Art Oxford in 2010. It’s an installation that uses a ‘hit and miss’ type fencing system—it’s actually made from the same timber we used in Oxford and have had in storage all these years. There are three framed drawings attached to the fencing, selected from the fourteen hand-drawn posters we originally exhibited in Oxford. The drawings were an exercise in temerity—we redrew a selection of exhibition posters from the MAO archive but instead of promoting shows by art world luminaries like Dan Graham or Donald Judd the texts had our name and exhibition information. The installation also has functional elements including a light and bench. We were interested in how the bench, a refined version of the Oxford ones, relates to memorial benches often found in parks. We felt it was important for visitors to actually sit and use the bench and Jonathan Watkins suggested it as a good place from which to view the video of Mike interviewing artist Lonnie Holley. It feels like a nice tribute to Mike and we’re privileged to contribute to it.

 

Simon & Tom Bloor, Hit and Miss (2010) Modern Art Oxford


Simon & Tom Bloor, Hit and Miss (2019), Installation Ikon

What’s your lasting memory of Michael Stanley?
His willingness to roll his sleeves up and help out, his kindness, generosity, enthusiasm and unwavering belief in artists and their practice. It was important for us to include the light as part of the Ikon Hit and Miss installation as we have fond memories of Mike, always willing to get involved, installing our lights at midnight on the night before our MAO show opened and helping us in a last-minute push to finish the build.

Soon you’ll be creating new work on Ikon Slow Boat, can you tell us about your plans for the project Urban Retreat?
We’ll be using the Slow Boat as a floating studio from which we’ll do drawings of parts of the canal, we hope it will be a bit like an urban version of landscape drawing breaks you might find advertised in Sunday supplements. We think the drawings will be like agonisingly time consuming versions of the kind of imagery we see on Instagram—elements of urban decay, found ‘art’ and interesting juxtapositions.

 

 

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