At the end of 2017 I completed the postcards project, had a launch party and have been enjoying sharing the existing versions in person. In the above pictures it's in the bookartbookshop, Brick Lane, London. Last weekend 14th Jan '18 it was launched in Iceland! Documentation of that is here: vimeo.com/265921087
The books, titled 'Three by Three' are made with recycled paper and vegetable inks, they are biodegradable though if kept dry and out of direct sunlight they will retain their quality.
Below are posts choosing some of the images to include and giving background to artworks and projects.
Luna Beauty installation, pigments, glitter and photography. Trinity Buoy Wharf, London 2010
Paint based installations at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London, were linked to a photography / painting collaboration on the nearby Thames beach with photographer Laura Hart.
The walk in paintings gave a sense of what had happened in the project, also creating false shadows in the basement.
Cleaning up afterwards contributed to a number of further works: dusk video was made, and bright, glittery dust collected was later used in 'Dusk' sculpture and studio paintings.
Luna Beauty installation, detail
Basingstoke Ladies Choir, Lee Simmons, 2010
Workshops were held in safe-houses, where women and children whom had fled domestic violence lived in hiding. Sessions were also held for girls in abusive relationships, in outreach groups. Exercises included using painting and writing, that was later developed into art installations in town and city spaces around Basingstoke and Southampton.
In the pictured living sculpture words from the silenced women in safe-houses became songs performed by a choir in public space. The singers also wore the womens' hand painting. This took place alongside social art in a project led by Mary Swan, at Proteus Theatre Company. Further pieces included Martin Reid's photography, Jez Steven's digital art, and projection bombing with Roy Hanney.
Writer Kefi Chadwick, worked with the women in their creation of poetry and sharing of their stories, and contributed to several public space installations that used their words.
Project homepage: proteustheatre.com/participatory/participatory-archive/punchbag
The below PDF contains the womens' words.
Anon, water based paint on paper. 2010
Project 33, Helium balloons in the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, near the meridian line for Greenwich Mean Time London, 2011
33 Helium balloons were walked from New Cross to Greenwich via Deptford, London. They were then photographed in the foot tunnel at the foot of the River Thames, near to where the meridian time line is. Musicians / artists Robin Allison and Tom Richards helped with this birthday project and DJ'd at the next of these biennial events (the birthday projects happen every two years). Some balloons burst in the tunnel creating sounds like gunshot and some remained, whilst others found their way up the 100+ stairs and drifted off into the sky. Time and space brings people together and separates us; with writing, photographs and events capturing something of existences as they change even whilst the shutter of the camera makes it's click.
33, details of balloons above the South side of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, London 2011
The above image is a screen shot taken on 3rd November 2016, of a co-existence agreement offered to Lee Simmons (sole trader) by a Limited Company with a similar name.
This unusual experience of branding practices raised questions of artistic identity and ownership.
'A new design company trademarked the name 'Lee Simmons', and subsequently tried to stop me from using it (2016). I was prompted to look at branding issues and questions of artistic identity. My conclusion was to side-step potential problems by choosing a more specific variation of my name for artwork 'L.A.Simmons'; which had nothing to do with the company or their name: Lee James Simmons Ltd. At the time of writing they have surprisingly thwarted my efforts to put that plan (which one could expect them to be delighted by) into action.
Despite finding this annoying, I considered the episode a useful push to think through my practice past and future, as well as how the creative landscape has shifted in recent years. It was a sharp reminder that business models are increasingly included as part of art and design trainings, and though human beings are inherently creative and art making will never 'stop', I am not without concern, as to how the changing landscape of cultural production in the UK will progress.
When the company offered not to oppose 'L.A.Simmons' trademarks if I stop using my usual name online and for trade, as well as pass them my website domain name and email address (used since 2007); I stepped back and drew a line underneath what by this point had become a project in it's own right. Artists, usually, do not need to trademark their names. We own the copyright to our creative output by law of the land, we can officially use our birth names without further registrations, and we have human rights. '
Yi-studio have been wonderful in understanding issues and helping to come up with design solutions, Briffa have provided practical and patient expertise, and Artists Union England's support is also much appreciated. '
Ibizan Goats, July 2012, Ibiza
Selected notes from the event:
- “That’s a pretty big fire”, “Where did you say your house was?” “there…” (pointing)
- I enjoyed holding the kid goats in my arms and talking to them gently, whilst painting them.
- The gaps between the bars of the pen were bigger than the goats.
- A bright pink goat running up the road with a farmer chasing it.
- The farmer hosed my hands and feet off as I was multicoloured.
- The dog came along getting involved so I painted him pink.
- Some girls covered in body glitter jumped in and posed with the goats.
- One of the organisers Giacomo made / played a techno mix of bleating goats, across the harbour.
- I made a fluoro stone circle, which moved between the clifftop and the gallery.
- A VJ working nearby - Chihiro - and I painted the leaves of the nearby plants.
- Some of the goats ran into the gallery, presumably seeking ultraviolet light.
- The goats ate the posters.
- It was silly, but there was a seriousness in the comment on human nature. This tendency to glitter and paint ourselves, then dance in foam parties sealed off from the surrounding natural landscape.
- The multifaceted relationship of humankind with each other, animals, and the land.
Process of Ibizan Goats and Stone Circle
Stone circle, fluoro body paint on stones collected from the site, Ibiza, 2012
Many thanks Chihiro, Giacomo and everyone at Bloop 2012 (.bloop-festival.com)
Dusk I, Abney Park Chapel, Stoke Newington, London, October to November 2012
Dust comprising of blue and red powder paint and glitter (remnants of a previous installation), was applied to found broken roof slate and used to create an eight foot high heart, in the dilapidated Abney Park Chapel. Pieces of coated slate were given to the 'Dusk' visitors. Video footage of dancing in the dust, moved across the sculpture and around the chapel. When on the surface of the heart it created the illusion of glass, with fragments reflecting the light and sparkling "like the night sky". This was inside the chapel, which was usually closed to the public and located at the centre of a non denominational graveyard; used for burials, as a nature reserve, and informally for homeless people sleeping rough.
Parts of 'Dusk' that could not be owned, such as the dark guided walk through mud from the cemetery gates to the chapel, by a man in a black cloak, bat poo landing on your head, and talking intimately with a stranger - in a quite silent part of London, contributed to the essence of the piece.
Limited edition prints of the work were displayed in the cemetery information room for three years.
"The sharing of an ending, was largely about acceptance of that which has gone before or lasted fleetingly; that is existence. The intimate nature of the short openings, that were a little earlier every day as the nights drew in, resulted in the sharing of personal stories between strangers whom volunteered reflections on their own experiences, in the company of bats flying overhead.
It also celebrated the existence of the crumbling chapel - one of the first in Europe to be open to all religions - before it was fenced off due to disrepair.
Broken roof slate from the chapel floor, along with left over materials swept up after a previous exhibition, formed the surface of the heart, which hosted a projection of a couple dancing who had now parted company. Pieces of the live painting were given to visitors as mementos." Lee Simmons
Haiku for Lee’s Dust
A piece of blue moon, is our sharing broken hearts, we dance into one.
Many thanks to Abney Park staff and volunteers, Simone Koch, Chihiro Onedera, Gavin White, and everyone who took part. (abneypark.org)
"A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do." Southwark Park, London, April 2013
Pink Splodges on painting 'Habibi', concrete path in Southwark Park, and 'Girl's Gotta Do' sculpture. April 2013
Broken roof slate and coloured dust is recycled for the third time, with unidentified found white stuff, creating a portal in Southwark Park. The white was gradually painted, echoing some abstract works that were taking place in the studio at the time.
Simone Koch, photographer, helped to photograph the event using medium format film with a Hasselblad camera.
When the installation commenced, Simone questioned my making the piece right in the middle of the path. I replied, “a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do”.
Later, in the midst of my painting activity, I overheard Simone explaining to a complaining passer by that I was making my art and why shouldn’t it be made here? The passer by declared it wasn’t art. Simone defended the work brilliantly and the woman went off to complain to the park management. I was able to complete the painting and photography piece without interruption and with interaction from fascinated children.
This is a park I passed through most days to reach my studio in Bermondsey, stopping at a bench by the lake as the seasons changed, feeding the ducks in rain, snow, sun and fog. The specific place that the temporary sculpture / painting was made often had a sense of stillness.
'A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do'. Mixed media installation and photography piece. April 2013, Southwark Park, London
'Red Line' Minhocão, Brasil. 2013
Letters and cards were posted after the Red Line event. As was a short poem:
A dusty red line is blowing on the breeze,
Tears stain red on faces with lives stolen away,
Red dust makes it hard to breathe.
'I wrote this in response to the chemical weapons attack on people in Douma, Syria, recently. Obama had said that there was a red line; there would be international intervention in Syria if Assad used chemical weapons but of course there wasn’t. The idea is not that there SHOULD be intervention, but that the fuelling of the war by external countries looking after their personal interests is suffocating everyday people trying to live their lives. This applies worldwide.
Red line is also in Germany an idea of a life chronology, so a kind of timeline, and in Japan you are said to have a red string, that attaches you to people you love wherever they are in the world.
As there has been a lot of protest and activism on the ground in Sao Paolo, but it is not a place that I am from I like the idea of making the piece in public space there. Less Western Imperialist ideas than it would be if I made it in London or Beirut or something, and the site is good. About the rights of people on the ground.' (excerpt from email to friends in Brazil 06/12/13)