Remembering 2011 & Looking ahead to 2012

Well, that was 2011 then. How was it for you? Over the last twelve months, The Aesthetic Trust has been privileged to catch up with some soaring talents in art and design around the British regions. This includes talents from artists at the top of their game in every sense, to graduates who have felt their way into the creative professions with style.

What follows is a brief run down of what sticks out as their highlights of the last year and what they hope to achieve, or perhaps avoid, over the one that will follow. Some of the responses are long, some short, but all tell the tale of a year past and what our friends would like 2012 to bring. Read on…..

Leo Fitzmaurice – Liverpool based artist and nominee for the 2012 Northern Art Prize. He spoke to The Aesthetic Trust about his work Base:baseball (ball removed) in February (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? I went to the Parasol Unit in London – I forget the show that was on at the time, because it was what I noticed about the space that stuck in my mind. The ground floor of the gallery is made up of two large spaces. One space with walls that had a shadow gap (the walls appears to float) and the other space with floor that has a ‘floor gap’ (the floor appearing to float). In particular though, there is one point, in the corner of a room, where the floor gap gives way to the wall gap – absolutely fucking beautiful!

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? More highlights like this!

Andy Smith – illustrator/artist from Hastings. He spoke about his exhibition at Soma Gallery, Bristol and his standout The Lonely Goldfish 3D/2D work in July (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? This is actually a horticultural highlight. I’ve been lucky enough to do a bit of travelling this year to Paris, Berlin and Madrid. One of the best things I came across was this vertical garden at the Caixa Forum in Madrid. It has 15,000 plants of 250 different species and was designed by Patrick Blanc. It just looks great- why can’t we have more of these around!

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? That it won’t be as grim as everyone is predicting and that I’ll carry on about my business much the same as 2011- getting projects to do, panicking, finishing projects etc.

DR.ME (Eddy & Ryan) – art/design duo who live and work in Manchester.  They were gracious enough to open their studio door, and share one of their beers, for an interview in August (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? This year has been awesome as it’s basically been our first year as a fully-fledged design studio, creative highlight wise, probably moving into our beautiful studio in Hope Mill with our talented brother in arms Steve Hockett. Cultural highlight must be Manchester International Festival pretty much in each and every way, we’ve also had a great time curating a series of our own shows with some of our favourite artists, designers and illustrators.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? I guess the main hope for 2012 is to really eclipse what we’ve done this year and really kick on with taking what we’re doing to the next level and developing working relationships with amazing and brave people. We have a list of things we want to achieve, we want to nail them!

Alan Williams – artist/musician based in Liverpool. He discussed one of the pieces of work he was posting daily to his blog, speaking about That Was Almost Fun in March (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? I recently released an EP under the guise of Surt Kitter. The EP is called ‘Dirge Bringer E’, a 7 Track, Dissimilar Design, Limited Edition EP, which was launched at FACT Liverpool in October.  It was well received and I did a few little gigs to support its release.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? In 2012 I hope to continue with the release of more music and am aiming to co-create my own record label with Cumbrian Artist, Mike Aitken, called ‘Grim Deep Records’.

Micah Purnell – artist/designer from Manchester. He concluded a three year project of unprompted interventions in advertising space and talked about one piece, The Finger, in June (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? A wealth of research shows that much of advertising’s methods have damaging effects on our emotional well-being.  Stephen & Lynley Oliver of the Salvation Army, who understand this, have commissioned me to produce a billboard with no call to action, no donation requests or event to advertise.  It simply says ‘look after your soul’.  The piece will run before and after the New Year.  So this year has ended on a high and will set the bench mark for the next.

Deborah Ballinger – illustrator based in Brighton. Deborah joined the Out There Collective and marked the occasion by discussing her work, Blinding, in October (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? Setting up my own exhibition with 12 other artists. It was a steep learning curve that has now been applied to every aspect of my illustration career.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? To thrive within my new home town of Brighton and possibly be able to get to Canada to see a moose.

Deborah Ballinger, Self Portrait (2011).

Nick Rhodes – artist/designer from Manchester. The only creative to yet be featured twice on the site, he first spoke up in June when he chatted about his Queens of the Stone Age poster (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? My personal creative highlight of the year was producing a print for Josh T Pearson. I had been bugging JTP’s manager Peter ever since I saw a set by him at ‘End of the Road’ Festival. Peter relented finally and gave me my chance. The print I produced for him, with huge help from a photographer friend Ro Cemm was liked so much by them that it became Josh’s Live Album cover. In turn it was liked so much that Rough Trade got in touch and commissioned me to produce a print to commemorate Josh’s album becoming Rough Trades album of the year! To say I was happy, it was an understatement.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? My greatest hope of 2012 is to continue on a path to happiness and fulfilment within my work. Its took me a long time to fathom, but I now believe I have found an inkling to what I am after, so to continue within this vein is my aim!

Mercy – creative studio in Liverpool. The studio’s dynamo, Gemma Germains took part in an interview alongside co-founder, Doug Kerr, in April. She took the time to reflect on 2011 and look to the future (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? This is a tough one. I really can’t decide between Bjork and Punch Drunk’s Dr Who at this year’s Manchester International Festival. Both almost brought me to tears for vastly different reasons. Closer to home, our Overlap programme was pretty exciting especially the Tuvian throat singer who sounded like Orbital.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? 2011 was a hugely exciting year for us. I’d like to use (a bit of) 2012 to take stock and enjoy what we’ve achieved. Obviously, I also hope that we continue to do what we do, the way we like doing it.

Sacha Waldron – freelance arts writer and curatorial team member at Bristol’s Arnolfini. She is a contributor to The Aesthetic Trust, with work ready to be published in 2012.

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? Pipilotti Rist at The Hayward. Lying on the people shaped pillows watching kitsch cat heads appear through mystical curtains. Peering down holes in the floor at a mini Pipilotti, trapped in a fiery hell, pleading to be released. Sticking my head into a giant wooden pinball box and listening to manic, topless Beatles tunes. Lovely.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? That we all manage to retain some enthusiasm and energy for the arts/cultural industry/world given the ever precarious nature of the beast. And that you can still manage to get a free beer at a preview.

Helen Stallard – Press and PR Consultant, whose clients include Ikon, Birmingham. Helen assisted in ensuring Ikon’s Galleries Coordinator got to discuss John Salt’s paintings in February (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? I loved the Cult of Beauty exhibition at the V&A, a magnificent installation that brought out the inner-dandy in us all.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? My greatest hope for 2012 is that the pressing financial situation does not kill artistic creativity as organisations and artists struggle to make ends meet. Sometimes the most trying circumstances can launch the biggest ideas.

David Ryan Robinson – Illustrator from Wales who now lives and works in London. David took the time to discuss his outstanding graduation project, the Giant Pliant Plastic Plane, in June (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? Graduating from the University of Salford and moving to London to work as a full time freelance illustrator.  Being invited to work with the creative team at Cartoon Network and drawing stuff in a new environment.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? To see where Cartoon Network will take me, and what direction my work will go in. To continue to draw weird and wonderful things!


David Ryan Robinson, Self Portrait (2011).

Daniel Fogarty – artist who lives and works in Manchester. He gave some answers about his now… now… now… wax print edition in November (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? At the start of the year Islington Mill ran programme of weekly talks with a range of artists, collectors, directors, designers, collectives and musicians. Highlights included a talk by Banner Repeater, a gallery situated on platform 1 of Hackney Downs railway station, and a wonderfully passionate presentation by Peter Fend on the American land art. This programme, to my knowledge, has sadly stopped. A great set of talks and something I dearly miss.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? I am looking forward to seeing the progression ‘COPY’, a small and dedicated publication put together by Critical Writing Collective, formed by Charlotte A Morgan and Joanna Loveday. With the act of publishing in mind I am also looking forward to the new releases from a number of Manchester based publications such as Corridor 8 who have just released issue 3, published in three parts over the coming year. Later this month also sees the launch of Feast Journal.

Thomas Dabner – graphic designer from Sheffield. Having produced a handmade book, A Collection of Marks, Thomas explained the project in more detail in March (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? Graduating from the Sheffield Hallam University was a proud moment, alongside having the chance to work with some great studios across the country, such as The Workshop, Believe In and SomeOne, the latter of which I’ve now been lucky enough to join. Everything I worked on with Hallam University was wonderful, from developing a strong identity for their Furnival Gallery space to the complete branding for their new Centre for Robotics (a joint venture with the University of Sheffield).

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? To continue working at SomeOne and build on relationships with the team and clients. There is a very exciting year ahead in terms of new work and the possibilities that have been presented so far, so time to bring it on!

Oliver East – comic artist who lives and works in Manchester. Oliver allowed an outdoor painting session to be interrupted to be interviewed about his work in May (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? The ‘Wim Crouwel – A Graphic Odyssey’ exhibition at the Design Museum blew me away.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? To have more time for my own work – and perhaps less triangles!

Ceri Hand – Liverpool and London based gallerist. Being asked which artist or work she loved, Ceri obliged by discussing the work of the artist Bedwyr Williams in April (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? One of our gallery highlights this year for me was our summer group show Memory of a Hope, which featured artists including Andrew Graves, Bedwyr Williams, Henny Acloque, Kim Rugg, Matthew Houlding, Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson, Samantha Donnelly and S Mark Gubb.  We met lots of really nice new artists and the show was curated by Lucy Johnston, our Gallery Manager, who gave a lot of work space for contemplation but also kept the show feeling dynamic, which was quite an achievement.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? My hope for 2012 is that our move to London proves successful in terms of giving our artists great exposure and us meeting lots more great artists, collectors and inspiring peers.

Christopher Jennings – graphic designer from Liverpool who works for Manchester City Council’s design team, m-four. He discussed his campaign, Unmissable Manchester, in February (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011? It has to be when I made it into the Creative Review Illustration Annual 2011. I had always aspired to one day make it in to the book and I was truly honoured to make it this year.

What’s your greatest hope for 2012? I would really like to start putting faces to names of people who I’ve communicated with on Twitter. I know it sounds daft, but a lot of the tweeters I’ve tweeted are practically round the corner!

…and finally……

Steve Hockett (The Kunstkammer) – designer and DJ who lives and works in Manchester. Steve gave some more information about the flyers he produces for his own club night in April (link).

What was your creative/cultural highlight of 2011?


What’s your greatest hope for 2012?


Happy New Year from The Aesthetic Trust – good luck for 2012!

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