Toothbrushes

Toothpaste tubes

Toiletry bottles

Straws

Bubble wrap

Earphones

Collanders

Rulers

Yogurt pots

Bottle tops

CDs

Tapes

Ketchup bottles

Hangers

Phones

Plugs

Milk bottles

Buckets

Watering Cans

Kitchen Spatulas etc

Cutlery

Spectacles

Drinks bottles

Credit Cards

Computer peripherals

Chargers

Games consoles

Pens

Razors

Pritt Stick tubes

Pencil sharpeners

Watch straps

Set squares

Telephone sockets

Plug Sockets

Light switches

Sandwich boxes

Calculators

Missed anything?? Let me know please!

Don’t you just want to eat it?? I think it reminds me of sweets 🙂

Lots of things are new for 2008, mainly because i am now living in London 🙂

I seem to spend a lot of my days driving around roundabouts not quite knowing which turning to come off at and usually still don’t know until i have tried every exit but the one i should have taken!

I shouldn’t complain too much about driving though, as i have just signed up to cycle from Tower Bridge in London to the Eiffel Tower in Paris! I will cycling these 200 miles over a period of 3 days, over the back holiday weekend in August, raising funds for the Breast Cancer Campaign. I am sure you will agree that this is an extremely worthwhile cause, and if you wold like to sponsor me you can do so at www.justgiving.com/melaniewarner 🙂

Happy New Year!

My work for Stanelco is well underway now 🙂

After spending quite a bit of time getting to know the material and it’s capabilities i am now working towards three very different installations.

Getting to this point was quite difficult because the material is usually fed through industrial machinery, popping out several hundred pieces of the same product all with a purpose or function. But how could this be used to make art?? (And can ‘art’ and ‘function’ be used in the same sentence??)

What i wanted to know was what the capabilities of the material were if i had a big lump of it sitting in front me me in my studio with an array of tools! Well, I am stronger than i look but this stuff is tough! So for this reason i went down the route of trying to design something big made out of lots of smaller components. I spent time thinking about the material being made from a natural renewable source, and the way it biodegrades right back to nature. I liked the idea of showing this full cycle in my work, as well as demonstrating the biodegradable potential of the material, yet at the same time showing that despite all this that it is completely functional and wouldn’t biodegrade if you didn’t want it to!

Meanwhile, since i started this work i have had a huge bag of biodegradable pellets taking up space at my Mum’s house and she keeps asking me why it’s still there and why it’s not biodegraded out of her way yet!

I don’t want to say too much now about what i am making until i have got a little further with it but soon i will upload photographs of my progress.

It sounds a bit drastic to accuse an art gallery of kidnapping a toilet but that’s exactly what happened!

Not only did they kidnap my precious portable loo but they then held her hostage for about a week not granting me permission to go in and check she was ok 😦

Put yourself in my shoes – imagine you had been privileged enough to go to Portable Toilet Land, and pick out your own very special looking portable toilet from all the ones they had lined up in need of some TLC and a home, then you spent 100 hours inside the thing, cleaning it and doing it up, putting up with the fact that you smelt like poo and bleach for about two weeks, six months later having people still refuse to shake your hand on the basis they know where it’s been, travelling half way around the world photographing toilet signs, getting laughed at by lots of people when photographing the mens’ door and a man walks out in the middle of the picture being taken, only to go and check your precious portable toilet was ok where it was being safely stored only to find that it was gone and hear that an anonymous white van had been and removed it without a trace earlier in the day!!!

Enough of the rant, she was found safe and sound…

…if only the Tate had the same mentality!

So basically what i am trying to say is – Bog Standard Gallery is now on exhibition in Urbis for those that want to pay a visit!

It’s on the 3rd floor and forms part of the ‘Catapult‘ exhibition – entrance is free – you don’t need to spend a penny to go in! 😛

For those that don’t live near Urbis you can also pay Bog Standard Gallery a visit on Second Life!

I am writing this post from Weeze Airport after having been in Germany for the past couple of days with work.

I spent yesterday at an absolutely massive plastics exhibition/trade fair in Dusseldorf swatting up on all the different types of plastics, as well as all the different types of machinery used to form them. I think the scale of this trade fair, and the distances in which people had travelled both to visit and exhibit demonstrate just how big a part plastics play in our lives.

Starting work on my commission from Stanelco, i really can’t help but notice plastics everywhere i go and think about all the oil that is wasted in making them when there are so many alternative materials which could be used.

So, having four hours to pass at this little tiny airport and all different plastics whirling around in my head i have decided to see exactly how much plastic i can spot in this place:

(Typically with me i started at the toilet, although i cannot include what was in the mens 😛 !):

– 8 plastic toilet seats

– 8 plastic toilet brushes and 8 plastic toilet brush holders

– 8 plastic coat pegs

– 8 plastic toilet roll dispensers

– 9 plastic door handles and locks

– approx. (although judging by the amount of time i have to waste it’s probably pretty accurate) 48 metres of plastic sealant strips around the cubicle walls and door

– 14 plastic bin bags

– 10 plastic legs on cubicles

– 1 plastic air freshener holder

– 4 plastic door-stops

– 2 plastic light switches

– 2 laminated plastic cleaning rotas

– 2 plastic soap bottles

– 3 plastic laminated no smoking signs

– 77 plastic seat pads

– 87 plastic condiment sachets

– 30 plastic laminated menus

– 36 plastic Pringles lids

– 2 plastic tills

– 2 plastic drinks pumps

– 48 plastic straws

– plastic fire hose

– 3 plastic vending machine fronts

– 8 plastic sandwich containers

– 17 plastic-wrapped baguettes

– 14 plastic-wrapped muffins

– 16 plastic-wrapped bakery items

– 32 plastic advert banners hanging from ceiling

– 2 plastic laminated ‘staff only’ signs

– 4 plastic sit on rides for kids

– 2 plastic ‘A’ boards

– 4 plastic computers

– 2 plastic illuminated advert boxes

– 16 plastic leaflet holders

– 18 plastic- wrapped items in vending machine

– 2 vending machines of plastic bottles

– 38 plastic seat pads

– 17 plastic signs for lifts/departures etc

Trash Luxe is a collection of work by young designers who specialise in finding beauty in humble materials or salvaging otherwise unwanted goods, which they use to create dynamic, luxurious pieces.

This exhibition was extremely interesting not only in terms of the work itself, but the way in which it was chosen to be exhibited and especially the choice of venue.

Held at Liberty’s among their existing range of luxury items, this gave the work a real sense of luxury too. This was interesting because if the range had of been shown in a second hand shop i would have seen it in a completely different light. With environmentally friendly products often costing more to produce there is definitely a place for them in the luxury market as well as the extremely contrasting more hippie world!

As well as the choice of location for the exhibition what also fascinated me was the reaction of people about recycling and recycled products and i think this is something i would like to analyse further.

After spending a year painting my caravan and it’s contents yellow, i have a very exciting new commission!

Seeing as i usually ‘live’ my projects this could mean quite a lifestyle change for me as it involves going green and working with a material that is not harmful to the environment!

Stanelco is a company that produce bioplastics which i will be using to create my next installation.

Bioplastics can replace oil-based plastics and because they are derived from corn and potato starches, as well as being used for life-long plastic products they can biodegrade right back to nature. As it is a very new material it is extremely exciting as it’s capabilities are not entirely known so will involve a lot of experimenting and fun!

Taking on this work has increased my awareness of lots of environmental issues, particularly focusing my attention on all the wasted plastics we come across daily – so much so that i have a new found feeling of guilt when i put plastic in the bin these days!

There are lots of artists that explore environmental issues and this will be something interesting to look at as i get a feel for this new project.

18 months after i first started painting things yellow for ‘When Painting Goes Too Far’ i am still discovering bits of yellow paint on various possessions of mine, my family and friends, and places i have been!

Some friends of mine have recently moved into a new flat and i was quite amused to see specks of yellow paint on their TV – this was because i was using that TV in my flat at the time of my yellow painting spree. I used to leave things to dry on the top of the TV but the number 1 button on the remote has yellow on it as i usually took a break from the painting and watched Neighbours on BBC 1!

I still own socks will yellow on the soles from where i accidentally stood on something i had painted and left to dry, and until just recently when i got a new phone, my phone was also quite yellow.

There are also some yellow specks on the steering-wheel of my mums car from when i had a paint emergency and had to go to B & Q after running out of paint! My dad also claims there is paint on the backseat of his car too from when he was transporting some of the items to my exhibition when they were not fully dry!

With all of this in mind i was quite interested when i came across artist Taz Lovejoy who is working on a project called ‘The Blue Blob’.

The project requires people to sculpt and photograph a small piece of blue plastercine and send it to her – increasing the awareness of the lack of blue in our natural world.

I just thought this was quite interesting because for every intentional blue blob she creates i have probably canceled it out with my accidental yellow blob!

In the past couple of weeks i have spent a couple of days volunteering for Reactor, inside the abandoned old fire station next to Piccadilly Station, helping them set up The Tetra Phase.

Set in a disused historic building in Manchester, The Tetra Phase presents an immersive journey into subjective experience. On each Saturday throughout October, groups of the public will venture into this disconnected environment, known only as ‘The Station’, to interact within an immersive installation. Working together at some points, but in opposition at others, the groups’ journeys will intersect as they locate their individual pathways through the constructed possibilities of this labyrinthine space.

My volunteering jobs have been quite varied, but all very messy! One of the first jobs i had was to clear rubble out of the rooms in the building that were going to be used for the event. This was an absolutely filthy task as the building had not been touched for about twenty years but luckily i had a huge pair of overalls, gloves and a dust mask. With rat poison and a dead pigeon to contend with i spent time in these small rooms getting on with my list of things to do and occasionally jumping with fright when i thought i heard the sounds of a rat scurrying around! Lots of the rooms even had some of their original wallpaper still intact, even if it was covered with pigeon poop and i spent part of my time amusing myself by photographing this. Not so amusing was when i was in one of the smaller rat poison filled rooms trying to shave the door down so it would close properly. I was so excited at managing to get the door shut after using various power tools but hadn’t realised that handle had rusted up so once the door had slammed shut i couldn’t turn the handle to get it open! So all in all the jobs were really messy and involved lots of ladder climbing and cleaning but it was definitely worth it to spend time inside the building which was like a huge maze of uninhabited and derelict homes.

After having received a toilet sign birthday cake last year, i was half expecting something yellow for my birthday cake this year…

However i was totally amazed when i saw my cake – my Mum and Step-Dad made it – a 3D yellow and dotty caravan, even with a picture of me in the window!!! 😛

Having never been to a Graduation Ceremony before i had very little idea as to what i could expect from my own, let alone how it works when you have divorced parents, an absolutely huge family and 2 tickets!

On the day it all worked out just fine and i dressed up in the funny costume, shook hands with someone important, went out for a lovely lunch and then came home.

Shortly after arriving back home i wondered if after 4 years of studying whether i actually was meant to receive anything to prove that this actually happened? Or maybe because i left the university owing such huge library fines i wouldn’t get a certificate?

Luckily this arrived in the post this week so i no longer need to worry:

The toilet signs in South Africa were collectively some of the most exciting and varied signs i have come across since beginning my research. This was quite exciting as after the toilet signs in Belfast were such a disappointment i decided not to expect anything at all so i feel this was a very successful trip indeed.
I have not compiled the statistics together yet but it seemed that generally any toilet that was in a public place and outdoors, (for example the public toilet blocks outside, at petrol stations and in the Kruger National Park) were all the same standard green and white printed design, with the rest in places such as restaurants, bars and hotels being extremely varied, unpredictable and exciting. In fact, every sign that was not one of these green and white ‘standard’ ones was very different to any sign i have ever come across and entirely unique.

Talking about unique and toilets – i think this video below sums it up quite nicely and was definitely one of the most exciting toilet visits i have experienced… and there have been many!…

I stupidly only took a smallish memory card with me for my camera so i had to be quite selective with the photographs i took in general, prioritising the toilet signs, followed by the more sensible photographs such as the scenery and the safari animals. This meant that a lot of the seemingly ‘unnecessary and odd’ photographs i would usually take when visiting a new place would have to go amiss. These photographs would have all be tagged with words such as vast, extreme or intense and so instead of these images appearing on Flickr, they are now stored in my memory. For this reason, if there is only a few things i ever end up remembering about South Africa as a place, it will probably be the intensity of the pink colouring in the wafers, and how neon the orange Fanta is over there. And for now i think the rest of these thoughts will stay in my head!

This week i had an article about Bog Standard Gallery in Chat magazine. I have mixed feelings about this! Sold at 78p a copy, the reader definitely gets value for money if they take the ‘it’s so awful it’s funny’ approach! It had my sister Sara in hysterics for a good half an hour or so, and in fact i think she thought it was so hideously hilarious that she can’t wait to buy next weeks! For those people that have never read it, and i am hoping this is true for most people, i think it is something you have to read cover to cover at least once – it will open your eyes to a whole new world you could never imagine existed, (with people apparently eating their cousins with rice), as well as giving an entirely new definition of the word ridiculous! I would be quite fascinated to work out the ratio of exclamation marks in relation to the word count of the entire magazine, it’s sickening!!!!!

Tomorrow i am going to South Africa for a couple of weeks, so i wont be posting anything  up for the duration, but will be back 3rd September after a good bit of toilet sign spotting. Woo! 😛

If one bases the enjoyment and success of a trip on the quality of the toilet signs then Belfast was a disappointment! Being grey and dirty like Manchester, i expected the toilet signs to be comparable – and they were! Maybe i could at least be excited that i predicted correctly 😛

I spent a few days in Northern Ireland, so it was nice to be able to photograph a good number of signs, especially as i have already quite heavily covered the Republic of Ireland and the comparison could be interesting. A lot of the signs were actually just the words ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’ without pictograms – at least it makes my statistics look pretty!

I did however come across a sign that i found quite humorous – it was stuck on the door of a Chinese restaurant called the Red Panda in Belfast…

Another highlight of the trip was receiving a special commendation in a very prestigious art competition! The colouring competition on Stena Line Ferries is in fact open to people of all ages, and was quite a challenge! However, despite all the problems i had keeping inside the lines after my wax crayons had gone blunt i was extremely excited (possibly too much) to be called up and receive my prize, along with some words of wisdom from the captain…”Get a life!”

I think the highlight of my toilet sign media frenzy has to be the 3 page spread in this months Sanitation Journal!

The Sanitation Journal is a cutting edge magazine distributed in America, ‘Serving The American Liquid Waste Industry Since 2002’.

‘Each month the Sanitation Journal teams with liquid waste professionals across the world developing a platform of information for readers through the journal magazine. Utilizing the latest in technological advances, portable toilet businesses spanning the globe embrace the Journal as a resource to secure information regarding technology, sales and marketing, legislation, management training and equipment. A trusted industry publication backed by equipment vendors proud to advertise and be part of the dynamic Journal experience.’

Enough said!

Yesterday i went into my old primary school and did a couple of art workshops with year 2. It was a strange feeling being back there, it almost felt like i had never left but that the furniture had just got really small!

I was only in for the afternoon, and ran the workshop with two classes, but it was absolutely exhausting, and if i hear anyone shout Miss Waaaaarnerrrrrrr one more time!…

      

After getting the class to think about the characteristics they would like to have if they were an insect, they designed them on paper giving their species a name. Once this was done they made them out of different materials and they will all be hung of a giant spiders web once they are dry.

Another exciting part of my visit to my old school was to see some of my own work still up from when i was there over ten years ago!…

It seems quite funny how there is a real resemblance to the pattern i used for the caravan!

Owing to the recent suspension of the Metrolink services into town, i have been travelling into the city centre by train from quaint little Hale Station into the monstrosity that is Piccadilly. I have actually been enjoying these journeys a lot more than the usual Metrolink ones, because they seem a lot less disjointed having much fewer stops, or maybe i am just still in the honeymoon period. It seems like i have perhaps over thought the train vs Metro situation a little too much, but i think possibly having no regular job at the moment leads this to be the most regular part of my week so i guess its not entirely suprising that i should think about it a lot!

I thought, being jobless and with my new mode of transport, i was onto a good thing, as taking the train is considerably cheaper than taking the Metro. Then i realised this was not entirely the case, and i felt like i was being cheated! The thing is, the trains are hourly, which leads to considerable planning of my trips to and from town. It is probably not the end of the world, (in fact it’s definately not) to miss the train from Picadilly back to Hale, but when i have done it feels like i am really wasting an hour of my life by sitting in the station, so i have tried my best to avoid this. This has resulted in me arriving at the station possibly quite a bit earlier than necessary before i need to catch the train. In terms of waiting for a train, 20 minutes doesn’t seem too unreasonable, particularly for a journey say to London, but for a journey that is only 30 minutes long, it feels slightly excessive. Anyway, during this 20 minutes waiting time, i usually sit on the bench on the platform my train will be leaving from, so i don’t get tempted by something like KFC, but i realised this is costing me a fortune!! The platform the train leaves from is right opposite the toilets – the toilets being the toilets i can’t help but notice their signs out of the corner of my eye the whole time i am sitting there. So…during a 20 minute wait, and knowing i have a journey ahead of me, i always manage to convince myself i need to go to the loo – but itis 30p each time i go! That means if i went to town everyday for a year it would cost me over £100 in toilet visits! I am going to make a very conscious effort to stop and will see how i get on!…

Considering i anticipated working for the Manchester International Festival would be a nice break from the stress of the degree show, i couldn’t have been more wrong! The past couple of weeks have been incredible in terms of what i have seen, learnt and the experience i have gained, but i think the excitement of hanging out with Carsten Holler has completely drained any energy i had left!

Living with all the participants of Carsten Holler’s ‘Upside Down People 2007’ was quite a surreal experience in lots of different ways. Seeing as i was involved in the project from early on, at the stage where we were recruiting participants to live upside down, it has been great to see it through to the end, and to be able to follow it so closely. It was amazing to be so closely involved with Carsten’s work, and at the same time was also a completely fascinating project to get such an insight into. Living with such a mix of people was an interesting experience too, especially with most of them having the same experience but the wrong way up. I have only been away from it all for a few hours, but it feels so surreal, it’s almost like the entire thing was a dream.

Dinner in the ‘goggle house’ started off being a lengthy task – serving baked potatoes on the second night was possibly quite a mistake as the co-ordination of eating with a knife and fork proved almost impossible, hence dinner taking a ridiculous amount of time and energy to get through!

After a couple of days, things became alot easier for the participants, and we did things like bowling, and took a trip to Blackpool. By this time we did not need to help the participants eat, and we were just required to randomly shout words such as kerb, puddle, and car!

I think the most used word during this time was ‘sorry’ as the participants had no peripheral vision and often thought things were a lot further away than they actually were, often resulting in the helpers being bashed around a little.