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Bearhaus art movement forms and ends

Bearhaus, a new movement in art, formed and ended on Friday night. For the opening night of Drawing A Presence 2016 at Newlyn Art Gallery, arts collective Moogie Wonderland invited attendees to be the artists and create the movement (in which all artists had to wear bear hats). The movement was a temporary movement in art that lasted from 7.30pm until 11pm on Friday 15 April, 2016. Participating artists included many who had not considered themselves artists before. They wrote the manifesto, created improvisational performance art, wore bear hats and collaborated with each other. (Photography © Cat Gibbard, Newlyn Art Gallery)

Bearhaus happenings

Rosie B Bear’s Metaphysical Wobble involved standing quietly in the left hand side of a room, swaying, knee jerking and shimmying. Tony Parsnips performed Man in a Dress and Man not in a Dress, while Pablo performed Pablo. Black Bubble Dip Dap’s Eat the Children, involved dancing whilst clawing and ‘eating children’. Ian Brain’s inward looking pieces, My Mindscape 3.0 and My Brain, explored the brain. Motorbike Bear performed Helmet Bear Head Home by driving home on a motorbike. Rob Burns’ ‘Let’s Give Tax Payers Money to Art’ saw him urinating in the wind, although it was undocumented. Hugonator’s improvised ‘freestyling bear lingo rap’ called Babbling Bear, caused people to be shocked by the artistic flair of the seven-month old. Oran coloured the eyes of a silver bear green for his work Green Eyes before delighting audiences with Ears, in which he squeezed the ears of bears. Marianess Duchamp’s work Turn involved pots. Clarence Peacehorn used a glove for her performance The Helping Hand. Green Shoes created Bottlestep, a new genre of music described as ‘repeatedly blowing into an empty beer bottle and hopping’. Lorna got people to shake hands for Shaking Hands. Didge’s Being a Bear was described as barely perceptible. After performing Not Full, Lebasi commented, “I drank my wine, now my glass is not full”. Fi B Bear’s performance, Ginger and Lemongrass, had phenomenological leanings with her description of a drink and it’s position in her hand: “Well it’s a green glass bottle filled with an exotic beverage, held in my hand at a jaunty angle”. The performances of The Salt House Bear Sport and The Salt in the Wound included No Such Thing as Bears and My Horrible Brain – both pieces seeming to question existence.

There were several collaborations in the movement too.We Attempt to Fit Through the Gallery Door was explained by Bearhaus artist Maddie Broad: “A group of people hold hands and get into a tangle. They then try to enter the gallery via the back door.” Rose Hatcher and Matt Ashdown formed a single-file queue against a wall for their work, Queuing at the Bearport but the need for social interaction turned the happening into a deconstructed queue.

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Bear hat makers

Matt Ashdown
Cat Gibbard
Tamsin Young
Bettina Wenzel
Newlyn Art Gallery volunteers

bearhaus-manifesto-newlyn-webManifesto and documentation

The Bearhaus manifesto was drawn up by artists and collectives in the movement and evolved throughout the night. It was published by art collective Medium Rare, who made multiples of the manifesto using a risoprinter.

  1. Bearhaus is an improvisational performance art movement
  2. Bearhaus artists wear furry bear hats
  3. Bearhaus exists only between 7.30pm and 11.00pm tonight (15 April 2016) and only in Newlyn Art Gallery
  4. Anyone can be a Bearhaus artist
  5. Grrrr…!!! (eat)
  6. Art is bears and bears in art
  7. Learn to hold an eel properly
  8. Bearhaus artists aren’t great in impromptu situations
  9. Agreed (9a. Why the big pause?)
  10. Bears must hug… Huggy Bear!
  11. Bears must communicate solely in growls
  12. Bears must only eat Camem-bear
  13. Green bears must only eat green food
  14. Brown beats can eat green bears
  15. Bears with sparkly ears are party bears!
  16. Bears like picnics. In woods.
  17. All bears are equal!
  18. Honey likes bears and bears like honey
  19. Bears must have a positive outlook

Moogie Wonderland’s Matt Ashdown created a diagram to describe the movement in terms of the concept of learning, which was published by Medium Rare and presented in the lower space of the gallery along side the work of other collectives in the Drawing A Presence 2016 exhibition:

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About Drawing A Presence 2016

A survey of the output of young artist-led collectives based in Cornwall. Drawing a Presence (DaP) is a biennial platform offered by Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange to young artists to present their work within the Gallery’s main exhibition programme.

Drawing a Presence 2014 invited visitors to Newlyn Art Gallery to view Cornwall as seen by a new generation of artists selected by two emerging curators, Elle Sambrook and Henry Osman. The work dealt with migration, landscape, folklore and social perceptions, and included a variety of media; each piece conveying a personal response to Cornwall, which visitors to the exhibition found compelling.

Drawing a Presence 2016 picks up a question posed by the debate at the close of DaP14: “Do you have to leave the county in order to establish yourself as an artist?” and considers the work of young artists who have chosen to work as part of a collective and have at least one key member currently based in Cornwall. Participating artists and collectives include Medium Rare, Keiken Collective, Field Notes, HOWL Projects, Cafe Morte, BLNT Collective, Space37 and Moogie Wonderland.

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