Cathedral of Shit

has taken a well earned GAP year


Posted by cathedralofshit on August 22, 2011

It seems Mr Willats has been writing his own press material again… Shame his interests in the society we live in and being an inspiration to young artists don’t extend any further than the gallery walls. Two years ago, a group of this ‘interested younger generation’ tried to show his work in their not for profit space, where he proceeded to be unreasonable, difficult, demanding, and shouted at them for asking too many questions about his practice and not understanding him, to the point where they pulled the show. Inspirational!

Looking forward to seeing the new work.

“Stephen Willats
2nd September – 1st October 2011

MOTINTERNATIONAL is pleased to present the second solo exhibition of the highly influential and internationally revered British conceptual artist Stephen Willats. Building on two previous collaborations with the gallery, Going Home and a subsequent publication in 2006, MOTINTERNATIONAL has worked with Willats to produce a new body of work, The Information Nomad.

Stephen Willats has always been ahead of his time in terms of his thinking around art, science, sociology, cybernetics and systems analysis. By applying avant-garde concepts from these disciplines to his art making process he has been able to foresee a number of important breakthroughs in each of these fields and has been the instigator of many ideas that have gone on to shape our contemporary world. Willats has been able to consolidate these ideas through conceptual art which becomes both the model and the signifier for his investigations into the fabric of our society.

The genesis of Willats‘ working process is the conceptual diagram and two such drawings inform this exhibition, The Information Nomad and The Space Time Traveller. Both drawings consider how fragments of information travel in time towards the future and how we can study this information through different resolution frames. Willats is interested in how information changes through its’ shifting relationships and contexts. Willats applies these concepts to two new works that he is producing for the exhibition, a study of the signs of suburbia and a portrait of an urban couple and their relationship to the future.

In The Beginning is a work whereby Willats has been collaborating with a young urban family exploring their perceptions of the future, which will result in a multi paneled wall based work. He was particularly interested to work with a couple with a young child as he felt that their projections and concerns for what the future could be would be at an increased resolution. For his second installation, Signs and Messages from Suburbia, Willats circled and dissected a map of London to find four points in the suburban perimeter were he could apply a number of conceptual parameters with which to record the signs of the surrounding environment. With the collaboration of Charles Arsené-Henry and Hana Noorali, he took sound recordings, visual interpretations and film footage, which will come together in a large wall based installation combining wall diagrams, video projections and text.

Stephen Willats has continued to work at the forefront of contemporary art for over five decades. In recent years, appreciation by a younger generation has meant that his life-time’s contribution to art discourse is becoming increasingly recognised. Where some might be satisfied to allow past work to define their history Stephen Willats sees this as a symptom of last century thinking and as an artist with his eye on the future he continually strives to make new work, drawn towards a point he calls the Strange Attractor.

Stephen WIllats was born in 1943 in London, England where he currently works and lives. Solo exhibitions include: COUNTERCONSCIOUSNESS, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany (2010) In Two Minds, Galerie Erna Hecey, Brussels (2010) Assumptions and Presumptions, Art on the Underground, London (2007) From my Mind to Your Mind, Milton Keynes Gallery, (2007); How the World is and How it Could be, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen (2006); Changing Everything, South London Art Gallery, (1998); Meta Filter and Related Works, Tate Gallery London, (1982); 4 Inseln, in Berlin, National Gallery, Berlin, (1980) and Concerning our Present Way of Living, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, (1979).”

23 Responses to “Inspirational”

  1. MOSTLY said

    Willats is one of the worst.. Someone at Transmission told me that when they asked to look at previous copies of CONTROL he made them buy them for 50 pounds a pop.. saying that they sold for 200 on ebay.. he would not even let them look at them before they had paid for them..

    there is a good description of him in John Walkers Left Shift: 70’s Radical Art book.. goes to show he was a self serving shit in the 70s as well..

  2. Fumer said

    Wow, really, having a pop at Willats, you must be bored out of your tiny mind.

    1. The idea that Willats’

    “interests in the society we live in and being an inspiration to young artists don’t extend any further than the gallery walls”

    Is plain stupid, look through his history you moron. And what’s wrong with a someone who has paid his dues showing in a gallery, omg a gallery, who heard of such a thing…

    2. Any post that uses the ‘someone told me’ is obviously clutching at straws and perpetuates the worst in mean and misinformed bullshit. Indeed if you want Control mag, he sells them on his website for a tenner (except for the ones from the 60’s and 70’s), in which case buying them for £50 is a bargin, unless your mind is too small to work that out.

    Honestly CoS, get your act together, this is lame shit.


    • MOSTLY said

      Fumer –

      I was not involved in Transmission and just repeating what I have heard to give an example. I have also worked directly with SW.

      The point with the 50 pound control magazines- if you are meant to be doing a project with an artist and their archive – and the artist won’t allow any form of access until cash is parted – how does this reflect on the relationship he has with a group of younger artists interested in his work?

      Surely there is a question when an artist, such as SW – whose work involves communication, collaboration, etc, is difficult to work with to the point of having to pull out of the project because people don’t like being screamed and shouted at to such a large extent. I don’t take issue with someone being a part of a commercial gallery system, but i find it problematic someone acting like a pompous hypocritical shit.

      • Fumer said


        Your question has an answer. The answer is; it doesn’t. If they are interested in what he is doing, and they have the honesty to see that they are capable of kindness as well as cruelty, then they will take the rough with the smooth and still their silly judgements.

        Willats has worked with hundreds of people over his 50+ year career, and like anyone he has good and not so good qualities, but he is a man of principle and sticks to them no matter how unfashionable that is. I know that some of the people I have worked with over the years would credit me with a glowing account, other would call me a cunt. I understand that artists can be difficult to work with, because they need to be pretty mad in order to be able to bring out from the depths a little bit of remarkable splendor. I mean we have to work with some truly awful people; curators, gallericysts, weird and vacuous rich people (who can only think about money and themselves), etc.

        Willats is honest about his hypocrisy, where as you are just telling tales to look good in front of your mates.

        If you really mean what you say:

        “i find it problematic someone acting like a pompous hypocritical shit.”

        Then perhaps you should go and work somewhere more conducive to your sensitive nature, like a bubble bath factory.


      • Seriously?! “If they are interested in what he is doing, and they have the honesty to see that they are capable of kindness as well as cruelty”.
        Now, maybe we are way off mark but who would work with an artist capable of cruelty? (Which he is).

        Despite all your cute flirting with d.mcardle, let’s face it, there are enough artists in Britain to not have to work with one who treats you like shit. NEXT!

  3. d.mcardle said

    honest about your hypocrisy – means you must be psychotic .How much good have all those diagrams actually done ? You don’t HAVE to work with those people Fu – you could teach plumbing at night school to black kids on probation or take coach tours round the Cotswolds or be a nurse in a VD clinic where they don’t use the word c… to swear .

  4. Fumer said

    Actually, being honest about ones hypocrisy is the opposite from having a deluded state of mind.

    The only nurse that I know who works in GUM* clinic swears like a sailor, ya cunt.

    Isn’t the Cotswolds in the cuntryside?

    And please tell me more about the criminal plumber children, that doesn’t sound patronising at all.

    And yes if you are an artist, then yes you DO, HAVE to work with some rather unpleasant folk.

    As for art doing good, perhaps you should go (back) to art school. Mind you these days they only seem able to teach neo-liberalism and how to become a more tasteful consumer…

    VD is sooo old fashioned…

  5. d.mcardle said

    who said they were criminals.

  6. d.mcardle said

    well that shows a serious lack of imagination.

  7. Fumer said

    I imagine:

    That you are hosting tours of the Cotswolds’ VD clinics to coaches full of juvenile apprentice plumbers…

  8. d.mcardle said

    because ,you can’t think of your own things to say.

  9. Fumer said

    And I thought I was being funny, and original in collaging your trite post into a nice little one-liner…

  10. d.mcardle said

    I have to go now son, but here are some words for you to look up for homework : THINK. HYPOCRITE. BARGAIN.

  11. Fumer said

    Cheers Dad. Give my best to Mum, can you ask her when she gets out of prison, I miss her and your cooking is shit.

  12. Jan Hammer said

    i interviewed SW once. he had nice biscuits and cakes

  13. Mylar said

    well isn’t this all extremely interesting and exciting

  14. d.mcardle said

    well I thought it was all a bit Harry Enfield !

  15. Katrina Broon said

    Let’s be honest, most artists working in the ‘social realm’ tend to have problems in socialising with others that’s why they make it their focus. Willats is very well known for lacking a few social graces but is essentially a good thing. Transmission Gallery has extremely generous ‘Creative Scotland’ (almost as much as an oxymoron as ACE) funding (given how poor its output has become in recent years) and can well afford to buy discounted copies of Control rather than expect comps or to soil archive copies with their dirty, amateurish hands. Fumer should calm down though. That kind of sanctimonious ranting makes me want to hate on Willats and all his sad supporters.

    • fumer said

      My point (and yes there was an overkill of sanctimonious blah bah – apologies for that), was that picking on Willats in the context of this blog and the art world at large seems like picking on the bespectacled skinny asma suffer in the playground for pointing out that rich kids are weird and selfish and exploit the poor, Where as the bullies are the ones who need to get hated on.



  16. fumer said

    In response to CoS:

    “Seriously?! “If they are interested in what he is doing, and they have the honesty to see that they are capable of kindness as well as cruelty”.
    Now, maybe we are way off mark but who would work with an artist capable of cruelty? (Which he is).”

    Sorry I meant that the young artists, or anyone, should be capable of seeing their own kindness/cruelty and therefore accept it in others…

    And as for:

    “there are enough artists in Britain to not have to work with one who treats you like shit. NEXT!”

    The art world is deeply conservative, and the nature of how it works means that desperation, fragile yet gigantic egos, prima donnaism etc are key characteristics (unfortunately) of almost all involved, so the levels of shittyness tend to be quite high.

  17. Damien Cursed said

    This guy reminds me of that other disingenuous art scene cunt Bob and Roberta Smith – who thinks it’s ok to self promote every hour of the day whilst also nickin other young artists ideas – yes he’s a real nyce guy

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