Week 12 – 11/12/17

In the last week of term I had another editorial board meeting – it was really nice to go to the meeting with a lot of new ideas and suggestions for contributors, as well as feedback from the curation team. Now we’ve got a provisional list of people we’d like to ask, it will be a lot easier to try and focus questions/themes around them and to research their specialisms. I don’t think we’re too worried about writing to them just yet, we’ll be able to focus a lot more time on this after we’ve handed in the fist term’s work.

I think we need to try and avoid the publication being too Norwich based, as although a lot of graduates will stay in the area, I think many are looking further afield. I’m based in London, for example, so to get involved with projects and galleries there will obviously be a lot different than approaching organisations in Norwich. With the publication in mind I’d quite like to start creating a bit of web presence etc. I’m quite self-conscious about sharing my work on social media etc so I think I really need to push myself out of my comfort zone and advertise myself as an artist rather than a student. I’m hoping to be able to create a website over Christmas to try and publicise myself a bit more.

On the last day of term, me and a few others took part in a bit of a group activity. In response to one of the tutors leaving a few weeks ago, Paul started leaving sticky notes around the university with ‘Judith was here’ on them. The idea then became a bit of a protest, having had a really helpful tutor leave – and Paul stated producing sweatshirts which a group of us purchased and wore in the lecture theatre. I think his intention was to make a small profit on the shirts so that money could be donated to a charity of Judith’s choice. It’s something I was really keen to get involved with and publicise, as I think as artists we have a right to critique the institution and question our quality of teaching.

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I also took a couple of impromptu photos this week that I hope to do something with after Christmas. Although these aren’t what I’d consider outcomes, it goes to show that in a few seconds I can capture something to work from, and it doesn’t have to be that significant.

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Week 11 – 04/12/17

This week has felt quite hectic, on Tuesday evening the interim show opened, it was interesting to see the works all together – some were very much completed, but others were clearly unfinished. I think when confronted with an exhibition, most people felt as though they needed to present something, and so rather than entering something the was really unfinished/up to date, sort of backtracked to hand in something they’d already moved on from. I think I’m personally guilty of that, although I’m not sure what I would have offered otherwise as the painting I’m working on currently only started to take shape after I’d had a meeting with the curation team. Logistically I think it was quite hard to give them something in the making or an idea of something not yet started because of the logistical considerations.

There was a really good meeting on the Wednesday attended by local artists/creatives,It was really helpful to get an idea of what the curation team’s thought process was, talk about the authenticity of work that was not yet made and whether we should hold unfinished works to the same standard that we hold final pieces to. I recorded the dialogues between everyone, so will hopefully get a chance soon to look back on the recordings and make some notes. When discussing my work, I was asked if it was finished and what I’d add to it – I started talking about how technically I’d work into the painting more, and one of the dyad sisters commented that conceptually, then, it was all tied up. I hadn’t really thought of it like this before. I think the idea stage finished before I’d even started painting, so this is definitely something to keep in mind – trying to work something out through painting rather than display an already formed idea.

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After this discussion we organised a meeting between the editorial and curation teams. It was really refreshing, not just to hear their ideas surrounding the interim show, but about future ideas and comments on the institution. I think because we had all just come from the exhibition space, the thoughts were all really fresh, and we got to discuss quite extensively how we are prepared as students to go out into the art world. There was a really strong suggestion that the curation team thought that we were not given a good platform for criticism, and that although we are encouraged to discuss works, often there is a real reluctance to bring up negative feedback. I think, aside from being a criticism of the art institution, that this is really relevant, because when we approach galleries etc in the future, they will be a lot more honest about pieces not working.

I recorded the conversation, and so in terms of the editorial, I think once we’ve had time to reflect and obviously edit the conversation, it might be nice to include as an interview piece – alongside or in place of a review of the show. I’m really excited to be able to focus on the publication more, as in the few short meetings we’ve had we’ve made really good progress.

I had my 3rd year presentation this week too, I was really apprehensive about it, but in the end only a handful of people showed up, so I felt a lot more comfortable discussing my work within a small group. I felt the format of the presentations worked a lot better this way, after we had all presented we were able to sit and have a really in-depth discussion rather than the usual questions and answers when there is a large audience. The feedback I received was really positive, and people were really enthusiastic about the painting in progress. There were a lot of suggestions about time, and photographs and memory, which is something I’d really like to explore.

My painting is also progressing – I’m really happy with the way it looks, but a bit unsure as to whether or not it is finished. I think it will probably remain more or less the same – although I and to try and work into a few details like the hands and faces.

Week 10 – 27/11/17

intentions

This Monday we had a short editorial board meeting outside of the scheduled sessions, discussing the interim show and what we would do to incorporate it with the publication. I was surprised that there hadn’t been much overlap between the two groups in the past, I think we all wanted to get their take on the interimexhibition and on the degree show so that we could try and reference the ideas that led them to the show title ‘intentions’. We also discussed potential collaborators/contributors to the publication and decided that we wanted to try and lead on from the interim exhibition – so take ‘intentions’ and expand on this, not just the intentions for potential practice/works in progress but intentions in general: where do we as students see our practice heading outside of university? We wanted to try and reach out to individuals that have experience with this – local artist-led organisations, galleries/curators that might have ideas about what they look for in artists/graduates, and perhaps people related to the institution that have seen students progress from year 1.

I also took part in a group crit this week, as I’d missed one the week prior. I find it quite helpful/reassuring to know that I’m not the only person struggling to produce much work quantity wise. I think by looking at what other people have been up to this term I’d quite like to get involved in group exhibitions or maybe a solo exhibition to get some more feedback on my work. The reaction to the painting in my studio was really positive, people felt very confronted by the figure/unsure of the gesture he is making. We also discussed time in relation to the piece, and how you can tell it is from a definite snapshot photo – I quite like the ambiguity of the scene – no-one could really place when the photo was taken, which is something I’m looking at in my research. we also talked about the impressionists and how the birth of the camera changes the way people paint and frame images. I also had a discussion with a second year student who works with a similar theme of trying to capture moments etc while also bringing attention to the surface and texture of the painted medium. He worked entirely differently though, usually from life, and using very quick, immediate marks and lines. I’d be interested to work in this way, to try and see if the lack of a photograph helps or hinders me to better represent something.

I spoke a little bit with some of the group about what work I wanted to exhibit and install, I think the conclusion was that my large painting, although sort of finished, still had scope and was not really a final outcome, so would work well as an intention.

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I was really happy with the way the work was installed. The corridor was very light and the surrounding works fit quite well in terms of colour etc. My only criticism would have been that because the corridor is not that wide, it was difficult to hang the work in a way that the viewer could really stand back and look at it. I think, had I not been so focused on the research report, it would have been nice to have made some new work for the show/had a few more works in progress to choose from, because the painting was the only substantial thing I’d worked on this year.

I also managed to get started on a new painting this week, based on the photo taken of the roof, I’m really happy with the progress on this so far, I wanted to try and maintain the ground/not work into it too much. I’m treating it more like an experiment at the moment so am not putting myself under too much pressure to get it perfect/exactly like the photo. I sort of wanted quite a limited moody palette, but have unintentional returned to quite dark greens and blues.

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I had a tutorial today, and the feedback I received seemed very good – its quite encouraging that the points I’m trying to get across about the mundane and the snapshot moment are coming across. I think I need to start focusing how I make the work about the viewer, but not so obviously, creating more tableau-like pieces. I don’t know if it’s worth me looking more at the gender of the subjects and if this makes any difference when I’m trying to present an image to a viewer, as in the crit it came up that my painting of the party is a very masculine scene.

 

Week 9 – 20/11/17

It was reading week this week, I’d planned to have a week in the studio to try and resurrect my practice a bit however reached a good flow in my research report writing so decided to continue. I’ve reached a point now where I have the beginnings of 2 chapters. I  think that because I want to go into more depth rather than cover a broader subject, writing 2 short essays with limited case studies will work quite well.

I’ve started trying to compile my bibliography – I have a lot of books and journals that I have read but not referenced, so will try to add to my arguments, as I feel there are a lot of opportunities to expand on the 2 essays and link them together using the relevant texts.  I’m concerned that I am taking up a lot of time and energy constructing the essay rather than fuelling and developing my ongoing practice, and so I hope I will come to a finished point soon.

 

Week 8 – 13/11/17

I’m starting to draw real connections between research and my practice – coming across ideas that are very relevant to my practice going forwards but also to works that I have already made. There are obvious connections between my work and the photographic/cinematic, and in my research I’ve started to explore this link further. The tableau stems from theatre but carries over into film, the notion of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ is something I find really interesting too – although it applies mainly to film and theatre, I’d be really interested to start considering how painters utilise this technique (Manet etc) and how I can approach it in my practice.

Having gone to a group meeting about the research report, I was aware that maybe my work has less of an argument than others, and I’d quite like to pose some sort of question to the reader that is relevant not just to me as a painter but as someone looking for a contemporary perspective. I’m hoping that  by taking a step back  from research and trying to structure the ideas I want to address as I write, I’ll get a clearer idea of a point that I want to make.

I’ve also been re-reading John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. It is a text I had read before and knew was relevant, however now I have done research a lot deeper than this, it seems to sum up quite concisely the concepts I’ve found in Lacanian and Freudian analysis, particularly surrounding the male and female gaze. How a woman will imagine herself performing activities from an external perspective because she is taught to ‘watch herself’. I think that Caroline Walker’s work employs this idea too – where the male viewer is a voyeur and the female viewer a reflection of the female subject. I’d like to address this in my work, I hadn’t necessarily thought of it as a specifically female trait, but it is something that I do, so could possibly produce some really interesting outcomes.

Week 7 – 06/11/17

My focus has been on research this week, I’ve started to think a lot more about writing and the role it plays within fine art – the texts that I read vary so much stylistically and its really satisfying to be able to compile them all into something cohesive with in my own way.

The time spent out of the studio has given me a lot of space to think about what I want to achieve in my work and how I will be able to explore different ways of working – I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way forward is to experiment, with photography, with scale, and ultimately giving myself a lot of freedom so that I am able to truly see what works and what doesn’t. The lack of volume of work in previous years has left my work a bit 2-dimensional – I would come up with a concept and make the work, and that was the finished outcome, there was not a lot of progression in between works.

I went to one of the research seminars on Thursday evening, focusing on the uses of texts within practice and arts education, overall I think it’s helped me to realise that there is no shame in writing that is unfinished/unformed, it is still substantial and sometimes the draft becomes more important than the finished element. I want to try and change my approach to practice and writing and start seeing them as overlapping rather than running parallel to each other.

Also this week, I went to the first editorial board meeting. A team of 5 of us will be directing the production of a publication that will accompany the degree show. We discussed ideas about the publication – so far we haven’t got much direction, but know what we don’t want based on looking at previous publications. We plan to meet again before the next scheduled meeting to discuss contributors and possible approaches – what we want the publication to focus on etc. I’m really enthusiastic about being a part of the process, I think that if I’m going to be thinking about a more research based career in the arts, it will be a  valuable experience.

In the few days that I did get to consider my practice, I’ve begun trying to see my research as a starting point for making. The notion of the tableau is about absorption, and so I’ve managed to source a few photographs based on this. They’re quite candid photos, I can’t remember the circumstances surrounding them but there are a few that stand out that I’d be interested in painting.

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This one in particular I like, I think the angle of the shot is really unusual and the scattered objects and long shadows are compositionally very appealing. The scenario itself also has a sort of uncannyness to it, the weird setting of the roof sort of doesn’t sit well. Around the time the photo was taken there was a lot of debate/friction between the group I lived with about the roof and if we should be allowed to sit on it. This photo was obviously a moment in amongst all of that where we all wanted to be up there and put everything to one side, however I still think there is a bit of unease there,  you can see in some of the body language that there’s a bit of tension – its very fixed in its position and you can tell there’s deliberate silence and lack of interaction.

Hopefully I’ll be able to make time soon to paint this, I might start trying to divide days rather than weeks, so I spend mornings on the essay, evenings in the studio, but will have to see what sort of mindset I have in the next few weeks.

Week 6 – 30/10/17

I’ve found this week quite  productive – I had a tutorial with my new tutor at the end of last week, and It’s given me a lot of confidence that I’m heading in the right direction. My work is very much about the viewer, however hasn’t really been ‘viewed’ by anyone before. He commented on the scale etc – and it was quite reassuring to know that in some way, the work speaks for itself in terms of the gaze and how the viewer interacts with the subjects. He referred me to some really relevant artists, and a painting which I felt reflected my work a lot. This painting in particular – Michael Andrews The Colony Room has the same sort of vibe, a darkly lit but crowded room, represented as less of a happy, exciting environment but more of a sombre sort of scene.

Andrews, Michael, 1928-1995; Colony Room I

The tutorial prompted me to work a little more on the large painting, and then to move it away to make space for more work and more large scale paintings. I think I need to stop being precious about the ideas and concepts behind the work and just go with it – the more paintings I have, the easier it will be for me to draw connections and develop my practice.

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It’s been quite frustrating trying to manage time – currently I’m trying to dedicate 3 days a week to my research report, and 2 to my studio practice, however its difficult as some days I feel as though I’m not putting enough into my studio and others, that I’m not writing enough to meet deadlines I’ve set for myself.

Currently I’m trying to write a sort of mini-essay a week on chosen case studies, and then connect them together once I have a bigger picture of what I’m writing. I tend to come up with links, arguments etc as I’m writing, but need to try and plan so that the whole thing ends up being coherent/ I don’t have to  rewrite things excessively.

I also managed to finish/get to  a finishing point with my collage painting. I don’t want to spend too much time on it as I know that I definitely want to go bigger with my work, but am quite happy with the outcome. I’ll probably work into the faces a lot more when I have the time, but I think now is about prioritising making more paintings rather than making very good paintings.