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.


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 5 – 23/10/17

I’ve focused a lot on my research report this week – I’m hoping that in my research I’m starting to form a plan, not just in terms of the dissertation but in terms of my practice in general. A lot of the  ideas I’m coming across in research will definitely inform my future practice – I’m looking forward to finishing the report so that I can go back to creating more practical work and putting my paintings  into the context of the viewer, the gaze and the image.

One thing I have started to work on is small collages. A big part of the issue I was having in my large painting was that I was trying to manipulate the image as I worked – I’m not sure if this is the best way to do things, or if it’s a valid part of the process. In some ways I think it creates a sort of detachment, because the focus is no longer on the image or scenario, but on the process of painting and creating a fictional environment. I’ve had a lot of success using collage in the past – I have the security of working from an image and using the paint to replicate/recreate it, but without the pressure of having to essentially ‘make it up as I  go along.’

This is a little experiment I’ve been working on this week, again it’s a found image of my mum in her 20s. I find this helps me to work a lot better because it allows me to work objectively, but still with some personal connection.


I like being able to control colour, composition etc in a way isn’t final – like a sketch for a painting but with a bit more insight. The red board behind the paper images is what I plan to paint on – I’m not really sure of why its important yet, but the use of bright, unrealistic colours is something that keeps creeping into my work. I like that strangeness that occurs when an image is real, but not entirely true to life/abstracted in some way. Technically, I think it helps me to see the work as painting rather than copy, I don’t feel the  same sort of  pressure to get every detail right because there are areas of flat matt colours that add a new dynamic to the work.

Week 4 – 16/10/17

After opting to do the 10,000 word research report option, I’m now really trying to focus on research rather than studio practice. I think although it will be more challenging, currently I’m considering a research based career if I decide to stay within the arts , so for me it will probably be better experience in the long run. I find research and writing very satisfying, and am interested to be able to go into more depth within my research report.

At the moment the research is a bit overwhelming. I went into a bit of depth in my proposal and suggested a few good starting points for further research, however the challenge is to find a focus as the basis  for the essay and the questions it asks and answers. I looked a lot last year at Tableau and Fried’s writing on photography and Jeff Wall. More recently I’ve been looking at Lacan – I’m finding it a bit frustrating to extract much information out of the texts – it’s been very time consuming having to read around his works to be able to take much from them. Ultimately, I think it’s thrown me off course slightly, because in thinking about the gaze in relation to psychological ideas rather than to art/images in and of themselves, I’ve sort of created a broader area to research.

My plan for next week is to try and look at my essay plans, and maybe try to write some sort of framework so that my research stays relevant and I’m able to work it into the essay context.

One thing I’ve also been thinking about is the idea of the voyeur – Lacan makes a point about the scopic field in that you can be looked at from all angles, but see from only one. In a sense you are always being looked at by the world. One thing I thought about was the idea that when you walk into a shop/supermarket there is often a tv mounted to the wall playing cctv footage from a camera that’s on a different wall, so while you’re looking up at yourself on the screen, in the image you are looking elsewhere. The same applies to being on a webcam etc – a lot of the time you are looking at your ‘reflection’ on the screen, but because you’re looking not looking into the camera you can never make eye contact with yourself/the person you are talking to. I think this might be a good starting point for a piece of multimedia work, maybe going back and revisiting projection/the use of screens.

Week 3 – 09/10/17

This is the progress I’ve made on my painting this week. I think I’ve managed to resolve some of the conflicts that were causing problems. The face of the man in the foreground was really off-putting – I worked it too much and it threw me off, so a tutor suggested that I start again. Now that this is sort of ‘fixed’ I’m finding it a lot easier to focus on the  painting  as a cohesive ‘thing’, looking at colour and composition. I can sort of see an end in sight now, but am a little bit daunted as I’m not dead set on what I’m going to continue with next. The single work has taken up a lot of time, so maybe in the future I’ll try to develop multiple things at the same time to keep things fresh/moving forward.

I’ve thought about trying to restrict myself with rules – I’m quite interested in working from collage. One of the reasons I struggled with the painting was finding the balance between representing the image accurately/realistically and not directly copying. I think a possible way to combat this would be to edit an image beforehand. I like the idea of altering reality a bit too, so taking figures from a real/mundane scenario and placing them somewhere else. Another thing I thought about was limited colour palette – one thing I found difficult working on this painting was trying to pick out colours from the original image and exaggerate, but it proved ineffective at first because the colours became very muddy.  Subject matter itself is also something I’m concerned with – so far most of my photos have been found or incidental but with time as a factor I can’t wait for something to fall into my lap, so might have to consider staging photographs. Before, when I’ve done this, the results haven’t always been that good – but then maybe with my renewed research focus on the tableau this might actually be relevant.

Another element that I need to consider is the research report. I want to attempt  the 10,000 word attempted essay because I feel quite confident with writing but obviously time management will be key. Currently I’m in the research and planning stages, but it all seems to be flowing well – I think setting targets and specific times to work on the report will be  helpful, as I don’t want to be in a position where my practice takes precedence or vice versa.