After a visit yesterday to the amazing APT Studios in Deptford I was inspired to have a paint. It’s been a while and I really have to make the time – I love doing it – either in watercolour or acrylics, it’s a great afternoon when I can lose myself in a painting.
The two acrylics in this blog were done this afternoon 🙂
The studios are at Canalside and such an wonderful location – a bit of a rabbit warren but always something interesting to see at the next turn. Yet again when I was thinking about what really appealed to me it was the abstract paintings – and yet I always try to paint things more figuratively myself – hmmm, a lesson there!
This is only a small fraction of the work that impressed and inspired me, but I can’t list them all – please do take time to look at their websites and also to go to the next open studios at APT – you won’t be disappointed!
Of course, the reason I was there in the first place was that Victoria Alexander, fellow MA Fine Art Student was a guest artist at APT and it was great to see her work in a different location and to catch up!
And who knows, you might find me posting more paintings here in the future!
The last couple of weeks I have been working hard on my first professional photographic assignment that came out of a chance conversation during our exhibition. I have spent several hours photographing a site and have put together a portfolio of 60 shots for the client to review. It was nerve wracking sending it off to them – I hope I got the brief right!
Below are a couple of the shots (all monochrome here but the portfolio is mainly colour) – can you guess where it is?!
I learnt a great deal from this shoot – it was a tricky location, very dark (as you can see) and my initial shots were not nearly good enough quality. My husband persuaded me to use a tripod (I am always quite anti gadgets and settings, I like my camera to be an extension of my eye, but that’s not always feasible!) – I returned to the venue armed with a very good tripod and took some of the best work I have ever done. (There’s a lesson there…..)
Mindfulness came into play here too, as ever, I wander a location and take it all in, and see what jumps out at me to be taken – what detail can I pick out? A shadow, a shape or a colour…. With this shoot I found I had to be even more mindful, to slow myself down from ‘snapping’ and really concentrate on getting the best available shot – and it paid off!
Last term we had several guest speakers (that I have blogged about) and I have tried to visit as many exhibitions and galleries as I can. Plus I have been discovering artists online too.
I decided to write three words that each had taught me and thought it might be fun to make this into a wordcloud. I have made my own artwork from their finest attributes 🙂
Humour is the biggest thing I took from the artists I admired – keep it fun, play.
I was always struck by the dedication and passion shown by the artists and in the amount of research that went into their work.
Each one has changed my practice in some way and it has been a pleasure learning about them.
Can you guess which artists inspired what words?!
[They are: Susan O’Malley, Tanya Wood, Katayoun Dowlatshahi, Clare Strand, Paige Bradley, John Hoyland, Mark Anstee, Bruce Williams, Mandy Webb, Catherine Harper, S Mark Gubb, Suzanne Moxhay, Anthony Gorman, Grayson Perry and Rebecca Bauman. ]
This week our speaker was S Mark Gubb – an artist who uses a wide variety of media – primarily sculpture – in order to make his point. And what is his point? Mark says that his work does not come from any deep philosophical place, he is just investigating stuff that takes his interest.
He traces his particular interests back to the fact that he grew up in the 80s which he thinks was pretty bleak (the politics, the world situation….) – however I have to take issue here, I grew up in the 70’s – we had 3 day weeks, strikes and everything was brown. In fact in order to research just how bleak the 70’s were, I went on a trip down memory lane….. This is what I had to play with in the 70’s, at least computers had been invented by the 80’s!
Anyway…. Mark’s work is interesting and varied, from wondering if he could find where Evel Knievel took off for his attempt to cross Snake River Canyon (he did), to musing about the similarity between making a Pot Noodle and the 4 Minute warning.
Many of Mark’s works are fairly lighthearted and enriching, but not so his performance piece about the killing of Peter Fechter in 1962 I was shocked by how deep and moving it was. How incredible it sounded to recreate this hour as he did, blurring the lines between the performance and the audience, I wonder what they thought of the experience…. read more about it here. Other darker pieces reference the bullet that shot President Kennedy and the Iraq War.
I learnt a great deal from Mark about how to research a project, how to follow your nose when something interests you…. It was also interesting to learn how seemingly insignificant events and contacts have led to some pretty big work – and how sometimes if you just go all out for what you really feel like doing, you get the chance to do so. Like a 10m high lightening bolt in Cardiff City centre for instance!
Most of all I loved Mark’s sense of humour and obvious sense of fun in the things he does. And the fact that he told me to relax and enjoy my work and most of all play!
Trav’ller In The Dark… I passed this hundreds of times and was very sad when it was taken down recently as part of the rebuilding of the Hard, but I didn’t realise it was done by Mark!
After the talk, I researched Mark’s work further and came across the text pieces he’s done, especially at Aspex Gallery. I was struck by the similarity with some work I am preparing for the Graduate Show in May and also understood why Mark had such pertinent comments to make about some other text work that I showed him.
My daughter is helping to organise a conference as part of International Women’s Day in March and as part of that wants women to post pictures and details of women who inspire them.
They are asking anyone to send a photo of a woman who has inspired them at some point in their lives. This could be a family member, a colleague, a celebrity….. absolutely anyone and for any reason! Accompanying the photo, they’d like a description, short or long, of how this woman was inspirational.
So who to chose? Florence Nightingale? Aung Sang Suu Kyi? Georgia O’Keeffe? Marie Stopes? Millicent Fawcett? Vera Brittain?
I could write pages on any of these women and the incredible work they have done, the sacrifices they’ve made, the obstacles they’ve overcome. The truth is that I am inspired by any woman who went before me and who struggled to have some freedom that I take for granted – education, voting, contraception, exploring the artwork I want to do… how ever I chose to live my life, there are dozens……hundreds of women who fought so that I could have those choices.
But if I have to chose one, I will chose Georgia O’Keeffe the artist. I loved her art the first moment I came across it many years ago – there is something very visceral and free about her work that I admire – all the more when you consider the reaction it must have had in the first part of last century. Her works show emotion and power by abstracting objects and she took her inspiration from the natural world. I have stayed at Ghost Ranch, one of her homes in New Mexico twice and it was very moving to stand where she stood and see the wonderful wilderness that she painted so often. I have also been to the museum of her works in Santa Fe and was very excited to hear that Tate Modern are having an exhibition of her work in the summer of 2016.
Georgia O’Keeffe used many mediums to express her work and grew and changed as she aged. She was a pioneer in the art world and did what she wanted to do. I admire the way she followed her heart.
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
“I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at – not copy it.”
I attended a talk this week by the photographic artist Clare Strand. I had not come across her work before but whilst researching her I was really taken by the breadth of what she has done and the obvious sense of humour contained in her work.
Clare walked us through some of her projects – it is always so enlightening to hear an artist explain the process, development and serendipity behind their work.
Clare works in several ways – photography, almost exclusively black and white (“colour is very busy”) and sometimes with what sounds like a huge collection of old cuttings and magazines – some of her recent works such as 10 Least Most Wanted and Research in motion use research material as the subject of the piece. Clare explained how she pares down a work until it is in it’s purest form, and with her research pieces, she has pared the work down until the research is the work!
I have been relishing the research angle of my practice this term and I am excited to realise that there is such a thin line – or no line at all – between research and practice.
Clare talked about where her inspiration comes from, which is related to my creativity talk for Tuesday. She said “projects come to you when you are loose and free” and “free yourself up and you’ll be surprised at what could happen.” That sounds very much like getting in touch with the Trickster character or your free child within, who likes to play and has no rules. I will be talking about that in my presentation.
The biggest thing I took from Clare’s talk was fun. She really seems to have fun with her work. If something goes wrong, with a work, at a gallery… she finds it fun, hilarious even. She is not overly attached to her work, once it is ‘out there’ in the world she is curious about what might happen, and finds the results very amusing.
Finally Clare talked about how she likes to exhibit – she believes that the viewer should be left with “room to wonder” and so she does not give too much explanation to her work. I understand what she means, however, I feel that if the artist gives too little of the reasoning, then the work becomes inaccessible to the average viewer. An example of this is her Skirts series – I had looked at this on the website beforehand and confess I didn’t get it. A black and white series of table skirts? But when I listened to Clare talk so enthusiastically about the work, it came to life (I had a lightbulb moment listening to her – now I got it, or got something anyway), and I wonder if there is a middle ground – an artist could give enough information to give the observer something to go on – but after that they can use their imaginations to make what they will of the work?
Art, fine art especially, often seems very deep and worthy, and it was uplifting to realise that you can be a serious (and very successful) artist and just have fun!
I have been rather stressed over the last few weeks, the combo of my uni work, prepping the exhibition and getting a chest infection has resulted in me not doing as much as I’d like.
I managed to keep some of it going but my final project was falling miserably behind. It all came to a head on Saturday when I realised that what I had been planning to do was not going to work at all. It was too personal, too hard to do without causing me pain and I knew I had to give up the idea.
But that left me right back at the beginning, with a proposal that needs to be handed in in a couple of months!
My tutor had mentioned the concept of liminal spaces (or liminality) – those places on the edge, no-mans-land, neither here nor there and I started to research more. I love this concept, although it is now a wide definition, there are several areas where I could explore further that are very ‘me’.
Depending on the definition you chose, a liminal space is on the threshold of perception, a place of transition (bridges, alleyways, airports, ferries…) a time of change in a life – coming of age, death. It can be a dangerous time, looking into the abyss – the space between sanity and insanity. It can apply to places, individuals, groups (eg immigrants) and whole societies.
I have a lot to think about, but this is absolutely the way I want to go. I love the concept of being on the edge.
Liminal: Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
A liminal space: the place of transition, waiting, and not knowing
I have become a bit manic at chasing the original source of a reference. I am acutely aware that just because some guy on a blog said that Picasso said something does not mean that he did. (I have chased sources before and found complicated stories of misquotes and miss-attribution). Just spent ages trying to find a quote from Picasso on subversion – finally nailed it, I get a little spike of satisfaction from that. Gotcha!
From now on I intend to make my header pictures liminal in some way. This one is called “On the threshold…”