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By: Hayley Harrison
I am starting to realise I am an artist even when I am not in my studio
# 44 [9 July 2012]
Self-portrait, Acrylic on mirror, 21 in x 13 in, 2012
A few people have asked if I sell prints of my work. I can document my own work – it’s the politics I am not sure about. Where, how, pro’s & con’s etc?
Could anyone recommend any companies or point me in the right direction research wise?
# 43 [5 July 2012]
Familiar, Oil on panel, 24 in x 16 in, 2012
Always feel nervous when I let go of a painting.
I have also added 'People' (a selection of life drawing & portraits) to my website .
More stuff coming soon.
# 42 [11 June 2012]
Been drawing people’s portraits in public spaces for years but it’s been mostly in secret – they haven’t known. The last two Saturdays I have painted peoples portraits at a couple of arty markets (Mayton Street Festival and The Dandy Lion Market). At the first market I tried to involve the sitter in the art making – a partnership of creativity - ‘Draw yourself in the mirror while the artist draws you’. Everybody shied away and it was only me doing the painting. They were playful and colourful 3 to 5 minute portraits with inks on decorative paper.
It was nerve racking having people watch but fun to produce quick and affordable portraits and another way of exploring and displaying possible roles of an artist. I really enjoy talking to the sitters and hearing snippets of their story. It was their time – I hope they left with an interesting experience as well as a portrait. I will definitely be doing this again.
Can I add street artist to my repertoire?
# 41 [21 May 2012]
Last week as part of the Artist Educator course I gave a one off painting workshop within a secondary school with a year 7 class. I was fairly confident about the workshop idea and more worried about, well, me. It was a success – I was a success! An expressive response to objects around us at the same time questioning what painting is. I thought I would really need to encourage the students to be expressive. On reflection, if anything, perhaps a bit of control within their painting needed gently reintroducing. Balance. I learnt its best not to go into a workshop with fixed presumptions of how participants will react, as this will predetermine how you facilitate.
Overall very happy.
# 40 [25 April 2012]
I have a new website www.hayleyharrison.co.uk (same address). Please take a look if you get the chance. Feedback always appreciated.
In March I volunteered in a primary school, on a recycled textile project ran by Rowan Arts – got to help pretty much every pupil in the school, which was very moving and rewarding. Previously I volunteered on a craft club for adults (again Rowan Arts). Overall I have gained a lot of experience, met some great people and built up my teaching confidence.
The first level of the Artist Educators course I have been attending has been amazing. Pulling apart what a workshop and artist educator is – working out what is needed and what is of value. The second level involves a placement. Start in a couple of weeks in a secondary school assisting a tutor at a weekly after school oil painting club. Very excited – I wish I had been taught how to oil paint at that age.
I am hoping to now slowly build up my own workshops.
Voluntary work has been getting a bad name recently. People getting exploited. Volunteers making it harder for the rest of an industry. And I am torn, but sometimes the only way to learn is to volunteer. Some places that are beneficial (and sometimes vital) to a community only survive through their volunteers. I think it’s important to consider who you are volunteering for - do you have the same values? How long do you intend to volunteer? Do you need to volunteer? I did. Most importantly what do you expect to exchange?
Hoping to spend more time in my studio. I am in the process of finishing off some new works… I’m also allowing time for general creativeness and really valuing the experience of making. Practice what you preach and all that.
# 39 [23 February 2012]
I have noticed that whenever I have to define what medium I use; that I am a painter, I can’t help but add some kind of disclaimer. For example in my last post ‘working predominately (but not exclusively) as a painter’. DON’T WORRY I DON’T JUST PAINT! Actually at the moment and for a while now I’ve just been painting and drawing.
I worry about it not being socially engaging. Though I am hoping to change that. But because I want to. Not all artists want to and nor should they have to. When I talk of ‘it’ not being socially engaging I guess I actually mean ‘me’ as an artist. In that sense the chosen medium shouldn’t matter. I also wonder how many meanings and interpretations the term ‘socially engaging’ actually has?
Perhaps the issue isn’t painting at all but that I am only using one medium. Though I think if I was solely a video artist for example, I wouldn’t find it an issue. As I explore the idea of becoming an artist facilitator I am faced with the unnecessary limitations of painting and drawing. The fact they are feared after a certain age. The belief that the only way to draw and paint is representationally. The work I reveal from my own practice doesn't help my cause, though this too is going through a process of change. Paint can become a medium to master; trickery. It’s all too serious and closed. I’m not sure how to get around this yet.
# 38 [20 February 2012]
I was accepted on the Cubitt School for Artist Educators and attended the first two days last week. I really like Cubitt’s ethos: The idea of lending participants the facilitator’s skills and creative stance. The more rewarding projects are longer term with longer lasting relationships established between the artist and that community – trying not to hand out culture but helping others to participate. I know the above isn’t always possible but it’s what I will be working towards.
In the first session we were asked why we are artists and if and how our art education played a part. As a friend of mine would have said ‘aaaaah!’. Initially it was the attention my creativity provoked. Vanity. Then I realised art could speak for me and it was my most confident and strongest voice. I wasn’t motivated or encouraged by anything outside, left to my own devices it just happened. Now I see that the canvas or whatever form that blank space takes, leaves a place to express, play and be curious. Most importantly creativity is a universal language. And as mentioned last week by Cubitt, educational workshops create that space to be creative too; a space that has boundaries.
The first level will involve planning and giving a one off workshop. I was really surprised at how quickly they taught us how to come up with engaging projects. I had been put off in the past by the idea of giving workshops because I wasn’t sure what I had to offer, especially working predominately (but not exclusively) as a painter. I wasn’t sure where to start. It’s early days, but by highlighting my interests and skills and then bringing them together I have the beginnings of a workshop. Hopefully it will give, encourage and question.
I realised what I have explored and learnt here in Something’s happening, and the feedback and inspiration I get back from the Artists talking community, made it a lot easier to understand my positioning. Something’s happening allows me a space where I can keep questioning what is important within the arts and the role of the artist in society.
Off to a seminar with presentations from other Artist Educators. I love learning.
# 37 [6 February 2012]
A couple of exhibitions have stuck out recently. The first was the group show Trauma at GV Art. It took a psychological and a physical viewpoint – I have never really given time to the physical side. Like the thinking of the gallery it was curated with science and art in mind. I loved Luke Jerram’s Glass Microbiology; glass representations of the structures of diseases such as HIV and Malaria. There was something almost tacky or crude within their symmetry and the chosen material. It was tempting to touch and smear the glass. Static and un-harmful they were strong and beautiful forms.
The second exhibition was Nude by Eva Caridi at Ambika P3. I haven’t been there before, amazing huge (14,000 sq ft) hidden space, opposite Madame Tussauds (never been there either) it was once an underground hangar. In the main hangar you look down on a dark labyrinth made of iron in this gigantic industrial space. Walking through it was disorientating and I felt the beginnings of panic (in fairness there was a notice warning against going in if you were claustrophobic or such like). It did or didn't help (depending on what way that you look at it) that there weren’t any other visitors. In the centre of the labyrinth was a video projection. The video was of three female figures representing one woman at three stages of her life. They wandered through a crumbling and dilapidated building, sometimes meeting. It was accompanied by an eerie and broken dialogue. The following is taken from the exhibition literature by the curator Francesca Nannini:
The merging of past, present and future is reinforced by the three ages of life reverberating through the installation as we walk inside it, a place where we are the containers of both our child and adult’s feelings. During the course of our life we tend to lose connections with the child apart of ourselves and memories are locked in the secret alleys of our soul: now they resurface and float into this dilation of our time.
And accompanying text from Andrea Zizzari a philosopher and psychoanalyst:
Man, deprived of his peculiar desire to recognize himself, is often identified with completely anonymous needs and, as soon as an object reveals its imperfection, the meaning of himself fails. Limbs that are tied to one own’s own time to look for an impossible shelter now approach a speechless real, yearning for identification.
Thinking now of similar art works such as, Martin Creed’s room of balloons Work No. 200, half the air in a given space and Antony Gormley’s glass room of mist Blind Light. These are works in their own right and aren’t propping up or embellishing another. Actually there are lots of similarities between Eva Caridi’s and Antony Gormley’s practices. The setup pushed for a sensational experience and I was in a receptive mood. Although I did like the labyrinth within the space, and the way it mirrored the concept of the video, I’m not sure it was needed.
# 36 [19 January 2012]
I have been listening to a seminar called The Good, the Beautiful, and the True – Buddhism and Western Philosophy. Don’t know much about Buddhism (or any religion for that matter) but intrigued. Week 2 lead by Manjusiha discussed the value of aesthetics from a philosophical position, looking at the ideas of mainly Kant, Plato, and Schopenhauer in regards to music and the arts.
It started with a quote from Iris Murdoch’s novel The Black Prince, ‘Art tells the only truth that ultimately matters. It is the light by which human things can be mended. And after art there is, let me assure you all, nothing.’ Ummm; even I don’t want that (mainly due to my loyalty to nature). Though ‘truth’ in art is in the eye of the beholder. It is one of the few platforms where the unknown or unanswered can be met with more questions, where we are more likely to admit that we do not know; that there is no right or wrong.
He also stated one philosophical positioning of art as being ‘the only things that artworks have in common are that we call them artworks’.
Absolute music was also discussed. Music without a title, words or accompanying literature. Music apparently without signifiers. Absolute music is used as a sceptical tool by some philosophers. Abstract painting was referred to as a visual equivalent to absolute music. I guess for argument purposes both would need to be untitled and the artist unknown. It is argued that unlike tragedies or arts with narrative, absolute music can have no truth. For example if a death occurs in a novel, most people will have an emotional response to what is represented because of our humanness. Our empathy. The sceptical view being, the arts are only transcendental when there are representational triggers.
I think we underestimate what will always be there, even when we take everything away. Surely there will always exist the basic of signifiers. Sensed by the truths and needs all are born with, interpreted and reflected in our bodies. Though primitive (and cheesy!) there is a correlation between the beat of a drum and the beat of a heart. There is a truth, albeit simple, in a rapidly made, red brushstroke.
# 35 [18 January 2012]
Last week I attended a talk regarding the potential for progress by the journalist and writer John-Paul Flintoff who discussed the ideas of philosophers, alongside his own bizarre and inspiring adventures such as making underpants from stinging nettles.
During WWI Britain controlled the majority of the worlds cotton. The German army when faced with a shortage of cotton for their uniforms, had a look around them and came up with the solution of using the fibres of stinging nettles. Perhaps we should look at the resources we already have, especially those we overlook and underestimate; those we do not know are resources.
Every friday evening (I think this is alongside Shabbat – a Jewish tradition) younger members of his family are encouraged to think about what was worthwhile in their week. What they have achieved and what they are looking forward to in the following week. I really like that. I may borrow.
At the core of Flintoff’s talk was his question ‘What would you do if you could not fail?’
Hayley works predominantly with painting, but also uses drawing and text. Her work currently questions what ‘Home’ is, in both a physical and psychological sense. Recent paintings invoke a sense of timelessness and absence. She is interested in how we recognise ourselves in the quiet moments that surround objects and place.