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By: Carolyn Shepherd
The Diary of a Creative Free Spirit.
# 5 [16 August 2011]
Really the lunch in the community cafe is the main motivation behind travelling to the Millennium studio today, but also managed a bit of exploratory making and hatch some plans with the Centre Director for launching a Community Arts Group. So time well spent.
Also fixed up a date to help with a workshop run by the resident artist Wendy Williams on a Viking theme to complement her installation of Viking boats (see her separate blog).
# 4 [13 August 2011]
Why all the rush? In browsing through the arts project listings, one thing seems consistent - very short deadlines! Is it not possible to plan arts initiatives in advance? Do planners frequently find they need public sculpture in a sudden emergency? Surely the need for community workshops can be foreseen in time to notify and select appropriate people to design and run them? It seems the call for artists is but a second thought, almost forgotten in the project planning activity. Surely this affects project quality? A call for submissions that can only be responded to by those who can suddenly drop everything to write a proposal, be on stand-by on the off chance that they have to attend an interview at the other end of the country, and then be available to deliver a well crafted solution at short notice is surely not the best way to resource a successful project? Is there a better way?
# 3 [10 August 2011]
Niggling nagging feeling has crept in. Well it's been there for a while, but it has got louder recently. Reading through Julie Dodd's engaging blog relating to Blackburne House exhibition http://www.a-n.co.uk/artists_talking/projects/sing... has made me realise that I have to make a plan too. I have taken a slot there during December and need to decide how to use the space. The glass ceilinged conservatory comes with some awkward considerations, which back in the Spring when I booked it seemed like an opportunity to challenge my practice by forcing me to work outside of my usual parameters. But now with only a few months to go I have to admit that although I have given the space quite some considerable thought, nothing is really gelling in my mind. I probably need to go back and look at the space again - the photos I took aren't really enough. The major constraint is that the work has to be wall mounted and preferably 2D and framed - which is not my usual thing. I had thought about using this constraint as an opportunity to focus on a series of framed photographs, but I have to admit that I'm wondering if I can justify the cost of framing for a series of work that I may not want to exhibit again as I am feeling that it is not representative of my practice. I'll just have to nip into Liverpool and check the space again. Good job they have a lovely cafe there with excellent cake.
# 2 [9 August 2011]
Inspired today because I've been looking at a lovely work by Wolfgang Laib ‘Milkstone’ . Its a simple rectangle of white marble that he's polished to form one slightly concave surface. In the gallery he pours milk to cover the stone completely to form a slightly convex liquid surface. The milk reflects light and captures reflections of the surrounding space. The nature of the reflection is dependent upon an individual viewpoint and it changes with the ambient light and activity in the environment. Silence fills the space and invites contemplation. There is ascetic sparsity in the simple lines & the purity of white materials that are selected to indicate bare essentials. The solidity of the rock supports the life giving liquid in poised elemental balance & harmony as the two imperceptibly blend into one. In direct contact with the floor, the piece is grounded & supported by the Earth. The surface reflects the surrounding space & when placed near a window, through an ethereal connection to the outside world, offers the perspective of infinity & an awareness of the continuity of life. The reflection is different depending on the observer’s position, & changes as they walk around the piece. On introspective reflection the viewer is aware that the milk is in a certain degree of poised tension because it could easily pour over the edge, but instead the moment is suspended in balanced harmony & the milk is held steady. On further contemplation the reality of the continuity of time is acknowledged, & with it knowledge that the milk will deteriorate & go sour. So, in a process of mindful concentration, fresh milk is poured again each day.
# 1 [8 August 2011]
Over coffee this morning I'm intrigued by something I found in a book*.
It talks of 'Open Work' and is all about work that is completed by the viewer. It gives as an example a piece of music ('Third Sonata for Piano' by Pierre Boulez) which comprises 10 different sheets of music that the musician can shuffle in any order. John Cage has always delighted me, so taking this a stage further feels delicious. It's just a simple idea, & not new, but it's set me wondering if I can bring this chance element that is completed by the viewer, into play in my own work. 'Multiple polarity' of the many different ways viewers interpret the same things has always intrigued me - how viewpoints are enriched by different cultures, backgrounds & beliefs. I like to think that artwork can be a leveller of communication somehow, when several viewers can look at a work & each know they have been touched by it, but if this 'knowing' was expressed in words it would begin to differ in meaning & become prone to misinterpretation by the words themselves. It's nice to think of art as transcending this confusion.
Just to quote a bit from the essay ...
"... the form of the work of art gains its aesthetic validity precisely in proportion to the number of different perspectives from which it can be viewed & understood. These give it a wealth of different resonances & echoes without impairing its original essence."
Interesting thoughts ... another mug of coffee then I think.
* The book is 'Participations' edited by Claire Bishop, a book from the series 'Documents of Contemporary Art' published by The Whitechapel Gallery. The essay is 'The Poetics of Open Work' by Umberto Eco written in 1962. ISBN 978-0-85488-147-5