Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Ideas? Technical issues?
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By: Amy Denton
a new adventure?
# 13 [4 November 2012]
still seem to be wrapped up in the processes rather than the ideas; not sure if that is lack of confidence or just artist block. was really struggling with the fact that my ideas don't seem arty enough, and had tried to reassure myself that it didn't really matter, so it was refreshing to hear the artist today say "how everything we do defines us as artists not just our art work", which I find a very appealing thought. "and whilst it is important to have a connection of some kind with the materials you intend to use it may be a link which goes way back into your past practice and doesn't have to be explained directly. you don't have to question why, what, how, when to achieve an outcome, just as you can't rush the development of ideas. is it just as important to have lots of false starts as it is to write to help firm up your ideas, as it is to produce the final piece, which may only finish in the hours right before you "deliver" the final entity." this has kind of flipped my current thinking and while I have been striving to continue to push the ideas simply by producing a variety of outcomes based on a given theme, and had become really stuck in just performing , actually I should have taken then opportunity to realise my ideas into real forms, as this process would have helped to unstick me more than just thinking about it, and how where I felt I was just churning out product idea after product idea, they were all valid pieces in the puzzle and should have been given a physical outlet to then further inform my journey through. very fascinated by idea of using smell, light and temperature alongside my initial thought of using music to change the experience of a space. Whether this then relates back to my current thinking of how my pieces have got a very tenuous link around LIFE, in some way furthering an experience by heightening it, or by making the gallery experience life affirming I'm not really sure. but definitely feel more connected with the space we have on offer after the artist explained about using that opportunity to define your work, as you don't know when another chance like it will come along. I wonder how the others in the group would react to me changing their artwork by manipulating the light or temperature in the space to either challenge or comfort the audience? I would like the apparent way in which I view things differently to others also to have a place in the piece(s) I will produce, but it is a lot easier to feel more confident in them when you consider each idea valid, and part of the process rather than fighting against it as being a design rather than art. should I restrict myself at this point by starting making the piece now, and see what effect this then has, or should I still continue the development process and see where that takes me? anyway, I'm still not willing to rush it, and I think I should take comfort in what the artist said about how you shouldn't rush ideas and that it is "more challenging to keep things simple" and just try and keep the fluidity going, but equally I need to dedicate some proper time for this development otherwise no method I choose will be going anywhere!
# 12 [28 October 2012]
so again i've come full circle to the dead trees, and have been working on some imagery in my sketchbook surrounding them. i've realised that, what with winter coming, no one will appreciate they are DEAD trees with out the juxtaposition of greenery around. not from a distance anyway. so then really am i looking at the contrast between life and death, or why things that are dead still hold their own beauty despite being surrounded by healthy specimens? which all sounds very heavy, and may have some correlation to the events that have happened in my past where life and death are succinctly demonstrated against each other within a very short space of time. and yet also seems to come in cycles. does that have any relation to the cycles of the year? one of my students commented that i must love winter if i love bare(dead) trees, which is actually completely true but had not occurred to me that it had any correlation. and to then link back to the life lies i was also interested in, the running theme is how you think one thing is true but then find out something else is actually. and to then come back to the noise/music within a gallery environment which also toys with the idea of flipping the experience of something around on its head. so then is the common them running thru all of these that what you perceive to be the truth is normally completely the opposite in a physical sense? e.g. the beautiful tree is actually the dead one, life does not play out how we expect, pictures in a gallery are not necessarily best seen in silence. or is it just something personal to me; that actually i prefer the opposite to everyone else; winter; dead trees; having life throw things at me; music would greatly improve my relation to art in galleries.
i play music in my studio, off an old ipod shuffle with great big headphones; it helps me to focus. but equally if my mind is fuzzy with life stuff then i revel in silence. everyone else is in bed right now, and finally i have the mind space to type.
i quite like the thought of developing that idea; about how i find opposite experiences much more rewarding than the norm, or average, or most common version.
i don't think it's about being an individual even, but more that i like spotting or experiencing beauty thru different routes.
i like to be struck by things when least expected.
we certainly can't live life without emotional highs and lows, so why not embrace them instead? naturally some of it comes back to the human psyche, in that it takes all sorts to make the world go round, and if we all liked the same things or found solace in the same experiences then we wouldn't advance as a race, but i don't think that is what I'm looking at here.
what we experience as a course of events or things we see and hear will eventually define us as people, much more than money or career could do.
that's beside the point.
i'm stumped as to where this is going. at any point i can turn my design head on and come up with a physical entity to represent my ideas, but in regards to this i am way more enthralled by the idea of pushing the idea itself further than i would normally have the opportunity to, which is why i'm not discounting anything i have thought of completely, although i do appreciate you have to deconstruct then reconstruct to develop your ideas, but at this stage i can't see where these ideas will merge and end up.
there are correlations between the current ideas, but whether that will form the basis for the final outcome i don;t know.
i'm not currently convinced that i would be able to have a physical entity at the final point that would aptly demonstrate my ideas, or even whether i should push for that, but instead just go for the work in progress and revel in that instead?
# 11 [22 September 2012]
but as i sat in my studio last night, creating stock to fulfill orders, which is lovely to be making but as it is a repeat of a product requires little creative input, it struck me how whilst we are at school we are told that if we work hard and get good grades we will have a job we love.
(apart from my own making) i am still waiting for this to happen. and then i started to think about all the other little lies life has told us, and it rather snowballed......
"you will be richer in your 30's than you were in your 20's"
"you will get pregnant as soon as you are ready to have children"
"you will have a place in society"
"you'll never get caught"
"noone would sleep with your wife"
"people will find you interesting"
"problems with alcohol and drugs will not affect you"
"you won't be those parents that shout at your child in public"
"you are too good at your job to ever be made redundant"
"you will never loose your home"
"you are great in bed"
"you won't be the couple whose marriage falls apart"
"if you follow a strict diet you will loose weight"
"as an adult you will be in full control of your emotions"
"you will marry for love not money"
"you will never be the victim of domestic abuse"
"you'll never let your friends down (or vice versa)"
"you will be loved"
"you will learn from your mistakes"
"there are too many safeguards in place after the last recession to let us have another bad one again"
"you will out grow being shy"
"by the time you are 35 you will have found the one you'll spend the rest of your life with"
"you will remember"
initial thoughts as to how this would be done were to utilisie the work i do now to create a series of silver clay brooches with these impressed into the pieces, maybe with doors like a locket with an emblem on front to hide our dirty little secrets; what badge would you wear? how many would you need? would you wear your badge with honour or shame? kinship of badges = "the doubters society"
as i read it through this mornng on the train i was also reminded of baz luhrmans tune sunscreen, and in turn felt there could be a still of a living tree flashing up with each spoken phrase, finishing with a dead tree when it says "you will remember" whilst played over a drum and basss track.
then as i watched a cargo train go past i was struck by how we put our thoughts away in to little boxes; compartmentalise them away from public view, how there could be a shipping container loaded train going around the top of the gallery space to further represent how these thoughts go round and round in our heads.
all very cathartic........
# 10 [22 September 2012]
sadly it has been rather too long since i was last here, my ideas have been moving along, then got stuck, then i got too busy. poor excuse i know.
after the last post i suddenly realised that all i was actually achieving was to organise people, and that whilst its a NICE idea it didn't actually involve any artwork for me, and seeing as how my life at home and work seems to revolve around organising people i rapidly went off the idea.
we had another day on the ATS scheme on the 8th Sept, but i didn't get as much out of it as the other days, and had misunderstood what we would have been doing and so whilst i had created work to show, we then didn't, so i just hit a hiatus.
after a discussion with a friend i decided to go back through what i had come up with so far and i am still keen on the idea of noise within a gallery setting, and i am curious to see how people would react to a classical piece of artwork whilst listening to drum and bass, and whether that would effect their affection for a piece especially if the music was something they disliked.
but apart from that still going round in my head i couldn't seem to push it any further.
i have had a particularly rubbish week at college, and had hoped that i would enjoy my teaching more this year than last, but it just seems to be repeating itself in general crapiness.
so i had nothing to add for our group crit today, all i knew was how stuck i was, and desperately wanted some kind of push as to which direction to go.
# 9 [22 August 2012]
crikey - didn't appreciate how long it had been since last blog!
the ideas are moving forward. initially there were two clear strands; the dead tree diaries and the noise interaction at galleries (specifically around young children)
each one was progressing with the dead tree focusing around just the imagery they create in their pure beauty; how to bring that into the gallery environment - whether to experiment with methods i am less adept at such as painting or video. ideas such as an entire tree stump across the bottom of the stairs at the gallery.
then there was the incident in the snobby gallery, where my daughters noise level was clearly bothering people, and how much i resent that and how much i now revel in creating noise within the gallery environment, which then progressed into two strands about how noise could be used to interact with the gallery audience (what if you walked around with those funny gallery headphones on and instead they palyed white noise or heavy metal whether that could affect your response to the art work), and how to ensure children enjoy the gallery experience too rather than being rushed through as the parents feel obliged to keep it short.
but then the ideas began to merge and became about creating a haven for children; a teepee with tree imagery printed on the outside; or a wall vinyl depicting a stylized forest environment or my own photos of trees, or at walsall they have these deep window sills and whether this could have a tree trunk with a little preson sized door on that they could escape behind.
whether noise could be contained within these safe havens to also help reassure and further invite the younger audience in. maybe.
but then i remembered a conversation from the week we spent on the ATS stage 1 about hiring out brain space to further improve my own memory.
so throw those all together and flip it around and somehow it became about taking the art to the children - creating a touring exhibition in peoples homes. why expose them to the snotty people, who alright the children don't realise are being vile, but let them experience art in their own envionment, for longer periods of time then they would normally have the chance to absorb. as adults we visit a gallery and then just recall the images to further digest and interact with them after the visit, but would young minds gain more if exposed for longer almost unrealised interaction?
imagine taking a collection of the most influential works of art that we all know and love or the current forerunners of modern art and hanging them on the public's living room wall!
# 8 [9 August 2012]
really not getting anywhere with this tree idea, still just writing ideas down, like a 3ft knitted entity, or covering the entrance up the stairs at walsall art gallery with a huge tree trunk, or getting people to bring in branches and constructing a tree as the week progresses, but nothing really *FAB*.
nothing that is an idea that hasn't blatantly been acquired from another person/exhibition/project, which is just the worst situation to be in.
have considered moving on to completely new idea as i went to a very stuffy gallery this evening with my 4 year old who shouted all the way round, which i know is controversial as people clearly don't like it and can't be bothered to mask their feelings in that situation, but it's something that i now love to play with; the idea of being really noisy in a gallery as Jo Public seems to think you should walk around them in "quiet contemplation" so i wear these shows i have with wooden heels and clomp purposefully around. just love the feeling of unsettling the equilibrium; disturbing this inner sanctuary; as if being silent makes you more intelligent. sorry will get off my soapbox now!
# 7 [2 August 2012]
found 8 more dead trees today - happy days!
just got to recruit my husband to take me out on the back of his motorbike so i can do countryside paparazzi style photos as none of them where anywhere near places you could park a car!!
will have to practice taking photos through a helmet!
have begun to analyse why i am fascinated with these dead trees; seems to be something to do with the contrast, particularly when we've had so much rain and everywhere looks so lush, between the dead beast, often huge old trees, and the way they are totally surrounded by trees and shrubs and fields all in their prime. and the contrast in the colour too, how they look totally washed out, not like trees in the winter with no leaves on, it's almost like the light of life has literally been drained out, as if they could just be snapped in half by mere hands; so fragile in their end state.
feel the final work should also be on a large scale to further demonstrate the great stature of these mature creatures.
is it just a recent phenomenon, or just soething i hadn't noticed before the last couple of years; really must investigate why they're dying like this.
oooooh - wiki says standing dead trees are called "snag" with the ability to stay standing for 100 years - hmmm, interesting.
needs greater investigation as to why....
# 6 [1 August 2012]
to say that life gets in the way is an understatement; i've been rather caught up in having to make 120 porcelain christmas decorations for orders, and have had little chance to consider the current path i'm meant to be on.
i've been trying to refocus this evening by reading through everything from last week, but already feel slightly distanced from the thought processes i was going through, and i do wonder if this will go anywhere.
it is certainly a lot faster to develop your ideas when their are other like minded people around, but once that support net has gone the pace really slows.
i prefer to make rather than think but i'm struggling with what materials to begin with, and just seem to be writing; i've done some quick tree sketches, but i'm used to designing an end result, not just drawing and not knowing the final outcome before i begin. this is becoming a real stumbling block.
maybe i should just get a huge piece of canvas and just go for it!
ha. this could be a highly comical avenue if nothing else!
# 5 [28 July 2012]
today i have been struck by how i have no idea how to integrate my crafts practice and the possible art avenue i seem to be heading down; and whether, really, i shouldn't aim to try.
whilst there are lots of fledgling ideas floating around in my head, will i do myself or my idea justice if i try to go and paint or make a film, neither of which are methods i have used before.
and why not work with the materials and methods you know best - but is that then limiting your ability to coherently express your idea?
should an idea be expressed in the most appropriate format even if there is little quality in the actual work? (who decides which is the appropriate format anyway)
why am i bothered with the format of my work all of a sudden?
this strikes me as a bit of a runaway train.
anyhow, the ideas are progressing without any apparent direction, i'm just recording, recording, recording, not sure if i should be bringing in outside influences like other exhibitions or works i've been fascinated by in the last year
i feel a day in the studio is due; i haven't been able to go in there all week as it's been so intense and i didn't want to be tripped up on this new path by the reality of day to day tasks of running a business.
it's all so shiny and new and revelatory, like someone pulled the plug from the damn; it's great but blooming confusing.
# 4 [27 July 2012]
for the last day of the course we were asked to review an exhibition based on an adverb based on our artefacts that represent our work.
my object has become part of the group; almost taking on it's own personality; from it's starring role on the first day; to seemingly integrating into everyone's psyche - what was it - a sponge; a dirty, old sponge without which none of my work can be created - my adverb; absorbingly.
so i viewed the exhibition (boyd & evans:IKON gallery) absorbingly. we've spent a lot of this week questionning art work and artists, and i wanted to walk into, and to be sucked into, the artwork; to be absorbed in to it and by it; no thinking, just feeling.
as i walked around the exhibition what became apparent was the threads that had infiltrated the week for me personally; from the dead tree in one of the images that i currently have an obsession with; how the majority of the work has been photographs or photo realism which pays a part in my work and my teaching; the square format of the pieces; the observation of life which can carry a huge volume of information behind it yet so simply portrayed; black and white; strong colours; almost as if there is the outer force again leading me down a slowly narrowing path to a new body of work. and no ceramics - thats super weird for me.
i'm trying not to analyse; not to jump ahead like i normally do; to not presume the end result (product), but how long will i resist away from the bubble we have created?
i feel more confident in being able to take apart and put back together someone else's work and being able to express my interpretations eloquently. i've been surprised by how much i gained from working collaboratively - something i intend to do more of as part of this course and beyond - and how quickly my ideas are developing.
i do have however, have grave concerns about how to keep hold of this feeling, this path, this moment, once normal life resumes tomorrow when my daughter wakes up!
so i go on, to start the first stage of creation, who knows what the next few weeks will bring, but wow i'm looking forward to it, don't get me wrong i know it's going to hurt at times, but good, i hope it bloody does or what's the point?
trees, trees, trees so bizarre.
oh and large scale - suddenly seems very attractive - like someone's flicked a switch - odd, very odd.