Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Ideas? Technical issues?
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By: Amy Denton
a new adventure?
# 1 [25 July 2012]
hmmm where to start; is it necessary to explain?
this week i started my artist teacher scheme stage 1, and already, 3 days in, it has become an emotional rollercoaster, that I feel needs capturing at the beginning, otherwise I will quickly forget these feelings.
i had begun this journey months ago when I began teaching properly, as i had only done a few hours here and there over the previous years. As a ceramicist I ended up teaching materials and techniques that I had not visited for a number of years, and struggled with the lack of physical connection between my art practice and the teaching.
as the year progressed the teaching became more and more difficult and directly infringed on my art practice, ending in resentment, and so the course became a saving grace of hope.
to digress; i have always avoided doing an MA as I feel i lack of brain abiltity would hold me back.
the course details were sent out, and as soon as i spotted we would be creating a group installation my heart sank, but i convinced myself to go in without a defeatist attitude, as i like doing things everyday that scare me, and see what happened.
day one turned out to be fab, and being back at art school was an absolute joy; meeting other artists and art teachers; looking at moderinism, post-modernism and feminism; dissecting art works in fine detail as a group; was thrilling and i went home with mind and heart buzzing with excitement.
then day two happened. we had a lecture from an artist then went to an empty basement studio, split into groups, dived into our shared materials, and began to work. initially i just went along with the fact that it felt alien, and i got lost and it felt awkward and tried to rise above it. but the day progressed and gradually every piece i had included was removed as part of the whole deconstruct process. then i just simply started to fall apart; i didn't get what we were doing it for and anything i created had been taken away so the actual piece had no connection to me anymore. i went home thoroughly dark and angry. that night i didn't sleep, contemplated not returning the next day, really hated all thought of it.
anyway, i woke up still not knowing what to do but felt it was important to show my support for the group i was working in as i had great respect for them as artists and people, and to be able to explain my actions of the previous day, which i was not particularly proud of.
there were a couple of elements that the others had added (there wasn't much left after it was all deconstructed) that i felt an infinity with and wanted to explore them as entities.
so that's what i did, and the end result was highly successful; we felt as a group it was the strongest piece; i accepted that it didn't have to be anything or tell any story, or make any statement; it was just an entity. great bunch to work with; genuinely hope to do more collaborations - if only i could just work out how to add some photos......
# 2 [26 July 2012]
having spent a lovely day critiquing art work at Walsall art gallery I've just realised the irony if the statement I made to my colleagues on the train home where I stated I was near my maximum saturation point for being exposed to new art works when tomorrow we are meant to go to the ikon gallery and write a report on the exhibition based on an adverb if which mine is "absorbingly"!
# 3 [26 July 2012]
is to blog to be at risk of being taken away to the nut house?
do i dare say what i'm truely thinking?
about how i feel like there is someone behind me pushing me, heels dug into the ground, along this path, that could be the best or the worst outcome for my art practice?
i've always shyed away from an MA rejecting it as I feel there is a lack of brain to be able to eloquently express my ideas and developments, and how normally my work is simply an end product, fit to be sold in the public domain, but tells no story, or illustrates no great point, or has no relevance within the contemporary art world cos it's not thaty clever.
the products that are on my website now - will they be there in a year?
should i start a sister website that actually has my real name on it, and not some quirky busines name that i hoped was catchy and memorable - is that truer to myself as an artist?
or am i just being drawn into a world that i admire, but won't really have a place within, and that could damage my self belief in my own pieces?
aaargghh too many questions, and it pains me to not try to find immediate answers, but the same person that is behind me pushing is also telling me to stop looking for a reason in everything; just explore and see where it takes you
as elinor said to me the other day - it doesn't have to have a reason
# 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.
# 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.
# 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!
# 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....
# 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!
# 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!
# 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.