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By: Eldi Dundee
FdA Fine Art two year foundation degree, equals first two years of BA Fine Art, plus Bridging program for Merit-plus students, includes dissertation proposal for 3rd yr.
The FdA Fine Art focuses mainly on printmaking and sculpture techniques, but also includes life drawing, painting, photography, collaborative projects, Work Based Learning, professional practice and exhibiting.
# 14 [16 August 2012]
The State of Play is my most recent a-n Artists Talking blog, in case you're interested.
Also, please check out my website for new work and up to date info on exhibitions:
# 13 [4 July 2011]
As 2011 BYAM SHAW alumna Eliza Self's totebag boldly states:
"CSM FUCKED MY ART SCHOOL
(NOT IN A GOOD WAY)"
Last year, Byam Shaw celebrated its Centinary.
It was an independent art school until 2003, when it was subsumed by the University of the Arts London as part of Central St Martins.
I don't know what kind of financial necessities led to the two schools Central & St Martins becoming one, or when the now conjoined CSM got taken over by UAL, along with Chelsea, Wimbledon and Camberwell Schools of Art, London College of Fashion, London College of Communication (formerly London College of Printing) and Drama Centre London. But for whatever reasons, Byam was brought under the banner of CSM and UAL.
In 2008/9 we Byam-ites were told that UAL was selling off all its disparate, but centrally located, prime real estate, historical buildings to developers, and having an UBER-UNIVERSITY building built in their stead, on some site in Kings Cross. We were ASSURED by tutors that Byam Shaw would NOT be affected by this further merge/move and 'we' would still exist semi-independently with the school's own identity (ethos, purpose, function and location) remaining in tact.
As a historically independent school, off the UAL main map (quite literally), we had a bit of a struggle to get any worthwhile recognition from UAL for inclusion in their activities and events listings (show announcements, for example), and we were rather under-represented within the university on the whole. Hardly anyone'd heard of us. But everybody's heard of Central Saint Martins. Still, ours was a very different experience to the "mainland" CSM students and the feedback when an artistic exchange took place on our little 'island of isolation' in Archway was always expressed with awe, wonder, admiration and slight envy for our jammily intimate set up.
Then when UAL did take any notice of us, it seemed to be with restrictive intent and brought negative consequences with regard to making/showing work and socialising within the buildings. Cutting access times and areas down, forbidding our bars and parties to be held on site. Even disallowing kettles in the studios on health and safety grounds. The usual increase in beaurocractic b.s. and corresponding decrease in quality of user experience...
So for the Centenary celebrations, famous and not so famous artistic alumni were invited to speak and to show work. There was a mighty fundraising appeal and monies were raised. (I don't know how much. I had already left by then and had childcare issues on the night of the big shebang). What these funds were used for is anybody's guess. They certainly don't appear to have gone towards Byam Shaw! If I had donated then, I would be demanding my money back at this point.
The library was threatened with closure, and managed to stay open only through the collective passion and enterprising spirit of members of 'our' unique Byam Shaw community. (Two years after graduating, and I still feel a right to claim my part ownership of the Byam experience! Says something about the place as it once was. Imperfect, but brewing with infinite potential for amazingness around every corner, in every crack and seam.)
Then in 2011, its hundred-and-first year, Byam Shaw held its LAST DEGREE SHOW EVER and closes its doors as an art school in its own right. Teachers have either been made redundnant or 'encouraged' to find jobs elsewhere, as (i've been made to understand) no more undergrad classes will be held at the Byam Shaw School of Art. The building will now be used for workshops and studios, mainly for post-graduate students. Good for them, but crap for the future undergraduates who could have really thrived in such a unique experimental incubator the place provided.
Talk about bitter-sweet!
(Slight Disclaimer: I am obviously not a journo, I am merely an ex-art student of a once dear place which is facing mightily extreme changes. If I have got any facts wrong, I welcome corrections. I would also appreciate comments and/or debate on this topic)
# 12 [22 July 2009]
...cont'd from 11
I was running on pure adrenaline and anger at this point, which will have had an effect on the performance overall, but as there were violent elements involved, it didn't really matter much.
I asked for help from couple of fellow students, to unwrap the playdough parcels for me while I got into costume and set up the space. It was clear that the playdoguh mixture was in a disatrous state at this point!!!
The space was pretty well set up from the day before, so it was mainly making sure all the props were to hand before the start. People were milling about before the performance watching the set up, which was a little disconcerting, but that was uncontrollable really.
A fellow student was hired to film the performance, and with blonde wig on head, false eyelashes on lids, shiny leather RomperStomper boots on feet, I was ready to begin.
It was meant to last for an hour, with the audience coming and going as if passing a busker, but it was so hot that day (the week of a heat wave) that even with a table-top fan blowing the air around in my performance space, my face was turning bright pink from the heat and I was completely exhausted from the physical exertion.
(The fan was a last minute edition, as was a kitchen timer I brought in from home to give myself a limit to each part of the repetitive action I was performing)
In the end, the performance lasted a half hour. I could have gone on longer, but I'm sure I would have collapsed, and that would have said something completely other than what was originally intended; I would have been a martyr and missed all the parties afterwards!
Party for your art; never be a martyr for your art!
# 11 [22 July 2009]
The degree show was a blur.
I was worried I wouldn't get to the college in time for my scheduled performance-- an hour before the start, I was still south of Brixton, trying to get a taxi driver who knew how to navigate around the rush hour congestion hot spots. I got out of two cabs due to the drivers' lack of 'the Knowledge' and in a blind raging panic, mounted a bus to Brixton and prayed the Victoria and Northern lines were in good working order.
Oh yes, and it was swelteringly hot at 5pm. AND I had heavy suitcases of props with me.
(The heaviest being the playdough I made at home in the lead-up to the show. I must have gone through at least 6 lbs of flour and who knows how much food colouring and creme of tartar. I ran out of creme of tartar and the local shops didn't carry such an unusual ingredient, so I scrambled through google searching for an alternative: vinegar and egg whites apparently.)
(--But playdough doesn't use egg white, so I just used vinegar. This made the mixture shrink and go quite stiff. Not the consistency needed for throwing it against a wall so that it would stick. I added more water and more vegetable oil to try to get it to the right consistency, to no avail. Oh well, I thought, I'll just add more flour on the day and deal with it then. What else can I do?)
The tube got me there faster than any of those gypsy cabs could, and I dragged my ridiculously heavy suitcases of playdough to the college and up the stairs
BTW: the lifts never work there, so if you've got mobility problems, don't go to that school! (It's all stairs!)
# 10 [9 June 2009]
The aftermath of the performance (well, one of the dress rehearsals for the degree show performance that is) ends in a week long installation of the detritus and works of sculptural/assemblage art created during the performance...
UPDATE (since writing Post no 9)--
Floor painting day went really smoothly with everyone working as a well-oiled machine. Thanks to everyone who pitched in for the common good-- some deserve extra praise for being there come hell or high water and organising stuff for all so that the show comes off well, with a professional polish. (Andy, Rebecca and Helen are the first names that come to mind, but there are more unsung heroes in our group that I don't even know about! You guys deserve medals, I swear!!!
I've also seen the boxed set in its entirety -- it's beautiful! I cannot wait to be handed my complimentary set and frame some of those prints up for my own home! Well done everyone!!!!
I'm delighted and so relieved that I was able to retrieve those deleted/lost images from the dress rehearsal shoot we did the other day. Thanks to some very clever techie friends who pointed me in the right direction-- I HEART NERDS!!!
# 9 [3 June 2009]
We've got all the studios on the first floor of 2 Elthorne Road, and people are working hard to get the space cleared of old work and collected junk that was going to get turned into work, but didn't, or that inspired other work.
Then there's the scraping, sanding, hole filling, not to mention replacing missing bits of wall (I'm guilty for one bit)...
Painting all the walls on the first floor's a big task so we're really grateful for the help of some first year students who are using this experience towards their Work Based Learning. (clever timetabling of that unit)
Friday we paint the floors.
While all that's been going on, I came in for a dress rehearsal for my performance... 2 colleagues (they'll balk at being called that) helped document it-- one with the still camera, one with the digital 8.
It was a hot and humid day and I was wearing a long taffeta gown and wig which felt made me feel like I was wearing a wool hat at the height of summer. My stage makeup was practically melting off my face. The performance was really physically demanding and involved cooking over a portable hob...
After the performance, I took off the wig and false lashes, changed into painting clothes and got busy making my space very dusty indeed, sanding for what felt like hours. And I was rushing through to get back to my child-- I was paying double time to the childminder to keep her an extra hour as it was!
When I got my child off to bed, I started uploading the photos from the digital camera to my mac. Somewhere mid-stream the programme (i-photos) froze and crashed. I lost 150 out of 300 photos. I was gutted. All that work, and nothing to show for that part of the assessment (which is due 2 weeks before the private view).
Going to have to reshoot. Bummer!!
Still, they might be retrievable. Some mac techie friends are going to try to work out how to retrieve the lost files, and aparently, as long as I don't record any more pics on that flash card for the camera, they should still be there...
(if the FBI can find deleted files, these friends of mine should be able to, too!)
Our boxed set is just about finished. I haven't seen the whole gamut yet, but I've seen some students' work and it is QUALITY stuff! We each get to keep a box for a souvenier, so I'm quite chuffed.
Just a reminder that the PV is on the 29th June from 6 pm on the 1st floor of Byam Shaw, at 2 Elthorne Road, off Holloway Road, near Archway tube.
See you there!!
# 8 [5 May 2009]
Art speak and critical theory in art-- why should it be more important in assessing a student's potential than the actual work itself?
(That's me, that is... Grrrrrrr!!) ------->
# 7 [16 April 2009]
Wanted to share some other images that I took when my Canary Wharf maquettes were installed at AVA Gallery in E London.
I'm still deciding what I will actually include in the show and I suppose I'd like to put these up to see them in one place, get a little distance, a fresh perspective, a bit of inspiration, some direction. . . ?
I originally wanted to fashion one of these as a gigantic puzzle, out of welded steel and real household furniture and appliances, but with the credit crunch, I can't be bothered to spend that kind of money and all my spare time outside of college (and childcare-- I'm a single mum as well) to make this hulk of an installation piece for a show I'm not being graded on or paid for! :)
So I'm thinking: keep it simple, keep it small and keep it cheap. I might just make a few more maquettes, up to 1 metre high (big difference from the 4 metres I was originally proposing) and install them on plinths of varying heights and sizes. I was thinking of using projection, but the space (Lobby of 1 Canada Water) wouldn't really suit that approach, for the marble walls and floors, and the amount of traffic that comes through there on a daily basis-- there are health and safety considerations galore, too. So I'm feeling a little stuck if I'm honest.
I'm letting all this bubble over in the back of my mind while I write my essays... Douglas Gordon and his use of skulls, anyone? Or Rachel Harrison and the anti-aesthetic aesthetic? (--something to that effect in any case... haven't quite got a handle on that one yet!)
And that's not even mentioning the work I'm considering doing for my degree show. Again: credit crunch means I have to think like a starving but very innovative art student and so a lot of my more ambitious projects have had to be put on hold. I'm not going to get all panicked about my degree show (I say this now, you watch!) as I want to treat it as a practice run for next year. (Going from FdA to BA third year, and I'll make that one count. I can't imagine any of us being 'discovered' by Mr Saatchi on the Byam Shaw FdA anyway! There's just too much out there for that. And I'm not going to play the sensationalist "look at me! look at me!" game. I'm just going to get on with my own stuff, come what may).
The dates for the Canary Wharf show have been confirmed:
Installation weekend 27/28 June
Exhibition 29 June to 21 August
Private View Tuesday 30 June 6.00 to 8.00 pm
# 6 [10 April 2009]
Flight/ Fight/ Plight:
I joined the BA Great Britons competition to win free flights to NY for a career-boosting experience researching contemporary art practice and curation there.
The first time I tried to upload images (x 5) some were stretched or squashed past all recognition of original aspect ratios when automatically shrunk to thumbnails.
The site didn't allow me to delete my profile once up and running – I thought: if I can't show my work in it's best light on a public forum, I'd rather not be involved. Then I thought I'd delete those problematic images and upload different ones. The website let me delete them all, but wouldn't let me reload any more-- just kept coming up with an error message (akin to ‘computer says noooo’). And the judging phase was about to begin so I was racing against time.
I emailed them asking for advice re: all of the above. They were apologetic, saying their IT staff fixed these problems.
I loaded 5 photos as tests, and came back (when time allowed) to add captions, but the site wouldn't allow me to edit. (All this while trying to concentrate on a dissertation proposal) But I persevere. The system lets me put my descriptions in the ‘comments box’. I attach my CV in support of my application.
They didn't approve of one of the photos (nudity) and they took down my CV (personal safety/identity fraud issues). Understandable. But they were selectively deleting comments all along that myself and others were putting on my profile. Nothing dodgy was written either. It was weird.
Judging over, voting time. I solicited all my contacts, as I really wanted free flights! But my ratings were locked at 2, and no one else could vote. I thought it was a dead link, just another glitch to report, but they emailed me back saying all who were not short-listed by their judges were disabled automatically.
Why would I have 2 votes then, and why could I vote for other artists on the site, apart from the TWO who were shortlisted in my category? Smelling something fishy I decided to challenge them. Their website rules clearly state:
'Our experienced panel of judges have chosen their shortlist based on those who they think have the strongest entry. They'll also take into account the most highly rated profiles.
'Why not vote for your preferred entry and help their chances of winning a flight so they can reach their full potential? Go on. Have your say on who deserves to win.'
But this is clearly not true. If it had been, my friends would have been able to vote. They have decided to change the rules midway through the competition to sway it to the direction they desired.
I can’t be bothered to make a big stink about it. I’m just annoyed to have wasted so much of my and my contacts’ time in what appears to be a censored and rigged contest.
# 5 [9 April 2009]
Follow-up to my previous post about the Canary Wharf group show in East London (Post no. 3 - March 23, 2009):
That weekend, I came in to photograph and then dismantle my installation and return the OHP to the artist it was borrowed from. Maggie Rose had transformed the gallery into a one woman show! It was beautiful! I was upset because she dismantled my work so that she could use the plinth for one of her pieces and I had to drag it across the length of the gallery, reinstall my cages, readjust the lighting to get the shadows I desired, grumbling the whole time, but once I got the photos I wanted, I took my work down again, reinstalled her's (hopefully in the right spot again) and proceeded to photograph her 'show'.
Maggie Rose was one of the only ones in this group to see the potential for using this free gallery space, while it was available to us, for trying out her ideas and documenting them installed in a gallery setting. For the rest of us, let that be a lesson in true professionalism! I admire Maggie's work and I admire her attitude to her working practice. Her work is infused with a heightened sense of wonder and a certain coolly intuitive intelligence, if that makes sense to anyone but me! Her muse? Vivienne Westwood.
(Maggie Rose originally studied at the Slade, but deferred when her pregnancy made it impossible to work for a while. When her child reached school age, she returned to education, this time to do her Fine Art MA at UEL.)
Eldi Dundee is a New York born, London based artist. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to her art, using paint, sculpture, assemblage, printmaking techniques, craft, installation, photography and performance to achieve the aims of her work. Influences: 3rd wave feminism, pop culture, the NY School of the 50s and 60s, environmental activism, sociology, psychology, philosophy, film and fashion. She moved to London in the early 90’s, where she trained in theatre and performing art, before returning to fine art as a mature student at CSM.