Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Franny Swann
A record of my footsteps as I negotiate the projects that come my way.
# 78 [7 April 2012]
Today was the day that Going Public went public..........Elena Thomas, Julie Dodd and I attempting to move our private e-mail conversations to the public arena of the a-n blog.
Because its our home I suppose.We met through it, we comment on it and blog on it and feel linked through it.
Maybe a part of us also hopes that doing so will focus us a little more on our end goal of a joint project and exhibition although we all have shows and courses and work that stands between now and then.
Meandering on has been the bit I have loved - the slow unfolding of back stories, likes and dislikes, sharing of artists found and images we think the other would enjoy. Support and crits and a bit of a giggle.
I do wonder if we will lose that. And if we do will we e-mail behind the blog again to regain it?
# 77 [3 April 2012]
Day 2 of the great eight week countdown.
Last summer I collected two squashed and sundried fledglings that I found by the side of the road.
It was the first one with its mouth open in a silent scream that hooked me. I did a charcoal and rubber drawing of it and thought I would begin a series on dictators...........
The second bird I found has been sitting wrapped in tissue waiting for my attentions.
Today was the day - I worked on it to make a pair to be framed up together.
Always difficult when you try to re-visit something.
Its not as strong a work as the first, but together they are a stronger work than just the one.
Framing will be expensive - quite a big work. I am begining to be concerned about framing costs now..........
# 76 [2 April 2012]
Ok. I am getting the plot back.
Spent the first part of the morning choosing a moth to hang by its feet to draw; as you do. Something that had been brewing for a while.
Really fast work. Pleased with it.
Always amazes me when that happens..almost like being on automatic. Such a great feeling.
Then to new studio to collect more paper. Odd not being in my old one, but the smallness of it feels kinder, as though less is expected of me maybe.
I shall have to watch that.
Had an e-mail conversation today in which the subject of including ones domestic circumstances in our blogs was discussed.
I realise that I am unusual in this, but they seem intertwined to me..........surely if you or your partner are ill, or you are snowed in or the car breaks down and you can't get to the studio that is all part of the trials and tribulations.
I don't see my blog as a twirl for a curator but write thinking I am talking to other artists while focussing my thoughts for me. Nor do I care if I reveal my age group or the fact I don't have work in the Tate.
What does worry me about blogs is that they are of necessity self censored.
No disagreements with collaborators, difficulties with funders or councils, misunderstandings or reporting of drama queen behaviour that leaves everyone else in the group seething.....happens to us all.
But not on these pages?
# 75 [1 April 2012]
My space was 19.25 sq metres - now 8.75 sq meteres..........pots and pints spring to mind.
I was meant to be sorting today but ended up in Brixton drinking Ethiopian ginger and cardoman tea with my son........so much better for the soul.
I have pushed the door shut on the chaos. I shall return to it mid June.
From tomorrow it is head down; eight weeks to my solo show and I am really so behind.
Works to finish, works to do, framing and finishing, invites, signage, costings, private view.......my head spins and I can feel more than a mild case of panic descend. How did I get myself so far behind?
My diary is empty. I have promised myself only dog walks, artists meetings and the occasional gym.
Already going belly up. Elderly mother off to hospital tomorrow for intravenous antibiotics. Rubbish timing Mum.
# 74 [29 March 2012]
Day two of the big clear out.
Scary moment this morning when the council representative informed me that I would have to start paying business rates as I had changed studios. All sorted.
The studio block is on the side of a park so as I trotted in and out covered in dust and carrying dustbins and boxes and sacks and plinths all around me were browning nicely in the sun.
A young black cat whose owners leave him out all day has been overseeing operations. His charming companionship was very nearly permanent; he shot out of the car boot just as I was about to leave for the final tip run.
I just hope I haven't maxed out on his black cat luck. Haven't seen him since; I fear he may have gone off me.
So - I still have no idea if things will fit in. Especially as I have decided that there is no way I can live without my bookcase.
We will find out tomorrow.
# 73 [28 March 2012]
Spent the day clearing my big studio space to move to another, smaller studio in the same block.
Just can't justify the extra expense anymore.
So - have spent the day slashing and burning ........and still no discernible difference, Backache and a car full to the brim of stuff for the tip.
Now not sure if it will ever fit in...
Have thrown all the old life drawings. Thrown the old proposals and price lists, the show cataolgues and the books I no longer need or want. Thrown all the bits of wood and tissue paper, the old paint and aging brushes, the incense I never used and the silly radio I was given.
Have kept; my orange Buddhist scarf, the yellow 'everyone act normal' badge, the scary baby shop mannequin, the diamante lobster claw and the lava lamp. Non negotiable.
I will be back again tomorrow to try harder.
# 72 [18 March 2012]
Hobby Horses installed and the PV over and done. Loads of people - and lots of them villagers coming to have their photos taken with the hobby horse they made. Our great project photographer Sarah Medway worked hard all afternoon welcoming, calming and posing everyone.
Its just so rewarding that everyone is so supportive and engaged. We even had two more horses made and delivered to us in the week before we opened in the gallery.
Sweetest photo was of a tiny Brownie with the horse she made us towering over her. Our oldest visitor was 87.
Lots of fun this project, especially for for me as Farningham is my village so every venue is yet another chance for a party. I think sometimes that it must be a bit hard on Ros all this meeting and greeting...
Everyone now wanting to know where they will pop up next - no firm dates; although we are in talks as they say. Another job to be tackled between us.
All this takes so much hidden work doesn't it? Ordering decals, making signage, taking photos, sorting images, thank yous, evaluating, sending photos to the local Historical Society to be archived, uploading onto the website....on and on.
No time at present.
I have two days left to sort out a talk on being an ordinary artist that I give to the students at my old college. Scary because they get some well known faces and great curators in a series of talks that ends up with me telling them how to be their own secretaries and find opportunities. Still, its all the stuff I always wanted to know but was too scared of looking stupid to ask....
I always think plenty of questions = ok talk. I will let you know!
# 71 [11 March 2012]
This is how to waste time and not do the work you should be doing for your solo show.............!
Just back from great friend's birthday party. Spent a happy afternoon doing this yesterday. He runs a firework shop..................
Will I ever stop procrastinating and get on with it?
Like a naughty child.
# 70 [10 March 2012]
I wonder how many conversations go on behind the Artists Talking curtain so to speak?
I occasionally have e-mail conversations with artists who having read my blog e-mail me rather than post...maybe if you know someone well it seems oddly impersonal to post. I don't know.
Anyway, I have spent the day wondering about a response to this one:
' You're right, I think the wasps can be read as defenders or aggressors. How do you feel about appropriating other things to make work as opposed to making it all yourself? I've always used found items in mine, and find it quite tricky and a bit lonely when i don't. but I've only just started thinking about this recently ..... I know you do both, so I'm interested to know if you feel different about work that has found objects as key ingredients?'
In between doing stuff I have wondered about this all day. How come I haven't given this proper thought before? In this time of eclectic materials does it matter?
Why do I do it? How does it fit with my work?
I came easily to the first conclusion -that the materials I use do have great resonance for me.
They have to be absolutely right. They have to say what I am saying. They have to be perfect for the moment, but made, bought or found is truly immaterial.
Why do I continually mix them? I tried to work out why. I have no agenda or political or eco reasoning for using found objects.
It appears it is the age or emotional content of the found object that allows me to expand it into a full blown work. I spin the narrative from the objects - goose bones, leather suitcases, dress pattern tissue, dead insects......the starter material must match my 'voice' for the piece and everything must be right - colour, texture, age, size...
Objects either offer me a narrative or they don't. My work always deals with memory and memorial in some way. I seem to be looking for my found objects to contain something ethereal, some homeopathic memory that still flutters in the world that will allow me to spin the story..........
I don't seem to be able to get any further than that. I hope it will suffice for my friend.
# 69 [9 March 2012]
The Farningham Hobby Horse Project goes into the Kaliedoscope Gallery on Tuesday. Its been a bit mad really - getting stands made, painting them, gaffa taping them, getting vinyls made, putting up posters.......Ros Barker and I seem to have been doing something for this project every day for weeks and weeks.
Last night I started phoning the villagers who made the horses, reminding them that they can have their photos taken with their horse for the village historical archive and maybe for a book. Everyone was so lovely. Suddenly the project and I were reunited again in my frazzled brain and I was really proud of it.
Can't wait for Saturday 17th now. Its going to be fun.
The rest of the day was spent finishing a proposal for Telling Stories: Hastings.
Part of this was me trying to photograph a bell - jar. Bonkers. The images you see are taken from about a hundred. Not only that but the bell jar and I were to be seen everywhere from the garden to hiding behind the kitchen curtain in an attempt to cut the reflections...........getting crosser and crosser as the 5pm deadline loomed closer...
The bell jar work is part of an ongoing narrative offered as a memorial to my family lost in the Holocaust.
In my mind the work links to my family history of religious persecution by various sovereign states and the wasps can be read as sinister or benign, as guardians or aggressors of the family home. I have called it Homeland Security.
A great exhibition which follows on from the very successful Telling Stories: Margate . It will be in the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery which just up my museum style presentations street.
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My practice has evolved into interdisciplinary project work and I now call myself a multi-media project artist.
My work tends to be underpinned and referenced by memory and memorial; a citation to family members lost in the Holocaust.
It is important to me that within each project I solicit the freedom to be able to choose whichever media will best offer the viewer a multi layered narrative.