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By: Rosie Marchant
Critical Fine Art Practice BA (hons)
# 20 [11 March 2012]
The cardboard test of my gallery designs has been built. Instead of cardboard however I have used lining paper to make up the walls as it looks far neater and is more suitable for my crits next week. Unfortunately, I appear to have built myself a white cube space, which is not what I had intended. I have made some other changes that are intended to help me explore other ideas relating to my gallery space research. Instead of building the complete structure as originally planned I have build only half. The other half has become a floor plan of what I was going to build drawn directly onto the floor. I have been considering how my drawings could work as pieces, and one of the most appealing ideas was to transfer them to the floor in this way. I am also considering trying this with maps and routes around a gallery space.
Another change I have made is inside the ‘room’ that I have built. Rather than leaving the walls bare I have drawn (in the same tape as the floor drawing) some of my initial floor plans on the wall. Again this is to experiment with how these drawings could be used. I have also painted a square of a colour that I had been thinking of using for the original design ideas on the wall. I’m not sure that this does much to dispel the feeling of white cube within what I have made, but I am hoping that these pieces in their entirety can go some way to showing my process during the crits on Monday. This is particularly important to show at this stage as I am not presenting a fully formed idea, and am also not allowed to speak to explain my work until the end of my allotted time.
I am currently struggling with a title for the work, I will not separate the elements of the work for the crit, so the title must encompass everything as well as helping the viewers to understand what they are critiquing. Currently I think it will be along the lines of, ‘experiments with gallery space’ or ‘Gallery Design’.
# 19 [7 March 2012]
I'm feeling really positive about my work at the moment. However; we have cross year crits next week. They are an opportunity to see what is happening throughout the years and to get feedback on your work from people who have not seen it before. They happen every year, and every year it has been a rush to get work together. The problem I am having is working out how to get my work to a finished standard. And how to show it in a crit when I cannot talk (this is how our crits run, the artist is not allowed to speak until the end). I am going to use the cardboard space that I have designed as a starting point. I am undecided as to whether to put work in it to be looked at or to get people to crit the space itself. This is particularly after yesterday’s tutorial.
I have begun to build the space, today I marked it out on the floor and began painting the cardboard for the walls, I am only painting them white for now, I am going to get samples to try out colours. It looks a lot bigger in real life. Planning it out has also allowed me to think about some of my other ideas that I mentioned yesterday. Particularly in relation to my floor plans. There is something really interesting in seeing them marked out on the floor in real scale, and I may consider this as an alternative to physically building the space. My heads a little all over the place, hopefully when the structure goes up tomorrow I can begin to sort out what I want to do.
# 18 [6 March 2012]
“Hi Rosie, forgive me if I state something you have covered earlier, I have not yet had time to review all your posts. I have skimmed this most recent page and it strikes me that your plan drawings make for very good art in their own right, even if their original purpose is not known. I could certainly see them presented as a serial work recording an exploration of space. Of course, making the gallery experience a reality is (I think) very important to you, but the work recorded here in this blog is important too.”
This comment on my last post from David Riley is very similar in ideas to what I talked about with my tutor. So thanks David, this has been really useful to help me think about things. I’ve found writing this blog incredibly useful as a way of thinking about my practice, and it will probably form a large part of my documentation that I must submit alongside my degree show work.
I have been concerned that I’m getting ahead of myself with my plans to build a gallery space. We have been reminded a lot recently not to get too hung up on one idea at this stage as we could end up ignoring other (possibly better) possibilities. I’ve kept telling myself that I couldn’t think of any other ideas, but I think that really I just wasn’t making the effort. I seem to have jumped straight to the most obvious result of my research and it is perhaps a bit clumsy and also unnecessary. I may go back to these ideas, and I am still going to build a cardboard mock up that will help me explore my ideas around designing a space.
But for the next few weeks or so I am going to concentrate on ideas that have arisen following my tutor’s advice to make a list of as many ways I could think of to physically alter a space. My head has been so set on building something that I have missed other things about my practice that work well. As David said in the above comment the drawings I have made of floor plans are quite interesting in their own right and not just as rough plans. I also want to look at other ideas which I will test in the studios and the cardboard space that I am going to create this week.
I’m quite excited to be looking at other things, especially as I have been having doubts that building something in the way I have been thinking may not work. I hope that this post doesn’t make me appear to be feeling negative about my ideas to build a space, I will still keep that idea in mind. But my research has lead me to think about a number of different characteristics of a gallery and by building my own space I offer only one solution. And it is a solution that has been done time and time again – build a different gallery.
# 17 [6 March 2012]
One of the most predominant ideas in my research has been the idea of discovery within a gallery or museum and the feeling of getting lost among the work (such as the Buren research mentioned in my last post). My favourite ideas for the design of our gallery space revolve around this idea. I love the idea of using corridors between rooms to make the visitor want to seek out the artwork. Currently I am thinking of creating rooms for each person to show their individual work in. These rooms would be painted in a light colour, though probably not white. Connecting these rooms would be corridors which would be narrow and painted dark to create a claustrophobic feeling. Entry to the lighter rooms with the art works would be like a type of relief from the corridors.
The corridors would also serve the purpose of separating the works. This would work well on a course such as mine where there many different types of practice to be displayed within the one degree show. We produce such a diverse amount of work between us that it has often been difficult in past exhibitions, and in past year’s degree shows, to display continuity between the works. The gallery layout that I am currently looking at would allow there to be an emphasis on the different nature of the work produced on Critical Fine Art Practice BA (CFAP).
Pictured are some of the layouts and colour schemes I have been exploring. I have paint samples in the post and will hopefully be building a mock up of two rooms separated by a corridor in our studios this week (Plan Pictured Below). I will make this mock up from cardboard and chipboard that we have in the studio, though the actual gallery would probably be all boards and not cardboard!
The main problem that I am trying to sort out is that of flooring. We have very scratched wooden floors in our studios; it is expensive and timely to try to change them. We will have two weeks to put up our exhibition, but I have to allow people exhibiting in my gallery space time to install their work.
# 16 [5 March 2012]
I’ve been designing a few different gallery spaces based around our studios which will become our gallery in the degree show. I’ve been struggling to decide what I want to achieve from a space and so have created a few designs. Pictured here are designs that are meant to encourage the visitor in one route around the gallery, one that encourages wandering with no direction, creation of a maze like space and the use of corridors.
I have been researching the works of Daniel Buren and Michael Asher and their reactions to gallery space. One of the most appealing ideas came from reading about Buren’s exhibition The Museum That Did Not Exist. This exhibition was at the Centre Pompidou a few years ago. Buren split the space he eventually negotiated for the exhibition into a chequer board type effect (Below). The aim of the space was to allow the visitors to move as they pleased. In theaccompanying catalogue Bernard Blistène said ‘… very few exhibitions offer so much freedom to their visitors. Few, too, have so determinately refused to impose an itinerary. Few have been constructed with such a resolute idea about avoiding and scheduled, marked out route… Buren wanted people to get lost in his show. No question of a beginning or an end, of any obligatory circuit or a laid out path…’ I think that I would like to achieve something similar in my own gallery.
# 15 [4 March 2012]
To prepare ourselves for our degree show our tutor has set us a small project; to put on an exhibition in a display cabinet that is outside our studios. For this exhibition each of us must provide at least one artefact to go in the space. That’s 16 artefacts in a relatively small space. The artefact must represent out practice so that the exhibition can work as a type of preview to the degree show. As my course contains a lot of critical theory and some strong opinions, we began with a debate on what an artefact was.
I began making a model to go in the cabinet as my artefact. The model is similar to the models I made of mazes, though it is of one of my gallery designs for the studio. While talking about it with people in the studio while I was making the model a question arose; is this a representation of my practice or my practice? This question has had me a bit stumped all weekend. I think it’s related to the difficulty I have describing my practice, especially as it has changed so much over the three years of my degree. I see these models that I make as a way to plan installations and constructions that I want to build. But I’m not sure if that makes them part of my practice or not. I guess it does, particularly when the installation is never realised, as with the mazes (see edit to 7th February 2012 entry).
I am now trying to consider something that symbol what I am thinking about in my practice and my research. I have been looking at direction of the spectator, through the artist controlling their actions such as in many performance, installation and participatory practices and through the gallery space itself. The provision of direction and maps for the visitor to the gallery has been the focus of my most recent research. And I have been trying to find ways to avoid such a rigid route around gallery spaces. So a symbol of direction seems to be representational of my practice. I am thinking of using either a map or a directional sign, probably an arrow that will become my artefact.
# 14 [4 March 2012]
ve been told that I won’t get any funding from the university to help with my degree show project. This could mean that I can’t make what I want to for the show. I will however carry on with it for now (I’m looking at colours for the walls at the moment), but I will also keep in mind any other ideas I have that could be more affordable. One such idea I had been hoping to try out this weekend but laziness, procrastination and bad weather have prevented me.
I want to see how people outside of a controlled, safe environment, such as a gallery, react to directions. I am going to go to Queens Park in Brighton and tie arrows to the trees and see who follows them. It’s a fairly simple project, and mostly just too see what happens. I’m trying to work out how appealing and obvious to make the arrows, at the moment they are just cardboard and could be easily missed. So I think I will make them bright fluorescent colours. I also want to try this at the weekend when there will be more people around, including families with children who might be more likely to take part. I’m going to wait for better weather too, and will probably repeat the experiment a few times with different things on the arrows. I’m not expecting many people to follow them, but hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised.
# 13 [29 February 2012]
I really need to make some decisions about what I want to achieve from my gallery design. In my previous posts I have talked about how I like museums and galleries where you can get lost and there is less of a sense of being directed, this is definitely something I want to achieve. But there are other things to think about, like how can I make spaces for inter-disciplinary works that we have on our course, lighting and colour in the rooms/spaces, scale etc. I am already thinking that it will be a series of interconnected rooms rather than a wide open gallery. But I am unsure of how to connect the rooms. Normally in a gallery or museum rooms are connected through doorways that allow you to see into the next room. This is so that thework in the next room can catch your attention and lead you on. I’m not sure if I want to design my gallery like this.
I’ve spent today making different plans to try and clear up what I want to do.
# 12 [29 February 2012]
On Friday I visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery (designed by Sir John Soane whose museum I visited a couple of weeks ago) and the Victoria and Albert Museum as part of the research I am doing into different gallery spaces. The Dulwich Picture Gallery is on a far smaller scale than the V&A, so its architecture reflects this. The gallery has a clear main axis with arches separating the galleries, though they are so big that the separation is more ideological that actual. This is different when looking at the rooms that have been added through the galleries history. The separation of these rooms from the main gallery is more apparent, not only in the colour they are painted but also in their shape and the doorways that seperate them.
The thing that struck me about the gallery was that it housed a mausoleum. This was dedicated to those who made the gallery possible, the benefactors and the founder of the Dulwich college, in whose legacy the gallery was built. This is not something that I would use in my own design. Some things that I will consider in my own design based on this is the importance of lighting. Dulwich is one of the first examples of using ceiling windows so that there is less direct sunlight that could damage the works on show, and also to allow more wall space.
The layout of the V&A as well as its scale mean that it is far easier to get lost and loose sense of direction in the gallery, which I did a few times. In many of the galleries within the museum the exhibits themselves, within their glass cases, create the walls. In many of the rooms it is obvious to see that the layouts and designs of the spaces have changed over the years. Much of the original architecture is covered by the displays, and artificial light is used and natural light is blocked.
# 11 [28 February 2012]
So the Degree show is looming, and finally I have some plans. Last week I put forward my idea to the rest of my year group on my course. I explained how I want to design part of, if not all, the gallery space in which people will show their work. The space itself would therefore be my work and I would not have anything else in the exhibition. I want to do this as a way to explore how space influences how people view art, whether through the order they see it or the experience they have in seeing it.
There was predictably a mixed response, but on the whole it seemed more positive than I had expected. The main things I have to do now is continue my research into the gallery space, begin designing the space that I want to make and work out how I am going to afford it. I will probably have to apply for funding.
Hopefully I can begin to get some design ideas in the next few weeks, as I need to get people who would be willing to show their work in my gallery and the best way is to show them what I want to do.
In this year, the final year of my degree, my practice has begun to focus on the role of the spectator. I have experimented with installation and ideas of controlling the spectator within artwork. I have been influenced by the ideas of Bruce Nauman who said he distrusted participation and sought to control the viewer.
I am now beginning to develop this to look at the gallery space and movements of the spectator within such spaces. It is these ideas that shall shape what I do in my degree show.