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By: Marion Piper
BA (Hons) Fine Art.
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# 51 [12 March 2012]
Countdown underway. Visit from external examiner tomorrow. Statements. Mock presentations next week. Degree show catalogue working party, formed.
# 50 [12 January 2012]
Four days in New York. Mostly on my own. Walking, looking, thinking. A great big decompression chamber. An opportunity to calibrate, to stride out my thoughts for the next few months. The scale here always physically impresses me. The verticality, the grid, the movement, the repetition. The reflective surfaces which, when the light begins to fade, reveals the interior. The exhibition at the Museum of The City of New York, 'The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhatten 1811-2011, plots out the history of the island and the clearing and levelling of the land for the grid. Original maps show the grid over laid on the natural geography and farm land of the time. Here was a connection for me with the small show I saw earlier yesterday, 'Surface, Support, Process: The 1960's Monochrome in the Guggenheim Collection'. The notes spoke of the artists, who included: Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Robert Mangold, working away from the, 'heroic personality driven rhetoric of the Abstract Expressionists' towards a cooler, impersonal, restrained, and self referential approach. However I think the works are very personal. Personal approaches that both convey and open up possibilities for observation and reflection; the materials and methods full of narrative and external reference. Temporarily disconnected from the heroic domestic narrative, this for me is a place to think to get to work in the studio in my head. In a similar way to Lee Devonish; i'm clearing the land of rocks and boulders levelling the ground for something new. Sent from my iPhone
# 49 [4 January 2012]
I love it. When something I am thinking about, usually following something I have read but can’t really pin down in my own terms, happens in front of me. Twice.
A few weeks ago when I was wading around in some art theory, I experienced this feeling of understanding the words that I was reading and re-reading; but not in my mind. Somewhere in my head but not in the place of logical thought. If I closed my eyes I could imagine the idea and hold it. When I opened my eyes I couldn’t. It was about a space between things and places that don’t actually exist; but that I know are there. The presence of colour and time that cannot be touched.
Listening to Stuart Cumberbatch discussing the paintings of Jonathan Lasker at a talk at Timothy Taylor in November, I had the impression that he seemed to be speaking from that kind of place too. He spoke about an anxiety he experienced as he spent time with the paintings. Cumberbatch went on to describe how he had this sense of the paintings as, ‘...something like a heist movie‘ a combination of the intense planning and execution required in pulling it off and the artist being, ‘...like the guy who cracks open the safe’. A palpable pressure, ‘The sweat just under the skin’*
The second occasion was a couple of weeks later at a crit in the studio. The way they are run at Bucks is that the work is viewed and discussed against certain criteria and only at the end of the process does the student have the opportunity to speak. I presented two paintings each made up of two canvases. The smaller second pair to be discussed resulted in a more interesting discussion. After some general ‘art speak’ observations one of the students described the piece as being, ‘like a deconstructed sandwich opened up with the painting being the bit in the middle’. This for me was the most important thing said. She had seen something that didn’t actually exist as she looked between the two canvases. Not the space on the wall, as they were almost abutted.
Theory; off the page.
So back to the studio this week. Wood, canvas, paint. To find that place.
*Stuart Cumberbatch speaking at the Abstract Critical panel discussion at the Jonathan Lasker exhibition at Timothy Taylor 29th November 2011
# 48 [9 December 2011]
[...] it is just this potential for the literal surface to be transformed into the point of entry to a world that endows it with it’s potential for psychological depth. The picture plane is the defining condition of our relationship to what a given picture shows.
I have been giving thought to surface.
The literal and the invisible.
A ‘plane of conversion’
where the materials and the content become visible as separate parts and the surface of ideas is perceived.
From the front from the back. The present and the past.
Looking for things that cannot be seen.
Feedback this week following my formative assessment indicates that I’m on track with all the criteria, which is great. More interesting though was the conversation about subjective responses to the colours I use. I realised whilst speaking that although my colour decisions are made for particular reasons I had not made a connection between colour and the surface of that colour in the memory of it. I sense that this is very important for me.
An entry point.
1Charles Harrison, Painting the Difference: Sex and the Spectator in Modern Art, 2005, University of Chicago Press. Pg 14
2 Jacques Ranciere, The Painting in the Text, from The Future of the Image, Verso, London 2007, P89
# 47 [11 November 2011]
Do I see then paint or see when I paint?
Does the painting replicate the seeing experience?
Does the painting need to be anchored in the seeing experience?
Just a few of the self directed questions from my mid-term tutorial review form (which we bring completed to the tutorials) The tutorial was a helpful conversation in the week following the Contextualisation Powerpoint presentations which prefigure the one we give in May, and only two weeks before our formative assessment.
Reflecting on my work is a strangely passive out of body process at the moment, one of watching myself at work, viewing all the activity as parts of one action. Each question progressing swiftly into the next and the next; no answer required. As part-time students we have been in this level since February, and there is for us a sense of preparing for what comes after the course. Our full time colleagues are preoccupied with their dissertations and by the amount of time taken away from studio practice, which they are all desperate to give themselves to. Our dissertations sit on the staff office shelf; marked but the grade not given until the final result. Our thoughts hover around what our practice means to us outside of the uni. I have just looked at the timetable and added up our official studio days; 44 remaining. Four years of tutorials and modules, crits and conversations, and still more boxes to be ticked. Yet when I walk away in June it will be me and my practice, how well do we know each other? How authentic is the relationship? There has been a shift. No longer what and why, but how?
# 46 [27 October 2011]
Beware All Inexperienced Boatmen is the randomly selected title of a student show in the uni gallery space, swiftly yet thoughtfully curated by our tutor last week. The quote is from the essay, The River Po, from The Shape of a Pocket by John Berger, that I had on my desk. It seemed to make an immediate connection although I felt a little guilty at the haphazard method of choosing it (I did say swiftly). I re-read it. Berger is writing about the film Gente del Po made in the mid 1940’s, by Michelangelo Antonioni. He describes the river as, ‘A sprawling story of regular repetitions and unpredictability’,* with a still surface and hidden currents, and a famously un-penetrable fog that shrouds visibility; hence the warning. The work relates well together all having been previously exhibited separately and is now presented together here at the beginning of our final academic year. A point at which forward motion is necessary and urgent, ‘to negotiate and finally join the beyond.’*
Beware All Inexperienced Boatmen
Buckinghamshire New University Gallery
* The Shape of a Pocket, John Berger, BloomsburyPublishing Plc, London, 2002.
# 45 [21 October 2011]
Mmm... convergence or divergence? a good prompt for a post, thank you David Riley for your comment.
My painting activity at Angelika involves converging points. Elements coming in from different directions, both formally and from source. I’m letting them in and taking their lead. I plan to move these canvasses down the road to the uni studio to work on them there next week. I don’t want there to be a divide between the two spaces.
The work I started at uni has a divergent character. Two canvases begun in the same manner, side by side. The concertina sketchbook shares the same first step and then I have decided to activate the same decision in the book as on the canvas but translate it differently. As the two canvases develop I expect the 17 pairs of pages will also take a other directions. So many things happen on the canvas during painting slipping between the layers. I am interested in the ‘Sliding Doors‘ question and wonder myself what might happen.
# 44 [15 October 2011]
Studio spaces have now been allocated for the first six week period, with detailed guidelines and expectations for how they and the shared workspaces are to be used. It is a different way and there may well be some problems. We final year students need to get on with working now and not let it distract us. The reduction in teaching hours for our staff has resulted in a re-plan of the timetable and a re-adjustment to how teaching hours are used. Moving furniture and cleaning up the studio (along with constructing it!) etc are the responsibility of the artist and part of studio life. It is our studio. Use it or loose it.
The first deadline of the year approaches, for 10 minute power point presentation for the Context and Presentation module. This is a practice run for the new contextulisation section of the viva we give at our final. I am finding that this process is far from limiting. It is helping me to identify the heart of my practice. I don’t want to make work ‘like’ anyone but I’m not making in a vacuum either. It’s a multi-lingual visual world out there, witness Frieze, and I suppose I want to know my language well and to communicate it clearly.
I have started two groups of work. In my studio space at Angelika, I am working with the starting point of a small pencil drawing continuing the Massena series. At uni I am pursuing a series using the concertina sketchbook drawing/painting activity I have been doing throughout the course.
Concertina - Moving
# 43 [9 October 2011]
Thank you for your comments Richard, David and Sam.
Yes, space = time!
It was felt last year by tutors that 60% of the studio had been underused. This year Fine Art has lost some space to the Foundation course and after completing the first year in the main campus a re-plan was needed. Historically part-timers have had equal space to the full time students, with free access at any other time, w/ends etc. There is a strong ethos of working in the studio and of ongoing studio conversation. My observation is that work made exclusively ‘at home’ always seems to struggle to make it’s way into that conversation. Which echoes David's and Sam’s concerns about sterile space and time.
There have been mixed emotions about having to build the studio spaces. A modular design of double walled ‘permanent’ structures have been built, and this will save a lot of time for the final degree show build still leaving an open space available for inventive installations. Not wanting to sound overly romantic I do feel this ‘barn raising’ experience has been positive.
My uni focus has been to update my studio practice proposal. Discussions in a group tutorial has opened the door into fellow students proposed working methods and inquiries and has got the dialogue off to a good start.
It has been a rewardingly busy time at Angelika Studios we currently have an exhibition curated for our gallery by Gordon Dalton of Mermaid and Monster http://www.mermaidandmonster.com and I have taken on Tweeting for the studio! http://bit.ly/nhrjzQ
# 42 [26 September 2011]
Heading back in to the studio this week will be different to previous years. The tutors want to refigure the studios to allow for more opportunities for students to work at different scales and to have the space to be more ambitious. The warren of individual cubicles will be opened up into spaces of different sizes and students will no longer own their space for the year but use a space appropriate to their work. Decent storage space for work and materials will be included in the plan, along with a small area to meet and engage with each other, requested by the students. This will all probably take a while to be put in place and it will be interesting to see how sharing communal space works in practice.
In the next few months I would like to revisit some of the questions I had on entering the course four years ago. I want to evaluate 'breakthrough pieces' and bring threads together as I approach the end of this stage, and the opening up of the next one.
The changes to the physical studio space seem somehow timely for me.
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Final year Fine Art student, in my fifth year of part time study. Associate member at Angelika Studios, High Wycombe.