Unanticipated good things

The re:view bursary has had some good aspects that I did not expect:

1) I have been thinking a lot about my own work in preparation for the re:view meetings. It goes without saying that much that my mentors say is very insightful and gets me reflecting further, but I hadn’t considered the effect of having to articulate what I do. At each meeting I probably speak about it slightly differently, or start from a slightly different point. Deciding what works to show and what questions to ask of them is useful in itself. Writing this blog (and even avoiding writing it) has also been helpful. I spend quite a lot of time thinking about posts even if I don’t end up writing some of them!

2) I have visited various exhibitions and galleries during my forays to other cities. Normally I try to go to exhibitions a lot anyway, I think it’s an important part of being an artist. But there are always pressures of money and time-planning that limit me travelling as much as I would like. As I wrote in the last post I recently visited NGCA (the first time I had been there) and trips to London included visiting The Showroom and Parasol Unit amongst others. These were places that had been on my ‘sounds interesting’ list for a while so it was good to finally get there.

3) Getting into the habit of talking to people about my work/their work has been great. I have always liked having a good-old art ‘crit’ session but don’t have the chance to do this often enough. The bursary came at a time when I was already seeking to make more discussion opportunities for myself and has certainly expanded the scope of who I have been able to talk to. It has encouraged me to speak to people not just about specific pieces of work (crit format) but also about my work and the context for it more generally. It has also helped to build my confidence at asking for feedback within my existing peer network. Now when I am making new work and feel stuck, I have been asking friends/fellow artists who I think can help me out. These are people who I have a relationship with already; I have worked with them, exhibited with them, studied with them etc. They are people whose opinions I value and with whom I would like to develop a more critical ongoing two-way relationship. I have moreover enjoyed becoming part of a regular meet up group with fellow bursary recipient Jean McEwan and blogger Louise Atkinson. This includes other artists who I did not previously know, or who I only knew a bit via social media or occasional ‘hellos’.



Last week I had my penultimate bursary meeting with curator Matthew Hearn. I have been terrible at updating this blog, so at some point will do some back tracking to previous meetings but let me pick up with where I am now!

One of the things Matthew suggested about my work, is that it is to do with ‘information.’ I replied that no-one had said this before. Then I remembered that I have some work in an upcoming exhibition where, now I think back to the invite to show, it included the text:

“It is the idea of information and centralization that is pushed forward as the premise of this exhibition. The artist that are chosen for this exhibition are all working with worldly information, pulling this to themselves and projecting it to world, universalizing it again. The focus here lies on concrete data-notification in opposition to personal mythologies. By using data in a way that it becomes a subject itself an abstraction is created. This can give a new view on reality, or even a suggestion for a new reality.”

How many times do you need someone to tell you something about your own work?!

I suppose that when working as an artist you have a lot of different things going on in your head. Often I find that when somebody makes a suggestion it’s easy to think of the exceptions rather than why their comment is pertinent (i.e. sometimes my work does include personal stuff). The bursary meetings are definitely making me think more about active listening and how to take on board what people are saying, rather than just hoping that they will say what I would like to hear! Another of Matthew’s comments was that I should query works/formats that I don’t like or that feel ‘wrong’ for my own work and question why.

For a while I have had the sense that I talk about my work slightly wrongly. I have got into the habit of saying that I am an artist who uses text/language and that I often work site-responsively. But I am not sure if this is the crux of things. So now I need to think about this idea of ‘information.’ How is it useful for me?

After meeting Matthew I visited the exhibition ‘Learn To Read Differently’ at NGCA. It was an accident of good timing that the meeting coincided with this exhibiton by Circa projects and Information as Material. I know iam’s work to some extent already but of course the conversation with Matthew made me think about my relationship to what they do slightly differently. A short tagline form their website suggests they are an: “independent imprint that publishes work by artists who use extant material — selecting it and reframing it to generate new meanings — and who, in doing so, disrupt the existing order of things.”

This particular exhibition starts from a premise of language being both a material and social signifier, that art cannot be purely conceptual but is always aesthetic as well. This is an idea that I agree with. The exhibition also got me thinking about types of information – from the literary to the vernacular – and about where my work sits in relation to this. I have no grand conclusions but definitely food for thought.

…and continuing the theme of ‘food for thought’… I also went on the Baltic to see Heather Phillipson’s current exhibition there. One of her videos muddles the words ‘French Cuisine’ with ‘French Kissing,’ there’s a lot of wordplay in the soundtracks to her videos. The image tracks are apparently all made using video footage culled form elsewhere (a form of visual ‘information’). I really like how she plays with words and references to the body and physicality. It is in an aesthetically very different way to what I do but I find some resonances and things for me to learn from her approach.