Trip to Uherske Hradiste:
Day 1 Sunday –
After arriving in Brno late on Saturday evening on Sunday we went to visit a number of modern art galleries around Brno. The first gallery included work of local upcoming artists and local students. The work was displayed in an inspiring and different way. Exhibited in boxed tables. I was particularly inspired by the works that involved text as I found this emotive. The power of words and using opposite words to create a more emotive description of something. Some pieces of the work covered political and social issues that I am currently looking at in my own practise, racial issues, women’s rights, and equality.
The second gallery that we went to featured a lot more installation based works and sculptural work. This would be something that I am interested in developing in my own practice as I like the idea of being interactive and involving the viewer.
The third gallery that we visited had video work and again played the power of words. There were words on the floor that drew my attention and also repetitive photographic images on a screen. This allowed the viewer to make the connection between the words and the subject of the images on the screen.
We also went to see the catacombs under the church, which contained the skulls and bones of the individuals buried there from hundreds of years ago. It was interesting to see but it was not an area of the trip that particularly inspired me towards my artwork, unlike a lot of the other students whose work for the week seemed particularly influenced by this experience.
We travelled to UH in the late afternoon.
Day 2: Monday –
We had a visit to the prison in the morning, taken by Zdena and Veronika who would look after us for the week, We were staying in the old army barracks, the school was the old police station and the prison that we would be exhibiting in and inspired by was made in the 2nd world war and the used as part of the communist regime to imprison, torture and ultimately execute prisoners, who were usually political subjects but could also be local farmers etc.
Walking around the prison for the first time that morning was a highly emotive experience. I was trying to get a feel for the environment that I was in. I was trying to think about emotive words to describe the prison and thinking about whether or not the prison and the work that I would be doing is about the empty prison building or about the atrocities that happened there. I chose to loom at the building itself as I felt that due to the environment that we were in and the people in the town we were in, it would be disrespectful for me to try to highlight the issues that these people went through when I cannot empathise with them.
I did some small sketches whilst inside the prison itself and took some photographs for reference later on. We were that shown to our studio space in the ceramics building of the secondary school.
In the afternoon we were shown around the ceramics and sculpture school. First we went to the sculpture department, which was very insightful and inspiring. The students at the sculpture school were being taught traditional methods of carving, where they were being taught how to carve a lions head out of sandstone. It was incredible skill.
After visiting this we all took part in a pottery/ceramics class. We got to learn how to use the pottery wheel and each of us took it in turns to make a pot on the wheel. I had a few goes as initially I found it incredibly difficult, but it gradually got easier and in the end I managed to make a pot after a couple of goes that I was happy with.
Day 3 Tuesday –
We had a morning session in the print room making dry point prints. I have done this process before as part of my assessment work from last year studio practise. However I found this session interesting, as it was good to see the differences between the process that I use in the UK and the process that they use here. They use a different ink which is oil based and appeared to be a lot thinner than the ink that I use. The ink was also very oily which I think affected the print. It meant that the ink was a lot harder to clean off of the plate and therefore left what I think is a dirtier print. There was not as clean crisp lines.
In the afternoon we worked in the studios and I developed my drawings and ideas for the exhibition. We did not have a lot of time allocated to make the artwork so we had to work hard and quickly to get in done in time. We had to have a idea of what we wanted for the exhibition and work towards it without a lot of change in order to achieve what we wanted. In the studios I developed my drawing and photos from the prison into developmental drawings. I focussed on the hall and corridor of the prison as I felt this area of the prison had the greatest feeling for me. I felt that the corridor had a feeling of entrapment but also a feeling of freedom. You can spread out down a corridor, you can walk up and down and the corridor is the journey towards the freedom of the outside. It even has windows to the outside word. However for the prisoners in here it would have felt like entrapment, the windows barred up and the big metal gates, sectioning off parts of the prison.
I worked on my ideas for the piece. I wanted the piece of work to be one drawing however I wanted the drawing to be split up in 3 sections of the drawing. They would be displayed by being hung at different depths within on of the prison cell. This would give an impression of opening up the cells so people can walk through the drawings and give the illusion of one drawing when looking at it from a distance, to show that feeling of freedom as if to open up the space.
Day 4 Wednesday –
In the morning we had a tour of the main school looking round all the different departments. The work being made was very good especially in the drawing and painting department, where we observed in on a life drawing class. We then had a workshop in the multimedia department where we used a piece of technology called Alchemy to make virtual artwork, and using project we projected onto the wall the designs and patterns to the music. Personally this isn’t an area of art and design that I find interesting and I wouldn’t use it again, however I did find it interesting to talk to the Czech students that were doing the course and their ideas on artwork.
I spent the afternoon working on my piece for the exhibition. Working on large sheets of paper. I made 1 large drawing in charcoal of the corridor of the prison. I was working from the drawings that I did in the prison and the photographs that I took. This in itself posed quite a challenge as the drawings that I had done in the prison and then the photos that I had taken were from a slightly different angle and had slightly different lighting to them. This made it hard to make that image so in the end I decided to do the final piece of work from the photograph.
I used feedback from the other students to improve my work in stages. I received feedback about the windows that I needed to make them slimmer as they looked to wide. I also added the faint marks of the tiles on the floor to give the drawing depth. Finally I made the end of the corridor darker as at first it was too light and lacked depth. After I had added the darker patch, I realised that with the shadows that I had added there was the illusion that there was a person standing at the end of the corridor. This was not present in the original photograph but it was after I had drawn it and I like the coincidental nature of this. It also highlights the paranormal nature of the work.
Day 5 Thursday –
Exhibition day. In the morning we moved our stuff over from the studios to the prison to start putting up and curating our exhibition. We each chose a space in the prison that we wanted to exhibit our work. I chose to work in one of the prison cells as I felt this was an enclosed space, in which I could place my work. My work that I had made was intended to open a space up and I wanted to place it in a space that was very enclosed and trapping so that it gave the illusion of the space opening.
The original idea was to have the pieces of work hanging at 3 different depths in the room. My original hanging idea was to have the work hanging from pieces of string attached at either side of the cell. This was not possible however as the wood supports that I had in place were not strong enough to hold the work. It made the work hang unevenly and this lost the effect of the work that I wanted. I therefore had to change my idea. I instead decided to use the wooden supports but cross them over against one of the walls. I then attached a piece of string across the supports and used this to hang my work against.
This turned out a lot better than I had expected and I was really happy with the overall feeling that I managed to achieve.
The exhibition was really great and lots of the students from the school turned up to view the work. We received some great feedback from the exhibition. Zdena told me that she was impressed that we had managed to produced as much work as we had in the time that we had been allocated. Many of the students from the school commented saying that really liked the drawing and the headmaster said that he was impressed with the work and that he liked the curation of the work. Trudy and John, UOS students, said that they liked the sense of depth that the work had, that the work opened up the enclosed room and showed the hopes that the prisoners had. They also said that the work had a feeling of opening up the enclosed space as well as enclosing it at the same time.