Resolution of Practice.

I’m caught up in the subject of our relationships with objects and their role in holding and projecting ideas about our identity. The object I am currently working with is a ceramic figurine which has been in my family home since I was tiny. Through a series of creative investigations and alongside reading about contemporary art and memory I’m extrapolating a range of outcomes and meanings. The process keeps revolving in this way and I’m not concerned about the idea of finished pieces of work but rather capturing ideas as they reveal themselves.


I often struggle for a title when writing a new post – but not today – it springs to mind immediately! I have been waking really early recently (like 3am) my mind is wide awake and whirring like crazy. I can often get myself back to sleep after an hour or so by thinking about beach holidays in Spain (not sure if the thought of them is relaxing or boring but it does the trick!).

It’s a very good morning to wake early tho – it’s the longest day so I know that I am not alone in my wakefulness. Myself, lots of birds revving up for the dawn chorus and a whole load of Druids are all enjoying this lovely early start. The Druids probably haven’t even had any sleep, unlike me and the birds. That’s one reason why I could never go to Stonehenge for the summer solstice – staying up all night waiting for a cloudy sunrise – I just couldn’t have stayed awake!

This morning however I realised that I shouldn’t lull myself back to sleep. There are actually some important thoughts going through my mind that I need to express. The degree show finished on Saturday and today I am going to take my work down and bring it all back to the studio. The whole build up to and the show itself has been an emotional roller coaster. There have also been a fair few moments that are akin to getting bashed around in the dodgems. In the Degree Show Guide Bob and Roberta Smith describes it as “ an incredible rite of passage” – I get that now. It’s been wonderful to get so close to the other students in my year and to feel the incredible support from the staff here. It all feels really good – this is being at the top of the roller-coaster.

But of course the dips come and go all the time – insecurity about work, concerns about what comes next and the sadness to think that we will be saying goodbye to each other and leaving this beautiful bubble.

Our tutor Alli Neal is also leaving to spend more time with her practice and we have had a couple of really lovely parties for her (we don’t do things by half in Hereford!). Summing up words to express my experiences with Alli as Head of Fine Art has really punctuated the feelings I have about moving on and establishing my own practice. She is a fantastic teacher, consistent and clear and we will all hang on her words of wisdom in attempting to move forward with our work.

At her second party quite a few past students came along and it was great to see them and ask them ‘what was it like for you?’ Feeling’s akin to grief were mooted – oh no – not sure if I can cope with this. So I started to talk about this with my peers and we are making plans to get a small group of us together for regular crits; and to continue to use Facebook as an immediate form of communication.

I have ideas roller-coasting around in my head as to what I plan to do next but that’s for another post – once I’m on ‘the other side’. This is my last post as student of Hereford College of Arts after almost two years of writing. This whole blogging experience has been really helpful to me in learning to express myself and to articulate ideas and to see myself and my work in a different light. I will return with a new blog quite soon.

– I haven’t been reading the blogs here for a few weeks so it’s great to be back and I’m looking forward to catching up –




Today I have been on an art hunt – it’s a bit like a bear hunt but without the bear. Instead there are foxes, badgers, sheep, birds and insects..

I’ve been to a pop up exhibition in the dining room of two Herefordshire artists Shannon Donovan and Andrew Eastwood. The thing about this event is that it perfectly illustrates the situation for artists in rural locations when it comes to showing their work.

I have shown in around a dozen exhibitions in the area and been to several as a visitor. I’ve been pondering the plight of many rural artists in getting work shown. Quite often it’s a case of all dressed up and nowhere to go! In straightforward terms we have many talented artists in the area –often they are attracted here by the beauty and tranquillity of the area. With rural beauty also comes limited cultural experiences and high costs of travel. Whilst the local networks amongst artists are healthy the opportunities to show and sell work are limited.

The galleries that do exist are good and events such as the open studios bring in lots of visitors. But on the whole artists struggle with the isolation of being a long way from a large hub of creative activities.

Discovering Shannon and Andrews’ home-based exhibition is really refreshing. Shannon explained how they moved to the small Herefordshire town a few years ago. As they were decorating their dining room they decided to put up a hanging rail for their own pictures, then thought they should put some good lighting in. They soon realised that they had actually created a gallery space in their own home.

Shannon and I talked about the need to create your own opportunities as an artist, and to work inclusively involving other artists and networks. The temporary exhibition is in its second month. It opens Friday to Sunday and features a guest artist. The house, a former butcher’s shop, in part prompted the gallery name – The Leg of Mutton.

I’m really behind Shannon and Andrew in their proactive approach to showing work and to making art accessible. The gallery is light and the work well curated, there is a warm welcome and great affordable art on sale. Looking forward to next months’ Leg of Mutton show!

Shannon works with ceramics, her current work incorporates casts of animal skulls – found whilst out walking (hence the animal reference above!) and juxtaposes animal form with  floral pattern finished and glazed to a really high standard.

Andrew Eastwood experiments with the delicate properties of porcelain dealing with representational objects (birds included) and abstract pattern. The works are presented in deep beautiful box frames.

Guest artist Jane Tudge makes beautifully haunting and delicate images in wax. Works are both large and small and Jane is now producing 3D work in wax also. The subject matter involves memory and include delicate lace, children’s clothing and insects.

1 Comment

As a mature student I have just realised how much mothers do on an everyday basis to help our families out. Usually it feels a bit hectic, sometimes stressful but we get through. But now – as I am pretty snowed under with my own work for college the extra burdens of family life have just snapped my physical and emotional elastic – its official, I have peaked!

The best thing to do in this situation is to eat something and go to bed. My husband arrived home and heroically made pasta so there is hope! Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.  Despite feeling exhausted I don’t forget how lucky I am to be spending so much time with my practice. And as a year group we are all getting closer as we help each other with last minute things.

Deep down in the embers of my energy banks there is a little spark that will get me to college in the morning!

1 Comment

As we rush up to the end of the course I’m getting all sorts of information together , my CV, an exhibitions list and a bibliography too.

Just thinking about the books that have informed my work over the last year drew me back to a few of them. I’ve become so attached to them and in particular to certain extracts that it feels a bit like linking up with good friends again after not seeing them for a while.

In no particular order here they are;

Evocative Objects – Things We Think With, Sherry Turkle (ed). This well devised series of essays links personal accounts with critical theory in a direct yet imaginative way. Academics from a range of disciplines are invited to write about their own ‘evocative objects’. Stories talk about a 1960’s Ford Falcon, pre-historic axe heads, a laptop and slime mould. The writing is poignant and often moving and brings critical theory to life. The evocative qualities of objects are defined by theme, for example ‘objects of discipline and desire’ and of ‘transition and passage’.  If you are interested in the power and meaning of objects then this book is well worth a look at.

Contemporary Art and Memory – Images of Recollection and Remembrance, Jean Gibbons. This book took me a stage further in my understanding of objects and memory in its exploration of how artists express ideas about the past through their work. As my work looks at my own childhood experiences I was interested in the how the selected artist’s in the chapter ‘Autobiography’ mediated their pasts through a range of mediums and styles. The chapter ‘Revisions’ looks at artists including Yinka Shonibare and Doris Salcedo, whose work asks us to re-look at official versions of historical fact and to question their authenticity.

Stuff, Daniel Miller. This book is packed full of critical theory which is pretty heavy going in comparison to the other books on my list. However Daniel Miller’s writing style is amusing and straight forward allowing me to get into quite complex ideas. Using plenty of everyday analogies the anthropologist and critical thinker opens your eyes to the cultural meanings of even the most ordinary of objects. I didn’t manage to read the whole book (too much for my brain!) but what I did read has formed the basis of so much of my thinking and subsequent work.

After The Freud Museum, Susan Hiller. This books accompanied the exhibitions and is the antithesis of ‘Stuff’. It’s all about recording the work in photographs with minimal supporting text – always good for visual people! This was intentional allowing the work to speak for itself and it was great to have an understanding of the range of meanings that we attach to objects (thanks Daniel Miller) when looking at these images. Hiller assembled a range of objects – mostly things she had collected over the years – carefully labelled and boxed and placed in vitrines – to reflect on the subjectivity of an objects ‘value’. Her work was inspired by her residency at the Freud Museum in London (formally Freud’s home and clinic) and references his collections of historic and cultural value that in part informed his ideas about psychoanalysis.

Art and Artifact – The Museum as Medium, James Putnam. I realise as I put this book list together that much of what I like about the books is the way in which they are compiled. James Putnam covers a lot of curatorial ground in his look at how artists have made work that engages with the museum since the 1940s. With almost 300 images, short descriptions of the works and a longer more detailed text I found it easy to dip in to. There is almost a magazine feel to the book which looks at artists such as Christian Boltanski, Joseph Beuys, Mark Dion and Karsten Bott. I highly recommend this as a fantastic resource with regard to the notion of the museum; and how artists respond to and subvert the idea of museums as keepers of truth, knowledge and power.

The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund De Waal. The last book is the only work of fiction (although based on fact) and tells the story of the authors forbears’ from whom he inherits a collection netsuke. The family were fantastically wealthy and De Waal describes their lavish lifestyles and incredible collections of objects in suitably rich detail. I was a little put off at first thinking that the story was about privilege but as it took me chronologically toward the rise of the Nazis and the persecution of De Waals Jewish family I became completely engrossed.  De Waal manages to immerse  the reader in a world where touch and the quality of a surface powerfully describe a room, a day or a person’s likes and dislikes. I think his sensitivities as a potter lend themselves perfectly to the art of writing. The tiny and powerfully intriguing netsuke drive the author on a compelling journey through his family history and reveal the devastating personal experiences of Jewish families at the hand of the Nazis.


Turkle, S. (2007). Evocative Objects Things We Think With. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Gibbons, J. (2007). Contemporary Art and Memory. London: I.B.Tauris

Miller, D. (2010) Stuff. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hiller,S. (2000). After the Freud Museum. 2nd edn. London: Book Works.

Putnam,J. (2009). Art and Artifact The Museum as Medium. Revised edn. London: Thames and Hudson.

De Waal, E. (2010) The Hare with Amber Eyes. London: Chatto and Widnus



If my analogy with driving a car in my last post bears any strength then I would have to say that I’m now pulled up in a lay-by half way down the slope with a flask of coffee and a sandwich. (The brakes didn’t repair themselves but I managed to swerve into this lay-by and came to a miraculous standstill!)

My hunch to keep on working right up to the bitter end is proving fruitful. In  part because I’ve been working closely with others. My practice has shifted from working in a solitary way to working closely with one of the college technicians and with a first year photography student. In each case I have taken that leap of faith involved in sharing your ideas with someone in the hope that not only will they get what you are trying to do, but they will also support you. (In both instances with technical help).

I’m working with the 3D printer and have had just the right level of help from the technician – not too much, just nudges in the right direction. Rich in the 3D workshop is very knowledgeable in a range of processes and happy to help students experiment. He is making sure I get plenty of time in the workshop and has the ability to let his imagination wonder all over the place when we are discussing the potential applications of the technology. It feels supportive and validating and eggs me on in developing new processes. This time is after all a beginning as well as an end. My work with the 3D printer is very experimental and I’m incorporating support structures in the work to allow for the printing processes to be more apparent.

In the photographic studio I have needed lots of technical back up and fellow student Bob has been fantastically helpful. Bob is a first year photography student and is happy to work in a really spontaneous and experimental way. I  feel as if I have got some really interesting results and have grown in confidence in expressing ideas and making changes. Asking for help has opened up lots more options and I feel far more confident in the creative choices I make. So thanks Rich and Bob – you are stars!

I’m not the only third year student to still be experimenting – most of us are trying new ideas in some way – so there is a great buzz in the studio right now.