After a weekend of pondering I think I have finally resolved another key issue relating to the final exhibition. It’s amazing what a brew in the garden can do…!
I am keen for the exhibition to not act as a full stop on the residency. I feel like I am just getting started and to try and cobble together drawings over the next couple of weeks just for the sake of having something to show seems like a missed opportunity.
Therefore, I have decided to set the show up as an evolving exhibition, with 64 new drawings introduced into the space as and when they are produced. Drawings will be presented in various states of completion, with the aim being to complete the series by 1 November 2012 – the final day of the exhibition.
I think this is a really exciting concept and one that allows a greater degree of research and exploration directly through the process of making. It will also make it more explicit that this is an active residency as opposed to something static.
A few people have already said I am slightly mad for attempting so many drawings in the series, but I am convinced the results will be worth it.
More info on how I am approaching the drawings over the coming days.
Great meeting with Rosamond yesterday afternoon. We decided on a title for the exhibition: ‘Autography’, relating to notions of automatic writing and drawing as a form of signature. We have been deliberating since the residency began on whether the show requires a title and came to conclusion that it needed something to pull the themes and concepts of both mine and Gill’s work together. ‘Madge Gill/Jack J Hutchinson’ just didn’t quite cut the mustard!
We also finalised plans for my artist’s talk. A preliminary date has been set for Thursday 13 September at the Nunnery’s Carmelite Cafe. There will be a short introduction to Gill followed by a conversation between myself and the Chair (exciting name soon to be announced!). I am interested in exploring drawing as an inherently private activity, often done for individual reasons. However, it’s other purpose is to provoke and invigorate, and exhibiting is intrinsically public. The talk will address these issues within the context of mine and Gill’s practices.
Yesterday was also the first time I have physically taken my new series of drawings into the Nunnery and we spent a long time bashing out ideas on how to avoid them getting lost in the space. This is constantly an issue with my work. The drawings are so delicate and small that an intelligent approach to how they are presented is essential.
I definitely think we cracked it…!
Today I have been completing the fourth in my new series of postcard-sized drawings. I have documented my mark making process in a short promotional video for the exhibition. I’m pretty sure this type of video would horrify Gill, but I found it really interesting watching my actions and movements. It sounds a bit strange but I really do get lost in the drawing process and to watch it back was quite unnerving!
Check out the video here:
Creating drawings during the Madge Gill Residency
Today I have been reading Deanna Petherbridge’s superb essay on Gill titled ‘Recouping Otherness’. She explains that, from the sparse facts of her life that we do know, Gill spent a long time in bed after a miscarriage and illness that claimed one eye. Although she probably ventured out of her bedroom to go to the shops to buy her postcards or art materials, for the large part Gill was isolated from the outside world.
There is no way I can possibly fully understand the traumas Gill suffered. The closest I have come to experiencing such seclusion was probably when, just after I completed my MA in drawing at Wimbledon College of Art, I contracted reactive arthritis. Bed ridden and unable to walk for just over two months, I felt trapped in my own little world. At one point I couldn’t even pick up a pencil without being in absolute agony and when I finally could the drawings I made sat in bed were quite different to what I was producing before I got ill.
Thankfully I made a 100% recovery but that period still effects me, even if it is more psychological than physical. Perhaps it is the reason I test myself with my mark making – the more intricate and ‘perfect’ I can make it, the more I have moved away from an illness that temporarily robbed my of all my technical skills as an artist.
This afternoon I actually attempted to make a drawing in bed. It was bloody hard work and not much fun! Perhaps it reminded me too much of what was a pretty traumatic period in my life. However, the biggest thing was that I just missed my studio.
When I was recovering from my illness one of the first things I decided to do was get a new studio. My confidence (both in terms of my practice but also generally) was at a real low and I knew that meeting a new studio group would help. I made new friends who encouraged me to ‘get back in the game’ as it were and have had various studios since, at one point travelling about 100 miles a day from the midlands to commute to Cor Blimey Arts.
I now see my studio at Bow Arts as an integral part of my identity, not just as an artist but as a person. I don’t think I will be having a ‘lie-in’ again soon…!
Bit of a manic 24 hours. Delivered my drawings for the Ludlow Open, facilitated a live Twitter debate for AIR/a-n, and also written, proofed and distributed the Madge Gill press release. Most importantly I’ve completed my third drawing of the week. Via a 200 mile round trip to the midlands.
One thing I always advise artists to do is to plan, plan, plan. Any successful portfolio career requires a lot of multitasking and having things mapped out well in advance avoids targets being missed. The first thing Rosamond did when I started the residency was send me a pretty detailed contract listing every milestone I need to hit over the next 5 weeks. I would recommend any artist starting a project, whether it be large or small, to do the same.
With the press release signed off and distributed the next task to get stuck into is planning a series of talks and events to accompany the exhibition. Now there are many ways to approach this but I tend to find basic ‘artists talks’ a tad boring. A fine example of how to do things properly is Zeitgeist Art Project’s ‘DIY Educate’ programme. Their ‘Show and Tell’ series of talks presents dynamic artist-led independents talking about what drives them forward. Minus the bloody moaning!
ZAP also provide crits and tutorials for artists and this is something I would like to incorporate into the Madge Gill events programme. I have found the Engine Chat Chat series of group crits (facilitated by artist Elizabeth Murton and part of the DIY Educate programme) really stimulating and a drawing themed crit session open to both Bow Arts artists and the wider artist community could stimulate a really interesting and engaging debate.
If anyone has any suggestions of what they would like to see as part of the events programme for the exhibition please let me know!