Contemporary Fine Art student based in Nottingham involved in a number of curatorial projects.


Who are your role models?

A piece of advice given to me recently was to find people who are in positions I would like to have and work back through their CVs. Follow their trajectory back to the point I am currently at and see what steps they took next.

So who do I want to be? In five years, in ten years, in the time past that which I can’t imagine. I’m not exactly sure. I’ve got a job title in mind, there’s institutions that I like, independents I admire, great big spaces that I’d like to get my hands on. However, I’m not currently able to imagine how I get from here to there.

Maybe it is a good idea to look at other peoples’ paths, it at least confirms that it is possible. And where to start? Well, MAs have been on my mind this year so that’s where I began looking. If there is one thing that worries me it is that there seem to be a number of popular institutions which it would seem that I’d have to go to if I ever want to emulate quite a few succesful careers.

This is connected to a bigger logistical problem: the current economic and political climate is not conducive to postgraduate study. I’m ambitious and I work hard, I’m not expecting that I’ll get in everywhere or anywhere for the kind of courses I would like to apply to but firstly, how on earth would I pay for it if I did? Even if you are lucky enough to have familial support there’s so many costs to consider and seemingly so much debt to get into.

Beyond these straightforward problems there’s also something that runkles me slightly about the idea of certain institutions being the only pathway to the best jobs. Its something that makes practical sense, the best universities attract the best applicants and whittle them down to the best of the best, but the situation holds people to ransom through their own ambitions.

Now if I consider my role models, both in terms of those around me at a local level, who are doing great things with the resources available, to those who are coordinating blockbuster exhibitions at the biggest institutions in the world, they all have a few things in common:

Vision, hard working, in-depth understanding of the artists’ practices, instinctive sense of what to support, good sense of humour, new and innovative approaches to engaging audiences’ with contemporary art, practicality and above all personal drive to make things happen.

Now that’s what I want to be. I’ve got a long way to go in terms of my education, CV building and if I’m honest with myself critical understanding of what I want to do. But I think its important to keep these qualities in mind and to try to live up to them as I enter into the post degree show world. Currently that feels like the end game but I’ve got a little bit of space at the moment after handing in my midpoint work to breathe and look forward. It seems as good a time as any to think, who do I want to be?


What happens when you are no longer contemporary? Simplistically either you become historical or you are forgotten. Looking through survey shows recently including the Turner Prize (many remembered, even before my birth I could recognise a few names) and the British Art Show (mind boggling amount of artists with a large proportion unknown to me) I began to wonder what befalls the artist who falls out of favour?

I was thinking of curating two sister shows about competitiveness, one directly relating to the acts of competition and one which presents artists once popular and currently not. Not revilled or forgotten just on the other side of the current moment. I’d like to pose a question about the implications of temporary success in art.

Or in other words, What becomes of the broken hearted?

This idea (which may or may not have merit) stemmed from an experiment in framing archives that I conducted in the studios. I presented a ‘British Art Show Hall of Fame’ that listed every artist, by exhibition, that has taken part in the survey show over its 35 year history. There were remarks that this was an act of institutional critique but much more interesting were the responses which took things more personally, as tutors and students considered their relationships to the list of names in front of them.

There is an aspirational quality to these survey shows, from Becks Futures for the upcoming to British Art Show for the established, that invites an artist to look at these lists and feel ambition and envy. So when looking back through the archives how does it feel not to recognise many names?

Trends in art are probably quite plodding in comparison to faster moving worlds like fashion and business (I imagine) but there are a number of artists names off the top of my head which would fit into the category of former golden boy.

Competitiveness is not a characteristic that is often openly declared as it can suggest desperation, just as you might not readily describe yourself as gregarious, as it might also make you sound desperate. I, for one, have been labelled ambitious which I can’t help but feel still has negative connotations for a young woman in a way it doesn’t have for young men.

Considering this I began to mentally list peers of mine who would never push themselves forward for fear of being thought… what? Too pushy? These people all interviewed for a course and beat six people for their place, they all achieved grades or demonstrated capability to even get interviews and in June our work will all be presented cheek by jowl in the studios where we have spent the last three years. This is the way you get into and on in art school. So why is competitiveness such a dirty word?

Taking all this into account I am sure that in some way I need to put together an exhibition which explores competition. I am curating a show in January at the Malt Cross gallery which features Peter Stonhold and Ruth O’Grady titled Imposition which allows one artist to take centre stage and the other the opportunity to intervene within the gallery space. Both these artists are on my course and I am really excited to see their work for the show. I am attempting to support two types of artists by offering the necessary frameworks for both their practices.

To follow this: a show which features artists who are competitive, engage in competitive acts and invite audiences to participate in competition, who could all compete for centre stage. And then a further exhibition which invites artists to exhibit works which were either part of their most successful period or made since that time.

I would never intend to mock the second set of arists. I am interested in what it means to be on a trajectory and what it means to no longer be on one. I’d be particularly interested to know if they felt that this change had come about because of their practice changing or staying the same? I would not consider these artists failures as they have acheived success.


I am not required to write a dissertation to complete my degree. Instead at NTU Fine Art students are required to hand in 7 staged pieces of writing beginning with a statement of intent and including two 1000 word essays about the context of our practices.

Tomorrow is the deadline for the first writing task and I am done with it. During the last week I felt completely overwhelmed by moving into my third year. Too many commitments, the start of a 25 week countdown and a lot of seminars and deadlines within the first 10 weeks. I’m never quite sure that Fine Art is the perfect course for me and when under pressure I start to fantasize about alternative routes.

I’ve had to make a choice about what to not do. The first and least necessary thing is to apply for any MAs. Its unrealistic to think that I could be starting a curation course next September and it would be wise to build up a fund first. The second is to stop justifying what I do. I’ve had difficulty presenting work within the studios, usually because I’ve made work specifically for assessment out of fear of having nothing to show. New outlook: I have a practice, you just can’t always see it. (That still needs some work).

Tomorrow is the 3rd installment of ‘In Production’ at Nottingham Contemporary. I’m excited and anxious. I’ve got an idea of a few audience members who I will be happy to see and I think the artists lined up will be great. Mainly I’m looking forward to seeing their new work and the discussion with the audience. I’m trying not to think too hard about giving the introduction. I’m a nervous but frequent public speaker.

The Research Portfolio (the collection of writing produced over the final year and handed in alongside the degree show exhibition) feels like it has started today with my first hand in. There’s a lot to do before christmas, my work always seems to throw up a lot more questions than answers. I’m not sure at all how the year will resolve itself. End game approaches, only 24 weeks to go.


Taking a trip to Birmingham today has got me wanting to write, although as usual lacking in time.

A new set of shows opened at the Ikon, Ikon Eastside, Eastside Projects and Vivid just last weekend. The highlights of the trip for me were Jamie Shovlin’s ‘Hiker Meat’ at Grand Union and AVPD’s ‘Hitchcock Hallway’ at Ikon Eastside. Also over at Ikon the unusual video work tucked away in the tower, ‘Nail Biter’ by Anthony Goicolea is well worth nipping through Donal Judd’s exhibition to get to.

Jamie Shovlin’s exhibition ‘Hiker Meat’, takes as its jumping off point 1970s and 80s horror films, a subject I’m very fond of. The 60 mis-matched monitors playing clips from films of this era, which when watched in order apparently build up a rough idea of what the film ‘Hiker Meat’ would be, are central and overwhelming in the room.

‘Hiker Meat’ is not yet a film. It is at present an unrealised screen play but has a full score, is at the stage of casting but also of research. There is a full poster and it can be watched through a collage of film clips but as the exhibition opens has not had a scene filmed. Evidence of Shovlin’s research and responses surrounds the central monitor installation, the horror film dissected into its component parts. The project, as I am pleased the press release makes clear, is at once a deconstruction and a homage to the horror films of this era.

On Saturday I’m heading to Manchester to see among other exhibitions and screenings, ‘Unspooling- Artists Cinema’ curated by Andrew Bracey and David Griffiths. Depending on how I find the exhibition, it could potentially link back to ‘Hiker Meat’ and the following work as i try to examine the curation of film and video.

‘Hitchcock Hallway’ in experience runs in a similar vein to Mike Nelson’s ‘Coral Reef’, which I mentioned in an earlier post. The audience enters a small confined space, only to be confronted with the same small space, again and again and again. The same blue carpet, white walls, gloss white door and silver handle in repetition extended over a longer period that might be initially expected. While Mike Nelson has set up an extended narrative through his numerous and repeating interiors, in which characters feel absent and artefacts are weighted with information, the collaboration behind AVPD have created a minimal but increasingly tense situation, in which I felt caught and compelled into action.

Part of me wonders if this is really the place to be writing in so much detail about exhibitions. For some reason a small white block with a limited amount of space seems to contain a lot more freedom for me to express opinion than a daunting blank word document. Its probably because of the speed at which a post can be produced, skimmed and then sent. There’s no feeling that this is going to be examined in detail and flaws underlined.

I now know my tutor: Craig Fisher, my weekly meeting time and my first two deadlines. Sometimes knowledge can fail to make you feel empowered. My first critical review deadline is much earlier than I had hoped and my statement of intent, which has laid dormant in a folder for the last few weeks, really needs a lot of work before the 12th.

Off to work now. Really need to carve out some space for thinking. Doesn’t seem to happen when I’m within the studios. Thinking about what AVPD say, ‘the human being is a spatial animal unconciously affected by the fundamental laws that define our everyday lives’. I can’t help but feel that as my environment is key to my productivity I would much prefer to be in the relative quiet of a busy office than the sprawling open plan studios.