I have passed my Swedish language course – I got my results on Monday morning. So that is it for the adult education courses, on paper at least I am now capable of studying at degree level in Swedish. Obviously there is no way that in two years I have achieved the command of the language that a native 18 year old has, however it is a very good start. Now it is just to keep going.

The Friday before that we had what should have been our final Making matters (Artistic Research 2) session. However we will meet once more in the new year as the majority of the group felt unable to make presentations. This was a bit strange to me – I was expecting to make a presentation, though as I had a cold was quite glad not to.

The concluding of these two courses means that next year I can really focus on what I should have been doing at Mejan on the project programme. It can be frustrating when my part-time attendance coincides with teachers meetings and their other commitments. Next term I can be more flexible and focused. Though I have to say not having a studio to ‘retire’ to when work in the workshop is suspended is hard to deal with. Today I am using a computer here at school while paint dries … if I had a studio I would be there getting on with something else.

I had a few hours at the studio yesterday and am (finally) getting around to re-arranging it since it became fully mine. In my mind I imagine it being a place for both production and contemplation. Books and packed up old artworks are on one side, while on the other are materials and work that is being made. The table is in the middle, being a little bit ‘order focused’ I can imagine sitting on opposite sides of the table to do tasks that more or less belong to either side of the room. What I have not yet figured out is whether to sit facing the books, and therefore actually on the practical side of the studio, when I am contemplating. Or to sit on the contemplative side looking at the work in progress … and, of course, vice versa. Why do I even think that it is necessary to decide something like that? I know that often I like to have established orders to take care of simple things and thus free up time for more interesting things. I have the same thing for both breakfast and lunch each day otherwise I could easily lose a few hours wondering what to have.

There is still a nagging doubt that I am not doing ‘the right thing’ at Mejan, that the Casting Shadows proposal is, despite everything, a red herring. Maybe I am just too aware of how valuable this year is. Making things (sculptures?) from scratch is certainly a challenge. I miss the input from my materials, I miss that sense of collaboration. The other day I wondered about trying to introduce second-hand materials in to the process. To measure the amount of glass needed for casting a form you use Archimedes’ principle – putting glass nuggets in a jug of water until the internal volume of the mould is reached. As I was standing before a shelf full of second-hand vases in a charity shop I wondered if I could measure the volume of the vase, then use the same volume of wax to make form that would eventually be cast in the crushed glass vase … Something to test out next year! It certainly feels more ‘me’ than ordering glass from a Czechoslovakia.


Had a good tutorial with Rolf yesterday. It made me think about how important critical distance is, and how difficult that distance is when I am in the making process. This might well be at the heart of my wrestle with artistic research. Rather being ‘resistant’ to research as a form of rejecting the concept, I am finding it necessary to defer the critical distance – and therefore also the research aspects – of my work until I am well clear of its particular creative process. Can I be, do I want to be, both inside and outside of my processes at the same time?

Presenting my work to Rolf’s Research Inquiry students had some unexpected benefits – not least Rolf’s responses to seeing a broader range of pieces than I have presented in the research group. Another was being able to listen to myself (so I managed a bit of critical distance there then!). I planned to mention the names of the colleges I attended, however I explained in some depth Dartington’s unique Art & Social Context course. In the process of doing this it occurred to me that my education is quite different from artists of a similar age who studied more traditional fine art courses. In many ways Art & Social Context was a research based course – not that it was referred to as such, and I wonder if that is why I am somewhat perplexed by this new discipline – it is not ‘new’ to me! Throughout the course we gave account of and made claim for our practice and process, we communicated it within the field of interest and to those working in the wider community, we located it in cross-disciplinary and problem orientated activities. I might see if I can find anyone else who has re-thought what we did in the late eighties in the light of the more recent development of artistic research.

Yesterday I took a further step towards actually making something at Mejan! I used my ‘Heath Robinson’ lathe to cover the rough polystyrene forms in plaster. Working in the sculpture workshop in my old green overalls took me back to being at Dartington. Reflections on my time there seem to be very current!! I do enjoy sculptural processes – the hands-on-ness of it, the step-by-step-ness of it; I drew a shadow, which I then mirrored and traced, from this a template/profile was made, now I have a positive 3D form from which a negative (mould) form will be made so that I can make more positives. There is something about the backwards and forwards between positives and negatives that I find attractive about casting.