Uploading my photographs from visiting the art museum in Gothenburg produced some images that I find fascinating and intriguing. My recently updated i-photo programme now automatically applies its ‘face recognition’ feature to all my pictures. Having taken photographs in the museum’s Painted History exhibition there were a number of faces … I attach a particularly good example of the outcome.
The painting is one of many depictions of Karl XII being returned to Sweden after losing his life in battle in Norway. I love the way in which twenty-first century technology has indiscriminately assigned a, wholly inappropriate, utterance to members of the royal entourage. I keep returning to the (updated) image and find myself looking, and looking again, at the complexity of it – somehow it suggests something very performative. It may become the start of a new work, or at least something to look further in to.
At the moment though I should be concentrating on making something from my year at Mejan presentable. The year, as I have already mentioned, has been quite different from the year that I had imagined. As I am still not entirely sure exactly what will be achievable during the next couple of weeks, I have decided to propose a relatively modest and simple installation for the end of year show. We have to submit our ideas to the ‘hanging group’ by Monday. The spaces around the school are not inspiring – or rather the spaces that inspire me are either off limits (fire exit routes) or so remote that I fear visitors will never find them. I am reminded of my MA show at the Slade where my intentionally discrete, subtle works were completely overlooked by all but the keenest of eyes. I do not wish to make the same mistake again; it was not really a ‘mistake’ in terms of placing the work, it was however not the best thing to do under the conditions of a very competitive show. So instead of the beautiful old stone staircase – where each step bears traces of the centuries of men stationed in the building when the island was a naval base – I will perhaps suggest locating my work in the architecturally and emotionally sterile main entrance in the 1980s extension.
I have always been attracted to staircases – as places to show work, and more generally! – I remember a photograph from my childhood in which my aunt, who has lived in America since before my birth, was standing in the middle of a very glamorous sweeping staircase, as I remember she was in a white cocktail dress (above the knee), pointed white slingbacks, and had big (almost Dusty style) hair – it was the sixties. The staircase was carpeted in deep red, it was the kind of staircase that had balustrades on both sides, it may even have bifurcated and swept round to both the left and right. I could have misremembered this terribly, but that is not really the point. Years later a colleague gave a lecture about Art Nouveau through examples of its staircases, he was a brilliant teacher and thinker, his presentation was fantastic. Previously I thought that the staircase was a space between places, now though I wonder if it has perhaps more to do with being simultaneously here and on the move …
As this (academic) year draws to a close I am already drawing up an autumnal ‘to do’ list. There are so many things that have been neglected in the excitement, stress, and now-ness of the last few years(!). I am looking forward to having time not only to be at the studio but also to really re-engage and re-invigorate my practice in the light of the courses that I have taken and the ones that I have taught! And speaking of courses I have discovered an adult education Art History course in Swedish, its going to be a way to improve both my written Swedish and my knowledge of Swedish art history – perfect!