Right, need to get brain in gear. I think I had too much sleep last night and I am now feeling extremely weary and watery eyed this morning.

Today’s mission is to attempt writing my first 500 words on my research paper for discussion at our next critical practice meeting. Also I aim to finish writing a review on the Damien Roach exhibition I visited last week and oh yeah, must write this blog post too. Too much writing…

I’m reading some really interesting books at the moment ‘The Production of Space’ by Henri Lefebvre and ‘Non-Places’ by Marc Auge. The Lefebvre book is taking me ages to read though, with only a weeks loan from the library I’m renewing constantly, fearing the day that someone else requests it and I’ll have to reluctantly hand it back. It is such an interesting book. These French philosophers don’t seem to hold back on confronting the powers that be, with theories and words at least. I feel like I’m just scratching at the surface of these ideas, trying to get my head around the concepts but there have been some sentences that stop me in my tracks and make me just sit and think about this situation we find ourselves in and try to make some sense of it.

‘What we seem to have is an apparent subject, and impersonal pseudo-subject, the abstract ‘one’ of modern social space and concealed by its illusionary transparency, the real ‘subject’ namely state (political) power. Lived experience is crushed, vanquished by what is ‘conceived of.’

‘Invisible fullness of political space sets up its rule in the emptiness of a natural space confiscated from nature. Forces of history smashed naturalness forever and upon its ruins established the space of accumulation; wealth and resources; knowledge and technology; money and precious objects, works of art and symbols’

‘History is experienced as nostalgia and nature as regret.’

There are many of these high impact statements throughout this book that make me want to sit and stare into space, through an overwhelming sense of dread and at my/our general pathetic blind passivity to our state of being. It is hard to read this stuff and know how to react to it. In our latest lecture given by John Cussans, he talked about our passivity and how there tends to be a sustained neutral, silent position held when it comes to the political, a strange general apathy towards major issues. Lefebvre is constantly talking about the organisation of space and knowledge as a means of manipulation, he also talks about the issue of the ‘users’ silence. He asks the question; Why there is this worldwide passive response from the ‘users’ of a space that is manipulating and damaging them? He attempts to explain it by the idea of diversion. Considering that our attention is diverted by a part of space ‘endowed with illusionary status, namely that concerned with writing and imagery, underpinned by the written text (journalism, literature) and broadcast by the media.’ Believing that this amounts to an abstraction creating ‘reductionistic force on ‘lived’ experience.’

It is understanding it in some ‘real’ terms, identifying how it is part of everything that we do. How can we experience our everyday in any other way than through the systems that create it? Lefebrvre explains that this abstract space is ‘a highly complex one’. Yes, I must say I am finding that. I’ll keep reading on…

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What is my research question?

This is one of the headings I put into my note book last week with the intention of making sure I don’t forget that I need to start thinking in these terms. I feel like it is something that should be obvious. My research question is my research. It’s simple. When I work what is the answer I’m looking for? What is my drive, my focus?

The problem I’m finding now is that when I try to address the question of the ‘Question’ I find it isn’t something that necessarily falls on to the page in a coherent, organised sentence. Can my question be a feeling, an inkling, a vague notion? Well, no. Understanding and being able to articulate what my work is about is vital. In my application to do this course I wrote what I believed my work was about. My work existed at that time in a certain way. I looked at how I worked, what I think about when experimenting, I looked at what came out of that thinking and what emerged through the doing. That felt easier and a more natural way to comment on the goings on of my practice at the time.

However, since I started this course, things have changed, the waters muddied. I now am trying to look through the murky depths of my ideas, to find some certainty and some clarity, at least enough to feel a movement forward, a sustained momentum. The answer to finding this is the ‘Question’.

Ok, so what I want to do now is stop at this point and consider what is important to me, discovering this by honestly looking at what I have been doing and what I come back to, time and time again. The following 3 points are my attempt to search out some clarity and some common threads linking my ideas together.

1.How we see, feel and respond to images of spaces that indicate ‘non-places’ (those everyday places that exist purely to take us somewhere else). Using line and perspective drawing as an indicator of these places, juxtaposing lines in space with lines creating space.

2.Lefebvre’s theories on the production of social space. The factors involved in how space has been organised and developed and what this contributes to in terms of our experience and reading of our everyday environment in Western society.

3.Looking at the function of the gallery space, comparing its physical material existence and boundaries, with the cultural, social understanding as something designed to provoke ideas and discussion through the viewers reading of art pieces within its context. (exploring the notion that through its separation from the reality of the everyday, it presents ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’ of this reality).

Reading this back I’m not sure if I’m articulating myself very well but it really is as precise as I can be right now. I tend to keep trying to elaborate more and more until things turn into a mangle of random thoughts so I’ll settle for these 3 points for now and come back to them again soon to see if I can refine and write with more clarity. It really does feel like trying to find something that is determined to remain obscure.


What would life be like without these online spaces now? It is almost impossible for me to imagine. I’m definitely in agreement with Jonathan Moss in his latest post. It has opened up a whole world of communication and support that I’m sure has been a huge factor in helping me evolve my practice and feel in some way connected to something much bigger than just myself.

I was quite fascinated to look back on just a normal days browsing history and post it, just to see how it felt. The answer- quite uncomfortable really, almost like I’d exposed too much of myself. Even though I had actually taken some stuff out…like online banking, I still felt like I was doing something completely inappropriate. I wonder how revealing our online footprints are?

Anyway, yesterday I was busy in the studio again. That always feels like a much more healthy activity, in contrast to my job at the gallery when I have far too much time to ponder, yet no freedom to do.

I have been starting to work from these images that I collected and work them into a space. I’ve been using insulation tape to mask out the lines. It allows me to work rapidly, make changes, add to, take away and not be precious about it. I really enjoy this way of working. Continually moving from photo, to drawing, to wall, back into sketch book with notes and more sketches. Each time I move into a different medium there is the trace of the last move I made still in my mind. Things pop up, almost of their own accord. It almost feels like I’m shaking and shaking my thoughts around in my head until things rattle out.

Still, I’m not sure I have any clarity about where I’m going with it yet but I have some ideas I really am looking forward to trying out. I’m going to enjoy the inspiration while it’s with me and try to keep following the momentum. I’m sure there will be lots of time for the critical questions and analysis over the coming months. Now I just want to do do do.


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I’ve now got settled into my new space. It is a really odd feeling. Digswell had become my everyday routine. Not doing the familiar drive along the windy back roads to Welwyn seems the strangest part. That route literally feels engrained in my mind, like every time I did it, it carved out a deeper and deeper physical groove through my mind.

So now I have a new winding road to use every morning and this one is particularly wibbly wobbly indeed. It’s well and truly out in the sticks. I spent my first afternoon alone there today and was extremely apprehensive when I arrived. I had got it into my mind that there could be the possibility that I might not be able to do any work there, like it would have the wrong feng shui or something like that and any creativity would seize up from the moment I crossed the threshold. I had a really restless night last night with this concern playing on my mind.

Today though it’s fine, actually it felt really good. For the first time in ages I have a desk looking out over a grassy meadow. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a studio with a view…in fact on consideration I never have. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in such a quiet space before either. I am looking forward now to getting into the routine of it and making it feel like my own.

Art work wise, Christmas has not been a very productive time for me, although this I anticipated. I actually feel pretty invigorated by the break from it all and am keen to get on. I’ve looked back over the stripped down drawings I did of car park stair wells today and can see many aspects about them that I want to pursue. I’m heading back out with the camera very soon.

Another thing on my mind, before Christmas, I asked a fellow artist to draw a space she knew reasonably well but couldn’t see at the time, on an A4 piece of paper. The only brief was that she draw it however she wanted but how she thought best communicated the space to someone else. I would really like to see how others approach this too. If anyone would like to do it for me here I would be forever grateful! Rules are no words and just pencil and A4 paper, and it can be anywhere you like and just a quick drawing/sketch. If you can do one you can email it to me at [email protected] and I would be really interested to see it.

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