I was sat looking out into my garden this afternoon and what do I see scurrying from under the fence? Huh, two little Mice. After watching them scurrying back and forth for about 10 minutes, I suddenly realised that I really should write a post on my blog. It has been ages.

It’s been ages mainly because although things have been mad busy, I haven’t really felt that there has been much to actually write about. I started another blog…and feel like a traitor. But I needed to do a more ‘proper’ research, ideas, reflection type one for the course. We get assessed eventually on something called a research folio and part of mine, I have decided will come from my other blog. Anyway, so I’ve been neglecting this one…although this one is much more fun to write, but it’s just I don’t think my tutors are going to find the Mice in my garden and what I had for dinner that relevant to the course criteria.

We’ve had our interim show over the last two weeks and it has been a really good experience. It was quite intense, with some fall outs and even a few tears, but the challenge of all working together and attempting to get 50 artists work up that’s all quite different, into a relatively small space and make some kind of show was definitely… an experience. I was relieved to have not put myself forward for curating and instead was part of the hanging team, we just did as we were told (admittedly at times with slightly gritted teeth). It was however very interesting to see how each team of curators handled the responsibility and the power. They each had a bit of a peep talk from Terry Smith at the beginning of the week and I think he played devils advocate a bit. He made them more aware of their role and pushed them to challenge both audience and artist in some quite provocative ways… suggesting leaving things in bubble wrap or hanging things in really unusual ways. Each team reacted to this in their own ways and often fought it out between themselves once he had gone, but obviously some artists weren’t happy to go with their plans and some were quite unaware until they turned up at the opening, expecting their piece to be hung as instructed on the submission form.

This created an interesting debate that went on throughout the two shows about role of curator and role of artist and who should really have the final say. The curator trying to see the show as a whole and seeing the whole as more important than the individual and the artist trying to retain the original intention for the work and it’s reading. The debate continued and remained unresolved.

After the first week on the tech (skivvy) team I started to wonder about my own work and how I was going to approach this dilemma, in the coming week. I decided in the middle of one night that I would instead attempt to reassert some of the artist power into the space. I therefore decided that I would do something site specific and kind of in the way. So I decided to lower the doorways by a few feet. It was a quick decision, but sometimes I find that those sudden jolts in the night are worth running with. So I did and it was fun, watching everyone over 5 ft ducking in and out of the room and it felt really relevant to where things are going with my work at the moment. One of those tasty little starting points.

Anyway, so that’s over with and no time to breath it’s on to thinking about my presentation that is this Thursday. It has been such a hard process putting it together but slowly, slowly I can feel it helping me to get things a little more focused. Everything has gone on overdrive since Christmas and all the information in my head has been mixing around into a great mush. In fact this whole thing feels like wading through porridge (the kind you get when you’re just a little short of milk)

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Phew! Arrived home Friday evening, my head spinning, brain buzzing, eyes watering and tummy rumbling. A combination of affects that made me unsure of what to do first – laugh hysterically, write madly, sob despairingly or just collapse in front of the dinner table and scoff down a beautiful dinner of fish and chips dished up by my wonderful partner. Luckily I started with the latter after which the need to do any of the others was adequately subdued for the evening.

It was a really good day, a really good week in fact but I am starting to feel the heat. We had our first critical practice group tutorial on Friday and there was some really great discussions. It was exceptionally helpful and I think, gave us all a lot to digest and a good insight into just what a big task lay ahead of us. I feel pleased to have got going with my research and reading right from the beginning of this course but it felt for much of the first few months that not much was actually making sense, only now do I actually feel I’m making some ground. Although, everything is still such a jumble in my head. It is true the more you learn the more you realise there is to learn and it creates a real hunger to discover more.

It feels like a whole wealth of information, new influences, fascinating new thoughts and discovery has been opened up to me. A quarter of the way through this course I can already feel it provoking an extremely significant change in my thinking and I’m enjoying it so much. It is definitely uncomfortable for much of the time but strangely thrilling…and it’s only begun really. I look at the full time students, now nearly half way through and see the extreme pressure they are under, but it is really interesting to observe how their work is changing in such a small period of time and the really interesting debates emerging through their practices. The Post-graduate forums have given a really good insight in to other peoples concerns and research processes. I have mine own presentation to give in March and I am really scared about it but definitely looking forward to the discussion which I’m sure is going to be really helpful to me (although am sure I will not be thinking of that on the morning of it when I’m trying to hide under the table, hoping they forget about me) I am such a scaredy cat when it comes to speaking in front of people, in fact I always dread it. I seem to revert back to my school days and I’m suddenly a bumbling, stuttering, bright red tomato. Oh joy!


It’s been a busy week with one thing and another. Tuesday I was over in Swindon setting up for the second part of the Domesticated exhibition at the Post Modern Gallery. It was an interesting space and quite a contrast from the Chapel. It is a gallery but still clearly once a post office with counters and signs scattered throughout the room. I really liked the feel of it. The references to what it once was were subtle enough to not distract from the exhibition but enough to keep the character of the space and its context exposed.

I was exhibiting the same staircase that I showed for the Bath show, that I made last year. It was interesting to revisit this piece. It has been stored in Swindon for the months in between the last show and this one. It’s physical distance from me has felt poignant. Installing it for this show has been a good opportunity to reflect on the changes that are occurring within my practice and where I have come from. Things have been placed under real scrutiny and I kind of feel right in the middle of the haze of intense questioning but I can still look back and appreciate the relevance of where I have come from and how I ended up here. Even in this thick fog of confusion and possibility I can link up the threads. I feel reflective looking back and excited (and a little scared) about the uncertainty of going forward.

College was really enjoyable this week and is starting to finally feel like things are under way. I can’t believe it has taken so long but finally I am getting use to the travelling, relaxing into my weekly routine and getting to know people a bit better. I think I found the sheer number of new people and limited time to properly get to know them quite overwhelming. We have our interim show coming up at the end of the month at The Nunnery, I’m really looking forward to being involved. The group seems to be well organised and hopefully it’s all set to run smoothly. I am a little worried about what I’m showing…its very unresolved and new territory for me but we have been encouraged to take a risk with it and that’s what I’m doing and trying to get as much out of it as possible and enjoy it. I think sometimes I forget the enjoyment part… I’m doing what I absolutely love but am usually too busy worrying to remember that. It’s so silly.


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.