In a previous blog post I mentioned two areas of my work which were just beginning to unfold. The AA2A project, http://aa2a.biz/pg/profile/southampton based at Solent University took off to a slow start due to previous commitments and school holidays which restricted me accessing the university (they were obviously open but I was at home with the children to look after). After a really encouraging meeting with the head of the fine art department discussing how the residency could develop, a sudden increase in workload for staff due to an audit meant I was suddenly left totally to my own devices until early 2014. The AA2A residency is a bit of an odd fish really, and my forays into previous outcomes with other artists at all colleges has revealed a very mixed bag of experience.
Some artists have worked closely with colleges with very beneficial results for both students and the artists involved. Other AA2A artists have banded together to put on performances and interactive projects and events under their own steam. Some artists have literally gone in clearly to access technical equipment in order to realise a particular commission, while others have used it as a time of real experimentation. Many however have undoubtedly struggled with the role, and some have unfortunately failed to extract the benefit they could have from it. As resident AA2A artist you are neither student nor teacher but at times you are both. You have access to equipment and technicians time whenever you want, as long as it does not detract significantly from that of the students there (Quite difficult to assertain). How much or how little you wish to integrate with college life is up for negotiation or maybe set down by yourself or by university staff. Security staff are wary and unsure how to categorise you, workshops technicians likewise. In other words, if you want handholding AA2A is generally not for you. At the end of the day, it is largely a self driven, self structured and self-motivated role. If you’re willing to take this on then I think, in my opinion, it is an absolute gem of an opportunity.
Towards the end of 2013, in a vacuum of any contact staff whatsoever, I set myself two simple goals. One, to either attend all day Tuesday or all day Wednesday each week, and two, to introduce myself to three students each time and get to know a little about their work and experience on the course.
Like many AA2A artists I headed straight for the print room, facilities which are always limited to artists outside college life. A recent project has involved exploring scam e-mails and online chat room interactions, a platform far removed from the hands-on craftsmanship of the print room. The acidic phrases and biting words online interactions produce however, sparked my interest in translating these digital texts through the process of etching, where acid literally bites words into the metal plate.
I was amazed to find that the etching equipment largely lay ignored in the corner of the print room and was certainly rarely if at all visited by fine art department students. I had an interesting discussion with the technician on the changes that have taken place on fine art degree courses, the introduction of digital technology and the reduction of dedicated print -based fine art degrees. Interestingly enough though, I did discover while doing a bit of research, this really interesting course at Wimbledon which combines both traditional and modern technology Http://www.arts.ac.uk/wimbledon/courses/undergradu….
To get back to the purpose of the blog however, my place at Solent University is a direct result of developments encouraged by the re:view bursary. There’s lots more to tell about December in relation to this, including the development of Cicatrix, which I will go into at a later date, but which you can read about here www.cicatrix.co.uk, and which is becoming an all-consuming commission for the moment. There is also a very timely meeting with my mentor, supported by the re:view bursary, which took place just before Christmas and a new position as associate artist with Chapel Arts Studios, but that again is for another post.