Studio-Intensive 11

A time of consolidation and deep thinking whilst simultaneously planning Tenuto, a collaborative performance event with Ed McKeon who presents Tacet at Birmingham School of Art. I don’t normally ask people to participate in my work and I feel a little anxious, especially when I am asking them to perform with an audience and without rehearsal. The last time I asked for input was to ask for women’s stories for Encountering/It is as it was, a project that is still ongoing. I realize that I hate the act of asking. So we have just got to plan how to set up the documentation although we do have someone filming it.

I have begun the PhD Take Over at Birmingham School of Art. It is a mix of events and workshops exploring different aspects of their research. I am using the space to explore the physical, social and cultural facets of Birmingham at the intersection of philosophy. each day I attend, I am making three small photographs called modes of production, modes of exchange and so forth into the unknown. Yesterday’s images were taken from the train but in Birmingham. Listened to a sound installation and got very jealous of the amount of equipment. I have been trying to acquire a hydrophone for two years and am now trying to make one. It takes me some time as I need to find the courage to begin even though I have the components. Me, someone who leaps in feet first into the most stupid situations and physical environments, am scared of a soldering iron and making mistakes! But the time will come when I feel comfortable.

As part of my personal professional development plan to increase my visual research, I went to the RCA’s performances at Catherine Gardens Chapel in Peckham. A wonderful venue with flaking plaster walls and high roof which were perfect for the performers. I didn’t understand what they were all about but enjoyed the experience and respected the time the students had put into their ideas. Then to Crisap, the sound group from LCC. Another great venue at Iklectik in, Lambeth, I think. Again, wide-ranging performances both live and recorded sound that contributed to a great learning experience. Both these events, combined with Birmingham’s, have served to create a greater understanding of how the more eclectic areas of fine art are presented.






Studio-Intensive 10

The amount I have gained from these past few days has been incredible and I am loathe to give up this intensity. However, I realize that there was a huge quantity of  preparation put in to achieve it that cannot be sustained. Therefore, I need to find a balance without compromising too much.

I began my daily, almost, drawing when I was doing temporary work and had little time to go to the studio. I now have a sketchbook of huge variety and standard but its proving invaluable for keeping me connected when I am really busy with other things. Obviously, I would prefer not to be but…. I write down, in yet another book, ideas, thoughts, problems, how to’s and references which has the same effect – one of the 66 books I have been writing about.

I am currently looking at all the sound recordings I have made over the past week to see how I can best download them and utilize them. My latest has been to record underground. These files are huge! The premise is to hear a stalactite forming and I have been so grateful to Treak Cliff Cavern in Castleton, Derbyshire for allowing me to leave my recorder there overnight. This is the recording site in the cavern showing the stalactites only a few thousand years old. It also shows a Blue John vein.

Wrapped everything in cling film to keep the damp away and made little skirts around the mics so as not to obscure the sound. It seems to have worked well. Managed to persuade the guide to do a quick humming session as well to test the resonances. Thanks, Gareth. Experimenting in all these different spaces has been really important. I now think that I should look at it from the angle of time rather than space although of course they are interlinked and by doing this, it has created some new ideas and thoughts about past work.

Now beginning to rewrite my artist statement, understanding what I am doing a little better. There is such a temptation to rehash previous words. Hopefully, I can now come up with something that feels a little more honest and truer to what I am doing now, although, of course, the past words were and are also true.




Studio-Intensive Day 9

Well, last day of my plan. It has been a headlong, packed week that is intended to project my development forward. Forwards and upwards. Would have liked more feedback and input but, the nature of things is that everyone is always so busy. This means that I have to work harder on my own development through deep critical engagement. Continuously.

I have tried to include a certain amount of visual and other events in the week and, because it is degree show time as well as end of academic terms, there is a lot going on. The value of this is really to see what is currently happening, what art trends there are, not so I follow them but so I get a measure of contemporary art and its directions. The two degree shows I visited were, as always mixed. Some incredibly good work and some not so good. What did strike me though, was how the ambiance of the shows compared, both against fine art departments and within different departments. There can be a stultifying atmosphere, a sort of self-consciousness, that occurred at one of them whilst the other was alive and vibrant. why does this happen, is it the art, the space, the people, the curatorial aspect or even the visitors? The spaces had a similarity, I visited on private view nights so visitors should have been similar. The art and the artists, well, one was better than the other but given they were both student shows it shouldn’t matter. But I actually think it was how the space was curated. One had more spacing, a sense that there was little relation between pieces. Obviously in this sort of show, there are many different styles and media but there needs to be flow, a wisdom to how each piece relates to another. This will be a major point to explore and think about. I very much enjoyed Scaling the Sublimeat Lakeside Arts, this really was a highlight. Both the work and the ideas were fascinating and hope to go again before the end. The only downside was an invigilator’s insistence that I retraced footsteps rather than step over a wire which should have been taped or cabled down as the work I wanted to see was behind an installation. Felt very chastised school girl and I didn’t like it.


Summarising my activities this week, I began my work with a piece started which has been developed using line so still in the process. Not generally working in 2D, I have had to learn a lot with this work and maybe my thoughts about the curatorial has fed into this. I spent two and a half days tidying up my space. This might seem  a lot, but I realise it was thinking time and an opportunity to look at old work and reassess. A highlight was definitely my conversation with artist, Linda Duvall (lindaduvall.com). I am still astounded at the way her humming resounded in my space. I have not fully evaluated the impact of this practical session yet especially in relation to the internet whines but realise that the whole thing was enormously important.


In addition, I have spent time making progress with other projects such as my collaboration with Ed McKeon. The end (?) point will be in July at Birmingham School of Art when we will create live performances. Ed will present Tacitand myself Tenuto. I have had  a meeting about Honfleur Contre-Courant art exchange and a discussion with Louise Garland about our live art performance at the Open Studios in October. With only the old toilet cubicle to use as performance space, we need to be inventive but think we have the idea. I have applied for one job and managed to blog every day although this one required thinking about. I am aware that I have only outlined what I have done and this does not mean moving forward.


I understand I am an artist who likes to deeply and widely delve into ideas. This means that there always seems to be a context, a written piece with my practical showing of work. The academic and the practice go hand in hand and whilst I have often thought that this  was a problem, although not for me, I have felt that it is a problem when I apply for things as often images only are asked for. Perhaps these are the proposals that I should weed out. Another thing I have learnt is that my ideas are important and interesting and I should work on these larger things rather than continually being side-tracked and prevaricating.  I need to treat myself as a serious artist and work hard at my self-confidence and self-esteem. Only then will I be able to move forwards. I have a sense that I am letting myself down having worked so hard to get to where I am, not just academically with my PhD but practice as well. I have managed to get a feeling of being let down through no fault of my own which is not healthy and, I don’t imagine, true. I have not expected to be given things easily but hoped that things might just be a little more forthcoming. It has affected my motivation although I do work very hard at my artwork. Maybe I give off a sense of downtroddenness which is not appealing at all. So I have learnt, and will continue learning from this week.


Blogs in the future will be more intermittent.


Studio-Intensive Day 8


More of a thinking day today but began with trying to play the guitar with a violin bow. It didn’t work particularly well due to the flat neck of the guitar so only top and bottom strings were playable. I was trying to get a very particular sound as a different way of looking at resonant spaces. I achieved the sound but only with two strings. Will need to think again. Had a discussion with Louise Garland about our live art performance for open studios. We only have the broken toilet space to work in but think we have come up with an idea but not ready to reveal it yet. Space is tight as the studios are hosting Honfleur artists which has been organized by Jackie Berridge who is very proactive in these things. This was followed by a meeting about our open studios Meetings by such a lot of people are always difficult with people chatting and same questions being asked. I am not a meeting person! Left early to go to Making it up: this moment in June by Rebecca Lee which took place at Loughborough University. apart from a very unprofessional 15 minute late start so ‘latecomers can get here’, it had good and bad points. Looking back over the week, I can see how intense it is to to think, to read (of which I have done little, just a small amount of philosophy – a general overview, and Albert Camus), to apply for things, to keep networks running, to write blogs, to do admin. – accounts etc., to visit exhibitions and to produce work!


Studio-Intensive Day 7

Still full of my recording session and discussion last night. Firstly, it was a Skype link to artist Linda Duvall in Saskatoon, Canada. She invited me to spend time at her In the Hole residency where, I think, we found we had much in common during the many hours we spent together.  This transmitted itself through the hums I initiated as my response to space and artist in the hole. Humming I see as a response to space, body and sound and I use that method because it has less connotations than language. Doing this with Linda, I found that over time, the humming belonged not to me or to her but existed as its own entity as well as belonging to us both. It became impossible to separate whose sound it was. Following from this, I asked if she would try it again during this self-initiated artist development week and I am extremely grateful that she agreed. Using Skype, we began in my studio space before moving to the resonant space of the stairwell which is a semi-circular turret with stone steps. Here, I found that Linda’s sound, all the way from Saskatoon, resonated in this space in Long Eaton, an amazing thought. As well as the joint vocalizations that we did where we responded to each other, to ourselves and to the space, there was the added sound of poor internet connections. This all needs time to realize the implications. It was followed by nearly an hour long discussion about our practices. This has been the highlight of my week. will give a link to these recordings soon. Today feels a little quieter. I just steadily worked through the recordings, applied for an artist residency, and worked on the collage piece by adding drawings over the top. Whilst this week has nearly finished now, I realize it is only the start. At the end, I will do a summary and try and put in focus what I have learned.