#portrait:TACHBROOK (performance)
Saturday, 19 December, 2015, 10.00 – 15.00

19th December 2015
At Tachbrook Market

A site-specific exhibition of images that have been created by people within the market and within a set timeframe, all portraits will be taken with disposable cameras purchased locally and developed at the local camera store.

Ash Roberts (http://www.ashrobertsart.com/works.html

) , Vivian Barraclough, Becky Sumpter, Catherine Wynne-Paton, are a collaboration of four students/graduates of Hereford College of Arts.

(words that follow are adapted from Vivian Barraclough’s, see her website here: http://www.vivianbarraclough.uk/ ) :

We were one of a series of performances undertaken by a wide range of artists. As a group we agreed our proposal, had it accepted by Rufus Stone (http://www.rufus-stone.org/), worked out the logistics, and popped up in the market for a day, with the wish that we didn’t want to turn up and just ‘do art’ at the community (one sided-conversation), we wanted to arrive and be responsive and sensitive to our surroundings, whilst doing the work we set out to do – capturing a  portrait of people in place, just for that day.

This work of ours has now been documented by others – we commissioned a photographer who will be curating the images of the day into a magazine,
another set has been uploaded onto the Tachbrook Market Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TachbrookStreetMarket/?fref=ts) by the market’s official photographer, and each of the collaborative group have our own photos on mobiles, iPad and maybe other devices. A short video taken by another is now available on the commissioning website (http://rufus-stone.moonfruit.com/archive-performance-space/4590736371 ) and YouTube (https://youtu.be/GC2Nd9fT7i4).  This demonstrates how our work has been very much part of another community and valued by its members.

There were 54 ‘selfies’ that existed as a temporary exhibition within Tachbrook market.  There are also 43 ‘selfies’ left over, there are 11 more ‘out there’, that were picked up by their subjects, … others have taken ownership and continue to engage with the work…. I like the notion that the piece started in September 2015 with us coming together as a group, working towards the nitty gritty of getting it together, the performance and now the documentation, plus the added unknown of the physical (!) photographs given away on the day.

Once the performance is over, all that remains is documentation that should not be confused with the work itself (Bourriaud 2002) but the images will ‘live’ on in other forms, as above.

I offer a short quote from Bourriard:

The aura of artworks has shifted towards their public

Today’s art …..encompasses in the working process the presence of the micro-community which will accommodate it. A work thus creates, within its method of production and then at the moment of its exhibition, a momentary grouping of participating viewers.                                                

Viv’s unchanged words: I think that as artists we ‘set the stage’ but once underway we were as one with the ‘viewers’ i.e. we all became both ‘artist’ and ‘viewer’. To me the idea that you had to be there and be part of it restores ‘the aura’ for me within a world that creates so much ‘stuff’.  I think that is why I find site/time-specific work so exciting, I think that it offers ‘experience’ to the viewer rather than commodified ‘stuff’.
My words again:

I consider retaining personal authenticity throughout this project a particularly important aspect within this group of artists.  All through the development, the performance and the follow up we have debated issues around what is vital to the project and what is right for us at each decision making time.

Through discussion we came from designing the magazine ourselves to realizing it would be more fitting and valuable to our way of working throughout this project to invite Lucy (our photographer on the day of the performance) to design and edit the images for us. This allows us to stick to dealing with the ideas this is all kicking up – but also because of our divergent ways of thinking we may end up taking forever.

Why should we ask someone else to edit? Because then it is a separate entity to the performance, a pause, a standing back and taking stock.  With someone who is not a Fine Artist compiling the magazine, we will have time away from the images and when it is time to print it, we will be revisiting it with fresh eyes, time and another persons’ hand having come between.

If the design was left to me I would take forever to do it. I have so many options of design and figuring out what I want to achieve with the magazine. And I’d want to do something that is a simple idea in seed form, but that takes enormous effort to get done, i.e. images onto receipts for shops in Tachbrook Market, in the place of advertising.

Also – if we don’t design and edit it ourselves then the documentation is a separate entity and stands alone. Maybe even has more value being done by a viewer, rather than us, the performers?


We’re giving bare details about the project to magazine editor and designer Lucy, including Teresa’s blurb on us:

Saturday, 19 December, 2015, 10.00 – 15.00

#portrait:TACHBROOK A site-specific exhibition of images that have been created by people within the market and within a set timeframe, all portraits will be taken with disposable cameras purchased locally and developed at the local camera store. Ash Roberts, Vivian Barraclough, Becky Sumpter, Catherine Wynne-Paton, are a collaboration of four students/graduates of Hereford College of Arts.

‘What are we doing this for?’

Primarily to document our performance.

Do we want anything to result from documenting our performance? Is this a full stop, a taking stock, or is it turning into something new?

“If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself. If you re accompanied by even another companion you belong only half to yourself, or even less.’ Leonardo da Vinci.   This quote comes to mind when considering the outcomes of working in a group of artists.  How much do I need to belong to myself? (Quite a lot! While we discuss options at various points along the way, we each come up with such different things, we pull against each other, we reason, we figure, we in actual fact come up with solutions (of course) we would never have come to individually, so it is impossible to say whether it is better or worse than working alone, it is simply a different entity altogether.  To me it is like trying to compare a fish to an elephant!

How much does this work belong to each of us?  In a way I have felt a little at sea all along (this goes in waves of feeling more or less connected, with a subject I am not, on the surface, working on within my own practice, but, I do see my artistic output all as a form of self-portraiture, it’s my signature work, even if outward appearances are very diverse)

Is all art a form of self-portraiture (individual work) or portraiture (in a group)?  How are our artistic influences lost or found within this collaboration?

So, the project brings us four elemental forces together, which then pull against each other. It is like a tension, a bit like taking a fix as navigator on a ship and because of the differing ideas (forces) we are not a clean point where lines meet, we are a ‘cocked hat’ of artists, though we are four, not three!
(http://www.working-the-sails.com/fixing_a_position.html : When compass bearings are taken of three marks when navigating, it is unlikely that the three position lines will meet at one point, instead forming a triangle known as a [ cocked hat ] or 3 point fix.)

How fellow artists within the project describe their work:

Ash ‘a practitioner exploring the use of found materials and site specificity’

Viv ‘exploring ideas around space, place, time and being

site-specificity is fundamental to my current practice’

Becky – (awaiting)

For me:  My practice explores the textual and physical world’s (separate and overlapping) realities.


Quote on Rufus Stone webstie:

“What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?”―    Michel Foucault

It came up on Friday’s meeting that what we are doing is closely related to Relational Aesthetics as described by Nicholas Bourriaud in his book.


I used a disposable camera on myself (often my hand) in Abergavenny in the run up to the performance in Tachbrook, to get the hang of taking a selfie portrait of myself in the town I live.  We used these initially in our Tachbrook performance to help give an idea of the project to visitors to our set up.

I have used a few of these photos, setting them against printed text from Border Country by Raymond Williams (book I am centring the mobile library performance upon).  The photographic images (with my hand and landscape of Abergavenny) against the text is my attempt at having the physical world invade the textual world. This was done a couple of days ago. Am still thinking about it. I have a photo of this work on my phone for consideration away from the studio.


Things I have bubbling away, in no particular order, these are

  • Text invading physical world & the physical world invading the textual world:

    Text invading garden at The Print Shed

    Blog to song…link to Tim Dallings recording of my words.

    Text on hands – John Dinnen’s and my own.

    Using the #Portrait: TACHBROOK test photos I took in Abergavenny in textual and physical exploration.


  • Mobile library performance

Text into movement, first video of my movements while reading done in March 2015, not shown on blog to date. In my year review I’ll be tracing my work on this since its inception in images, video and writing as I’d like to see the evolution of my thinking.
I am currently writing a short piece on the ideas behind the work.

  • 254 paintings – currently on hold, awaiting funds from new job to buy more paint and canvas.  Plus 254 words on autocue and video, recorded in spring last year, shown in September at The Print Shed.
  • Scratch-card poem. Return to the pavement somehow? What I’ve done until now with it.  Recording of found scratch-cards and pennies in log.
  • Magna Carta Framework group project, it needs to get out and be shown!
  • Drawing where I am. Screen-print these? Feeling these are my connection to physical world, these could help explore the physical-textual worlds overlap. Text could invade these drawings to differing extents. Subtle inquiry.
  • Recording reading progress in spread sheet of book 1040 pages.
  • Aborted recording of time spent doing physical and textual things.  (Was attempting to record this over a week)


To support ‘flow’:
Overview of past year (meant to do it Midwinter, but got waylaid!)
See some exhibitions/shows soon (not managed to venture out and see any since the Midwinter break)
Exhibitions to get work out there
A place to store old work out of the way. Don’t want to chuck it out, but only want to show work done in past year. (Keeping sense of momentum in work is vital)

I am currently doing a review of the past 13 months, and considering how can I change how I use my time reflecting so I focus less on the details and look from a more objective point of view at my own work? I would like to develop my judgement and for this I need experience, but exactly what experience I am unclear! Also, gaining better judgement might seem quite vague yet I am certain it is worth developing for me. Ad Reinhardt from ‘Twelve Rules for a New Academy (taken a little out of context):

“Study ten thousand paintings and walk ten thousand miles.”

Now, that would be an experience, I can walk miles here, but paintings are harder to come by, they are often hidden in homes and business’ around South Wales! But, seriously, I must find a way of ensuring I see more contemporary art as part of my ongoing development. I have a feeling I said the same thing this time last year……