Walking Around.

Walking around seems a good way to re-cap the first Semester of my M.A. in Contemporary Fine Art. Perhaps ‘wandering’ would be better, inflected with a sense of aimlessness and or being lost. I will stick with walking around for now and try and elicit something more purposeful and well-oriented by way of a reflective device.

The semester began with a cultural walk around Carlisle.

Enjoying the visual elements. Urban materiality. Sun and shadow meeting textures and shapes.
The hesitant presence of the tentative MACFA student.
Enjoying the visual elements. Contrasting materialism. Animal, vegetable, mineral, natural and man-made. Growth and decay.

Later came an art walk around Glasgow.

Highlights: Beast, Sleigh and Boyce.

For some reason the visual responses, investigations and outcomes that these experiences were generating just did NOT – neither by wish, nor hope, nor prayer – seem to aid in articulating the work I had proposed at the start of the semester – very frustrating.

The Road Not Taken (a detour)

1. 2/3 4/5 6

In the beginning, I was quite engaged with exploring some new materials, media and processes. (1.left top down) Tar, plaster, steel – all I think seated in the mentality of the ‘workshop induction phase’ of the course – inculcation into a new institution. But experimentation did not relate to my proposal questions – it stubbornly refused to go that way. I travelled down to Lancaster one Friday and enjoyed a spell in the Ruskin Library before attending a seminar by Franziska Schenk about irridescence (3) and mingling with tea and biscuits afterwards, I actually met Sarah Casey. Driving home, I felt quite despondent – the contrasting emotion of how enervating and exciting the day had been, pitted against frustration with my practice. I decided to depart from my proposal to follow a different path and indulge in a little print project (2 &4 )based upon the superstructure of the Civic Centre in Rickergate and taking a little inspiration from Bronwen Sleigh’s work at Glasgow Print Studio. Reflecting upon things, I was coming to realise what a huge ask it is to expect yourself to start a new course, orientate yourself in a new institution – different people, places and procedures- my art journal and sketchbook(5) were demonstrating this , filling up rapidly with nothing useful while also expecting yourself to advance your practice in a coherent way. It was enjoyable to work in the print studio doing a low-tech project but the reading was what was really capturing my enthusiasm … and what a lot of it there was! (6)

First Impressions Presentation

An interesting self-editing challenge. ‘5 minute PPt presentation, ‘2 images’ , past work & introduce yourself.’ Approached thus:

SLIDE ONE: “Shinrin” slide-show and explanation of the project.

Previous work: introducing ‘ Shinrin’

SLIDE TWO: A little autobiographical introduction by way of a sample bookshelf describing education, career and other interests.

About Yourself: mini autobiography in a sample bookshelf.

First Impressions

A first impression: Environment – there are beautiful trees on the University campus at Brampton Road.
When you look more closely, you see that they are all tagged with arboreal curation numbers, suggesting something special about them beyond their simple beauty. I wonder what the reason is that they are tagged……. Thus, life here begins with beauty wrapped in a little mystery and on a familiar theme – as if ‘nothing has changed’. False security I imagine, ahead of much change to come.

A first impression: Assignment – Prepare a short talk – 5 mins long and illustrated by 2 digital images using PowerPoint (recent work/Information about yourself) to present on Thursday 19th Sept. There’s an exercise in self-editing!


Exciting times. What a relief it is to have got past all the account registration and logging-in tedium associated with setting up an academic account -phew! The rewards are good though; like being able (finally) to access the library online and reveal the delights of ‘reading lists’ for the forthcoming modules. Yes, this is exciting. It is also tinged with a bit of frustration; finding that I can only read one thing at a time. I am hungry and want to devour everything all at once. It is tinged with a bit of frustration also, because I want to get ‘making’. This last, is interrupted by the ‘studio project’ which I am trying to discipline myself to get finished before I start to ‘spewdio’ again.

Between the studio (actually, I much prefer ‘art-room’) project and directed reading, I have been enjoying dipping into some of the Art magazine article notifications that shine out from among all the horrible spam in my email box. A delight to find this….

… and indulge in a little nostalgia about teaching art and in particular, the enthusiastic response pupils had to the topic we did about Razzle and Op Art -thoughts about which, now accrue around issues of perception/philosophy etc arising from the MA reading…..