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.
Later came an art walk around Glasgow.
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)
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)
Hands tired, fingers sore from cutting collagraphs …. I venture onto moodle to read the Print Workshop ‘handout’. It includes many interesting examples from across a wide range of artists using various print making techniques. Here are the ones that catch my eye. I’m not always entirely sure why they do but, I know that I need to be more self-aware like that and more importantly, be able to talk/write about those responses – so that is what I am going to try to do.
The Taylor examples (monoprint and mixed media sculpture) interest me because of their scale and the visual impact of the black and white. In ‘Intimacy’ – body forms and experiences of space and place seem to be evoked and I like the way these are echoed in the forms that occur in ‘Materiality’ that engage us with sensations about things in the material world – a sort of separateness between self and world, but also the connectivity that comes from sensing the world subjectively.
Wynter‘s example challenges me to consider the making process – over laying colours in monotype and the rhythmic mark making – drawing us down the ‘Path Through (the) Wood’
4, 5, and 6 are reminiscient (because of the contrasting b&w) of the scraper board work I used to enjoy doing so much at school! It is challenging to think of whole pictures in counterpoint … imagining when you carve, cut or scrape, the effect it will have in the positive image you finally produce. This has been very much at the fore-front of my visual thinking while cutting the collagraph boards for my portraits.
The Hawkstone Park website says ‘… there’s a magical world to discover’ when you visit and explore the site. There are grottoes and gothic arches among the follies in the landscape and I think the Shearer collagraph speaks of this ‘magical’ world. I love the fluidity of the mark making (and as I have learned …. curves are quite difficult to control on collagraph plates!), also the balance between the foreground (dark/cut-away) and the background (light/more intact board). I am really intrigued by the colouring and layering of this example in the handout…. I wonder, having studied it carefully, whether it isn’t actually the plate rather than a print from it. (?????????)
Beyond the above examples that ‘caught my eye’ there are my favourites… they are these.
First was the Nash example in the handout simply because I am quite familiar with his work having studied war art fairly extensively for putting together schemes of work when I was teaching. Looking through the handout though, it was the two works by Bronwen Sleigh that I felt drawn to, so much so, that I extended my research and looked her up on the internet. From this further exploration I found other works (3) that really fascinated me. I love the architectural/engineering drawing feel that they have. While I was looking at them, a sense of something familiar began hovering in the back of my mind – possibly triggered by the Nash associations conceptually(?) and I began to make some visual associations (4) with the Wilkinson/Wadsworth– War art & Vorticism unit of work I wrote when I was teaching. Perhaps the images the pupils made when they used the IWM razzle app to dazzle their own photos was the visual link in my mind?