The lecture today was all about "Parietal Art", or Cave Art. We discussed how this art can be seen as perhaps some of the purest art that has ever been produced. It has no previous art history to make any comparisons with or any other context. It is seen by many as early man's attempt to commune with nature. An animal instinct to interpret and commune with their surroundings resulted in these amazing drawings and paintings. Some of the larger animal figures are over 20ft long and there is also evidence of scaffolding to get to the higher areas! They are far from mere doodles, showing a learned technique and the earliest and simplest known perspective used in art, some 30,000 years old!
I thought today I would do a "Live Broadcast" from Uni. I am currently sat at one of the gleaming new Macintosh(R) computers in the comfy chair zone of the canteen. On the desk infront of me is a Venti Latte from Starbucks(R), as our coffee machine is still broken after two weeks!
Anywho.. I'm waiting for this weeks Contemporary Philosophical Aesthetics lecture. As usual Uni is virtually deserted.. a perfect time to get some photocopying done, as any other time the queue extends all the way to the door!
After spending the last week being thoroughly annoyed at the Post Office, it was a welcome relief to get an e-mail from the NGA people(see last weeks blog) telling me my Portfolio CD had arrived safe and sound. I sent it 1st class recorded delivery last Monday and it has only today made it. If I had posted it from Cornwall or Inverness I could probably accept this late running. However.. I handed in to a Postal Clerk at the Post Office in Birmingham city centre and it only had to go to Perry Barr! It takes a week to send a CD 5 miles?!
Just got back from college after a long and busy day, hense this short entry - learnt a lot tonight in a good lecture about Andre Bretton and his manefesto for Surrealism - In focus we looked at his fictoral Quazi novel Nadja. I had my first review published and a meeting with the editor of 'art of england' - I had a good pier tutorial with a sister comrade - she gave me some good ideas and I gave her some ideas, so we may work together further.
The train was on-time, for once, so I got into Uni with a couple of hours to spare before my Contemporary Philosophical Aesthetics Lecture. I spent the time sat reading the material we had been given last week to refresh my memory as to what we were discussing. It helped, as much as it could, but it's still heavy going. At 6:30pm it was time to wander over to the lecture theatre, throwing my coffee cup into the bin ( I had a feeling I was going to need the caffeine ) I ambled across the concourse and found a seat near the front.
It was a very good lecture and I actually gleaned a bit of information from it, which was a bit of a surprise seeing as I'd had a hard time reading the material. I always find that I take things in better verbally.
Walking back to the station at 8:15pm I began to mull over what was discussed in the lecture; Affect and Percept, The Deleuzian view of Art's creation and how Art can be considered as far from just a human activity or invention. Apparently there is a species of Bird in Australia which creates Art. By all accounts it arranges leaves in patterns for no puropose other than it has an impulsion to do so. This was quite interesting and questions the role of Artist as gifted genius. Then it took an even stranger turn and we were discussing the notion that the movement of Tectonic plates could be considered as the Earth making Art?! I'm going to have to go away and really think about this!
Oh and another tip from me to you: I've started to keep a 'Vocab Book,' like we used to have for French at School. Every time I hear or read a word I dont understand ( could be an ism or whatever, usually a long word!) I write it down and find an explanation of it in the dictionary or online. This is going to help when it comes to start writing, and it keeps me sane!
At 10am I had my first tutorial with my Tutor, an Artist with FA Projects. I had been one of his students in the second year of my Degree and he had really helped me turn a corner with my work. We sat in his office ( as a part time student I don't get a studio space, which is fine by me as it's going to save me a whole pile of cash in the end!) and discussed what I wanted to do on the course and what my work was about. He had asked me to bring along a CD containing images of my work, which I did, and he asked me to explain what each piece/image was about. It's not until someone asks you to talk about your work that you realise how much you actually do know. An attack of Pringles(R) syndrome; Once I got started I couldnt stop. Consequently our meeting over-ran which I don't think impressed the next student.
That afternoon I had to deliver a presentation to all the other MA Students about my work, what I'd done that morning but to a much larger crowd. This surprisingly didnt faze me and again I found myself rambling on. Whilst talking about my piece "Canine Concerto In Middle C." ( a piece where I made a flute from a dogwhistle and performed a rendition of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' on it. The idea being that the flute would make inadible music that only the dogs could hear. They seemed to enjoy it.) I caught the course director smiling a rather broad smile - I do hope that's a good sign!
I opened my e-mail inbox and to my surprise had an message from the people at New Generation Arts Festival in Birmingham. It said that they had seen my graduate show and were impressed by it, the e-mail went on to invite me to submit a proposal for possible inclusion in next years festival. This is quite exciting for me as the New Generation Arts Festival is quite a big deal, I am really hoping that I'm successful in my application. I will keep you all informed as things progress.
During my time on the BA course I had never really had much call to go and work in the workshops, this was either because I didn't need to or that any practical work would be done at home. Part of the reason is that one of the workshop technicians wasn't the easiest person to get along with so we kind of avoided any work in there, we stuck to our studios.
Today we were given a talk by the on-site Health and Safety officer who explained to us things that were mostly common sense but by law they had to make sure we were told. A couple of us, having come straight form the BA were excused the wrokshop tour and equipment induction as we had done it not so long ago and were still covered by the universiity's insurance. We crept away leaving all the new students to get aqquainted with the technicians and this new environment.
We also didn't have to attend the Library induction, it really wasn't worth it. Some of us had only just returned a pile of books. We headed back to the canteen to once again put the world to rights.
It was like I'd never left, walking back into the College Building at Margaret Street. The security guard was still there, "Morning", I said cheerily. "Alright Mate, good to see ya." He replied in a thick Birmingham accent. He returned to watching the 4 grainy black and white monitors and I signed in. Infact it had only been about 12 weeks since I'd been at Uni. Collecting the sealed envelope that embodied all that I had worked for over the previous 3 years. The place was still as friendly and inviting as it had always been; the same faces, the smell that seems to pervade all Art colleges - Oil Paints and coffee.
I made my way to the canteen and plonked myself down on the comfy chairs. Always go for a comfy chair - especially if you have to walk form your house to the train station, stand up on the train because people somehow think that a rucksack needs to find a comfortable chair by the window, and then walk through the centre of Birmingham dodging scarily bubbly people who ask you "Have you ever taken a personality test?!" For the uninitiated, these people turn out to be Scientologists - who try to get you to attend meetings and buy books.
Anyway, I was sat there for a few minutes when the head of the MA course came in and ushered us through to the Lecture theatre. It was a welcome meeting, introducing us to the various lecturers and proffessors and support staff that we would be no doubt working alongside over the next couple of years. - I'm doing my MA on a Part time basis, purely because I don't want to rush the experience and feel I can get a lot more out of it over 2 years.
"I would provide you all with a copy of the course handbook" said the course director, "but they've delivered the wrong ones"
WEEK one consisted of introductions and a formal lecture welcoming us to the college. During the second week we all arrived eager to get cracking, our main tutor escorted us all out of the campus and we went on a walk around West Park and the surrounding area, perplexed we all followed, we stopped and the tutor bought us all a tea at a quant tea house in the centre of the park, there we were set this project;
Develop a new work based on the area of Wolverhampton you have circled on the map. As suggested above the work can take any form (film,photography, installation, painting etc), but should be made in response to the situation. Seminars, tutorials, lectures and critics will be held to support the development of your work. We all took it in turns to draw a circle on our maps and we all set off to walk our indervidual walks.
In this week I was approached by 'art of england' to write a column featuring a review, I chose to write a review about my tutors recent exhibition at the Newlyn Exchange;
The Abolition of the Work?’ 29th October - 18th November - Newlyn Exchange
Professor Matthew Cornford of Cornford & Cross artist collaboration is my teacher, in writing this review I am leaving behind a great fat shinny apple after class, I will endeavor to keep my opinions objective. David Cross and Matthew Cornford met at St. Martins in 1987 and they have been working callaboratively ever since. ‘The Abolition of the Work?’ is their latest joint offering and is being shown at the Newlyn Gallery in Penzance. It is an exhibition which in some ways re-visits an earlier show with the same title back in 2004. ‘Where is the Work’ at The South London gallery consisted of a seemingly empty room. On closer examination and investigation canny visitors discovered Cornford & Cross’s Duchampian act, the artists removed an old floor grille from the heating vent from the floor of the South London Gallery and replaced it with a new one. Working with other craftpersons’ and creatives’ is central to the Cornford & Cross practice; product designers and master forgers were engaged in an insightful and complex reverse engineering, model making and casting process. The old grille was preserved and entered into the galleries collection. This act and the documentary evidence of the act makes up the actual art, Cornford and Cross belong to the new relation aesthetics, a relatively new movement becoming increasing popular among artists like the 2004 Turner prize winner Jeremy Dellor. ‘Where is the Review?’ A review would spoil your experience and so this is more of a challenge, I dare you to visit explore and discover the interventions that have taken place in this beautiful part of the world. Matthew and David would implore you ‘take a walk’ around Penzance and Cornwall, meet the natives and visit this exhibition at Newlyn Exchange Gallery, Penzance. This type of art isn’t for all but even at first glance the work might well be invisible or deeply conceptual but remember all the other people involved in the work behind the ‘Work.’ And as for being teachers pet, the dog ate my homework.
I ashamedly bent the truth and wangled a day of work to attend the media review at the Turner Prize. It was a frenzy of activity, Nicholas Serota was there, looking out of sorts, forlorn, a fish out of water? He kept peering over shoulders pulling the notes of note-pads, he has always struck me as a art version of Alaister Campbell. Anyway it was virtually impossible to see the works without getting in the way of someone's photo or in the shot of a T.V crew and presenter. It was then that it struck me I could be in the press myself when I'm supposed to be at work ......SHIT....! I dashed around shielding my face, avoiding the clicking cameras and the boom wielding interviewers desperate to get out. This is a hard enough task without Nathan Coley putting traps in my path, and Nelson creating a perfectly mirrored installation which had me going around in circles, finally the dark at the end of a white walled, strip lightened tunnel, I burst into the back rooms into a luncheon headed up by our long faced friend Nicholas Serota, arts movers and shakers in attendance. What I really needed then was Wallinger's bear costume. So in a trance like the Zarina Bhimji film in the show, I left the Albert dockside, and I proudly congratulated myself on avoiding the chance of me being in some background shot on channel 4 that evening when I bumped into the foundation teacher from work - what are the odds of that? He was on a field trip to the Tate.
So I've got to hold my breath now and hope that they don't put two & two together or indeed read this blog entry.
Read the blog entries of two MA fine art students. Nathaniel Pitt and Chris Hodson are studying at Wolverhampton and Birmingham respectivly. This blog is a recording of their experiences in these two seats of learning