Sunday, January 27, 2008

np - Proposals to go!

Proposals -Projects - Ventures
Here we go, 2008 new works, new collaborations and a new semester - Tomorrow we will recieve the feedback from the first assignments. And then we have to deliver our statement of intent for the forthcoming semester.
The paths ahead are tangled but interlocked - A voice is starting to emerge within my practice that involves 'collaboration' and collaboration.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ch - visiting lecturer Michael Schwab

Yesterday we were treated to a lecture from Michael Schwab, the Alexia Goethe Gallery website ( says this about him :

Michael Schwab is a German research led practitioner. Originally a photographer, his work breaches narrow definitions of media as he focuses on post-conceptual uses of technology. Apart from photography, he employs drawing, installation art, painting and printmaking to produce his work that is often conceptually developed on the computer.

From this description you can probably tell that I was thrilled to discover that he classes himself as a post-conceptualist..... so do I! It was the first time ever at Margaret Street that a lecture has been given by someone who's practice is close to my own. He employs computer technology to work things out and model various installations to see how they will work... he even works alongside a Mathematician in the creation of some of his work! Its great because he is sticking around until Easter as part of the faculty staff. I'm sure our paths will cross at some stage.

It was a really good lecture, mainly a look through some of his most recent work completed as part of a research led PHD and him explaining how he views art as a way to gain more understanding - over the creation of "nice looking objects." Fantastic!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

np -'84 Red Days'

Handed in two assignments this week, practical work and a theoretical essay entitled 'Avant-Garde in the Educational Institutions of Post-Revolution Russia' As I walked out of our base room a 3rd year fine art student was finishing off a wall based installation called 84 days, 281 white purse bags filled with a small embroided pear shaped 'pad' and 84 red purse bags with the same patterned 'pad' inside. I didn't get it at first and asked the artist, what the piece was all about. DOPE! I was looking at her menstrual cycle. Unlike Chris who is institutionalised I will have to get used to challenging works in my path at Uni.

Monday, January 14, 2008

ch - Just Another Monday

After a busy week last week away from Margaret street, I thought it best to pop into Uni today to find out if anything is happening. I havent got a tutorial coming up anytime soon, but I now know that I've got a Group crit on the 25th May and have to present a Studio Seminar some time in June. I've got plenty of Time to get those sorted. In the meantime I'm still working on my practical work and have got a bit done since the last time I posted, although I still don't know exactly what I'm going to do with the stuff i've got, but there are a few ideas swimming around.

When I got to Uni I walked through the pair of swing doors and on the floor in the middle of the atrium was a clear perspex box and within the box was a nearly naked woman surrounded by a few chunks of meat and a few (what appeared to be) legs of lamb which were tied up with string contorting the flesh of these parcels. The woman was similarly tied and contorted and lay motionless in the open topped 'coffin.' What I hadn't noticed the first time I saw it (I needed to got to the library so came back) was that the floor of the box was completely covered in maggots. Writhing under and over each other, a squirming, jiggling mattress on which the woman had lain. The smell was also something to note, I don't know quite what it is about maggots but they stink, but as a piece of art that's presumably part of it - obviously the artist is dealing with issues surrounding death and decay - in that case I suggest that the smell is an important re-inforcement of these ideas. By the time I'd come back from the canteen (the coffee machine was calling) the artist and her entourage were gone, leaving behind them a box full of maggots and a disgruntled tutor complaining to the security guard about the by now overwhelming odour.

It has to be said though after almost 5 years at Art School I have become somewhat desensitised to this kind of scene.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

np - Back to the grind stone!

Not quite, I start next week and with the new year comes our first official deadline. It's been a while since I was this side of the educational divide, 10 years, stone me a decade since I graduated from Falmouth. NEWS - My third article has been published, you can read it below:
‘Dear artist’

‘Dear artist’, begins the Directors letter. Andrew Nairne the director since 2001 has taken either a most risky or brave decision concerning his invitation or call for entries for the Oxford Season. An Open invitation so often means the very opposite when these events are being organised, artists are left to the selectors whims and fancies. An ‘esteemed’ panel of judges cast discerning eyes over the works and lives of amateur and successful artists alike. Well not here, not a selector in sight, no one to schmooze or corrupt, no one to blame and no one to argue with.

Each entrant is given 1m3 of space to do with as they will, in fact they don’t even have to be artists. They have to be over 18 and live or work in and around Oxford and if they run out of space then priority will be given to city residents. So there you have it, a truly open Open.

If it is to be a success we will have to wait and see. In many ways it is now up to you, you are viewer, turned ‘esteemed’ selector, but don’t expect a free lunch. With over 230m2 of space to cast your opinion upon, this will not be an easy task, however, help is at hand and the gallery are setting discussion points and activities around pieces of interest (they couldn’t stay away, those pesky selectors.) Alex West of Blur, the fashion designer agnes. B and the artist Janette Parris will be looking at their favourites and sharing their thoughts each Tuesday evening during the exhibition.

Open exhibitions have always generated interest and controversy, from the exhibition of Manet’s Dejeuner-sur-herbe at the Paris Salon of 1863 to Fountain, the urinal signed R.Mutt by Duchamp. Now, in this show, this novel approach will play with notions of artistic ego, the value of art, decoration and commerce vs. research and experimentation, art by the non-artist and the very subjective nature of the visual arts.

The most exciting aspect of this exhibition lies in the show as a whole, curatorial responsibility lies with the Oxon artists themselves. As they hand over their works an army of technicians will hang the show. Watercolour paintings will jostle with photography, pottery with experimental sculpture, and oil portraits alongside ‘Banksy-esque’ graffiti. Art influence, theory and history will also find itself in the mix, with works borrowing from different times and movements, individual trained and un-trained interpretations will come into play. In doing all this Suzanne Cotter the curator, Andrew Nairne and artists from both sides of the Isis will be creating a snapshot of artistic practice in and around Oxford in the first decade of the century, an interesting project in it’s own right, perhaps one that should be repeated in each decade to come?

The directors’ letter and the press releases for this show reflect the altruistic act of inviting unknown artists into the echelons of a vibrant, progressive and renowned art museum. However in putting on this event Modern Art Oxford could be potentially opening a philanthropic can of worms, a do-gooders guide to creating a city of art critics. As artists, we believe in our practice and the work we are creating, we like to think we are here in isolation, special – seeing someone else’s work reflected in your own or a mass of work and the realisation of the sheer number of artists out there can open a wound in any artists side, psyche and ego. Or, perhaps this will unite a city, create a critical mass and network practices across the region, and we may all appreciate the role of selector a little more in this subjective arena we work in.

Yours Sincerely………

Monday, January 7, 2008

ch - First Day Back

Beep! Beep! Beep! That is the sound of my phone alarm telling me I have to get up. Today of course was the first day back at Uni since we broke up for the Christmas Holiday - you'l be glad to hear that not a lot has changed at dear old Margaret Street, "..and why would it?" I hear you ask, it's only been a couple of weeks since I was last there.

I had a tonne of library books to take back, I thought I'd stock up on reading material just incase I got snowbound at home or ate far too much turkey etc. and couldn't move 'til February. At least I'd have someting to read. Oh and I have to start preparing my first research paper so I thought a bit more knowledge may come in handy!

That was the main reason I wandered in to Birmingham but I also wanted to get back into the flow of being at Uni and 'orientate' myself with what's going to be happening over the next couple of months. That being said, it is helpful if the information you want is readily available i.e. on the notice board - it wasn't. It was completely devoid of information. Nevermind, I'll find out sometime this week... I hope!