Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Time inevitably passes ...

There’s a small path opposite where I live that takes you across the rugby fields and then next to the golf course and eventually to the fields leading up to Stafford Castle. Sometimes, when I am working on my research from home in the week, particularly when the weather is nice or I need to clear my head, I love wandering along this path. It is quite unusual to bump into anyone else, apart from the odd person walking their dog across the fields or a few people at the castle itself.
Last year I created some pieces of work that included parts of Roland Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text and were located randomly along the route to the castle. I was really happy to discover that one of them was still there!! It was a little worn at the edges which I really loved but still fluttering on the post that I had attached it to.

I love wandering around the castle, particularly when it is sunny as everything seems so calm and beautiful and removed from daily life. As it's so high up it's really nice to just sit at the top of the hill that the castle sits on and look down and watch everthing pass by and reflect in the quietness and stillness up there.

I spent two days last week attending the BIAD Summer School called 'Promoting Your Research' which was a great two days for fellow PhD students and staff at BIAD. We had some really inspiring speakers including Professor Paul Wells from Loughborough University who discussed communicating practice-led research and also a talk called 'Type-Writing' by Dr Caroline Archer which for me was really interesting as it touched on notions of typography in the thesis.

I've been sorting out a lot of my stuff over the past weeks and came across a lot of art work I'd done when I was younger and lots of letters from my grandparents which stirred up a lot of memories. There was one particulrly beautiful passage from my Opa in Germany which he wrote in a letter dated 07/03/1996:
The letter really touched me as I thought that it was quite profound and poetic. The letter was in response to a card I had made with a painting of some flowers on whilst my Opa was in hospital and looking back now I think that the letter is really touching. It's always really cathartic sorting through things sometimes and made me smile to think of my grandparents.
The weather here was dreadful too. I have never known Oma not to go into the garden for so long, except to feed the birds. One good thing - the grass doesn't grow.
       Time inevitably passes, it will grow. So do we all. There was a time when Oma and I pushed you in a pram to Ealing Common, today you're almost in your teens. It is good so. It would be awful to be a child forever.

I've had some really good bits of news lately! Firstly Ive been asked to produce some work for the exhibition When We Build Let Us Think That We Build Forever which celebrates the 125th anniversary of the beautiful College of Art building in Margaret Street which is part of BIAD. I've also been asked to deliver a session for the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice in Art, Design & Media for new students in November later on this year. I undertook the course myself nearly two years ago when I started my PhD and it was hugely helpful. Its really exciting yet a little scary delivering a session to other researchers!!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Well, it has been a while indeed!! I went a couple of weeks ago to the The New Art Gallery Walsall  to see a really amazing site-specific drawing installation called 'Untying Space' by a Korean artist called Sun K Kwak. I really liked the way that the drawings enveloped the space and as a viewer, you feel absorbed into both the architectural space and the gestural space of the painting.
I think that the invigilators thought that I was a bit wierd (who wouldn't?!) as I stayed in the space for ages and just took in the work. The only other time that I've done this was at a fantastic Cy Twombly exhibition at the White Cube where I was so in awe of these amazing massive paintings, I just sat down in the middle of the floor and spent ages there ... I'll admit myself that I must have seemed pretty wierd but if you've ever felt really moved by a piece of work you'll know how I felt! I really liked the fact as well that for me, the drawing referenced l’écriture féminine which is a framework for my PhD research because of the poetic and amorphous nature of the work. I always love going to the New Art Gallery Walsall as it's such an amazing
gallery in both an artistic and architectural sense. I also love being able to stand on the roof terrace as well as its so quiet and high up and it feels so removed from daily life; just staring at people passing by and the surroundings of the gallery and the mundaneness of it.

I also delivered my first conference paper a couple of weeks ago at the University of Wolverhampton at a conference called Space: the Real and the Abstract. It was a fantastic experience and a big stepping stone for me in my research career in getting my ideas out into a wider audience! My paper was titled 'l’écriture féminine: an Alternative Space in-between?' and explored the potentiality of a painting practice based on l’écriture féminine that creates alternative spaces for feminine/non-phallocentric subjectivities and notions of a hybrid writing//painting methodology.
It was a pretty damn scary experience talking infront of so many people and despite how nervous I was before I got a positive response afterwards : ) I feel really good now having done it and a big sense of ... PHEW!!! ... and I'm hoping I engaged the audience as well! The conference lasted two days and included some really interesting talks; I particularly liked Simon Harris and Caroline Cleary's talks which considered space in painting and also Eva Bensasson and Tansy Spinks' talks as well. It was really nice as well as the speakers
had dinner together on the evening of the first day and went for drinks after so we all got to know each other and our research a bit more. I struggle a bit with lots of people and meeting new people so it was particularly rewarding to chat about our research with each other.

As well as the conference there were six artists who also exhibited/performed work alongside it which opened with some drinks on the Monday evening. All of the delegates took part in a performance by Tansy Spinks which was really fantastic!
And yes, that is me singing in the video ... it didn't occur to me at the time that it would be picked up so much! The staircase in the Art & Design building is really high reaching seven floors and we made a collaborative sound performance with Tansy playing the violin at the bottom and the rest of us climbing up and down the stairs at different paces and singing accordingly! It was really cathartic and was really fun to be a part of.

I was lucky enough to include some of my own work and showed two book-paintings that I'd been working on. I haven't really done any work like this before but I'd had the idea for a while and was glad I had the opportunity (and pressure) to materialise them. I worked into each of the pages and included different texts from different languages; layering text, mark-making, images and painting where the text spilt into the margins of the pages and transcended the structure of the books to become sculptural.
View of the gallery space with Caroline Cleary's paintings on the right
Close up of one of Simon Harris' paintings - I SO wanted to touch them!!

Lorna Moore's piece 'Touching the Other'

Marcus Leadley's sound installation
I've been trying to relax a bit since and have spent a couple of days in Norfolk ... and I'm looking forward to making, writing and researching again.