The thing I most wanted to achieve over the last three years was finding my consistent style, ensuring my work looked like one person did it across everything that I do: Figure, landscape, storytelling. In many ways the process of taking my work apart during the MA has been a taking apart of all my work, thinking and considering what and why I do what I do on all levels. In these last few weeks there has been a shift in my work. Perhaps an ability to see what is there and has been for a while but is suddenly fully evident. There was a moment this week when a few things were out in the Studio and they all had harmony and it struck me that they had. I was working on things in the studio late at night and stood back to look at one thing and could see the whole studio, even the demonstration piece I did for the classes, using Grayson Perry's Alan Measles as a starting point... They looked like a mini exhibition all together, hanging well and having a style and harmony that I'm increasingly excited by.
This exhibition is startling. Using a grain of rice to represent one person the artists have assembled a challenging and provocative number of pieces, many of which are being updated on a daily basis.
This is the description from the gallery website:
For this beautifully simple performance installation, mounds of rice represent the political and social realities in the world: one grain of rice for the Queen, twelve grains for people who have walked on the moon, a pile for teachers in the UK, a heap for millionaires in Europe, and a mountain for people fleeing from war and disaster. Stan’s Cafe are delighted to bring their internationally acclaimed Of All The People In All The World to Bideford. By making normally abstract statistics tangible and placing them in thoughtful relation to each other, this powerful work of art is witty, shocking and ultimately moving. Come and find yourself.
Stan’s Cafe performers will return to The Burton during the summer to perform live over a number of days – building new mounds of rice, updating statistics and answering your questions.
Flags and Bunting will also be displayed which have come from submissions to our Flags of Hope project from all over North Devon
It was shocking at times and engaging. We were there, Pete and I, represented in more than kne mound of rice: as a volunteer at the food bank for me and as an NHS volunteer responder for Pete. We were a grain of rice in other piles as well: we were in the populations of Devon and Bideford. It is very good as always that we have such a high calibre gallery here in Bideford. I am looking forward to the performances from Stan’s Cafe later in the summer.
If I think of the work that I do and the work of others that admire, it is often about colour. Whilst doing the final work for the MA colour has been strangely absent. In these last few weeks I have been teaching an online class about finding your voice as an artist and as I have taught others I have taught myself too. My artist's voice has colour embedded in it. The Bideford Blacks that I have found are important as a foil to the brighter, stronger colours. The black is often the drawing and the colour represents the energy of the work. I enjoy playing with a mix of media, breaking the rules of what can be in one work. Onto this drawing I have worked with watercolour and oil bar. They are chosen not at random but because of the nature and qualities they have to say or do a thing I want to do in that specific part of the work; the softness and flow of a watercolour to describe the delicate skin, the strength of the oil bar for the orange line.
Last night would have been the private view for the MA graduate show. As there is no show this year I decided to hold an online celebration for finishing and passing the MA. I had Installed OBS on my MacBook, a program that enables a live stream on Facebook To have videos and other media not just me talking. I made two short videos to demonstrate my journey to the final work and then one showing the final work and the exhibition at KARST. It was in the end quite fun to do and lots of people joined in and said such lovely things. Annoyingly the WiFi was not us to it and it all crashed half way through. No chance to show the second video and no can he ya read the piece from my thesis that I’d planned to read. I need to not stress About the fact that things went wrong and focus on the the great and celebratory moment it was. Not to mention I got to drink Bollinger that our lovely neighbours had brought me! I was sent flowers... It felt very celebratory. The online exhibition idea would work and will be something I might think to do another time!
Yesterday the MA taught program came to an end. I had worked out I could sit in my garden to zoom. The day was idilic. it was wonderful to see the work of Ciara and Antonnia. We broke for lunch and then had an artist talk from Richard Dedomenici. His work was about as far from my practice as is possible, and this is what I have loved so much about the course. It has been so good to exposed to practices and disciplines that are very different to my own. It is inspiring and although much of yesterday was about using film, something I haven't even considered as a medium, it was brilliant to have a window into someone else's creative journey. To see things that are not your own.
As the session closed, there was no sense of leaving as we would have done from the University campus. No suggestion of going to the pub, no walking down the corridor for the last moment. Zoom shut down and I was here, not there, in my garden. Done.
I will be proud and glad another day, but just there in the garden all I could really feel was a great sadness at the close of it all.
I have been looking at different genres of writing and at authors who have used a more contemporary style of writing both about both mothering and the theories and histories around motherhood. Mother by Sarah Knott very much follows the Narrative of the authors journey to and through motherhood. This sits alongside her historical research and the anecdotal narrative of women throughout history. I have also been reading The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson which follows a similar pattern of writing though is investigating identity, sex and sexuality, child rearing, childbirth and so much more.
Having taken the idea of a bricolage from the essay by R. Handforth and C. Taylor, doing academic writing differently, Feminist Bricolage, Gender and Education, I need to fully form what this style looks like for me. I have five different aspects or genres, that I am referring to as a tapestry of styles, that I am including in my project report; my narrative, the narrative of the subjects that I have drawn, my art practice, the critical context and the story of other women artists. Increasingly as I have written the essay it has helped me to write these sections separately and even colour code them. I have an original essay plan done on paper which looks somewhat like a mind map. Today I have re-written it and colour coded it to help me see that I have woven the different styles into each section. It has help me hugely to give each section a title. section 1. Beginning, 2. Discovering, 3. showing, 4. birth, 5. unexpected outcomes, 6, mothering. This means I have some rearranging to do within in the essay but it seems to make more sense now....
Today I have been contacting the pregnant models that have been to the studio and two who were due to come together; cousins both pregnant at the same time. they had been so excited to be doing this for me and now of course we can't meet so I have asked for phots and I'm polanning to put them together in one drawing... I don't want to be distracted from the essay but the essay is about the work so it will be good if the work is still happening and progressing! I have also got photos from Becca who I met first she is now 31 weeks pregnant and I might draw her onto the same page as she is on when she first visited the studio.
As there was suddenly a space needing to be filled for a critique I felt it would be helpful to get some feed back on the drawings I have been doing since the feed back from Karst. the idea that the heavy balk marks were too much and that the mothers themselves were not able to be understood or connected with because of the strong gestural marks. I have been looking again at the work of Jenny Savile and also the work of artist Anita Taylor. the accuracy of Jenny Savile"s work and the layering of moments and movements is beautiful but I think I am looking to be more expressive. I like the accuracy though. the work of Anita Taylor is huge and has a strength to the mark making that I really enjoy. in the critique It is difficult not to feel that those people viewing the work are not themselves drawing so maybe don't understand what I'm don g, perhaps don't get the context. some helpful ideas but a feeling that I have not changed things all that much. this feels difficult when the suggestion form Karst was I make very small changes to resolve things, no change of surface and no charge to material. I feel that I have dramatically softened the drawing style but it was seen as still so strong....
There was a feeling that the drawings I did from life were really fresh and felt very real. I need to find away to do this without models visiting... it was felt that when the drawings were I luges onto the big paper they were tidied up too much.
it makes me keen to get back to the drawing. interesting that some people really likes the strong marks and others didn't. there is I guess always the element that when you make marks on paper some people will like them and others won't. how tome forward with this? do what I feel is right! I'm about to graduate and with no exhibition to show case my work in I need to find my own groove and keep grooving!!
It was good to get feedback on the essay today and begin to feel like it is getting somewhere. I have the bonus of an essay that is forming into a tapestry of styles and this is what I now need to focus on. we have to submit the abstracts for our presentations next Tuesday. I need to have written much more of the critical context section before I can give my presentation. in fact it needs to be finished. I have been ready so much and now I need to put it down in more than note form. I have just received the book I have been waiting for from abehbooks as I couldn't get it from the library. Telling Bodies, Performing Birth by Della Pollock even with a quick glance is full of things I want to discus.
my world count is already quite high so I'm glad to have the suggestion form Mark to tern the narratives of the subject visits in to images as they would be the "titles" of the works if that are exhibited. Good to know that the essay is going in the right direction and that I have done a lot already. it is good to begin to fully form the idea of the bricolage idea as the structure of the essay is coming together around this idea.
I am enjoying looking at various artists in eluding the work of Indian artist Angolie Ela Menon who I met a number of times whilst living in India. looking back at my own mothering journey has been helpful to understand what I am doing now and how it so closely linked to my journey as an artist.