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Richard Brooks - Reflective Journal

About the Artist RWB Journal

My work is informed by my personal faith, sense of vulnerability, bereavement, and, my personal experience.

My practice centres on addressing social justice issues of the human condition. I avoid making work of any individual person; so that neither, is the individual stigmatised, nor is the work unduly personalised.

Since January 2012 I have used this blog as part of my reflective journal.
Included in this journal is some of my documentation of my research; the underlined text provides links to web pages etc that have formed part of my research.
The Research Visits category includes some responses to gallery visits.

MA show

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Fri, August 23, 2013 05:02:52

Looking forward to the MA show being open to the public in a week’s time.

For ease of reference, here is the link again for my segment of the online catalogue:
Richard Brooks MA Fine Art

MA Workshops 2013-07-04

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Fri, July 05, 2013 09:55:29

It was good, if daunting, to be informed of our MA degree show spaces.

Initially I was shocked by how large a space it was.

However, as I began to reflect on the space and recall my planning to date I was really pleased that I do have three adjacent walls – and that one of them is an Eastern wall. This means that the Assimilation [Games] print can indeed be hung on the East wall as is appropriate to iconography.

Degree Show Workshop 2013-06-26

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Fri, July 05, 2013 08:50:46

I found this rather unsettling as all the logistical constraints were presented; and this made it difficult for me to discern a way forward, to visualise my work in the show.


However, it has helped me to make some progress in thinking through possibly making a multiple for sale at the show; I could make a small edition of [say 5] hand coloured prints of the Assimilation [Games] picture. These would be hand-painted over the game already embedded within the digital print, making it simultaneously embedded and accumulative. Yesterday’s session [2013-07-04] further clarified my thoughts and I am now intending to make these approximately A4 size so that they can be considered for inclusion in the show’s vitrine.

Exhibition Spaces 2013-05-30

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Sun, June 02, 2013 09:26:05

I found it useful but rather sobering to be guided round the exhibition spaces that will be used for the NUA MA Fine Art show. It made it very real and made me feel quite daunted; and it demonstrated how much that I need to adjust my vision for exhibiting my work.

It is quite frustrating that there are no power points installed in any of the floor spaces; especially as I recently observed there to be such provision in the stone floor of an old 12th century church!

I wonder whether power could be run from above using the lighting gantry if a false wall was to be built to house the large [42″] lcd screen on one side and to hang the large print on the other. It was good to learn that there are some high quality short throw projectors available though, and this is causing me to reconsider whether to use projection – the seascapes filling the space down to the floor would work well, especially if the windows could be blocked out sufficiently to allow projection in the space with the wooden floor.

After the undergraduate shows I will need to conduct some experimentation to ascertain the quality and the size of the projected images. Potentially the log stove vistas could be projected life size at at a realistic height. So potentially two or three projectors might be required in order to facilitate showing the log burner and the seascapes from the floor level up, and the segments of counting rice crispies at a somewhat higher level. This could be achieved by making a two [or more] channel video and using a computer to project the two synchronised channels.

I would also like to explore how projecting on to the silver vinyl would work and whether the large “Assimilation Games” print could actually form the back drop to the projection which would only be briefly fully visible if a short period(s) [of a few seconds] of blank projection were built into the video loop. Again I would need to experiment to see if a black or white or indeed grey or whatever projection would work best for the ‘blank screen’. I am quite excited at the prospect of exploring these possibilities as such a presentation strategy seems to compliment and resonate with the theme and title of the work [i.e. “Assimilation”].

The positioning of the two plinths [one with the bowl of rice crispies and one with the iPad showing the “Assimilation Drinks” video loop] would need to be carefully considered, as would the positioning of the two projectors. As I would still like the placement of the various elements to have some resonance with labyrinth. In addition I need to consider the potential for shadows and interruption of the projected images by both the plinths and the audience and how to best utilise or minimise this effect. The “Assimilation” text would be awaiting discovery on the opposite wall [together with the projectors].

Presentation 2013-05-23

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Sat, June 01, 2013 17:57:20

It was good to be able to give my Masters Project work in progress presentation last week and to receive such helpful feedback.

For the record, here is a pdf of the presentation, including my notes:

The constructive feedback included:

NO text on rice crispies plinth – to avoid unduly directing the viewer.

– Consider either:

– making a large [120cm x 90cm] giclee print on foil of the preferred photograph and painting directly on to that pristine print;


– ways of displaying a small single print on a large wall space.

– There could indeed be, as suspected, issues with the pre-visualised floor plan,

in part due to logistical constraints such as there being no power sockets in any of the floors so cabling would be an issue.

Draft Artist statement

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Wed, April 10, 2013 16:52:23

Richard Brooks

The tripartite concerns of art, theology and social justice are examined in such a way as to promote an ongoing three way conversation rather than a two way argument.

To realise this intention the exhibited work comprises three elements. Each element is in itself multi layered and is not simply a representation of a single interest. The work is contemplative, to be lingered over and to be reflected on.

The first element is 77 games of noughts and crosses painted in vermilion acrylic on small black and white photographs of places of sanctuary. These photographs range from the picturesque rural landscape, to places of shelter for rough sleepers, to seascapes. This subverts the children’s game and makes for a disturbing encounter where the viewer is invited to reflect on the spectacle.

The second element is a series of silent single viewpoint videos of spaces of reflection. These include seascapes, log fires and malt chocolate milk being assimilated by and assimilating the hot milk so both are changed [each time a unique pattern of assimilation is observed]. These videos are shown on a small high resolution screen that invites the viewer to engage with the work on a more intimate level.

The third element is envisioned to be a collection of 27 million rice crispies. Each individual rice crispie is different which resonates with the uniqueness of each individual person. 27 million reflects the number of people currently trapped in modern day slavery. The repetitive nature of counting the contents of several packets resonates in some small way with the drudgery and exploitation faced by such victims. The viewers will be invited to take away a single rice crispie, resonating with sharing, culpability and empathy.

The three elements are drawn together under the umbrella of a single title Assimilation.

Dialogues 2013

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Fri, March 08, 2013 08:22:39

I found yesterday’s symposium interesting but frustrating; in a different setting I would have liked to engaged in further discussion on a number of issues with members of the panel.

I was surprised, and somewhat disappointed, that there was no real discussion of what “abstract” and “painting” could mean and encompass. I would have thought that this could have been a useful exploration, particularly if done relatively briefly at the start of the day, that could have widened the discussion and reflection to encompass a broad range of artistic practice. [As was done very effectively by Steve Felmingham in his sessions last term where he proposed that drawing was almost all encompassing]. A discussion about the definition of painting seemed particularly apposite with Avis Newman’s reported assertion that she is not a painter but makes works on canvas; so I was rather perturbed by Michael Brick’s somewhat dismissive comment that it is not a n interesting question and is easy to answer – it is something to hang on the wall [but rather the how]. This seemed to me to be somewhat prickly and unhelpful – especially as elsewhere the painting as object, with sculptural qualities was being considered. To merely reiterate that and then refer to not getting drawn into a discussion about what is art seemed a little ungenerous; I would have thought a discussion on what art is would have been interesting, useful and stimulating. The defence, that did not want to rehearse the arguments of 40 years ago did not seem completely valid, or logical; especially as it was then discussed how much the world and the art world had changed and that expressive abstractionism may reappear. So the arguments of 40 years ago where made in a completely different context and I would have thought would bear reconsideration in the current climate – the arguments will not be simply the same but will have moved on, not least due to the changing context and climate.

I was also troubled by Michael Brick’s contention that being an artist is just a job, whilst I do agree that we should not take ourselves too seriously for if we do it can stifle our creativity. For me being an artist is a vocation, there is a compulsion to make work [if I am not making I am incomplete]; I never stop being an artist I am stimulated and provoked even when I am trying to relax.

Michael Brick’s contention that art is merely information and has no meaning, likening it to railway tracks which carry the meaning; was deeply perturbing. I agree that all viewers bring their own preconceptions to a work and that all will read a work differently. I would actually go further, the same viewer at different times will receive the same work, in the same location differently on each occasion. Furthermore the location of the work will effect how it is read; the work will not only transform the place in which it is shown, the location will also transform it, there will be a mutual assimilation [which resonates somewhat with my ongoing video works about drinking powder being assimilated by and assimilating the hot milk in which it it placed.] I would also wish to argue that this is also true of literature and other cultural forms, and even at the basic level all see/perceive colour and tone somewhat differently, but this does not imply that it is all meaningless. The artist will have a motivation, an intention for the work, to challenge, to question, to make something aesthetically pleasing, or challenging; and for me it is in this that there has to be meaning by definition. I would wish to amend Michaels metaphor and to state that it is the gallery, book or other place of display and presentation that is really the railway tracks, it is these that provide the conduit for the art to travel from the artist to the viewer along with its inherent meaning. For me if art is meaningless, then what is the point? Surely art can have deep meaning that is not readily able to be verbalised; it can have subtle nuances and resonances that can provoke reflection and questions and widen the viewers horizons – meaning that they see the world a little differently.

However I was particularly struck with the general fascination and preoccupation with the grid and with the challenging disregard for the general rules of composition, such as the rule of thirds. This seems to resonate with much of my current picture making where I am often placing the horizon as central rather than on a third and how I am frequently placing the focus on the centre.

The preoccupation with grids strongly resonated with my intended experimental work, where I am intending to paint a noughts and crosses grid over the photograph and then use random numbers [1 to 9 picked a random from folded bits of paper] to complete a game until O or X win or it is a stalemate; alternating between which starts. This rule making, or working within constructed constraints, also resonated with much of the practice discussed yesterday.

Learning Agreement and Revised Artist Statement

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Wed, November 14, 2012 20:33:34

It was encouraging to receive some encouraging feedback for my Learning Agreement last week. I have attached a copy below for information:

It was also good to discuss our draft [revised] artist statements; after carefully reflecting on the comment I received I further redrafted it and here is the latest rendition of my Artist Statement:

Richard Brooks is a visual artist who critiques issues of social ethics; as such he has been influenced by writers such as Charles Dickens, and informed by his theological studies. Brooks’s life experience of personal vulnerability has been significant in informing his work. Brooks’s work is predominantly realised through utilising photography and video.

The, apparent, verisimilitude of photographic, still and moving, images resonates with the desire to examine the human condition. A photograph is assumed to be true, it seems to provide evidence of that time and place. Brooks uses this presumption to challenge and raise questions for the viewer.

Although his work explores the human condition Brooks chooses not to make any individual the subject of his images; as this would unduly personalise the work. In the same way the locations of the vistas are not readily identifiable by ensuring that the location is not explicitly disclosed.

His work is contemplative so that the viewer is encouraged to linger and engage with the work and its subject matter. Brooks uses different elements in juxtaposition to create a dialogue between the works which prompts further reflection and questioning by the viewer.

I expect that this statement will be progressively further redrafted and refined before the final MA show in August 2013. I did find it rather challenging to compose when the art work is still very much in progress; I am far more comfortable writing such a stement once the work has been more fully resolved and substantially realised.

A Context for Practice: Art, Theology & Social Ethics

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Wed, October 31, 2012 11:41:42

I realise that I have omitted to share the mind map that I made as part of my preparations for the second weekly session on 11 October. This provides me with a good umbrella under which to frame my ongoing practice and research:

How important is an understanding of context, in the development of your practice?

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Wed, October 31, 2012 11:27:18

The following question was suggested for my reflection:

“How important is an understanding of context, in the development of your practice?”

Having reflected over the last six days on this question of context here are some thoughts:

I accept that context is important to my work.

I am aware that my personal history, my research, both general and specific, and my world view from a faith perspective, all intertwine to inform and inspire my work.

The associciations with how the work is displayed also impact the reading of the work, and I think it is good if the work is able to transform the space in which it is located, or to at least engage with it.

However I also realise that the viewer will also come with their own context or “cloud” and this will impact on how they receive and perceive the work.

Thus I think that the context can be changeable and ephemeral, depending on the preoccupations of the maker or the viewer at that particular time. The context of making and viewing is a complex multilayed changing sea that I find, is advisable to try and assess; however, I do not think I will ever be able to truly fully understand it.

Writing Workshop – Artist Statement Session

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Tue, July 24, 2012 12:02:36

It was encouraging, informative and challenging to share my statement and to discuss it with Nic and my peers. It was also good to listen to the statements of the rest of the group.

Here is a copy of my Artist Statement:

Tutorial With Flora Petit 2012-06-21

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Sat, June 23, 2012 12:48:30

It was good to be able to discuss how my current work fitted into the context of my previous work – how it seems that each piece is in part a progression of the both my most recent work to that date and indeed all of my work to date.

I was pleased to receive some more suggestion of artists to consider and to have my research about Grayson Perry affirmed.

I found it useful to also have a discussion about critical evaluation and to recieve the practical advise to keep asking myself why something was important. I encouraged that my strategy of making more reflective and mediataive work, to encourage the viewer to linger in their consideration and to ask themselves questions, rather than making more didactic work, was well received. However I was challenged by FP‘s assesment that the work of Dickens was very didactic and illustrative.

I felt happy yo have been able to discuss how my faith influences my work and to discuss how some secular work can provoke a spiritual repsponse; and it was good to be reminded that it was only my personal opinion that while Rothko’s Seagram murials when installed together do provoke such a response one in isolaation does not.

However, I left the tutorial feeling a little unsettled and wishing that I had asked to discuss my learning agreement; partly because that had been my proposed enquirey is acceptable, realistitic, appropriate and achievable within the given time constraints

Thursday 2012-06-14

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 18, 2012 11:01:05

The session was led by Richard Peat and provided some useful information about the support that is available in planning how to develop my career as an artist.

It has been good to be able to download and revisit the presentation.

I was also pleased to submit my learning agreement for the Self Negotiated Unit [SNU] and I have attached a PDF copy to this post:

Project Proposal Group Session 2012-06-07

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 11, 2012 14:05:54

I found it encouraging and enriching for the 9 of us to share together our project ideas; together with the discussions and feedback that followed each idea.

I was reassuring and encouraged to be reminded that the project should be what I want to do, and not what I think might be expected of me. It was also useful to receive guidance concerning the need the envisage the audience and location of display [not necessarily in gallery space] in planning the form and content of future work.

It was good to discuss my past, present and further work, particularly for it to be recognised that my personal concern for the issue of people trafficking was encrypted in my recent beach gleaning work. I also appreciated being able to discuss how this work could be brought to some kind of conclusion, it was good to receive a positive response to my idea of using printmaking to make a kind of log book which would then be completed by hand to systematically document the findings for each beach gleaning session.

I was pleased to be able to share my dilemma as to the best way forward to progress my work towards a final conclusion next year; I had felt in need of some feedback and guidance, which was duly forthcoming. I also find the actual process of discussing my ideas also help me to develop my thoughts.

I was pleased with how frankly I could express my project and aspirations within the group; this was quite liberating in itself.

I thus intend to take note of these constructive discussions and to focus my work over the summer into conducting further research. This research will be mainly focussed on people trafficking/ modern slavery, but I may also explore something of the history of slavery and forced labour. The starting point for this research into modern slavery will be to study the various reports from the JRF [Joseph Rowntree Foundation] and Anti-Slavery International that I have recently gathered together. In addition I would also like to invest some time in undertaking a theological reflection with a particular regard to the theologians who argue the case for “God’s bias to the poor” and who speak of God’s concern for the afflicted and the oppressed; such a theological study would be envisaged to include consideration of key biblical texts [which would include several passages from the Old Testament Prophets and the Gospels].

This research will form the basis for my future artistic response, both in form and content. I envisage that this artistic response will not really properly begin to crystallise until the next unit in the autumn.

Project Proposal Workshop

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 18:19:22

It was good to be able to share, in some depth, in pairs, our initial ideas for our projects and to be able to also have discussion with Tom. The feedback and discussion was very useful and productive. It was also good to engage with the larger group and to briefly share our ideas and feedback.

It was good to be able to contribute to on another from our own experience.

Through this process, I came to understand that my project proposal was more like what my aims are for the remainder of the MA rather than just for this unit. I thus now need to spend some time in careful reflection, to take a more strategic view; so that I can set myself milestones for each unit in order to fulfil my overall aim. I need to limit the scope and be more focussed, but to remain flexible to the work evolving and leading in unexpected directions.

I am still currently undertaking this reflection, and wonder whether the focus of my work for this unit should be to research the art, theology, and social ethical concerns rather than on trying to force the studio work beyond its current rather experimental or embryonic stage.

Project Proposal

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 17:27:33

For the sake of completeness, I thought that it would be good to share my initial notes for the project proposal, these notes were made in preparation for the SNU Project Proposal workshop that was held on 2012-05-31.


Brief Description

– Art & Social Ethics & informed by faith/ theology

-> Prophetic Voice , speaking out [like Dickens and Hogarth].

– Art & Theology in Dialogue

-> How the [Liberation] Theology of justice and freedom impacts on art practice & in particular on my own art practice -> Driving me to make work addressing social concerns.

– I aim to make a meditative work that will prompt/ encourage the viewer to ask questions about social injustice.

Current Practitioners

Peter Kennard/ KennardPhillips

Jeremy Deller

Noel Douglas

Dana Popa

Josh MacPhee

Gilbert & George

Douglas Fishbone

Grayson Perry

Mark Wallinger

John Keane

Ola Kolehmainen [for the meditative nature of his work]

[Please also see earlier post Current Artists on 25 May 2012, which provides links for many of these artists]

Form of Proposed Work

I am unsure of the form at present, so I intend to explore the use of:

– Photographs

– Video / Audio Video

– Printmaking -> Posters

– Installation

– Text

Research Methods To Inform Practice

Making experimental work using a range of forms/ techniques [as listed above]

Other research to include:

– Gallery visits

– Library Resources

– Online Resources

– Critical review of my own previous and ongoing work

To research both art practice and social ethical issues [such as people trafficking]

How these Methods Communicate My Ideas

By making a meditative, rather than a shocking work, it is hoped that the viewer will engage more deeply with the work and the social ethical issues it questions.

Plan & Difficulties

Plan – make schedule for a range of experimental work & other research.

Main Difficulty – at present I can not yet pre-visualise how the work will be realised

-> so it is not clear how to best focus my practice.

-> Perhaps I should initially concentrate on research, including experimental making and to then critically reflect to discern where that should lead.

Feedback Tutorial and subsequent reflections

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 16:30:49

It has been useful to reflect on the clear suggestions that CR made as to how I could improve and develop my formation and practice as an artist.

These suggestions included:

– I need to continue to both visit galleries and to deeply reflect on the shows and their presentation;

– I need to try and consider further about how I might realise and present my work in a gallery space;

– To further increase my knowledge base so that I can be more fully grounded;

– To continue to explore printmaking, this may lead to printmaking having a greater role within my personal practice [a series of posters could be one way to realise the work];

– To continue to consider text, text works could also provide a mode for realisation.

During my ongoing reflection and consideration of this feedback I have spent some time contemplating making a poster. This would be in vertical [portrait format], still using newsprint and would have both image and text elements. My thinking is to also include space where detail can be added by hand: these details would be date of visit and finds. Although I am still considering whether it is best to allow space for the finds to be listed or to print a table where the types of finds would be printed and the quantity, if any of such items on that occasion would be recorded. In either case the posters would form an evidence log; which nicely resonates with how the finds from each occasion have been separately bagged and labelled.

On further review I decided that it was better to have space for a list of items rather than a chart, as too much space would be given over in the table to item that were not found on that particular occasion.

I have thus now decided to produce a digital mock up to help aid my ongoing discernment of the best way to progress the work. I hope to make and upload this mock-up in the coming week.

Thursday 2012-05-03

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Fri, May 04, 2012 10:36:14

It was good to receive further feed back on my pamphlet and to have a constructive discussion about details of the text and images; I was encouraged that the improvement over last weeks draft was evident.

For future reference purposes I have now uploaded a pdf of this pamphlet:

For a future pamphlet it might be worth exploring little or no text and to just let the images interact with each other and the viewer.

The discussion on the text has given me some useful food for thought which I hope to apply in my composition of 100 words for the Bishop’s Prize submission; perhaps I do not need to give such a specific example or if I do include it to alter the tone of my language – I am seeking to challenge people and to encourage self questioning – but I want this to be accessible; I do not want my words to come across as patronising [I had tried to avoid this by using “we”, thus acknowledging my own culpability as well – but perhaps this did not completely work].

As I reflect on this it prompted me to further reflect on my video and on how I might further adjust and refine it, especially with a view to submitted it for exhibition. I am starting to consider including a few [around 6 ] additional images, so that all the instances of paused TV/ DVD iPlayer etc [ 5 additional images – one from this week and about 4 from previous months that had been omitted from the current version of the work] and all the collections of detritus [1 additional image from the gleaning of Wed 2 May 2012] are included.

2 May 2012 – Paused DVD and collection of detritus from Felixstowe beach:

I also want to further explore the use of screen and image size to contrast the images from paused screens and images of gathered detritus.

Pamphlets [2012-04-26]

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Fri, April 27, 2012 11:46:26

It was good to see the wide variety of approaches from the seven of us who shared our pamphlets or draft pamphlets.

I was really encouraged by some of the feedback I received – that it was moving, that it really shared something of myself and the fact that some people requested a copy as they really liked it.

This reassured me, but I realise that I need to be less reliant on receiving such encouragement and need to try to be more self sufficient/ self confident in my own right about my work.

Tutorial [2012-04-26]

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Fri, April 27, 2012 11:32:34

I returned somewhat nervously to NUCA today, following the Easter break. Unfortunately at the moment I am still struggling, particularly with having confidence in myself and in my work.

I was thus really pleased to have such a constructive discussion about my draft pamphlet and the latest rendition of my video. I was encouraged that they were well received; I was particularly encouraged with the feedback to my use of sound in the video and my use of different sized text in my pamphlet giving differing levels of detail and information.

It was useful to have some constructive comments about how I might progress with them; e.g. explore making the contrast between the paused TV images and the images of detritus/ gathering more consistent in the video; and exploring the positioning of the images in the pamphlet – perhaps so that they are not so conventional and encroach of the fold and/ or extend right to the edge of the paper.

This has given me some useful food for thought and reflection as I tweak the video and pamphlet over the next week.

It was also good to consider how my work might progress over the next term; as I feel the video is somewhat of a milestone, it seems to denote an opportunity for pause and reflection whilst I can develop a different work returning to my more usual photographic practice. I intend to continue to document instances of paused TV etc within my domestic setting and to continue gathering detritus from the beach – but on a monthly rather than a weekly basis; but I also am anticipating making a series of meditative, considered photographic images that will still be motivated by my deep concerns for social ethics.

Group Crit [2012-03-22]

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Thu, April 05, 2012 15:57:09

The group crit, and subsequent reflection, has helped me to crystallise some of my thinking if not really moving me forward in discerning the practical realisation of the work.


1. The juxtaposition between paused TV images and work deriving from gleaning detritus (from the beach) is a metaphor for how we are pre-occupied by the trivial (e.g. not wanting to miss a second of some trashy tv) whilst at the same time we damage our environment – both natural and human.

2. As I remain concerned with social ethics more broadly, I do not want to specifically locate my work merely with pollution and environmental concerns. Indeed the [images of the] rubbish are being used by me as a metaphor for how we mistreat one another. This seems to also resonate with much of my earlier work, especially Damaged [about people trafficking] and The Royal Estate, Paradise part 2, and Paradise Circus [which dealt with homelessness and personal vulnerability].

Dialogues Fine Arts Symposium [2012-03-15]

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Wed, March 21, 2012 11:21:51

The intro by P.F-D set out how the use of materials is itself a key art practice.

The first speaker, Neil Powell, set out the origins Absence and Presence in Japanese sculpture with particular defence to mono ha [ = school of things, it was a relatively brief movement (1966-1972) ]. It was interesting to learn of the ontological concerns of mono ha, e.g. something and nothing (1968) which was real life, real time manifestation of absence and presence – escaping from illusion & narrative. The concept that “thing are not just physical” was also thought provoking. The fact that mono ha reconnected with idealism and spirituality seems to resonate with something of my own practice; but that mono ha did this without attachment of language does not – as I am exploring the use of including text as embedded elements in some of my works – in addition to any further textual statement such as a pamphlet or artist statement.

The second speaker, artist Mark Harris, presented an engaging overview of his recent work of the last 6 years. This was with particular defence to Material, Incident and Transformation. It was interesting to learn of his use of found objects [books, books covers, images] and how he has increasingly fragmented these as elements and materials in his own work. For instance he is now using the book covers as panels to make larger collages. This has has helped to inform my ongoing reflections on my own work and how I should best utilise the found obits from the beach and the found images from paused TV etc, together with images I have made, photographs of the beach and printmaking. I was also attracted by how MH has used making prints to do something different with the image – how it seems to somehow close the circle – e.g. – an original unique painting is made into multiple copies in that it is included in a book, but that book is now rare, almost unique – found by MH in a charity shop who then makes it unique again by using it, making a unique collage/painting which is then scanned and multiple lamb prints made. This encouraged me to continue in my exploration of using my prints label or document each of the various collections of detritus from human activity of the same 200m stretch of beach. It has also prompted me to reflect that I might be able to use some images of significant historical paintings that I recently found in a charity shop. In the later seminar I was rather surprised at how relaxed MH was about how his work is received and viewed; he deliberately leaves title open to provide space for a range of interpretations – thus not giving any prominence of his own intent. This I have mixed feelings about, I enjoy being able to discover and find meaning in a work for my self; but if the work is addressing a particular concern or issue and is an expression of the artist’s position then it seems a pity to give deliberately ambiguous title/information that obscures the effective communication of that position.

The final speaker was artist Sarah Mackillop, who uses and represents found objects. She employs only limited transformation – not irrevocably altering the found objects so that they retain their own integrity in themselves, and indeed some return to their “normal use”. Thus her practice challenges the standard definition of materials as being a substance from which something can be made. The objects can change physically by being exhibited – e.g. fading from the effect of light. SM’s minimal transformation of her found objects has further encouraged me as I consider how to us the objects, or the actual bags of objects I have gathered from my repeated visits to the same 200m stretch of beach.

It was also interesting to view the first 15min segment of a documentary Joseph Beuys – Transformers. His work is concerned with forms and substances rather than symbols. This I found quite challenging as my work is concerned with substances and symbols – the found objects are both. But I liked his definition of thinking as being concerned with forms and ideas – this resonates with my practice where I think through making work [and, actually, by writing my journal].

Thursday 2012-03-08 Tutorial

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, March 12, 2012 20:02:41

It was encouraging to receive some positive feed on my learning agreement, but I am a little puzzled that it was described as a “good draft” – I thought this was it not a draft and I will have to clarify when and if it needs to be resubmitted. I was pleased to be provided with CR‘s annotations & comments on my learning agreement.

Their was a good discussion about my ongoing practice which was also encouraging – good to continue to collect images and objects and not to force them into premature particular outcome[s].

I was pleased that CR again mentioned River Ocean Research and it was good to be again encouraged to try and make contact as this may provide opportunities for collaboration or to exhibit my work.

It was also good to discuss my printmaking and ways to further develop the work – could build on the “warm” handwritten notice and bleak photograph by using photographs or photocopies of the found objects rather than drawn representation[s] thereof [contrasting handwriting with mechanical processes]. I was encouraged that my paper choice of newsprint was so well received and that it was understood that it did not make it an obviously valuable art object in itself [this is good as it tends to avoid fetishising it]. The use/presentation of the prints was also discussed and I realised that I could use the prints to label the bags/piles of detritus for each of the weekly collections.

CR suggested that it would be good to contact PF-D to try and sort out an exhibition space where I could try out ideas of how to exhibit my work – could be in bags; – even if just for a day and could photographically document it.

I was also reminded that I need think about how and what to present for the interim group crit in a couple of weeks [2012-03-22]; but I was reassured that it was fine that it is still very much a work in progress and that I do not have to feel under pressure to force false premature conclusion for the realisation of the work.

Thursday 23-2-12 NUCA

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Tue, March 06, 2012 18:10:00

Over the last couple of weeks developing ideas for screen printing and yesterday again tweaked the design – changing from a can – based on a beer can found in the last few weeks to a drinks bottle – prompted by the text I had arrived at – PowerGreed – a subversion of poweraid but based on the two factors that seem most responsible for suffering and exploitation; also I decided that the bottle motif was more clearly identifiable and also had resonances with messages in bottles.

I enjoyed my initial attempt at printing and was somewhat surprised at quite how time consuming it is and so was a little disappointed that I had not been able to make greater progress this afternoon.

It was also good to be introduced to the potential of mono-printing and how this can be combined with exposed screens and/or cut outs.

Guest artist talk – Thomas Kilper – it was fascibating to see and hear of his work and the processes. It was encouraging to find that he was still utilising his political activism background in art – but to promt the viewer to ask difficult questions and to extend their horizons rather than as a call to action. It was interesting to hear that he regarded the cut floor rather than the print thereof as the primary work – to me this seems a little paradoxical – why would the primary work be a mirror image – if it were my work it would be the secondary image that would be the mirror image and the primary image would be as observed by the eye.

Thursday16-2-12 NUCA

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Tue, March 06, 2012 18:07:39

Interesting session with artist, James Iveson, at Outpost – especially his sentiment that wanted his work to be something not merely of something; which reminded me of A Building is not a Building by Ola Kolehmainen. Also good discussion about curating the work and how best to display it; I was pleased to be able to share some of my thoughts from a couple of weeks earlier when first saw the show.

Today’s second sessions was a presentation and discussion about the role of writing alongside other art practice and how writings often accompany exhibitions and help or hinder how they are received by the reader/viewer and how the artists words can unduly limit the reading of their work.

It was good to get my learning agreement completed this week, I have now uploaded a pdf copy of this for future reference:

It was also good to see a number of pieces of my Damaged work published in Magnet this month to accompany an article on people trafficking and also at the same time to have a piece from the same body of work on the wall at NUCA, having been accepted in the positions group show, I have included a couple of installation shots below:


NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Wed, February 15, 2012 12:47:08

I have been further reflecting on possible questions for the artist tomorrow; I think the question I most want to ask is:

Why did he change his previously successful strategy of installing the “Bathers” together [as can be seen in an installation photograph on his website] to one of separating them and placing one in the middle of a different series that has a very different aesthetic?

Thursday 2012-02-09

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Sat, February 11, 2012 11:28:15

I had been looking forward to the printing workshop – indeed the anticipation had helped to keep me motivated at times when my sprits were down during the last unit.

I enjoyed the screen printing session and subsequent research on VLE about screen printing and I am eagerly anticipating the next session were I can make my own screen print.

But it is a shame that I can not also do the 3D workshop at the sometime as I would also like to expire and experiment with casting – especially utilising some of my found objects from Felixstowe beach. I feel that it is good that I am expiring other media for making work, as well as photography and video; I think that even if I end up reverting to these it will mean that it will strengthen my conceptual use of them. I will be using photography/video because it is the most appropriate for me to use for that particular work – not merely because that is the media I feel most confident in using.

I am still reflecting on my choice of subject for my first printing project – it could be an existing work such as a photograph – perhaps with the addition of text – e.g. one of my mono “Damaged Portrait’s”, or “Paradise Part II” [but I may have to scan in or photograph the silver gelatine print]; or perhaps I could use my personal manifesto as the template for the print; or perhaps I could try not using photography at all and rely on drawing and cut outs etc.

The guest speaker talk and subsequent seminar by Fiona MacDonald, curator from Standpoint, and artist [sculpture & painting] raised some interesting issues. Standpoint’s model of artist led space is very different to that of Outpost. It seems a little strange that they do not really promote their own artists; I would have expected more of a dual approach where the gallery presents not only the vision of the curator coupled with a representation of contemporary art practice, but also space of opportunity for Standpoint artists.

Standpoint’s use of education and community engagement that focuses on emerging and mid-career artists is also a very different model to that adopted by many galleries which concentrate on engaging with school and youth groups – although some such as Firstsite, Colchester seem to be using both approaches in parallel – both encouraging school visits etc but also providing events and specifically for practising artists.

For me Firstsite’s dual approach to education seems to be a good model for best practice.

It was also interesting to find that, despite being employed 3 day a week as curator, Fiona MacDonald regards her self as an artist and reports that she thinks as an artist. The curatorial role being seen merely in a similar light as a 0.5 teaching post. Thus her curatorial work is, I assume, a means of helping to fund her art practise, but will also presumably both help to inform her work and to find new opportunities to show her work.

NUCA 2012-02-02

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Sun, February 05, 2012 17:45:20

It was a difficult choice whether to opt for print – screen & etching; or 3D for the workshop inductions. The print seems to be a natural progression from the previous unit where I explored the work of a number of printmakers, ranging from Hogarth and Goya to Kennard and MacPhee. However, I was also attracted by 3D, especially exploring the possibility of making casts from a selection of the items that I am continuing to gather from Felixstowe beach. It is a little frustrating that I am not able to do both this term; but it is encouraging that to be again reassured that there will be the opportunity to undertake further inductions over the summer, during the undergraduate break.

It was also good to be reminded that the emphasis of the current unit, Platforms for Dialogue, is to further develop my own practice.

I would have preferred a longer discussion on the Gillick text, Maybe it would be better if we worked in groups of three? [Hermes Lecture, 2008], as I had spent a couple of hours studying the text and still felt that I had not fully unpacked it. It was helpful to receive some pointers though in respect of the nature of the contemporary artist and the diversity of practice; to briefly consider texts surrounding the work vs the work itself [which was brought into sharper focus during the subsequent visit to Outlook]; and to be reassured that this does not necessarily lead to a dematerialising of my art practise.

The visit to the James Iveson Positions show at Outpost heeled to further inform my reflections on the use of text, especially in relation to Gillick’s text. The text seemed to be almost too powerful in relation to the work. The initial impression of the show was positive, how well the works fitted and transformed the space; however on closer inspection I was somewhat disappointed, non of the individual works seemed particularly engage me. I am aware that this may have been more due to my personal state of mind – still absorbing, processing, be moved by, all the works I had seen in London a few days earlier.

On further reflection and research I would have preferred a more coherent show – on J.V.‘s website there is an installation shot of four bathers pictures on the same wall that I personally found more engaging than 2 of them being located on opposite corners at Outpost. Perhaps I also allowed myself to be too directed by the text, in hindsight I should have been slower to go to the text and first given more opportunity to engage personally with the work. I would have preferred a more uniform or gradation of colour and tone around the room. Perhaps with the oranges and yellows of the orange and lemon together with the ski mitten and Amy as Model arranged to give more of a gradual tonal progression [as in the bathers installation on his website]. The element of surprise would still have been their as the ski mitten and Amy as Model pictures were discovered interrupting the flow of orange and lemon pictures. I enjoyed how the general positioning of the pictures in relation to the space and one another – especially the use of corners and how on this enabled a picture to be opposed by a space rather than another picture on the opposing wall. I would have liked to see more pictures in the style of the ski mitten and Amy as Model paintings, and these could have been used to replace pictures using more of a blue/black pallet. [Some of] These replaced pictures could have then been rested on the unused fourth wall. Thus as one entered the space one would have been struck by the uniform pallet in front and to left and right, but then been unexpectedly surpassed by the blues on the fourth wall. This, to me personally, would have had the potential to transform the space even further, and would have been a more emotional encounter; resonating with the spiritual elemental responses to Rothko‘s sublime Seagram murals.

I would thus wish to ask James Iveson

1. Were any of the pictures especially painted for this show?

2. Why the pictures were hung in this order – especially ending with 3 blue images – it almost seems from the text that either these should have been on the fourth wall, or that they should have been more interspersed among the other pictures?

3. Why, when a previous installation apparently worked so well, were the Bathers split up rather than shown together; they could have been shown on the, unused, fourth wall?

4. What does he, feel about the use of text within the gallery setting?

In Steve Baker‘s lecture, concerning the use, rather than representation, of animals in art, the discussion concerning Catherine Bell‘s vocalised intentions that S.B. did not find as compelling or as interesting as the work itself seemed to compliment the earlier consideration of text and work. I am also reminded of viewing the Chapman Family Collection a few years ago at the Tate and wishing that the text had not been at the entrance to the installation; if it had been in the middle or at the end it would have allowed the viewer to discover the irony of the piece for themselves.

This puts me in something of a personal quandary as to how to best utilise text with my own work; work that addresses social ethical issues. Work that I hope will help the view to ask questions, to broaden their horizons, to see things differently. For example in an earlier body of work I made picture of multi story car parks and entitled the series Paradise Part II; thus I used the title to alert the viewer, then in my artist statement I briefly explained that the work concerned the issue of homelessness and that such car parks are often preferred places of shelter and refuge for those sleeping rough. It was, and is important to me that such an understanding is communicated, but I do realise that this can be problematic. However, at this stage I can not discern the best way to navigate through these concerns.

Perhaps one way forward is to, like Ola Kolehmainen, to only make the text/ additional information available on request from Gallery invigilators should a particularly interested viewer ask about a specific image.