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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.

Sheffield Galleries

Research Visit Posted on Thu, February 06, 2014 12:34:32

I was pleased to be able to view work at three of Sheffield’s galleries last week [29 January 2014]

1] Site
– “The Artist Proposes” It was interesting to see the work in progress of the 4 artists currently in the Pltform residency sceme.
– “Double Screen (Not Quite Tonight Jellylike)” – Anna Barnham I was captivated by this video installation and it was great to be in contact [on twitter] with Anna Barnaham [@Banana_Harm] who provided me with this link to the great accompnying pdf document [a hard copy is also apparently available at the Site gallery shop]

2] Graves
– “Pole Position: Polish art in Britain 1939 – 1989” – the impact of modern (20th Century) British based Polish painters. I could have lingered here even longer. I was struck by the apparent cross fertilisation between these artist and the likes of Graham Sutherland and Francis Bacon. It thus seems regrettable and surprising that these Polish artists have not had more recognition and exposure.

3] Millenium Gallery
– printmaking “Printing Sheffield” – I was expecially interested in the linocuts and the accompanying artist talk [on video] by James Green. I was struck by how tactile his process is – especially as he uses a spoon instead of a press to ensure even contact between the inked lino and the paper.
– it was also good to be able to revisit “Inside the Circle of Fire: A Sheffield Soundscape” a sound and visual installation that I first viewed in September. I was struck with how important the images are to the soundscape – it is a much depleted experience merely listening to the audio than expierncing the cumulative effect of the audio with pictures.

Recent Gallery Visits

Research Visit Posted on Wed, February 05, 2014 20:34:08

Over the last couple of weeks it has been good to view a wide range of work at a number of galleries:

25 January: Ftizwilliam, Cambridge
I especially impressed by the Italian sacred works from the mid 13 to the early 14 hundreds in particular such iconograhical works as Ceccarelli’s The Crucifixion – there was something moving about the combination of the antiquity and the deep spiritual usage over the centuries.

I also enjoyed the Edmund de Waal interventions

28 January: Impressions, Bradford – Paul Reas: “Dreaming About The Good Times?”
Whilst I had hoped for a little more from this retrospective, there were a number of particulalrly strong images; most notably in the thoguhtful use of colour – often red.
For me, my main dissappointment was absence of uniqueness. Indeed, many of the images reminded me of the work of Martin Parr or Bruce Gilden.

28 January: National Media Museum, Bradford – Chris Harrison: “Copper Horses”
This was a stunning show exporing both his personal family [especially in relation to his father] as well as the wider issue of the decline of skilled manual industry. The images were carefully composed and thoughfully hung. It was good to linger and reflect. There was something about this body of work that was special and unique.

The contrast between my reaction to these two shows has prompted a degree of self relfection – I have concluded that it has stregnthed my desire to make work that is personally meanigful and that can show a different way of viewing. This confirms my practice of my work being about something and meaning something – and that that something has significance.

Gallery Visits

Research Visit Posted on Mon, December 09, 2013 17:30:32

Last month I had a very useful and stimulating day in London. Visiting the Whitechapel Gallery; The Photographer’s Gallery; and, The V&A.

This visit helped to renergise me as I continue to explore and discern the way forward as I seek to build on my Assimilation (Games) body of work. I am still minded to continue adding to the body of work to make 490 [70 x 7] individual pieces.

Gallery Visits

Research Visit Posted on Tue, October 15, 2013 18:03:08

Here are a few thoughts about the exhibitions I have seen over the last month or so:

Saturday 21-09-2013
“This me of mine” Opening at Ipswich Art School
I was impressed by the breadth of work, by 25 artists, dealing with expressing one’s point of view of the world, of using ones voice. For me, I found this to be an affirmation of my own work as I endeavour to practice “art as prophetic voice”.

Tuesday 01-10-2013
“Khora” [work 5 artists currently working on their Fine Art MA at NUA], Opening at Stew, Norwich
I found the wall text engaging:
Khora is a philosophical term described originally by Plato as a receptacle, a space or an interval. Jacques Derrida followed, by using the word Khora to describe a “radical otherness” that “gives place” for being.
Using these terms and ideas as a starting point, five artists have responded to the notion of Khora and the idea of “place” in its many different forms. …
It was though evident of how much the viewers perspective is influenced by even just a few lines of wall text; it provides an apparent context and a lens through which to view the diverse works of the 5 artists.

Tuesday 01-10-2013
“Gib’s Mir”, an exhibition of works by Nicholas Byrne and Gili Tal.Opening at Outpost, Norwich
Although I was intrigued by the paintings on perspex and the irregular use of suction cups as the apparent means of hanging, I was more interested in the open portfolios of work on the floor and considering whether the works had been always been intended to be shown in that unique way – so that underneath an overlapping piece of work there may – or maynot be more of the drawing.

Saturday 05-10-2013
Houghton Revisited” and Houghton Sculpture Park at Houghton Hall
It was wonderful to see the collection in the house designed for it. I especially enjoyed Bartolome Esteban Murillo, The Crucifixion, c.1680
Pieter Paul Rubens, Friar’s Head, 1615-17
However, it was in the sculpture park that I was really moved especially by these works:

Richard Long, Full Moon Circle, 2004

Zhan Wang, Artificial Stone 85, 2009

James Turrell, Skyspace
This was the real highlight of the whole day, the site specific construction, the walk up the gently sloping wooden pathway, to finally entering the gallery space through double spring closed, where suddenly and surprisingly confronted with a wonderful framed vista of the sky, seen through an ope aperture that framed it in such a way as to encourage contemplation. It was an uplifting, mood changing, almost spiritual experience. Interestingly, I have now [today] discovered that the artist is a Quaker so this space for spiritual contemplation is absolutely intentional.

V&A 2013-07-08

Research Visit Posted on Wed, July 10, 2013 13:09:43

It was good to spend Monday afternoon at the V&A, where I concentrated at looking at work in a few areas, although I also enjoyed seeing the modern design section and the book illustration prize winners.

I was surprised to note that white cube space was not predominant – often the walls being blue or red – this was even the case for the Making It Up: Photographic Fictions where the walls were blue. In this show a few works particularly drew my attention:

Oliver Boberg Anliegerweg (Residents Path) 2000 [click here to go to image]

Xing Danwen Urban Fiction, No.23 2005 [click here to go to image]

Andy Wiener’s 6 C-type prints from the series A Rakes Progress 1986

I was also moved by the sacred silver and stained glass especially the stained glass and its ancient tradition and the relationship to iconography that resonates with my own practice. The highlight in the glass was Frank Salisbury’s The Ascension which had such strong echoes of much earlier works including the Murillo work that I viewed earlier in the year at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Under The Ascension was placed a sculptural object [Ichthys Font 2004-05 optical glass by Colin Reid; Plinth by Jim Partridge (on loan from Art and Christian Enquiry Trust)] that seemed to be enhanced by and enhance the stained glass; I hope to produce such a dialogue between my pieces so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

I enjoyed once again immersing myself in the heritage of photography as I perused the V&A photographs collection [click here to see a V&A’s selection of photographs from that collection]; I was particularly pleased to view these works:

John Reginald Homer Weaver, Avila Cathedral Interior, Spain, 1920-30 [for me, this evoked a similar emotional pathos to Josef Sudek’s studies of Prague, especially the rebuilding of the Cathedral in the 1920’s; both sharing the wonderful luminosity of light streaming into the space]

Francis Bruguière, Cut Paper Abstraction 1925-7

Man Ray, from the portfolio Electricitè‘ 1931

Maurice Broomfield, Methylating Company, Hull, Distillery, 1935

Ilse Bing, Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Building Tops, 1936

Tibor Honty, The Summer Evening, 1952 [which to me resonates with the earlier work of Josef Sudek, as might be expected by Honty’s 1933 relocation to Praha]

Robert Brownjohn, Street Level, 1961

Robert Adams, Newly Occupied Tract Houses, Colorado and Outdoor Theatre and Cheyenne Mountain, 1968 [these so strongly resonate with the slightly later work of Lewis Baltz that it is clear that they were indeed both part of the ‘New Topographics’ movement.]

Bernd and Hilla Becher, 6 Gelatin Prints 1974: Silo for Coal, Big Pit Colliery, South Wales ; Lime kilns, Brielle, Holland ; Water Tower, Kirkham Gate, Near Leeds, England ; Pit Head, Fosse Noeux No. 13, North France ; Gas Holder, Power Station Essen-Karnap ; Cooling Tower, Zeche Waltrop, Ruhr, West Germany

I was also interested to look at the presentation of the tapestries as I thought that this could potentially inform how I hang my Assimilation [Games] piece – the subdued lighting did resonate with my current thinking but the actual method of hanging did not.

The final two items that captured my attention were:

1. Thomas Gainsborough’s showbox made to show his oil on glass landscapes; I enjoyed the whole aesthetic and the intimacy of the personal, individual viewing of the work.


2. John Constable’s Landscape Oil Sketches I was intrigued by his attention to detail, even in his sketches and yet they still posses the spontaneous emotion; I found this encouraging as I am often moved to make a photographic sketch, still or moving, while still maintaining the potential for a more significant work.

Ikon Gallery 2013-05-14

Research Visit Posted on Sun, May 19, 2013 08:08:04

It was good to view the three new exhibitions and the new installation yesterday, I was especially interested in observing the ways that the works had been displayed and presented; as I continue to consider the optimum way that I could show my work at the NUA MA degree at the end of August.

I was especially impressed by the hanging of the Tapa: Barkcloth Paintings from the Pacific with the some by subtle use of magnets and some by hanging on a soft roll and a few combining the two. The overall effect was very powerful and created an ambience in the gallery that resonated positively with the works and encouraged me to examine the works in even more detail.

The hanging by concealed D-rings of François Morellet‘s large acrylic paintings was also very effective; it ensured that there was no distraction to the work by the method of hanging. These [2006] works were also of interest as they were enlargements [4:1] of his earlier [1952] works; this encouraged me as it seemed to further validate part of my current practice were I am painting on a small 15x10cm photo and then significantly enlarging it to make a large piece that resonates with a banner. I like the banner motif as it seems to resonate with both a protest placard and a sacred wall-hanging.

In contrast, Giorgio Sadotti‘s installation: THIS THIS MONSTER THIS THINGS left unconcealed trailing wires, DVD players, amplifiers and audio players; but these actually added to the impact of the piece rather than being a distraction from it. As part of the installation there was a small library of books around a Frankenstein theme; this worked well as a juxtaposition and effective contextualisation of the work. I also enjoyed the intimacy of the work, it was in the small tower gallery, and a maximum of 2 viewers were permitted at any one time; I was fortunate enough to be the sole viewer and I was drawn to closely examine the work in a much more personal and intimate way than I would have been had it been in a larger gallery space.

The resource room further helped my engagement with the works, it provided space for reflection and further reading about all the current works; it might be good if such a space could be provided in the NUA MA Fine Art degree show. Indeed this helped me to discover a further work at the gallery:

Oliver Beer‘s Outside-In which is now permanently installed in the entrance lobby, but with such subtle, unobtrusive signage that leaves the visitor to discover the work for themselves – I especially like the wording of the do not touch notice which commented on the fragility of the work and asked visitors not to touch the work, except by interaction of the ear.

BMAG 26 April 2013

Research Visit Posted on Sat, April 27, 2013 13:31:17

Yesterday, it was good to be able to revisit the Metropolis: Reflections on the modern city at Gas Hall Birmingham [runs until 23 June].

I enjoyed again viewing a piece of Ola Kolehmainen‘s work, Shadow of Church, 2006; and Jochem Hendrick’s Front Windows, 2009 [and I was impressed by the quality and purity of the audio, I find it difficult to know how this was achieved – there was a complete absence of background noise, no wind, no traffic, no trains no birds, no aeroplanes, despite it being located opposite a railway station, and yet the sound seemed to relate too closely to the amount and manner of glass being broken to be done separately in a sound studio. However, I also noticed that the clouds were hardly moving and wondered if the pauses between the windows being broken had been elongated in post production so that the original happening took considerable less than the 6min duration of the video. This in itself became a distraction to my engagement with the work, perhaps some ambient noise would have actually been less of a distraction allowing me to better engage with the actual work rather than being distracted by how it was realised.

I was also moved by Semyon Faibissovich‘s Take the Weight off Your Feet, 2009. This painting explores the marginalisation of some people in society as it focuses on an impoverished woman in his own local of Moscow – he paints based on a photographed made on his mobile phone. This resonates with my own concerns and practice.

BMAG 20 April 2013

Research Visit Posted on Wed, April 24, 2013 18:37:00

I was pleased to be able to see the Metropolis: Reflections on the modern city show at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery last Saturday.

I have since found a useful press release pdf from Birmingham Museums

The personal highlights included works that seem to resonate with my current project, these included:

Christiane Baumgartner, Ladywood, [2010, (video 4m 36s)]

Nicolas Provost, Storyteller, [2011, (video projection 7m, 30s)]

Beat Streuli, Pallasades, [2001, (video 45min looped)] it was good to see this again, having seen it at Beath Struli show at Ikon in January. It plays tricks on the mind/eye as one expects people to cross from one screen to the other – but they do not which makes it strangely compelling as one drawn in to the details of the videos.

Yang Zhenzhong, Let’s Puff, [2002, Two screen digital projection] This was really effective and the production values were excellent, in particular the synchronisation of the two parts was exquisite.

Grazia Toderi, Orbite Rosse (Red Orbits), [2009, Two channel video installation] This was impressive and had a wow factor, it felt like an experience not merely a viewing. I aspire to be able show a work with such impact.

Mohamed Bourouissa, L’impasse (the dead end), [2007, Lambda print on aluminium]

Gardar Eide Einarsson, Untitled Landscape (Tear Gas Canisters), [2012, inkjet on aluminium]. This reinforced my inclination to experiment with producing black and white photographs as inkjet prints on aluminium to explore the comparative luminosity of such prints as compared to inkjet prints on paper and darkroom prints using traditional silver gelatine photographic paper.

Jochem Hendricks, Front Windows, [2009, Video projection, 6min]

As well as the Metropolis show I was also impressed by Hughie O’Donoghue’s, Three Studies for a Crucifixion I, [1996, Carborundum print], and was moved to study them more closely and to discover the more about the work.

London visit 13 April 2013

Research Visit Posted on Mon, April 22, 2013 12:47:26

Had a really good research visit last Saturday as managed to have three productive gallery visits.

[1] Dulwich Picture Gallery – to see murillo & justino de neve: the art of friendship where I was particularly impressed by

The Infant Jesus Distributing Bread to Pilgrims

where the different types of bread seemed to suggest each person had a particular bread especially for them.

It was good to learn how Neve’s patronage of Murillo was an extension of his concern for ordinary people as demonstrated through his charitable education and health projects; this provides me with encouragement as I seek to exercise a similar integrity in my work.

At the time the following works were also noteworthy:

Three Boys, c1670

Invitation to a Game of Argolla, 1665-70

[2] Tate Britain – to see

[a] Simon Starling’s Phantom Ride [which I had heard discussed on Radio 4’s Front Row] I thought the staging of this site specific video installation was tremendous, how the video could be viewed from either side of the screen and how the sound was made to fill the entire space of the large Duveen Sculpture Galleries.

[b] Looking at the View [which I had seen in The Guardian – in a few of articles – including an online slide show and Framing the view: six artists reveal how they choose landscapes ] I was impressed by the eclectic collection of work, but I thought some of the work would have worked better if it had been presented differently, e.g. Wolfgang Tillman’s Concord Grid could only be viewed in close proximity because of the gallery layout, but the overall impact of the grid was best seen from a distance, but this could only be achieved by viewing it a a fairly acute angle.

In my notes at the time, I also observed the following:

Paul Graham, b1956, Roundabout, Anderstown, Belfast, 1984 (layers of symbolism in an initially mundane vista, & then notice the running soldier, & then the graffiti

Lucian Freud, Two Plants, 1977-80 (ultra realism)

Wolfgang Tillmans, Lutz and Alex sitting in the trees, 1992 (noticed the uncluttered hanging of the large unmounted print (about 6×4 ft) simply using 4 white bulldog clips at each corner each secured to wall with a basic nail!)

John Brett, The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs, 1871 (beautifully renders the wonderful beam of sun light in sky & as falls on sea- very uplifting)

Tacita Dean, Disappearance at Sea 1996 (14min film) (really beautiful and uplifting use of light especially seeing the background vista thro the lighthouse lens).

Wolfgang Tillmans, Concord Grid, 1997 (4 rows of 14 a4 photographs on paper perfectly lined up but taped to the wall- overall grid did have impact but would have perhaps worked better on a different wall where the viewer was able to see it at more of a distance).

[3] Tate Modern

[a] Transformed Visions here the personal highlights included Rothko’s Seagram Murals, which I again found to be a uplifting and spiritual experience; Germaine Richier’s Shepherd of the Landes which I found has really stayed with me over the last 10 days; and Alfredo Jaar’s two light box installation Lament of the Images 2002 was powerful and beautiful

[b] Ruins in Reverse This was an overpowering exhibition which did not seem to engender prolonged contemplation within the gallery space as it was almost an audio visual sensory overload. It makes me mindful of my selection of work and that the overall effect maybe somewhat different to an encounter with a work by itself.

Force Of Nature: Picturing Ruskin’s Landscape

Research Visit Posted on Fri, February 08, 2013 16:30:06

Sheffield Millennium Gallery: Monday 28 January 2013

This was a really interesting and stimulating show covering a range of artists, periods and art forms. I was impressed by the use of gallery text that gave some insights into Ruskin’s ethos and views. However I was disappointed that this was not fully supported by their website that contained little of the gallery text, only a few examples of the works and did not give a full list of the works in the show. Although it is good that there is now a link to download Jacqueline Yallop’s accompanying Force of Nature essay; this was also available in the gallery but it is good to be able to study it further away from the gallery.

One particular text that stood out and seems to resonate with my current research and practice was:

Seeing the Landscape: All great art praise

For Ruskin, understanding the landscape through art was a form of religious celebration

This seemed to link so strongly with my research interests and current practice that I am investing some time in researching Ruskin and his writings.

The highlights of the show for me included:

Dan Holdsworth Andoya 2006 c-type photo

Dan Holdsworth, Andoya, 2006 © Dan Holdsworth, 2012

David Nash Wooden Boulder 2004 film

Julian Opie Jet Stream 2011 continuous computer animation

Kathleen Herbert I may be a wage slave on Monday but I am a freeman on Sunday 2011 HD video

I may be a wage slave on Monday but I am a free man come Sunday, 2011 - 2011, Kathleen Herbert

[the audio was disconcerting, so much so that my companion found it difficult to view the video for any more than a few seconds; this seems somewhat counter productive, surely it is not advisable to make a work too uncomfortable so that viewers do not fully engage with it]

Kathy Prendergast Land 1990 canvas, fabric, paint, wood & metal

Force of Nature, featuring Land (1990) by Kathy Prendergast. Photo © Museums Sheffield

Alfred Maskell Landscape 1898 photograph, gum bichromate print

Landscape (1898) by Alfed Maskell. Photo © National Media Museum

It was interesting to note from the gallery text that: “Unlike Ruskin, Maskell believed that photographs could be considered art.” [It was disappointing to find that Ruskin did not recognise photography as a valid art form.]

George Davison Reflections, Weston-on-the-Green 1899 photogravure print
Reflections, Weston-on-the-Green (1899), George Davison. Photo © National Media Museum

Again the gallery text was worth noting: “Like Maskell, Davison was a founder member of the Brotherhood of the linked ring. Critics applauded him as one of the first impressionist photographers …”

17 January 2013: Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Research Visit Posted on Thu, January 24, 2013 15:58:22

I had a really inspiring and thought provoking visit, that had three distinct elements

1. 19th Century paintings in the round room

In particular I was moved by one particular painting:

Never Morning Wore to Evening But Some Heart Did Break, Walter Langley 1824

2. Revealed Government Art collection

18 months ago I had viewed a previous rendition of this show [At Whitechapel Gallery, London]. It was interesting how different the show appeared in a new setting and configoration. This provides much food for thought as I contemplate not only how to best configure my degree show in August, but also how to best install my work at a solo pop up exhibition this weekend in Ipswich [at Landseer rd Methodist Church].

The work that this time was especially captivating was Ori Gersht’s Being There: White Mountain, 2001

3. The Private View of Arrow in the Blue, the first west Midlands Koestler Trust exhibition

I found the whole show moving and inspiring but Released was especially poignant.

Coast 2012 Saturday 27 October 2012

Research Visit Posted on Wed, November 14, 2012 20:03:13

It was good to go to Coast 2012 opening day to see some of the exhibitions at Sheringham and to attend the Art and the Sea Study Day/Conference with Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

There was so much material that I am still digesting it two weeks later!

Of particular interest was the presentation by Artist Fran Crowe especially the discussion of her Saving a Mile of Sea project; this resonated with my own exploration of gathering detritus from human activity on a weekly basis from Nov 2011 to May 2012 along the same 200m stretch of beach. It was also encouraging to learn of the platform that she has set up for artists and writers in Suffolk and East Anglia to share their exploration of issues relating to the coast, as it states on the website, Landingstage: is a space for ideas…

We are a growing number of Suffolk artists and writers interested in coastal and climate change.

This website lets us explore these changes and our relationship with our environment here on the Suffolk coast.

The two presentations by speakers from The Crown Estate [Professor Mike Cowling, Chief Scientist, The sea and changes through time; and Professor Robin McInnes, Art and coastal change in East Anglia] were particularly illuminating, so much so that I have subsequently received two of the reports that Professor Robin McInnes was instrumental in producing [A COASTAL HISTORICAL RESOURCES GUIDE FOR ENGLAND; and, ART AS A TOOL IN SUPPORT OF THE UNDERSTANDING OF COASTAL CHANGE IN EAST ANGLIA].

After the conclusion of the study day it was good to be able to view some of the art work in the festival, although I think that the shows could have been improved by giving greater space to a smaller number of works.

Film: Oranges and Sunshine

Research Visit Posted on Mon, November 12, 2012 15:42:54

This moving and challenging, Jim Loach 2010, film Oranges And Sunshine [viewed 29 October 2012] addressed the forced emigration of British children from UK to Australia that continued for two decades up to 1970. Many were wrongly told that they had been orphaned, whilst some mothers had been wrongly reassured that their child had been adopted by a loving family, in the UK. When in fact most of the children were institutionalised and used for child labour, with some being sexually abused.

It was shocking to realise that the film was effectively a dramatised documentary of relatively recent events; which were wholly unacceptable.
Despite identifying individuals and places, it seemed to resonate with something my practice in it’s examination of a social ethical issue.

Nature Art & God: “What’s in a Face?”

Research Visit Posted on Wed, October 31, 2012 12:11:01

This was another excellent study day at ECAT led by the photographic artist, John Williams

It was stimulating how JW made photographs that were in themselves 3d artefacts.

Chris Burden then led a thought provoking discussion on the act of seeing – how by seeing merely the surface something deeper, emotional is also perceived/ communicated. He went on to observe that our viewing is pre-conditioned and organised through our native culture.

He went on to liken the vocation of artist and priest to being that of seeing and haring – to see things and people as they really are and to share these insights – to lead others out of Plato’s cave. This I found very affirming and encouraging as it seemed to resonate well with my aspirations for my own practice.

In the afternoon we built and experimented with simple camera obscura; and it was enlightening to see how a small slit rather than a round whole can be used to distort the image. This has really intrigued me and I have noted this as an avenue for future exploration as, at present, it does not seem to be a relevant process for my current work. I was interested to see how this effects the way that other animals will see, such as cats that have [slit] elongated elliptical rather than circular pupils.

However, the thought of being able to distort the image, as it is either made or projected through a slit, does seem to have potential to critique the blinkered distorted view of the world that most of us have. We see it from our own viewpoint, which is distorted by our own preconceptions, experiences and interests and perhaps even of how we would either like it to be or fear that it is.

Gallery Visits

Research Visit Posted on Wed, October 17, 2012 13:08:57

So far this month I have made a three research visits to galleries:

4 Oct 2012

Alphabet, Michael Craig-Martin [A Hayward Touring exhibition at The Gallery at NUCA]

This was an impressive show of 26 screen prints, the installation of which enhanced the viewing experience using 5 surfaces to both provide sufficient space for each print and also to have the effect of disrupting the expected sequence. This resonated well the works themselves where the object and the letter in each print do not correspond

5 Oct 2012

By the Rivers of Birminam, Vanley Burke, [at MAC, Birmingham]

This powerful retrospective of photographs documenting the Caribbean community in and around Birmingham over the past 5 decades. All the images were B&W and the continuity of image making had the unsettling dislocating effect of being unable to readily distinguish the era for each image without closely examining the image and even then, I was often surprised when I checked the date in the accompanying text. The installation and pictures worked well together to engage the viewer more closely contemplating the work. This is the result that I am also seeking for my own work.

13 Oct 2012 [Firstsite, Colchester]

Sorry I’m Late, Anthea Hamilton

The piece that I found most engaging and satisfying was the Yogic Travolta Screensaver & Clock, 2012 over 5 large screens (London, Paris, Tokyo, Milan, New York) as one entered the building; referencing clocks showing world times that might be found in large banking institutions.

Painting, Collage, Film, Humphrey Jennings

In one work Jennings had applied paint to a photographic silver gelatine print; the paint was a spectrum of colour that was parallel to and balanced the tall industrial chimney in the photograph. He was exploring the intertextuality of the two media to make a unique dialogue in the work. When I first viewed this piece I was reminded of some of Gerhard Richter’s work where he used a similar technique with found colour photographs and I wondered whether Richter had been influenced by the work of Jennings decades earlier. As yet I have been unable to discern whether or not Richter was influenced by Jennings.

25 Sep 2012 Site Gallery

Research Visit Posted on Mon, October 15, 2012 16:17:45

It was interesting to see the range of work in this show by Pilvi Takala. I was especially impressed by the installation comprising three different screens, two showing a different chapter in the work where she had filmed herself within an office environment, and the other displaying the internal emails that her unusual behaviour had provoked.

22 Sep 2012 Nature, Art and God

Research Visit Posted on Mon, October 15, 2012 12:54:04

This was the first session in the Nature, Art and God series, at the Edmund Centre For Arts & Theology [ECAT].

This was led by the artist Mark Cazalet [for more information on Mark please see his own website].

Mark introduced his practice describing a key element as “imagining the gaps between the words”. He went on to argue that art and theology is never closed but always a discussion and that artists are most cogent when they question. Indeed much of artistic practice is about loosing and finding and persevering. He also saw himself as a flaneur as he asked where is beauty and where is divine. He also referred to Paul Clay stating that art makes visible – art suggests not describes; so can state things one way and then look at the opposite.

This I found resonated with some of my practice as I wander as a flaneur seeking to ask questions whilst noticing the mundane environment.

Sanctuary Sunday – Ipswich – 2012-06-24

Research Visit Posted on Tue, June 26, 2012 18:11:15

This Sanctuary Sunday event was also part of the Refugee Week celebrations.

I was especially moved by the Ice and Fire Asylum Monologues about two individuals:

– the refugee form the Congo made destitute by the UK Border Agency’s lack of compassion and understanding


– the refugee, who had fled for her life from Uganda, having to leave chidden and family and forced to flee in the later stages of pregnancy.

These testimony’s were truly shocking, how refugees, including young children are detained, imprisoned, the apparent lack of even basic understanding and sympathy on the part of the UK border Agency – and I fully endorse how the Mayor of Ipswich responded: “Not in my name!”

The other item that made a deep impact on me was the personal testimony of the Bishop of Kigali [Rwanda], Louis Muvunyi – how he had escaped the genocide by being in Tanzania at the time and how his sister had escaped to sanctuary in Hotel Mille Collines.

Outpost 2012-06-21

Research Visit Posted on Tue, June 26, 2012 17:21:49

I was pleased to be able to see the Holmberg and Rafman show; especially as it had been featured in The Guardian earlier in the month.

The performance aspect: being greeted with –

Congratulations you are the most recent visitor

was both amusing and a little disconcerting; perhaps even detracting from my experience of the rest of the show as I became a little preoccupied with that phrase. However, that might have been the intention to disturb the “normal” encounter that the viewer as of a show, and it certainly had the overall impact of lifting my spirits.

Refugee Week Ipswich Launch 2012-06-18

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 18, 2012 15:30:07

It was good to attend this event, to have a couple of brief discussions and to gather some printed materials – especially the booklet of refugee stories that are especially relevant to Ipswich.

I look forward to studying this material and to attending further events this week.

Gallery Visit – IKON, Birmingham 2012-06-09

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 11, 2012 16:44:30

There were two very comprehensive shows by Yto Barrada and Bedwyr Williams; leaving the rather pleasant problem of being spoilt for choice for material to contemplate.

My visit actually commenced outside the gallery, on the “IKON Slow Boat” narrow boat cinema where I viewed a screening of “Balcon Atlantico” by Hicham Falah and Chrif Tribak (Morroco, 2003; duration 20 mins) [all the films being screened had been selected by Yto Barrada]. This was an interesting piece, subtitled in French and English, that captures a series of excerpts of fleeting conversations that took place on sea front, overlooking the Atlantic ocean. At times it was difficult to follow the duel subtitles, especially when there was also arabic text on screen; but this confusion did actually resonate with the rest of the piece. I thus wonder whether or not it was intentional; either way it did not prove to be too much of a distraction. Watching the film in a long boat, that although mored still moved a little on the camel water, resonated with the film and made for a more immersive experience.

It was interesting to see the Bedwyr Williams “My Bad” show in the light of his “walk a mile in my shoes” that I had seen in Ipswich eight days earlier. I was impressed by how effectively BW‘s work had transformed the gallery spaces where they were situated; I especially enjoyed how he had even transformed the entrance to the whole gallery building by his “Ikon Under Siege” (2012) piece:

This formed a commentary on how the arts are being effected by all the cuts in the current economic climate. I enjoyed his intelligent use of humour, or satire, as he performs his social commentary; this leads me to again consider what place, if any, does/ should honour and satire have in my own work. It has also been interesting to later read Laura Cumming’s review of “My Bad”.

I found my self even more effected by the other show – which I found myself viewing multiple times: Yto Barrada “RIFFS”. I was especially moved by the two films: “Beau Geste” (2009, 3min) and “Hand-Me-Downs” (2011, 14min). It was also good to subsequently find a 7min film that introduced Yto Barrada as the Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year 2011. I was drawn to the detail in her large square format photographic prints that draws the viewer into examining the apparently unremarkable scenes in some detail that rewards by revealing almost hidden layers of detail and meaning which are sometimes signposted by her use of titles. I am attracted by the contemplative nature of these works and this has reaffirmed my ambition to be able to make such a significant and contemplative show with my own work that deals with my concerns for social ethics.

Ipswich Art School “Revisitations”

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 18:52:20


This was an interesting show, with a good range of work from the Saatchi collection. My highlights were:

The “Boneshaker” by Brian Griffiths (2003) was an impressive wooden sculpture to start the exhibition, made of wood from old furniture and so large that it had had to be assembled in the Gallery; but it also fruitfully bore further prolonged enquiry. It was an intriguing, and somehow uplifting piece that despite its imposing size was not overwhelming.

Aleksandra Mir’s “Newsroom” (1986-2000, 2007) was a series of large drawings drawn from a meticulous gathering of copies of Newspaper frontages over many years. Initially, because of their style and content, I mistook the drawing to be prints; this confusion was good and it seemed to add to the depth of the work. It was good that some of the drawings were on the wall of the initial gallery and they seemed to have a positive dialogue with Griffith’s “Boneshaker” with furthers drawings being in a smaller gallery adjacent to this room. The small gallery’s walls being filled with these works made for an interesting installation piece inits self. I hope that I will be able to realise and present my work in a such a way that not only do the individual pieces work, but they also compliment one another to form a complimentary coherent installation.

The other works that engaged me were:

Steve Bishop’s “Christian Dior – J’adore (Mountain Goat)” (2008) [Taxidermied goat, concrete, chalk];

Guerra de la Paz’s “Nine” (2007)[Mixed media sculptural installation] this was an intriguing sceptre that is remade in each location with all the found secondhand clothing – it seems good that it is unique in each location that it is exhibited;

Tessa Farmer’s “Swarm” (2004) [Mixed media] – here the case had to be displayed in the museum, rather than the art gallery due to it’s size and the access to the gallery, however serendipitously this seemed to work even better among the natural history specimens;

Bedwyr Williams’s “Walk a mile in my shoes” (2006) [Installation with size 13 shoes, written notes, poster, shelving and foot-rests], this was surpassingly moving and almost spiritual.

NUCA Gallery “You Are Here” – Lance Wyman

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 16:57:57

It was good to be able to spend some time engaging with this iconic work, the show had a strong emphasis on LW‘s work for the Mexico 1968 Olympics and has been generally well received – including being featured by the BBC.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this design show; I was impressed by the curation, installation and presentation. In particular the fact that a number of the logos were installed directly on to the wall, rather than a [framed] print being hung on the wall seemed to make the show far more engaging. The show seemed to me to have a good natural flow and the collection of work and their display worked together extremely well to virtually make an installation piece in it’s own right.

Chatsworth Visit

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 13:54:35

It has been good to spend some time reflecting on a range of art work that I encountered during my visit (last month) to Chatsworth; both inside the property (particularly in The New Gallery exhibition space) and in the extensive grounds. I was moved by Sean Scully’s Wall of Light Red Day Leaving (2005):

This was enhanced by its position at the end of the corridor causing the work to be framed by the architecture, which really complimented the piece well.

In the grounds, particularly near the cannel, there was an impressive retrospective of Sir Anthony Caro. However, this was somewhat spoilt by the proliferation of signage stating “Please do not touch or climb on the work”;

this signage was so close to each of the pieces that it somewhat detracted from the vista and the context of the placing of the works in such impressive locations.

Furthermore, the other works in the grounds, including Nash and Long did not have such signage to spoil their sympathetic location; some could argue that this even implied that touching and climbing of those other works was acceptable!

It was great to encounter and discover almost hidden works and how they related to their environment. I was particularly moved by the Richard long piece:

I particularly enjoyed how this work, by Richard Long, had been installed IN the lawn rather than merely on the lawn.

And the David Nash piece which just seemed to work so well in that specific location, especially the dialogue that was created between the art work and the dead tree:

I was though somewhat surprised at the lack of signage for the works that were installed outside; especially when compared to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which seems to succeed in providing symapthetic signage to credit the artist, title and year of work but without detracting from the overall installation in the outdoor environment.

Bill Viola at SCVA

Research Visit Posted on Fri, May 25, 2012 09:38:12

It was good to see these 4 pieces in the lower gallery; which complimented the “Submerged-Spaces” show. A sense of occasion and anticipation was given by having to travel down to the underground lower gallery.

I was surprised at how well it worked having 3 multiscreen works in the same room with a large, single screen projected piece in the next room. The projected piece was the only one with an audio element, and although the sound bled into the other gallery space this did not really detract from meditating on those three works.

I enjoyed the show and was pleased with how the gallery space had been utilised to provide the physical and aesthetic space conducive to meditating on the works. Such a meditative space and encounter is how I aspire for much of my work to be encountered.

Please click here for further information on the show from the SCVA website.

MAC – Birmingham [2012-05-01]

Research Visit Posted on Wed, May 02, 2012 11:21:49

It was good to spend a couple of hours at MAC yesterday, viewing their new artist allotment scheme – where the arena gallery has been split into 10 plots with an artist or group of artists being allocated a plot to use as an exhibition space during 2012. This would be good to be replicated in other regions; indeed I wish there was such a scheme in Norwich where perhaps the current cohort of Part Time MA Fine Art students could work together to put on a rolling program in one such plot.

In the first floor gallery there was a fantastic video installation by Tom Price Sentinals. There were three projections [man 10, man 11, and man 12 (all 2012)] that could be seen from front or back each showing a different 3min stop motion animated video of a sculptured head with minimal head movement but with the eyes moving and incredibly well done representation of blinking.

I really enjoyed the physicality of the installation and was impressed by how three complementary silent videos could fill, but not overwhelm such a large gallery space. It transformed the space into a space for meditation and exploration. I aspire to be able to make such an installation myself; to create a space for meditative contemplation where the viewer can engage with the work and the questions it raises – to create the space which could provide the opportunity for fresh insights, new horizons or priorities – i.e. for change.

Sainsbury Visual Arts Centre [2012-04-19]

Research Visit Posted on Thu, April 26, 2012 11:54:17

Last week, it was good to spend a morning here. I particularly liked the living room area where the viewer was encouraged to encounter the works in no particular order and to be drawn to whatever was of interest – as they would in had they visited the Sainsbury’s residence.

The photographic and video works by Avi Gupta – There Is Here, I found very encouraging. |How he had made works in the domestic settings he had visited. I especially enjoyed the video which had very subtle elements of movement, but I found the transition between segments to be too abrupt for my personal taste – it disrupted my sense of meditation which, for me would have been better preserved by using slower, more gradual transitions.

Ely Cathedral [Saturday 2012-04-14]

Research Visit Posted on Thu, April 26, 2012 11:36:10

It was good to spend an afternoon in the Cathedral and to particularly meditate on the paintings by Anneke Kaai that were inspired by the psalms. I was though rather disappointed in their presentation – they were to the side of the main entrance – near the chapel on basic display boards – I think the works could have been far better displayed and could have been better used to transform the space like the iconography works at Liverpool Cathedral did a couple of years ago.

I enjoyed the large aluminium sculpture The Way of Life by Jonathan Clarke; this I found moving and uplifting.

Printed in Norfolk: Coracle Publications 1989-2012 [visited 2012-03-20 NUCA Gallery]

Research Visit Posted on Wed, March 21, 2012 15:17:45

It was good to spend some time perusing this exhibition of artist’s books. I enjoyed the overall sense of peace as I viewed the works; it was the most uplifting show that I have seen in that space. I also enjoyed the gentle honour in many of the works.

One series of works, concerning the the inside of envelopes was particularly engaging. It was good how some had also been included as a wall installation alongside the artist book in the display cabinet. As I was still reflecting on this I found myself using the unfolded inside of a used envelope to make some rough notes on. This caused me to reflect further and to begin to explore how I could use such a strategy, or format for making a pamphlet about my current work; each of the four flaps could have different text on requiring the viewer to rotate the pamphlet [or to read at an angle, or upside down], the centre could be a pie chart giving a summary of the breakdown of found items, the envelope could be presented closed, perhaps with some simple ironic text such as DO NOT OPEN.

Flatford Bridge Cottage

Research Visit Posted on Tue, March 13, 2012 18:44:10

Last Wednesday [2012-03-07] it was interesting to see the display about Constable and his work. I was especially intrigued by the contrast between what Constable ‘s intent was and how his work in now generally perceived; his work seems now to be generally viewed as [idyllic] rural landscapes, but what he was really showing rural working life!

It was also good to view the Barry Woodcock’s wood etching/engraving prints of landscape and nature; I was impressed by the level of detail ached in a wood engraving and felt attracted to the process, especially using hard wood rather than copper as an etching medium – it seem to resonate well with his subject matter [it also seems to resonate with my own current practice]. I am thus minded to further explore the possibility of experimenting with wood etching/engraving print making myself.

OpenAIR, at Firstsite – Colchester [2012-02-11]

Research Visit Posted on Wed, February 15, 2012 20:23:29

This was an interesting afternoon, the first half listening to four speakers and their approaches to campaigning and taking positive action for social change. I was particularly inspired by the excellent keynote address by Carrie Bishop; in brief – make change happen, not just complain. I was also struck by the attractive concept of the militant optimist.

The second half I found a little disappointing as it focussed, I felt, too much on addressing artists rights and valuing the [potential] input of artists. I would have preferred if this had instead focussed on how as artists we can make a difference – how we can make art, or use or art, or our creativity, to make a difference; either by campaigning or raising awareness or taking positive action or whatever.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge [2012-02-10]

Research Visit Posted on Wed, February 15, 2012 12:42:34

This was an enlightening visit, discovering such as rich resource as the Fitzwilliam Museum; I was particularly impressed by the range of permanent displays and the reference library and I expect to return on many future occasions.

During the visit though I concentrated on the three temporary shows:

1. Grey Matters: Graphite – the video installation, Burst by James Eden & Olly Rocks, of graphite filled gallons being burst and the resulting patterns being made was almost mesmerising – it was a shame that there was such a definite break between each instance where the whole screen went black. I would also have liked to see some of the actual paper pieces displayed as part of the show. I also wondered what proportion was being shown in the video – how many other instances were there [if any] that were deemed not to work, that did not make engaging patterns of graphite on the paper.

2. PrintsThe prints which have been engraved after the paintings of M.
Chardin… have become fashionable prints, which… have dealt a
blow to serious prints… The public enjoys seeing the events which
occur daily in their own homes, and do not hesitate to give
those preference over more sophisticated subjects.
[Quoted in Roland Michel Chardin, 1996 p.238., as used in Fitzwilliam online resource accessed 2012-02-15 ( The range of print makers and interpretations of the work of a single artist [painter] was well worth contemplating. It supports the augment that each viewer in a sense makes their own picture from the work that is shown.

3. African Head rests Ttiumph, protection and dreams: The East African headrest in context [although East African was somewhat stretched to allow the inclusion of Egyptian example]. It was intriguing to study these artefacts – some over 4000 years old some far more recent, and in many cases the antiquity of the items was quite deceptive – some over 4000years seemed more intricate and ornate than those that were a few hundred years younger – which seemed counter intuitive.

Curwen Studio [2012-02-10]

Research Visit Posted on Sat, February 11, 2012 11:37:06

It was good to be able to go on a guided tour of this fine art litho studio with a wide range of other people from NUCA [tutor, emeritus, and undergraduates]. It was exciting to discover the collaborations between the audio and a wide range of artists, including Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland and it was a thrill to see the original plates from some of those artists together with some of the prints.

It was interesting to learn about the three litho processes and the differences between them – how stone and zinc differ from photo/aluminium – the latter being offset – the former being direct contact [so the plates, like etching, have to be a mirror image of the desired print].

It was exciting to be given the opportunity to do a small stone litho project at NUCA and I am really looking forward to this and I am already beginning to reflect on potential ideas for my first litho print project.

Further Reflections on visit to Tate Modern 2012-01-28

Research Visit Posted on Sun, February 05, 2012 15:22:47

As I have continued to reflect on last weeks visit and researched some of the artists whose work I viewed I have been aware of a range of thoughts and conclusions.

1. The Work of Lamia Joreige, Objects of War [Level 3: “Poetry and Dream” (Room 7)] – here I was intrigued and attracted by the installation, far more than the actual work. I enjoyed the four monitors with headphones and the associated display cabinets containing objects – it has prompted me to consider this as a possible starting point for my own installation for the MA degree show next year.

2. Braco Dimitrijevic’s Resurrection of Alchemists [Level 5: “States of Flux” (Room 5)] – I enjoyed B.D.‘s use of humour/iorony/satire as one was torn between watching the speaker and the ever increasing number of news tracker like feeds that were forcing him into an ever smaller space on the screen. Initially I found my self almost automatically drawn to the text and then I made a conscious effort to focus on the speaker but continued to find my self still drawn to the text and having to make an effort to refocus on the speaker. I really enjoyed this sense of the art work playing with my viewing experience.

3. Guy Tillim and Günther Förg Architecture and Power [Level 5: “States of Flux” (Room 10)] – G.F.‘s photographs of buildings built for Children’s Holiday Camp were incredibly moving and depressing, they seemed to evoke something of the cold war, of conflict, of oppression; especially when coupled with G.T.‘s images of apartment buildings and a hotel, in Beira, Mozambique.

Tate Modern [Sat 2012-01-28]

Research Visit Posted on Tue, January 31, 2012 21:21:27

This was a fantastic but somewhat overwhelming evening – especially following the productive day – so much so that I am still trying to process it all.

The Highlights included:

Tacita Dean – Film

Poetry & Dream – work by surrealists and others who valued the power of dreams and the unconscious. – It was good to see a pile of Ai Weiwei‘s sunflower seeds at close quarters.

States of Flux – a fascination with change, modernity, everyday life. – especially room 10 Architecture & Power.

Photography: New Documentary Forms – I especially enjoyed the work by Mitch Epstein and Guy Tillim.

Dickens and London [Sat 2012-01-28]

Research Visit Posted on Tue, January 31, 2012 20:05:11

This was a moving exhibition, it showed that gin remained a problem a century after Hogarth.

The video based on the text of his night walks and using current video footage from 2011 was particularly evocative – clearly demonstrating that the problem of social injustice remains with us 200 years after his birth.

I also found the final information panel – about Dickens’s Legacy to be very apposite, viz:

… Dickens tracks a changing society in an industrial age. Many aspects of his work are profoundly unsettling, especially his insistent descriptions of the terrible living conditions of the poor whose sufferings were largely ignored.

Dickens’s ultimate aim was to reform and improve society. He attacked financial fraud, Government incompetence, ‘red tape’ [a term that he invented] and inadequate education. Sadly, inequalities and poverty still exist in London, still blighting lives. …

I hope that I can make similarly unsettling and challenging work as I seek to address issues of social injustice at the start of the twenty-first century.

The Foundling Hospital [Sat 2012-01-28]

Research Visit Posted on Mon, January 30, 2012 15:08:20

This visit had a number of strands or facets.

History of the Foundling Hospital

Art works Donated in 18th and 19th Centuries

Quentin Blake


There is the aspect of social history – it is the first foundling hospital and first public art gallery. It was disturbing to learn that on occasion desperate mothers would pay to have their child taken from many miles away to London and the foundling hospital, but that unscrupulous traffickers sometimes just left the child on the road en route to die.

The collection of art, mainly 18th century and some 19th century. Highlights included several works by Hogarth – etchings – Gin Lane; Four Time of Day – Noon; Vice and Virtue – plate 6; and paintings e.g. The March to Finchley, 1750; and Captain Thomas Coram, 1740 [hospital founder – interestingly he was unusually painted with his own hair, as he really was, rather than, as was the custom, wearing a wig.

The uplifting drawings of Quentin Blake as made for a diverse range of hospitals in UK and France. I especially enjoyed the images of the father meeting his newborn baby for the first time that QB made for the fathers waiting area at Angers maternity hospital.

Video Quentin Blake: hospital like ‘alien planet’

The ambience of the visit was enhanced by a small chamber group practicing Handel in the upper gallery; it was good to view the works, old and new, as the strains of Handel’s music seeped through the building. It was also good to briefly visit the Handel archive and to listen to some further works in specially made lounge chairs [perhaps an idea that I could adapt in some future installation].

London 28 January 2012

Research Visit Posted on Mon, January 30, 2012 10:56:08

I had a fantastic day on Saturday, be able to conduct 3 different visits:

The Foundling Hospital in the morning;

Dickens and London, at The Museum of London, in the afternoon; and

Tate Modern in the evening.

It still feels as if three days were crammed into one and so I am currently still processing and unpacking it all. To assist in my ongoing reflections I am going to reflect on each of the individual visits in subsequent posts.

It was good that it was possible to allow some time and space between each visit so that I could be assimilate them and so that it did not all merge together. I found Dickens and London to be surpassingly crowded, given that it was timed admission by tickets costing over £5; but I really enjoyed the atmosphere of Tate Modern in the evening, which was well supported but not over crowded. It gave me somewhat of a thrill to spend a Saturday evening at Tate Modern, that remained open till 10pm.