At the end of last month I managed to spend a couple of hours in York Art Gallery's 'top secret' ceramic store warehouse. It was quite a bombardment of the senses as I took in a diverse range of studio ceramics. I'm trying to focus in on one object that will inspire a new body of work. I'm unsure at the moment what direction that work will take but I have an inkling that it might be focusing on surface decoration as this is an area of investigation I am keen to revisit soon. My initial visit didn’t manage to come up with any conclusive object which I could respond to, although there were a few items which caught my eye and I have been pondering since.
Amongst these objects was a fascinating Masons pot, this was made by John and Christopher Potter in between WW1 &WW2 in Staffordshire (Wedgwood), it’s a large earthenware vase of a flattened disc shape with a tall foot. It’s decorated around the shoulder with a landscape and Gothic castle, painted in colours over the glaze. The waist has a band of inscription painted in black which reads… I was painted by Alfred Powell for Omar Ramsden & Anne his wife of St. Dunstan’s London S.W. A.S MCMXXVIII. The underside is decorated with an underwater scene of fish in blue, green and silver. The tall foot is decorated with panels of floral decoration in gilt, red, green and blue.
YORYM:2001.424 – Large Earthenware Masons Vase
An iconic piece of Thomas Toft slipware also caught my eye, although there have already been many modern interpretations on his work including the late Bernard Leach. However I can’t resist the folk art feel and absolutely love his plates. He is well known for the plate with King Charles II, maybe I could respond with a comment on the current debate over Richard III bones
There was also some lovely William De Morgan lustreware. I would love to explore lusterware a little as I think I may be a magpie, anything that’s shiny! I also love his repetitive designs….
YORAG:1952:626.a &c – William De Morgan Lustreware
I still have lots to ponder from my first visit to the stores and a stash of photos to take in. I can’t wait to get into the stores again to have another look around. There were masses of goodies boxed away; I’d love to get unearthing some of those treasures….
So there I was storming away, making some sculptural work as a change from drawing. It was Friday afternoon & then out of the blue I suddenly felt it was all a waste of time. What`s the point in making more stuff ? No one is going to see it, its destined for under the bed ( actually for accuracy`s sake I better come clean & say I have drawers full of sheets & duvet covers under the bed, I keep all my artwork in a big plan chest, I think it is double elephant size. I wonder where that comes from ? Anyway from now on please accept "under the bed" as a metaphore for unseen & unloved ). I think I am still struggling with the fact that all my life I`ve earned a living from making drawings as a designer, whereas this artwork is done for reasons that I don`t fully understand.
So anyway I packed up, went to the library & read the up to date arts magazines. First thing that came to mind is I`m glad I don`t make big work. Where do you put this stuff ? Second was what drives people to make it all ? I`m deeply suspicious of my motivation for making art, but that`s for another day.
Then I went home .....
Very satisfying morning at Sheffield College today. I've started making latex moulds for the first object that has been lent to me as something with a special meaning to a home. At the moment it is about re-familiarising myself with a process and trying out different methods. It has been a while since I've made moulds. Their technician Joe has kindly helped me to get started. This process also made me think of all those artists who have their things made for them by professionals who do it perfectly. My moulds won't be perfect. Does that matter? We can't be perfect in all the processes we use. I use all sorts of different materials and processes in my work as each project asks for a different langauge. That is sometimes difficult.
I always make an effort to meet people at the College. It's early days yet as it has only been my third visit there. I am wondereing if I could place my OSB one man 'home' in the College somewhere and engage students and staff with my work that is very relevant to what I'm doing there. It would also help me to become more visible and possibly start a dialogue.
Another thing I wondered was if the architecture department would be interested in 'a little bit of Austria'. It is the project where everything I'm doing at the College originated from and would give my work there some background. It would offer students an opportunity to work with a real project, real plans, a real house.
I'll find out about those things.
Pic of the Week: Teesside University's AA2A artist Sophie McIntosh's image from her Dotbiz album 'Back to school'.
You can see more of Sophie's work on her Dotbiz page
Tip of the Week from AA2A artists to students (as featured in our self-employment talks): 'Keep up your practice but you must also look out for other opportunities and research what other artist are doing.' Lee McDonald, AA2A artist at Plymouth University (2013-14)
Other news: We're pleased to announce voting for the favourite artists of 2014-15 is open! This is a great way for us to raise the profile of the scheme, involve students and get more exposure for this website. On every artist's profile there is a link to 'vote for this artist'.
There's a student vote (for students at participating AA2A colleges) and a public vote too - for your peers, lecturers, college staff, students from non-AA2A colleges and any other fans!
Here's a link to go directly to the AA2A Voting Page
The winning artists of the public vote and the student vote will both be promoted on our websites, facebook and twitter pages and may have the opportunity to have their project featured in London at the AA2A Briefing Day. Click here to see previous Featured Artists
Dont' forget if you have any trouble using the site, our Dotbiz training guides are here to help (or just drop us a line!).
AA2A Team (Wendy, Georgia & Jo)
I proposed a publication for the show. A small space for the participants to put forward their references. A place for found images, their own work, quotes or texts or doodles. But this paper thing became a victim of marketing and property. Logo's were thrown at it, texts were rewritten with readers in mind. Explanations were demanded of the participants, the artists, how were these things they had put forward relevant and if not why? Could they contextualise them, please.
The same questions were not asked of the work on show in the gallery. No-one suggested labels, or explanatory text, the artists' histories were not pasted on the walls, somehow context was not required. The logos were present but small and discreet, if printed to scale they would have merited less room than a single lowercase letter on the page.
But this is to be expected, we are accustomed to paper explanations, that something given away is not the artwork, it is an addition, ephemera. Its purpose is to tell us more, to help us; if it doesn't we find it problematic. It is also a static holder of information, a web page we understand as an object that will grow, be edited, have information adjusted, revised and added, on paper we desire a final product.
This was not a final product, it was a starting point for a conversation that could unfold, in the room and on the page. An invitation to find links, raise questions and develop a dialog between the artists on the AA2A scheme and the University. Reprinted and reworked the publication evolved to incorporate these conversations, one a formal discussion between the Stage 1 BA students and the artists, the second a scrawled jumbled of notes on the wall, the third my own comment on the process of making this unwieldy thing in this unknown place.
Scroll left to read the conversation in full:
I'm interested in the Blockhouses, squat, square buildings that frame the entrance to the river, or rather the harbour. My limited research tells me they were positioned either side of the entrance to Fowey harbour so that 'undesirable' ships could be prevented from entering, their path halted by a large chain which would be strung between the two.
There's something about the idea of undesirable craft, or people and access that rings true today, a movable line that decides who you let in and who stays out.
My AA2A+ residency has now been underway for a few weeks officially - much of this time has been spent at York College where I'm primarily based. I'm getting more familiar with staff and will sometime soon be delivering a lecture to students so they become more familiar with me and my work. Hopefully my experiences as a freelance contemporary artist and graphic designer can be of use to them!
In the meanwhile, I was given a special tour (alongside Karen Thompson - the other AA2A+ resident) of the Yorkshire Museums and Galleries ceramics collection, which is currently housed at an offsite location while the Gallery is being renovated. The excellent tour was facilitated by Gaby Lees, who is our primary contact at York Museums, and who has been very supportive of the new Plus residency program. This initial visit was a scouting mission - taking a look at the collection (which is slowly being packed up in preparation for its move back to the gallery), so we can start to build up our ideas & formulate how our residency project will take shape.
York Museums has left the brief very open, allowing us plenty of room to be creative and come up with innovative ideas for the project - something I'm very thankful for. As an artist, I know my best work comes out when I have the freedom to create something innovative and different. My work originated from an interest in ancient ceramics (especially Greek vases and Chinese blue and white porcelain) but it has evolved a long way since then - so it is both exciting and challenging to now be working directly with actual ceramics. I already have plenty of ideas about how I might tackle this intersection between my own work, and the amazing pieces I saw last week!
Please stay tuned for more info about this special project at the Yorkshire Museums and Galleries and my broader residency project at York College, where I'm planning to experiment with some of their amazing equipment, including a laser cutter and silkscreen press!
Moderation day at Sheffield College today, so very quiet. I started the process of getting registered that then allows me to get a pass, parking permit for days I don't cycle, internet access, etc. All needs to be done. Great to meet the technitian to talk about what I have planned to do and when it is a good time to be in to meet the students. Then there is a person allocated to AA2A artist's matters, great! My days will be Tuesdays and Wednesday/Thursdays. I am starting with making moulds to cast objects in soap, objects people have lent to me and that mean something to them in their homes. This is part of my bigger project called 'home'.
I feel a little bit like an intrudor and do wonder if it is right to come with a fixed idea an execute it in the College rather then let something grow there and work more with the College .... not sure where this is leading to. I'll see ...
On Friday 28th I've given two talks about my work, processes, plans for what to do at Sheffield College to the students and staff there. I really enjoyed it and it felt very different from when I talked about my work before during my Masters or to friends. It only felt a bit strange as I was asked to do it twice to the students in the morning and then again in the afterternoon. When I listened to the recording after I thought it went fine. I didn't make good use of time for questions and I wish I had. I'm hoping to meet some of the students during my time there by offerening Crits and Tutorials.
I also walked around the College to familiarise myslef with it, sat in the canteen and chatted to some people on the way. I also met two of the other three AA2A artists.
I have decied to go for it today. I got to the studios at 8.45 am this morning and have just loved sitting in my studio at Coventry and thinking/making/procrastinating..... I haven't had a studio since my degree (nearly 10 years ago) and I have often wondered what it would feel like and how it would make me feel, having my own space, somewhere not connected to my house. And it feels great. Why? Perhaps it allows me to feel 'more like an artist'. There is more of a separation home/work. Is this work though? I predominantly make films and therefore have not always needed a space in a traditional sense but actualy now I'm here, I think it is important. And perhaps it will make me push myself. It certainly makes me feel good.
Space is very important to me in regards to my films due to my need to project/install these films. They do not live until they have been projected. The films themselves are very spatial, surveying/scanning the built environment. Looking at how space is used and created. Following lines, structures, surfaces. They therefore need to be spatial in there very being, installations that perhaps allow for a physical sensation. So having a space to project/install works is really important and during this residency this is something I am to utilise. I booked out one of the installation spaces the other week and projected a new film. I will post the images shortly.