sandra17's Friends' blogs

Flying the Flag for Wolverhampton with Jayne Murray

June 6, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

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Yesterday, I took part in a performance art project that I didn’t quite expect to be a part of and it had quite a profound effect on me. On a macro level, it made me reflect on the power of haptic art. On a micro level, it made me ponder on the issue highlighted by the performance. It was about an issue I hadn’t really thought about before and taking part made me think.

A couple of weeks ago, University of Wolverhampton AA2A artist-in-residence, Jayne Murray, asked for a few willing helpers to aid her in the carrying out an active part of her current project 'Four Flags for Chapel Ash'. While at the art school, she has been looking into the impact of the Wolverhampton ring road, a political move by Enoch Powell in the 1960s, has had on the people and the infrastructure of the city. She has been doing a lot of research at the City Archives where she has found some fascinating images and has been relating her research to the process of printing and socially-engaged art. She needed to turn her research and her art into an active performance. She wanted to engage with the locality.

So I offered my services, being the generous soul I am. If I am honest, after replying to the email, I forgot all about it. On the day of the gathering of volunteers, I had a very busy schedule including a meeting first thing in the morning with the external examiner, another meeting at lunchtime about an art exhibition I am taking part in, and a two-hour drive in the late afternoon to look forward to. As I arrived at the art school that day, I vaguely recalled that I’d agreed to do ‘something with flags’ at 11am at somewhere in Wolverhampton I didn’t know, a place called ‘Chapel Ash’.

Shortly after 11am I rushed to the agreed meeting place. I was late to meet with Jayne and the other volunteers and I was feeling rather flustered. I apologised profusely for my tardiness, but thankfully, all was good. Jayne handed me a flag. My flag depicted a number of repeated words but with one word predominately displayed: fragmentation. The flag also showed a portrait of Enoch Powell.


In total, Jayne had printed four flags. Each had a different predominant word (for example, another read ‘hierarchy’) and a different image related to Jayne’s research on the impact of changes to infrastructure and pollical decisions made in Wolverhampton in the recent past. To find out more about Jayne’s project please visit her website. After we had all been handed our flags, myself and the other three volunteers marched off to the middle of the ring road just outside the art building. I still wasn’t sure at this point what we were going to be doing. However, I found myself just enjoying the act of carrying a flag and being part of something that felt important.

We marched together towards Chapel Ash, which is the location of a roundabout which is the centre of the ring road built in the 1960s. We stopped when we reached the oddly empty centre of this large roundabout.


Jayne told me that her work is mostly about encouraging social dialogue and engaging people in the topics that she is highlighting. I felt a sense of privilege to be a part of this. As we stood in the empty, ironically pleasant and green space of this roundabout, waving our flags at the passing traffic, I felt a change in me. I felt an importance. I felt as if I was engaging with people, albeit people who couldn’t see me (they could see my flag) and people I couldn’t see (I could hear their cars). I stood and waved my flag vigorously and pondered what the people seeing my Enoch flag would be thinking as they paused at the roundabout to examine this odd flag appearing in the corner of their eye. I heard a few toots of appreciation or acknowledgment and this made me smile and wave more.


We were also noticed by on-foot passers-by, a few of which stopped to ask us about the purpose of our flag waving. There is something about people with flags that resonates with the general public. The flag is either a sign of importance, power, or protest. It can be any of the three. I felt an element of each as I waved my flag. I felt as if I was protesting and I felt a surge of strong feeling for the cause, something I had not previously considered. I also felt a sense of importance. The flag is an extension of the arm, a colourful, metaphoric extension of the strength in the arm. I was waving at the masses, they were noticing me. And finally, I felt important. I felt bigger than I am. I felt as if I had some sort of authority to carry and wave my flag.

The passers-by who spoke to us were very positive about the project. Firstly, they wanted to know what we were doing. Then, they wanted to know why. And finally, they offered their own opinion on the issues we were highlighting. They engaged with us. That was the point.


An elderly gentleman explorer, originating from an Easter European country, told us over and over again, in a very gentle voice ‘we live in the slums, we should communicate, we should help each other’. This was his message. He wanted this message to sink in with us. It was as if he was passing on a message from some otherworldy place.

Another passer-by had popped down from one of the office buildings which overlooked the roundabout. His colleagues had seen our flags and sent him down to find out what we were doing. He was also very open to hearing about our project. Ironically, we supposed that he might have emerged from the tax offices that loom above Chapel Ash.

As we finished waving, and marched, flags held high, back to the art school, I thought to myself that however many or few people we had been spotted by today, it didn’t matter. They all had an experience from the event, some profound, some fleeting, yet we all had an experience and that is where the value lies. For me, the experience was quite profound. I had volunteered my time, yes. However, turning it around, I felt like I had been chosen and I felt grateful for that.

There is definitely something very moving about being a prop in an art project. I know that those who took part of Jeremy Deller’s #Wearehere project expressed a very similar response after the event. As a volunteer, irrespective of the cause, you do feel quite special.


So I say thank you, Jayne, for making my Tuesday a very memorable one this week and for giving me much to reflect upon and think about, in terms of the issue raised and my own art practice.



Fuzzy things

April 26, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)


Soft and Scratchy

In my obsession with the thingyness of things, or to borrow the term coined by Jane Bennett, the ‘power of things’, and our relationship with objects, all stuffs, whether they be real, virtual, real, hyper-real, tangible, intangible, factual or fictional, I recently decided to conduct a rather fun experiment. This is the lighter side of doing an MA by research: fun art practice research.

I'm still living in an exclusive monochrome world and foresee staying here for a while longer, so I wanted to relate this need for a void of colour in our vibrant reality to my life-long passion for objects. The aim with my MA research so far has been to tease out an essence of an object through the medium of still-life painting by extracting that one element, colour, with a desire to create something new and hopefully interesting. This time, however, I foresaw finding something, somewhere in the ether, not something I can touch.

I knew that I still needed to paint more things in monochrome. I just needed a new direction to go off in. I didn't want real things, such as the fried egg or the pile of baked beans. I wanted to see if I could take the genre of still life into the cyberworld. I wanted to experiment with being in an abstract, semi-figurative and the fictional world beyond this one.

I needed a way to imagine new objects, objects that don’t exist in exclusively either the data world or in the tangible world. I wanted to create ‘between-the-two-worlds’ objects.

I came up with the idea of painting real objects, that are real somewhere else, but are translated to me via social media and via the medium of language not image.

To this end, I asked people on social media to describe one thing to me. I told them that I didn't want to know what the thing was. I just needed their description. I would then paint the thing described, literally, based on the words alone. In addition, I would translate any colour language into black and white. I wouldn't try to guess the identity of the thing, necessarily, but I would paint what they asked for, almost in a mechanical way (although I did inject an element of the visual image of the objects in my head – this image created by words).

I received an overwhelming response. So far, I have had at least 30 replies. All of which were different, but interesting and valid in their own way. They varied from 'soft and scratchy' to four paragraphs describing an object in almost scientific detail down the lengths, shades, colour, size, relative proportions and materials. This all fascinated me for a number of reasons. I was amazed at the variety of people's capacity to describe. I also received some rather humorous responses ('black and white and red all over' and ‘olive skinned and handsome’). Generalising a little here but the more artistic, creative friends tended to use very visual words to describe their objects ('shaped like the female form but without limbs') whereas the perhaps less creative friends (those who work in non-creative industries such as IT) tended to use a very logical, prescriptive system for 'recreating' their objects in linguistic form. I also saw a slight variance in terms of age, gender, and frequency of use of social media. 

Violin Thing

To date I have painted 17 objects. These objects range from the recognisable to the bizarre. I feel oddly very attached to my objects. It is as if I have somehow extracted them from a place in cyberspace that isn’t accessible, isn’t visible, isn’t quite real yet it really is real. Or perhaps I have extracted them from a parallel universe inside my head, or even inside the heads of others, a dream-like place where the objects are all known and familiar, where they all meet and mingle. A place where they are normal.

Wall of Things

To me, these objects exist. They are tangible. They even have personalities. They are on my studio wall, and they stare at me all day. They blink when I’m not looking. They grin. They are alive to me. They giggle. Am I going mad? I don't think so. Not yet. Where are they? Where do they exist? I made them so they exist. I think their lack of colour adds an eerie, uncanny aspect to them. It is almost as if they have travelled from somewhere where colour isn’t a thing. They have travelled from the past yet from a parallel place.

And, yes, if you are from the object-oriented ontology or new materialist schools of thought, colour is indeed a 'thing'.

All of these thoughts are now going around my head, angular, bombarding and all pervasive. Where will I go next? Watch this cyberspace.



An art writer is always learning - writers’ workshop with Louise Palfreyman writer-in-residence

March 22, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)



This week I took part in a weekly writers' workshop at the University of Wolverhampton run by AA2A writer-in-residence, Louise Palfreyman, who is currently based there.

One of my many loves, besides making art and drinking rhubarb gin, is writing about art. So I was keen to take part in this workshop to learn something from someone with experience with creative writing and to improve my skills as a reviewer of art. I wanted to gain valuable insight into what it might be like writing for a living. I already work freelance as an editor and book publishing project manager but I’m struggling to take advantage of my love of art and passion for writing to earn any money.

For the workshop, myself and a number of other students from the fine art department at Wolverhampton, met with Louise at the Wolverhampton Museum and Art Gallery. We were tasked by Louise to spend an hour looking at anything that sparked our interest in the gallery and consider what we might write about it. We were instructed to note down observations about anything that came to mind, however significant or otherwise, that might form part of a review.

Interestingly, the other students decided to consider the Diaspora Pavilion exhibition which is currently running at the gallery. I, however, took myself off to the Clangers, Bagpuss and Co. exhibition to consider my own take on what I might see there. I had seen the Diaspora Pavilion before, and also in Venice, so I quite fancied the challenge of coming up with an interesting angle for writing a review about Zippy and George and friends instead.

After the hour at the art gallery absorbing and thinking and making notes, we gathered together in a coffee shop to discuss our ideas and responses. The fascinating aspect of this part of the workshop was the amount of new ideas that came out of the brainstorming that took place, which Louise said mirrored a magazine or newspaper editorial meeting. We were able to feed off each other's thoughts and come up with some new and interesting ideas. We voiced fresh responses to what we had seen that we might not have come about in isolation and while still in the art gallery. Louise was able to tease out of us some thought-provoking angles that could be used in a review to give it that vital edge that can capture a reader's attention.

All of us, inspiring art writers, gained valuable insight during this workshop into important considerations that need to be made when writing a review of a piece of artwork or body of art, or an exhibition. These included the following: anything goes, within reason; a negative response is just as valid as a positive response so long as it can be intelligently justified; a review can be written with a particular audience in mind; an angle is vitally important and the quirkier, possibly the better; and concision is key.

So, with all the advice from Louise in mind, the group, including me, are all going to write a review which will hopefully be published on the Arts Foundry website which is run by Louise, which is a forum for allowing local people to voice their creative expression.

The main lesson I learnt from today is that the two most important qualities of an aspiring art writer is passion for art and the words in which to express it. If you have both, you are on to a winner.



The winter of our discontent always leads to spring – interview with AA2A artist Baljinder Kaur

February 28, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

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Baljinder's art

Sandra Cope and I, AA2A student reps at the University of Wolverhampton, recently met with Baljinder Kaur, one of this year’s AA2A artists-in-residents based in Wolverhampton to talk about her practice and reflect on the creative life.

Baljinder’s background is in illustration. Prior to starting up her residency, she was working (and still is) as a freelance illustrator. Before that, she did a graphic design and illustration degree at De Montford University in Leicester.

Her interests lie mainly in the field of children’s literature. However, talking to her it became clear that perhaps overarching that interest she is an observer of people and community. She likes drawing, painting and depicting people. She is also fascinated with culture, an interest which is partly based on her personal experiences with culture. In particular, through her work she questions what it means to have a blended culture which comprises of tradition and contemporary elements and what time and history do to a culture and to traditions within that culture.


We discussed the ideas she has for projects she is pursuing while at Wolverhampton. Like many artists, she has a few ideas on the go and lots of thoughts running concurrently, all vying for attention. At this point which is the middle of her residency, she has a few ideas bubbling. In terms of technique, she has been experimenting with blending skilled and traditional methods of artistic expression, in particular, printing and drawing from life, with modern and digital methods of manipulation of colour and texture impression. She is investigating the idea of combining traditional approaches of mark making with digital methods. There is a parallel between the traditional and the contemporary in terms of a cultural understanding in her practice. ‘Time’ is the word that comes to mind. She is all about observing time passing and the effect of that on people and communities.

Finally, we talked about the nitty gritty of a creative career and a creative life, noticing a similarity in the life-span of each art project and the importance of time to reflect when engaged in any project. At the time of our meeting, it is winter, and in fact it was snowing. Winter, we decided, is the period of limbo and stasis for an artist (and perhaps for many people). But this is a natural part of the artistic process, this is the time to gather the various threads that have been bubbling and simmering for a while and soon it will be time to run with the strongest thread. However, winter causes uncertainty (and we all feel it) so life would be better without winter, we decided. Or perhaps not. Maybe winter is indeed necessary, it fosters a time for reflection. Still, winter has been going on for a while now.

Roll on Spring!

Sandra and I are looking forward to seeing what threads of her work Baljinder decides to run with. She is hoping to exhibit her work towards the end of her time in Wolverhampton.

A world devoid of colour - what is it all about?

February 28, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

Since the summer, I have become obsessed with a world devoid of colour. This is particularly odd given that I have synaesthesia. Taking away colour from someone with synaesthesia is almost impossible but that is what I have been trying to do, to myself. The result has been very interesting so far.

Fried Egg

For the last six months I have almost exclusively been using just two tubes of paint: a black one and a white one. I have been filtering all my photographs with black and white. I have been making videos in black and white. I have been drawing with just a black fine liner pen. 

I have found the experience quite liberating. Rather than colour dominating my art making, and the decisions associated with using colour, I have been considering in much more depth the effect of colour when it is extracted from the creative experience on shades of grey and other elements of a painting such as tone, depth, light, texture. These are elements that might get overshadowed when painting in colour. There is a huge amount of subtlety in the grey scale which I am just now beginning to appreciate.

As a by-product to this experiment, I find that I have an urge to surround myself in a monochrome world in my every day life. I need to know: why do we envisage a world lacking in colour as a world devoid of joy? Is that in fact true? I am finding a new richness and pleasure in my desire for a black and white world. Is that contradictionary?

I have found that painting objects in black and white has enabled me to see them with a new, rather esquisite, clarity. They are more tangible somehow, richer and more 'real' to me. Rather than translating black and white images into colour in my mind's eye, I am now translating coloured objects into black and white. 

The bigger question that I see coming from this is if you take away one element from an object, such as tangibility (show it online), texture (blur it, abstract it), colour (render it in monochrome) are you in fact giving it a new richness, a new 'tangibility' that it didn't have before?

Why do we assume that the 'prefect' image, or even the 'object' in its original form and within reach, is the best rendition of that object? What would Plato say about that?

Endings and Beginings

June 10, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (1)

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Last night was the Private View of the degree show of the 2017 soon-to-be graduates in BA Fine Art at the Wolverhampton School of Art.

This year, I am one of the soon-to-be graduates. As I’m a part-time student, I took part in last year’s degree show. So this is my second time.




This year, though, the feeling has been different. I have a rightful place in the degree show rather than being a pretender. Last year, I felt as if I was being granted a favour by being given some space to exhibit. Although I took part in the private view and all the excitement, I didn’t feel the same high level of emotion and celebration as my fellow students. This year, I felt it.

Today is the day after the Private View and today has been an odd day. I have definitely felt the post-Private-View blues. I was awake for 22 hours yesterday, starting with excitement over the general election result (hung parliament, in case you are reading this in twenty years time) and then excitement over the degree show. The day was fuelled by adrenaline, nerves, excitement, joy, smiles, alcohol, sore feet, real lady tights, nail polish, odd conversations, good friends, family, wine, gin, music, smoke, people, crowds, art, happiness and the odd crisp. After the degree show, which now is a bit of a blur, I went out and drank more and talked and sat and talked and drank even more and talked until 2am.

Today, The Next Day, I’ve been back at the School of Art to invigilate the exhibition and it has been a really quiet, solemn kind of day. I haven’t been entirely content today. I’ve spent far too much time engaged in Facebook Time Suckage. I’ve been oddly sad. I’ve stood for far too long. I know this lull is entirely normal for the day after a big event. I mean, have any of your ever gotten married? Today has been the Boxing Day of the Private View.

I have spent today watching the public walk around the degree show. I’ve found it oddly compelling watching people look at art. Secretly, I quite love it. I’ve done it for 5 hours, with just a break for lunch. I’ve seen people wonder, wander and ponder. I haven’t done much else (except Facebook time suckage).  

I’m hoping that once the weekend is over I will come back up again (emotionally speaking), and recover from this post-Private-View slump. I have to as next week is going to be busy.

And also, after all, this is an ending but it is also the start of the breathing space I need before a new beginning: otherwise know as a Masters in Fine Art. Woohoo!



What does it all meme?

May 30, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

Sometimes the last-minute ideas are the maddest, yet, nonetheless worth pursuing, don't you think?

Such a last-minute idea came to me ten days ago, during my Final Major Project assessment, just in time for the forthcoming degree show. During this assessment, for which I wasn't actually being assessed being a part-time student (but that's not particularly relevant), one of the tutors not-really-assessing me suggested I create something interactive for the degree show to help members of the public to engage with my ideas on repetition. Just prior to assessment I had been asked if I needed an electrical socket. I had at the time said an emphatic 'no'. However, straight away after the assessment and after we had had this discussion, I changed my answer to a definite 'yes'. At that point, I had no idea what I was going to do with electricity, I just knew that I needed it.

The idea to create a new piece of art, with electricity, was bonkers and I had just over a week to do it. But sometimes I perform better under stress. It was a challenge, and 'challenge accepted', to quote Barney from How I Met Your Mother.

Of course, I needed help. I couldn't rise to this challenge alone. The tutor had mentioned memes as a source of inspiration. The idea came to me that perhaps I could create an interactive 'meme generator'. The question was: how? At that point, I had no idea. I could picture it, but I couldn't just go forth and create it. I also didn’t know a huge amount about memes. I knew them only as those annoying, more-not-than-often originally funny, images of cats or people pulling faces accompanied by overlayed corny witticisms. I knew that they worked, on some level, on the basis of their combination of image and text. I knew that they were popular and I knew that I’d seen thousands of them yet I rarely engaged in meme spreading myself.

However, there seemed to be something behind the whole meme phenomenon that resonated with my current obsession with repetition and copy. After all, the meme is the epitome of the combination of appropriated image and text resulting in an imitated but new effect. They illustrate the fallacy of Plato's shadows perfectly. This was exactly what I’d been thinking about and aiming for. I concluded that I had found a gold nugget. I just needed to do something.

To start the process, I carried out a little meme research. I found out that there was a formula to the world of memes. Not all memes communicate the same thing. Not all memes use the same strand of humour or message delivery. Some use photographic images, many of which are so recognisable as to border on the annoying, and some use cartoons. Images are often chosen for their generality and universality, for example, Batman slapping Robin and the toddler in a green and white top lifting his fist in triumph and others are chosen for their warped ugliness, for example, the cat with goggly eyes. The common theme seemed to be generality, and this aids in the generation of irony when combined with unexpected text. There are, I discovered, in fact a number of purposes to Internet memes: generality, irony, message and ambiguity. The meme world was actually much more interesting than I'd originally thought. Academics had even studied memes.

Memes are effective when there is a conflict between the original meaning of the image and the implied meaning in the superimposed text. They also work when the effect of the text contrasts with the effect of the image (aggressive vs cute or adult vs child). The most popular memes use images that have been copied, copied and copied again. This is a form of radical repetition. We love familiarity and we love even more the uncanny sense we can get from familiarity. The symbolism of the image can be totally unrelated to the original symbolism of the image when it was first constructed and, for some reason, this works.

Roland Barthes came up with the idea of the ‘third meaning’ in an essay of the same name (written in 1970). Here, he was talking about what happens when, using the analogy of parchment paper, the original meaning (here, image) is ‘wiped’ and new meaning replaces it. The image, in the case of the meme, being used a symbol, has an original meaning co-existing with a new meaning and there is something about that that creates something popular. So this is the prefect case of copying that creates something of value.

That is exactly what a meme is, a cultural object that is constantly being replaced and reproduced, copied to infinity, through replication. Memes illustrate Gilles Deleuze’s praise of the copy perfectly: they are dynamic repetition: they are reproduced and actualised to new ideas and they are fluid. They produce endless reproductions. There is no finite limit. They are the differences in repetition.

The best memes display a mastery of the matching of the signification of the image with that of the text. So after thinking about memes in this way, I knew just what I had to do: I had to create a meme generator to go along with the other reproduced and copied, repeated elements of my degree show pieces.

After research, my next task was to create an actual formula for the 'meme generator'.

In my research on memes, I had found out that there are various types of meme: irony, political, the X of the Y, work-related, relationship-related, cute cats, existentialism (the futility of life) and when / if. Through this, I had my formula.

I then studied hundreds of memes on the Internet. I felt as if I was losing my mind by this point. I teased together, from my endless scrolling, a number of templates for each category: for example, When the [noun] [verbs] / and you [verb] the [noun] or All I know is that… / I [verb] [noun]. Each category seemed to have roughly six templates. I created text files for each template for each category (this came to around 40 files).

The next step was to look at the images used in the most popular memes. I didn’t want to use the same images we see every day on Facebook (so no Batman slapping Robin or cat with goggly eyes), I wanted there to be an element of originality (albeit appropriating images that weren’t intended to be turned into memes). I sourced from my own images, mostly from my phone; took photographs; and found some lesser well-known images on the Internet.

Finally, I created word lists as text files for each template for each category. This added up to a lot of words. I had to create words that would work for different templates. The idea was that any combination of words when randomly put into the templates and matched with an image would create a unique meme which might hopefully be just as funny and uncanny as those created by conscious thought.

Not being a whizz with C# coding, I outsourced the next bit, the tricky bit. In other words, the putting together of the templates, the words and the images into a simple step-by-step interactive programme which could be run from a laptop and accessed / manipulated by big buttons. I was lucky that I knew someone who could do this for me, for free. The success of course depended on my comprehensive instruction. The computer programmer and I spent a lot of time talking it through over a glass or two of Chateauneuf du Pape.

The last part of the task was to create a physical box to house the devise. This was easier than the coding bit, although I had a great deal of help with that as well.

The result: the meme generator! Or, Plinth XP, as I fondly call it.

Testing the meme generator threw up a number of issues with some of the chosen words and templates, but with some tidying and fiddling, the final result, I hope, is interesting. Some of the generated memes that were thrown up through the testing process were better than others. My three children have had great fun creating memes. Some were a little nonsensical, but others were quite interesting and actually almost funny.

There is still some element of doubt of course as I have now run of testing time, and I haven’t been able to generate every combination of meme. So, the degree show will be a bit of a test for this idea.

To return to my initial thought, sometimes the last-minute ideas are the most interesting. If the meme generator works, I will now spend more time developing the piece for future use. For now, however, it seems to be exactly what I’ve been trying to discover with my obsession with repetition so I'm going to go with it and test it on the public.

Does it work? I hope so.




Inside vs outside and infinite stuff vs infinite space

May 14, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

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One of the activities I have been engaged in during my 9-month long obsession over repetition has been doodling on painted MDF. I have spent hours doodling and drawing, scribbling and musing. The doodles are about repetition. The doodles represent repetition. They are also repetitious. They reflect my thoughts on repetition and my repetitious thoughts. The topics covered by my doodles are vast and varied and come from many influences over the last 9 months. They include: physics, philosophy, space, stuff, popular culture, TV, books, films, magazines, radio, buttons, images, icons, ideas, concepts, data, coffee shops, food, Christmas, Easter, holidays, conversations, work, loves, people, friends, family, acquaintances, hates, joy, sadness and life.

The painted MDF has become two plinths. Here is Plinth 1.0. This is Plinth 1.0 in Paris.

Plinth 1.0 in Paris

Plinth 2.0 is the opposite of Plinth 1.0. Plinth 1.0 has a skin of drawings and is black inside. Plinth 2.0 has a skin of black and has drawings on the inside. The idea is to reflect the opposites of infinite stuff and infinite space. The world vs the void.

Close up of Plinth 1.0

I made Plinth 1.0 first. I doodled on Plinth 1.0 pre-constructed. Once Plinth 1.0 was complete, I moved on to Plinth 2.0. I doodled on Plinth 2.0 in five pieces. I took each piece home to work on, one at a time. The five pieces were assembled to make a plinth after completion.

Plinth 2.0

I’m not sure how conscious I was of this but I’ve since noticed an interesting difference between the drawings on the first plinth compared to those on the second one. Plinth 1.0’s themes are general and external. They are global and universal. They derive from outside influences, the first half of the list above. They are about repetition. However, Plinth 2.0’s themes are much more personal and internal (see the second half of the list above). They are still about repetition but rather than about the repetition around me in the big wide world, they are about the repetitions in my head and my sphere of influence. I only noticed this interesting difference after I had completed Plinth 2.0.

The drawings on Plinth 1.0 are completely visible. The drawings on Plinth 2.0 are partly obscured as they are within the five walls of the plinth. They reflect what is in my mind, which I guess like Plinth 2.0 is mostly obscured to the outside world. 

When the two plinths are on show in the Degree Show people will be able to examine the drawings on both plinths. However, it will be much more difficult for them to study the drawings on Plinth 2.0. I also fear that they will also struggle to understand many of the themes behind them. I hope that they will find something they can relate to. Even if they are challenged by my drawings, my hope is that the concept is clear: life is repetitious, both on a macro and a micro level, but it is also ever changing and ever interesting because of the small changes that come about from repetition. I’m referring here to the infamous infinite variations. We should praise the minute differences that come about from repetition. We should also value repetition for what it does for us. It comforts us but it also shapes so much about us an the world around us.



That age-old question: is it art?

May 8, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

I've been thinking more today about my defect art. I have been asking myself what it is about these innocuous little examples of graffiti that I like so much. All I am doing is painting holes and marks. The question I now ask is: why is this art? These replicated holes aren't particularly aesthetic and they don't take long to do. They don't have much in the way of compositional thought or feeling behind them. Nobody is going to seek me out to ask me to paint marks or holes. So what is it all about? 

Another question I have been asking myself is: why do I like painting holes? On one level, I think it is the humour that appeals to me. After all, what sort of person goes around painting holes and marks? They aren't expected and they should catch the eye. But on a deeper level it is the underlying, oft-asked question that these little 'pieces' raise that appeals to me: what is art?

All art, it can be argued, is a form of copying or imitation, whether that be of life, thought or feeling (I'm not going to go into that debate here).

An imitation or representation of an object, a landscape, a face, an emotion, a pattern or a feeling is valid as art. So, how about an imitation of a mark or hole, a blob of paint, an accident or a staple? If there is no such thing as originality and all art is copying. I'm copying and this is art. If I'm going to copy something I may as well copy something nobody would normally consider copying. Why not turn the really band into an interesting 'stilled' life? Why not still the irritating and the mundane?

Putting the copy next to original seems to give the copy some degree of agency. To me, it feels as if the copy is saying: Hey! Look at me! I'm more interesting than that boring old hole next to me because I'm deliberate and I'm a fake.' The copy seems to be defying the urge of destruction. Defects should be filled in, painted over, washed away but would you do the same to a painted defect? By doing so, the artwork will be destroyed. My painted holes and marks of course will definitely be destroyed at some point. I have no doubt about that. They aren't regarded as valid artforms when compared to a painting or a sculpture, or an installation or performance. That is just a fact. I can't dispute that.

So, perhaps the conclusion should be that this isn't art. I would like to think it is but the fact that they will be painted over and without much conscience to me says that they aren't valid, or at least aren’t regarded as valid as other art forms. This does not answer the question: what is art? That question will remain forever unanswered I fear.

While engaged in this project I have come to the realisation that I am not an aesthetic artist. I am not a representational artist. I'm not an abstract artist. I'm a philosopher who uses art as a medium of expression of ideas. 

Philosopher first; artist second. Despite all the self-doubt I have the further I get towards my degree, perhaps there is some purpose to all of this 'playing' I do.

Copying defects - the real vs the unreal

May 4, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

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I am now marching (or being marched, it feels like) swiftly towards the Degree Show in the Fine Art department here in Wolverhampton. There is just one month to go. The studios are buzzing with ain air of creative stress and frenzied activity. I love this time of year. The results of ten months work are starting to appear and there is a lot to be inspired by.

The theme of my work over the last ten months has been repetition. I have been obsessed with repetition. I have lived and breathed repetition. I have been drawing, painting, making, writing, posting, blogging and obsessing about repetition for months.

There are two main pieces I am hoping to exhibit. One is two plinths covered in drawings, which I will write a separate blog about. The other 'piece' is recreated defects in the exhibition space and elsewhere in the building. I'm hoping that it will be a sort of subtle, mostly unseen, but not wholly unseen, anti-Platonic guerrilla art.

I won't be able to create any of my defect replicas until just before the Degree Show, so I feel strangely relaxed, but I have been practicing today. Since the studios here are in quite a state after nearly a year of artistic activity by me and my fellow students, there are a lot of opportunities for me to leave my mark here.

Here are some examples.



The aim is partly to see if people will spot my artworks while they are looking for 'real' art. Despite the fact that these pieces are, in my eyes, genuine artworks, they aren't expected.

I want to challenge the notion that the copy is inferior to the original (and that the copy has a bond with the original). I have (will) deliberately place the copies next to the originals to see if people are able to dissassociate the former from the latter, which is what I want them to do.

For my research on repetition, I have read a lot of what Gilles Deleuze had to say on the subject. He is well-known for turning the Platonic relationship between the model and the copy on its head by looking just at the copy itself and divorcing it completely from the original. He talks of two types of repetition: mechanical and dynamic. The latter creates originality. He wanted us to value the copy in of itself and to value the process of repetition, not for the copies themselves but the differences between the copies, or the vibrations.

More holes

I want to tease something interesting out of this process of copying. There is something unsettling, or uncanny, about seeing a fake a hole or defect. It doesn't quite look right. It isn't the original, but it resembles the original, yet it has a quality separate from the original. It couldn't possibly be the same as the original. It isn't the same so we don't need to refer to the original. My question is: does the copy here have value in itself? I hope so.

Tiny Holes