(Current Studies, by blog description (2015-16)) - Click on each label to see corresponding posts!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Easter holidays, some reflective thoughts on the previous semester.

During the last week I have been able to take some time away from the studio for a short holiday. Whilst I have been keen to return, and start making plans for the final exhibition piece which needs to be finished at the end of April, I have also been able to crystallise some of my thoughts on the production techniques, together with finalising the theme of anamnesis is the backbone of my work.

This reflective process of taking fragments of my own memory of tiny small inconsequential events which are common to many people I have already termed as meta-encounters. It is through these meta-encounters that I can create the next artefact and a future series of artefacts, which explore how we deal with so many emotions of loss, of grief, and our perception which is influenced by the observation of specific trigger objects which provide in what Merleau-Ponty describes as an out of body mediation or affect.

For the first few days of this week I have been creating a generalised drawing of the fragment of the facial relief of the broken garden gnome. As the size of this artefact will be on a monumental proportion, measuring approximately 2 m wide by a meter and a half high, I decided to create a template on which I can work upon over the following weeks.

With regards to my plan I am very much on target as described below.

For completeness, an example of the template is also shown here with.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Final lecture on contemporary art professional practice, by Lee corner, Friday, 18 March 2016.

The first opening comments of the lecture were given by Dr Graham Lister who had identified, whilst reading through some of the responses to the most recent assignment, that there was a disconnect, between some of the students websites, and their own statements or aspirations. As a recommendation, he suggested that we should find the connections between aspirations and our own professional values and credentials. Aspirations of themselves are in fact goals. We need to state our aspirations in or that that employers can find what they are looking for, in order for them to be matched with what can be found in our own profile documents, which also match our values together with our aspirations. This synthesis of values needs to be articulated within the websites, because ultimately it is likely that the employers should find you as an individual contributing artist through your own website.

During the previous lecture Lee Corner suggested that there would be two visitors to today's session, the artists James Naughton and Rachel Howfield-Massey.

Some pre-research I had done;

... on James Naughton found that he had spent time as artist in residence at the Bolton University and is an established landscape painter. He is highly influenced by the works of Thomas Moran, a 19th century artist who visited the grand Teton range in Yellowstone national park in the United States. This links particularly well to James's location in the south-west Pennines. He has exhibited continuously as a key exhibitor at the Beckstones gallery, and has also written and illustrated his own book, a book on creativity called "Yoluma and the King".

... with regards to Rachel Howfield-Massey, some pre-research found that she is based in Holmfirth, Yorkshire. She currently has a project entitled "bear hunting and other ways to walk". It seemed to me that there was a kind of linked to geo-mapping and psycho geography, but with the added twist that this was based on rural locations, rather than the more typical psycho geography which is based in urban and cityscapes, such as the work by Will Self and Ralph Steadman.

I also found a quotation by Karl Marx which seems to relate to psycho geography quite well, and perhaps also to the work by Rachel Howfield Massey, which goes like this:
"People can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves.-There landscape is animated, obstacles are everywhere. And they are all interrelated, maintaining a reign of poverty".

Presentation; Rachel Howfield-Massey

I found the presentation by Rachel particularly interesting as she is a very local artist to my own residence, and seems to be specifically interested in the well-being of the human condition which is constantly being urbanised. I think it touches on the idea of mindfulness and some of the work that I have reviewed by Dr Kirsten Stewart.

To put this into context, Rachel is working nationally in a "re-wilding movement" recently being brought to public attention by the writer Frederick Gross in his book of the same name, and also Shinrin Youku, who is an advocate of "forest bathing".

Further reading on this practice may be obtained from the book "the wild places" by Robert McFarlane.

Presentation; James Naughton.

In the presentation provided by James Naughton, he described his work as a fusion of printmaking techniques working together with oil painting, in order to produce landscape paintings which were a synthesis of both the real and the imagined.

James provided some very useful points for all the students as we are just about to start out on our career.
  • After graduation take a rest and then research where you fit in? Take time to see where your work will sell.
  • Make high resolution copies of all your work and create a very solid portfolio.
  • See arts as a career for your future.
  • With regards to pricing do not sell yourself short!
  • Create your first promotion material now. Create business cards and postcard sized promotion material. Create a website with a jargon free statement.
  • Beware of rushing into social networks. Make sure you have separate private social network accounts from your business accounts.
James also discussed how he created many have his paintings by painting on glass is a monotone or tonal style drawing first and then using that pane of glass to create an impression on either canvas or paper.

He also discussed;
the advantages of selling your work through a gallery; which are,
  • that the gallery all ready has a reputation and existing clients.
  • It allows you to focus on your own art and production of it.
  • It means that the sales and promotion side is done by the gallery itself, who also provide lots of guidance and support.

The disadvantages of selling through galleries.
  • There are no direct links between the artist and the client.
  • It is difficult to create new ambitions for your work, as if you change your style it may not sell.
  • You therefore have to make a decision that you are creating art as a product.
  • In essence you may be caging a golden goose.
  • Some galleries are not very patient. They expect you to be able to churn out work in quite high volume once you become successful.
  • Don't be surprised, in fact you might as well expect that galleries may charge up to 50% of the price for their own commissions. Therefore it is essential to achieve a sales price of your work first!.
Selling through the Internet is generally good, there is new media and new avenues for selling work opening continually. The disadvantage is of course that it can easily be copied.

Studio space is important. Make the decision whether this is going to be part of your own home, or alternatively I are going to have gallery space next to your studio space or perhaps just a studio space on its own somewhere else in the lock-up perhaps?

Consider your ongoing management of your own direction. You must do this yourself, otherwise someone else will do it for you!

Sales, of course this is a blessing, but in order to do well, you may lose sight of your own artistic needs and direction.


  • Spend one hour a day every day, for administration and social networking, together with blog writing. This is about the current way that I do things now and is a good habits to maintain.
  • The Tetley gallery in Leeds as many artists in residence, it may be worth approaching them to see if it would be possible to shadow some of those artists and obtain some mentoring?
  • Most established artists are quite approachable. Do your research by making visits to galleries with studios and talk to them regularly.
  • I did this a few months ago at the Dean Clough gallery and spent time with Jake Atree, a highly successful artist, with a studio on the premises. I spent approximately two hours with him and found the experience invaluable, with an invitation to openly visit him again, which I must do soon!!.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Reading Group; Contemporary art and Illustration, session conducted by Dr Alison Rowley.

In this session we investigated our forthcoming graduate exhibition, and the need, or decision for us to create a catalogue for the event.

A catalogue for an exhibition needs to be a coherent source of information, and is both an introduction to the event, but also as a lasting artefact that represents the whole of the event, which can be reflected upon after many years.

A classic example of a catalogue for an artistic exhibition may be that which was created by Prof Caroline Christov Bakargiev, for the dOCUMENTA 13 exhibition in the Fredericarnium in Kassel, Germany.

The catalogue for dOCUMENTA 13 is known as "The book of books". It consists of some 100 notes / thoughts / writings, which were created by some of the most intellectual writers and commentators over the preceding five years, before the 2012 exhibition.

[Likewise we need to consider how does our own show fits into the context of exhibitions that have already taken place in the past?... We focused also on to writings from artists based at the Goldsmiths College in London, those being Michael Craig Martin and John Thomson].

We previously, also read Prof Caroline Christov Bakargiev's introduction to "The book of books", and discussed one of the projects that did not come to fulfilment in document 13, which was a proposal by the artists Guillermo Faivovich and Nicholas Goldberg.

Their proposal was to convey the largest known exisiting meteorite that had fallen on earth to Germany, and exhibit it within the Fredericanium. They therefore adopted an approach which was to write an introduction "To see the exhibition from the point of view of the meteorite itself"

The idea of a metiorite, suggests an extremely fast trajectory that is a viewpoint from the outside onto the world in which we live.

The "surprise" provides a vehicle for the unravelling of quantum mechanics which I identified with some of the theories for example Schrödinger's cat. In an artistic context it is this "not knowing" which is what is important. Contemporary art holds a lot of its living with contradictions. This is an exploration of the "nonhuman" thing, however ultimately we are all made, meteorites and humans from the same stuff.


  • In reflection of the readings today, what we need to do as students in preparation for the graduate show, is to examine the exhibition title, and how we are going to convey this?
  • Equally important, how will individual statements relates to the overall statement of the exhibition in its entirety?
  • Need to consider how does our own show fits into the context of exhibitions that have already taken place in the past?... e.g. review Michael Craig Martin and John Thomson.
  • Provocation! We need to provoke viewers and spectators in order to engage with the work we create.

Weekly briefing, Thursday, 17 March 2016

There were a few announcements today of forthcoming exhibitions during the next three weeks of our Easter holidays.

  1. there is an exhibition by Lance Wyman within the Sheffield you Institute of arts Gallery, part of Sheffield University, which is highly recommended.
  2.  also in Sheffield at the millennium gallery, is an exhibition of the works by Ruskin which continues until mid April.
  3.  at a gallery known as "S1" which is actually part of Sheffield Hallam, known as the Parkhill flats, an exhibition has been put together by a bursary by graduating artists from Sheffield University.
  4. Al and Al. Manchester this is an exhibition at the HOME gallery in Manchester and discusses and explores the incidents of travel in the multi-universe, or multi-verse for short. Details can be found at www.home gmrmcr.org.

Make some time over Easter holidays to see these!!!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Anamnesis, the backbone of my production

In Prof. Graham Harman's book, "Prince of Networks; Bruno Latour & Metaphysics", tucked away on the back of the first page (The book 'Title' page), is a footnote which positions the idea of Harman's writings on Object Oriented Ontology, Bruno Latour, and much of the discourse on speculative realism...

It says "Anamnesis"....
"Anamnesis means remembrance or reminiscence, the collection or re-collection of that having been lost, forgotten or effaced..."
IT then goes on to say that, it is of the old that makes us what we are...

"[It is also] a work that transforms it's subject, by making something new. ....To recollect the old to produce something new... "

The meaning of Anamnesis is found in various guises.  I use the word 'guise' carefully....
The Wikipedia entry defines it as;
"It is the idea that humans possess knowledge from past incarnations and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us."
(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anamnesis_(philosophy))
But it also alludes to;
Anamnesis is a key concept in the liturgical theology: in worship the faithful recall God's saving deeds.[1] This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.[2]
(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anamnesis_(Christianity))
With a further explanation of the Paschal mystery thus;

Understand, therefore, beloved,
how it is new and old,
eternal and temporary,
perishable and imperishable,
mortal and immortal, this mystery of the Pascha:
old as regards the force
but new as regards the Word;
temporary as regards the model (gr. typos),
eternal because of grace
perishable because of the slaughter of the sheep,
imperishable because of the life of the Lord;

mortal because of the burial in (the) earth,
immortal because of the rising from the godOn the Pascha, 2-3
(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_mystery)


So, in the reflection of the research and development of "The things We Leave Behind", the idea and concept of Anamnesis fits the production of artifacts EXACTLY!

I'm chuffed, to say the least!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Lecture - Introduction to Artistic Presentations, by Dr Graham Lister.

In this lecture, Dr Lister discussed at the theory of presentations with a short introduction to how they should be conducted with a view to our future presentation as part of this module.

The module requirements are
1) how to use the audience.
2) what constitutes to proper theory lectures.
3) By playing back a number of video recordings, the first by Cruz Villagas, the second by Culture Shok, and the third by David Shrigley.


  • The extended essay counts to 50% of the marks for this module.
  • The two elements essay regarding future direction and an overview as a curriculum vitae a will count as 20% of this module.
  • The presentation given at the end of the theory lecture module will account for 30% of the module marks. 
    • The final presentation shall last for 20 minutes, which can be broken down quite easily into content requirements.

{What exactly is the specific content required for this module?}

The group was divided into a number of subgroups and the question "what does presentation actually mean"?

  • A proposal
  • an explanation
  • a strategy
  • anxiety and nerves
  • to make the best of visual aids
  • enthusiasm
  • personality
  • too much practice makes presentations pompous
  • only have concise notes
  • charisma
  • don't over script the presentation
  • a polished performance
  • a memorable performance
  • is it worth getting questions recorded?
  • Vocalisations
  • an exhibition of the self
  • trigger images.

Get the audiences attention. You are the expert of your own work.
Don't get bogged down with details, but remember it is all about the content of your presentation which makes it important.

The presentation is:
"Showcasing an interesting topic to directly explain the process to an audience".
The definition of "process" is key here. Include your whole journey, with reflections of failures as well as successes.

  • Describe how you make, determine and reflect what you do within your own practice.
  • Smile, a friendly smile that is but not pasted staring gaze or green.
  • Work within the confines of the task, what does it mean to you, and what does it mean to the audience?
  • What does "knowing your audience" actually mean?..
  • Do not ever make assumptions. It is hard to imagine what the audience actually knows. It may not be what you think they know.
  • People get confused easily.
  • Don't be fooled into saying what you think they want to hear
Know your audience, through research as to what they do, what are they interested in? What motivates them? What is their own speciality?

In knowing your audience, what will it mean that you should concentrate upon when you are drafting your presentation?
To what educational standard of the audience you are presenting to?
What exposure of your work has the audience already had?
What demographic is the audience?
What do they already know with reference to similar work by other artists?
Continually make references to other artists in order for them to make comparisons.

Key themes.
What needs to be explained?

  • The journey,
  • reflections,
  • failures,
  • successes.

It is a work of process. Think of the toraboras. That is the snake that swallowed its own tail.

[The piece created by Simon Starling composed of 38 colour transparencies in 2006 was the auto's I love Pyro Cyclo Boros. This is translated as Zoe low equals would, Pyro equals fire, auto equals self, and Cyclo is a process loop].

Consider viewing the film by Fitz Coraldo, about a boat being manhandled and trudged through the Amazonian jungle.

What has been useful in describing your work in the past?

See the work by Abraham Cruzvillegas.


Within the video Abraham discusses that it is a system of education, and the one who learns is me!

  • Feel the dynamics of making. The rhythm of making.
  • Create a summary, a synthesis.
  • Improvise with materials, continue the theme of not knowing the final result. It is a journey. A complicity with the audience.
  • Found materials, to make lamps, these are all recycled. Abraham does not know the outcome of his works when he finds these original materials, but only has the desire to create a lamp out of any structure. New line there is no predefined structure, no methodology, everything is useful. Everything is alive.
  • The scaffolding of the art piece not only holds the structure but it is part of it.
  • There is no chance of a mistake happening, as things just happen anyway. A mistake therefore is a correct result quite often.
  • Think of the glass always being half full.

Next video.

Culture Shok.

The intonation of this narrator suggested that it was very unprepared. Some of his drawings were quite strange; one particularly looked like a silhouette of Lenin swallowing the island of Hawaii.

  • It seemed unconnected.
  • Diamond head. "Thanks for listening" these were singular readings of the artworks, and not very interesting.

It is clear from the above video that presentation is not about advertising yourself on what you can do! It should be about the process of how you have made things! What have you learned from this?

  • Balance your assertions; not "it might do this or that,
  • run with the theme that is continuous.
  • Never be apologetic in your presentation.
  • Say what it is! Be confident, and back up your claims with real evidence. Use key terms or "loaded" terms but be able to go into depth if challenged or asked about the content.

See PetchaKucha David Shrigley, for example "I hate wood" and "I'm dead"

These PetchaKucha sessions were created for the Glasgow Council and the Glasgow City of Culture in 2010 and can be found on HTTP://www.YouTube.com

In contrast to the previous video, this was carefully choreographed with excellent timing and rhythm. David Shrigley has a particular manner which works well with the petchakucha style of presentation.

He created the presentation as the body of work.

  • What you present is part of your own process.
  • Allow long pauses wherever appropriate.
  • Still what you do into good grammatical sentences.
  • Defined and explain how theory and practice relate to each other in what you do.

Practice and research as much as you can.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Formative Assessment #2 - Reflections on the discussion...

(The Interview has been transcribed in full)...

I described my practice as 'very much based on the body of work that you see before you', and... rather read than through the positioning statement in its entirety, I left a copy with Dr Lister.

Hopefully, the statement covers 'where I'm at', and I made the decision to 'stop talking'.

[Transcribed discussion]

GH - I think that my plan is is reasonably fixed; the maquettes that I made this week seems to work, - it certainly has done its job, which is to cross that strange line between something that is 'kind of interesting and yet odd', and people can't place.

So it was, that I wanted to try and capture, also incorporating the theme of the whole, which was "the things left behind", the gnome; but also that 'something' on the largest scale, that are so, from the macro to the micro...  At the micro scale, with that idea of DNA, that is literally on the lint from at the tumble dryer, - with it I have got identity; which is retained within the DNA.  The identity, which is also retained in the Bank statements,  / shredded confidential waste; so all those things, are 'kind of' in there. There is even hair as well, - human hair, which has an identity.

So, to cut a long story short, the maquette has done his job.  I think it's the right format for me to present an artefact if not necessarily the final artefact, but it is made to progress to the next artefact... and that next artefact is something very similar to the maquette but at a much larger scale.  I intend to create it more or less as 'him', slightly more rounded as a profile, and about four times as big. If I am to create an aura, then that 'aura thing' is of great importance, in order to to make the statement. Almost go to get the viewer's interest, to bring them forward to the physicality of the artifact, then, for them to start questioning the physicality of it, ...but also to draw them in, to start to read the materiality of it, and hopefully get some of the slightly "tongue in cheek", on its own... Mild 'tongue in cheek' reference of three years in art college, and to see it's a "papier-mache thing on chicken wire made from egg cartons" and set.

(GL - Which I think is great and is quite sophisticated after those three years it's this very knowing  regression, your which is befitting this body of work, when the theme you know if you distill this right down to your art practice and the earliest time you created the I things you looked at when you started practicing).

So that that that's where I'm at; that's what in thinking; - the plan to continue this is fine, I'm confident of the timescales; and confident of the way production, as well.

And this maquette has proved it, as it's just got to be done on a bigger scale now; and you know I'm raring to go, I'm ready for it...
I don't know if it's currently the absolute final, but to be brutally honest, I may make other similar sized maquettes, after the bigger one, possibly by taking a mould of the smaller one, and then creating one out of plaster-of-Paris or something? To do that just to create, to keep making, and just keep making... Something "similar but different", so that they see that is that...  That's a bit of experimentation that may still go on.

The worry I have got with that, even though I'm planning to do some if I've got time; the worry I've got with that is it may turn out just as a plaster-of-Paris kind of maquette mask.  I worry this may distract the spectator, down a bit of the wrong path, in that it will take the direction away from "things left behind"  ...so it then just becomes an exercise and the jury is out; I may or may not do this task as moulds; it doesn't seem to co-inside as constructive.

(GL - feedback; you're right to question it, - it will be loose because you are between an order created from 'objects' which I see you take on through mass produced, you're absolutely right, gnomes are mass-produced, and if compared in an any with a cast of that scale, it's hard to explain, but you are in dialogue).

The only processing for these are, I think that there is a need to have them as a wall mounted element too.  It's kind of an idea Dale mentioned, to get the idea that Benjamin, (Walter Benjamin) writes at some stage, not sure which part it is, - whether it's "On the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction", I can't remember if it's that; anyway as it's a very short essay, - where he talks about the "democratic" art being to lying down, and art being Autocratic being against the wall...

I am kind of thinking it should be against the wall. There is a reference there to the classics, into the Greek tradition of art and classical art school, which is always one the first thing that people tended to draw 200 years ago! There would always be on hand a bust of Plato or Homer or something like that, so there's a bit of a reference in that, in what I have done. So again, in thinking, yeah, it will probably be on the wall certainly, - upright, not lying down.  If it's not the wall then perhaps just a bit, it would have to be faced off with something behind it, so, whether it's on a hollow panel, but ultimately it's authoritarian not democratic to you, ...that's kind of where I'm thinking.

(GL - You mentioned the classics and I was thinking near the Deans office there's armour, -  busts of armour)...
Yes,  I think it was Lisa Stansbie who did those, (GL - was it really?), I remarked on them a while ago,  - a few years ago, and she said: "Oh, I did that"...

(GL your correlation you make, you are giving a little reference?), ... In a way, it is a little poke, but it's a little one!
The gnome maquette references it as "I've clocked that" - that's what I'm trying to do...  and yes, there is mischief, there is no doubt there is mischief, in what I'm trying to do, but it's nice mischief,  and I don't want to offend anybody at all, ...whether it is past artists or anyone really.

I am sometimes a little bit unsure about the idea of the fact that is quite a difficult subject in a way, with regards to what the Bank Statements are, and the hair, and in the lint, as it comes from my brother who has died... It's quite a difficult... to me anyway, it's quite a ...., it's quite a poignant subject that I'm addressing, so I'm trying to do it in such a way that certainly doesn't offend his memory, but would equally not offend any of the family, who potentially might see this because he was a lovely, lovely guy.
  I never want to take any of that dignity away... He probably would find this extremely funny, extremely entertaining...   I just hope everybody else does.  That that's the wary bit; that matters, there is caution.
(GL - That's interesting you say that it is not a straightforward line), ... Is it almost an embodiment of him? maybe not the right word... (GL - embodiment, - that maybe befits this whole project? So, maybe some wording around that you need to work on. You are close, so there is already a sense of embodiment implied, that's built into it, - helping to use this, you think it is, ...not positioned as a monument, but you are you talking about it, and him).
I like the phrase "it is a 'heightened moment', in reference to the encounter with my brother passing on', so that is it ... It does serve to fit that.

(GL - I'm delighted how you talk about your work and how you think; How you write about it is super too, and to see you've got all this ready to go is great)...

What do I need to do to improve my marks if I may be so bold to put it that way,

(GL - What I would do is to try to move the object out of the studio context... and I don't know how much taking out of the studio context you have done. Try to understand it against a white wall? ...and the question is it in shadow? angled? so that I can see the making of it...  The relief.


  • The uniqueness of the maquette will be broken down if a different set of materials are used.
  • The aura of the unique object is useful and what I am trying to achieve.
  • Do I put the finished artifact directly on the wall, or a little off the wall, - do I wish to show the "making" elements of it?  What is it's position? What lighting is needed for it?
  • These considerations can be made while the studios are very quiet, and I will try positioning it in darkness.
  • It is good practice to really get to know the works and you can talk about "knowing" the work, and so "knowing a result" e.g. why I'm putting it on a show,  exhibiting it in a particular way...
  • I think it will give it a different appreciation of it, by putting the object on a white wall, or perhaps to experiment with the background? - Maybe an off-white or grey background?
  • one can measure the confidence amongst people as gradually refining what has been produced, and what happens when it's shown in slightly different contexts. 
  •  In writing about my work, the 'Embodiment' could be described as a memorial to my brother, John, but it could also be described as a "heightened moment"
  • Continue to make, to experiment and test!
  •  Establish and prove confidence in the making.... Refine the context and meaning of it!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Critique Session, Tuesday 8th March, with Prof. S. Swindells.

The critique sessions are an opportunity to show the current work and theme that I have been pursuing since embarking on the third year of this project. It is an arena to provide feedback for current thoughts and practice.

There were six other viewers in the critique session, comprised of three tutors and three other students.

The idea of the maquette seems to work quite well, in that it is searching a difficult subject.

The outcome of the session was recorded as follows, with an aggregate graph of the viewers responses as shown below;

Questions and points raised by the Critique panel were;

  • Where does the 'search' start?
  • Where 'do the dead' go?
  • This whole area has an inherent difficulty in presenting it. 
  • What can art do in order to rationalise this in some way? 
  • The literalization of this whole topic may, in fact, be an obstacle in itself.

Dr Alison Rowley suggested looking at the work of Mary Kelly, she uses lint and explores the idea of 'the little boy lost'.
- the oddness of a mask. Dr Rowley confirmed that she loved the maquette, there is an inference to the Greek artefact, but also domestic monumentality and an engagement with the weird.

Prof Swindells suggested looking at a number of older art themes, interestingly the name Tony Hart came up which I felt was of particular insight by Prof Swindell. He also recommended I looked at the work of Fischli and Weiss (Peter Fischli & David Weiss), and their "low-tech" sculpture.

Another artist to look at may be Phyllida Barlow. She conducted a children's commission at the Whitechapel Gallery where she made chalk objects into sculpture.


  • The Title seems to be weak.
  •  Layout and Presentation also needs to be re-considered.
  •  I should think about that area particularly and modify it. Overall though, I think the critique went well and my scores seem to back this up...

Life Drawing - Tuesday 8th March

A slightly longer series of 15 - 20 minute poses today to warm up the drawing muscles...

Some of the exercises in "Drawing Projects; An exploration of  the language of Drawing", (2011), Maslin, M. and Southern, J., London, Black Dog Publishing, were considered suitable themes to investigate in future drawing sessions.  I have purchased this excellent book for myself and will work through the exemplars through the coming months in my own time...

To view the additional outcomes of this session, in accordance with University and Google rules, please visit the 'protected' website here >> Life Drawing.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Gallery Visit, The Baltic (Flour Mill) Gallery for Contemporary Arts, Newcastle.

I was lucky enough to attend the above gallery this weekend, and I was particulalry interested in seeing the "Loud" exhibition, works within it had been completed by long term mental heath patients on secure wards, and also by Prison in-mates and Youth offending Intitution inmates.

The reason for my interest is through my longer term goals of Art Therapy and Psychology studies, part of the activities that sit in my 5 to 10 year plan, to form part of the port-folio work I will be engaged in post graduation.

Of particular interest were the following paintings and drawings...  ALL CREDIT to the artists below, as mentioned

This was particulalry good, being both haunting and unsettling, and yet appealing through the context of the suffering

Some really fantastic work here I think.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Theory Lecture by Lee Corner & Dr Graham Lister. Commercial practice.

Today's lecture on contemporary art and illustration theory given by Lee corner was an overview of how to kickstart yourself as a freelance artist or illustrator. A very useful website to referred to here would be business.totes plus.com.

The lecture covered the idea of how to create costings, with the constant proviso that one should never forget the cost of doing nothing. It costs money in order to make work too. It costs money in order to keep the heating and lighting and food and general upkeep of the studio. Cost is always present.

With regards to pricing however, this can be based on
a) reputation, status, and experience
b) location
c) what the market will pay for your work.
d) and most of all the cost it takes to make, including your wage and profit that needs to be set aside to continue to have new ideas and to work generally.

Graduate aspirations of earning £24,000 per year would require a day rate of approximately £165-£200 per day, and that is every working day which from my calculation is approximately 220 working days per year.

  • Guidance for the day rates appear on the artists news network (a-n.com) and it is a fantastic site which is a good source of material.
  • Another good source of information is Sarah fell wall and her website "my cake.com"
  • It is worth considering the ideas of pricing and perceived value, versus pricing and goals. Another interesting source of information is cockpit arts. Their website helps to articulate some of these points.
  • Further information can be found on www.arts.AC.UK. This is the University of arts website.

For a contract to be made there are four elements that are required. These are

  1. an offer, 
  2. consideration, 
  3. acceptance and 
  4. intention.

The offer is the proposal of work or something of exchange.
Consideration is the term given for the price, that is something in return for the work conducted.
Acceptance is simply an agreement to proceed on the basis of what has been discussed within the offer and the consideration.
And finally the intention is reference to an expectation for the above to be legally binding.

Therefore a contract can be made which is not in writing and is verbal, providing it meets all of the above criteria.
It is worthwhile to register yourself as a freelancer as soon as possible, as a sole trader.

Intellectual property.
The following information was provided by the intellectual property lawyer Keith Arrowsmith, entitled IP and exploitation of assets.

IP, intellectual property is defined as creations of the mind. (See creative Commons license for example)

There are generally three types of protection of IP. That is, copyright, patents, and trademarks.

Some time ago, our tutor, Lee Corner, wrote the book which is now entitled "Super-Highway Robbery"; - an introduction to copyright law for freelance journalists and photographers.
This was published by the National union of journalists.
Within the book, it outlines how copyright is something that inherently exists. Everyone just has this right, unless you have specifically given up your rights, for example; if you are an employee of a company, or if you are a student of an institution.
In those cases it is the employer who owns your work.

There is also a different type of copyright which can be applied to Design Rights. This refers to the shape of a product, if it is instantly recognisable as a particular brand.

Intellectual property rights.

  • The idea is not copyrightable; it is the manifestation of that idea which is given copyright. 
  • There is no test for quality in copyright, so no matter how bad something might actually be, if there is a manifestation of it, a drawing or recording or otherwise it is still subject to copyright.

There is no need to register copyrights, but there are copyright collection societies. For example the design and copyrights society (DACS) and also the performing rights Society (PRS).

These societies are used to redistribute the royalty value that a work might have, when it is used by third-party. For example the painting by Edvard Munch "The Scream" is used in various manifestations in magazines, mugs, T-shirts and all manner of different representations and it is the Digital and Copyrights Society (DACS) that redistributes the royalties to the Munch family and the Munch foundation.

The most important lesson to learn from copyrights is;
   never  assign your own copyright, but instead license the ability to use an image to somebody instead.
If you do this, remember to set terms such as the duration, the territory, the amount, and the likely audience.

Keith Arrowsmith advocates the idea of "the post-it trick". This is where you create a copy of your idea onto paper and post it within a sealed registered letter to yourself. Store the letter un-opened in perpetuity just in case somebody challenges your copyright and your idea!

The 7% rule is an urban myth.
This is where in the past people have copied up to 7% of the drawing and stated that if it is below 7% copyright is 'not applicable'. This is not true. It is the court that decides how much of an image or works has been copied and whether copyright infringement has taken place.

Moral rights.
These refer to paternity, integrity, and privacy.

And finally we covered the concept of regularly carrying out an Intellectual Property Audit.

To complete the audit one need to identify;

  •  existing intellectual property,
  •  make intellectual property part of the creative process. 
  • Consider registering the intellectual property by the post it trick? 
  • Consider abandoning particular types of intellectual property?
  • And the other question one always has to ask is are you using other people's intellectual property, and if so do you have their approval to do so and you are not infringing copyright?

Visiting Artist / Illustrator, - Bridget Strevens-Marzo

Bridget opened the lecture with a short discussion about how the picture book has generally been used within a limited age range, of say between 7 to 8 years of age or less, for much of the past century. It is only in the last 20-30 years or so that this method of creating pictures and comic style dialogue has opened up to an adult market.

During the 1990s, in the UK, publishers were suddenly restricted to how they sold their publications to national libraries. This was because library funding was severely cut at that time, and so they had to diversify and create new sources to market.

It was during this time that Bridget Matsuo attended the Bologna book fair, (and this has been one of the key market resources that has not only allowed her illustrations and her authorship a new route to publication, but a whole generation of illustrators and authors now use this book fair), held annually in the city of Bologna in Italy.

Bridget has most recently been working with the publishers known as "Tate Publishing". Traditionally this group printed catalogues and art books specifically for the Tate Museum's, however they have now diversify it to start to publish alternative forms of media and books, the illustration book in particular.  The irony is that kids books are now being published by Tate Publishing to such a degree, that it is keeping many of these similar sized publishing companies going.

The larger publishers, for example Penguin and Thames Hudson, have difficulty in moving quickly in the dynamic book publishing market, and so smaller publishers such as Tate are able to quickly respond with new picture style books in short timescales for small markets / production runs.

Bridget relayed the older story of the time that she was asked by a publisher "what kind of children's illustrator are you? A fox or a wild boar?" This question was posed to her from the French group Beyard Publishers. (Interestingly this refers to an analogy of the Fox going out to seek new opportunities in the woods, using his cunning and expertise to source new types of food, whereas the wild boar (in French context this I think means a hedgehog) waits around the same territory within the woods and just shuffles his nose amongst the letter of leaves picking up acorns as and when he can!... In France, this little story has been used to articulate how someone's personality might be...
Bridget went on to explain how she met Dave Mackie at the Bologna book fair, and got into conversation, where he suggested that she should take her book that she had recently created (an accordion style booklet at that time) to this French publisher Beyard Jeunesse Publishing.  She did, and as a result of this chance meeting the Bayard Jeunesse Publishing group has been Bridget's main publisher pretty much, ever since.

Bridget works under to separate websites, which could almost be considered as pseudonyms. They are BridgetStrevens.com and BridgetMarzo.com.

The most famous books to date that Briget wanted to show off were the series created "Tiz and Otts - Big Draw" recently published by Tate. This is an interactive "doodle" book. The name "Tiz", refers to the cat whom is a busy and wily individual, and who uses a pencil to do his drawings and which therefore subtley refers nicely to the idea of illustration. The other character in the book is based on a donkey called "Ott". The donkey is slow and methodical and uses a brush which is an allegory to fine art of course!

Bridget is a member of the International Society of Children's Book Makers which (known as "Scuby") includes membership for "pre-publishers", i.e. graduates and new writer / illustrators, and is a particularly useful source for new illustrators and graduates generally.


  • Bridget's characters all have individual personalities and as such she is keen to ensure they have "relationships". These relationships link each of the characters to each other, but also to the viewer, and then to the greater world around. In her illustrations, drawings of "eye-contact" provides empathy in her characters. The "glance" in a character gives all the personality and empathy and real feel to her stories.
  • Another hint is that the hands should always follow the eyes when illustrating, and vice versa that the eyes should follow the hands figuratively speaking. 
  • It is clear that Bridget's own knowledge of child psychology has been deeply researched.
  • Whenever looking for a new opportunity, Bridget shares the idea of "dummy books" to her editor, but avoids creating a highly polished and printable book, otherwise, what are the publishers going to actually do for their money?...   What is important when negotiating with a publisher is empathy. Give the editors and the art directors something for them to buy into. Give them something to create for themselves, something for them to do! Make frameworks as a hook to your stories, rather than creating a whole finished article with perfect illustrations and narrative.
  • By using different animals as a bridge to diversity and ethnicity this fits in to the modern culture. A very subtle way of making different traits and racial diversity is to use different animals.
  • When creating work always follow the people, their work is to play. And to play beautiful and play beautifully.
  • Some suggested websites are Scooby, "words and picks.co.uk" this is a writer centred website.
  • One of the key influences on Bridget's work has been that of William Stieg.


Much of Bridget's work seemed very similar to my own childhood memories from the series of the Busy Busy World series, I think, created in the 1950s and 1960s. I need to research some of these original books as they used various "animals in a real-world" example to show (particulalry American) children how society works.
The French version that Bridget referred to is: Poumme DeApi,  et cetera.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

One-to-One tutorial / critique conversation with Dr Graham Lister.

I had an excellent critique with Dr Graham Lister who suggested that I looked at the work of Simon Critchley and a book entitled "Very Little, Almost Nothing" (1997); Routledge, London. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Critchley

This was described as a sample of fragments, a collective for a new meaning. A rebuild. Work is described as never finished, and always subject to change. The work is never completed and helps to highlight the intangible.  Ultimately, on reflection and further research, I found this book to be conceerned with the relationship between literature and philosophy and the problem of nihilism.  I shall research this book in time as I see a link here to one of my favourite philosophers, -  of Nietsche.

Dr Lister also explained the importance of keeping artworks open,  - it is not about finishing a piece of work as the unfinished article speaks volumes greater than the finished one. He recommended I looked at how I can focus on "points of transition".

The aesthetic of "producing" is more interesting than the finished article.

  • A further area of interest is the concept of the archive, Dr Lister suggested looking at the book "Compendium of the Archive", a book edited by Steven Johnson. 
  • Another useful source would be "archives of the fallen"
  • Further reading for Practice as Research can be obtained from the book by McLeod and Holridge. 
  • An interesting observation that Dr Lister also made was to ask what was the "vessel" that contained the fragments.
  • Another point of interest would be the writer Charles Merewether who also wrote the book called "The Archive",
  • It is worth referencing the book by Walter Benjamin entitled "The Arcades Project", which has a sculptural reference and works with the concepts of 'fragments' and fragmentation for its contents. 
  • Look at Aby Warburg's "Atlas" too, -this is a useful reference, 
  • together with the same name of works by Gerhardt Richter also entitled "Atlas".
In a subsequent conversation with Dr Homes, in summary the Research and Practice and Pedagogy triad is what is of particular interest here. 

  • This fits with Dr Dale Holmes assertion of the triad of research, practice, pedagogy. 
  • This also ties in with the formative assessment of what, why and how, together with a description of how you as an artist are going to move forward. 
  • Academically it is currently the fashion to try to condense this "what, why and how" Artistic statement into 300 words, - or three minutes of narrative.

Briefing notes & Routes to a Masters Degree at Huddersfield - Thursday 3rd March, 2016

Formative assessments will take place next week, week commencing 7 March. Each student will be allowed 15 minutes to succinctly and briefly describe their work, how they have arrived at the current position, what they have done during the last few months and why they have done the work that they have performed.

All work will be assessed within the studio practice major project module. It is advisable to refer to the phase 1 planning sheet and my project management Gantt chart. I need to show what have been successful parts of the critique and the project overall and I need to demonstrate constructive reflection during the creation of my work. A new face to assessment sheet will be created with bulleted items in order to explain how items have been completed. Conclusions I need to create a bulleted response to the formative assessment sheet, it does not need to be an eloquent prose, just to make the responses appropriate.

 A short introduction was given by Dr Rowan Bailey with regards to the Masters degree and appropriate routes for research. There are two types of research. There are two types of masters degrees being conducted at Huddersfield University, the first type is through research, and the second type is a Masters degree by taught sessions. At the moment there are only two subjects available for a taught Masters degree which are graphic design and digital media. The taught version of the Masters degree consists of three terms over 12 months which are module and lecture-based.

The alternative route to a master through research, requires the candidate to come up with a proposal to research a specific reference and this will be judged and assessed during its progress and formulation of a document thesis with support from a number of supervised sessions with various tutors and professors. This is a much more self-directed route to a Masters degree with supervised enquiry.

There is a government grant now available up to £10,000 for the Masters degree.

Applications are now being sought. The time over Easter will be a good time to think about future direction and also to create some sort of proposal. If a candidate stays at the University of Huddersfield after their normal bachelors degree, they will get a £500 discount off the fee for a Masters degree, providing that they return to the University within 12 months of completion of that bachelors degree.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Life Drawing, - General Practice

I spent a few hours on Sunday drawing a portrait of a girl that I had started and worked on some time ago.

Glad I picked it up again to finish the sketch of course, but this earlier practice seemed to put me in a negative area when I picked up a graphite stick today.

The start-up session today consisted of the usual four 2-3 minute poses, and I chose to use a graphite stick for all this work.

To view the outcomes of this session, please visit the 'protected' web (parental guidance) site here >> Life Drawing


I wasn't too happy with the results of the longer poses as they seemed to have lost all the good progress I made at the weekend.  I wondered what I'm doing wrong? - Maybe thinking too much about the finished form perhaps and not creating the underlying scaffolding perhaps? I don't know, but I think I took a step backwards in my lesson today...