Dis:placed Month 1

I am going to limit my blog to talking about/ showing process rather than final outcomes, as we have agreed as a group not to share images of the work that we will be sending on to the next artist during the course of the ‘Dis:placed’ collaboration. That in itself causes a different slant to the internal discourse, as I have become used to sharing outcomes regularly with Twitter followers and the Artist Teacher group.

What has come up for me is a filtering of processes, I am a bit of a magpie when it comes to ‘collecting’ techniques and approaches to recording from an object. Maybe it’s the printmaker in me but whenever I approach something new I immediately set about finding ways to extract ‘markmaking’ from it- casting, rubbings, printing, photographing….numerous ways of getting something to talk to you.

From drawing to manipulating surface qualities, I have found that digital development is starting to feature more prominently in the process that I am using; video and projection are relatively new media to me but are starting to appear in my approach to pushing a drawing further.

Video and projection 1

Video and projection 2

I have two sets of objects to respond to this month and it will be interesting to see how I can develop the role of digital media in this process further…..

 

 

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Displaced -collaboration begins 

  This month the magic begins…. after a non-productive hiatus in January involving much soul searching about the future, I am glad to see the beginnings of this collaboration. And the agreement not to share images of work produced along the way is an interesting one to follow….so far all I have visually reflected upon is processes that are jostling their way to the front. 

My part in the collaboration is to respond to two ‘places’ each month, as it was necessary to ‘make up the numbers’ so that we can all participate in four pieces of work each before the work is collected back together. Having spent the last few months coming up against a stumbling block in legitimising my response to the old war hospital site it is energising to be the recipient of two very different ‘puzzles’. 

My dialogue with each of the ‘places’ I have been sent is a weaving of current preoccupations and a push to explore and question new ways to share my response; a vehicle to move away from the stumbling block and look afresh at what ‘response’ is. And the main point of setting this brief was to examine the removal of context in responding to a place- none of us know the background or significance of the place that has been chosen for us to be inspired by. 

Oo the fun is only just beginning! 

New Year, New Idea

    

The process of developing my own practice through the Artist Teacher Scheme with BCU since July 2015 has raised interesting questions, most particularly about context. In my last critique I placed site specific work meant for the Brindley Village war hospital site in an interior ‘exhibition’ context and it was duly interrogated, read and given meaning in that context. Placing the objects into another setting gave them a different meaning and a lost connection to their ‘base’. This disparity has got me thinking about how to explore this friction in the actual work. In July we have a space allocated at New Art Gallery Walsall to exhibit outcomes from this course and from the outset I have pondered on how to ‘rupture’ that process in some way through a discomfort in the boundaries placed on gallery set work. So how can I make place specific work that is understood out of context of place? How can I challenge the ‘don’t touch’ interaction that is not problematic when people encounter work left in public places? These are my thoughts in trying to form a direction for the remaining six months of the course. 

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And so an idea has formed- why not explore the process of displacing a material part of a place, removing the context, and seeing how that can change a response to a place. 

Another element to my practice that is fundamental is collaboration, the possibilities generated from allowing the un-known to unfold from the interaction of others is exciting and a way of working that I find more invigorating than solo practice. 

During 2015 and through using Twitter to share work with others I have been priveledged to get to know the work of other practising artists who share my slant on the world. My new idea is to find out if they would like to collaborate for the next six months in exchanging work along these lines: 

Dis:placed

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To produce work in any media that responds to a specific and unseen place; to respond to material qualities in work received from another artist

So how would this exchange work, in outline, something like this:

Jan: select a significant place and choose something material to that place to post to next artist in the circle. Provide some clues on location but no photos of place itself. 

Feb: respond to received object in any media, exploring suggested qualities or processes inspired by your package. Post everything together to next artist. 

March- May: repeat last months process with whatever is received next. 

June- all work returned to original sender and re- located at significant place/ document work in situ electronically and post all work to me for exhibition. 

July- exhibition at NAGW and electronically online. 

Ideally I would like this process to push drawing/markmaking practices to explore beyond the obvious as well as to possibly allow new ideas about responding to a place to emerge through having the collaborative input of others who are essentially ‘blind’ to the place itself. 

So now to find out who is interested in joining me? 

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It’s been a while since I’ve written on my Rizla paper as I promised to do, but I’ve had some time to bring it all together in my head this morning; two routes becoming clearer in my mind as to how to approach making work about the war hospital and the shellshock patients treated there. 

 

More dot joining….

  
Head full of tangents so I feel like I need to write down a list of ‘dots’ that get joined in my work:

  • how we interact with a place/ how we leave our mark in a visual or energetic way
  • leaving art in places to be found, making the unnoticed noticed, drawing attention/curiosity
  • making the space surrounding a drawing important/ locating it within its context 
  • using transformative processes and accidental markmaking – folding, rusting, decaying, growing
  • collaborating and incorporating connections with others; synchronicity 

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Brindley Village location specifically interests me as it has elements of location (woodland/ habitation/ dereliction/ forgotten) and has the scope for me to look at three specific areas there- 

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1. ‘HEAL’ WW1 war hospital: memorial, shrine, remembrance, healing, shellshock treatment 

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2. ‘HOME’ Miners cottages: home, mining industry, community, lost signage – forgotten places 

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3. ‘PLAY’ School boundaries and playground: growing up, play, security 

From these three areas my primary interest is drawn to the hospital – reading about and seeing footage of shellshock has made a powerful impression on how the calm of the area contrasts with these images:   Image – video stills c/o biosphere.com 

Joining the dots 

  
So far on the process that has been developing my practice on the Artist Teacher Scheme there have been many revelations; how fundamental making is to my soul, the importance of connections, the journey of including and disregarding processes along the way, what becomes noticed from the unnoticed. 

This month followed a non-month for me and started with a critique of my work from an outsider’s point of view. The same discomfort arose at having work in a gallery space where it feels like it should be in the place that inspired it- and a conclusion that the short video clip made to perhaps explain this held more explanation than the actual pieces of work.   

Brindleyvillage1 video clip
And so I am gathering ingredients at this stage, I know that I want to work with transformative processes in this work: rust, moss, hydrochromic ink. Things that will reveal over time. I hadn’t realised the significance of moss until looking this morning at war research – moss was gathered for bandages; another dot joined.   

More importantly I’ve been looking at shellshock which is what soldiers at the War Hospital were treated for (against a backdrop of rifle range practice fire!). The combination of audio and visual in these clips is intriguing and something to examine further: 

WW1 Shellshock
WW1 Neuroses
Dots joining again as I consider my interest in healing/ healing a place and using reiki symbols in the work (invisible of course), I then read about the role of Combat Stress in treating PTSD in soldiers here in the UK and that pings to a memory of looking at volunteering with Healing Hands to help with their treatment of servicemen affected locally. The effects of war on the psyche of men in WW1 manifested physically as shellshock led to developments in the medical world. I wonder how this may link to the collective consciousness now as we face more conflict in the Middle East with the recent debate on bombing Syria a sickening realisation that we are disconnected and desensitised. And so the work burrows down to core values and the aesthetics seem to be secondary at the moment, instead I am seeking a cohesion of what matters.

Bo Jones who critiqued my work so insightfully at the start of this month knows that I am fuelled by collaboration; an art ‘Interferer’. I am intrigued to wonder where stepping into the site of Brindley Village War Hospital and feeling its energy will take me next, both personally and with others.