Reflections on tutor report for Major Project assignment 5

A relief to have got to this point and pleased that M. senses that through the course I have managed to define my practice, which is something I feel. Through my practical work, alongside my contextual studies, I do feel as though I have found a way to work that brings a number of interests together. During the tutorial whilst looking at my potential submission there were a number of issues around presentation and detail that M. flagged up that may benefit from further attention if possible before submitting.

‘That’s just how it is…’

These paintings, as we discussed, are pretty much ready to go. So no adjustments but will be careful to protect the surfaces as I pack them up.

‘Something, but Nothing’

M. felt that the photos I had selected, particularly as I intend them to form documentation of the work, gave little sense of context, so I have re-shot these. I took the sculpture outside where the lighting was better and you are better able to get an impression of its size. It also occurred to me that it relates better to the ‘garden space’ which is where much of my practice has occurred.

With comments M. made in mind with regard giving directions for viewing the works I have made an additional short video for the work, ‘Something, but Nothing’, to illustrate my intension on how the sculpture and video might be experienced together, with the use of a projector. I found that physically setting up a potential viewing experience was a really useful exercise, and did extend what I had envisioned into a bigger experience. I found myself projecting the video much larger than I had imagined. This did effect the impact of the sculpture within the space, it made me wonder if it had become lost, but in-fact for me it seemed to emphasise the idea of ‘something, but nothing’ even more. I was also drawn to looking at the sculpture and the shadow it created which also made me think ‘is the sculpture something, and the shadow nothing?’ I felt that the pieces were working together on a number of levels. Whilst experimenting with the projector I set up a ‘screen’ using horticultural fleece (also reflective of the garden space) which worked really well, as it created a good surface where the video could be viewed, but its translucent qualities allowed the projection to pass through and be viewed as a larger projection on the wall behind, creating a multi-layered space with movement.

Through extending this work in this way it became apparent that the scenario I have created illustrates the potential of the work in an exhibition space, but also highlights that the full realization of the piece can only come about as I work into the Professional Practice module and locate a suitable viewing platform, which might require some final adjustments.

‘There are no words’

During my final tutorial we spoke about how this work might be viewed. My earlier thoughts was that it could be viewed in a number of ways, but I think I have come to think of it being presented as a pile of 16 sheets- it is a book of absence, each sheet contains an element of absence, but for the viewer only the surface is visible- for me this relates to idea that in absence there are many, many layers of loss felt- gaps, traces, memories- and no-one looking on can fully know the depths of that loss, but only see the surface that is presented.

In conversation with M. we spoke also about giving it more of a sense of being and lifting it away from the everyday. I have created a wooden (oak) base for the pages to sit on which works well. Ideally I would like to have made a base of wood from a willow tree, but it is not a wood that is available in planks. The wood that I sourced is from off-cuts at a local wood yard, which I like to think of as making use of something other wise considered as a by-product (or waste).

‘It has come to this…’

In many ways this group of work has created the most challenges in terms of how to best present to fully convey the nature of the work. I had been thinking that I would be presenting these mostly through documentation, particularly as the large ‘trace drawings’ each measure 150 x 150 cms and are rolled up. During my final tutorial M. and I discussed the pros and cons of getting the actual works to Barnsley- the benefits of assessors getting a ‘real’ sense of the works despite potential damage by viewing them, against the logistics of getting them there and how travel might effect them, also divergence from assessment guidelines. We concluded that if I could get them there it may be of benefit, particularly as I have fully documented them photographically. M. emphasised the importance of negotiating with the OCA as large rolled up pieces do deviate from assessment guidelines. So, I did speak with Joanne at OCA who reassured me that, particularly as it was part of my final submission, it would be OK. Somehow being reassured about this has enabled other things to almost slot into place.

So I will package the 3 trace drawings with instructions/guidance on how they might best be viewed, along with the wooden pieces and bulldog clips that I used in the video that illustrates the process and hanging. I would also add that I am aware that the viewing could potentially damage the surface, they have been documented and serve to illustrate potential works that could be made as a performative aspect of exhibiting my work at/in a suitable viewing platform, as described in my Projection of Potential Scenario of making Trace Drawings in exhibition space.

During the tutorial we spoke about how best to convey a sense of the works, so as I thought about the ‘floor works’ which no longer exist- they are pieces that are part of the process that culminate in the ‘Trace drawings’, so now only exist as photographic documentation and fragments of charcoal from the making. So, the photographs of the 3 floor work I have had printed up to the approximate size they were in reality, and these could be placed on the floor to give a sense of how they might be experienced from above. To add to the sense of how they might have been experienced I have made an additional short video that takes a closer look at the surface of one of the works, which gives a better sense of the charcoal landscape. I shall also include some samples of the charcoal made during the process.

Photographically some of the photos that I proposed as possible submissions to document certain works did show some inconsistencies across the group, down to slight colour cast- I have already given these some attention in photoshop since the tutorial, and have been able to achieve what appears to be a slightly better finish, but this does highlight the issues around the quality of documentation if you are going to work with ephemerality.

Artist Statement

On discussion M. felt that my statement does give a good sense of my work, but might benefit from being a little more specific about the media I have worked with, so I shall make some adjustments to reflect this. She also spoke about how I might enhance the statement visually to give a better sense of the whole process of growing willow, the garden as studio, the greenhouse as laboratory, through to the process of making charcoal and subsequent drawings, paintings and documentation. With this in mind I have gone through my significant archive of photographs and created 2 photo-collages that I hope illuminate ‘The time of presence’ and ‘The time of absence’, as alluded to in my statement. I will call this my visual statement.

Overall I do think that feedback from my final assignment has been very helpful in terms of thinking more about and trying out ideas around presentation and viewing which have resulted in changes from my original intentions. As I prepare for assessment I shall also try to think carefully about the supporting work that I send too to help further reflect the nature my practice has taken. I have aimed to record the various aspects through my blog, and given a flavour of these in the gallery I have created there.

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