i. Research paper done.
ii. Studio day.
iii. Shows with year group
i. Research paper done.
ii. Studio day.
iii. Shows with year group
i. Mostly spent on my research paper. Jo spoke warned us about not neglecting our studio work but I feel so out of my studio practice that I can’t get back into until this essay’s handed. Group crit was fairly positive. People think there’s mileage in the work. Gets a bit wearing having to justify every decision made (colour, framing etc.) Nice to start thinking about getting back into it though…
ii. Following my prize earlier in the year… Bainbridge induction. Went over to sign the contract and have an induction. Positive to get all that time booked in. Forcing me to make. Luke Wade (a Camberwell alumnus who I’ve bumped into a few times) will be there on Wednesday afternoons. A good contact. I’ll try and learn from him.
iii. Symposium 1. Had the Symposium, think my work looked strong. Good to look back over the last year and realise how much progress I’ve made. Some really exciting artists in the year below. Liora and Liliana. Figurative. May be opportunity to exhibit? Also sort of helped me realise again why I make the work I make. About my life.
iv. London with Beth. Mercer Chance, Rachel’s show. Playful, fantastic paintings. May be allegorical or narrative based, but timeless and joyful. Michael’s show is next (will try and catch it but may not be time). I wanted to see Rachel’s show. I like her stance on things. Michael and Geraint are brilliant but tend to have a slightly damning outlook on the world. Also went to Oceania at the Royal Academy. Such a fascinating show! More museological than an art exhibition. Brilliant though.
v. Photographers Gallery. A few of my favourite shows recently have been photography… I need to be more receptive to photography exhibitions. Alex Prager was very filmic. Hitchcock. Narrative driven but you only ever see snapshots. Never know the whole story. (I sort of like that with the pub images, you only know so much.) ‘Documentary photographer Tish Murtha and offers a tender and frank perspective on a historic moment of social deprivation and instability in Britain.’ Ordinary life, quite bleak but also really tender, honest.
i. Back to uni this week… Rereading my project proposal to see where I’m at. Reflecting on my first year and I’m not doing as terribly as I thought. I intended to develop painterly printmaking and continue my monotypes. Which I’ve done. Lithography was a dead end but I’ve managed (with spit bite and sugarlift) to replicate some of the marks in my monotypes, as well as developing the way I make monotypes. I’ll try and keep this journal going regularly again. It’s going to be a busy, but hopefully really exciting, year. Time to up my game a bit but I’m in a strong position to get going. First I need to get this research paper completed. It’s slowly coming together but I’ve still got lots to do.
ii. Geraint’s exhibition opening. Focusing on the everyday, the mundane and turning them into almost altarpieces. Brilliant drawings and observations. An impressive show. My last PV at Mercer Chance.
iii. Venice. It was exhausting, but exciting to get away. Saw some impressive artwork.
iv. Jack Fawdry Tatham. a series of etchings that have been influenced by the natural world, human relationships Fun and technically brilliant. I definitely want to get back into my etching properly. Got somewhere at the end of last year, now it’s time to run with it!
i. Last week I visited All Too Human at the Tate Britain for my third and final time. Although not faultless, it really is a good show. Having stared at and drawn from the enormous Auerbach and Kossoff paintings (again) I'm feeling a real pull to (as mentioned in the last post) up my ambition, push myself and go bigger somehow. I also paid a bit more attention to Michael Andrews' complex Colony Room paintings packed full of people interacting. Andrews believe 'people at parties are not doing anything other than being themselves... Different body languages and postures stand for different ways of engaging with the world, some more controlled and self-aware, others more spontaneous.'
ii. Before the end of my summer holidays I managed to squeeze in a couple more visits to The Three Crowns to draw. I haven't spent as much time at the pub as I intended to this summer. Once my research paper is out the way I can solely focus on this body of work.
iii. The holidays are nearly over. Unfortunately I didn't advance my project as much as I had hoped to but I have made lots of drawings and taken quite a few photographs at the pub which should keep me going in the short term! I had to cancel my Bath Artist Printmakers membership a bit earlier than planned but I have emailed Bainbridge about getting my induction completed as soon as possible. I've also got back in touch with Tom Hammick who said I can visit him for a tutorial before Christmas and Casper White has emailed me about a studio visit either in London or Cardiff. I'm now definitely ready to get back into a routine and get on with some work.
i. I'm over halfway through the summer and I've managed to get quite a lot of work done but, as expected, trying to juggle so many different things (see last post) has meant that its been bitty and sporadic. I spent the last ten days on holiday in Scotland (via Leeds and Manchester) with Becky which was wonderful. It was lovely to get away and just read, walk and draw. I'm off to a festival this weekend and another in a couple of weeks but I'm very aware that I need to get back into my work soon...
ii. We spent our first two days in Scotland at the Edinburgh Fringe and also managed to visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to see Emil Nolde: Colour is Life. Nolde was 'one of the most influential German artists of the twentieth century' but the challenging exhibition doesn't shy away from or excuse the artist’s political beliefs and anti-Semitic views. It was an extraordinary show of brash, raw, colourful paintings and prints of dramatic landscapes, bizarre portraits and raucous bar scenes (which I will look closely at in relation to my own work). I loved it.
iii. On our way back from Scotland we stayed in Manchester specifically to visit Chantal Joffe: Personal Feeling is the Main Thing at The Lowry for my research paper and own interest. It was a brilliant, joyful show of of intimate, awkward and relatable paintings of everyday life. I made pages and pages of drawings and notes as part of my essay research. Before we left for Scotland I emailed Leora the abstract for my research paper and, as well as some criticism and advice, she finished with 'I think you're well on the way'. I feel encouraged and informed and ready to get stuck in.
iv. At the beginning of the summer I left Instagram for a month. I think Instagram is an incredible tool but it's very easy to start comparing yourself to others (specifically those I consider my peers) in terms of quality and output and consequently feeling inadequate and disheartened. The break was useful as on returning to it I felt inspired by playful, confident and exciting work by artists such as Ella Squirrell, Holly Froy and Matthew Cotton. On returning to uni in October I want my work to be bigger, braver and more experimental. Last term, my course-mate Sarah made some really exciting laser-etched woodcuts as part of her interim display. I must talk to her about this process next term - I'd love to see what happens transcribing my quick drawings into large scale woodcuts!
i. To round off the year, Paul Coldwell led a group crit and shared his opinions on the second year final exhibition. He told the second years (and us) not to lose their ambition, to get their work out there ('With every piece of work on display, something may happen. With every piece under your bed, nothing will happen.'), and to figure out where they see themselves in the future (exhibiting, teaching, writing etc.). It was inspiring to see Paul challenge the second years about life after Camberwell and refreshing to see someone in an art school offering advice on the practicalities of a career as an artist.
ii. Uni is finished for the year and the summer holidays have fully arrived! It's going to be a bit of a juggling act trying to manage a social life, driving lessons, visiting exhibitions, painting, drawing at the Three Crowns, using the print studio and working on my research paper. No doubt it'll all come together but it seems a bit manic at the moment!
ii. I've begun collaging and re-working photocopies of my sketchbook drawings from the pub. It's an enjoyable and playful process recreating interactions between locals and working out compositions. These may lead to more drawings, prints or even paintings - but how do I ensure this work doesn't end up too illustrative?
iii. This week I experimented with etching (instead of making monotypes) during my time at Bath Artist Printmakers (I can see this project being comprised of various printmaking processes, drawings and maybe painting). The print below contains elements of sugarlift, soft ground etching and aquatint. It's a bit of a mess technically but contains some exciting mark-making possibilities worth exploring further!
i. The term (and year) finished with a group crit of our interim show led by Dan Howard-Birt (who helped us curate the space a couple of weeks ago). Although the day was not without debate and criticism, I felt my work was well received and that Dan was particularly encouraging. He talked about the important roles pubs play in communities and suggested I not shy away from nostalgia with my imagery (and to look at Hogarth, Edward Ardizzone and Ruskin Spear). Coincidentally, he also mentioned the display by artist Casper White currently at the National Portrait Gallery (that I mentioned here a few weeks ago) - Dan is good friends with White and is going to put me in touch with him and maybe even bring him into uni to give me a tutorial. It was a superb way to finish the term: I feel like I'm onto something and that there's mileage in the work
ii. I had a tutorial with Leora about my research paper on contemporary portraiture (specifically in relation to the work of Chantal Joffe and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye). I have some ideas as to its theme and structure but it all feels very vague and unfocused. Leora suggested I keep reading around the subject for the next few weeks and to try and identify a question by mid-August. I don't think she's too worried about me just yet!
iii. Leora also suggested I look at the book The Everyday (part of the Whitechapel Gallery's Documents of Contemporary Art series) in relation to my research paper as well as my overarching practice. The following quote is from the introduction (I feel like it could be a useful read):
'The rise of the everyday in contemporary art is usually understood in terms of a desire to bring these uneventful and overlooked aspects of lived experience into visibility. For some, this turn to the ordinary leads to a recognition of the dignity of ordinary behaviour, or the act of stating simply, 'here is value.'
- Stephen Johnstone
iii. Thursday evening saw the opening of Camberwell's MA Visual Arts Summer Show. The second year printmaking exhibition was ambitious and bold, the catalogue was stylish and I loved the box set of prints they put together with the tutors and visiting artists. It's reassuring to see the progress the second years have made since October and I can't wait to see how we get on in a year's time!
iv. The second year exhibition is curated and displayed in a very cool and contemporary manner whereas our interim show is understandably a lot more visually straightforward. I know that the tutors work alongside the students to hang the work and I'm wondering how mine will look next year. Casper White's NPG show is a small exhibition of paintings and drawings accompanied by a sculptural element: a scattering of lighting gels that manage to successfully unify the works. How do I exhibit my work in a 'contemporary way' without it coming off as contrived?
v. At the weekend my dad and I managed to visit Rodin and the art of ancient Greece at the British Museum in its closing weeks. Seeing and drawing Rodin sculptures side-by-side with the Elgin Marbles (removed from their plinths and displayed lower and closer than usual) was an incredible experience. I also took dad to see Casper White's display at the National Portrait Gallery - it really is a brilliant show and I can't wait to meet him!
i. This week, instead of going to Camberwell, I went back to Chippenham to start my project about The Three Crowns in earnest. I visited Chippenham Museum and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre to begin looking into its history but either didn't find anything or was unsure where to look. I did, however, find out that local historian Jan Harvey (someone I vaguely know from the pub) is exploring the history of The Three Crowns (using local resources such as the History Centre). I will attempt to meet up with Jan to ask her about her findings. I then spent two evenings at The Three Crowns making some drawings (including during the football).
ii. I took these drawings to Bath Artist Printmakers to attempt to make a new work for the interim display. Because of the imminent interim show I began to rush and the day was unsuccessful. I will have to show the two prints that are already up.
iii. This week I also finished at school for the academic year. I cannot wait to have more time for drawing, reading and visiting exhibitions. I'm off to London next Saturday to see exhibitions by Rodin at the British Museum and possibly Monet at the National Gallery, then later in the summer Emil Nolde and Jenny Saville in Scotland and Chantal Joffe in Manchester.
iv. I was emptying the kiln at work on the last day of term and some of the crude, colourfully glazed objects inside reminded me of the work of sculptor Jesse Wine whose 'playful ceramic objects and still lifes give form to the peculiarities and rituals of the everyday, drawing on our shared experiences.' Last year I visited Sludgy Portrait of Himself at the Museum of Cambridge, an immersive exhibition exploring folklore and tradition which drew together sound, museum artefacts, artworks from Kettle’s Yard’s collection as well as new sculptures by Wine - it was absolutely brilliant. I've only just begun this project and can't think too seriously about its final presentation just yet, but experimenting with sculptural forms and finding interesting things to do installationally could be really exciting - a sudden thought worth recording.
i. We spent Wednesday morning with artist and curator Dan Howard-Birt provisionally curating our interim display with MA Book Arts. It was interesting to find links between, and discuss the curation of, a whole load of quite disparate work. Dan guided us through the process and I think the display will look smart. However I can't help feeling that my work doesn't quite look at home - does it stand out or not fit in?
ii. I went to visit the Royal College of Art 2018 Show. I thought the printmaking exhibition was impressive (painting was underwhelming). A lot of the printmaking work was ambitious and bold especially in its scale and display. I was particularly impressed by the work of Shinyoung Park and Alice Irwin. I aim to be braver and more adventurous with my work heading into my second year and next year's final show.
iii. It's been a productive week: curating the interim display, planning the next few weeks, doing reading and sending emails and letters to Chantal Joffe and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye for the research paper etc. I remember Jo telling us at the beginning of the year that during the degree there would be times of inactivity but I can't help getting frustrated with my lack of making. Next week I'm heading back to the South West to make drawings in the pub and I can't wait. I'm out of practice and feel disconnected from the work. Bring on the summer!
iv. I also finished my etching course at the Royal Drawing School. I may not have made any resolved or impressive works but I have learned lots of little skills (including multi-plate printing, sugar lift, better ways to use colour and a new way of using chin-collé). I've also really enjoyed it and hope that these skills might later appear in my own work or teaching. My tutor, Rossen Daskalov, has an exhibition of prints and paintings at Mercer Chance in a week or two and I will definitely try and visit!
v. What is the contemporary context of, and my rationale for, my work about the pub? Group scenes automatically suggest a narrative and although it's documentary I'm not making reportage illustrations nor do I have a particular point to make. (I've been looking at paintings such as Michael Andrew's Colony Room, Leon Kossoff's swimming pools, Chantal Joffe's fashion week studies as well as the artists below.)
i. I want to clarify my use of the word 'clumsy' in last week's post: I recently listened to the podcast 'The Importance of Being Clumsy' by Jonathan Jones. Jones states that the genius produced by artists Cézanne, Picasso and Auerbach begins in clumsiness and awkwardness and that these artists are 'immersed in the physical world and obsessed by the physical presence of things'.
ii. On Wednesday, I visited the BP Portrait Prize predominantly to see work by Casper White who won last year's BP Travel Award for his proposal to create works about music fans in clubs and concert venues in Berlin and Mallorca. White made paintings of his friends dancing in the nightclubs as well as drawings of them hungover the following day. The body of work is concise, bold and playful, especially in the context of the National Portrait Gallery (the main Portrait Prize exhibition was even more polished, photorealistic and boring than normal). White and I follow each other on Instagram - I might get in touch to ask him about the project over the summer.
iii. I also went to visit Howard Hodgkin: Last Paintings at Gagosian Gallery. These paintings are records of the last moments that really mattered to him and as a result the show was incredibly moving. In 1984 Hodgkin said 'I don't care about mortality in the slightest, but I certainly want to beat time. I certainly want to defy time... the point being that really they should be like memorials, that's what paintings were.' The moments Hodgkin transcribes through paint are gentle, everyday events and these works become quiet, poignant monuments to the life of an extraordinary painter.
iv. Artist Victoria Ahrens gave a talk about her practice which deals with political and historical narratives as well as the physical nature of printmaking. Ahren's practice and PHD is particularly research-heavy. I'm not sure my work will ever be so intellectual/complicated but if I'm going to continue making work about The Three Crowns (which has been a pub since the early 18th Century) then undertaking some historical research about the town, the pub and the people could be an interesting starting point. I'm not sure what this would necessarily add to the project but perhaps that's the point.
v. I had my final tutorial of the year with Jo who seems encouraging about my current work. Next week I'm heading back to Chippenham for a couple of days to start the project by make some drawings in the pub, speaking to the landlord and visiting Chippenham Museum and Wiltshire History Centre. I hope that by October I will have a wealth of source material to draw upon (drawings, photographs, interviews etc.). I now know what I want to do and am eager to get on and do it!
vi. Jo also suggested I be braver with my printmaking and drawing and to consider not always being limited by the conventions of the rectangle. Specifically she mentioned visiting an impressive drawing by Patrick Metcalfe in the Camberwell BA Show (made as 'a recognition of the privilege afforded... as white, British male' full of images of colonialism and popular culture). Ignoring the interesting and complicated subject-matter, it was presented as a sprawling, large-scale, sculptural work. I aim to make a new print for the interim show in a couple of weeks' time and intend to be more playful and experimental in its making and display.
vii. Tom Hammick is currently Artist in Residence at The Seventy-First Aldeburgh Festival of Music and The Arts. I've been enjoying his recent posts on Instagram such as the beautiful presentation of works below and a small series of works about the sea made as part of his residency. I want to approach the creation of a body of work (in my case about the pub) in a similar fashion. Back in February Tom invited me to his studio for a tutorial but was then (understandably) too busy with a solo show to see me. I will get back in touch with him next term to reschedule once I have a pile of works to discuss.
i. I spent the vast majority of this week hanging the school's end of year art exhibition which unfortunately meant that I didn't get into Camberwell and had little time for anything else. However, the exhibition is strong and I'm proud to look at all the students' work from this year. Now that it's done I can focus on my studies again.
ii. I did manage to get into London on Thursday afternoon to visit the Bainbridge Open on its penultimate day. It was an excellent show and I particularly enjoyed prints by Alice Macdonald, Euphrosyne Andrews, Juliet Scott and David Ferry (who taught printmaking in my first year at Cardiff). I've found it reassuring and inspiring to see my recent work exhibited (and holding its own) in the context of contemporary figurative art (at Mercer Chance in March) and now contemporary printmaking.
iii. I also met up with Lucy Bainbridge (Founding Director of Bainbridge Print Studios) about my prize: a membership with Bainbridge Print Studios and use of their facilities whenever I want for a year! I will probably start in September/October and use it on Wednesday afternoons/evenings when the studios are shut at university (at the very least). This should allow me to keep up with the making time that I miss on Tuesdays and could be an enormous help as I head into my second year.
iv. I have been experimenting with multi-plate, multi-colour printing at my etching class at the Royal Drawing School. Surprisingly, my favourite print was taken from a plate originally intended to add tone to the first (printed in blue with a surface roll of flesh pink). I think my painterly marks using sugar lift are a lot more interesting than simple line drawings.
v. I spent Sunday afternoon in Oxford and visited the Ruskin's BFA and MFA Degree Shows which was full of bad video art and installations. There were some substantial and engaging sculptural installations but almost no printmaking, painting or drawing. Really underwhelming.
vi. I also visited A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings at Modern Art Oxford. These drawings communicated some fascinating ideas, were beautifully presented and highly skilful. However, I find the precise photorealism prevalent in contemporary drawing cold and uninteresting - I prefer my drawing (and perhaps all artwork) to be clumsy, honest and human.
i. On Tuesday afternoon I went to visit Artists First, a group of 16 disabled visual artists with learning difficulties based in Bristol. Artists First has been working together since 1988 and to mark its anniversary has been looking back and making artwork about the people and events that have shaped it over the years. We talked about our work and the reason artists make portraits. The possibility of me returning to run a printmaking workshop was discussed. I had a really good afternoon.
ii. I recently rejoined Bath Artists Printmakers for the summer and, because I was already in the South West, decided that I'd get more done there than at Camberwell this week. I made a couple of large monotypes (experimenting with layering and collage based on drawings and photographs of the The Three Crowns. It was fun, playful and a step in the right direction but it quickly became apparent that I need to make a lot more drawings and gather new source material over the summer. It could be a really exciting project.
iii. Whilst I was at Bath Artist Printmakers the editor of Pressing Matters visited about a possible feature about the group in the future. He chatted to me about printmaking and took some photographs of my work. I need to remember to get in touch with him about future exhibitions/next year's degree show.
iv. I spent the weekend exhibiting in the Whiteknights Studio Trail, an arts trail in Reading sponsored by the University of Reading. It was pretty boring but I did sell a couple of pieces...
v. Unfortunately, because I was hanging work for Whiteknights on the Friday night I was unable to get into London for the private view of the Bainbridge Open and have since been informed that I won the Bainbridge Print Prize! I will visit the show next Thursday to find out what the prize is. I am surprised and obviously delighted.
i. On Wednesday we had a meeting to present and discuss our initial ideas for the research paper. Jo often asks me to question the contemporary relevance of portraiture and, as such, I have decided that I want to write my essay about two of the field's leading artists: Chantal Joffe and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. It was suggested that I try to arrange interviews with both artists (coincidentally someone on my course told me that Chantal Joffe is her neighbour!) and, although I need to specify a question in the next few weeks, the general ideas were well-received and encouraged.
ii. The majority of Thursday was taken up with Symposium 2: a series of presentations by the second years about their current practices. It was fascinating and reassuring to see how much their work had developed and moved on since the first symposium back in October.
iii. The symposium also reiterated the need to develop a 'project' (more specific and outward-looking than just portraits of friends and family) in order for my practice to have a focus and a purpose for the duration of the MA. On Tuesday I made a quick monotype of Jake from a trip to the pub last weekend and, reflecting on my tutorial with Emma Stibbon last week, have devised a plan for the next few months (although it could end up lasting longer). I am quite itinerant at the moment (one of the reasons my work has been so all over the place) and yet my local pub the Three Crowns is somewhere that I have a real fondness for, regularly make a point of visiting and have made a few works about before. The Three Crowns is a traditional community pub full of weird and wonderful regulars and, in the same way that Alice Neel depicted the citizens of her New York neighbourhood or Leon Kossoff painted his son's swimming pool, a series of works based on its everyday goings-on and inhabitants might be a project that I can really get my teeth into over the summer.
iv. I then went to visit and draw from Teniers the Younger's A Man holding a Glass and an Old Woman lighting a Pipe at the National Gallery in a room devoted to 'Scenes of Everyday Life'. I can't wait to further explore Dutch tavern paintings, Michael Andrews' paintings of the Colony Room or contemporary paintings and prints of pubs and bars by artists such as Alice Macdonald and Ben Westley Clarke. Contextually it is going to be a rich and exciting project!
v. I have arranged to rejoin Bath Artist Printmakers next week and plan to spend two long days next week churning out some initial monotypes based on photographs and sketchbook drawings of the Three Crowns.
i. Emma Stibbon RA came in to give a talk about her practice. Emma travels around the world (often on residencies) making prints and drawings that explore our fragile relationship with the landscape. I had a brilliant tutorial with her and asked about how I might think about my practice as both individual projects and a wider whole. Emma suggested I not worry about the bigger picture yet (after all, she did show twenty years' work in an hour's talk) and to just get as much out of Camberwell as I can whilst I am here. She also suggested (after looking at my work) that it might be a good idea to continue making pictures of ordinary people in contemporary and everyday situations (such as my Three Crowns monotypes).
ii. I was lucky enough to attend the memorable event 'Paul Coldwell in conversation with William Kentridge' being held at Camberwell last week. The talk focused on Kentridge's approach to printmaking and how it has informed his wider practice. He was gentle, articulate and hugely inspiring: it was a superb evening.
iii. I spent Thursday in the etching workshop developing a small sketchbook drawing into a finished print using sugar lift, aquatint, spit bite and soft ground etching. It was fun just making marks, playing with techniques and developing a new vocabulary. Although it's just a small etching it's a step forward: I felt a lot happier in etching (rather than lithography) and these techniques can definitely be pushed further.
i. I was feeling a bit worried about going back to uni this week (I didn't realise I was so anxious until starting this MA...) because of the forthcoming interim exhibition, research paper and symposium. However the research paper isn't due until October, the interim 'display' (not exhibition!) only consists of one work each, and we are only an audience for the symposium. I also went for coffee with second year student Leah for reassurance and advice. She suggested that she had felt like this last year and that it's completely normal.
ii. I took part in a group crit where I explained that I was putting aside processes (such as lithography) to focus on making and developing etchings and monotypes (which was encouraged). However I still feel a certain pressure to define 'a project' or find a specific focus so that my work isn't too vague and all over the place. I am unsure if this pressure is coming from the tutors or myself.
iii. The poster and list of exhibiting artists for the Bainbridge Open was revealed. I was delighted to see my name in the company of several artists that I really admire such as Alice Macdonald and Professor David Ferry (who taught printmaking in my first year at Cardiff). I can't wait to see my work in the context of a show devoted to contemporary printmaking.
i. In the run up to its opening, London Original Print Fair shared a series of 'Everything you've ever wanted to know about...' videos featuring Mike Taylor (who we met at Pauper's Press) demonstrating a variety of printmaking processes. After watching the video below I really want to make etchings again.
ii. I really enjoyed my Thursday evening etching class this week. Our tutor Rossen helped me develop my initial drypoint (and begin another etching) with hard ground and aquatint. None of the techniques are new to me but being encouraged to push and develop a plate further and further feels really exciting and liberating - I'd forgotten how much I enjoy etching!
iii. In my initial project proposal I wrote that I will 'continue figurative printmaking... with expressive and painterly drawing methods... and will try new approaches such as lithography and painterly etching.' One of my main objectives for the MA was to get a lot better technically. Unfortunately I've come to the realisation that I could spend two years making lithographs and, because of its technical difficulty, not be that good at it. Reflecting on my practice as a whole, I've realised that I spend too much time trying out different processes (bronze casting, woodcut, lithography etc.) in not enough depth. If I spent the next year-and-a-half developing my etching (something I'm already fairly proficient at and did intend to do at Camberwell) I could get really good.
iv. I bought Martin Gayford's new book Modernists & Mavericks which illustrates 'the development of painting in London from the Second World War to the 1970s' through the work of various artists including Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin. I like the way Gayford writes and I love those artists - I can't wait to read it!
v. I visited Tacita Dean: PORTRAIT at the National Portrait Gallery (the gallery's first exhibition devoted entirely to film). The show mostly consists of 16mm films of artists such as David Hockney, Cy Twombly and Julie Mehretu (individuals are depicted sitting, working and talking). The videos are quiet, unassuming and, despite not a lot actually happening, incredibly intimate.
i. Last Thursday I visited the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy. I (unsurprisingly) enjoyed the etchings by Auerbach and Freud at the Marlborough stand and thought the colourful landscape etchings by 93-year-old Etel Adnan were gorgeous. My friend Tom Cartmill won a prize earlier in the year to create, edition and sell a print with Rabley Drawing Centre which was probably the best curated stand in the Fair (including memorable works by Sadie Tierney, Katherine Jones and Emma Stibbon). Overall it was an exciting and impressive display of printmaking but, because of the quantity, it quickly become too much to take in (much like the Summer Exhibition). The works that stood out were usually big, bold and brash such as Tom Hammick's woodcuts and monotypes or William Kentridge's etchings - how do I get my work to stand out in a room full of prints?
ii. I will be exhibiting my monotype Mum in the Bainbridge Open 2018. The print-only exhibition aims to show 'the diversity and breadth of contemporary print-based art practice today' so is a particularly good show for me to be a part of. I look forward to seeing how my work looks in this setting.
iii. On Sunday morning I received an email notifying me that I’ve been elected as a member of the Bath Society of Artists. The Bath Society of Artists was founded in 1904 and artists who have been members or have exhibited with them in the past include Walter Sickert, William Scott, Patrick Heron and Mary Fedden. It was completely unexpected and I am thrilled.
iv. Although I'm not happy with a lot of my most recent output, it's been encouraging to exhibit, sell and win an award for artworks that I made in the last year or two (fairly recent by art standards). It's a good reminder that I can definitely get back to that place and use this third term at Camberwell productively.
i. It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I'm back at school and trying to focus on what my practice is about and get as organised and prepared as possible for starting the final term of my first year at Camberwell. It's sort of working, but I've still got lots to figure out.
ii. I managed to pop into Tom Hammick's brilliant exhibition Lunar Voyage at Flowers Gallery, a series of seventeen woodcuts that recount an imagined journey to the moon and back. The prints themselves are bold, colourful, fun and yet somehow melancholy and lonely. I particularly love how Hammick makes his prints feel as immediate and important as large-scale paintings. Although he is also a painter, his monograph describes his particular love for printmaking: 'printmaking puts an image in touch with its status as an object in a way that oils as a medium may not, with all their seductions and high aspirations. Ink remains ink: 'the materials have their own authority...''
iii. I started my Thursday Evening Etching course at the Royal Drawing School. We began with drypoint and I had a brilliant time playing around with mark-making and image-making without feeling the pressures of deadlines and crits. I am so happy to be at Camberwell but it has affected my approach to making. I hope I can carry the enjoyment and freedom from this course into the print rooms at Camberwell.
iv. Before the etching course I visited Holly Froy's fantastic exhibition Fasting & Feasting. Holly writes about the title of the exhibition: 'The idea of fasting and feasting applies not only to rituals surrounding food and its stories - an abundance and then a drought - but also to an imbalance or lop-sidedness, a series of peaks and troughs that relate to ideas and processes.'
This description (and the exhibition itself) interested and reassured me: I met Holly at a party/exhibition just over a year ago and remember her describing feeling frustrated and inhibited at the Royal Drawing School. Yet her current show is so exciting, a release of creativity and pleasure in image-making having left the school. One of my most productive and fertile times for making art happened in the year after I left Cardiff. Perhaps this feeling of frustration and confusion is ubiquitous to all art schools and perhaps this creative freedom (a result of everything learned) only realises itself afterwards.
v. I am daunted by the coming term at Camberwell which will involve an interim show (which I feel wholly unprepared for) and the main written component of the course. I know my essay will be about portraiture and have been trying to get as much research done now in preparation. I accidentally/fortunately stumbled upon a crumpled bit of paper on which I had scrawled a superb quote by Martin Gayford a few years ago: 'This brings out a wider point about portraits. Sometimes we are interested in them because of whom they depict... Very often, however, we neither know nor care... It is, if you think about it, a remarkable fact that we can be so impressed and involved by representations of people long dead, of whose names and lives we know nothing. The reason, perhaps, is that we see in their features what we know about people: friends, family, acquaintances.'
vi. The above quote is affirmed by an article from yesterday's Guardian about photographer Siân Davey who documented the coming-of-age of her step-daughter Martha in a series of candid and poignant photographs. Davey describes the photograph After the Swim (iii): 'She is looking straight back at me, and for the first time I was really struck by the similarities between us. I felt very moved. There’s something in her direct gaze, and in the way she holds herself that reminds me of me.'
i. I spent two sunny days in London. Day one was to see Big Thief with my friend and fellow artist Beth. Before the gig we popped into Whitechapel Gallery to see Chantal Joffe's new series of colourful, small-scale paper collages, which will later be enlarged to form a permanent mural at Whitechapel station. These cutout figures (some collaged, some painted) were about the same size as my monotypes and were intimate and fun and must have been made quickly and spontaneously. I need to lose this anxiety about making work that seems to have developed and start enjoying playing with ideas and experimenting with materials again.
ii. On my second day in London I (re)visited All Too Human with dad. I enjoyed the show more this time having had time to reflect on the work and read the catalogue. The following are quotes from essays in the catalogue that I found useful:
'The artists in this exhibition have spent their lives trying to... pin down the intensity of a lived moment, of reality... despite the speed of contemporary life, or perhaps because of it, an increasing number of artists now... try and capture their experience of it.'
'Figurative painting has moved beyond needing to prove itself as a valid medium at every turn. Finally it coexists with authority alongside more recent trends in contemporary art, such as performance and photography.'
'I can only work from people and places that I know and love. This is my purpose. I need to be aware of where I am in my life and to consider what is most important and relevant to me at this present moment.'
iii. I'm starting an evening etching course at the Royal Drawing School with my friend Jon in a couple of weeks. I was worried I wouldn't have time to squeeze this in, but I like the idea of having two-and-a-half hours a week of structured teaching to ease me back into etching. I think it's ok for me to just keep playing with processes for this first year - I just want to learn as much as possible.
i. Not only did I get two prints in the Bath Society of Artists show but I also won the Harry Walker Young Artists Prize for my portrait of Becky. Both prints on show were made from life at Bath Artist Printmakers a couple of years ago and, when I rejoin in the summer, want to continue them as a series. I'm particularly proud of these two portraits and am delighted to have them hanging on the walls of the Victoria Art Gallery for the next couple of months. I attended the opening night and prize-giving with Becky, mum and dad and then went out for a meal - a really lovely evening.
ii. I attended a talk by Jon Benington on Howard Hodgkin's relationship with Bath and the Victoria Art Gallery - a fascinating and personal insight into the life of a very private man. I was particularly pleased to find out that the first piece of artwork Hodgkin exhibited was as part of the Bath Society of Artists show in the 1950s.
iii. I received my Mid Point Review feedback. It was neither particularly good or bad but did raise some interesting points.
'You should consider the difference between the self-portrait and the other-portrait. You discuss connections and there is more here to unpack. How do we connect to our own reflection? When drawing ‘strangers’ we don’t draw a reflection of them like we do of ourselves, but rather we see them how they cant see themselves.
You must try to liberate yourself from anxiety of making and try things that don’t work as well as celebrate successes. There is also digital language and contemporary discourse around the ‘selfie’ that you should explore further – try digital methods to see what is allows.
You have received a lot of varied feedback so far throughout the academic year. You must now reflect on this and consider how you move forward through this feedback, filtering and defining a deeper personal direction.'
It's certainly true that I need to figure out how to develop and engage further with my proposal. I will look into the above and really consider my direction ready for next term.
iv. I'm delighted (and relieved) to have some time off from both school and uni. I have spent the first week working on a portrait of retiring headmaster Nigel (commissioned by the school) ready for the end of the academic year. I think it's sometimes worth remembering that these things are not side projects but valid and important aspects of the same emerging artistic practice/career.