i. I ended up having an impromptu tutorial with artist Paul Coldwell. He suggested that I start the MA by considering a set of values shared by artists, musicians, writers and thinkers that have some resonance with my own work and beliefs. So not only am I looking at visual artists but considering what qualities songs or books could share with my artistic practice. This blog will be a way to consider this.
He also suggested I be confident and bold with my printmaking: 'if you’re going to make print your main field, there’s no point doing it half heartedly.' We talked about the physicality of Auerbach and suggested that the physical activity of making woodcuts could lead to an intensity, directness and unpredictability to provide an exciting new direction for my work. On Paul's advice, I have booked to see a Baselitz woodcut (amongst others) in a couple of weeks at the Tate Prints and Drawings Room.
ii. I also had a tutorial with Jo Love. As well as considering what processes I will explore, Jo told me to read around what portraiture is doing right now. Why do I use the people around me? What do I want the viewer to think about? All Too Human opens at the Tate Britain in February and will show the work of artists ‘who found new ways of depicting people, places, feelings and relationships…and how contemporary artists continue to express the tangible reality of life.' This exhibition may prove integral to my research question. I have also borrowed several books on the subject from the library to read over the Christmas break.
iii. I made the print below after a recent screenprinting induction. The printing process was satisfyingly quick and I managed to print a small edition in under two hours. Although I think it's unlikely that screenprint will become a big part of my practice, it could become an exciting tool in conjunction with other processes. It was nice to be making work and I may explore it further once I'm in a more organised studio routine.
iv. I went to the opening night of exhibition The Ruin of Man by Michael Chance at Mercer Chance, a gallery he runs with his partner Rachel Mercer. I had also been to Rachel's exhibition Lady Garden a couple of weeks before. Although their treatment of paint, surface and colour are very different, at its most basic their subject matter is similar: they both quietly and poetically explore their thoughts and feelings about humanity. Although my subject matter is very literal - the people and places around me - they both inspire me to be more playful and imaginative with my imagery. I also found the following quote (taken from an essay Michael wrote for his show) reassuring as I fumble about trying to find direction and purpose for my practice at the beginning of this degree:
'These are some of the tentative conclusions that I arrive at through making paintings. That may seem odd, but for me, painting really is a way of provoking ideas by feeling around in the dark. It’s important to note that (unlike this essay) in almost every case the paintings come first and ideas second; I never set out to illustrate a concept.
The images that make up an artist’s oeuvre, or a particular body of work brought together for an exhibition, form a constellation; each one shines alone, and their point of origin may be millions of miles apart, but if we see them as a related group, and gaze at them long enough, a shape will emerge. One person might see an archer, another a bull, a teapot, or a dancing couple. The artist is primarily concerned with making each star shine in its own way, and trusts that a larger pattern will emerge in time.'
I am grateful to Rachel and Michael for supporting me in my emerging practice. I exhibited at their gallery in 2016 as part of a group show of prints and drawings that allowed me to exhibit and test my monotypes for the first time in a gallery setting. I will be curating a group exhibition of self-portraits at the gallery in Spring next year. It is a fantastic, exciting and slightly daunting opportunity and I look forward to working with them in the coming months.