i. This week we began Unit 2 in earnest and, as such, I’ve left a small gap after the end of Unit 1 which means that this post is quite large and encompasses two week’s worth of information. Unit 2 is defined by the Assessment Brief as ‘the resolution and presentation of your work according to your Project Proposal’ and, although we’ve been told to keep experimenting and not to start making for a show, we are being encouraged to begin testing the presentation of work and consider where it might be going. At this stage I can’t see my path changing radically (I will make work about the pub for the duration of the MA) but, through making, reading and discourse hope to go deeper with my research in order to create an exciting and resolved body of work.
ii. In my tutorial and subsequent feedback, Paul Coldwell told me that my drawings are ‘complete’ and to be careful not to simply copy them. Although I understand his point, the artists I admire (Bonnard, Auerbach, Kossoff etc.) are able to use their quick drawings as an intermediate stage to larger, more impressive works. Tom Hammick often transforms tiny, notational sketchbook drawings into bold, concise prints. I believe I have the ability to do something more with my drawings than merely increase the scale of them.
iii. I’ve spent a lot of time at Bainbridge Print Studios and the Camberwell workshops transcribing my observational sketches into etchings. After my initial excitement, etching with aluminium at Bainbridge turned out to be quite frustrating: it’s not as clean as zinc and a lot of foul biting occurred (although I was rushing somewhat). At Camberwell, I slowed down and simplified the imagery, etching bold lines and shapes to denote body language and suggest narrative. Inspired by Tom Hammick’s etchings I also incorporated chine-collé. There’s still a lot of improvements to make but I’m having fun and can see myself making several prints in this manner.
iv. Between 1963-65, Richard Diebekorn made a book of prints, 41 Etchings and Drypoints. He took zinc plates home and drew, from life, still lifes of the breakfast table, landscapes through the window and portraits of his wife reading. Through their simplicity, immediacy and cropped compositions, Diebekorn offers us quiet, intimate snapshots of his home-life. Before the end of term I plan to prepare some hard ground plates to take to the pub over Christmas to work on directly.
iv. On Thursday afternoon I travelled over to the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair. It was a really strong show of contemporary printmaking featuring lots of familiar names and some brilliant work (Sadie Tierney, Jake Garfield, Paul Wardski and others). However, there’s a polite, technical, neatness found in a lot of printmaking which I find pretty boring - I liked the clumsy, painterly monotypes (by Marguerite Carnec, Daisy Jarrett, Tamsin Relly) best. I don’t want my prints to look too perfect and want the process to be clumsily visible.
v. This week also saw the opening of a group exhibition at London College of Fashion. Because of assessment deadlines and an attempt to please everyone, the show ended up with no real title, a boring poster and next to no advertising. I enjoyed hanging it with everyone and the show looked good but if we had let one person curate the show, rather than attempting to organise it democratically, I think we would have had a much braver and exciting exhibition. We’re putting on another group show in January which I think will be stronger.
vi. A few weeks ago I received an email from painter India Bunce about my research paper (she wrote her dissertation on a very similar subject). Although I haven’t received my formal feedback yet, India read my essay and sent me the following message of encouragement:
‘Hi Sam! I am soo sorry it has been almost 10 days since you sent the paper. I have just finally found time to read through and it is great! I’m just reading it a third time ha. Feeling inspired and encouraged to paint - having a week of mega doubts about everything I’m working on (as per!). Such brilliant observations and research about LYB and Joffe’s work and how figurative art is seen right now. Love how you highlighted the value of painting everyday human experience. You clearly unpacked various subjects that I found really hard to concisely put into words - particularly about how portraiture has been dismissed as irrelevant but now it’s back on the scene. Thank you so much for letting me read, so interesting and encouraging!’
vii. On Friday I went to the pub with artist Seb Thomas. Seb graduated from MA Printmaking at Camberwell the year before I started and now also lives in Reading. It was brilliant (and reassuring) to talk to him about his experiences on the course (as well as about music, film and art). Seb’s advice was not to worry about fitting in with the work of my peers and to stick to my guns and not change too radically. He likes my work and we discussed the possibility of show in Reading next year. A really good evening.