i. The following is an abridged transcript from the discussion of my work (below left) from the Mid Point Review last week.
Jack: I find it quite ghostly. Especially her gaze. You don’t know where she’s looking. Of course there’s a lot of portraiture about the eyes. It could just be a human form. It’s slightly abstracted.
Gill: I think it’s really strong. It holds the wall. It could go anywhere and it would dominate the space. It’s a powerful image. Part of the power is that it’s unclear. There’s a strong emotion, a feeling of sadness. Yet it feels quick and extremely lively and there’s a tremendous charge.
Ellen: I find it harder to emotionally connect to as much as I do to your other pictures. I find it distancing. It feels cold. I don’t know if I want to know who it is. Your other ones are a lot more human.
Jo: This one, for me, is anonymous yet I can connect with it. There’s something about longing, something so personal. The element of collage is like you’ve said ‘it wasn’t like that, it was like this’. There’s an honesty to that.
Me: I don’t think it’s particularly successful. I don’t think I’m trying to make a sad image. Normally when I make these portraits, I normally have them face-on in that pretty straightforward artist-sitter thing. That idea of separation or turning away probably just comes from the composition. I’m glad that no one talked too much about process or technique. I think one of my biggest frustrations this term is that I thought I was just going to strike upon a technique that was going to resolve my work. I’ve tried all these things and thought I’d just find something that I’d been missing all these years. So now I’m trying to think about the picture itself, the image. It’s not working yet. It’s not meant to be sad, I can see why it would be considered allusive and dark and moody but it’s not meant to be like that. I wish I could’ve shown the exhibition piece. That’s the most successful artwork I’ve made in a while, it’s a very different image, it’s got a sense of honesty, intimacy and playfulness.
Leora: Well it’s really useful to have the contrast then. To see the two different ways of working. So great: that’s not what you want to do. However we all thought it was quite strong. It has this presence. You have this great ability with paint, the way you can relate to the figure, to people.
ii. I continued with lithography this week (having been scared off after tutorials with Katherine Jones and Tom Hammick). I made a silly image of Becky and I in our underwear as a response to the suggestion that my work is moody and sad. I feel that mark-making with tusche and litho crayons could allow for a similar vocabulary to that of my drawings and monotypes. I didn't have time to print from my stone but will continue experimenting next term.
iii. Grayson Perry came in to talk to Camberwell students about his practice and about working in the arts. It was unsurprisingly silly but, amidst the irreverence, he said some really meaningful and inspiring things:
'When you're at art school, have a go at everything.'
'People go to galleries to see real things. Make things. I went to art college because I enjoyed making art.'
'Don't be faux-naive. Literally be as good as you can be.'
'You are of your time. Don't be afraid to make art about now. Make art about things you really care about.’
iv. I hate that I sound so downbeat when I talk about my work. When I saw my work on the walls of Mercer Chance or when I've shown my website in tutorials, I feel confident about it - I know I can make good things! I need to utilise the next eight weeks and really prepare for next term: I need to make a lot of drawings and catch up with my contextual research. I'm currently reading Bob Dylan's autobiography. Referring to the beginning of his career Dylan writes: 'I had grasped the idea of what kind of songs I wanted to write, I just didn't know how to do it yet.' I have to be optimistic that all this fiddling about in the print room will, in time, lead to strong and successful work.
v. I found out that two of my favourite prints will be exhibited in the annual Bath Society of Artists exhibition. Katherine Jones is this year's invited artist and I look forward to seeing more of her work. A good way to finish the term.