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.'