Big things / no things



Three days in a project space which used to be a Morgue in this buildings history. Cool quiet and calm. I booked it with the intention of trying out some multiples on a larger scale than I can do in my own studio but after the last tutorial I had with Sadie Murdoch, I went off the multiples plan. Instead I gathered a lot of scrap metal and rolls of the cheapest felt underlay and piled in with them.
As they started to take their places in the space, the cut down water tanks, the wires and the textured coloured felt began to look less chaotic, and started talking to each other.
Since I have stopped telling my work what it should be saying and started listening to what it seems to say on its own, I have let go a lot of control. This is a great weight off my shoulders, but also really anxiety ridden. There is no way I would have trusted the space or my colleagues with work like this when I began this course, it’s really quite intimate inviting people you hardly know into your working space. It’s work it for hearing from them what the work is managing to say to them. Tutuorial notes on space to follow.

Atelier Berlin @WYE




Working from old postcards and a German decimal weights and measures brass can. It’s taken me nearly 5 days to ‘arrive’ here. Not used to so much space to think. Good to know for next time, wonder if there is a way to prepare for unplugging like this. The residency in Joya was quieter in some ways but still relatively structured. Being autonomous here is great, it just took a long time to remember what it feels like. Almost child-like with all this thinking space.

The thrill of the new

At first it was terrifying and very odd to be showing work to our peers (and tutors) which we had never tried before, but as the evening kicked off it was actually exhilarating. It was more fun than I’ve had a lot of the other shows I’ve been involved in.
Firstly, looking around at the work it was clear to see who had made what, based on what you knew about their main practice. It was fascinating to see it filtered through into something else.
Secondly, it was really liberating, not being so attached to the work, not allowing yourself to take it too seriously – if it was slated, you could easily say to yourself that it didn’t count as it wasn’t really your work. What I never expected was the positive reception, the not-slating.
So as the evening wore on, I finally began to get it. The whole point of the exercise. The rocket up the arse.
It was extremely liberating to try something new. Having been encouraged at the beginning of the course to focus, I realised that this could just as easily mean to focus the ideas as the medium. The practice itself can be varied. This seems so blindingly obvious now I’m almost embarrassed to not have thought of it before.
Another thing which occurred to me was the role I play in the institution of an art school. At the very beginning Brian Chalkley reminded us that we are actually artists, not students. This suddenly flattened the pitch, effectively making us all peers. So why remain so beholden to tutors as figures to seek approval from, rather than relating to them and their critique as with all the other people in the same room.
My terrifying painting was likened to an early Ben Nicholson. My copper work so far was described as worthy. Those descriptions feel like huge compliments and damning condemnation at the same time. I’m quite proud of myself as I watch myself rise to the challenge they lay down.


Still life research

Upcoming show at the Cookhouse, Chelsea- Brief: work in a way which you don’t normally use, something personal. So I take this opportunity to face my colour demons and the paints which might possibly capture them. The subject: copper and brass weights and measures jugs. Empty. Eye level, filling the canvas. Autobiographical???

In the interests of improvement on the above, I seek inspiration:

Cape Farewell- Climate is Culture

Essentially a presentation surmising the work of Cape Farewell, this evening turned out to be rather exciting.
Chris Wainwright and David Buckland are wholly dedicated to keeping the project current and moving it forward. In the discussion which followed we were able to get more insight into the ongoing thinking behind Cape Farewell, and the way it is and will be sustained by new contributions from science and the arts.
In treading the fine line between awareness and activism, Cape Farewell maintains a reach which gets work seen and heard all over the world. The focus is especially on the universities of the world, where the next generation of thinkers and makers can be introduced to the climate change issues which are affecting us all now.
The fossil fuel industry is the area they are most keen to address. The internal combustion engine has a lot to answer for. Money talks, and we all get by in life, trying to do the best for our family and pay the bills, but it seems it is time to start talking the language of business, to businesses.
The cost of dealing with the effects of climate change are increasing, and will continue to do so. Investment in cleaner (solar) energy now will clearly pay dividends in the years to come. It’s just the small matter of overcoming the short term four year plan governments work to.
The elusive silver bullet to ease our current predicament, if David Buckland had to put money on it would be a carbon tax. Tax the carbon heavy things we consume, from energy to disposable nappies. £200 per tonne? I don’t know what the current rate is, if there even is one, but having the balls to put some informed numbers out there seems like a great start.

The evening then moved next door for a book launch. This is the bit where I got really excited: the book is called Expeditions and is published by CCW with an isbn number. It gathers together work produced from the last couple of years’ Cape Farewell expeditions and short courses. Writings are interspersed with images of the work produced, and one of the shows covered is ‘Without boats dreams dry up’ that we produced in feb 2012 at the Triangle gallery, and included some beautiful shots, including one of my own work. Fantastic. Had brilliant response on twitter and FB to the news. Am really chuffed to be acknowledged as contributor to something I feel is making a difference.

20121018-111011.jpg : Social Comment : Mal Fletcher – Digital Dementia

starting to collate the research for my essay, really missing the time my journey to college gave me to digest and make notes about all I have seen in the last 2 months, looking forward to this afternoon: going up to see RA Bronzes show. In the meantime will dump my reading list on this blog so I can get to it wherever. : Social Comment : Mal Fletcher – Digital Dementia.

Bend Over Shirley At Beaconsfield Gallery

Monika Kita made a brilliant film about our experiences here

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Having put together a number of shows as a group during the year within our year group, this was a show involving both first and second year students. We had 2 huge spaces but with 40 of us there was the usual challenge of curating.

We had had the chance to visit Beaconsfield earlier in the year so were familiar with the curators, and that made it easier to work with them. We also work really well together as a pair of groups, so when they came together I felt it went very smoothly.

There was a lot of 3D work, which I enjoy, and it feels like there is a real sensibility within this group to the idea of the artefact as object, whether 2d or 3d. For example, James Edgars’ typography work shown on the far right above was made using old blueprint paper which had been specially sourced and printed, showing a thinking of the plane beyond what was presented on the wall.

My work was the Flat Sheet from the MPR and I was really please at how it caught the light and sat near a puddle of water on the floor. The ongoing suggestion of electrical function is important to me, as I keep referencing the material in it’s utilitarian form in our homes.

Meanwhile II

Oona Culley, Dew Drops, No.2, 2012. Courtesy the artist

Subtle interventions by:
Susan Collis | Oona Culley | Daniel Eatock
Cadi Froehlich | Janne Malmros | Trevor H.Smith

20 July – 16 September 2012
Level 4 Gallery, Hartley Library
University of Southampton

Private View: Thursday 19 July, 6-7.30pm

Meanwhile II presents five further artists whose work is shaped by processes of deconstruction, removal or omission. The exhibition brings together a thoughtful collection of works on paper, altered objects and drawings that explore things overlooked, left out, or simply left behind.

The Hartley Library is located on University Road, opposite the Students’ Union. Free / open daily 9am – midnight. Public visitors must sign in at reception. View Google map location