Here we are again. Hand-in

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I’m putting the finishing touches to my portfolio for handing in for the next module of the MA.  The above images are of a finished piece- cyanotype contact prints of plant material on linen fabric removed from the back of a map of Yorkshire, reinserted to the covers of the old map.  The plants were gathered from St John’s churchyard and the piece is for the Love Arts Festival in October.

I want to use this blog entry to reflect on this practice-based module and attempt to draw the work together, to summarise and contextualise, and to link theory with practice.

Since last hand-in I’ve been doing lots of research in my customary, serendipitous way:

  1. ‘Field research’, which is an important part of my practice has included taking digital and film photographs, gathering ‘stuff’- plants, stones etc, and making graphite rubbings in various places, around Scotland and Northern England, and now including Leeds.  I’m involved in two site-responsive projects, at St John’s Church and Potternewton Mansion, so have been Googling and acquiring historical and contemporary maps.
  2. Practice-based research has included all the material I have written up for hand-in, exploring a range of methods and substrates to create images and recordings of place, indexical or at some ‘remove’.  Seeking the genius loci, trying to excavate stories, looking to find ways of presenting these elusive aspects of place in poetic or material ways to intrigue the viewer.
  3. Contextual or theoretical research has included:  exhibition and talk in Scotland by Natalie Holbrook http://www.nathalieholbrook.com/ who says on her website that: “No entity on this Earth is without a home or story. One must simply look, and listen. Notice the encounter and the stories that are woven with the threads and bark of Life.”

Human Nature exhibition at Monro House http://www.humannatureshow.com/ , which “champions artist who explore our connection to the natural world, enabling us to examine and celebrate our human need for a thriving environment.

Two days of talks by Bracha Ettinger (described in blog post of Jul 14th).

Reading more books by W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz, The Emigrants, Across the Land and the Water, and Ariadne’s Thread, a memoir of Sebald written by Philippa Comber.

An exhibition of dry-point etchings by Louise Bourgeois.

Trip to the Manchester International Festival, highpoints of which were a collaboration between Gerhard Richter and Arvo Part, and a brilliant show of contemporary Chinese art, both at the Whitworth.

Space and Place– a site-specific exhibition at Left Bank Leeds

Michael McMillan- one of the visiting speakers on the MA made a big impression in terms of his social practice, and the exercise he did with us when everyone talked for a set period of time about an object- the idea that things hold stories and can be an effective vehicle for opening up conversation and personal narrative.

Staff at the college continue to be inspirational.  Karen’s Communities of Practice day was really interesting (Catriona McAra was brilliant) and I enjoyed my Tutor, Garry Barker’s, show and artist’s talk.  Bianca Elzenbaumer’s Situated Practice reading group introduced me to Generation M https://hbr.org/2009/07/today-in-capitalism-20-1 with its echoes of new thinking about ‘Post-Capitalism’ eg by Paul Mason, see http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/postcapitalism-a-guide-to-our-future-by-paul-mason-book-review-thoughtful-if-pessimistic-10443314.html

Drawn by Light exhibition on the history of photography at the National Media Museum- rather disappointing actually

I have been researching Hamish Henderson, one of Alec Finlay’s heroes, trying to read material by or about Bracha Ettinger and looking through books about alternative photographic methods, bookbinding (The Book as Art by Krystyna Wasserman published by the National Museum of Women in the Arts)

I guess this is looking a bit like the skeleton of my upcoming dissertation.

In terms of the implications for the practice module and where I’m heading I would emphasise:

  • Being more selective about how I choose to spend my time.  This means saying no to some things, and narrowing down the methods and media I include in my practice (as defined in my Next Steps document).
  • Prioritising the search for conceptual significance, in choice of material product and content, layers of meaning, and well-documented intentionality throughout the process.
  • Research into “cutting-edge contemporary curatorial practice”, in the words of my tutor.  I will start by asking Catriona McAra to point me in a good direction.
  • Introducing field-based conversation and sound-recording into my practice.
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