Seconds out: Year 2

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These photographs of trees were taken on a journey I made, by car, last week from home to my daughter’s house in Newcastle.  I was doing some practical research to prepare for the walk I intend to take from hers to mine, via my mother’s, in May 2016.  This will be the core concept for my second year on the MA.  I will be gathering, recording, encountering and experiencing many things along this route, and will work on the material so as to curate them into my final piece (‘Museum’) for the MA show this time next year.  The other major element will be to plan and structure the process, looking at relevant contemporary art practice, and researching pertinent aspects of the places through which I will travel (geography, geology, biology, ecology, sociology, technology, history…..).

This preparation will structure the material I will hand in for the next two modules of the MA- a research journal, and 6-8,000 word dissertation.  I intend to submit a series of weekly blog entries for the research element, of which this is the first.

This idea- of recording a journey and responding experientially to place, seeking meaning which resonates emotionally, politically and aesthetically- is a developing thread in my practice. It is interesting that this has become apparent to me only in retrospect.  I have sometimes thought of my approach to research and practice development as a directionless wander through dense forest.  My interests and concerns have seemed too disparate and unconnected to attain coherence.  Now, however, some key, enduring elements are becoming apparent, between which connections are starting to form more clearly.

These are:

  • Place and space
  • Engaging with people
  • Feminist and environmental politics
  • Walking and art practice
  • The indexical
  • Maps as art
  • Methodological and presentational concerns- image creation and transfer, alternative photographic processes, drawing, bookbinding, installation, curation

In terms of my research, it is often by ‘happenstance’.  Being at college on the MA course, with access to lectures, the library, resources, workshops and great staff, presents me with lots of opportunities for learning and exploration.  Peer learning and crits are a very useful part of the course. I am also well-networked through East Street Arts, Leeds Visual Arts Forum and Leeds Creative Timebank.  So there is an astounding array of information and activities with which to engage.  Again, it’s only in hindsight that a pattern is emerging.  Perhaps more than we credit of our research direction and individual learning journey happens subconsciously, instinctively, within the complex field of new ideas.

In that spirit, here are a few of the important learning experiences of the past year or so, which have got me here:

  • A series of talks by Bracha Ettinger in Leeds this summer
  • The Landscape and Arts Network day symposium, last summer in Hebden Bridge. Have since become a member
  • Getting involved in creative networks in Leeds. Making connections and having conversations (including with my peers on the MA) are important for my personal development
  • Karen Tobias-Green’s lectures on Research were very helpful in broadening the parameters of research in an arts context
  • Bianca Elsenbaum’s reading group introduced me to some key new ideas, and provided space for discussion
  • Several exhibitions: Ai Wei Wei, Anselm Keifer, Louise Bourgeois, Nathalie Holbrook, Cornelia Parker, Garry Barker, Human Nature at Munro House
  • Print and book fairs
  • The trip to Warsaw
  • Holidays, walks and visits- for taking photographs, drawing, thinking about the landscape,

Subsequent blogs will look at these elements in more detail, drawing out the relevance to my practice and the Walk Project.

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