I have started up a new blog for the 4th Year Painting at Gray’s School Of Art. Our name is Gray’s 16 as luck would have it there are 16 of us to tie in with the calendar year. It is our final and biggest year with all our hard work going towards the Degree Show next year. The blog is a place for us to post our work and give people a flavour of what we are up to. We have a big fundraising push underway and we need a strong social media presence. It is early days with the blog and a few follows would be great.
It is the end of 3rd year Painting at Gray’s School of Art. I had my assessment yesterday and for the first time, ever, I got an A. It felt great but it has raised the bar for the final year and the degree show next year.
It took eight trips to the car to empty my studio space. I really need to work on that minimalism thing. How do I manage to accumulate so much stuff?
I really need to post here more often. It’s been 6 months since my last one. I promise, or threaten, to do more. There have been many changes in my work and influences. More of that another day though.
Ok, not really the blues – just enjoyed the title – and what’s wrong with that? It is midterm though and we have just had our reviews at uni. I started off the review – where there are 5 students and 2 tutors – by stating my recent negativity about my work so the only way was up from there. Some useful feedback and the usual artist name dropping lead me to Albert Oehlen – I just love his work. To me he seems to be heavily influenced by Sigmar Polke and there is a similar mash-up look to a lot of his work – which I like and think I can use. I love making surfaces with paint but I need to work on my image making to superimpose and integrate into the pictures. I think I just need to get my head down and keep making and playing with visual ideas. Onwards.
Richard Long – A Line Made By Walking.
A man walks and walks, and keeps on walking but what does he create, what does he leave behind? A line in a field that leads towards, or away from trees. A line that could have been made yesterday, a thousand years ago or tomorrow. There is no cultural trace that pinpoints time. It is a subtle rub of human endeavour that was made in our time but talks with the past. A single note that sounds back to a dark song of the ancestors – scratching around and exploring their untested earth in excited fear. There are also closer echoes, for me. Reminiscences of boyhood touchlines – penalty box boundaries or hard-beaten escape routes to the woods, the burn and the den.
I know a little of Richard Long and his working methods. But if you came across this line with no back story what would you think? You would be aware of a human presence but perhaps not how it came to be there, what it’s purpose is or if indeed there is one. A line on the earth resonates with most people. Is it a benign boundary or a troubled border, murderously argued between warring nations. The thing that makes us ‘us’ and them ‘them’. Take it away and what happens? A loss of tribe or a gaining of community? Or just confusion? So often a line is used as a marker to control chaos.
The line may not divide at all but may be a link – between here and there, a current state and an aspirational one – a journey in itself through variable zones both physical and mental, the original psychogeography.
Paul Klee famously took a line for a walk – Long took a walk for a line and with it rediscovered the beginning of all possibility – then let it disappear.
Yesterday I decided to have a good clear out of the artshed. It had become so messy over the summer as to be a no-go zone – dysfunctional and pointless. Most of the stuff I was throwing out was harmless enough – old cardboard I never got round to painting on, long dead pens I kept for the sake if it, kids art debris, that sort of thing. The things that caused me a problem were all of my previous attempts at art in there – countless sketchbooks full of black and white doodles and the odd scrap of painted card. The effect was a bit like unexpectedly catching yourself in the mirror on a particularly bad day – deep feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy being exposed. I stopped short of throwing the sketchbooks out or destroying them altogether but I don’t feel that keeping them will serve any purpose and only cause further distress in the future. I may yet have a cleansing bonfire.
The way in which I reacted to my old drawing efforts is linked in with the current phase of my college course. At the start of third year we have to enter a period of research and exploration before we attempt to make any artworks. The written aspect of the course involves looking at different approaches to writing about art and culture. Both of these disciplines involve looking at fundamentals and have lead me to question the nature of art and painting in particular. What does it mean to make paintings in this digital age of multiplicity and an ‘anything goes’ creative environment? Whatever conclusions I may come to I feel I really need to start afresh in terms of what I create. What I do from now on must be much more considered and essentially better than anything I have done up until now. I must also remember to enjoy the journey and not let it turn into a path of self-destruction.
It was a long summer with some great sunny days and memorable times with the family – but it must be said that I’m glad to be back to the routine of uni. Into third year now and we have to do some explorative research for the most part and produce one piece of work this semester.
I have begun by bringing in some of the junk and detritus lurking in drawers and hidden corners of the house and shed – binding them together with wire and laces to find new forms, seeing where it takes me. I really haven’t a clue what I am doing but that is no bad thing. I have the loose notion of creating something from the waste and discard of living.
I was once told that I am at my happiest with a pencil in my hand. I have started a sketchbook using just graphite and a rubber. The image making is a bit sketchy, abstract and vague and may not lead anywhere but I am enjoying it. I haven’t used a pencil consistently for years and I am enjoying the range of tone compared to the pens I’ve been using.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here but perhaps I should get into it again over the summer while I don’t have college to occupy me.