Senior Lecturers from Falmouth School of Art have been helping shape national debates and dialogues surrounding writing as art practice, drawing pedagogy and reportage illustration, through recent conferences presentations around the UK.
The conference formed part of a wider Words of Art project, seeking ‘to explore writing as art practice by considering tactile materiality, live spoken word or performative activity, site-specific writing practices and temporality’. Participants investigated ‘bridging gaps between the written form and object-oriented art practices, shifting the focus of writing from the computer screen to the studio, breaking down perceptions of barriers between writing on the one hand and art-making on the other’.
The conference gathered together invited practitioners who use written forms within their own practices and/or are involved in curating and publishing artists’ writing.
Neil said, ‘It was good to be part of an event at which some students as well as staff had the opportunity to show their work. The conference was preceded by a week of writing workshops — an effective way of galvanising interest in the themes among students in the lead up to the conference.
The usual conventions of a conference were disrupted in a number of ways, with diverse forms of presentation including performance readings, sound-art and audiovisual presentation, live drawing of diagrams and presentations assembling fictional elements with historical research. The event made evident the diverse approaches to writing being practiced widely in art education and art research, adding weight to the argument that artists have something new and important to contribute to research culture in the humanities and beyond.
In forthcoming work, staff of Falmouth School of Art will develop the network of those concerned with the politics and practice of writing in art, working with colleagues at Linnaeus University in Sweden and with staff and students at UAL to develop new work and research on questions of writing and the image’.
Dr Joe Graham, who this year joined the BA(Hons) Drawing team at Falmouth as Lecturer, delivered a paper at the 2016 iJADE (International Journal of Art & Design Education) conference, this year themed ‘Drawing’ and held at the University of Chester. The iJADE journal is published by NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art & Design), and the conference was entirely geared around pedagogical discussion of drawing used by communities within Art & Design Education. Among the keynote speakers was Simon Betts, External Examiner to Falmouth.
Papers spanned a wide variety of topics, demonstrating the value of Drawing to a range of disciplines far beyond art and design. Joe’s paper, titled Autonomic Drawing: Postphenomenological Drawing Research discussed his latest research from a pedagogical standpoint, describing the (phenomenological) method of variational practice as it is used within his work.
Joe demonstrated the application of the practice with the aid of nine A3 graph paper drawings, produced specifically to test this method, and explains, ‘The method of variational practice is used to seek invariant (essential) forms of understanding from within a variety of work presented for display. When used in combination with observational drawing, it renders the drawings sensible as ‘data’ i.e. results. This means the more fluid question of what drawing ‘records’ (re-presents) can be decided on an empirical basis. This outcome has useful pedagogical implications’.
Dr Catrin Morgan, Senior Lecturer on MA Illustration: Authorial Practice, delivered a paper at the International Illustration Symposium at Edinburgh College of Art. The conference was titled ‘Shaping the View: Understanding Landscape Through Illustration’.
Catrin’s paper, The Myth of Reportage Illustration, explored ideas of authenticity and mark making in reportage illustration. Her paper was grouped within the panel, ‘Landscape as metaphor’, and examined the way in which Illustrators are increasingly being hired to report on and represent communities in crisis (communities in Syria, people living in refugee camps and endangered or destabilised communities for example).
Catrin explains, ‘I am concerned with the ethical implications of aesthetic choice made by these illustrators and what it means as a creative practitioner to report back on the lives of other communities. What voice do we use to do this? How might we choose to foreground our own presence in the situation we are depicting? Are there a set of aesthetic conventions that are establishing themselves as the language of authenticity?
Being critical of and asking questions about how artists address challenges faced by communities is vital to ensuring that the role that illustrators (as creative practitioners) play in society is truly valuable and useful. I am concerned that all areas of illustrative practice are interrogated critically, particularly those that have the social and political relevance to vulnerable communities’.
Among examples Catrin discussed were Anna Cattermole, who works with communities in Cornwall, Gill Gibbon who draws at arms fairs and Olivier Kuglar and George Butler who have reported on various communities internationally.