Reflections on a Venice Research-Steward Fellowship…

Abbie Hunt, graduate of BA(Hons) Fine Art and recipient of a 2017 Venice Fellowship, funded by the British Council and Falmouth School of Art, reflects on her experience of one month living in Venice as part of the British Council’s Research Stewardship Programme at the 57th Biennale Arte

 

‘I don’t think I knew what to expect until my first day on the job, but that was the exciting part. Stewarding is hard work; I never anticipated the endurance of standing in a corner of a room, observing the visitors, observing the work. It’s mentally draining to be with your thoughts for so long. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t stop, so for my job role to suddenly be so stationary was a shock.

Furthermore, I never realised how little the ideas surrounding art fell away when you become a Steward. You spend such an unnatural amount time with a piece of work that you have phrases of being grossly interested and unexpectedly numb towards it. I spent lull periods scribbling personal observations down, but when it came to discussing the artwork with a visitor, it was as if I was reciting a script. People wanted a 3-minute summary of the work before they moved onto the next pavilion, there was no time for contemplation and it was strange to be so detached.

 

Entwining my research project with my stewarding duties made my experience so insightful. I focused on observing visitors’ reactions and opinions surrounding Phyllida Barlow’s Folly. I was already well versed in Barlow’s career, therefore the experience contributed to my work as a form of practical research.

What I gained from the Venice Fellowship was an intense period of learning about myself. I have never traveled alone before and it completely changed my perspective on how I acted. I didn’t feel like a tourist but neither a local, and it was strange limbo I endured whilst discovering things about me as a person that I have never noticed before. It was an emotional roller-coaster, but I think I’ve gained a greater understanding of who I am.

Overall, I think I gained confidence and independence. Talking to strangers on a daily basis and having the knowledge to pass on to others was a good feeling because I’ve never had the opportunity to do so before. Giving people an insight or starting point to lead them through the maze of art within the Biennale was satisfying. I’d see their face light up with understanding and know I’d made a difference to their experience.

Similarly, confidence fed into my research project. It was an opportunity to collate research and write about my findings without the baring of education. Research is a guilty pleasure and it was strange to realise I still had the motivation to learn without the bounds of getting a grade at the end of it.

The biennale has a hub of social activity on throughout the time it is open; other countries create events so stewards can mingle, and are very appreciative when you make the effort to join in. Reflecting on the experience would be incomplete without mentioning my extended family of my October Fellows. Our intense company definitely kept us all going and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to get through my experience without them. We’ve already met in London since being home before Christmas. Our unexpected bond of being in the same bizarre situation has gave us all such a strong friendship.

Of course the art was memorable; I’ve never been so immersed in an abundance of artwork to observe and it definitely made me speechless on many occasions. My favourite was the Intuition Exhibition at the Palazzo Fortuny. I also felt we were the luckiest of months out of the Fellowship scheme as I actually got to meet Phyllida Barlow herself! It was a huge moment for me. Just days before we were set to go back to reality, Barlow visited the Biennale with her family and hadn’t seen her own work since the opening in May. I fangirled hard and was pretty star struck. You read so much about an artist, they inspire your practice and you empathise with their work…I thought spending time with her sculptures was gratification enough but seeing her next to them in the flesh was the cherry on the top. It’s a moment I’ll never forget and just seemed like the perfect present, a personal nod to keep going after three years of my degree.

From my experience as a steward, I’ve realised that the public face of the artwork is not who I want to be; but the gallery still remains my focus. I am ideally looking towards a technical position within a gallery, since the install and de-install of Phyllida Barlow’s work was a continuous consideration. Being hands-on and retaining that essence of practice is my ideal route.’

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‘An Hour to Sing – A Journey of Following’

An Hour to Sing – A Journey of Following by Kym Martindale and Caroline Blythe, is a collaboration featuring drawing and writing, published in Edition Three of Elementum Journal.

Images of ‘An Hour to Sing – a Journey of Following’ by Kym Martindale and Caroline Blythe from Edition three of Elementum Journal

Caroline Blythe, a recent BA(Hons) Drawing graduate of Falmouth School of Art, and Dr. Kym Martindale, Senior Lecturer in Falmouth’s School of Writing and Journalism have, over the last three years, been collaborating on a project that has sought to explore and respond to Edward Thomas’s In Pursuit of Spring, an account of a bicycle ride from Guildford to Somerset in 1913.

Between 2012 and 2017, poet and cyclist Kym Martindale began the pursuit of Edward Thomas, riding and writing parts of Thomas’s journey from Winchester to the Quantocks in Somerset. In 2014, Caroline Blythe joined in, equipped with OS maps, and a copy of In Pursuit of Spring, and set off to explore and discover the landscape and locations described in poetry and prose by Martindale and Thomas.

For practical reasons both Kym and Caroline split Thomas’ journey into three distinct areas, visiting these when time allowed, following Thomas on bicycle, foot and at times by car. They recorded snippets of time and place ­– observing and notating the landscape as they travelled. The result is a collection of poems by Dr Kym Martindale and drawings by Caroline Blythe recently published in Edition Three of Elementum Journal.

Images of ‘An Hour to Sing – a Journey of Following’ by Kym Martindale and Caroline Blythe from Edition three of Elementum Journal

We talked with Caroline and Kym to find out more…

Caroline says, “It has been an absolute pleasure to discover and explore both the countryside in the south of England, described so beautifully by Edward Thomas, and also respond to and work with Kym’s wonderful poems, while at the same time recording my own visual observations. As I travelled through the locations described by Edward Thomas and Kym, capturing fleeting moments in sketchbooks, I kept thanking them for introducing me to these beautiful and interesting places. It was a privilege to experience the landscape through their eyes as well as observe for myself. It was a fascinating process. Perhaps the most exciting visual outcomes from this project evolved through this collaborative working process which led to the creation and compiling of palimpsests – an interleaving of tracings of drawings.”

Kym adds, “This research project combined two great passions of mine, poetry and cycling. In Pursuit of Spring describes a landscape on the brink of change, but it is the cradle too of so much of Thomas’s poetry, and an index to the man himself. The poems and drawings are ‘re/tracings’ of journeys made by Thomas, then myself, then Caroline, through a landscape that is constantly changing economically, politically, and aesthetically. And about halfway through the project, we suddenly realised that although we each travelled alone, we were also together in the journey we were making. I am sorry in some measure, that we have arrived.”

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Elementum, founded by Falmouth MA graduate Jay Armstrong, is a biannual publication of new writing and visual arts that explores the natural world and our role within it. Through folklore, literature, poetry, science and specially commissioned art and photography, Elementum quietly brings the reader back to what really matters by nurturing our connection to the natural world and the myths that surround it. The theme of the third edition is ‘roots’ and explores our origins and what sustains us.

If you would like to know more about Elementum journal or purchase a copy of the publication, you can do so by visiting their website: https://www.elementumjournal.com/

FOMO – Introducing Falmouth’s first Art Publishing Fair

F O M O – the first ever Falmouth Art Publishing Fair – opens at 4pm on Friday 29 September for a weekend of talks, workshops, screenings, artists’ book works, performances, zines and comics and readings.   

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Organised by Falmouth School of Art’s Senior Lecturers Neil Chapman, Gillian Wylde and Carolyn Shapiro and Associate Lecturer Maria Christoforidou, F O M O will take place at Falmouth Art Gallery and the Library of the Municipal Buildings, The Moor, Falmouth, and brings together Falmouth School of Art staff and students with local participating institutions including: Falmouth Art Gallery, Falmouth Library, Tate St Ives, Stranger Collective, Urbanomic, Atlantic Press, Burning House Books, BLNT Collective, Keiken and Krowji. 

F O M O will include contributions from academic and research colleagues from: Royal  Holloway University, Cambridge University, West Dean College, Aarhus University, Plymouth University, Goldsmiths University of London, Research Center for Material Culture Netherlands and from across Departments at Falmouth University.

Generously supported by Falmouth Art Gallery, the event has grown out of discussion between colleagues across different departments at Falmouth University. From meetings as a Research Forum, finding common ground between their varied interests, the group started to consider joint research and how best to team up for that work. One of the organisers, Neil Chapman, reflects on the development of the event, and what we can look forward to over the weekend…

‘As a research group, we share a commitment to collective work. That’s both a pragmatic interest and a critical position too. Most often, when people work together it’s so that a workload can be shared. But collective work is unpredictable and inefficient too and these are values that might tend to be lost in the current climate. There is a lot of emphasis in the contemporary workplace on individuals’ success and the competition that results can be destructive. Our title for the event – Fear of Missing Out – is on some level an ironic allusion to these issues.

We are all of us, in different ways, committed to discursive work, to the climate of ideas that surrounds ‘making’ in our different disciplines. And that’s a foundation for the publication fair too, reflected in the many talks, screenings, readings and performances scheduled over the weekend. F O M O provides an opportunity for us to invite our colleagues and friends to Cornwall. It’s good for the cultures of creative practice here in Falmouth. F O M O will bring lots of people into contact who might not have met otherwise. We’re excited to imagine the new partnerships and the new work that might result.

The aim has been to inaugurate the kind of event that we would want to go to ourselves, also the kind of event that students would be excited about. Henrietta Boex, Director of Falmouth Art Gallery, has been extremely supportive. We’ve made all kinds of demands on her and she seems never to say no to anything; the Gallery’s Glyn Winchester has also been a great support. The independence of the project is a way of underscoring our own priorities, which are evident in all kinds of ways through the framing of the event: the name, the graphics, the publicity, the choice of which artists, writers and publishers to invite. There are many Art Publishing Fairs in the UK and abroad and we have had an eye on some of those. But in another sense this Fair has been invented from scratch. And for that reason it will work well as a foundation for bigger and more varied research initiatives to come. We’re talking about a future peer-reviewed journal, discursive gatherings – dream dinner date/fantasy football team type things with exciting living people—maybe some dead folk too, ghosts. No zombies. Digital Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida . . .

It’s particularly good to be working with current students and recent Falmouth University graduates. As part of FOMO, Graham Taylor who studied Fine Art and who graduated in 2015 is curating an exhibition entitled Practically Outside, involving a dozen or more Falmouth alumni. His contribution makes a direct engagement with the FOMO ethos, looking critically at what it means to be an ‘emerging artist’, engaging in the most thoughtful way with different platforms of exhibition and print publication.’

F O M O also includes contributions from writers, artists, poets, publishers, activists, hackers, Falmouth University alumni and musicians both national and international.

F O M O is an inaugural event, bringing a new art research collective into being, which, over forthcoming months will stage events in different forms and at different locations, connecting diverse networks.

https://falmouthartpublishingfair.wordpress.com/

Cafe Morte – The Tears of Things – exhibition and events

This weekend sees the opening of Cafe Morte’s The Tears of Things at the Exchange Gallery, Penzance

A growing collection of broken objects, to initiate conversation around the emotional value and attachment we have to something that is broken in our lives. The collection will form the beginning of a growing body of research relating to death and loss. The show includes work from current Falmouth BA(Hons) Fine Art students, alumni, and lecturers, as well as other established writers and artists. As well as work artists from the UK, the exhibition features submissions from artists from Cyprus, Tunisia, USA, Poland and Spain.

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CAFE MORTE: THE TEARS OF THINGS | 11Feb – 18 March 2017 | THE EXCHANGE – PENZANCE

OPENING EVENT FRIDAY 10TH FEBRUARY, 7pm – 9pm, ENGINE ROOM: EXCHANGE GALLERY PENZANCE  Join us for an evening of performance, video, objects, narrative and stories generated by Café Morte to celebrate the life of a broken object.

EVENT: SATURDAY 11TH 10.00 – 4.00 BROKEN WRITING OPEN INVITATION  Members of the public are invited to participate by bringing a broken object to the gallery to be documented photographically and to write a short piece of text that will be added to the collection. The collection will form an online museum of broken objects reflecting the power that these objects still hold.

Two BA(Hons) Fine Art alumni, Polly Maxwell and Lulu Richards Cottell will be returning to install and help curate the show, and as part of their visit will also be talking to current Fine Art students about their experiences since graduating last year.

Café Morte is a research group led by Falmouth Fine Art Senior Lecturers Mercedes Kemp and Lucy Willow, involving undergraduate and postgraduate students from Falmouth University, along with other artists and curators. Its central focus is to create projects that enable audiences to discuss the rich and varied themes of death found in art and literature. This is an adaption of the recently popular model of the ‘Death Café’, which has arisen worldwide as a meeting place in which to discuss death over a cup of tea.

Café Morte provides Falmouth students with the opportunity to research and make work around a focused theme. It enhances their research capability and enables them to experience the setting up and curating of a show, work collaboratively, experience working directly with audiences and networking with established artists. Each year, Café Morte welcomes a number of new students, and continues working with alumni.

The group started three years ago, working with BA(Hons) Fine Art students at Falmouth to develop research and ideas. The second year culminated in an exhibition at the university, curated by students and showing student work alongside that of established artists. The exhibition coincided with a Symposium by Moth, a research group concerning death and design run by colleagues in Graphic Design.

The Tears of Things exhibition follows a public testing of the project at The Exchange last December.

Writing as art practice; drawing pedagogy; illustrators and communities in crisis…

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.

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Dr Neil Chapman, Senior Lecturer on BA(Hons) Fine Art was invited to present a paper and lead a workshop at the ‘Words of Art’ conference at Wimbledon College of Arts.

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.

 

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2016-11-25-16-00-32Neil 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.

ijade-thumb ijade-thumb-2016Papers 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’.

Shaping the View: Understanding Landscape through Illustration

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.

Gemma Anderson workshop: The Big Draw at the Royal Society

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BA(Hons) Drawing Lecturer Gemma Anderson will be delivering a free Isomorphology drawing workshop at the Royal Society Saturday 22 October, for an event as part of The Big Draw.

The Big Draw at the Royal Society event brings together art and science in a series of workshops and activities.

Read more about the event online here and here.

 

New commission by Gillian Wylde at Arnolfini, Bristol

The ‘Moving Targets’ summer season at Arnolfini, Bristol (29 July – 11 September 2016), celebrates the 40th anniversary of Punk.  ‘Resist Psychic Death’ opens in Gallery 1 at the Arnolfini on Friday 12 August, an expanded exhibition inviting audiences to question and discuss the history and future of punk.

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, Gillian Wylde, 2016

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, Gillian Wylde, 2016

 

The exhibition includes a new commission by Falmouth School of Art Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Gillian Wylde. The commission, ‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’ includes effervescently discordant video works, collaged with corrupted image and text; it takes over Arnolfini’s foyer and overflows into the Café-Bar and Bookshop.

‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’  is open 11am-6pm daily for the duration of the Moving Targets season, entry free, donations welcome.

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, Gillian Wylde 2016

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, Gillian Wylde 2016

Gillian Wylde makes performative work for video and installation. Central to her work is a critical engagement with technologies, language and the mediated. Processes of appropriation, petty arrangement and post-production are constants through most of the work like maybe a savage smell or hairy logic. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally including; Transmodern Live Art Action Festival, Baltimore; Videotage, Hong Kong; Alytus Biennial, Lithuania; Tao Scene, Norway, Experiments in Cinema, Albuquerque and CCA Gallery, Glasgow. Recent work includes: ‘Enflamma Diagra’ a collaboration with Neil Chapman ICA, London, ‘Snakes&Funerals’ a collaboration with James S Williams and Emily Jeremiah for ‘Queer The Space’ CCC, London and ‘Inna-deno pudenda membra’ an essay published in ‘The Interior’ by Eros Press.

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, Gillian Wylde 2016

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, Gillian Wylde 2016