Video Lecture 3 – Exposition and Context

This online lecture was focused on making us think about our own positions in relation to the contemporary art world and consider our place in terms of practice. Caroline Wright began by asking questions about our needs. Specifically why we need to make a career out of our art practice. She suggested some reasons for this as starting points. She then moved on more specifically to ask where we are now and where we would like to be in a few years time.

Galleries and Museums.

Wright first made us consider a varied selection of established art galleries and museums mainly from the UK but also New York and Europe (the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Guggenheim in Bilbao). She did this in order for us to consider what the main factors are in how work is seen. She asked us to question: the meaning the gallery gives the work; the audience; the function of the museum and the political agenda of the organisation. These ranged from the cultural status of wealth and power of the National Gallery to the ‘Art Experience’ of shopping and eating at the Tate Modern. It was also interesting to consider the edutainment angle where both education and entertainment were considered function of some spaces. The other main element of this section of the lecture was how the aesthetic experience begins with the architecture with examples such as the Guggenheim in both NYC and Bilbao. Many other examples immediately spring to mind such as the Herzog and de Meuron Caixa forum in Madrid the same architects who transformed a disused power station into Tate Modern lifted up an abandoned electricity generator in front of the Prado and transformed it into a gallery. This recycling of abandoned buildings into arts spaces is also seen in Madrid’s Matadero (ex-slaughter house) and many other examples from around the world.

Wright then took us through all the considerations that curating an exhibition entails. A complicated flow chart which detailed all the steps. Importantly she stressed that curators, like artists, need to be aware of what is happening in contemporary art.

Alternative Sites

Wright then looked at other ways of showing artwork. From the 1989 Guerilla Girls posters to the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar square, she talked about site specific work, temporarily sited work and some of the controversy surrounding them. Specifically she posed some very interesting questions. I found the position of the audience for Andy Goldsworthy’s work – which is so temporary the majority of us only see it in illustrated books or Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty which is only visible from the air very compelling issues. The ethical question of Franko B’s performances in which we as audience are complicit with his pain is also one I should like to return to. After quickly considering the varying nature of Public Art work which is generally publicly funded and openly displayed we moved onto art fairs. Starting with the Venice Bienale and then looking at Frieze in London. We were made to see them as enormously varied but as commercial enterprises. Unlike many of the above commissions these are for commercial galleries and their artists to sell work.

We could also consider artist run spaces and the streets as sites, both of which I find interesting.


From the Turner Prize to open entry competitions we considered the rewards of being shortlisted or winning some of these prizes. For example the Turner Prize in addition to money and giving the shortlisted artists an exhibition in London’s Tate could be seen as leading to a certain celebrity status in some cases as it has so often courted controversy. Wright then suggested Competitions which give student prizes such as John Moore’s and Beck Futures and that we can consider the ones appropriate to our practice.

I shall deal with the questions raised in a later post.


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After the timescale of task 2 was over I have continued to look at fracturing of the work. After looking at how homeless people live around here I have been adding objects similar to those I see in the streets. So far I have not changed the cloth – but I have suspended it from a wire in the studio. I want to integrate these type of objects with the cloth,


DSC_0039 I have also begun to experiment with paint on other cloth – here kitchen cloths.



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From the beginning I was interested in the idea of the fragmentation of the family, the community, relationships in general. However, walking around everyday I see the evidence of the casualties of the economic crisis and I feel like I am living in the fractured society. My neighbors in the center of Madrid range from the very rich to many homeless with most other possibilities in between. I see many sleeping on the streets and their makeshift bedrooms made from mattresses, cardboard and our other discarded household items. In the last few years my relationship to the trash has changed. I have always enjoyed scavenging through the garbage but now that many are living from it I feel a sense of guilt if I take stuff.

Back to the image – The children from the family in the image, probably from the postwar era, could belong to almost any social class and live anywhere in the world. But if they stayed here they are unlikely to be middle class


to fall apart

to pull apart

I tried to fracture the composition through colour (I might be pushing the definition here) of individuals,  separating them from their group through a contrasting colour. I am not sure that this works in the way I wanted – technically and pictorially I am pleased with the result. These figures seem to be updated and the others left behind.


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cutting the fabric, removing  characters, needs full figures I think and the scale of this experiment is too small but whole figures on full scale I feel could work.

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efff 3:12 FFF 3rd dec


Finally I tried frame in a literal way as I had been tempted to try all along and I am glad I did as I far prefer what I made on the making day with the separate canvases and drawing on the wall. I will use the frames in a different way. The time was long enough to discover new possibilities and too short to resolve any – I am not disappointed but energised by the new possibilities.


Les Bicknell – Defining Research within Practice – 1/12/14

Bicknell’s lecture was really useful as it focused on investigation and studio practice. However, he did show us some of his work towards the end which helped to make sense of the process. I always felt that process was as important as the artwork but worry when it becomes more so, or rather when it stops being practice and becomes too many words, here we could see the work clearly in context.

Bicknell began by taking us through a series of questions to ask ourselves – initially general about our work as a whole and then more specifically aimed at during an individual project. In a tutorial Angela Rogers posed similar questions and I found hers really useful with specific projects of mine. I am going to try documenting them.

We looked at spaces in which we work and how they evolve – this reminded me of our studio survey at the beginning of the course. In which I now feel I focused to heavily on where I paint. However, looking at Bicknell’s slides I realised how important the internet is – how much I use other spaces for related activities and how much that is part of the process. One of these being I use photoshop at work, although it is not a major part of the process and not part of everything I do it seems relevant and I don’t want to completely do without it. The other space is my kitchen table – which I use for writing, printmaking and sometimes drawing and occasionally painting small scale canvases. I think I like the height of the stool and the ‘bench’ which I don’t have in the studio.

It also struck me that all our lecturers are balancing teaching and practice. This fact is both reassuring and slightly depressing as I would dearly love to move away from teaching at some point. I am consoling myself by aiming to improve the teaching/making balance. Bicknell also added that his studio was at home because he did not want the added pressure of making money to pay the studio rent. I feel the same but miss the shared studio space to a certain extent and the dialogue with other artists that one gets in it which feels quite unique. It also makes you feel part of a community if you are working alone.

Bicknell showed us a list of verbs compiled by the artist Richard Serra, and pointed out that a good starting point might be to review what we do not do as well. He then compiled a list of the disciplines his work connects to. I really liked the idea of openness that he says we do not have compared to scientists. He promoted the idea of transcriptions of ‘copying’ the value of not expecting to be original or unique and promoting sharing. I responded to his idea of visual diagrams and sketching rather than the flow charts which I find rather unfriendly. The idea of the journal (in whatever form it takes) I hope all already do to a certain extent, I am certainly aware I have to write stuff down, annotate drawings and very aware of limited time. Nevertheless Bicknell suggests much more rigour with the journal. Add dates, times and go back and reflect and conclude. The conclusion part is particularly worrying as I feel there is stuff in my sketchbooks left unconcluded for decades. I also need to tie up all the strands that I leave hanging.

During the lecture Bicknell shared many resources some of which were totally new to me. I am addicted to podcasts already but this gave me some new ideas and the importance of being aware of new ones. During the lecture I copied down his questions about bookness changing book for painting, this was because of where I was with the Frame, form fracture project so I might need to change painting for something else later this ended with:

When does a painting stop being a painting? How can you stop a painting being a painting? -I need to narrow this down obviously painting is too big but very inspirational questions nonetheless.

For bookness Bicknell presented us with visual research on the physical folding of pages, the historical, material, words in the exterior, the act of reading, art historical, the process of making books,  etc which

He is ‘always making a book’ and this led into looking at his working  process and some of his work. The projects were really varied but always returning to the book in the broadest sense. I wish I had asked him if he ever felt like leaving the bookness behind. However maybe I can answer that for myself in the sense that he probably sometimes does but then returns. As we all do to the primary concerns we have with our work and we just add on another dimension to the research. Furthermore the concerns of bookness is so broad. I am not sure I have yet identified the …ness of my practice and that would be a major step.

As a major part of the process he showed us how he ‘observes and collects’ through a series of images and how these fed into the projects. I really appreciated the layering of his investigation. From the less appealing flow charts to the continual brainstorming and playing with materials to the hoarding of visual stimuli. I was particularly drawn by the project combining smocking and ploughing in which he not only combined historical and political status with theoretical research but tells a story. As he said ‘people buy work for the story’ or ‘ a thing is just a thing without a story’. What I really responded to here was the way in which the work was shown both in the context of the chosen spaces and also digitally. The artwork was shown with its research and presented in the context of it’s own story.



I am aware that I do not make structured questions as such and will try applying these to my current work.