Media coverage of kidnapped or stolen children  articles from El Pais  by Natalia Junquera and others includes interviews interview by TVE of Ricard Vinyes (Universitat de Barcelona) documentary from 2011

research into separation and re-education of children of political prisoners in post war

Las desapariciones infantiles durante el franquismo y sus consecuencias (Children who disappeared during the Franco dictatorship and the consequences)

Ricardo Vinyes University of Barcelona 2006


La infancia «redimida»: el último eslabón del sistema penitenciario franquista (‘Redeemed’ childhood: the last link in the Francoist penitentiary system).


hopes and aims for MA2 Studio Practice

At this Monday’s hangout we were asked to make a statement about our hopes and aims for MA2

I have tried to make this into bullet points below:

  • make links with local, national and international organisations involved in collaborative practice and through this make improved contact with other artists both here and abroad;
  • to continue to increase visibility online through maintaining my new website and improved documentation of projects;
  • develop studio practice through experimentation alongside focused research possibly with professionals from other disciplines – to make this practice work both in galleries and as site specific work.
  • Experiment with working on a variety of, often found, supports and on cloth, walls, furniture alongside relocating objects from sites and adding to them.
  • seek a variety of ways of funding my practice.




Problems with Nostalgia

I feel like I need to address the question of nostalgia and my anti nostalgic sentiments. As I want to continue looking at the past  this will continue to be an issue. I am also concerned that I myself do not become nostalgic for a time of greater optimism and I need to consider to what extent I am connecting with current debates. So far I have tried obscuring images using layers. These could be layers of other imagery and also more abstract mark-making which are more grid like. campo ciempo small

for example this technique of small strokes a kind of irregularly pixelated grid obscure the reading of the individuals face. I can no longer attempt to find a likeness to someone I know or have known.

FullSizeRender (2)  does it still show a gazing back at a more optimistic and idealistic age? A romanticised notion of living in contact with nature and animals.

blue one   blue comp

In this case the faces were never given

red 1      red comp

here the faces are obscured and therefore the women no longer look like your mother/aunt etc. I think this is working better with a wider tonal range in the painting of the women (first layer).

exp 1

in this monochromatic painting the first layer shows a storage warehouse in the cigarette factory with agricultural workers outside on the top layer. One can distinguish the faces of the labourers but not very clearly. there is also a confusion with the building in the back. So why look back? I am really questioning this need I have to use the old photos and I am not convinced I want to depend on this way of working. I like the idea of contemporary reenactments like Jeremy Deller(with the miners strike) but in a contemporary setting. I do not want to be stuck in the past either. The way we are working now is really important to me and I need to reflect this in my work too.


Experimentation with looking at history

Earlier on I made experiments with layering and obscuring images of people working in different contexts. I wanted to make this more specific and work on a bigger scale. I had this canvas (170 x 170cm) I wanted to recycle and it is a while since I painted on canvas. This canvas is the same size as me so physically I really like working on it. The first layer was taken from women working in agriculture posing in the field of Ciempozuelos (blue) followed by the purple layer which is workers in the cigarette factory (also all women). This image was already quite confused but the faces of the field workers and closer tabacco workers distiguishable.

large one

I gradually covered the whole canvas with different types of orangey brush strokes which are more or less a regular grid.

covering up

I did try to balance the tone overall but luckily I can continue to work on this

tonal one


This is how it is currently when I finished covering it. The idea was to add doubt to our knowledge of the past and especially to act against nostalgia. I want to be ambivalent about the improvement or decline in the meaningfulness of work. Whilst many working conditions have improved and labour laws have been passed limiting length of day or improving safety for example, many newer jobs are of dubious worth. The decline in craft, human contact, small businesses and other manufacturing skills could be seen as a loss. The rise in global corporations, decline in respect for professions such as teaching or medicine although many of the professions which have disappeared were poorly paid and dangerous. I feel there is both loss and gain in the world of work but also that is still cloaked in mystery – when so many people spend so much time at work.

det                  det 2

details of the brush strokes – I feel they work best when they are ‘floating’ you can see past them but the past remains impenetrable.

Summer Progress

mind map plan for summer 15

At the beginning of the summer I set myself a few tasks mainly based on feedback from my lecturers and in particularly the assessment report and final tutorial with Caroline.

I wanted to try to keep the Journal going over the summer and I achieved this for most of July whilst I still had  wifi.  I  then had a holiday and I have been a bit slow getting back into the habit since I got back home.

mind map plan for summer 15

I decided to revisit my plan as I wanted to try to focus my last week before the first hangout of the year. I have worked much better in some areas than others. I feel I have clarified some ideas but others much less.


The weakest area by far is the summer reading. Not that I have not read but I have focused mainly on the history of work or industrial revolution in Spain and the migration of people. I had to read about the history of Madrid work and migration to write a proposal for La Corrala. I have also spent time collecting new sources of organisations working outside the gallery and subscribing to their newsletters so I can stay up to date. I have, however, read very little from the OCA list – only ways of looking and some of the interviews and a little of the postgraduate research handbook. Luckily for me I misunderstood and had read all of Eleanor Heartney’s Art and Today last winter break.

I also did very badly on my own reading list. I have read some of Gaston Bachelard’s the poetics of space but found the whole ‘house’ part really difficult as I couldn’t go with the large house metaphor when so few people live in this way – he starts by describing a huge vertical building and then saying that the flats in Paris (one of the most expensive cities in the world) were in some way inadequate. I was also reading this in Morocco maybe if I had been in London it wouldn’t have seemed so offensive. I like this idea of the immediacy and novelty of poetry although I think it is problematic when related to contemporary art. The associations matter and the ideas matter and the thinking about it matters (although I am reluctant to add written words into this process). I still believe in the physical presence of art of anytime and any function, paradoxically even when it is hidden.

The other books I read I have blogged apart from some delving into previously read books and I have not blogged all the articles. As well as the practice related reading I have been preoccupied with the political events in Greece and Syria and upcoming elections. What I missed this summer was fiction – a large novel full of ideas… another time.

Site Specific / Gallery

The other area I feel needs more attention and I did not resolve as far as I would now like to is the question of thinking deeper about my decision to work (at least some of the time) outside galleries – and this I think I can do much more in the coming week because although I maybe haven’t resolved it I have made proposals such as ‘la Corrala’ have been considering other spaces and even what can still go into a gallery space in relation to the projects. I maybe have tackled this a little bit the wrong way round. I have tried to continue working through specific ideas for myself and looking at how other artists work outside the gallery without focusing enough on the why? I know it feels like an enormous liberation but why is that the case. There is also the dawning of the reality that most artists I know are making objects or installations for galleries – I don’t have any kind of a network. I have blogged experimentation and the proposal for the Corrala.


On the negative side I have not really improved my use of photography. I think I still take better photos of my work with my phone than a DSLR because I don’t really know how to use it. I have followed all the basic advice and my photographs are not so bad but I know that this is a weakness and I realise I avoid this type of technology. On the other hand I feel much more comfortable when documenting the work using video. Although the videos I made in Ciempozuelos might not be a great quality, they do represent much more accurately the experience of being in the place. The addition of movement and especially sound added a lot to this.

I have also spent time organising my photographs.

Web Visibility

As an artist working outside the gallery this seems even more important because most established channels of information are closed. I also agreed with Caroline that an out of date website is useless and possibly worse than no presence at all. I have therefore been working on a new website and I aim to publish it early next week. The advantage of being updateable is that I feel less pressured to make definitive statements or about misrepresentation of my work. I will be able to change it.

Putting together a web page (from an easy template lets be clear) has allowed me to improve the documentation of my work. For example for the Ciempozuelos project I have added links to vimeo and google maps. I have tried to keep it as provisional as possible as I feel like I am in a state of change and could go in various directions but it has allowed me to include proposals and I would like to add rejected projects at some stage.

So these are my priorities: to complete the webpage and to more clearly define my choice of working practice. They are big things but they now feel doable.

Visibility outside the Gallery System

Validation Beyond the Gallery – axisweb

This piece of research was published during the summer break and this was perfect timing as it deals with many of the issues that I had set for myself to consider over the vacations. It deals with the career paths of artist’s who work outside of the gallery in a variety of ways and how they are validated. The researchers first interviewed organisations involved in the commissioning and production of this type of work about the processes and relationships with artists. Those organisations then suggested artists to interview for the second stage as their practice was either exclusively or partially outside of the gallery. The researchers acknowledged that this covered a wide variety of art practices.

Initial Reflections

This paper gave me many issues to consider in relation to my own work. I still currently fall into the category of someone who makes art objects but I do want to continue to explore other ways of making work. One artist said:

‘The idea of making things just to sell them doesn’t appeal to me.’ (Kate Genever Poly-Technic)

I don’t think many artists make things just to sell but selling work is much more problematic for some than for others. For me its a very difficult area and throws up a lot of questions about value and audience. Once something goes into a private collection it disappears.

how we measure success? 

This was a really useful section and related back to how hard it is for us to see our own work. This gets even more complicated as many artists in this area are working collaboratively. I want to change my PPP in the light of this paper.

function of art?

It was good to see that work outside the gallery often (but not always) fulfilled different functions from Gallery based art. Certainly many of the artists were making art for radically different reasons.

networking and location

The importance of networking for this type of work was highlighted several times. I also became aware that the report only dealt with British organisations and UK based artists. This is a problem as I really would like to be able to meet more people engaged in this type of work and that does mean moving beyond my current circles. The lists of artists and organisations was useful but I need to research locally based project.

Casabermeja cemetery and death in Andalucia

On my way home from the south I decided to stop and take photos of the cemetery in Casabermeja which I used as inspiration when I was working on this project back in 2005-6. I wanted to in some way blend these with the images of recent housing developments in the area in order to point out their similarities and suggest a coincidence in meaning. Here I have presented the photos I took in August 2015 with the photos of housing developments and some sketches I originally made in 2005/6.

d o a      casabonela 1        hgygyig

casabonela 3        death of Andalucia      whdhsd


this project was left in the air as I got taken up with working with images of people but it still resonates with me.




Just before I left Andalucia I decided to take some photographs of this development. El Castañar was a chestnut forest on the edge of Ojén, Málaga. I remember at around 2004-5ish in the middle of the real estate bubble they started to build foundations on the sight of the forest having cut many trees down. This was in itself really sad. We never saw the plans or the advertisements for the new homes which were all aimed at foreigners (and obviously not foreigners like me). I do not know how much land was sold for the urbanisation or how legal the buildings were. There were other high profile cases of buildings which were completed on protected mountain sights illegally but this one never came to my attention. What I did notice were the new signs as you drove up to the village and a new roundabout at the entrance to El Castañar presumably someone paid for this.

castañar                  DSC_0293 view of El Castañar from the roundabout.

As you can see El castañar was never finished. Worked stopped in the 2007/8 crisis as the real estate market collapsed. To this day the signs remain on the road up to the village and the mysterious roundabout. The deserted urbanisation is gated and has security warnings and I even saw some people from the village leaving and locking the gate they asked me no questions drove off and I crawled under the gate.



I wanted to see how far they got with the building and what was there. From the road you know there are foundations and the supports for buildings but no buildings. There is also a road. The road curves up the mountain and continues for a long way. I now regret not going any further, I think I was worried about being able to hide if anyone came back but what I did see was a lot of foundations and the big girder structures but no walls. Some plants have started growing over the edges but the floors are huge because to make them flat on a mountain there is a lot of cement.

DSC_0298       DSC_0302       DSC_0332

The road winds up behind the first rows of foundations which are close to the road. as far as I could go up – I went up slowly for about 10 minutes there were more curves and more foundations. I never got to the end of the road. As far as I could see the building went on and in the same way, road, foundations the supporting beams. The photos all start to look very similar. The houses would have had amazing views had they been built. They look over the village, the mountains and the sea in the distance.

DSC_0323 (1)  DSC_0309  DSC_0312

Captura de pantalla 2015-08-29 a las 12.30.22  The only photograph I could find of the drawings of the homes they proposed to build was on the poster in this street view from google maps, it has since disappeared.

El Castañar remains as a monument to the folly of capitalist greed replacing nature.

The Death of Andalucia

This excursion reminded me of a project I was doing in Andalucia when I lived there but never completed. I called it the ‘Death of Andalucia’ (La Muerte de Andalucia). It had struck me how similar the design of the new developments of the early 20th century mimicked the cemeteries of the area. So I started to morph the 2 together using layering, photoshop and painting. The developments of those years were not of course as beautiful as the cemeteries and the ‘death’ was a selling out of the culture, a literal selling off of publicly owned national park and coastline. In many ways it is easy to understand why any chance to make money would be welcome in an area which had known so much hunger in living memory. It was also a repetition of previous times in the early 20th century when the mines were sold off to foreigners who made the locals work for them for subsistence wages.