My tutorial with Michele Whiting was exceptionally useful and has really helped me to focus on methodology and to return to my relationship with painting and help to redefine that.
I was feeling quite disorientated at this point. That was mainly owing to the ‘irregular adoptions’ research for a project that would start in Sept. 2016 but which required a lot of work and I had to work on the proposal with an historian from Leeds University. The proposal has gone off now but it meant looking at a very complex issue and trying to locate that within the bigger context of 20th century historical memory. Michele suggested I could start work on this project now and in actual fact I have continued the reading, listening and watching but tried to keep it as an issue that is, for the present, separate from my studio practice.
An important part of the proposal however, was identifying how I would work on it and to give an idea of my working methodology and this was something really important from my tutorial. I really want to work on this now through identified sites. Michele stressed the importance of identifying a working methodology, sticking to it and being prepared to discard it. This sounds a little like a studio experiment. It is also reassuring for me in a way. Here it was crucial that she gave me advice about how some artists respond to site and alternative research methods.
She also make me reflect on how I gather research information. I have used photography, the internet, local archives and oral history. Michele suggested using drawing which really feels right. She also suggested video, which I prefer to photography as I feel more confident about using it but for some reason only used at the end of the projects, and drawing which is so obvious and much more appropriate for me. It also means if I go with other people to the sites they will be obliged to draw too. Video adds sound and observational drawing connects it immediately to my practice. She emphasised sound and suggested recording oral histories as well as the sound of the site via video.
Traditions of painting and site specificity
As Michele pointed out site specific and responsive work is not new for artists using paint: the impressionists did it as a response to the invention of ready mixed paint. I felt much less concerned about the work being displayed in the site and the possibilities of it being shown elsewhere after our tutorial. I also feel much less burdened with the cultural baggage of painting – being a very unfashionable practice at the moment especially in Spain and on the other hand having too much of a legacy for one person to deal with. I also do not feel that I will always respond using paint and therefore uncomfortable with the label painter.
Reading and looking
Kwon,Miwon, 2002 One Place After Another. Site Specific Art and Locational Identity, MIT
Terra Infirma, Irit Rogoff,
For Space, Doreen Massey
Visualising Research, Grey and Mallins
David Ben White
Poussin, Spanish History Painters
Artes Mundi competition artists