Day 4: Discussion Reaches New Depths
Today was my turn to run a workshop. I had originally intended on hosting a book group session and asked that everyone read ‘The Word For World Is Forest’ by Ursula Le Guin (a book that Anna had given us all a copy of at the start of the project) and bring ‘a book which has had a significant impact or influence on your practice’. In addition to the book group we had decided as a group that each person briefly shares their practice with everyone, as a result it meant that there wasn’t on this occasion enough time left for discussing the Ursula Le Guin book. I think if I had known sooner that we were sharing our practice I would have planned a workshop that related to drawing or mono-printing rather than doing a book related task. However, it was very rewarding to hear what everyone’s chosen books were and their individual reasons for selecting them. It was an opportunity to share my passion for books and how through reading them sometimes unexpected pertinent answers can be found that continue to provide focus and direction for why I value the arts.
Fiona Hingston ran her session after mine and it worked really well as a group-crit, Fiona sharing elements of her practice and work that we in-turn responded to as a group. Even though we were responding to Fiona’s work I actually found the discussion very helpful for addressing some concerns I have in my own practice on the issue of making work, ‘because you feel compelled to’ verses ‘making work with intent to be seen by an audience’ (how those two things push and pull against one another).
The second half of the day saw artist and professor, Rona Lee deliver to the group a lecture about her practice, which has involved working with marine scientists and some rather complex looking research on ocean topography that has as much depth as the deep blue sea, sea, sea from which much of the work took its inspiration. There was an interesting contrast in language from the relatively informal talking in the morning to Rona’s more academic, written use of language befitting of the institution of the University. It left me feeling a bit anarchic, even though I too had chosen to study at the University, but having been outside academia for four years now it left me wondering where research sat in its validity for being understood, place, use or assimilated in the world outside the context of the university? Rona’s work itself, thankfully, is genuinely interesting and warrants a longer post than what I am writing here, but it seems a double-edged sword that art has to frame itself within the language and rationale of the university to be validated by it, yet artists like Rona, in being placed within the university is raising the academic credibility of art as a subject and discourse in relation to, in this case, that of science. The issue of how art, that does not operate within the context of academia can be undertaken, viewed and supported remains an issue of complex consideration. It was an invaluable highlight for me being able to discuss some of these ideas on research in a Q&A style discussion with Rona and the group after her talk. I still have questions about Outsider art and how it feels as though research can sometimes inhibit imagination or creativity perhaps more sometimes than it helps it…but these are questions that I will continue to unravel and find more about as time unfolds.
Day 5: The Best is Yet To Come
Our final day at Huish Episcopi was spent in two halves. The morning took featured a Digital workshop with Stephen Ives; the afternoon as ‘free time’ in which Jenny Graham showed us a new technique of lithographic printing using photocopied images and gum of Arabic. [Watch Here] Maybe it was because it was the last day, maybe because we had all finally become more familiar and at ease with the space and each other but the last few hours of this day was amongst the best of our whole time spent together at the school. I think litho printing is a technique that I will definitely use outside of this process and the enthusiasm in the air and desire to make was infectious. It left me feeling grateful for the whole week’s experience in having the opportunity to work with such a variety of skilled and articulate individuals and learning much about how we all work both as individuals and as a group.
There were many times during the course of Prospectus that I found myself feeling a bit unworthy of participating in it, thinking that it should have gone to an artist more serious and sure of their place within the art world.I am still sceptical trying to find a path within my practice unsure of where my long-term commitments and ambitions within the arts lie. I feel grateful though too as generally I am also someone who prefers being alone to create work so to be thrust in a situation where I am working and collaborating with six other artists, within the context of a school in some form of professional development was unusual in it being not felt since working in academia. Like a still glass of water it was good to have been stirred in this way but I have looked forward to the time to make independently again motivated significantly by the experience at Huish. Watch this space…!