London Group Study Day – April 14th
This Study Day was one of the main reasons why I decided to fly from Switzerland to London to immerse myself into art and to meet finally really fellow students. I was so excited my exhibition visit to Tate Britain ‘All Too Human’ the day before was just a beginning of what would become a stunning and excellent weekend for me in London. A visit that will most certainly be not the last one. I was really looking forward to this day.
We’ve met at: The Tabernacle, Notting Hill W11 , a group of 11 fellow students at different pathways and different levels and Caroline Wright, tutor and program leader for OCA Fine Art degree pathway. The event was initiated an organised by Arlene Sharp with support from Joanne. A sketchbook study day that developed from bringing with us a small item fitting in our hand and some drawing media and sketchbooks or paper sheets towards an iterative interrogation of visual thinking and creative development of ideas that I found very beneficial to take on in my further practice. The Study Day was split into two parts:
- One hour introduction by Caroline on four of her projects
- Around five hours sketchbook and creative ideation session
Fig. 1 – 3: Study Day impressions. Image credit: Caroline Wright, 2018
1) Caroline Wright, visual & performance artist:
The first part was a short overview given by Caroline on four of her past and ongoing projects:
I do thank Sarah for her note taking and description of each of Caroline’s projects (Davis, 2018)
- Cultural Olympiad – out of water
=> A project staged on the beach and created during the Olympic Games in London, 2012. Inviting local people and a selected group as audience, all are involved in a sensual (visual and auditory event around aspects of the rhythm of life and mortality with some people even walking into the water.
- Sawdust and Threads
=> Disinterring non-accessible museums stocks with no further use. The objects handed over to Caroline were mostly cultural objects for daily use at some point of time. She made drawings and afterwards physically deconstructed those works, partly down to sawdust. She intends to make new works from this material. Her publication with the support of others is available at Norfolk Museum.
- Cambridge Judge Business School
=> an embodied response to the architectural development of Cambridge School and showed in an exhibition on site. The juxtaposition of old and new parts of the buildings informed her practice.
- Breath Control
=> A personal and family performative project with Caroline alongside her daughter as the performer of an audience engaging life event. The question how we are aware of our breath, inhaling and exhaling, and how we can become more mindful. Another part of the project related to singing one note from one breath, an ongoing work where she looks at possible visualisations of the results.
Learnings from Caroline’s artist introduction:
- The work as performance and life event, to be experienced on site and life. The intimacy of embodied experience as the main part of it. Even documentation of the event is not part of it. Documentation e.g. the trailer for ‘Breath Control’ project had the only intention to share with possible venues and institutions to stage the event. For me an interesting aspect as so far I researched mostly artist who worked on performative projects but where the documentation e.g. video was considered also as part of the body of work and been available.
- Disintering museum stocks: An aspect that relates somehow to my study visit the following day with Clare Wilson on Mark Dion ‘Theatre of the Natural World’ . How once objects were part of a cultural collection and became valuable and perhaps also precious. How we get connected with objects of the past, with related memories and nostalgia. I find this an interesting viewpoint as it somehow relates to my current project work in ‘Studio Practice’ and my painterly approach to my relationship with objects around me, related to my frequent travelling, and my current move from Switzerland to Germany.
- I learned how fascinated Caroline is with the sea and the movement of the tides. A notion that I personally share as we live quite close to the North Sea coast and I always feel energized and aspired by the natural movements of the sea as a life pulsing experience.
- Caroline is enthusiastic about music and the engagement of the audience through auditory senses beyond the visual. A aspect I didn’t looked at in my own works, only to the extend of listening to the sound of my mark making that informed my creation of combined visual-auditory moving images.
- I did relate her project ‘Breath Control’ to the current exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Thun by the Danish artist Jeppe Hein ‘INHALE – HOLD – EXHALE‘ . Glad I could share this with Caroline.
- Overall, I found it truly inspirational to have a talk with Caroline. The given short overview made her art practice very tangible. A practice that I try to follow as much as possible to connect with more exhibiting artists during ‘artist talks’ or other occasions. Definitely a main aspect to grow my networking.
2) Process led creation of ideas
Caroline explained the scope of sketchbook work in a wider sense of a working practice including all kinds of visual information and process related findings.
The time of this creative session was mainly structured in several parts:
- Exploration physicality and materiality of our objects alongside a paper sheet
- Making drawings informed by the object (paper and figure) in front of us
- Peer feedback 101 in between on one selected drawing created
- Extended elaboration of drawings of our objects in context of three words: Scale, Light (shadow), and Surface
- Peer feedback and ad hoc gallery presentation
to scrunch and to draw
The second drawing (Fig. 5) was done after adding dry pastels inside of the paper. It turned out to be more vivid, more movement, more expressive force.
b) Paper + Object:
My object: a pebble I often have with me, found at the Aare river close to my home in Switzerland
to nest, to relate and draw
At the end I came back to another idea: to tear, part of the shadow area and the bottom edge of the paper. I became more aware of edge control and how edges can go beyond drawn shapes and extend towards the support, and revealing the layer underneath. The torn edge also reveals a double edge through the materiality of the paper.
c) Paper + Object:
to put into relationship
I selected the drawing (Fig. 7) for peer crit in pairs. We were guided by Caroline not to use words ‘like’ in our short feedback round. I found it tremendously beneficial to talk through a peer through the work I did and vice versa. I clarified some aspects, and it opens new perspectives. Also it made me aware that not all words are understood the same way, depending on experience and context of each of us. We were also encourage to express three single words that comes to our mind on the other person’s drawing .
The following comments I took note of: shadow gives viewpoint, grounded, sitting; lost reference; unvarying as literal response to object; negative space.
The three words related to my drawing (Fig. 7) were: Negative / Line / Depth (big thanks to Arlene)
I found the idea to reduce our feedback down to three words impressively insightful and something I would like to apply in future crits as well.
Towards the end I played with folding, a ‘technique’ I explored during my assignment 1 for ‘Studio Practice- P2’ as I was wondering how nesting and relationship could be explored beyond a 2D flat area, extending as a spatial relationship (Fig. 8 – 10)
After lunch we worked for a longer time on a more elaborated drawing, drawing in a wider sense, pushing the boundaries of what drawing can be (sketch, photograph, video, performance as examples). Caroline provided key aspects for ur to keep in mind and to reflect on in our responses towards our object.
Here started my ambivalent journey through initial ideas, capturing visual information from the environment and drawn responses on those stimuli. I went outside and seated on the patio looking towards the ball game across the street.
I related those visual stimuli with: old, smooth, stripes -> mesh -> empty, movement, reflection, protection. gravity, light (ball) vs heavy (large pebbles aka rocks)
Eventually I pondered more the materiality of my object, the pebble, and how it could inform my drawing intrinsically.
My drawings were informed by above words: stripes => tape, subtractive marks; ball game with pebble, sandwich (light) with heave kernel.
I wasn’t happy with what I achieved. It seemed that all of them couldn’t express a sense of scale or object materiality (stone). I felt too self-conscious in finding a ‘solution’. Eventually I worked in a way I explored on other projects with water, letting the material running downwards. I found a new perspective opening up, turning upside down (a technique I use at times to overcome obstacles). I could sense movement and a juxtaposition of light and weight. Working with my media (oens, water) into the surface could be further elaborated into a surface element. Scale was still an open question.
I went experimental and used the pebble as my object, my tool, and my material the same time. I wanted to see my drawing in action and explored action drawing in space. I worked my pebble at the lower half of a sheet of paper (related to the sandwich idea above and the nesting sketches from the morning), used much of water (I was happy that one guest at the table left a glass of water half full), and hooked the paper on a handrail behind me (Fig. 12)
The action was to hold the pebble and to release so that by gravity it would fall down (see video below that I made after my return to Switzerland from a short phone video I took while holding the pebble, what took just some milli seconds to complete.
I continued working with the pebble, draw what fall down, and used that piece as a weight to leave its marks on another sheet of paper. As it was still wet, it punched a hole inside the first sheet, it left heavy marks onto the second one and it left an imprint on the third one (all three sheets were laying onto of each other)
We continued with peer crit in other pairs and the external viewpoint and interrogation helped me to explore ways of making meaning from all drawing and test as well on presentation. We discussed how my drawings can be combined as kind of narrative (not the sequence I made them) inspired by the video I took. Here my video is the preparation for the following installation
The following image (Fig. 13) is the results of our mutual discussion (big thanks to Michael)
At that point I had some further ideas of possibly to have the pebble suspended from the ceiling, hanging at an invisible thread, possibly closer to the viewer, above the table.
After my return home from a fabulous London weekend, I experimented further with my short video, drawings and installation as the moving images and created a small process driven video:
We concluded our fabulous and inspirational day with a Q&A session. I would like to thank Martin as he captured the key points of that session wonderfully (Hoare, 2018)
My main take aways are:
- Overcoming distant learning challenges through networking, get in contact with local community and with art practitioners overall.
- Keeping sketchbooks as visual ideation tool and practice
- Take ownership of learning and exploration, becoming the artist I want to become.
- Applying three keyword when giving feedback to works by others
- Using an iterative sequence of exploring, drawing, interrogation to capture ideas and eventually building more elaborated works. An approach I find definitely helpful and will apply in my coursework and practice.
- Networking and stay in contact with art practitioners
- To experience a working environment together, even when working on one’s own work, is so powerful that I would like to explore ways of how to keep the momentum and energy.
It was such a stunning experience to chat and exchange with others. I am very thankful for having had that opportunity. Big thanks to Arlene who initiated and organized as it is not easy to find affordable venues in London. Big thanks to Caroline who inspired my tremendously. And thanks to all my fellow students who contributed to a wonderful experience.
After the Study Day I went to Tate Modern, informed by Michael, Martina and Arlene that it would be open till 10pm that day (blog post to come)
- Davis, Sarah (2018) Study Blog [online] At: https://sarahdrawingmedia.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/study-visit-london-study-day-at-the-tabernacle-notting-hill-saturday-14th-april-2018/ (accessed 18 April 2018)
- Hoare, Martin (2018) Study blog [online] At: https://martinsdrawinganotherone.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/london-group-study-day/ (accessed 18 April 2018)
- Wright, Caroline (2018) Artist website [online] At: http://www.carolinewright.com/ (accessed 17 April 2018)