Sunday, 30 December 2012

Phase I Complete!

Well, the essay is handed it at least!  And it really was such a relief to have that stage done and dusted.  I knew that it could be pretty stressful so I'm glad I spent a lot of time over the summer reading and beginning to write.  But despite being pretty much finished with a little time to spare, it was still horribly nerve wracking when it came to the hand-in.

I can't say I loved writing it - I found it hard to write to the tutorial deadlines - but I did learn an awful lot about how to write in an academic style rather than my normal descriptive (rambling) style. What I did love though, was how much I learned about so many other things as a result of reading and researching my topic: Interpreting and Portraying Silence in Art.

I had a great tutor in Johnny Rodger, and a wonderful mentor in T - now all I have to do is wait...'til June!! :(

Monday, 19 November 2012

Andy Goldsworthy - Rivers and Tides

T sent me the link for this excellent film of Andy Goldsworthy at work, and I would recommend watching it.

I was particularly taken with his comments about the tides and time: 'The relentlessness of it; there's no getting away from the fact that the sea is going to be here.'  Made me think of my coastal erosion metaphor and that there's no getting away from it, change is inevitable.

Richard Misrach

Although P introduced me to Richard Misrach a few years ago he's been a slow burner for me, with some work I really liked (some images from the Desert Cantos, particularly those of Salton Sea) and ones I wasn't so keen on (Destroy This Memory).  However, I am really pleased to see that he has revisited the Cancer Alley images and has just released a book called Petrochemical America.

The book is being seen as a culmination and publication of the project which began over 10 years ago and highlights the environmental and ecological degradation of an area of the Mississippi river, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, known as Cancer Alley.  The images are both beautiful and frightening at the same time:

Sunday, 18 November 2012

What Lies Beneath?

Over the past year, T and I have noticed that there's a strange parallel in our work and the themes behind it.  It's not that we're interested in the same things, and certainly not that our work is similar (it probably couldn't be more different!) but that when one of us finds something, there's usually a flip side for the other.  Recently she introduced me to the work of the art brut artist Judith Scott.

Born deaf and with Down Syndrome, Scott was encouraged to work creatively in a fibre art class while living in a group home in California and began to collect materials and wrap them in yarn. Constantly hoarding objects and often stealing things to add to her collection, Scott began to create sculptures that resembled distorted human figures or cocoons. Whilst I'm not as interested in the sculptures as T, I am drawn to the idea of things buried beneath layers, and the potential for release and transformation. 

untitled, Judith Scott, (1994)

I recently passed T a link for the sculptor Steve Dilworth (without much consideration on my part tbh!) that she found it very interesting.  It was only later that I realised how interesting he is from my view point too.  Based in one of my favourite places, Harris, many of his scupltures contain things that he has collected from the beaches around the island including sand, water, feathers and bird and fish carcasses. Again it made me think about what lies within; what has been hidden and has the potential at some point to be rediscovered.

Dune, Steve Dilworth, 1998.  Bronze containing sand from a dune.

It was actually a suggestion that P made that made me go back and look at Dilworth's work; that I think about burying the things I collect on my beach walks in the concrete objects I've been thinking of making.  Once again, the idea that once eroded by time and elements what was hidden will be revealed.

Since discussing my 'oh oh' moment with my mum (!) it makes me wonder if I'm the only person who couldn't work out what my work was about?!

More Concrete!

Despite my last post about my concrete fixation being heavy, I do really like this work by Youngsuk Suh:

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ah ha, or is it oh oh?

Every term seems to have its 'ah ha' moment, but this time I'm not sure it shouldn't be more of an 'oh oh' one!

I've been really struggling over my work so far this term and trying to find a reason for being so interested in it.  I'm think I'm fairly environmental aware, but nothing special, not particularly interested in geography or geology etc, but have got a real bee in my bonnet about coastal erosion! Particularly the Holderness coastline in the East Riding of Yorkshire; I've been there are few times now, although I have no connection to the area.  I seem to have gotten bogged down in taking photos of the destruction it causes, and in a strange attraction to all things concrete - and I can't explain why.

The problem is that I've become increasingly frustrated by this not understanding which in turn means I can't articulate it in viewings or tutorials; a really important part of the process.  And also, pardon the pun, it's become incredibly heavy, all this concrete!  It's difficult to explain just how worried and panicky I've been about this.

So it came as a bit of a shock when, after a comment made at a recent artist lecture, T told my what she thought it might be about and just like that, I fell to bits!!!  She seemed to really hit a nerve when she suggested that this might be related to my 1st year project Another Layer of Loss.  Then it was about people and relationships, now it's perhaps more about how much I'm changing as a person and how difficult that is. My life is so different; I'm not the person I used to be and it's so hard to let go.  Even my home is something that seems to be slipping away from me so perhaps the coastal erosion is a metaphor for all of this. Maybe it's not, but given my reaction the whole loss thing it still seems like something I have to deal with.

Whatever it is, I definitely woke up lighter today and am hoping that I'll be able to move past this stuck phase and get rid of the concrete that's weighing me down.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Concrete and Stone

With a little bit of help, I've been looking at work by other artists working particularly with concrete or stone.  Some of them I find particularly interesting so will save them for separate posts, but here's a selection of the rest:

Vasko Lipovac, Perls (1997)

Mark Wallinger, 1000 Stones (2010)

Lenka Clayton, 7000 Stones (2008)

Sarah Lucas, Concrete Boots (2005)

Simon Starling, Mirrored Wall Head (2010)

Liz Glynn, Chair (2003)

Matias Faldbakken, Shoebox Sculpture (2011)

Mirko Tschauner, Captain (2007)

Vanessa Billy, Wait, Sit, Converse (2009)

Jose Rojas, Style Spiral (2009)

Peter Wehinger, Untitled (2008)

Friday, 26 October 2012

I couldn't believe it ...

when T sent me the link for this work; she had been with me when I was dipping the pre-formed spheres (so much better than 'balls'!) into cement.  To dip them and set them up for drying, I used cocktail sticks and then stuck them into wax.  We had a giggle about cement lollipops etc, and then she found this:

Secondary Structure (Undifferentiated),  Michael Joo, 2007

I mean, come on!  What do you have to do to make something that's original?  I despair - even concrete balls on sticks has been done! Not sure about the skeleton though, but it did make us laugh ... in a wry sort of way! :)

Balls! (Seriously...balls!)

I've been thinking about where I want to take the work with concrete and was playing around with a bag of cement and some bits and pieces and ended up dipping some pre-formed balls into a pot of cement.  I really liked what I came out with but... there are so many balls out there already!  Here are some (rather poor sorry) phone shots of before they dried out.

They dried out much lighter and the top one almost looked like a planet; it was well received at my first viewing.  However, I only used cement so it was pretty fragile and cracked into several pieces.  Without thinking, M flatten one of the pieces and lo and behold... it looked great:

Problem is, when they saw them most people mentioned the same name - one of last year's graduates who made these beautiful hand compacted sphere (from soil collected from the physics department of Glasgow Uni)  which dried and cracked over the period of the degree show:
Sam de Santis, Hand Compact Sphere, 2012

Another of last year's graduates also worked in concrete and had balls, so to speak!  I think his work was my favourite in the show (other than T's of course!):

Jerry Dowds, Suspended Ball and Concrete on Mirror Plinth, 2012

I think it's one thing to reinterpret something that's been done before, but another when it was only just done at last year's degree show!!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

It's all been done before...

I think one of my reasons for struggling to get started is that the things I'm interested in have been done in abundance by lots of other artists, including some in last year's degree show at GSA.  And despite having gone through this whole 'nothing's original' issue lots of times before, it's still stopped me from trying - again!  So, I was reminded of this quote from Jim Jarmusch and I'm going to post it here, my studio, my study, my bathroom mirror, my forehead if I need to, to remind me to just get on with it, I haven't done it all before!!!

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.”  

When you haven't posted for a while, it's a struggle to know where to begin.  Usually, I've started a new year at GSA with a new post "And so it begins" etc, but I can't be bothered with that this time, and I can't be bothered with a catch up post either!

It's been a difficult start to final year - I'd gotten myself into a bit of a state about it and the pressure that is heaped on you when you first get back, didn't help.  Unfortunately, it's all self-imposed, so I only have myself to blame.  The reality is that yes, there is a lot of pressure this year - we all want to make good work and have successful degree show - but we also have a great bunch of tutors who are being extremely supportive.  There have been plenty tutorials available and the 2 group sessions I've had already, were lively to say the least - fab stuff.  The pressure was lifted when I decided that writing the dissertation is not for me and have settled on the extended essay.  Thankfully, that meant that I'd already written enough material during summer to take the essay from.  It's almost there ... or thereabouts!

Part of the pressure was that I really felt 'interrupted' by the summer break - I felt I had been on to something at the end of 3rd year, but it had to stop for summer and catching up on work and writing the essay etc.  I'd wanted to write the dissertation, just to say I'd written one - part of my ambition about being at university - but also because I had a self-limiting belief that 'I'd probably never be an artist anyway'!  So it came as a bit of a surprise when I really started to panic about not making any work - I realised I want to be an artist more than I think I'd let myself admit to.

Pretty early in the term to be having an ah ha moment, but a really good one - and good timing!

That said, I still struggling to find focus for what I want this year to be about for me and for my work; I'm struggling to focus at all if I'm honest.  However, am determined to get there and so picking up this blog is part of that process.  Watch this space!!!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Just Because!

This has nothing to do with photography or art, but everything to do with inspiration!

Bon Iver, live in AIR Studios, London, 2011

Friday, 24 August 2012

I Wish I'd Thought of That!

Emily Mennerdahl

A Failed Monument to Silence. Used foam earplugs cast into bronze. 3 x 1 cm. 2007

One Week of Silence7 pairs of wax earplugs formed into a ball. 4 x 4cm. 2008

Cornelia Parker

Here v there!

Last weekend I went home, back to Fife, and it really was food for the soul.  Spent Saturday with P driving up the east coast and photographing around the beaches of Montrose, St Cyrus and Lunan Bay.  The evening sun was just beautiful.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with M during one of my tutorials last year about how some of my best work comes as a result of travel.  Not overseas travel - but sometimes near, sometimes far, and definitely away from the city.  I'll have to wait until term begins to develop the film from this summer's trips to see if there's anything decent, but I certainly feel much better as soon as I'm away from Glasgow.  I suppose it helps that my interests are connected to the coast, but getting away just makes me feel so much freer and able to think more creatively.

The problem with going home though, is the coming back!  The better the time away, the harder it is to settle when I have to come back to the city centre.  This week has been particularly hard as I'm trying to work on my essay/dissertation - how do I focus in the noise of the city, when my heart's still on the beach?

Lunan Bay 


St Cyrus

Home - for the time being!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Marc Wilson

Last week I came across the photographer Marc Wilson who has also taken photographs of Kilnsea and many of the few remaining war defences around our coast, and in France.  I'm not so keen on the ones with long exposure, but his project The Last Stand, seems very well researched and I think some of the images are great.  Makes me want to go back to some of my old ones and take them on the 4x5!

Newburgh, Aberdeenshire (c) Marc Wilson, 2012

And much as I try to avoid the cliche, I really like his Abandoned series!

Third Year Exhibition

My images for the 3rd year exhibition were of the gun battery at Kilnsea on the Spurn Peninsula - a continuation of my interest in what we have left behind, and how the land is reclaiming man's impositions on it - in this case by coastal erosion.

Elements I, II and III (c) M-J Archibald, 2012

Elements I, II, and III and Elemental installation view 
GSA FAP3 Exhibition, The Glue Factory, Glasgow - March 2012

Happy coincidences...

Almost 4 years ago I was nervously standing in the queue to register as a student at GSA.  I'd played it safe and arrived mid-morning (didn't want to seem too keen, or too relaxed!) only to find myself next to an extremely hung-over lad in dark glasses, breathing alcohol over me! I excused myself and went to the loo!  When I came back, I was standing in front of a pretty, petite, dark haired girl, who thankfully didn't smell of alcohol and was much, much nicer to talk too!  We met for tea the next day and the rest, as they say, is history!

It turned out that she was direct entry into 2nd year photography and so this year, my very good friend Theresa Moerman Ib graduated with a first class honours degree (with distinction!) from Glasgow School of Art - I am so proud of her.

As well as her academic success, her degree show was great (and black!!) and well received, and she has been invited to exhibit her work elsewhere as a result.

Please take a look at her website and go to see her work if you can:

Theresa Moerman Ib

Emergency Exit (c) Theresa Moerman Ib, 2012

The Worst Thing About the Sun (c) Theresa Moerman Ib, 2012

I wish her lots of success - she works so hard and is such an inspiration to me. x


That's how it feels - like I ought to be drawing some big fat line across this blog!  A line that represents a new start; in my case, the start of my fourth and, final, year at art school.  To say I'm scared and nervous would be an understatement; I find the whole idea quite terrifying!!

I know I'll be fine, there are just so many emotions tied up in this final year - it's the culmination of a dream I've had since I was 16, it's something I've worked so hard to do well at over the past 3 years, it's something I've given up quite a lot to do and yes, I'm afraid I won't be good enough come degree show time.

However, all my mechanisms and systems are starting to get put in place including deciding to drastically cut back (almost give up!) my business for the last 6 months of my degree.  But in order to do that, I've had to work really hard this summer - not just at business, but have started my dissertation/essay (tbd!) and am beginning to get back into researching some ideas I'd like to progress with once the term starts

And I really need to get blogging again!  I really went off the whole thing towards the end of 3rd year and I'm not sure why.  I'm not going to do my usual 'round-up of all the things I missed' post, but suffice to say 3rd year ended on a very high note and I'm very pleased with the progress I made (internally and externally) and this year's degree show was excellent.

Here's hoping next year's will be just as good!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

429, approx.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

463, approx.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Normal service resumes ... maybe!

It's been a while since I've posted on my blog, but to be honest, my heart's just not been in it this term; there's been a lot going on. Despite promising myself never to get badly stressed again after having my business, I've found myself under an awful lot of pressure lately; most of it has been as a result of instability of this term's timetable and I was afraid that if I blogged, I might end up ranting about it!  Given that I know some of the people who read my posts, I thought that might not be such a prudent thing to do!

However, after lots of hard work, very long hours and surprisingly little gin, I feel like I'm back on top of things - my thanks to P, T and L (and my mum!) for their words of encouragement at a time when I really did think about not going on to 4th year.  I'm feeling much more optimistic and am looking forward to the 3rd year exhibition on the 13th of this month.

And maybe getting back to blogging some of the things I'm currently looking at?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

An Uphill Struggle!

That's what 3rd year has felt like so far!  I'm sure it's not meant to, and I was certainly looking forward to being in 3rd year, but 1st term (and life in general) has proved to be a bit of a struggle so far.

And it's a shame, because I was really looking forward to do video work once I started it, but the harder I tried, the worse it got!  Turns out that I may like to see all the videos at the various show I go to, but I just wasn't able to come up with anything decent to show for all of that!  Maybe I'm being a little hard on myself - being someone who prefers the slower pace of large format photography, the moving image always had the potential to be difficult to deal with - we had a lot to learn in a relatively short space of time.

It wasn't just video unfortunately, I had a lot of other things to contend with too which had an impact on my energy and my motivation during first term.  I'm hopefully putting most of that behind me now, but it's been hard and the harder it got, the more I tried to work and the more I tried to work, the worse things seemed to get!!  However, last week we showed our finished videos at the CCA and there was some really good work there.  Not everyone showed something, but I was persuaded to show a little video I made purely for fun and motivation.

Thanks to K for the pylons and to T for helping choose the music; it got some cheers and a good round of applause! :)