Bridge over troubled waters

There is a gap which needs to be bridged between finishing up Unit 1 and starting Unit 2. There is sunshine on the far side of the bridge, but sharks are circling beneath it that will eat you if you fall. Coming out of the assessment, I had thought I knew what I wanted to aim towards for the final show, something which would push forward some of the elements of my practice I want to develop and would also tick the required boxes for finishing the MA. After getting my Unit 1 feedback and our Unit 2 Briefing, I’m now not so sure.

I really need some help from the tutors here. I know we have a post-assessment meeting on Monday, so I thought I would step through my key pieces of feedback & concerns first so I can use my 30mins as efficiently as possible. I don’t want to ramble and waste the opportunity to get some direction.

1. Your recent proposal appears to have lost the element of identity in relation to space/place

Well this was the opening point and the most worrying, because my proposal certainly hasn’t done this, so did the tutors miss it? or have I not been clear? I think I will send Maiko a copy of my un-edited project proposal introduction which at 900 words (for a proposal with a word limit of 1000) was way too long and hence cut in half. Something has clearly been lost in translation.

2. Gap between theoretical work and development of practical work.

Hmm….well, yeah that’s undeniable really….

3. Lack of confidence

Easy to comment on, incredibly hard to fix. How are you supposed to get more confident? Maybe if I sold something, or had someone independent tell me I had some promise? Maybe if I genuinely believed I was any good?

4. Not letting the material take the lead / concepts ‘wedged’ into objects

Well, this one will always be a slight point of contention with me, as concept always, always comes first – the object doesn’t even need to exist and you could still have a perfectly valid art work. However, that being said, I do want whatever object/work I make to speak honestly about itself and (ideally) this should echo my objectives without me saying much about it. Figuring out how to do that is the crux of it really.

5. Role of textual language in my work 

Hmm. This is my big dilemma of the moment. See point 8.

6. Not enough ambition / risk, work all too safe 

As per my last post, I agree this is a reasonable and fair comment. However, I have no idea what to do in order to be more risky. I don’t know what classes as risky and what is just stupid – and I still remember trying stuff and being told off for making things with no relevance throughout last year. I worry about falling into the same trap.

7.  More in depth experimentation 

I am keen to do this and want to confirm that in Unit 2 I can do this as experimentation on all points: about the concept, the material, about the experience of the concept through my making, or through the process of viewing or both or some other as of yet undefined thing I could do. At the moment, I want to focus on the idea of the artist as cartographer – looking at the edges of the map as a way into understanding the limits of our own identities. The heterotopia is a place which exists simultaneously outside of all places, a place both real and virtual, but which is a place from where we can view ourselves in our entirety, understanding our past, present and future selves as they superimpose to form the fleeting, momentary construct that is our identity. Ok…so I know how to use the words, but I’ve got to make this physically manifest somehow. This part I am excited by.

8. Unit 2: working towards your practice 

For my future practice, I know that I want to position it as contemporary drawing. I know that I want the core of what I do to be around my abstract calligraphy and drawings (either on paper or textiles or both). I do quite like the idea of making object based poetry as well and I really do fancy making an artist’s book. What I am really not bothered about is making objects as objects. (Is that heresy for someone on a Designer/Maker course?). I am bothered about the material and process obviously – I believe this is critical – but I have no interest in making stuff just for the sake of it, or making stuff which “does something”. I don’t like the idea of social engagement either (I’m much too introverted for all of that frivolity). I quite like the idea of making art installations which have a sense of materiality about them (i.e. playing with the concept of a drawing in real 4 dimensional spacetime), but these will need to have an alignment of medium and message. I do like the idea of immersive, large-scale as well (immersive or interactive??) and even little ol’ terrified me has had ideas for what I could install in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

The problem is how I reconcile all of this future vision with what I have been doing for the last year. How on earth do I move forward? Can I really find a way to do this all as one coherent concept? Is that even possible with the hole I have dug myself into?

Is that what Unit 2 is really about?

1 thought on “Bridge over troubled waters

  1. Eileen Westmuckett

    Hi I think sending the unedited version of your project intro is a good idea (and taking a printout in case she hasnt read it by the time of the interview tomorrow) Point 2 – seems to highlight what you have said about a fine art course rather than this one

    point 3 – maybe its more accepting a lack of confidence but at the same time pushing on with what really interests you I’m thinking of all the artists in all fields who have this dichotomy

    point 6 – you have taken a big risk in signing up to this course from a well paid corporate job I do think the tutors need to be clearer here as to what they are saying – what does “no relevance ” mean in thsi context??? Hang on to what excites you!

    Point 8 – I smiled at your comment on social engagement and its frivolity as my experience of you is of a very socially engaged person! I love the idea of drawing in real 4 dimensional spacetime

    I can so imagine seeing one of your ideas in the Turbine Hall

    Change is so hard, so while acknowledging the despair, focus on the place beyond it, you have already gained so much doing this course – it is only the beginning – nothing you have learned will be wasted

    E xxx


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