Tag Archives: Camberwell MA Show

Show Build week

So the final push begins! So far this week has progressed like I expected it to – based on all of our past pop-up shows – with only a handful of people doing the work for everyone else. I still find it astonishing how most people are still finishing their show work in the final days before the assessment – so they are in the workshops all day instead of helping with the show build. This unfortunately means everything ends up left until the very last minute and then is rushed. There has not been enough emphasis or care by many of my fellow students on the fact this is a group show. We are assessed on this exhibition as a group, and the show itself could act as a lever for our future career: it is sad and unfair that we will all suffer if our show isn’t put together well.

No amount of careful planning or organisation on my part can help if people don’t respond to e-mail calls for help, or simply vanish from college on the days of the build. I spent all day Tuesday helping to sand the walls (left in a really terrible state by the BA students) and brush the floor clean. My own work needs very little installation, so this was all group effort rather than self-interest. I did get some very much appreciated help from one of the BA lecturers though, who brought me in a mini tension wire perfect for the spot in the ceiling my work will hang from. (Look closely!)

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I left the work today to those making furniture for the space (shelves, plinths and so on). I will go in tomorrow to see the state of play and hopefully, by the end of the day, get my piece installed and ready for assessment.

I don’t want to put it up too early if it is going to be damaged by everyone still moving big bits of wood about.

We’ll see!

15 days until the show

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How to build an installation

So then. It is decided that I am doing an installation for the show – large scale for me, although perhaps small scale in absolute terms. I must consider there will be a dozen other students showing in the same space!

I have been going back over my research notes looking at the range of things which are possible, trying to see what resonates with the fundamental concepts I have come out with for what the installation is seeking to do. My thought is that I am using the map yarns in a way that each thread unravels a fragment of identity formed or remembered – a story, a choice, a path, a longing. The binding of the threads together perhaps can then offer a glimpse of the fleeing whole sense of self.

There are many artists working with fibre installations, and each offers a different perspective on how their materials can be transformed spatially, texturally and through form. How do I want to create an expression of my different experiences? Do I want to represent the size of impact each place had on forming my identity?

I also need to consider the number of map yarns it will be possible to make in the time we have left, and how many I would go to in an ideal world. There are not an infinite number of places in my life, so which places am I choosing? Those which have made the strongest impact irrelevant of time span?

My plan now is to do some testing which plain paper yarns in a space in the studio – check what a hanging installation could look like, what the lengths of my yarns will look like on the floor and options for building the individual strands into one whole. Oh and continue to make endless amounts of map yarn!

Show: T-8 weeks

So the show prep begins

We had our first return visit to the show space today since our brief glimpse last term. It gave us a chance to have a look around with a more discerning eye. Where are the windows? Where are the fire doors or signs which cannot be blocked and so on. It is not nearly as nice a space as the usual Designer Maker final show space – over in our other building. Yet another annoying consequence of having building works dumped on us without notice (the first being our nice studio getting demolished). Anyway, we must work with what we have, and so that work begins.

There is a lot of co-ordination to be done, but people seemed keen today to get started. We did some measurements of the room for example, and talked about a few things which need to be done. Hopefully the importance of the show will not be lost on anyone and we will have a more successful organisation that the last small pop-up show.

My thoughts are still about hanging from the ceiling, which although not quite as high as I remember it, is still about 4m high – so I can get a good amount over head height if I need to. The challenge might be a hanging system as I don’t think we will be allowed to screw anything directly into the ceiling (why have they kept old wallpapered ceilings in an art college???). I need to look into where I get wires which can be screwed across the wall, and how to go about hanging from one of those.

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Reflection on the interim show

The biggest piece of learning I will take away, is how you cannot overestimate how much work is involved in setting up a show. We started preparation way too late, but no-one had any idea what was required – and we were all surprised how much we were required actually sort out by ourselves. We got there in the end of course, but there were a few too many things being done (and work being finished!) just hours before the show opened.

I was impressed and surprised by how many people came to the private view, it was actually quite an event! I realise the vast proportion of visitors seemed more interested in drinking the beer than looking at the work, but I suppose that’s part of what a PV is about. There were some genuinely interested visitors as well though. Feedback wise, I had a number of people ask about what the work meant, particularly the Starfield piece, and quite a few people commented on how they liked the map basket. I even had a lovely discussion with Stella Harding (basketmaker), who took a few photos for her Morley students, and great comments from an unidentified member of Camberwell teaching staff – that’s the sort of feedback which motivates you to keep going.

So far, I have had three parents, one husband and a next-door neighbour come to visit me. So great to get so much support. Oh and nearly all of my business cards are gone already!

I have also taken the chance to quiz some of the second years before they disappear into the mist. One of my friends on the MA Book Arts course (with a mesmerising installation in the show), had some of the most poignant wisdom. Like me, she spent her EFT 1 year wandering though a range of very different experiments trying different concepts and different techniques, and ending up confused and overwhelmed with ideas. Her final success she believes, came from entering the second year with a new sense of purpose.

  • You have to OWN IT
  • Come back with FOCUS
  • BELIEVE in your ideas
  • Know what you want to say with your work / what you want your work to say (and the difference between the two)
  • INDEPENDENCE: you need to lead your own project
  • Listen to advice, but only take from it what is relevant to you
  • Ensure the work stays true to yourself

MA Designer Maker Interim show

We are about halfway through the show as I write this, while sat in our gallery space awaiting this morning’s opening time. In the end, there were a few iterations of my display before settling on the final collection of pieces.  At first, Maiko suggested I was in a no-man’s land: not resolved enough pieces for them to stand alone, but not enough exposure of process to show a proper work in progress. I’m not sure I completely agreed with her, but I understood why she wanted to show more of our processes – and to make a clear distinction between our ‘work in progress’ show and the MA final show – all shiny and finished – downstairs.

At first I tried putting all of my recent samples on the table

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Which I decided looked confused and untidy.  After a few goes re-arranging this, we settled on just showing one aspect of my latest experiments and adding another one of my fabric drawings:

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I also dropped a quick hand with some calligraphy for one of my fellow students in need!

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The view from the door…

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Nearly show time

The day for the interim show opening draws nearer, and it’s all a bit manic in the show space as last minute preparations continue. I think I am pretty much done now, having spent most of the last two weeks working on two new experiments for the show. I have decided to go with three pieces.

Starfield
(Calico, found steel wires, wild flowers, graphite)
My rust dyeing and drawing experiment. I think this nicely captures the ideas of microcosm-macrocosm and using local materials with non-local symbolism.

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You Were Here
(Steel cable, out-of-date GB road map)
The first of my basketry experiments, using steel cables to echo the importance of iron to human life, both on a micro-scale (human society itself) and a macro-scale (the core of the earth and the core of the dying stars). I like the way the map is out-of-date – showing you a place which does not physically exist, only now an impression of place shaped by memory and experience. The twining was a lot of fun, but making the map yarn took a lot of time. I have the technique sorted now at least!!

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Show me the way to go home
(Steel cable, out-of-date GB road map index)
A follow-on from the first twined piece, making more of the connection between the steel and the earth’s magnetic field. The form of the basket was inspired by a compass rose, where the human impression of place, signified here through a twined yarn made of place names, is what we overlay onto the physical world in order for us to understand it.

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This is my final text for the show guide:

How do we understand our sense of place in the world beyond the constraints of community and culture?  These works explore different aspects of the interaction of local and non-local, the physical and the meta-physical; I use steel wires as a physical manifestation of a material critical in human, planetary and stellar lifecycles. Upon this core, I am experimenting with different weaving and drawing techniques.

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Private View this Thursday night (16 July) at 6pm, Camberwell College of Arts!!