Tag Archives: final show

Highlights of the degree show

Almost a week has passed, since the exhibits came down, the walls were repainted and the lights turned off on our final degree show. It was a great experience, although I am glad it is all over. I promised you all some potted highlights, in case you didn’t make the show!

Do you know who you are?

If you turn and look back
Do you see the places you passed on your way here?
Each dwelling, carving it’s nature onto your identity,
However fleeting the pause.

Shadows, built from real and imagined places,
Embedding themselves into your self.
You may not even have noticed it happening
Until you were already gone.

The absolute identity does not exist;
The self is nothing but a haunting of memories, experiences and fiction.
Each pause is an unravelling,
A fragment of identity found or remembered;
A choice, a path, a longing.

You should not have come here looking for yourself.
You will find nothing.

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In total there was 221 metres of map string made from 32 individual maps, carefully chosen to represent specific places significant to my own identity. The book of poetry sits alongside offering a glimpse as to the nature of the memories belonging to each place, each thread.

And lots and lots of visitors!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make the show possible, particularly those who generously offered their help in sourcing or offering vintage maps. You all got a mention in my book 🙂

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And then, it was all finished.

So that’s it. All over – the show is down and the studio is being packed up and emptied. After today I won’t be back on site as a student in Camberwell again.

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I realise I have been so wrapped up in the chaos that has been the show, that I haven’t blogged on how it has gone. This post will be coming soon! For now though, that strange mixture of relief, happiness and the slight melancholy of leaving is all I can think about. Yesterday was the last day of the show and as the final visitors walked around our whole class gathered in the 32C sunshine behind our studio for an improptu bbq. A jug of pimms, fresh watermelons and a host of terminally undercooked sausages made for a light hearted, friendly farewell to the year.

The mood today is different. Reality sets in as the grade results letters and feedback are passed around. Sadly not everyone is so cheerful as last night. The show is all being packed away and many people are wondering what’s next – knowing the world of real work awaits, and the likelihood is most of us might not ever see each other again.

I’m sat in the shade waiting for one last chat with Maiko, before I disappear into the world outside of college again. It has been a long but fulfilling road of personal development to get here. For someone who had not even a GSCE in Art (I used to consistently get 2/10 for homework), I am pleased to have made it and – even if it wasn’t the qualification I was after – its nice to officially have an MA to add to my collection of degrees. [Just for the record, this is it; I am not doing another one].

There will be time for ideation and business planning later, for now I think it is time for a wee rest.

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

A slight change of plan

I had decided some time ago about presenting a book of poetry alongside my final show installation. A few posts ago, I talked about making a handmade book of single line calligraphic poetry which would offer a glimpse of the fragment of identity being invoked for each of the map strings. I even posted a picture of my lovely multi-coloured book model!

Well….on a lovely, rainy walk with my other half, I was talking through the ideas behind the book. He asked, perfectly innocently, channelling Maiko from afar, how the words would link to the actual material map strings I had made. A thought appeared in my head – which said how the premise of my whole installation is about experiencing my handmade material. A material which speaks for itself without the need for any intervention.  I had only a week ago said during my symposium talk that:

My journey has brought me back to myself
Looking for my shadows in the memories of the places I have been
Creating a language built of material,
a material which speaks so loudly for itself, it offers its own story,
a material poem perhaps: a physical manifestation of the memory of place …

There is after all no difference
Between a poem carved with metal and ink and a stream of words pulled out of the back of your mind
or the material poem itself, a thousand square miles of remembered places cut, twisted and condensed into a single piece of paper yarn

So a new idea: a slight change of idea, was born. Instead of just putting in the isolated lines of poetry in a fancy book…..(which I must admit was slightly risky to take on having never made one like this before)……I would instead present the lines of poetry in a book alongside the material they were inspired from. This would give a sort of taxonomy of the map strings as individual identity fragments before they are combined into a single encounter in the physical installation.

My book therefore becomes a taxonomy of maps and of identity.  A taxonomy is a classification.  It is not like an atlas (a book of maps or charts); the taxonomy does not collect, it classifies.

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I asked myself while doing the photoshoot for the book, why I should not just present the string loops as they are for the show, why bother with a hanging installation? I was pleased to know the answer to this inside my head already. I want people to experience the “encounter” with myself as more than just an observation of a taxonomy, to instead become a part of the work within the room. Each separate string is just a fragment of identity which does not exist in isolation. The installation brings together each aspect of placeidentity to combine to offer a glimpse of the whole sense of self.

Instead of a handmade book, I have created a shiny professional art book which suits this idea much better.  Having spent all weekend doing the photoshoot and editing, it’s now on order, so that part of my show work is now done too. Can’t wait to see the finished copy!

8 days until show build
24 days until the show opens

Planning the final show

As the only management consultant in my year group, it has not been a surprise that I have ended up being in charge of planning & organising everyone into doing things for the final show. I don’t mind so much, it at least put me at ease that things will get done this way. Everyone has so far been very receptive at doing things allocated to them, but it does feel like herding the proverbial cats at times.

Our first main task has been to start discussing and agreeing on the show space itself – who will go where, and in what format etc. Last year’s graduating bunch ended up having shouting matches and rude exchanges in disagreements over space, so I wanted to make sure we had a open, democratic process and no fights.

Poi made us a lovely 1:20 scale model of the space which we all added our own mini models in. A first attempt at a curation perhaps. There will still be more tweaking needed no doubt. We need the work to talk to each other appropriately, and not be boring to look at. I’m still not entirely certain how I will get my hanging to work, but that, and the question over the floor is all that is really left to decide now.

Some photos of the draft layout:

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You’ve got mail

Look what came in the post came today….

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And after a little bit of sorting, this is what we have!  Thanks a million to Mrs T Wilson to donating such a wonderful quantity of maps, and thanks a million to my lovely mum to for making surprisingly good use of Facebook in finding donors and then carting the whole lot over to the post office at top speed for me!!

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The plan is now to finalise exactly how many strings I want / have time for in the installation and make to the final number over next week. I don’t want to keep making right up until the end – firstly it will be too stressful and second, the pages in my poem book will need to be carefully counted so I can’t add threads at the last minute. There are enough ‘local’ maps of my places in the new box that I shouldn’t now need to source any more.

 

18 days until show build
34 days until the show opens 

Waiting for the post

I have ran out of maps.

More are coming in the post, but for the moment, making has stalled while I watch for the postman to come by with a big parcel for me. This has given me the day to think about other things – and question just how many maps I actually want to go to (so far I have 25 done). The ‘other things’ however, are also starting to get quite important, with only three weeks left for any work needed before the show build / assessment begins.

I have decided I do want to put a book of poetry alongside the installation. This isn’t going to be full on long, wordy poems, but rather a single line – a glimpse – of the memory being invoked for each of the map strings I have made. This will offer an insight into the nature of the memories being described for those who wish to know more about the work.

Of course I will have to make the book myself, it will not do to just buy something off the shelf for a exhibition of this nature. I have made some small books before, so I know the basics of bookbinding and some of the formats available. This afternoon I looked back at some of the samples I have made before, as well as some new ideas in long overlooked books off my bookshelf. And ho! I have made an uncharacteristically swift decision! I am pleased that the impending doom of the final show is at least pushing me to make required decisions so swiftly.

Some photos of the finished book model (using bright paper colours for testing the construction but skipping the outside cover). I think I will go for A5 size – twice as big as the model in the photos below. Three reasons for choosing this structure:

  1. It has such a lovely feel to it both stood up and laid down, simple yet with an air of elegant complexity. The book is after all not the main feature of my installation
  2. It allows for hidden pages, things which cannot be quite seen. I know exactly what is going on here, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise!
  3. It offers what seems to be at first glance a continuous stream of text from page to page (on the red paper in the model). Since identity is a fluid stream of discrete moments, I like this symbology.

 

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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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