Richard Long Masterclass Project (Lines of Desire), outcomes

Art, public Art

I’ve had a full day of rest and an extra hour’s sleep as the clocks went back, so I’m now ready to report and reflect on the last two days and the outcomes of this intensive week-long project, in which Art and Geography students worked together to ‘map’ the Newton Park campus, informed by the work and approaches of Bristol-based artist Richard Long. Phew.

So Thursday was our day to go off and work in groups, mapping or intervening (artistically) on campus, with tutor support and gatherings by the media wall at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm. I’d brought in scissors, glue and the printed-out photos sent in after the first day (four each), plus the word sheets from Wednesday group work. A lot of material, how to organise it? I’d been hoping to find someone else to share this work but it seemed I was on my own – collaborative in that the raw material came from the whole group, but alone in terms of what I did with it. More anxiety.

The morning passed with soothing cutting-out of the photos, and placing them onto the word sheets in any way that seemed to make intuitive sense. By lunchtime it was obvious that I had far too much material and I’d need to edit ruthlessly. I wrote all the words into a list and divided them by type – concrete nouns, emotions, verbs – ah, verbs! The Doing of art, a link with Richard Long’s process.

A long roll of paper meant I could write out my verb list (in an order that pleased my poet-self) and put various photos next to the words, not to illustrate but more to inform or comment on… I had a vision. To make a poem-thing using words and images that could fill the media wall. Could it be done?

Google slides, said Richard. I’ve never used Google slides. Could I do something in PowerPoint and transfer it? Yes. OK, so I got to work on my old clunky laptop, finding, downloading, re-naming the relevant images from Flickr and putting them into the slides I created with the words. It took a very long time. I’m not very IT literate. The last two hours of this were done at home by which time I was utterly exhausted, and spent a restless night wondering if it would work. At 2.00 am I had an idea for Plan B, another (low-tech) way of using the source material, which I refined on the drive in on Friday morning.

The tutors were amazing. Sue Lawty and Richard White spent hours working on how to translate my presentation into a format readable by the media wall, for a long time it looked as if we’d only get a small image up on there. Meanwhile I cut up the letters for HERE out of the original word sheets, laid them out as compass points and surrounded them with a circle of the photos, plus a line… Plan B in action. I reached crying point in the IT frustrations and Sue sent me off for a walk, so I caught up with what some of the other groups had been doing and had a proper breakfast, then there was a lot of hanging around and preparing what I’d say in my 1-minute spiel at the end. Finally Glenn the IT wizard from Sion Hill cracked our problems, my image appeared full-size, and I could relax and celebrate.

I would do it all very differently if I was doing it again, but given the time constraints I think it was sort of OK. I loved seeing and hearing what the other groups and individuals had been doing – and there was wine and nibbles for our celebration. I have learnt how to use Soundcloud and Flickr, expanded my boundaries enormously in terms of my own practice, and made some good contacts. It was all worth it. Really. But phew, glad it’s over!

Plan B, the low-tech response...

Plan B, the low-tech response…

Plan B, the low-tech response... from the balcony

Plan B, the low-tech response… from the balcony

Tutors and Sue Lawty working hard on my Plan A... with much appreciation!

Tutors and Sue Lawty working hard on my Plan A… with much appreciation!

Other groups' work 1

Other groups’ work 1

Other groups' work 2 - the view through the green screen

Other groups’ work 2 – the view through the green screen

Other groups' work 3, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups’ work 3, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups' work 4, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups’ work 4, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups' work 5, an intervention on an existing sculpture

Other groups’ work 5, an intervention on an existing sculpture

Other groups' work 6, one of Viv's tiny interventions - this one is 'A Bird knows No Boundaries'

Other groups’ work 6, one of Viv’s tiny interventions – this one is ‘A Bird knows No Boundaries’

Plan A finally worked! My po-art thing. Not brilliant, but a first attempt at something and a huge amount of work

Plan A finally worked! My po-art thing. Not brilliant, but a first attempt at something and a huge amount of work

Ooh, is that for us?!

Ooh, is that for us?!

Richard Long Masterclass Project, Day 3

Art, Context, Exhibition, public Art

The whole project is actually called ‘Lines of Desire‘, but was billed to us as a masterclass. What this actually entailed was a group visit to Richard Long’s retrospective at the Arnolfini on Tuesday, plus going to see Boyhood Line on the Clifton Downs; and an invitation-only lecture by him on Wednesday at the Uni, which lasted slightly under an hour.

It was my second visit to the exhibition, and I did get more from it, especially as we had an introduction to each gallery with more background information on the work. Basically, his art begins and ends with walking. To some extent, the walking IS the sculpture. Photos of interventions in the landscape using found materials are another form of the artwork, and his text pieces are about the concept, the idea. When he was studying and starting work in the Sixties and Seventies, avant-garde artists were attempting to move away from art as objects in galleries, making work that was harder to buy and sell. They were focusing on the ideas of art rather than its commercial value, and wanted to make the viewer do some work, using the imagination.

Richard Long is that rare beast, an internationally-acclaimed artist who still lives and works were he grew up – in Bristol. He uses specific materials in his gallery work, such as River Avon mud, or stones from two particular quarries. His mark-making palette consists of circles, lines and crosses, used by humanity for millennia and situating himself in the landscape.

The upstairs vitrines showed samples of his book works, and I learnt about his print works in the gallery bookshop. Then we set off to find the recent piece Boyhood Line, which took a lot of wandering around on the Downs in the glorious sunshine. Oh, how we suffer for our art.

Wednesday started with Reflections, various questions we had to answer individually and in groups towards devising our collaborative responses. I liked the text pieces we produced and decided to work further with these texts and the photographs we’d all submitted from the first day’s campus exploration.

I took two pages of notes from the lecture and found it interesting to hear his own perspective on his work, as opposed to where others would place it. He emphasised the walk as the sculpture, saying that he is an opportunist, producing work in the moment and enjoying the freedom to do so. His works are often ephemeral, he will sometimes scatter the materials used after documenting with a photograph, but other pieces are still extant after twenty years. He does not signpost them and is not bothered whether they are seen or not, preferring them to be anonymous. He is interested in alignments and measurements, and stresses the fact that his art is not conceptual as the works are real physical acts or events.

Lots more to think about. An intense few days so far! In terms of my own work, perhaps less of a focus on things, making objects – I have indeed worked out how to record with my tablet, and save to Soundcloud. I may be working on my first GoogleSlide show to go up on the Media Wall in Commons building… I have plenty of ideas as to how to incorporate these new ideas into my practice this year, but for now, a few photos to end with.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - text piece documenting a walk - or an idea.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – text piece documenting a walk – or an idea.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - a text piece referencing Bob Dylan, as several do. It may look like a concrete poem, but it definitely isn't one - he said.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – a text piece referencing Bob Dylan, as several do. It may look like a concrete poem, but it definitely isn’t one – he said.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - the group exploring gallery 3

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – the group exploring gallery 3

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - how walking is sculpture, in Artspeak

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – how walking is sculpture, in Artspeak

Looking for a white line on the Downs... and finding plenty 1

Looking for a white line on the Downs… and finding plenty 1

Looking for a white line on the Downs... and finding plenty 2

Looking for a white line on the Downs… and finding plenty 2

Looking for a white line on the Downs... and finding plenty 3 - Found it!

Looking for a white line on the Downs… and finding plenty 3 – Found it!

Boyhood Line, Richard Long, Clifton Down... this one has a plaque

Boyhood Line, Richard Long, Clifton Down… this one has a plaque

The stones are already disappearing into the grass

The stones are already disappearing into the grass

Group work towards Lines of Desire outcomes... I want to edit it further as a poem...

Group work towards Lines of Desire outcomes… I want to edit it further as a poem…

Richard Long Masterclass Project, Day 1

Art

The first day of a week-long project at Bath Spa University, Newton Park Campus. With lecturers Becky Scharf (Geography), Julianne Worral Hood (Art), Richard White (Social Media etc), Owain Jones(Environmental Humanities), Mike Johnston (Creative Media Practice) and Lead Artist Sue Lawty… plus about 4 Geography students and a whole bunch of assorted arty students.

After we’d all briefly introduced ourselves and our work, we had some background info from Owain about the environmental crisis we must all somehow respond to, a lecture from Sam Walton (English Lit) about Land, Art & Text (sadly cut short due to room booking system); and after lunch a quick session on Social Media from Richard before we set off into the wild… oops I mean for a walk on campus.

Our brief was to photograph whatever captured our interest, 4 images of which should be sent to the project this evening as ‘homework’ – they’ll be featured on the Media Wall in Commons building by Wednesday. Also to collect items on the way for a ‘dictionary of things’, a task I took to with gusto. It helped that I always carry a spare plastic bag with me… I was filmed and interviewed picking up feathers, a constant fascination of mine.

Eventually we stopped at the ‘temple’ on the other side of the lake/fish/duck pond, where we laid out the found objects on a large sheet of white paper. Followed by another brief – to ‘draw’ in any way or medium we desired, and share our working methods. Mine involved cigarette butts; Sandy drew circles into patches of lichen; Poppy ‘drew’ a long line of cut grass… others filled in cracks on the paving stones with tiny pieces of gravel, or scored their sketchbooks with found items, or recorded ambient sounds etc. Some people even drew!

Tomorrow we’re all off to the Arnolfini in Bristol for a group visit and talk at the Richard Long retrospective, and on Wednesday the man himself is coming to speak to us. Then we start on our creative responses.

A few photos from today, and further updates later in the week. Oh, I may discover how to use flickr and soundcloud at some point…

Artist Sue Lawty heading off into the wilds of Newton Park, armed with a large roll of white paper and a grin

Artist Sue Lawty heading off into the wilds of Newton Park, armed with a large roll of white paper and a grin

Things I notice... 1

Things I notice… 1

Things I notice...2

Things I notice…2

Things we collected...1

Things we collected…1

Things we collected...2

Things we collected…2

Drawing with cigarette butts...1

Drawing with cigarette butts…1

Drawing with cigarette butts...2

Drawing with cigarette butts…2

Drawing with cigarette butts...3 (3D)

Drawing with cigarette butts…3 (3D)

The Big Draw and Wells Art Contemporary

Art, Exhibition

My tutor Kate suggested I attend The Big Draw in Wells today (part of ‘the world’s biggest drawing festival’ every October) as I’d admitted that I’m really resistant to drawing. Fortunately it coincided with the Wells Art Contemporary exhibition at the Museum so I hit two birds with one stone. It’s also the last weekend of Somerset Art Weeks (SAW) and we took the opportunity to call in Venues 83, 85 and 87 to make a day of it.

Venue 87 is the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen’s new gallery in Wells, having moved from Somerton where I’ve visited previously. The main displays were still being set up but we admired much work, joked with the assistant about tissue paper on a plinth (wrapping for some lovely textile work), and picked up a flyer for the Opening on Oct 31st.

Onto the Museum, next to the Cathedral, to find The Big Draw. Their theme was to construct a giant pot from fragments of drawings, using both Museum displays (on brown paper with black biro) and the Contemporary Art exhibition (coloured pencils on white paper) for inspiration. All drawings produced were then pinned onto a framework to represent a giant pot.

As any ages or abilities could participate, I didn’t feel too bad about my pathetic attempts, and thoroughly enjoyed examining the archaeology display in the Balch room, eventually deciding to cheat and draw a Beaker pot copied from another drawing. Upstairs, I enjoyed the whole exhibition (I recognised a few works from the Degree Show at BSU) before hastily scribbling some colours to represent an abstract painting just inside the door.

Fortunately I’d pinned them to the pot framework and taken some photos of my favourite work before going into the ‘student display’, where artists from local secondary schools displayed their own work which had been judged by the same panel of artists as the main competition. The quality was outstanding, and as usual I struggled with how on earth I’m doing a Degree course with people who’d studied and produced work of this sort of standard before reaching Uni.

Anyway – the photos. Here are my tentative drawings, the ‘pot’ we were constructing, and some of my favourites from the Wells Art Contemporary (you may notice a preference for ceramic and 3D work…) On the way home we called at Venue 85, Frameus in Wells, and Venue 83 in Godney to visit Kate Noble, who’s exhibiting with Kim de Vries (I know them both). We had a lively discussion with Kate about the exhibition we’d just seen…

Links to Wells and the Big Draw here: http://www.thebigdraw.org/the-big-draw  http://www.wellsartcontemporary.co.uk/

My poor tentative attempts for The Big Draw. Never how I intend them to look.

My poor tentative attempts for The Big Draw. Never how I intend them to look.

The 'Pot' constructed from drawing 'fragments' at Wells Museum, The Big Draw 2015

The ‘Pot’ constructed from drawing ‘fragments’ at Wells Museum, The Big Draw 2015

Asia Fuse, 'Rat Wall', plaster, at Wells Art Contemporary

Asia Fuse, ‘Rat Wall’, plaster, at Wells Art Contemporary

Gillian Wisden 'Ball and Chain', seaweed, metal, at Wells Art Contemporary

Gillian Wisden ‘Ball and Chain’, seaweed, metal, at Wells Art Contemporary

Morag MacInnes 'Twin Towers', clay, at Wells Art Contemporary

Morag MacInnes ‘Twin Towers’, clay, at Wells Art Contemporary

Lauren Ilsley 'Empyrean Alignment No 1', earthenware, at Wells Art Contemporary

Lauren Ilsley ‘Empyrean Alignment No 1’, earthenware, at Wells Art Contemporary

Anthony Lloyd 'Festoon', porcelain at Wells Art Contemporary

Anthony Lloyd ‘Festoon’, porcelain at Wells Art Contemporary

Jacqueline Anderson 'Conversation Piece', womens tights filled with flour, etc (a moving piece...) at Wells Art Contemporary

Jacqueline Anderson ‘Conversation Piece’, womens tights filled with flour, etc (a moving piece…) at Wells Art Contemporary

Oshia taking up Kate Noble's offer of some home-grown grapes

Oshia taking up Kate Noble’s offer of some home-grown grapes

Somerset Art Weeks and much, much more

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition, public Art

I am way behind on documenting my artistic pursuits and exhibition visits. Just to remind myself more than anything, here’s what I’ve been up to since my last post (was it really only two weeks ago?):

Launch of Red Brick Building Festival of Arts SAW Venue 78 25th Sept; performing at Bristol Poetry Festival, 29th Sept; re-enrolling at Uni for the third year of my ceramics course (BA Creative Arts, Bath Spa Uni); attend Private View of new exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey 30th Sept, six artists responding to the Abbey ruins and local wildlife, including lovely ceramics by the equally lovely Casey Jon; day trip to Cardiff 2nd Oct to see Fragile, a dedicated ceramics exhibition at the National Museum; same day, attend Private Views at two venues in Glastonbury for start of SAW exhibitions – Glastonbury Galleries Venue 76 for Thalia Brown’s sensitive nature photography plus others, and Blue Cedar Venue 74; day trip to Brean Down 3rd Oct for the opening of Sense of Place Venue 95 by my friends Donna Vale and Joy Merron; afternoon visit to Amazing Space at Dove Studios Venue 81 Oct 4th where several of my artist friends have work displayed, including Bron Bradshaw and Di Milstein; setting up a display of my own work (ceramics, prints and poetry) at Glastonbury Library Oct 5th; attend Fountain Poets in Wells same evening; send in application for a Uni week-long site-specific art intensive with Richard Long and other national figures Oct 6th; get back into ceramics studio at last and start playing Oct 7th; first session of the course with both tutors and whole group, give presentation of my work, influences and talk about directions for the coming year Oct 8th; attend Private View of The Extra Mile at A2 Gallery in Wells Venue 88 Oct 9th, meeting Viv from Uni there; SAW visits with friend Oct 10th to West Pennard and Pilton – Venue 70 to see Elizabeth Raeburn and Rodney Lawrence’s ceramics (bought one of his small pots made from clay dug up in their neighbour’s garden), Venue 67 Back at the Barn by the Heptad group of textile artists, in the Tithe Barn at Pilton – fab building and amazing work – Venue 66 Pilton Collective, and on to Pylle for Venue 64 Movement in Nature; and today (phew) another trip out with friends to Wincanton via Castle Cary, taking in Claudia Gunton’s Beech Tree depictions at the Market House Venue 50, Max and Rosie Oliver’s work at Silver Ash studio, Venue 48, and ending at Stasis Venue 45 where Arete Arts had been clearing their attics and coming up with the most astonishing and creative responses.

To add to the fun, I’d also applied and been interviewed for a new job last week, completed a First Aid Training four hour update and had a 6-monthly case review meeting. The art this weekend was by way of relaxing from the busy week… Well, this year’s SAW theme *is* Momentum.

I can’t possibly include images from everything I’ve been to. Here are one or two highlights just to whet your appetite. And recommendations? Dove Studios, Pilton Tithe Barn and Arete Arts. Fragile at Cardiff having ended now – I only just caught it.

'Fragile' exhibition at Cardiff - Adam Buick, Massive Intertidal Jar 2015 (detail)

‘Fragile’ exhibition at Cardiff – Adam Buick, Massive Intertidal Jar 2015 (detail)

'Fragile' exhibition at Cardiff - Claire Curneen, Touched 2015

‘Fragile’ exhibition at Cardiff – Claire Curneen, Touched 2015

'Fragile' exhibition at Cardiff - Phoebe Cummings, Scenes for a Future History of Ornament, 2015 (detail)

‘Fragile’ exhibition at Cardiff – Phoebe Cummings, Scenes for a Future History of Ornament, 2015 (detail)

Brean Down 'Sense of Place' Launch - found objects

Brean Down ‘Sense of Place’ Launch – found objects

Brean Down 'Sense of Place' Launch - artist Jon England with one of his saline solution on rusty shutters images

Brean Down ‘Sense of Place’ Launch – artist Jon England with one of his saline solution on rusty shutters images

Brean Down 'Sense of Place' Launch - artists Donna Vale, Joy Merron, Jon England

Brean Down ‘Sense of Place’ Launch – artists Donna Vale, Joy Merron, Jon England

Dove Studios, sculpture garden

Dove Studios, sculpture garden

Dove Studios, sound sculptures by Michael Fairfax

Dove Studios, sound sculptures by Michael Fairfax

Dove Studios, the outdoor book sculpture by ABCD group

Dove Studios, the outdoor book sculpture by ABCD group