Report on the 24 April 2017 South West group meeting
The structure of the day was what it has been to date which meant that Michele Whiting, tutor in painting and drawing with the OCA and MA and PhD tutor at Bath School of Art and Design, started by talking about her practice. There were six students who attended and the disciplines covered printmaking, creative writing, painting and drawing and photography. With her practice and inspirations as a backdrop to her presentation, Michele led us through the strands of her methodology which she sees as essential in how she works:
- Her on-going body of work.
- Her collaborative work.
- Her ecological work.
- Her academic writing which includes reviews of other artists’ exhibitions, and lectures.
- Exhibiting. Michele stressed the importance of what she called tangential research – that research which is generated by something which stimulates our curiosity but which does not necessarily come from our ‘regular’ planned research.
She highlighted the benefits of going beyond your discipline to be fed by artists not in your chosen field, which is precisely what these meetings are set up to do. As a general guideline to research, Michele suggested using the question words: how, why, where, what & when as prompts.
The second part of the day’s programme was to look at subjectivity, objectivity and image analysis. We did a practical example using one of the painting compositions in the hall. Anna promised to send out an exhibition review template to all those present. We also looked at the problems linked to curating an exhibition be it a static or a traveling one. At this point, seeing that we are planning our own exhibition in November, we had some advice on collaborating by allocating different roles to different people. There was also talk of keeping an annotated research bibliography going throughout your university courses. We had very useful information on how to determine what goes into a body of work and what is excluded – the pond analogy.
The afternoon was dedicated to students’ work which, we all felt, was also very helpful, regardless of the study paths of the individual students – we basked in having a one-to-one tutorial from which everyone present could benefit.
It was a great day & many thanks to those who attended and to Michele for generously giving us her insights as a practising artist. I know that I felt very privileged for having been there. As usual, meeting other students, discussing our work, feeling part of a community and meeting a tutor ‘in the flesh’ is what we value greatly. What struck me both today and last month was that although we can all read up on the tutors on their respective websites, what they offer on the ground / in the flesh is so much richer in terms of their enthusiasm, their generosity of spirit and their love of what they do.
Paddy’s trip to Bahrain
Paddy told us about her recent trip to Bahrain and, since it had links with our previous meeting with Neil Musson and textiles, I persuaded her to write about it:
Having thought we had seen all the sights Bahrain had to offer, we were surprised by two visits on a recent trip to visit family. We had never entered a Shia village before and covered up carefully before setting out on the first outing to find Bani Jamra where there was reported to be a weaving factory. We had difficulty locating it as it was just a small room with lots of Arabs sitting around outside. However, after taking our shoes off, we were welcomed in with true Arab hospitality and offered a cup of tea before one of the men took up his position at the loom. We later discovered that this was past the normal working day and that he was doing this for our benefit.
He sat down on the floor in front of the loom with his feet in a well and began. The strings (sorry Neil Musson) from the loom were stretched out like violin strings, travelling through a small open window and being cemented into the pavement outside. Working rapidly with colourful shuttles, he continued work on a piece of fabric on the loom. To our surprise, our daughter was then invited to try her hand. They barely flinched when she quite quickly dropped the shuttle into the well and patiently demonstrated to her how to retrieve it with her toes. There was much laughter all round throughout. They seemed to have had no marketing strategy and we had to persuade them to sell us a piece of cloth. Visiting the Folk Museum in Bahrain later on, we saw that the same method of weaving had been used from ancient times. We felt privileged to have had this experience. The second visit to a pottery, I will report on later, but here are some photographs of Bani Jamra:
July meeting – 15th July
Plymouth University Creative Writing tutor, Dr Miriam Darlington, has agreed to lead our creative writing session on 15th July. Please look her up on : https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/miriam-darlington. So far, we have 5 students who have signed up for this event so, if you would like to attend, please email me – it would be great to have a few more.
We have artist Richard Sunderland from Plymouth who has agreed to lead our August meeting on the subjects of Photography and Painting. Please have a look at Richard’s web sites: http://www.richardsunderlandart.com and http://www.drawntothevalley.co.uk/artists/detail/richard-sunderland/
Our Autumn Exhibition
I have applied for funding for August – November which, if we get it, will cover some of our exhibition costs. Please remember that this exhibition is for all students, irrespective of their creative pathway, who have participated at some stage and who have developed or who are developing a piece of work as a result of their participation. It can be a ‘work in progress’ – perhaps they should all be ‘works in progress’. It would be great if we could do this collaboratively. We have eight people so far who are interested in contributing and to this end, please let Anna Goodchild know which of the following aspects of the exhibition you would be interested in doing: Finding a venue; Fundraising; Curating; Hanging; Publicity.