Learning from Contemporary Art – Week 5

What about Pleasure?

Pleasure can be problematic in writing about art. On the one hand, everyone acknowledges that pleasure is fundamental to our experience of art. If we like something that’s neither useful nor morally good, then it must be because it gives us pleasure. On the other hand, compared to something like meaning, pleasure seems trivial. Many of the arguments for funding and preserving art rely on the idea that art is serious like a religion or philosophy. As a result, pleasure is disavowed in much art writing. It’s simultaneously acknowledged and dismissed.

Carsten Höller’s ‘Test Site’ is an example of art that provides pleasure. Set up in the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern, Höller’s sculpture is that of a giant slide. I think kids are a good sign for wether art is pleasurable. Kids wouldn’t think twice about sliding down ‘Test Site’, they wouldn’t care if it’s art.

3 Forms of Pleasure:

1. Humour (laughing in a gallery, jokes, stupidity, satire)

2. The Body (sex, physical pleasure, playing)

3. Abstraction (meaningless)


How not to behave in a Gallery:

Woody Allen, scene from ‘Play It Again, Sam’ 1973

  • How should we behave in a gallery? What sort of things should we say about art?
  • The video consisted of a man and a woman looking at a Pollock, instead of him looking at the art, he’s stood there to get a date. Her response to the art is so lengthy and “deep”, that it becomes ridiculous. Both characters are taking the piss of the gallery setting and the way in which people act within the gallery setting.

Jean-Luc Godard, scene from ‘Bande á Part’

  • How are social forces revealed in this scene?
  • The video answers the question, how fast can you get through Le Louvre. Three people can be seen running and laughing through the gallery. There’s a conflict between their action and the stationary-ness of the gallery and art. They are breaking the conventions of the gallery.


1. Humour

Why is it funny when someone falls over? Why do we find human error so funny?

Henri Bergson, Laughter, An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, 1900

Laughter is:

  • Human – do animals laugh?
  • Indifferent – is it true when we laugh at someone, we don’t care about them? However I think there are degrees if indifference. We feel more sorry for some people than we do others.
  • Social – does laughter reinforce social boundaries?


  • Laughter is triggered when someone acts outside of their allocated role and function, and fails.
  • Laughter is society’s revenge on the individual.
  • In a funny situation, the physicality of the body visibly punctures social pretension. When a model trips on the catwalk, it punctures the elegance and perfection of the catwalk, and normalises it.

Is there an equivalent in art to falling over?

  • The Amateur Fresco Restoration, Spain, 2012 is an example of such. ‘Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)’ by Elias Garcia Martinez had deteriorated due to moisture. An amateur painter took her brush to it to restore it. Her restoration job was so bad you can’t help but laugh and feel sorry for the “restorer”.
Elias Garcia Martinez ‘Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)’, before and after restoration

Is there a wisdom in the dumbness of the body?

  • Gelitin, ‘Nellanutella’, 2001 – deliberately falling into the canals of Venice, henceforth deliberately embarrassing themselves. I think there’s a relief in not having to think. It releases the social pressures of art and the gallery setting.


For Bergson, verbal humour works in a similar way. The set-up leads us in one direction but the punchline trips the listener up mentally and deflates our expectations.

Richard Prince, ‘Joke Painting’, c.2000

We fall for a joke, we can laugh at our own stupidity because it’s disguised and we feel that we are laughing at someone else. Someone who doesn’t get a joke becomes the butt of others’ laughter, thus the social bond is reinforced through inclusion nd exclusion.

  • A news article came out in Norway titled, ‘Bus seats mistaken for burqas by members of anti-immigrant group’. Bergson would suggest that this is funny because of the stupidity of the anti-emigrant group. As we are not members of that group, and have nothing to do with its policies, we can laugh at their stupidity. The things we find funny emphasise the particular social groups in which we find ourselves in any given society.


  • David Shrigley ‘Untitled (I Hate Wood)’, 2013 – can it be explained with Bergson’s theory? It parallels the previous point about immigrants but with absurdity. No one really hates wood, It has the structure that Bergson identifies but there is no real target unlike with the immigrants. Anti-immigrant members are stupid whereas wood-haters are silly.
  • David Shrigley ‘Untitled (Fuck off I am a Painter) – I really loved this painting/drawing as I can sympathise with the predicament and find it relatable. I become a member of a social group with the painting and everyone else that doesn’t agree with the painting becomes the butt of the joke. Although it is funny overall, is the drawing funny in itself? Is it stylistically coherent? The amateur-ness of the drawing I think emphasises the point of the text so is ironically funny. Is the text funny itself? I think Shrigley purposely put the spelling mistake in the text, if it was removed it would be less funny. Additionally, if you took the “fuck off’ out of the text it wouldn’t be as powerful and therefore would be less funny. The blatancy of the language is what is funny and I think we like to hear people using it.
David Shrigley ‘Untitled (Fuck off I am a Painter)’

Freud, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, 1905

How jokes are formed:

1) Aimless play with words, concepts, things etc. ——> 2) Lifting of inhibitions, suspension of critical judgement. ——> 3) Expression of repressed ideas.

  • For Freud, jokes are always obscene and come from repression. Therefore, the most repressive societies will have the most (and the funniest) jokes.



  • For Roelstraete, the function of pleasure in a gallery is to ‘unnerve, rattle and destabilise’. Roelstraete therefore suggests that pleasure is a form of irritant.
  • Paul McCarthy’s ‘Tree’ is an example of an irritant. At first glance the green from resembles that of a Christmas tree, however, it is actually in the shape of a butt plug. People didn’t realise at first but once they did they knifed the sculpture, causing it to collapse as it was inflatable. This raises the question of whether the vandalism destroyed the work or vindicated it.

2 main reasons why pleasure is disapproved of within art:

  1. Pleasure is disapproved as it’s seen as unimportant (compared to the pressing issues we currently face).
  2. Pleasure is disapproved of as it’s unthinking, therefore any pleasure is easily characterised as escapist. There’s a deep anxiety, Roelstraete claims, that artworks and exhibitions shouldn’t appear to be forms of entertainment. For example, video games are characterised as entertainment when some of their makers intend them to be works of art. This suggests we shouldn’t enjoy art.


2) The Body

The body becomes the object of our interest. The mind is the subject of experience.

  • Disney’s Inside Out: If this is what goes on inside Riley’s head, then what goes on inside Joy’s head?

Jordan Wolfson ‘Female Figure’

  • Wolfson’s ‘Female Figure’ presents the horror of the unthinking body. A robot dancing, faces away from you but locks eye contact with you whilst talking. It is an incredibly uncomfortable piece of work to look at, especially because it stares back at you. Being seen/ looked at by a machine is a weird concept. Although you are fully aware that it has no thought processes, you can’t hep but think about what’s going on in its mind.

Playing VS Contemplation

Ernesto Neto ‘The Bird Island’

  • With Neto’s sculptures, children automatically want to interact with the sculptures, exploring the work physically and having fun, whereas adults tend to stand a safe distance away and contemplate the work without touching it. Children’s first form of interaction is to play if they’re allowed, whereas adults have to be encouraged. The unspoken assumption is that playing and pleasure are bodily and therefore the opposite of thinking and intelligence. This reminds me of when I went to the Venice Bienalle. There was a sculptural piece of work that was made to be sat inside, even though I knew it was allowed, I still chose not to go inside the sculpture and just stood next to it, contemplating and drawing. I do wonder why we as adults have this idea imbedded within us that it is socially unacceptable to have fun with art. It seems that everything has to be serious for the art to be a success. This is a concept I want to look at within my own practice. I want to think about the different ways in which you can enjoy art apart from the conventional, stand back and look at it. I don’t think we always have to take work so seriously in order for us to fully understand it.


3) Abstraction

  • Abstract contemporary art has no identifiable objects, so it’s not about anything.
  • We looked at the work of Karen Davie, in particular, ‘Seeing Spots no.7’ and ‘Symptomania’. Her work is more about gesture and form, and colour relation. Colour relation is a topic I am currently looking at in my own practice. Davie works by layering up different colours using different gestures. The colours beneath should appear behind, however they are so bright in comparison to the top colour of paint that they create a flat surface and look level to the other colour. This and many other abstract works raise the question of whether once you’ve got the idea, is there anything else to look at. I think there is plenty to look at, just in the mark making alone. I get caught up in the ideas about rhythms and find pleasure in exploring how tone and balance changes. The idea behind the work is less so important than the work itself.


  • Charline Von Heyl ‘Jakealoo’ – with an abstract painting like ‘Jakealoo’, you get no help from the title of the work, therefore the only thing to do is break it down into components, i.e. marks, colours etc, and make associations to it with you’re own ideas. You try and identify things in the work that make sense in your mind.

My child could do that…

In constellation we discussed the idea of “my child could do that”. I am constantly hearing from my parents “I could do that” when they are looking at abstract work. I am constantly trying to explain that although it looks simple, there is often a lot of thinking and skill behind the work. We discussed this concept in constellation and Jon tested us with a couple of examples. First we were shown two abstract paintings, one done by a master painter and the other done by a 4 year old child. I could instantly tell that the painting on the right was done by the painter. You could see more a process behind the painting and the thought processes behind the colours and forms used. Next we were shown two paintings, one done by a master painter and the other done by a chimpanzee. Although I actually preferred the painting done by the chimpanzee, I could still tell that the painting on the left was completed by the master painter. This and the multiple tests that reached the same conclusion, that the majority of people were able to identify a painting done by a painter and that done by a child, show that “my child could have done that” isn’t true.


Another study that I find interesting showed that eye-tracking patterns changed substantially when a Mondrian painting was rotated, indicating a decrease in interest. Additionally, when a small block of colour was either added or removed, viewers reported a less pleasurable reaction. This shows that a minute change to a painting can completely alter the reaction from the audience and success of a piece of art. It also shows that Mondrian was a master and that his paintings couldn’t have been done by anyone. I find this concept really interesting and want to further look into it.










Pattern and Decoration Movement of 1970’s

After seeing Teresa Lanceta’s ‘Rosas Blancas’ in the Venice biennale and starting to think about using fabric to convey across a sense of place, I checked out a book in the library called ‘Contemporary textiles’. Within it I came across the pattern and decoration movement of the 1970’s in which artists played with textiles, patterned fabrics and decorative techniques such as collage, embroidery, sewing and weaving in their paintings. Artists were able to play around with decorative possibilities that were once disapproved on in art institutions and academies. The movement unleashed the possibilities for the co-existence of fine art and craft. They explored a variety of materials including fabric, carpet, wallpaper, pattern and ceramics. This wide range in materials used in the pattern and decorative movement is really inspiring to me. I have only just begun to research into this movement but have already come across a plethora of artists who’s work interests me and is inspiring to my own practice. I will definitely be exploring further into this movement as it seems to be directly linked to my own concept behind my work.

Some artists that I have come across:

Kim MacConnel ‘Sketchbook 1975’
Valerie Jaudon
Jo Bruton ‘Unframed’
Stephanie Burgman
Richard Smith ‘Three Square 2’





Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns’ work from various years showed similarities to some techniques and concepts I am using, and want to use in my own practice. What I liked about Johns’ work were the generic forms and use of repetition to create images, on top of drawing attention to things so familiar that they were ‘seen but not looked at, not examined’.

Additionally I like Johns’ choice of encaustic. I’m very similar in the sense that I am impatient with my work and want the paint to dry straight away, that’s why I tend to stay away from oils. Johns’ use of encaustic (hot wax mixed with colour pigments) meant that he could continuously work and at the same time also meant he was able to build a textured surface to his work. Bringing texture into my work is something I want to experiment with.

Jasper Johns’ work with cross hatching interested me the most as it relates to my practice closely. For Johns, it creates a ‘hypnotic search for visual coherence’. For me, the idea of repeat patterns is a way of representing place and landscape. ‘Between the Clock and the Bed’ and ‘Something Resembling Truth’ have made me think about different ways of creating repeat patterns. Although its not, visually these paintings look like the lines have been scratched into the surface. This technique of sgraffito is something that may translate well across into my practice and give my work more depth. Additionally, Johns’ use of bold colours in fairly blocked sections interests me as I want to work with solid areas of colour this year.

Jasper Johns ‘Between the Clock and the Bed’
Jasper Johns ‘Something Resembling Truth’


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Influential Concepts from the Key Concept Lectures


In the participation lecture a key idea we discussed that had the most relevance to me was the idea of keeping the line between art and life fluid. I liked this idea of getting the audience involved in the artwork, whether they are aware of it or not, so the work becomes a collective effort. Andy Warhol did something similar to this with his ‘Do It Yourself Flowers’, only partially completing the painting and getting the buyers of the work to finish it off with colour by numbers. I found this idea interesting as the buyer has to physically get involved in order for the painting to be finished. However, I do wonder if anyone actually did complete the colour by numbers or if they thought it was too precious for them to paint on.

Site Situation

What I found most interesting about the site situation lecture was the idea of using psychogeography as a way to explore cities and create a new awareness of a landscape. Andre Stitt’s ‘Big Pinko’ really interested me. It was a house on an estate in Australia that was due to be demolished. State and Schwensen painted the whole house pink as well as a bus stop. I think it almost made architecture that normally would be considered quite plain, stand out and become something beautiful.  Although this house was demolished, the bus stop still remains and has become a checkpoint for the village.


Perception was a crucial part to this key concept. Everyone’s perception is different, therefore we would all see an object differently. If two people painted the same object, you would never get exactly the same result. There is a limit in knowledge, we will never fully understand an object as we will never be able to properly see it for what it is. For example, the human eye is unable to see all colours, ultraviolet is invisible to us. Therefore, reality is always just out of reach. I found this concept of never really knowing reality to be really interesting and there is so much development from it.


The exhibition key concept was the most influential for me and my practice. It discussed the importance of exhibitions for creating that relationship between artist and audience, and how different ways of displaying work causes different reactions from the audience. I think this is a key concept I need to consider in my practice, how I display my work and what I hope to achieve from doing so. Exhibitions are a form of theatre as they are all about the movement of the people through the space. The engagement of the art with the audience is crucial. We also looked at how exhibitions are temporary. Although this seems to be quite an obvious point, it also shows that there is never a final word as it can always be revised. Therefore the point you are trying to convey through you work is ever-changing depending on the display of the art. For example, Claude Monet’s ‘Water lilies’ were originally sold as three operate paintings, but now the trio are always displayed together. Sometimes along a long straight wall, sometimes bent round to fully encompass the viewer. This has shown me that there doesn’t have to be one single way for me to display my work and it is always changeable. It has made me think about how I want to display my work and how it completely depends on what I am trying to convey in my work.

Key Concept: Exhibition

What can we learn from the history of the exhibition?


  • The role of the market.
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, artists began to make work without knowing who they were making it for. Exhibitions became so important as they became the place for artists and buyers to come together. Since then, all commercial galleries hang their work to attract potential buyers. The buyers are essential to the exhibition.


  • The Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace had plaster casted sculptures of some of the greatest sculptures. If they had all of the real ones, they’d of had the power of Britain. Having plaster cast sculptures is a weird concept but they had them to educate Britain. If artists and designers are looking at the best works then they themselves will also make the greatest work.
  • The Royal Academy hosted Manet: Portraying Life. It had writing on the wall, next to the pictures. The artworks were surrounded by textual information of the complete history and chronology, allowing the viewers complete conceptual understanding.
  • All this information surrounding artwork now makes sure that visitors are led to understand the work instead of simply enjoying work. That has now become an inadequate response.

An Exhibition is Making Public

  • Therefore an exhibition is a social ritual. Queuing up, buying your ticket, is all a part of the social ritual with a gallery.
  • The route through many galleries is already mapped out. Everyone has to go the same way, another social ritual.
  • Many galleries have alcohol at their exhibition openings, and it is considered weird if alcohol isn’t there. Another social ritual.
  • Therefore the viewer is part of the exhibition from the start.
  • In Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Etant Donnes’, the viewer has to go up to the door and look through the peep hole at the scene inside. This creates a 2 object relationship between the viewer and artwork. The viewer has to interact for the art to work creating this incorporation of otherness.
  • Therefore it is a form of theatre. All exhibitions are theatrical as it’s about the movement of people through the space.
  • In Chiharu Shiota’s ‘The Key in the Hand’, thousands of keys are suspended from the ceiling with red thread. It creates this theatre as there are places that people can go and places people can’t go. The fact that you can only walk through certain areas makes the exhibition theatrical.

An Exhibition is an Argument 

  • An exhibition is an argument, a set of claims.
  • Galleries groups certain works together in different rooms, making the argument that all of the art in a room belongs together. It is all about creating this idea in the viewers mind that all the work belongs together as it fits the same principle. I.e. all of the work in the Impressionist room In the National Gallery of Cardiff is “impressionist” so belongs together.
  • Character is created by the room’s display including in the wall colour and the frames on work.
  • This is confirmed as some of the work in the Victorian exhibition in Cardiff was made at the same time as some of the work from its Impressionist room.
  • Therefore arrangement determines the significance.
  • Ernst Wilhely Ney at Documenta 3, Kassel. The paintings were hung from the ceiling. Hanging them in this untraditional ways shows different qualities in the work that you wouldn’t see from traditional hanging.
  • Therefore objects are evidence.

How does an exhibition handle information?

  • In a map exhibition, you could walk over an artwork and not realise. There is no clear layout, you have to explore and use a map in order to identify all the work.
  • In a magazine exhibition layout, each artist is given a space and are free to do whatever they want with it. Each artwork is readily identifiable and each is a pocket of interest, independent of other works in the space.

What’s the relation between space, support and object?

  • The plinth, wall, floor and room dimensions are not as neutral as we sometimes like to think.
  • Where does the sculpture end and the plinth begin?
  • In Constanin Brancusi’s sculptures it’s hard to tell as they aren’t neutral, socially invisible supports.
  • In Rebecca Warren’s ‘The Li vi ng’, the plinths disappear into the white cube space. They change in levels and are painted pink and green. What are they adding to the sculptures?

An exhibition is temporary

  • Therefore it is an event.
  • Therefore any statement it makes is always provisional and can always be revised. It is never the final world.
  • Claude Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’ lends itself to this as they have been displayed in multiple ways. They were originally sold as separate paintings, however now they are always displayed together and have been positioned flat against a long wall and curved round so the viewer is surrounded by the paintings.

What is the future of an exhibition?

  • Is the physical exhibition redundant?
  • There was a virtual exhibition hosted by Exhibbit.com in 2015.
  • I don’t think virtual galleries will overtake the physical gallery as there is only a certain amount you can see over a computer screen. However I do think the two will become parallel to each other. They’ll run alongside each other. People will see the gallery work online and then want to go see it in person.

London Trip

Jasper Johns – The Royal Academy of Arts

Jasper Johns’ work from various years showed similarities to some techniques and concepts I am using, and want to use in my own practice. What I liked about Johns’ work were the generic forms and use of repetition to create images, on top of drawing attention to things so familiar that they were ‘seen but not looked at, not examined’.

Additionally I like Johns’ choice of encaustic. I’m very similar in the sense that I am impatient with my work and want the paint to dry straight away, that’s why I tend to stay away from oils. Johns’ use of encaustic (hot wax mixed with colour pigments) meant that he could continuously work and at the same time also meant he was able to build a textured surface to his work. Bringing texture into my work is something I want to experiment with.

Work that interested me:

Jasper Johns’ work with cross hatching interested me the most as it relates to my practice closely. For Johns, it creates a ‘hypnotic search for visual coherence’. For me, the idea of repeat patterns is a way of representing place and culture.


Iconoclasts – Saatchi Gallery 

The Iconoclasts exhibition was really inspiration for my subject work as it had a large collection of textiles art.

Josh Faught:

The first work I saw was by artist Josh Faught who combines different materials and scraps and for sale products (i.e. toilet paper) to create these huge collaged tapestries. I really like the collage aspect to his work which has given me the idea to collect scraps of whatever I come across and sew them all together to create my own collages of different places I visit.

Josh Fought ‘Untitled (1), from BE BOLD For What You Stand For, BE CAREFUL For What You Fall For’


Maurizio Anzeri:

Maurizio Anzeri’s consists of sewing into old, found photographs. Anzeri stitches abstract patterns over the top of the photographs in different colours, blurring the boundaries between abstraction and portraiture. The way he stitches creates a three dimensional effect and the person in the original photograph loses their identity behind all the thread. I like the idea of sewing into photographs and it may be something I further look into later in my practice.


Calder on Paper:

The Calder on Paper exhibition was also on, although I liked the work I didn’t find it particularly inspiring. However, what I did find inspiring was the wall sign for the exhibition. The wall was painted a deep blue with bright orange writing on top. I loved this colour combination and definitely want to work with it in the future.



Philip Colbert: New Paintings

Although his work doesn’t really relate to my own work, I really liked the paintings of Philip Colbert. They are quite literally the definition of collage paintings and art heavily influenced by Pop Art. They are really full-on paintings to look at and your eyes are constantly darting around the canvas, identifying different contemporary culture and art history references. I love the clash between the past, mass culture and technologies of now, my favourite being Shakespeare with The Big Issue. Colbert creates new definition on landscape and the modern world. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but the more I look at Colbert’s New Paintings the more I love them.


Victoria Villasana:

In the prints and originals gallery there were several pieces of work by Victoria Villasana that caught my eye. They used a similar technique to Maurizio Anzeri of using embroidery stitching across the face. I love the bright colours used and the incorporation of embroidery.


Tate Britain:

Whilst in Tate Britain I came across a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth. What attracted me was the use of colour. It used the same blue and orange I had seen in the Saatchi but this time it was applied to the art itself. It is definitely a sculpture I will refer to in my work as I love the colours, shape and use of thread.










Function of the Studio

After visiting James’ studio and having a discussion on the studio space in our group I have come to realise how important the studio space is for generating work. For me, my current studio is separated from everyday life and is a generative hub fro my art.

My studio space within university gives me access to so many materials and techniques to further develop my work, and being around so many other art students, I find that our ideas can bounce off of each other. We have built up a strong sense of community within our year that I think should continue past the completion of our degree, as we may be able to support each other in the art world outside of university.

However, sometimes I do find that being around so many other art students, my work can be stunted for various reasons. Most of the time it’s because of too much conversation, but it can be overwhelming and intimidating to be around so much work. It can make me question my work and not always in a constructive way.

Seeing James’ studio and having a discussion with my group about the studio space, it has made me think of where I want my studio space to be after university. I think I want to stay in Cardiff as I think it has so many more opportunities for emerging artists than Worcester has. If I moved back home I think it is likely that my art would end up becoming second to my everyday life and I would slowly stop making it. Instead I think I’m interested in doing a similar thing to James and having my studio in my house, with a couple of other art students.

Key Concept: Participation

The line between art and life should be kept as fluid and perhaps as indistinct as possible.

Participation is not interactive art. Interactive art is pushing a button and something happening. Participation is the audience actively getting involved.

In George Maciunas’ Fluxus performance, the artist connects himself to the audience in the room with string. This participation art blurs the boundaries between artist and audience.

I think this is the key idea in participation art, this blurring of boundaries between artist and audience.

Andy Warhol does something similar with his ‘Do it Yourself Flowers’, only partially completing the painting and getting the buyer of the work to finish it off with colour by numbers.

Yoko Ono’s cut piece requires complete audience participation. This performance art requires the audience to come up one by one and cut a section of Ono’s clothes off.

Ben Vautier’s ‘Le Magasin (The Shop)’ was an artist led space in the middle of a high street. The audience being the shoppers walking into the shop. This participation art was completely lost when the Pompidou reconstructed it in the gallery. It was a victory for the artist but the vital function of participation in the art was killed off when it became an untouchable piece in a gallery space.

A similar thing happened with Robert Morris’ ‘Neo Classic’, participation art that was basically a big playground for adults was shut down when reconstructed in the Tate due to health and safety issues.

Finally, Clare Bishop’s ‘Artificial Hells’ was unknowing participation art for the audience in which a policeman comes into the gallery space on a horse, and was only successful with the audience’s unawareness.

Made In Roath

Made in Roath was on in Cardiff for this past week. There were a multitude of different events going on and some of the work I saw was fairly inspirational for my own practice.

32. Knitiation

One of the first events I visited was called Knitiation. It was participation art as I was asked to knit a 20 by 20 square of plain knit. Visiting this event I learned a new skill, how to knit, and I think that knitting could be a good way of portraying across patterns in my own practice, however it’s going to take a lot of practice to get good enough. We were also asked to participate in some video art where we had to knit in silence in an empty room for 8 minutes, then scream (at our frustration in the world), then carry on knitting for another minute. 8 minutes sounds like nothing but when you are just sitting there waiting for the signal to scream it feels like a lifetime. Additionally I found myself really over-analysing how i was going to scream which was quite a funny concept and I still don’t know why I was so worried about it.


55. Molly Rooke solo exhibition

There was an exhibition of Molly Rooke’s work going on in her own house. The fact that so many exhibitions were taking place in people’s houses was so interesting to me as you are taking work out of the gallery setting, and in my opinion gives the work more identity and a sense of place. Rooke had transformed her home into a sort of makeshift gallery with white-washed walls and floors. I connected most with the digital prints partially covered with block colours. This was an effect I was going to use in my own practice after seeing the work of Elad Lassry in Vancouver. I like the idea of covering a crucial part of an image to create confusion and curiosity in the public.

In Molly Rooke’s exhibition there were also a couple of small paintings by Catrin Llwyd Evans. What I liked about these paintings was the clear build of of layers of colour. In one painting Llwyd Evans uses a neon pink behind which links back to my summer work. Overall her style of painting really ties to my own summer work therefore she may be an artist I further look into.


43. Open Studio Jane Nicholls

Above Oriel Makers Gallery just off Albany Road Jane Nicholls was weaving fabrics in a variety of patterns and colours. This was especially significant for my work as I want to work with textiles, and I’ve already been working in a similar way, weaving different threads together to create patterns.


35. 15 Minute Portraits at Adnan Continental Store

In one of the Made in Roath exhibitions, artist Ellie Young was painting 15 minute portraits of the public. I sat down for my portrait and instantly felt uncomfortable. I had never sat for a portrait before so having someone constantly look at me for a period of time made me quite uncomfortable. As well as this, the portraits were taking place right in the front of a continental store so the general public coming into to buy their groceries had to walk past me and were staring at the whole process. I really liked the idea of a 15 minute portrait though. In classical portrait paintings the detail is immaculate and as accurate as possible. The portrait I ended up with had a quirky look to it and consisted of fairly bold strokes due to the time pressure. Although not the most flattering painting, I like that the perspective and details of my face aren’t perfect. The portrait’s style almost reminds me of the work of Lucien Freud. This whole 15 minute process interests me and is a good way of pumping a lot of work out fast, it is a technique I want to incorporate into my practice.

Critical Debates: Venice Biennale

In this week’s critical debates we discussed some of our favourite work from the Venice Biennale.

We began by talking about the work of Nicolas Garcia Uriburu, where he turned the water of Venice green. His work consisted of 4 paintings and a video of the action. When I saw this in the biennale I admit I kind of dismissed it and walked past it without paying it much attention. I did this because from a distance I didn’t see the video, and the paintings looked like normal paintings of Venice with a weird colour filter applied. However after discussing it in critical debates the artwork as a whole sounds very interesting. Uriburu’s work is about removing itself from the frames of pictures. Uriburu did so by pouring 30kg of fluorescein into the grand canal in Venice, turning the water green for 8 hours. I was surprised that Uriburu’s work didn’t cause more of a public outrage as turning the water a neon green ruins the idilic scenery of Venice and implies something quite sinister. However, the fluorescein he was adding to the water must have been harmless therefore making the work even more misleading. I really like the concept of directly manipulating nature, and showing the effect we have on nature in art as opposed to nature’s inspiration for art. I think Uriburu’s work would have been much more effective if displayed in it’s own room with a larger video.


We then discussed Yee Sookyung’s ‘Translated Vase Nine Dragons in Wonderland’. I was instantly drawn to this sculpture in the biennale by its impressive form and size and rebellion against traditional rules of ceramics. We discussed in critical debates how the form looks like it is constantly growing. Its proliferating form reminded me of how I used to blow bubbles when I was younger and how it used to grow and grow the more air I blew into it. What I originally thought of as quite a beautiful form others pointed out as having something quite grotesque about it. Going to critical debates has been really beneficial as I have been able to take on other people’s opinions, giving me a wider insight into the artwork.

Yee Sookyung ‘Translated Vase Nine Dragons in Wonderland’

Takesada Matsutani’s ‘Venice Stream’ was positioned in the pavilion of colours in the biennale. The installation is completely monochromatic so even placing it in the pavilion of colours raises questions. Why would you put monochromatic art in the colour pavilion, is the pavilion of colour chromaphobic? Yet at the same time why is the colour of graphite not considered a colour? The installation itself is composed of a 16 meter length of canvas that runs on the floor and up the wall that is completely coloured with graphite. On top of the graphite covered canvas on the floor is a white canvas with a wooden sphere balanced on top. A cotton sack filled with water and suki ink is suspended above the ball and slowly drips onto it, creating a pattern as is drips onto the ball and splatters onto the canvas. I love this lack of control and leaving the art up to the art itself. I think it removes all the pressure of making art and lets it be whatever it naturally becomes.

Takesada Matsutani ‘Venice Stream’ 

The last piece of work we discussed and the one that relates most closely to my practice is Judith Scott’s ‘Untitled’ sculptures. Scott’s work has a strong interest in colour and uses textiles to convey across. Two key features of my current practice. Scott works by completely encasing an original object in wools, yarns and scraps of fabrics. By the time she has finished encasing the object, it is almost unrecognisable if recognisable at all. In some cases, x-rays would be the only way to reveal their true identity. Judith Scott is an artist I will further look into as I believe her work could be beneficial to my own practice.