The ups and downs of striving to fulfil my ideas with artistic practise proved difficult and at the beginning of my degree, although initially exited to learn more about the field of art, I soon found regret in not having done a foundation degree: I felt slightly behind the others on the course in terms of my range of skills and my understanding of art history. Struggling in my first year, I persisted in deliberating the way people work; the mechanisms of critical judgement and feel that now I have a much stronger understanding of professionalism in art and have grown the ability to approach ideas with a more abstract mind. I find critical judgement the most crucial but challenging aspect of the course: in my current position in third year I realise that through displaying work, I must be particular with what I include and make more conceptual, rather than aesthetic, decisions to do this.
During the second year subject module I have used a wide range of medium in attempt to highlight the high contrast between humans and nature as a result of ignorance. I began with collage and small installation pieces and then experimented with abstract painting. I persisted with the painting and my previous artwork got neglected. This is another regret because I’m not happy with the level of skill projected through the abstract painting, I can’t justify the composition and my end-of-year feedback reflected this. I think I needed to input a lot more time and effort into being in the studio and researching the ideas behind other artists’ outcomes in order to achieve higher and in hindsight; I should have taken the advice of my tutors during the year, into account for the direction of the work I produced.
The field modules I chose for second year was where I began to find myself as an artist, realizing what I wanted my art to stand for. Rob Pepperrel’s module: Art and The Conscious Mind, rediscovered my passion for psychology and philosophy and combining this with the interest in politics and society provided a new stance. Steve Thompsons Surprise Me module subsidised my ideas further because I could contemplate the conscious mind in relation to the Surrealist’s perception of it. Because of this new inspiration, my artwork grew with illustrating ideas like Externalism and the sub-conscious mind influence, although I regret not utilizing my time throughout second year by including more research like this.
The research I was being so inspired by continued during second year, fuelling my dissertation preparation form which has provided me with insight needed to write my dissertation. I was proud of this because the feedback I received from the preparation tutorial was positive and proved to myself that with the time invested, I was capable of grasping concepts and being critical of what ideas were more relevant than others, going by the complexity of the topic.
When third year began, I finally took the incentive to spend my time more productively: spending longer hours in the studio and pursuing ideas as soon as they arose, from this finding a new quantitative method in screen printing. I enjoyed this process because it was fresh to me and I could experiment easily and consistently. However, after the informal feedback at the end of first term, I realised that my critical judgement, along with my professionalism, wasn’t as worthy as I’d hoped; I had managed to create a lot of work of which took very different directions, disallowing me to execute and present the artwork in a professional way.
Because of this, I took a step back from my practise and focused on writing my dissertation, in the hope to rekindle the motivation I had gained from my research in second year. During the Christmas break, whilst finishing the writing, I concentrated on the range of artists and movements specified in the piece to discover what it was that I needed to narrow my ideas down to. The research needed to be deliberated for my thesis was prior knowledge to me, but applying this to the realm of artwork I revealed links to my own intentions. For example, learning about the actual mind of a Surrealist has shown me that my intentions work in a very similar way. Thus, I plan to expand my dreams to display an extension of my own consciousness. This realisation is really refreshing which gives me a lot more motivation than I’ve had throughout the whole degree, and I’m exited to see how I can elaborate this. So far, the work is exiting me and (seemingly) my tutors also. During my dissertation, I also researched heavily into Claire Bishop’s perspective on installation art. Bishop presents this medium as a tool of embodying its viewer, which is an aspect of art I enjoy encountering myself because I feel consciously engaged. I can see myself merging these two elements of artwork, with a lot more further research as to execute it professionally, for my final degree show.
I currently feel as though I have a potential direction, of which I have clearly lacked, which not only gives me work to get on with, but gives me confidence to be able to concentrate on growing my criticism and professionalism. After speaking to the Fine Art leader I have acquired the knowledge on how to ensure my blog is at a high enough standard to represent the upcoming work, again bringing positivity to the next few months.
When this academic year ends I hope to see my excitement reflected in the degree show because I know I have finally rounded off my intentions. From this I think I would be able to apply my professionalism to continue creating after this degree, for career purpose or for self-expression, but inevitably as a definite attribute attained from my degree as a whole.
My second year has been very fulfilling and I’ve grown in gaining a better personal style and stronger artful concepts. Constellation definitely contributed to these successes but initially my motivation for constellation was quite disrupted because I was quick off the mark to select Cath Davies, Cathy Treadaway and Theo Humphries options and so was evidently quite disappointed when I ended up being put in an option I wouldn’t have chosen to do. I chose these options because I knew they would all really benefit my practise and was exited to meet and learn from these tutors in their lectures and seminars. Nonetheless, I knew there would be elements of each option that I could learn from, so I was still positive about beginning Jonathon Clarkson’s Puzzling Out Contemporary Art.
Contemporary Art is obviously a really important part of Fine Art to understand and acknowledge: Contemporary is what is happening now, so it couldn’t be more relevant to learn, and straight away I was comprehending new artists and their ideas. The group was a predominantly Fine Art group, which was a little disappointing because a greater mixture of fields would’ve been interesting, but discussions were really good nonetheless. Jonathon got me thinking about the Young British Artists and consequently I explored new artists and immediately had new sources of inspiration because I previously didn’t even know that there were so many YBA’s. For example, I discovered Marc Quinn, who’s eccentric colour palette reinforced my own; Tacita Dean who’s imagery of natural tendency reminded me of my interest in more soft, natural artwork.
The second lecture was about new forms: installation; video and film. We discussed how installation art is perceived and how historians and critics such as Claire Bishop have explored the use of installation as an experience for the audience, who’s book on installation art I have recently borrowed from the library and began reading. This got me thinking about the relationship a person can build with a piece of art because if it delivers an experience, then it can alter a person internally because of it providing a stronger memory for them. My notes from this lecture were really useful in retrospect for my subject module because it contributed artists and pieces for exploring an interrelationship between human consciousness and world, or society – also appropriate to further research into for my dissertation proposal. The video aspect of the lecture was also applicable for some of my Field work in Surprise Me where I looked at ways in which artists used time as the explicit subject to depict a surreal reality.
I unfortunately missed the third weeks lecture on globalism and post-feminism but know that these two topics are important to acknowledge and I’m hoping to cover them more through my dissertation research to further my understanding of art, especially having John Berger’s Ways of Seeing on my reading list and having found that to be quite parallel to feminism and identity politics.
Jon then took the group to London for a day of gallery viewings, to see for ourselves what he had been teaching us. The whole day was a massive success because of Jon’s plan of the day, and he’d provided us with information on current exhibitions with which tube stop is closest, which seemingly made the day run really smoothly and I’ve never crammed so many exhibitions into one day! The exhibition that resonated with me the most was Sarah Lucas’ at the Whitechapel gallery because her work was quite eccentric and had lots of wondrous objects and imagery about the exploitation of sexual activity, and I felt all the artwork coexisted well to create an experience out of her concepts, making me recognize the strength of installation art that creates a human experience, which again in retrospect betters my idea of installation art as a means of dealing with human consciousness. The work I saw in the White Cube was also really inspiring because I saw so many different ways of working and so much experimentation I could take back to the studio with me, for example the layered collage work from Mark Bradford of which he sanded down over and over until finalising a vision he wanted. I have so many notes from this trip to London from thinking about moods etc. that I can refer to in studio practise. Having said this, I regret not using these notes more when the memory of the works were so fresh, and so being able to create some response work to the artists I saw!
Overall, although I wasn’t intitally exited to undergo this module, as you can see I definitely have benefited from Jon’s knowledge and besides learning new artists, I feel that Jon’s passion himself elevated my own. I loved the lectures where Jon sparked discussions amongst the group, which allowed us to all benefit from one another’s opinions and obviously deliberate input from all the different fields that students were from. This was the first time throughout the grouped modules where this was properly effective for me because the discussions involved so many of us and there was so much enthusiasm aswell.