Pitt Rivers (again)

May 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

I took Ellie Evans, who was visiting from Chesterfield, to the Pitt Rivers today. Even though I have been there on many occasion with various visitors I enjoy the way each person will find different things interesting that I may have not even noticed before.

Ellie was particularly interested in some Victorian pin cushions on display as she makes bespoke pin cushions, as well as other textile fine art pieces. I discovered in the same area used lace pricking cards that were tucked away under the lace making display. I have been trying to get hold of some used cards as I think they are such an interesting piece of the process of making lace in this way: strips of card with intricate patterns littered with tiny holes where the needles that dictated the direction of the thread were placed.

Lace making paraphernalia


Hiller and Stezaker

March 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

I went to see the Susan Hiller at  the Tate Britain and John Stezaker at the Whitechapel gallery.

I wasn’t very familiar with Hiller’s work but the way she uses found objects, memorabilia, collections gave me a sense if deja vu as I was walking around the exhibition. I particularly liked the canvases she had unraveled reminding me the time consuming pulled thread work I completed at University. The transformation of the object is kind of magical; from large scale painting to plait.

Susan Hiller, Work in Progress, Tuesday 1980

Stezaker also uses found objects – primarily found images to create his work. I found the fractured images immediately arresting, but particularly liked when he makes us see inconsequential objects in images for example in The 3rd person Archive, 1976-present where he has presented tiny cut outs of people from photos where they were not the subject.

John Stezaker, Third Person Archive, 1976-present

Whilst walking to Liverpool Street I spotted this graffiti. I liked the patterns. The loops look like knitting.



Naum Gabo at the Tate Britain

February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Before the visit

When planning our year eight trip to the Tate Britain I remembered what a valuable experience it was seeing the Simon Starling exhibition with others. With this in mind I visited the exhibition prior to the trip with two colleagues. It made the experience of planning the activities arranged much more fluid and easier to think through.

My year eight students have been looking at sculpture alongside Naum Gabo’s work, exploring creating shapes with space and the idea of construction rather than modelling.

Naum Gabo, Linear Construction Number 1 1942-43

Students' response to Linear Construction

The Naum Gabo room at the Tate Britain has an archival presence similar to Never the Same… at Camden Arts Centre. The collection of objects presented ranged from small scraps of drawing and paper maquettes to the complex engineering of his acrylic and nylon pieces. I hoped this way of working would resonate with my students as it is similar to the creative processes we under go in the classroom; working quickly on small scale pieces to understand concepts and ideas and then focusing on refining our ideas through making more considered pieces.

The students created folded sculptures with intricate patterns drawn with spirograph to emulate Gabo’s process of model making before creating public sculptures.

workshop at Tate Britain

We imagined ourselves as little people to get an idea of what their sculptures would like like on a big scale.

example of students transforming their work into public art sculptures

Back in the classroom we focused more on paper construction – specifically slotting flat plains together to create a three dimensional object. We transformed the classroom into a modern art gallery and students gave tours and talks about their sculptures. In attempting to create a context for the work students were thinking about the experience of visiting galleries and the kind of jobs people undertake there.

students using slotting technique

Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probable Pasts)

February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mike Nelson - Studio Apparatus

As part of the artist teacher MA we visited the Camden Arts Center to see the exhibition Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probably Pasts) curated by Simon Starling.

Simon Starling was familiar to me as a Turner Prize winner for his shedboatshed (mobile architecture 2) 2005. I remember hoping he would win not because of the concepts behind his work but the fact that he skillfully turned a shed into a boat and back again. Perhaps the themes of recycling and re-presenting work would appear in the exhibition.

Before visiting I completed some reading around the exhibition. Most informative was this article by Charles Darwent of the Independent who, like me, was dubious about the idea of an artist curated show, but unlike me found that Mark Wallinger’s Russian Linesman managed to persuade him otherwise (I thought it incredibly hard to access as I was unable to find any rhyme or reason to his selections).  Darwent makes the point that ‘history refuses to move in a conveniently straight line’ which I think is extremely pertinent to the activity guide Abigail Hunt was commissioned to complete for the exhibition – more of that later.

The following things I knew about the exhibition:

  • All work had previously been exhibited at Camden Arts Centre before
  • If the location was known of the piece of work it was put back in the position

The second point appealed to me particularly as some of my later work focused on applying rules that would generate abstract images that were beyond my control.

Walking around the eclectic mix of furniture, installation, projections, paintings and sculpture you could start to make links, draw conclusions and ultimately start to piece together parts of the collections history, such is the human disposition to make ‘sense’ of what you are seeing.

Walking around with my peers reminded me how important it is to enter into dialogue about what you are seeing. At the beginning of the afternoon first and second years met to discuss the exhibition with our tutors and Anna Vass, Education Project Co-ordinator at the centre. This extended discussion was helpful in pulling our individual ideas together particularly those around concepts of collection, exhibition making, use of rules in curating and information vs knowledge. It was great to have Anna there who could answer our questions around the curation and hanging and also to draw our attention to the fantastic activity guide that Abigail Hunt had put together for the exhibition.

It toys with the idea of ‘memory and association’, and ‘object and meaning’. I particularly like the following series of questions she poses; what’s at the bottom of your bag? What do these items say  about you? When did you last see them? Hide the item and draw it from memory. For children the notion of time, history – the past can be hard to grasp and I feel these simple activities are perfectly positioned to start groups have these debates.

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