WORK IN PROGRESS- AUGUST

I have been given plenty of advice in recent tutorials about how to develop my concept further.  Suggestions made during the last fortnight have included printing some of the messages or screen prints onto several metres of fabric and draping this from the ceiling in some fashion; screen printing on the floor and walls; or putting the messages cut from vinyl on these surfaces. I have explored the fabric route but even though the images were digitised, the fabric printing company I contacted advised me not to proceed as they felt the texts would not be legible. I’ve therefore addressed this by having a smaller banner made which I intend either to hang from the ceiling or display against the wall.

As the floor surface is dirty and uneven I was reticent about trying screen printing directly onto it and so arranged for a number of the texts to be printed on vinyl which has meant a considerable financial investment. I will be picking these texts up from the supplier on either Tuesday or Wednesday this week so will not have much time to play around with them nor practise the technique of applying them which I believe can be quite tricky.

Yesterday with the help of a friend I tried printing directly onto the floor and the result looked quite good. It will, however, take considerable time to print the A3 messages by hand on an area  approximately 8 metres x 4 metres as each screen will have to be washed immediately after use to prevent the ink drying in the mesh. I am also aware of the potential dust problems caused by students, technicians and workmen in the space. With this in mind I am considering turning these problems to my advantage by making the prints appear distressed and imperfect, and maybe even faded and illegible in places. This would, after all, work well with the concept, whereas high quality prints might look too new and pristine. Yes, on reflection, I think the worn look that blends in with the background is far better. I will therefore work as hard as I possibly can this week to print as many texts as possible in this fashion.

To add interest and variety to the work I originally designed the prints as two distinct batches:  one where the text was over-printed onto a background; the second where it was reversed out of the background. The screens were therefore made to meet this aim. But f I am to print in text on the floor, this second batch of screens will have to be re-made.  I have just started to carry this out but it is something I hadn’t anticipated doing at this stage and it is, of course, eating into time which I had allotted to other work required for submission. Perhaps the tutor hadn’t anticipated this either as he knew how short a time I have before the deadline.

All this means that I could now use the vinyl to place messages on areas of the wall(s). Due to health and safety considerations, risk assessments and legislation such as the Working at Height regulations I am anticipating that I will not be able to place the messages more than half way up the walls. I will check this out with staff and technicians this week, and also find out the availability of suitable ladders if I am allowed to work several metres off the ground.

The coloured A3 screen prints have been trimmed, not all to the same size which I thought might look a little boring; and fixed to a support of plywood using felt nails and neodymium magnets. As the exact location of each print was plotted accurately to take into account its size, the prints cannot be re-arranged on the board without attaching more felt nails and running the risk of the unused ones being left in view. ( The nails cannot be removed as they are galvanised.) A tutor has also suggested commercially printing the original posters in monochrome which I have had done.

Another idea of mine is to print the messages, or parts of them, directly onto pieces of plywood using acrylic gloss medium as a transfer agent.  I could then invite visitors to make up their own messages which could be placed on the long horizontal shelf running the length of the shorter wall. Alternatively, I could simply invite people to write examples of spurious messages they have seen onto small pieces of cardboard. I could the use double-sided tape to stick these onto a roll of paper running from the ceiling down to the floor. I have ordered a suitable roll of paper to see if this might work. This plan reminds me of the Complaints Day exercise which the Guerilla Girls organised at Tate Modern last winter. In the early stages, however, it would look rather boring! With unexpectedly having to remake the screens at very short notice as described above, I fear I will only be able to explore this option using the latter process. It is, however, something I could investigate in future for, say, the Surrey Unearthed commission which is still open to submissions.

I have also explored the possibility of screen printing a text at A2. Despite repeated attempts the results were disappointing. The technician then explained that although it seems a simple thing to do, it is actually very challenging technically as the considerable expanses of wet ink cause many problems. Indeed, the prints frequently became stuck to the bottom of the screen, thus ruining the end result. Not even the technician, who has years of screen printing experience, could manage to pull a perfect print despite several attempts. One could therefore view this exercise as a pointless waste of time; however, I am trying to think of it as an exploration of some of the limitations of the screen printing process.

 

MA SHOW PLANS

The MA show is coming up fast and I have had lots of options and advice on curation and display methodology.  I think that I have now resolved this into:

Rear wall: to feature the screen prints already made and some more, in different colours and sizes, to be produced this week. The prints will be trimmed and arranged either tessellated or in a more random manner to mimic fly-posting.

The side wall: covered with photographs of the car stickers taken all over the country, the prints ‘fly posted’ in the real world; and people wearing the Office for Global Improvement badges and T shirts which I will pick up tomorrow. This is a scan of the metal badges which have come out well.

 

 

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The floor: possibly either custom-made fabric, printed with some of the digitised screen prints; or vinyl or linoleum flooring printed the same way. The final decision will be governed by both aesthetics and cost.

A table to hold the T-shirts, car stickers, badges and (maybe) questionnaires. Maybe this should be in the space allotted – or maybe in the main foyer if this wold be permitted. I like the idea of issuing people with badges as the come into the exhibition – maybe I could even get them to fill in a short questionnaire about their response to the project and their views on fake news and over zealous advice. These responses could well form the basis of another tranche of work post graduation.

Another thought was to take some of the screen prints and have them digitally printed on either fabric or wallpaper. I’m favouring fabric as I do not have wall space to spare and the wallpaper would not last long on the floor. Fabric, however, could be draped from, say, a dowel attached to the studio ceiling, and either attached to the floor in a similar way, or tied, or draped. This appeals to me and I’m following it up. I’ve included these developments in the documentation I sent to the University tonight. I will talk tomorrow to consultants at imagegroupuk.com as this company seems to offer a plethora of options. They also have experience of installing printed materials in galleries.

www.imagegroupuk.com

I need to measure the room either tomorrow or Tuesday as we have not been given dimensions – only a sketch of the proposed layout of the show. According to the promises made on various digital printing websites, however, it seems that turnaround can be quick- two or three days from receiving the order so whichever I settle on- fabric or wallpaper – provided it’s this week I should have the material in time for the show.

 

Some of the dozens of screen prints I’ve produced recently.

 

Having talked to the technician today I have decided that the best way to fix the prints to the wall is by using special magnets and either screws sunk into the wall or steel whalebone. Following advice from the last tutorial I will aim to tessellate the prints so that they seem to bombard the viewer – which is what I want to achieve. I may also investigate turning some of the digitised versions into large format prints – I’m considering giclee – as this has also been suggested.

 

 

JULY UPDATE

This month has been incredibly busy which is fantastic. I am regularly checking artists’ call-outs, primarily on Isendyouthis which seems to offer the most comprehensive list of opportunities. ArtRabbit is also good. Although I am in the process of getting my latest work, CV etc into a suitable state to submit to arts organisations and others, I have already applied and been accepted by two bodies: InSitu, for their forthcoming Things Worth Fighting For show, and Average Art’s August edition.

In-Situ’s show was supposed to take place over several weeks in July in a major venue in Brierley, West Yorks. The organisers, however, had some unspecified problems with the planned space, and had to alter their plans to make it a more short-lived show. Even so, I was delighted to take part and pleased that the organisers still felt that my work, based on the premise that the truth is indeed worth fighting for,  deserved being shown despite a more restricted space.  I offered the organisers a choice of posters and banners to display, from which they chose the cyan Breathe Responsibly banner and two commercially produced A4 posters: 67% of your concerns are unwarranted, and Nothing can possibly go wrong. I remember that when the latter was on the door of our Bloomsbury show, it made three passing policemen laugh which I was pleased about.

As, sadly, I do not currently have the capacity to deliver my work personally to West Yorkshire I  posted the banners and posters to InSitu last weekend and they have spent the last few days installing and curating all the submissions. Photographs of the final show are being sent to me this week and I will post these on this blog as soon as I receive them. I have also joined the Facebook group for the Things worth fighting for show which extends my network of contacts to include a number of like-minded, socially concerned and critical artists in the north of England.

Last week I also applied to the online magazine Average Art,  submitting some images of my latest screen prints. I was delighted that they replied to me within a few days to say that my work has been accepted for publication in the August edition.  This again gives me very good exposure as the magazine has over 6000 followers and is also sent to major arts organisations with the aim of encouraging them to give emerging artists some valued recognition and publicity.

Although I was not shortlisted for the Pier Commission in Erith, south London, I was pleased that the organisers have encouraged me to apply again in the future. I think in retrospect that my submission would have been much stronger had I visited the Pier and used information gathered there to make a more detailed and perhaps more site-specific proposal. The shortlisted entries do indeed refer more strongly to the local area than my submission did. For example, one involved  photography from the past layered onto modern day imagery of the pier using a Photoshop technique very similar to that employed by Cate Field.  Now that I have a better idea of what the organisers are looking for, I am determined to reapply in the future with more relevant work; this may be based on talking to local community groups to find out what issues regarding post truth politics and over-zealous advice in the media strike the most chords with them. I would then use this research to propose a new series of posters for the Pier, maybe including actual quotes from local people.

Although my entry to the Frieze writer’s prize, based on my review of the Graphics of Punk exhibition in London this spring, was acknowledged, I have heard nothing from the organisers since and the deadline for entries closed last week.  Maybe this is a case of ‘no news is good news’. I will keep this blog updated on this application as soon as I receive any further information. I have also seen that there is a competition for critical art writing in The Observer and Guardian with a deadline of November 2017.  The opportunity requires a specially-written review of a contemporaneous art show – any kind of art is acceptable, apparently – comprising around 1000 words. The review must not have appeared anywhere else nor been submitted to any other competition. As the reviews I have written are of shows which have now closed, I am intending to see some new work in September and from this research will  write a review for submission which complies with the competition guidelines.

I have also enrolled on what promises to be a very exciting short course at West Dean college next spring. The course takes the form of four intensive days being taught how to carve letters in wood by a professional letter carver. I think that this will be excellent for my Words in Woods idea which I want to progress after I leave UCA, and which will form the basis of my submission to the Surrey Unearthed competition. There seems to be no deadline for this, and the organisers, Surrey Arts, (whom I know through my work several years ago)  are only asking for expressions of interest at this stage with the project going ‘live’ in 2018.  I intend applying to Surrey Unearthed during the next couple of weeks, but I don’t think any harm will be done to my prospects if my application is made in September instead of August. This will also give me more time to collect images of suitable sites for my carved signs, ideally featuring beautiful fallen autumn leaves. This would be impossible to realise at this time of the year.

I am aware that the  new Chairman of the Arts Council, Nicholas Serota,  has stated that he is now keen on funding art projects outside London in the foreseeable future instead of promoting art in the capital itself which he believes is already well supported. This is good news for me as I intend to apply to the Arts Council for a £10,000 grant to support the showing of my work in Brighton at the time of the Fringe Festival there in 2018. I experimented with this event  earlier this year and think that it is ‘right’ for me as the festival lasts for around one month, during which time the whole of Brighton and Hove become immersed in a plethora of arts projects. I have every confidence that my core theme of critiquing post truth politics and over-zealous advice will be as relevant next year as it is now; indeed, it may have become even more of an issue.

I am therefore planning to show a number of new screen prints in the festival brochure which has a circulation of around half a million around the south coast, and in London as well. The media spend is therefore fully justifiable in my mind. I will, however, augment this with a feature which I will write for the Fringe brochure, explaining the concept and highlighting new texts based on events in the news next spring. I will also take space again in the Jubilee Library in the centre of Brighton which I found this year offers excellent exposure for a relatively modest financial outlay.

Jeremy Deller, of course, has recently produced and flyposted simply monochrome posters bearing the words Strong and Stable My Arse as a direct critique of Theresa May’s election campaign slogan. Although I usually love Deller’s work I find this example too blatant and specific. It does not invite the viewer to wonder at its meaning as it has no vestige of ambiguity whatsoever; instead the viewer is simply confronted by the artist’s political opinion. There was an interesting article about this in July’s Art Monthly which I could use as one of my references for the 3000 word research proposal I have just started to write for the assessment in August.

In summary, then, I have some networks already in place for my practice post-graduation and have identified a suitable source of funding for this – the Arts Council whose south east office is in Brighton which may help them look on my application in a favourable light. I have already met some of the staff there and am looking forward to reacquainting myself with them and seeking their advice on my application for funding.

I have also identified courses such as latter carving in wood which will further extend my practice and enable me to apply for forthcoming competitions ( and also leave texts in rural environments which I could publicise as a ‘teaser campaign’ in the local media. It could be a kind of ‘treasure hunt’ for adults and kids, for example, with a prize given to the individual who finds and photographs the most texts in the county – which would be fun.) My work is also appearing in Things Worth Fighting For and will be shown in the August edition of Average Art.

In this post I have concentrated on my plans for the future, and there are many of them which I am finding very exciting. I fear, though, that I have too many ideas! I also have my network of contacts at Ochre print studios which will enable me to further develop my screen printing practice which I really enjoy. I have invested in a small press too which I am picking up tomorrow from the manufacturers Ironbridge in Shropshire. This will enable me to continue with other forms of printing such as collography, relief printing and chine colle which I feel I have only just begun to explore and which offers incredible scope for further development.

I am finding it a real surprise that after 15 years of studying and practising art I have ventured into 2D work. Previously I have concentrated more on sculpture and installation. My interest in and appreciation of these artforms, however, has not gone away as I am currently considering how to display my work for the assessment in a format that it more interesting than simply sticking my prints on the wall. I am meeting my design agency this afternoon to explore possibilities offered by flags, banners, acetate prints and suchlike as discussed in a tutorial this week.

In another post I will describe the feedback from our show in Wandsworth Common mainline station earlier this month, and my experience at the Westminster Media Forum seminar on fake news which I thought was excellent. As I succeeded in getting the Office for Global Improvement mentioned at the seminar by asking a pertinent question, this was documented and subsequently circulated to all the delegates and other interested bodies such as MPs and policy-makers. The documentation of the seminar, which I received yesterday in PDF format,  offers an excellent network of potential contacts.

 

Welcome!