Category Archives: Partnerships

UKIERI Thematic Partnership at Wimbledon College of Art

The works realised during the March 2014 UKIERI Thematic Partnership workshop in Hyderabad will be on view in the main building of Wimbledon College of Art until 12 September 2014. These works are the result of a joint research project between Wimbledon College of Arts and the University of Hyderabad exploring The Means of Performance in the Digital Age. Jane Collins, Simon Betts and Douglas O’Connell from Wimbledon, together with CCW PhD students Jenny Wright and Vanessa Saraceno, collaborated with students at the Fine Arts and Theatre departments of the S. N. School of Art and Communication of Hyderabad.

The UKIERI thematic partnership investigates the impact of ‘new media’ on performance in India and the UK, bringing together two recognised centres of excellence to create a cross-cultural research platform at the inter-face of fine art and theatre. Using the ‘scenographic’ as a frame of reference, a broad term that encompasses all the elements that contribute to the composition of performance, this joint research compares how digitalisation and electronic media have been absorbed into our respective performance cultures.

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Find out more about the UKIERI Thematic Partnership.

A Conversation Between Michael Asbury and Sean Lynch

Dr Michael Asbury, CCW Reader and TrAIN Research Centre Deputy Director, recorded his recent conversation with artist Sean Lynch, recipient of the TrAIN/Gasworks residency during the summer of 2012. Each year, TrAIN collaborates with Gasworks International Residency Programme to offer a fully funded three month practice-based research fellowship for an artist who is not based in the UK. The residency offers an opportunity for the artist to join the studio environment offered by Gasworks, while also participating in research seminars and discussions at the TrAIN Research Centre. Following his residency Sean held a solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford and is currently living in London whilst preparing for his exhibition at the Venice Biennale, where he will represent Ireland in 2015.

MICHAEL: Thank you for your visit last night. I thought it was quite fitting that we ended up watching the Brazil v Cameroon match on a TV reserved for Irish Games. I wouldn’t have spotted that sticker if you hadn’t pointed it out. I was more curious about the 15 volumes of the 1970s encyclopaedia of angling arranged haphazardly on the window shelf behind your seat, which might say something about the unfolding game on the tele.

I had been curious about that pub for a while. As I mentioned last night, every time I passed it on my way home it reminded me of a fabulous story you unearthed during your TrAIN/Gasworks residency in 2012: the one about an Irish pub landlord (ex-boxer wasn’t he?) who could lift someone up with one arm, while the person was still sitting on the bar stool!

Perhaps this would be a good place to start our conversation: could you recount how this story related to your project for that residency?

SEAN: Buttie Sugrue was a strongman from County Kerry who ended up running The Admiral Nelson pub in Sheppard’s Bush during the 1960s. Along with the stool trick, Sugrue was also known for pulling a bus along with his teeth and he once buried himself alive. His name is often mentioned in the annals of Irish eccentrics, and I came across him during research into the destruction and aftermath of Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin.

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Nelson never visited Dublin, yet the city’s aldermen erected a pillar with statue in 1809, years before London’s Nelson’s Column of 1843. Gaining access to a viewing platform for a panorama of Dublin was a popular pursuit. Joyce’s Parable of the Plums featured two old ladies who ate plums at the top, spitting the stones through the railings and down to the city below (a metaphor for turn of the century Irish nationalism: eating the plums, the women become horrified and unable to move, frightened by their distance from ground level of Irish soil and finding the coloniser Nelson’s face unwelcoming and menacing). The presence of Nelson’s imperialism lasted until 1966, when a Republican splinter group blew the pillar up. Their covert operation that night was entitled Operation Humpty Dumpty.

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Eight men detained were later released without charge. Rubble was cleared from the street, ending up in a dump where souvenir hunters descended, taking pieces for mantelpieces and back gardens. Soon after, Nelson’s fallen head was stolen from a city council shed by students of the National College of Art. It was rented out, to concerts and fashion shoots around Dublin before finding its way to the shopfront window of an antiques store in London. Sugrue saw it, and was willing to pay a thousand pounds for the stone, a somewhat apt scalp for an Irishman in London at the time. He wanted to tour it and show it in the pub he worked in, a plan that did not come to fruition before the head’s return to Dublin to sit in a local museum. ‘I will hold charity shows with it and give the money to needy Irish families, I don’t intend to gain any money with it,’ he said.

Like many artists nowadays, I’m interested in associative and tangential narratives, and how to weave circumstantial understandings of this material… this is why we talk about someone like Sugrue rather than trying to objectively historise such a figure. He is a hustler: wheeling and dealing, sometimes succeeding, other times failing dramatically. His exploits are reported in the newspapers of the day, since remembered in memories and rumours handed down in the circles of the London Irish. Playing out these conversations is a much more interesting way of publicly constructing forms, rather than hiding away hermetically in a studio, googling and imagining the construction of a concise form that can accommodate these more ‘messy’ stories.

MICHAEL: I’m fascinated by messy stories, I think that is why I became interested in art history, initially buying into the mythologised lives of the artists – a product of frustration no doubt, my life was in comparison so dull – and later as a kind of schizophrenic writer, that is to say, writing as a form of discovery of the many voices that exist within oneself. There is a clear distinction between the kind of writing an art historian does and that of an art critic, for example. They are somewhat contradictory activities. On the one hand, while the latter is a practice of myth construction that explores interesting coincidences, anecdotes, and is not afraid of falling into digressions (which seem so close to what you actually do as an artist interested in obscure, marginal narratives), with the former I identify more with the subject of your investigation, that is to say, with the knocking down of monuments, those [always ideologically] constructed narratives. I was just listening to a pod-cast (yes, I am one of those ‘hiding away hermetically, googling’) of Boris Groys arguing that the principle legacy of conceptual art was to bring art (or more precisely installation, as the true inheritor of conceptual art) to the level of language. I’m not sure if I agree with him, at least as far as the political consequences that he associates with this legacy. I’m not sure artists think of legacies and the contemporaneous trans-media character of art. For example, (although this is simplifying what Groys meant by ‘language’) how did you become attracted you to narrative, language? You also seem to oscillate, like myself, between history and the contemporary within your practice: we could almost think of it as the ‘excavation’ of the ruins and repercussions (the rolling of Nelson’s head, if you like) of a historical fact. The column in Dublin seems related in this procedural way to another story you told us during your residency, the one about the mysterious disappearance of Clinton’s ball. That was a messy story if I ever heard one!

SEAN: Folkloric modes of communication have frequently been suppressed by the clean lines of the modern movement. This is certainly the case in an Irish idiom, where the fledging nation state and the want for a position of international accessibility did away with the anarchic, ‘backward’ versions of aurality and storytelling, turning them into a novelty act for tourists. In my concerns for narrative agency and language, it is worth mentioning a few sources that survive this modality that don’t feature very much in the contemporary art canon: Flann O’Brien’s postmodernism of the 1940s, Brian Friel’s Translations, or the shamanistic laments of the medieval myth of An Buile Suibhne are subjects close to my work, each part of a notion of Irishness that refute progressions of modernity in favor of context-led play and associative digression. They refuse any attempts at stable identity – instead remaining malleable, eclectic… libertarian.

I could aspire to these lofty aims, but what’s more interesting is to use them to interrogate situations that seem marginal to certain hegemonic debates that our shared visual culture espouses – scenarios that are ‘underrepresented,’ for lack of a better word. Much of this has to do with what the notion of practice can get away with, what it can utter underneath its breath, rather than always revolving around an achievement-based or reputational economy… maybe this is a version of conceptualism that we could occasionally whisper about…

As for Clinton, my project was to recover part of a statue that was stolen in recent years. It is really an artwork that exists as an excuse to tell a good story! A trip to Ireland in September 1998 was Clinton’s first visit abroad since the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In Ballybunion, the secret service made a local hair salon take down their shopfront sign, which said ‘Monica’s’, before Clinton arrived, hence denying a quite large contingent of travelling international press a possible photo opportunity. He then played some golf at the local course, a scene depicted by a larger-than-lifesize sculpture of him in the town. I understand that it is the only statue of Clinton in the world, since the American senate has not yet figured out how to depict him. Clinton has subsequently revisited the statue several times, taking further golfing holidays in Ireland after his presidency lapsed. There is some kind of logic to have a statue of an American president there, for rumor has it that if you stand on the cliffs at Ballybunion and stare across the Atlantic for long enough, you will see the United States, as it’s the next parish to the west! This legacy of US presidents visiting Ireland is well documented, with the likes of JFK and Reagan tracing their Irish roots. In Ballyporeen, where Reagan traced his family to, an entrepreneurial act after his visit there in 1984 saw sections of soil of the parish exported to America, where they were sold to avid Reaganites.

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The wall text as part of the work’s installation reads: ‘Bill Clinton, as part of a presidential tour of Ireland, visited Ballybunion in September 1998. He enjoyed an afternoon playing at the village’s golf course beside the Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by tight security, Clinton also walked through the streets to meet wellwishers and to admire a statue depicting him playing golf. Sculptor Sean MacCarthy based his study of Clinton’s physique on newspaper photographs. Placed in front of the local police station, the statue has become a popular tourist attraction in the region.’

‘One of the president’s balls is missing!’ blared a newspaper headline in August 2005. A bronze golf ball was removed from the statue. A police spokesman stated: ‘Whoever stole the ball would have used a tool of some sort to remove it, and may have taken it under cover of darkness.’

The ball was recently recovered.

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[This is an excerpt of an interview which is still in progress. For more information on the artist and/or subsequent publication of the entire conversation, please visit www.transnational.org.uk]

UAL Research Online

UAL Research Online (UALRO) is the Library’s digital, online collection of the research produced by UAL’s faculty. The Library set it up in 2009 and continues to manage it as a service to researchers and a global showcase of UAL’s research. The collection is openly available online, with hundreds of visitors a day coming to browse and download our work, for free. Through UALRO the University accomplishes its goals of raising the profile of research, opening up access to it around the world and preserving it in perpetuity.

Built by the JISC-funded Kultur project, UAL Research Online is the first repository specifically designed for research in creative arts design and media. It currently contains journal articles, monographs, book chapters, conference papers, conference proceedings, exhibitions, video, audio, images and selected post-graduate theses. It is also able to manage software, datasets, workshop presentations, patents and approved PhD theses.

As an Open Access research repository, UAL Research Online satisifes the requirements of many UK funding bodies (e.g.,the UK research councils, the Wellcome Trust and the European Research Council) to make the results of publically-funded research available to the public.

The University also uses UALRO’s collection internally, as it is the only university-wide record of our research outputs. Ideally, researchers only have to enter details of their ongoing research outputs in one place – UALRO – and any other college or university body can then collect this data from UALRO. The collection also feeds into UAL’s REF 2014 submission; starting with the metadata and content in UALRO when the University put together its submission. Indeed, for the next REF, all articles published in academic journals will have to be openly accessible (i.e., downloadable for free, in full) or they cannot be submitted. UALRO is the way to ensure that journal articles are Open Access. Staff should deposit the final version of an article (the version that has been accepted at the end of the peer review process) to UALRO, as well as the published pdf if there is one, and UALRO staff will make sure it satisfies the new requirements.

All staff members at UAL can set up an account at UALRO to deposit their research outputs: written texts, objects, performances, exhibitions, films, etc.  Staff are asked to give a few details about their research output and upload some content (for example, a scan of a book cover, a recording of a performance, the text of a journal article, chapter or paper given at a conference, installation shots of an exhibition, photos of the artworks, and any born-digital research).  UALRO staff will edit it and contact staff if they have any queries or advice, and then they will add it to the online collection. UALRO will help make sure staff don’t breach anyone’s copyright, and they will protect the work against anyone doing the same to staff’s own copyright in the work.

For more information about UALRO contact Stephanie Meece and Alex Kohn, Scholarly Communications Office, Library Services.

Image: Eileen Hogan, Vacant Possession, New Art Centre Roche Court February 2013 cc by nc nd

Art and Archives Roundtable

Ligatus Research Center will host the Art and Archives Roundtable on 18 July 2014, with the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) exchange programme ‘PROJECT ViA’ and the UK and Ireland Art Library Society (ARLIS). The afternoon will include presentations by Judy Vaknin, Victoria Lane, Wendy Russell, Gavin Clarke, Ruth Maclennan and Alan Crookham, as well as by the PROJECT ViA participants Sang-ae Park, Ji-eun Lee, Hae-Ju Kim, Hyun jung Woo, Ho-Kyung Chung and Jay Jungin Hwang.

Ligatus is linked to ARLIS through a common interest in artists’ archives. The relationship developed after work that Ligatus did on the John Latham Archive. Since then, Ligatus has presented that work on several occasions to the ARLIS group and welcomed ARLIS members to Flat Time House where the John Latham archive is kept.

Ligatus and ARLIS have also worked together in the development of new research proposals. Archivists try to be objective when undertaking archiving work, however, it is inevitable that their subjective opinions and views appear in archival descriptions. Although subjectivity should normally be avoided in archiving, Ligatus proposes to make it the main focus of the archiving process for artists’ archives. Creative Archiving has formalised this proposal, taking subjectivity to the extreme and treating the archivist as a domain expert.  With Creative Archiving, in addition to standard ‘objective’ descriptions, subjective interpretations become an extra layer in the implementation of the online archive.  With modern software tools, building this extra interpretation layer is feasible and relatively simple. Athanasios Velios, Deputy Director of Ligatus Research Centre, has explored Creative Archiving in his article, Creative Archiving: a case study from the John Latham Archive.

Presentations on the day will look at archiving art, performing archives, the artist and the archive and curating the archive.

KAMS and ARLIS are visiting the Flat Time House to discuss the John Latham Archive prior to the event.

Welcome Cape Farewell

CCW Graduate School welcomes Cape Farewell, an international not-for-profit programme dedicated to developing cultural responses to climate change. They have now begun a residency with us in the Graduate School, planned to last for three years. During this time there will be opportunities for CCW staff to collaborate with Cape Farewell on projects that offer cultural and creative responses to climate change.  The Cape Farewell team are:

  • David Buckland, (Director UK & US/Canada)
  • Yasmine Ostendorf (Programme Director)
  • Marente van der Valk (Project Manager)
  • Susie Stevens (Finance)
  • Ruth Little (Associate Director)

Cape Farewell has been collaborating with the world’s leading climate scientists and its most influential artists to instigate a cultural response to climate change since 2001. The Cape Farewell team believe that climate change is a cultural, social and economic challenge, and they are inspired to move beyond the scientific and rational debate to address it. By bringing together artists, scientists, communicators and cultural opinion formers, they endeavour to develop creative works that act as a catalyst for change. By using creativity to innovate, they engage artists, writers, poets, musicians and film-makers for their ability to evolve and amplify a creative language, communicating – on an emotional level and on a human scale – the urgency of the global climate challenge.

One of their creative outputs is to employ the notion of ‘expeditions’ – Arctic, island, urban and conceptual – to interrogate the scientific, social and economic realities that have led to climate disruption. Cape Farewell has so far made eight voyages into the high Arctic, ones to the Andes/Amazon, and more recently to the western islands of Scotland. This experience has prompted them to change from bearing witness to climate change to working pro-actively and in collaboration with island societies already de-carbonising their lives. Some of their work has been chronicled in the Graduate School’s publication Bright 9: Expedition.

In parallel to their expeditions they organize a wide range of activities, from exhibitions, to poetry slams, festivals, concerts, and much more.

Cape Farewell invites you to engage with them; take part in their competitions, follow them on Facebook, and attend their events. Stay informed at: www.capefarewell.com FB:  /capefarewell

The Changing Perception of Images: Wellcome Window Commission

In autumn 2012 CCW Graduate School, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust, launched a new platform of collaboration and practice at the meeting point of art, design and science, The Changing Perception of Images. Inspired by the Trust’s funded research into areas including neuroscience and memory, the project was initiated and curated by Sigune Hamann as an opportunity for CCW students from all levels and disciplines to explore the changing ways in which images are perceived.

Students were invited to submit installation proposals for the two 11 metre long windows at the Wellcome Headquarters that function as Wellcome Collection’s ‘third space’, an extension of the innovative displays found in its galleries. The installations reflect the Collection’s enquiring approach by provoking fresh thinking on aspects of image perception to engage passers-by on the busy Euston Road at day and night with an element of change over the year.

Students from courses of Curating, Drawing, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Graphic Design Communication, Interior and Spatial Design, Photography, Print and Time-based Media and Sculpture engaged with The changing perception of images drawing on wide ranging expertise at the University and from curators, scientists and archivists at the Trust.

The selection panels at the University, which included Jordan Baseman and David Cross, and the panel members from the Wellcome Trust, were impressed with the range of ideas presented and the inventive responses to a challenging brief. From 48 proposals, four projects were chosen to be developed for presentation to the Wellcome Trust: a photographic narrative of figures­­ in a concertina fold by Phoebe Ardent (BA Graphic Design CCC), large pixilated eyes in slow movement by Peter Hudson (BA Graphic Design CCC), a continuous line of irregularly angled mirrors by Jamie Simon (MA Graphic Design CCA) and an installation encouraging passers-by to call in and listen to a voice describing images from the collections by Lillian Wilkie (MA Fine Arts CCA). The Wellcome Trust launched the winning designs by Camberwell College of Arts students: Phoebe Argent’s installation View was installed in July 2013 and will be on show until July 2014 when it will be replaced by Peter Hudson’s 12 month installation Eye-contact.

The installations act as a showcase for students’ creativity and new approaches to image research at CCW. The award highlights ongoing multi-disciplinary collaborations at the Graduate School which promotes exchange between art, design and science to develop new methods and thinking.

The Means of Performance in a Digital Age

CCW staff (Jane Collins, Simon Betts and Douglas O’Connell) and PhD students (Jenny Wright and Vanessa Saraceno) travelled to India for the second seminar, called The Means of Performance in a Digital Age, of the UKIERI Thematic Partnership between CCW and University of Hyderabad (the first seminar was held in September 2013). Once there, teams discussed the ‘materiality’ of production in digital age. The seminar considered the way new technologies are impacting on the ‘physical’ processes of making work and replacing the tangible materiality of wood, paint and metal. Wright and Saraceno led workshops at the seminar and have reflected on their experiences.

Wright said, ‘This work has links with part of my research into the development and use of drawing as a primal recording and learning skill. I am interested in the haptic, physical nature of drawing and how movement and the physical interaction with tools onto a surface is used both to record and to develop deeper cognition. My role as facilitator on the Fine Art drawing part of the UKIERI work helped me gather more evidence on the performative nature of drawing and its key role in communicating and developing abstract thought. Working alongside the excellent Fine Art team in Hyderabad  has led to discussions on supporting drawing within the art school curriculum across different fields. Our particular remit was developing work with digital theatre design. The MFA students I was working with in Hyderabad were really enthusiastic and open to extend and broaden their work into the digital realm, whilst also being true to the primal nature of drawing, in terms of gesture and mark making. I am certainly hoping to develop a long standing dialogue with the teaching staff at Hyderabad in terms of evolving drawing practice with students. I can also see many links being made with students at Wimbledon and Hyderabad, with a mutually enrichment of performative work in theatre and fine art drawing.’

Sarceno said,  ‘In my role as facilitator, I discussed with the students of the Theatre Department the case study of the artistic duo Claire Fontaine, formed by artists James Thornhill and Fulvia Carnevale. Claire Fontaine’s practice offers a perfect example of how to play with new media in order to further develop the potentialities of the performative gesture. Assisting the students in the development of their projects for the final exhibition, I have encouraged them to always consider the problematics of the specific context in which their performance take place, and to embody these problematics interweaving all the knowledge they have with the potentialities of a new artistic territory. The uniqueness of this project lies in its offering evident and incontestable results since its very beginning. Thanks to their rich cultural legacy, and a textured theatrical tradition, students at Sarojini Naidu School of Arts in Hyderabad have fully understood the potentialities of new media and were also keen to explore them further in relation to the political and cultural situation in India. Indeed, the titles of their projects -City of Trash; The Savage; Natural Disaster, to cite a few- refer to the status of life today in India. In their call for a different, more sustainable relation with the environment, the students have been able to employ new technologies not merely as a tool through which to look at the world, but as a path for a new sensorial dimension where to practice an alternative way of experiencing the world through the body.’

Ishu Kumar, a student from Sarojini Naidu School of Arts, also responded to the seminar, saying, ‘This workshop helped me break away from my notions of mainstream theatre and helped to view theatre and its methods in a different light. It allowed me to look at how different elements such as the projector, the body, as well as acting, can be combined together, as well as used alone to provide meaning to a performance. It also allowed to me understand a new language being developed in the field of theatre primarily due the advancements of postmodern world. This workshop helped me push the envelope in terms of my understanding of theatre. It helped me gain new view in terms of how a theatre production can be designed. It gave me a perspective which broadened my viewing and understanding of theatre.

‘The entire experience would help me in my future works. I am also keen on using the experience I gained in my future ventures and always keep in mind the possibilities of the digital media. I now have a clear understanding of how theatre and the digital media can work hand in hand with each other. I would also like to take the experimentation of theatre in new context further through my own future projects.’

Douglas O’Connell made a short film of the seminar.

Collaborative Partnership Seminar Genève

On 13 and 14 January, staff from CCW visited the CCC Research-Based Master Programme and Pre-Doctoral Seminar at the Haute école d’art et de design Genève (CCC/HEAD), to discuss the development of a collaborative partnership around shared areas of research interest. CCC is co-ordinated by Professor Catherine Queloz and delivers a pre-doctoral seminar aimed at developing rigorous and culturally engaged practice-led research in art and design.

Professor Chris Wainwright, Pro Vice-Chancellor of UAL and Head of CCW, Dr Malcolm Quinn, Associate Dean of Research and Head of Graduate School CCW, and Professor Neil Cummings of CCW, delivered presentations on the PhD culture and curriculum at CCW/UAL, as well as presentations on their own research and one-to-one discussions on student research projects. Following the visit, CCW/UAL and CCC/HEAD are planning a joint seminar/workshop programme, commencing in autumn 2014, on the themes of the politics of memory and environment and sustainability, which cohere with the CCW research themes and the research aims of CCC. A common aim of both institutions is to use research in art as a powerful agent of artistic and cultural transformation, intervention, and translation.