Tag Archives: Paul Coldwell

MPhil/PhD Intensive Week

In mid-November CCW Graduate School held its second annual MPhil/PhD Intensive Week, a programme of research workshops. The week focuses on practice and aims to introduce students to the particular expertise and experience of members of CCW’s research staff. The week includes four workshops, each looking at the spaces and domains of research in art and design under the headings of Studio (Mark Fairnington), Viva (Paul Coldwell), Social Space (Marsha Bradfield) and Text and Practice (Jo Melvin).

‘The viva represents the culmination of the years of study towards a research degree and the student’s “appointment with destiny”, whereby the claims and arguments posited in the thesis can be tested,’ said Coldwell. ‘In many ways the viva is such a unique event that no amount of preparation can cover every eventuality, but a clear understanding of the process and the roles of everyone involved certainly helps. By understanding what purpose the viva serves, the student can hopefully enter into the process and enjoy the experience. After all, the whole focus of the viva is on the student’s research, and the opportunity to discuss or even “lock horns” with senior academics in the field should be an experience to savour. The idea of giving a robust defence of the thesis was explored and the manner in which the student should be seen to be taking ownership of the research territory as laid out in their thesis.

While each examination team is different, and of course, that each thesis demands its own particular scrutiny, the appointment of an independent chair, drawn from a pool of experienced examiners within UAL ensures that each viva is conducted within the guidelines and that our university regulations are strictly adhered to.   My workshop set out to explain the preparation for the event, what happens on the day itself and what follows. It also explored various ways in which the visual material could be presented and the importance throughout of seeing the thesis as all the work to be examined- practical and written. I hope the session served to de-mysterfy the viva and answer some of the concerns and fears that students invariably harbour. From my perspective, it was a very engaging and enjoyable session with everyone participating.’

CCW PhD student Elizabeth Manchester discussed her experience in Coldwell’s workshop. ‘In his extremely useful seminar, Paul presented lots of eminently sensible and practical advice about how to approach your viva. He recommended things that should be completely obvious but sadly aren’t – like reading your thesis through several times so that you take ownership of it and can refer back to it in those high pressure moments (instead of kicking yourself afterwards when you realise that you had actually answered the question in depth several pages in, something I can imagine myself doing only too easily). He took us through all the nitty-gritty basics, such as who will be there, what the main aim of the process is, and then showed us pictures of viva set-ups, giving us a range of examples of how previous PhD candidates had dealt with that difficult issue of how to present the practice element of the research. Above all, he emphasised the positive aspects of this event: the fact that it is an opportunity not only for a real encounter with your research, but also for a really in-depth discussion of it, involving an exchange of ideas with academics in your field. Putting your work and ideas centre-stage – what could be more stimulating and exciting?!’

Recordings of the workshops by Bradfield and Coldwell are available on Soundcloud.

Faculti Interview with Paul Coldwell

CCW Professor Paul Coldwell has recently been featured by Faculti, giving an interview about The Artists Folio: as a site of inquiry. This was an exhibition that Coldwell curated in Bradford in the first half of 2014.

Coldwell said, ‘I was approached by Faculti to be interviewed on my recent research on the Artists Folio.  Faculti aims to communicate the latest research news, publications and information in a way that is accessible and available to the wider public. It offers the opportunity for leading academics and professionals to present their thinking on line to a broad audience and I was therefore delighted to accept the invitation to participate. The Artists Folio was an exhibition I curated (with Sonia Kielty) at Cartwright Hall, Bradford earlier in the year. It evolved and developed from the keynote paper I presented at Impact 7 International Printmaking Conference, held at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia in 2011, entitled Just What Is It that Makes An Artists Folio So Special, So Appealing, So Important? I argued for a reappraisal of the importance of the print portfolio to present ideas concerned with series sequence and seriality. These ideas were also touched upon in my book Printmaking: A Contemporary Perspective (Black Dog, 2010) and I am currently developing this research as the focus for a new book, due in 2016.’

Coldwell’s entire interview can be viewed on the Faculti website.

Faculti described their work, saying, ‘Inspired by the confirmation of the Higgs Boson particle in March 2013, Faculti contacted professor John Ellis, the Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King’s College London, about making a short film of the ground breaking news. The Higgs discovery has been called monumental because it confirms the existence of the Higgs field, pivotal to the standard model of particle physics. Professor Ellis was able to communicate this information in under three minutes, supporting the statement of another pivotal figure in research science, that of Albert Einstein who said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”’

Oficina Bartolomeu Dos Santos Residency

The Oficina Bartolomeu dos Santos (OBS), is the printmaking studio of the eminent Portuguese printmaker Bartolomeu dos Santos, familiarly known as Barto. When he retired from being Head of Printmaking at the Slade School of Art Barto inaugurated a print prize in his name for a graduating MA Visual Arts: Printmaking student from Camberwell College of Arts. He died in 2008, but last year, through OBS, a new award of a residency in his studio in Tavira, Portugal was created, and Annika Reed has been its first recipient. The fully equipped studio offers facilities primarily for intaglio, for which Barto was so famous. However, the presses can be adapted to print relief and Reed took full advantage of this.

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Tutorial with Paul Coldwell

To offer tutorial support and the occasional glass of wine and local food, CCW Professor Paul Coldwell (himself a pupil of Barto’s) also worked in the studio on new prints to be shown at his upcoming exhibition at the University of Bradford in February 2015. Reed was incredibly productive and took full advantage of the residency, both consolidating the work she was doing as an MA student, as well as extending herself and taking risks, leading into new printmaking possibilities. ‘Everyone at OBS was really impressed with her work and energy and have confirmed that a similar residency will be offered for a 2014-15 MA Visual Arts: Printmaking graduate. I really hope that this is the beginning of a long association with OBS, and it is a poignant way of ensuring that the legacy of one of the 20th century’s great printmakers and teachers will continue to inspire another generation,’ said Coldwell.


The road on which the studio is situated, named after Barto

Writing about her experience, Reed said, ‘Armed with one tin of black ink, five pieces of Japanese plywood, two rolls of Hosho paper, a camera and two sketchbooks, I wandered out of reality and into the studio of Bartolomeu Dos Santos in Tavira, Portugal.

I am interested in the question of life’s seeming absurdity and being taken out of my everyday life allowed me to find inspiration within my temporary surroundings.

I was awarded this residency at my MA show and I was cautious not to make prints similar to that particular body of work. Instead, I wanted to use the time and space to experiment with different ideas taking me out of my comfort zone in order to start a new investigation. Paul Coldwell was making a series of etchings in the studio alongside me and his guidance was invaluable throughout the residency.

Photography became an integral part of my enquiry in Tavira, with the shapes and patterns documented being echoed in my paintings and prints. Not all of the outcomes were successful. However, they will act as a vital starting point for further development back in my studio in London.

Working and living in the same space was a new experience and it allowed time for reflection and brought up a lot of questions, some of which are still unanswered.

The studio of Bartolomeu Dos Santos is an incredible place and my visit was made even more special by the people I met. They welcomed me into their family and showed me the local way of life, an experience I shall never forget.’



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Cutting wood in the studio

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Working through artist block

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Experiments with repetition

Charms and other Anxious Objects

Running 28 May – 14 June at the Freud Museum, London, Paul Coldwell talks about his exhibition, Charms and Other Anxious Objects.

‘This work is a contribution to the Anxiety Arts Festival London 2014 (info@anxiety2014.org) and began with research in the Archives and Museum at the Bethlem Royal Hospital where I was able to view their online collection and see objects and material in actuality. I have been drawn to archives as starting points for previous bodies of work, Freud’s Coat, an installation and bookwork in 1996, the result of many hours in the Freud Museum exploring the collection, I called while you were out 2008, a year long project supported by the AHRC in the house at Kettle’s Yard and most recently Re-Imaging Scott; Objects and Journeys the result of foraging in the archives of the Scott Polar Research Institute, also in Cambridge in 2013.

‘In the Bethlem archives I was drawn to often simple objects such as a comb or a drinking vessel and some sets of photographs showing patients upon entry and after treatment. What I saw in the photographs was an investment of dignity, (whether real or a construct of the photographer), the patient no longer disheveled, but presented to the camera, in a reordered state.  In response, I made Ghosts and Empties, which presents simple objects that we use in order to present an image of ourselves to the world. These include, a razor, comb, shaving mirror each cast in white resin, the resin taking the form of the absence of the object in the mould. The title comes from a line in Graceland, the song by Paul Simon, and attempts to speak about the relationship we have with objects and how in some cases they outlive us.

‘In Charms I & II, I have tried to make a connection between the charm bracelet and restraints used on some of the patients that I saw in the archives.  Charms carry wishes and desires as well as magical beliefs or faith in the power of these objects to influence our future destiny. My bracelets, now enlarged, have become burdensome, more akin to the ball and chain than a simple silver trinket. Anxieties are only problematic when the person feels that they are disproportionate, here what was previously manageable becoming literally something that prevents the person moving forward.

‘While in Charms I&II  I evoke weight and the hardness of metal as qualities through which to interpret the objects, in Glass Charms I wanted the material of glass to bring a sense of immateriality and preciousness. If Glass Charms can be seen as a representation of a life, then I would hope that what follows is an understanding of just how fragile each individual life is.

‘Anxiety is a condition that we all share, we need it to function but it only becomes a concern when a point is tipped. While working on the project, I would often have the radio playing in the studio and I began to notice how many songs seemed to speak of anxieties and how popular music can therefore provides a soundtrack to an inner life.  My soundtrack, A Soundtrack to an Anxious Life, consists of15 titles each suggesting hope, fear or aspiration. These were printed as postcards, a way of sending out coded messages to the world, and here they are distributed amongst the objects at the Freud Museum as accents or exclamations.

‘All together, in the context of the Freud Museum, my intention is that this work should resonate with the museum as a whole, Freud’s own collection of objects and also specifically to his writing on the theory of the uncanny.’

Coldwell discussed the exhibition further in his interview with Studio International. He also wrote about it for Remedia and was interviewed by Carol Seigel, Director of the Freud Museum.

Printed Matter

Printed Matter is an exhibition which features the work of Paul Coldwell, presenting printed works selected from a number recent projects. The postcards and screenprints are from a recent exhibition at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge in which Coldwell reflected on Scott’s ill-fated last journey to the South Pole. The postcards image polar landscapes and in addition a number were posted from various ports of call of the Terra Nova, thereby retracing the journey home. The set of six screenprints focus on the sponsorship of the expedition and the manner in which the enterprise engaged with popular support and interest. Kafka’s doll is collaboration with the poet Anthony Rudolf and the bookwork is present alongside the digital images that reflect and interpret the text. Finally, With the Melting of the Snows is bookwork made in response to Martin Bell’s final BBC Broadcast as war Correspondent in Bosnia. The bookwork re-imagines the siege of Sarajevo through a series of lithographs.

Mark Graver, curator of the exhibition and alumnus of MA Printmaking at Camberwell, runs Art at Wharepuke, a workshop and gallery in New Zealand. He invited Coldwell to show some of the work related to the Scott project and from this they began to shape an exhibition that includes earlier works and projects. They wanted to focus on work that was portable and included bookworks and postcards, as well as prints. Overall the exhibition is about the use of print as a means for getting ideas out.

Art at Wharepuke is in Kerikeri, New Zealand. It is a purpose built art gallery specialising in international printmaking and exchange projects. The show is open from 20 March – 13 April. More information about the exhibition can be found here.

The Artists Folio

Forming a fresh debate on printmaking and the artist’s folio, CCW Professor Paul Coldwell has curated the exhibition The Artists Folio: as a site of inquiry.

This unique exhibition presents a selection of folios from the city’s print collection featuring lithographs by Lowry, Rakes Progress by Hogarth and David Hockney; Sonia Boyce, Chris Ofili, Hew Locke – from the Rivington Folio, INIVA; William Rothenstein’s 1921 dry-points ‘Landscapes of War’; Glen Baxter’s humorous lithographs and Patrick Caulfield’s boldly coloured screenprints. The exhibition spans a printmaking renaissance over the 60s, 70s and 80s in particular. A series celebrating the 2012 London Olympics features Bob and Roberta Smith, Martin Creed, Rachel Whiteread and Tracey Emin. On loan is a framed Intaglio set celebrating twenty-five years of Angela Flowers Gallery, London, including Nicola Hicks, Glenys Barton, Renny Tait and Tai-Shan Schierenberg – all past and future exhibitors at Bradford Museums and Galleries, with other well known artists such as Patrick Hughes and Peter Howson. Visitors can see full sets of prints in their entirety, displaying the full series and sequence of prints, as the artist originally intended. A fully illustrated catalogue is available from Cartwright Hall with an essay by Coldwell and a symposium is being planned. Further details are available on the Bradford Museums and Galleries website.

Coldwell will be blogging for the exhibition which runs 8 February – 15 June 2014.