Monthly Archives: May 2014

Administrator, Baker, Gardener and Tournament Organiser

I’m Claire Mokrauer-Madden, and I’m the CCW Graduate School Administrator. I edit the Graduate School blog, add content to the Graduate School website, administer the CCW Research Mentoring Scheme and set appointments in Malcolm Quinn’s diary. Soon I will also start as editorial assistant for the forthcoming peer-reviewed journal, Theatre & Performance Design (Routledge). Though this grouping of roles is ostensibly eclectic, the unifying theme is that most parts of my job keep me in touch with the Graduate School environment. This isn’t the Research Excellence Framework definition of environment, meaning data on research doctoral degrees awarded and research income. My work with the Graduate School environment is far more literal. How are staff and students using the Graduate School? How is the Graduate School using the third floor of E block at Chelsea as our base? How do people get involved in the Graduate School?

Last spring, one of our staff members, who also works at the V&A, commented that at the museum they get together for tea and cake mornings on the first Wednesday of the month, and would something like this be possible in the Graduate School? Many of the CCW research staff members work disparately, and this seemed like an interesting proposition for creating a low key staff contact point. I thought this was a great idea, not only to bring staff together, but, rather selfishly, I like to bake pie with fruit fillings, reminiscent of my American upbringing. Call me an opportunist, but this seemed like a great occasion to get to bake and then share, so that I don’t eat an entire pie myself (which I am well capable of). We have now been having pie days at the beginning of most months since last summer, and we treat it like a pot-lucks. Bakers and taste testers alike are welcomed.

Pie days (so-called by me, but there are usually cakes, muffins, brownies or flapjacks there) also have a home-grown element to them. When the Graduate School moved into the third floor of E block, the previous residents had left four potted plants on the terraces (and a mysterious cupboard full of used ink cartridges). Having never kept a plant alive in my life, I was unsure what to do with the watering can that one of our Professors left on my desk one morning. After a quick war of words (I left it in the prof office with the poem on it, ‘Roses are red, Violets are blue, Especially When, You water them’; he put it back on my desk, having written on the other side, ‘Claire’s Watering Can’) I cracked and watered the parched plants. Since then, people have added to the garden, growing mint, chillies, sage, lavender, thyme, tomatoes, spring onions, a plant that I can never remember the name of with inedible orange berries and geraniums. Beds made out of old stationery baskets have been seeded with bee-attracting wild flowers. With so many edible elements of the garden, staff and students in the Graduate School are encouraged to use the things that grow here. As a result, most of our pie days have had mint tea from the garden.

And finally, one of the most recent discoveries made in the Graduate School is that we have a lot of great table tennis players here. From March to April this year, I organised a tournament of Graduate School staff and students to win prints by Paul Coldwell and Stephen Farthing. The competition was impressively intense. Playing venues included the Triangle Space and BG02 above the canteen at Chelsea, which accommodated not only the games, but also the photographer, the bookie, the pie and the epic poem about the last four players standing in the tournament. Research into the best lighting for a table tennis tournament and who the strong players in the Graduate School are is unlikely to be submitted into REF 2020, but table tennis is our new environment to develop relationships.

The blogging, the website, the mentoring, the diary and the journal are the things that fill the majority of my time in the Graduate School. The pie, the garden and the table tennis make up so much of the Graduate School environment I see around me.

Memories of the Future: Malcolm Quinn’s Keynote

Malcolm Quinn, Director of CCW Graduate School, was recently invited to give the Keynote at the conference, Memories of the Future, organised by University of the Arts London and Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, held on 2-3 May.

‘My presentation for Memories of the Future drew on my recent research on the re-purposing of ideas and institutions in nineteenth century Britain, and about the social transformations that occur with a change of use. Can we think of time machines the same way? When we think of a time machine, we might think of an object that looks different from all other objects in the world, like the bizarre hybrid vehicle familiar from the stories of H.G. Wells. I discussed a time machine which, rather than being a different kind of object in the world, might be constructed out of a different usage of existing objects. The time traveller, similarly, is someone who talks about and uses the things of this world in a different way than everyone else. I used this difference between new objects and new uses of existing objects to discuss the importance of satisfaction in narratives of time travel, and the difference between 'not getting what you want', which is the basis of the fantasy of obtaining satisfaction through travel to another dimension of time, and 'not wanting what you get' because the things that you get only have one set of instructions for use. The second part of my presentation applied this distinction to historical analysis ' I asked if there was something that could separate knowledge of how things were in history (and how things might have been in 'counterfactual' histories) from the recreation of historical knowledge in a form that this world does not use it. As an example of the latter, I discussed Robert Musil's book The Man Without Qualities, where knowledge of World War One is used in a very remarkable way.’

A recording of Quinn’s full keynote can be viewed here:

Substrate: a continuing symposium, 2014-15

Since January 2014 a cross-disciplinary group of researchers from CCW, led by Stephen Farthing, Dan Sturgis and Chris Wainwright, have invited a number of external guest speakers to help them to reflect on the role of the substrate in the construction and presentation of the artifact.

To date they have considered the substrate as a surface or background that exists, not simply as a physical support but an integral part of our understanding of the image. Each of the three Subtrates Symposia has the same theme of exploring the substrate, each set of speakers bring something new to the symposia.

The group started with, more or less, the shared assumption that the substrate of the projected image was the surface the image was landed on. It could be a silver screen, a brick wall or the palm of the hand. In the case of photography, writing, drawing and printmaking it was usually, but not always, paper ' the tattoo for example is presented in living skin. Although canvas, wood, metal and the wall have been the substrates most commonly used by painters ' we know thin oil paint happily floats on a substrate of water. So it is to explore not only the past but where images might land in the future.

Occasional meetings will continue through 2014, and by early 2015 Farthing, Sturgis and Wainwright hope to publish their findings. Any enquiries about the project can be directed to Stephen Farthing.

Taste After Bourdieu: questions to the panels

Taste After Bourdieu is a two day conference exploring the relationship between aesthetic judgment and social distinction in the practice of taste. Organised by CCW Graduate School, it was initiated and developed by a group of five academics at CCW and a graduate student group. The panels are led by Dave Beech, who is the chair of the panel on 'Taste and the Gallery', Michael Lehnert, who is chair of the panel on 'Taste and the Museum', Stephen Wilson, chair of the panel on 'Taste and the Street' and Carol Tulloch, chair of the panel on 'Taste and the Home'. The graduate student group members are Chrissa Amuah, Caroline Derveaux-Berte, Jaime Greenly, Jessica Hart, Katasi Kironde, Mohammed Namazi, Alex Roberts and Kioka Williams, who have devised an installation project for the conference. We are delighted to be hosting a truly international event with an introductory panel, four panels of speakers and two keynote speakers who include arts practitioners, sociologists, philosophers, museum directors, curators, design historians and art historians from Asia, North America, Australia and Europe. Each of the four panels has formulated some key questions that address the condition of taste after Bourdieu:

Taste and the Gallery:

  • How is taste related to aesthetics and art?
  • What is a viewer of art and how do individuals inhabit this role?
  • What is the relationship between changing regimes of taste and revolutionary social transformation or resistant subcultures?

Taste and the Museum:

  • To what extent is discussing taste a relevant exercise for museums, in light of dispersed social practices, disaggregating cultural capital, current accessibility of aesthetic experiences and the diffusion of social emulation to achieve distinction?
  • When developing and executing a distinct institutional narrative or curatorial objective, what role and relevance is and can be given to the visitor, as individuals and cultural groups?
  • What influence on bildung, and leverage over gemeinschaft and gesellschaft do museums have today, to set cultural precedents, influence public discourses, and make societal impacts?

Taste and the Street:

  • How is the contemporary male gaze in Japan applied and reconfigured as a judgement of taste?
  • How are Bourdieu's notions of taste subsumed by models of transnational awareness?
  • What happens to our understanding of taste in transnational Asian art practices that travel away from 'home' and return to a nation based, heritage driven context?

Taste and the Home:

  • While Bourdieu rightly points out that there are hierarchies of taste, do we live those hierarchies in our day-to-day sensorial existence?
  • What happens with the move of everyday object from one context to another, thereby pushing the boundaries of public and private and the devolution of taste and taste-making through the body?
  • How do we understand the incorporation of strategic and tactical code-switching of the presentation of self by individuals and cultural groups between one geographical space and another?

For more information and registration visit the conference website.

Follow us on twitter #tasteUAL.

‘Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower’

The Yale Center for British Art presents ‘Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower’: Artists' Books and the Natural World, an exhibition examining the intersections of artistic and scientific interest in natural history and the natural world from the sixteenth century to the present. On view from 15 May through 10 August, 2014, the exhibition explores depictions of Britain's countryside and its native plant and animal life through more than two hundred objects drawn primarily from the Center's collections, ranging from centuries-old manuscripts to contemporary artists' books. CCW Professor Eileen Hogan,will deliver the keynote opening lecture focusing on her artistic response to Little Sparta, the garden created by Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay, and featured in the exhibition. The lecture will take place at the Yale Center for British Art on Wednesday 14 May at 5:30 pm.

The exhibition highlights the scientific pursuits in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that resulted in the collecting and cataloguing of the natural world. Also explored are the aesthetically oriented activities of self-taught naturalists during the Victorian era, particularly those of women who collected and drew specimens of butterflies, ferns, grasses, feathers, seaweed and shells, and assembled them into albums and commonplace books. Examples of twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists' books, including those of Hogan, Mandy Bonnell, Tracey Bush, John Dilnot, Sarah Morpeth, Anne Lydiatt (CCW PhD student) and Helen Douglas (visiting lecturer on MA Book Arts at Camberwell College of Arts), broaden the vision of the natural world to incorporate its interaction with consumer culture and with modern technologies. Work by contemporary artists in the exhibition reveal a shared inspiration to record, interpret and celebrate nature as in the work of their predecessors.

‘Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower’ features traditional bound books, drawings and prints, as well as a range of more experimental media incorporating cut paper, wood, stone, natural specimens, sound, video and interactive multimedia. A number of key historic works will be on loan from other Yale collections, including the Yale University Art Gallery and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Examples of early microscopes used by natural historians will also be on view, on loan from the Lentz Collection at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Andrew Rafferty, professor at RISD, reviewed the exhibition, writing, ‘The culminating experience for viewers of the exhibition evokes a cultural figure who has been tremendously influential on the younger artists in the show. Ian Hamilton Finlay is represented both through a selection of his books of concrete poetry and through landscape paintings of his greatest single work, Little Sparta, the garden/constructed landscape/installation/poem-in-space that he createdon his land near Du syre in the Borders area of Scotland. Finlay used plantings, architecture, sculpture, and text to create an extended meditation on nature, language, art, literature, history, and politics. Little Sparta and Finlay are brought to the galleries in New Haven through the paintings of Eileen Hogan, who has spent time during each of the past fifteen years working at Finlay’s garden, identifying key subjects within his work. She came to know the famously prickly artist, and the exhibition includes several portraits she painted of Finlay before his death in 2006. Hogan is a marvelous painter in the tradition of the best followers of Cezanne. One thinks of the soft, dry touch of Gwen John, the careful observation of nature by William Coldstream, and the precision of Euan Uglow, applied to a deeply felt experience of landscape created by a conceptual artist who was in his own way the equal of Andy Warhol or Joseph Beuys. Her work is an astonishing blend of old and new and a bracing exit for this wonderful exhibition.’

The accompanying book, published in association with Yale University Press, is being designed to evoke an early naturalist's field guide and includes essays by Hogan and Clive Phillpot, Honorary UAL Fellow .

Mike Taylor Senior Partner Hopkins Architects

The Olympics Drawn

In November 2012, Dr Joanne O’Hara was selected to be the Rootstein-Hopkins Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, exploring the role of drawing in the planning of London’s 2012 Olympics, working alongside Professor Stephen Farthing. O’Hara describes the work she is doing and the forthcoming exhibition which will present these research findings.

‘The project The Olympics Drawn began in earnest in November 2012, only a few months after the close of both the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The aim of the project is to chart the role of drawing (of all types) in the preparation, planning and implementation of London 2012.

‘My appointment was made to work with Professor Stephen Farthing on the project for its two year duration: eighteen months in and the initial scoping phase has been done. In this research context we realised pretty early on that a full survey of drawings made for London 2012 would be beyond the scope of the project. We have always aimed to create an interesting, illuminating, and engaging sample or cross-section of drawings from across the board, spanning a multi-disciplinary group of artists, designers and everyone else in between who drew to contribute to the Olympics. By covering a range of topics which are familiar to our audience and to which they will instantly relate, and other more obscure but essential aspects of the production, we hope to bring the scale of London 2012 and the importance and variety of drawing together.

‘The sourcing of these materials has been much harder than we originally expected. Rather than using a central repository, or archive, much of our research has been conducted through individuals themselves and our findings as a result have been dependent on what drawings they held onto. In many cases, frustratingly, we listened to what they had just gotten rid of! It has been fascinating to hear about all levels of the design and production process, from the intern working during the summer of their university holidays, to the design principal through whose office every development of the design of the built environment passed.

‘After a fascinating scoping exercise, talking to people from all sorts of areas of expertise, we are now looking forward to displaying the fruits of our research at Wimbledon Space, 10 October-14 November 2014. We hope to showcase a range of these drawings in the exhibition to bring together a multitude of drawing types, from different disciplines and with varied purposes, produced for the London 2012 Olympics.

‘As we now are bringing together all of the practical elements of the show in time for opening in October, we look forward to welcoming you to the exhibition!’

The Optical and its Limits: A Reflection

Milena Michalski, Chelsea MA Fine Art student, reflects on her Chelsea College of Arts Residency, the result of winning The Arts Club Aldeburgh Beach bursary, 1-6 April 2014.

‘From the moment I thought about applying for this residency, the South Beach Lookout and its surroundings have inspired me to think and create in new ways. The character of the tower and the surrounding landscape, combined with the incredible generosity of spirit and practical support of Caroline Wiseman and the Arts Club, create an environment where ideas seem to generate themselves, and the artist's practice naturally opens up. I know that the wonderful experience of this residency will continue to resonate and be reflected in my future work in ways I cannot even imagine yet.’

The Residency

‘My aim for this residency was to explore and experiment with ideas and materials, and to relate to the Lookout and its surroundings. A key idea was to use film, paper, perspex and other substrates as material, as sculptural objects- not merely as carriers of image- to investigate the haptic as well as the optic.

‘During my residency I inhabited the whole of the Lookout at various points, to try out different ideas. I used the top floor of the tower for contemplation and for photography, and ultimately, in one of my exhibition prints. The middle section was used for projection of 35mm slide transparencies, and I opened it up to the public on one day, encouraging children, visiting artists and the general public to create their own painted or collaged slides downstairs. These were then projected upstairs in a makeshift mini cinema. The lowest level, originally the boathouse, was my main 'studio' for the week; sometimes I opened the doors wide, allowing the curious public to enter, at other times I shut myself in, drew the blinds, excluding the outside world, and immersed myself in the Lookout and my work.

‘One piece directly representing the Lookout is a transparent, plexiglass version of the tower and the boathouse, which I filmed in various locations and set-ups: on the beach in sunlight; inside the darkened tower, illuminated from within, with pieces of translucent acetate for visitors to post inside; with Super 8 film projected on to it, and finally exhibited with a silhouette figure of the artist in the tower.

‘Other pieces are inspired by the intriguing, spiral, ironwork staircase on the outside of the Lookout. One is a series of black and white prints of fragments of the stairs; another is a lightbox (accompanied by a Lookout balcony lightbox), and perhaps the one which generated the most interest and which will form part of the Lookout archive, is a multi-media box-format, with layers of images of the spiral, pebbles from the beach and fragments of painted perspex.

‘Another series of prints, exhibited on the doors and walls, combines images from the Lookout with photographs I took at the site of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Germany. In these prints the two towers 'talk' to each other and “look” at each other. Visually, the images overlap and merge, whereas ideologically they represent diametrically opposed ideas relating to lookouts ' as places of protection or of ominous surveillance, of looking out and looking in, and in terms of the residency, of looking within oneself and re-assessing one's own artistic practice, as well as being a place to bring people in to look at the work.

‘At the end of the week I transformed the boathouse into an exhibition space, and many wonderful people came and shared fish and chips on the beach, took part in the slide-making activity and engaged with my work. At night I projected one of my works on to the side of the Lookout, and passers-by stopped to gaze at it.

‘During my residency I filmed the Lookout, the sea and the beach at various times of day and night, and in different atmospheric conditions, using both digital video and Super 8 film. This raw material needs time to be processed, literally and metaphorically, and I look forward to beginning this new chapter of post-residency work, which will allow me to re-visit the Lookout and share it with others, from afar.’