Wednesday, 29 December 2010

I'm going to take some inspiration from gardeners now. I am planning my year, as though it was a plot, as though time itself was physical and manageable.
First, having prepared the ground (found my studio, hurrah) I will sew some seeds. Some will flower, some will fail and some will produce. There are about six beds to tend. The most tender is a drawing club project at Markeaton Primary. This needs nurturing and growing gradually, not forced. I'm trying to remember to take baby steps and appreciate the small details. I was getting a bit panicked about not being able to provide an exciting enough drawing experience to the group of junior school kids but all I have to do is create a space for us all to try things out, learn, talk and share. It's hard to take the pressure off yourself but this needs observation of process not production.
I have had a lot of ideas that haven't germinated. They don't die, though, they lie dormant until the right combination of conditions allows them to spark. Keeping the garden tidy, tending the seeds that are emerging, waiting, learning from experience are my new motos for 2011.
Let it grow. Move with the seasons. No hot housing....

Monday, 15 November 2010

No studio. Drought. Some ideas but nothing coming out. What if my well is dry forever?
I have been interested in the documentational aspect to all drawing. It records. It all records. Lovely mentor Kate's work is ALL documentation. Tracking her moves, marking her time. I thought mine was but it seems to be a material. The drawings become pieces of sculpture, or installation ingredients. What is documented hasn't been the focus. The space and the changing/altering/highlighting of that space has shone over the mark itself. I still cling to objects. The paper and pencil and the mark - all objects. What is the distinction between that and a drawing in a frame. We look past the medium, don't see the pencil mark we see the idea or the image being conveyed.
However underneath it is all still documentation. A record of an idea of an image. A proof of the moment(s) in time in which the exchange between artists hand and material happened.
I'm just fretting about where to take it now, this awareness of archiving. Cause right now the only record of these ideas is in my memory and that isn't too reliable. Time to get drawing. Make a space. And don't get me on the one about whether the photographic documentation of work creates a new piece or merely records the original one....

Sunday, 19 September 2010

This lovely artwork has been produced for the Derby Big Draw brochure, it's by Emma Reading.
The more I look at it the more I see.
The festival begins on the 1st October with a launch party and opening of 'Scribble and Scrawl'. Kate Smith Jane Dearden, Tracey Meek and myself all showing work at the Crompton, Crompton Street, Derby.
We've worked so hard to get everything off the ground and there is still so much to do.
The exciting bit will be occupying an empty shop for the month with No Parking (my creative family) and turning what was La Senza - a knicker and bra store - into a drawing space. It's 48 St Peter's St Derby.
I've had lots and lots of help lately, generous people giving time and energy and skill to this project so I am really determined to give back somehow.
Derby is brimming with talent. We need to show more of it off. x

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Archers' Omnibus

Kate Smith has introduced me to this software. Drawing with sound. Sort of. ....this is Jennifer and Brian discussing their troubles...There are lots of other links like this on the Derby Big Draw website -

Counting down for trip to Brighton for the Drawing Research Network conference. So excited. Like Christmas Eve. But better.
Haven't been able to blog anything of any worth for a long while. I have been so pre-occupied with organising the Derby Big Draw festival - - which has been a real learning curve. It is going to happen on NO money but an awful lot of goodwill and drawing passion. It's quite easy to lose sight of the real reason I wanted it to happen in the first place and that is just to create some spaces where people can have a little personal adventure with drawing and all its amazing benefits...
Keep the faith x

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Recent photos from the Malt Cross in Nottingham. I spent a week in the gallery reacting to the space and then the result was up for a week for visitors.
I'm still reflecting on what when on and desperately trying to get it down in a blog but despite completing the MA and seemingly having more spare time life is getting in the way of ART!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

This morning I re-read a paper I submitted for my MA last year. It was a crap essay. Some of the ideas were great but as ever, my execution of anything academic was thwarted by being badly directed and unedited.

I am facing the firing squad again soon for my final assessment and so I am tracing my steps back to my initial intentions to give it all a thorough critical 'going over'.
What was evident in the paper was a concern with materials. Mainly ones that could be termed feminist.
A huge digression into the problems of being a contemporary female artist who would resist the feminist label yet still employ domestic, underprivileged materials ensued. I couldn't conclude. I managed to avoid the subject in my practice by steering away from materials coded with feminist, feminine, connotations. I abandoned knitting, stitching, food and fabric (although I was using them for an entirely different reason to the feminists). The detail of piece above was made with paraffin wax and fishing wire. It was formed from casts of domestic doorknobs. I look at the image now and I still see something vaguely feminine. The piece was to do with Sartre. It was based on the existentialist question of whether we turn the handle or does the handle turn us. As far I thought: genderless.
Despite all attempts to avoid being tagged a feminist I think by placing myself in a gallery, making a tally mark over and over with the suggestion I am trapped or imprisoned can still be assumed to be a feminist action.
The reason I have difficulty with all this is because A: why do we need to deny associations with feminism? and B: Do we just confuse female with feminist?
I referred to Rachel Whiteread and Eva Hesse in the 'terrible essay' neither of whom seem to receive the lowly monica 'feminist'. But then Whiteread's works have a masculine, modernist form and Hesse spent her entire career striving to appear intellectual and not emotional.
As far as my own work goes, I am using the most democratic, non- heirarchical, non-gender-specific materials to support the content but the mark-making still looks girly!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

During the Easter break things took an interesting turn at the museum in my absence. We had placed a podium and invited visitors to make their own mark on this. It was a way of alluding to the idea of the tally mark being used to count in the visitor and playing with the idea of the mark being so banal and un-artistic (for want of a better word) it would posture the question about who is the artist. ( I am writing this very quickly so apologies for the rambling...)

A delightful development occurred when the visitor marks began to creep off the designated podium and onto the actual piece of work. I like to think it was a genuine mistake and misunderstanding but part of me is quite excited by the idea of vandalism. The museum, incidentally were horrified.

The incident gave me so much fodder to think about. It reinforced my original feelings about not creating a finished picture. It raises questions about the heirarchy of work and it's purpose. It blurs the white cube with the interactive museum somehow and breaks down the territory. The scope for discussion is endless and also extremely current.

It also makes me think about the overheard quote so often heard at my exhibitions "a child could do that, though". The marks made by the visitors were dramatically different to mine. The ones I assumed were made by children (because of the height) were not at all similar to mine. A child couldn't do that. Despite my attempts to make a mark of no aesthetic quality, to strip the work of any conventional graphic technique, there appears to be evidence of skill.
Most of the marks were erased by the Museum staff before I saw them but there were residues. I kind of think we should have left them all.

A list of questions/notions arising from working on 'Marking Time'
Marking time is not a performance, it has performative elements
Where am I in the work?Is it an installation, is it work in progress or is it process art?
There is a discussion around the mark. Is it symbol, picture, stamp, signature. How much like a tally mark is it. Is it just a representation of a tally mark?

It is a static mark yet I am keeping it animated, continuously recording. Keeping time in the present.

When I document the work some of the marks can't be seen - it is similar to working with invisible ink, it feeds into the idea of drawing with a left hand. If I had started left to right rather than right to left I would have been erasing my own work. (this is a new line of enquiry, The image to the left is an experiment with a section of text about guache-ness, or lefthandedness in relation to Twombly's work by Barthes. I am currently playing with this.)

Friday, 16 April 2010

There is nothing as satisfying as a sharpened pencil touching soft paper. As I was drawing today in the museum someone asked me if I found it boring. It is not. I am in heaven.

The pace of the mark being made, one, two, three, four, five creates a rhythm. It is a meditation. Whilst my hand is busy and my eye watches (without leading) my mind is free to consider the effectiveness of the piece confirming back to me with glee that the ideas are working. I can also catch those threads of further issues and themes arising from the process and pursue the new ones. And they are coming thick and fast. The temporality is an exciting aspect. I am struck by what is a static mark being animated by me over and over and kept moving, still recording, keeping in the present. We measure a lot of things. Time, space, quality. As I am working I realise this piece is so anti measurement. I have been challenging the measurement of time, of space and especially quality. What conventions can be used to judge this work in terms of quality? Not composition, not representation, not style, not skill. So why does it appeal?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The installation of One Step Beyond began last week. Puzzling over problems, settling the theories down within the space. I am constantly negotiating with myself. Questioning absolutely everything.

It's obvious to me now I have been on a self destruct trip. A rather dangerous but effective device for pushing your practice! That I will be drawing in the gallery is a huge step out of my (excuse the cliche) comfort zone. That I will be creating a work that is potentially very challenging in public is new territory. That I continuously choose to react to the space rather than hang a finished work all points to the underlying (subconscious) method I adopt of suffering through and for the work. The work usually stands alone without me. In my darker moments I imagine the direct onslaught of negativity from viewers, feedback usually tempered via the medium of a comments book. This need to authenticate work with evidence of its duration, struggle, devotion and humility is another subject but it is ruminating underneath. As I said a very dangerous, but effective method for pushing your practice. Work travels, how much we direct it and how much we react to the journey is a delicate balance.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Maxim for the day via Rachel Clarke on the Drawing Research Forum: One rule is to practice failure, to get used to failure and revision.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Thursday, 4 February 2010

I have been pondering Christopher Thomas' item in Debate from A-N (Feb). He questions the current obsession with success, with finished, marketable objects of art and describes MA programmes as finishing schools. Something I value dearly is the space and time to experiment and I am fortunate enough to have tutors on my own MA who advocate research, experimentation and expansive thinking. This is an old debate but it's obviously still alive. Thomas turns to the blog on A-N, Projects Unedited, as a place where art making is being described daily in transparent warts and all detail. Where failure is reflected on not dismissed. I liked this article. It confirms my belief in process art and also my choice of MA.
The drawing I have posted is a rubbing/trace of the studio wall I was in at the time. It brought a whole question of authorship to the work. The space virtually drew itself but my mark (print, residue) was still evident. I am investigating how far I need to go to eliminate the artist as author. My mark is informed. No matter how random and undirected I make it I cannot divorce from some aesthetic choice. I need to automate a standard mark or add some element of chance (John Cage revisited, no thank you). A conversation with one of my cohort led us to decide that even if a piece of work was handed over to a public interaction, inviting people to make their own marks, for example, the artist would still have the responsibility/accountability and ultimate accreditation of that work. How to take this further is keeping me awake at the moment.......

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I gave a little talk yesterday to the Year Zero students at Derby. It was a good exercise in reflection. I'm used to talking to my MA cohort but I present current work and they all know my practice. Delving deep into the past to give a history of how I arrived 'here' is like double-digging. It's fertile down there.... but the surface has been broken and it doesn't feel so solid anymore.
Current work (under the title DRAW) is begging to be pared down. The interpretation of the engagement with space has included a physical reading of surrounding space and wider drawing propositions but how far can this go without just substituting each space for a new one when I move on to a new piece. The uniqueness of each site dictates the content, obviously, and by definition makes a different subject but historically I have been notorious for this repetitious model of working and it is something I am constantly trying to break out of.
All this before 8am ....... :)

I'm currently blogging over on It's a repository for my developing PhD research The Graphic M...