Crit Group, Symposium and Emergency 4
On Wednesday it was my chance to present work to the ARC critique group that I have been attending at ASPEX in Portsmouth. A daunting but really valuable experience. To have the opportunity to show your work to a group of artists who haven’t seen it before and receive honest and directive feedback is fantastic. One of the issues that came through clearly was that of giving too much to the viewer, leaving them little freedom in direction so the piece quickly reaches a full stop. This was seen to be the case with the sewing box piece which had a number of aspects giving the same message. On reflection the embroidered fabric in this piece may well be a lot stronger on its own. The need to add more to a piece stems from a lack of confidence on my part, I believe, and this is something I have noticed myself so clearly an area to move forward in. Other issues are going to take more time to develop into such as obtaining the correct balance between materials and concept. Emotion and intimacy are key to my work but I think I need more clarity on exactly what my direction and purpose with those elements are. I was also challenged to think about the way in which I perhaps rely on my materials as well as receive inspiration from them. Objects and materials are fundamental in my practice and more often than not the natural starting point for my work, however I think on occasions (notably in the earliest stages of my work – the small box pieces) I have made use of nostalgic objects purely because their pre-existing sentimentality has made them a safe choice for me. The danger with these works is that they then may have little to offer beyond a magnification of the object’s original sentimentality. This is certainly something I hope to be more aware of and plan to question my motivations throughout the making process.
On Friday I attended the symposium organised by ARC on “selection” that followed the selection process for their Emergency 4 open. An interesting discussion in which I particularly enjoyed hearing from artist David Blandy who was one of the selectors. I had seen some of his work before and so really enjoyed hearing more about it, especially as he has such an open and relaxed approach which is really engaging. He is inspiring in that he seems both passionate about his work and to have a lot of fun with it. Great to see someone really enjoying it!
Following the symposium we attended the opening of the Emergency 4 exhibition. Some really great work, I won’t go into detail (you should just go and visit it!) but I can’t not show you an example of the work by my favourite artist there – Femmy Otten. I found her work, crafted directly onto the walls of the gallery, utterly captivating! A vibrant and compelling whimsy of dreams, iconography, personal reference, and fantasy. When I met Femmy herself she seemed the perfect match to her work – full of beauty, life and sincerity. I really hope to see more of her and her work again.