Reflective Research Journal – 3rd Year – Week Twenty

First week back physically in the studios at DJCAD. It’s very quiet, hardly anyone there yet. But I took down last semesters assessment installation and have made a good start on some new work. I gathered some willow branches that had been cut and left, near my flat and started a wall structure and placed the paper birthing woman in it and a paper rainbow poop and started doing some loose and free watercolours from ideas in my sketchbooks. I tried to stop myself thinking and agonising too much about what I wanted to do and how not to waste materials and which to use etc…   

I looked up Helen Martens work again. I saw some video work she’d made last year, with spoken poetic narrative, like a coded language, with similarities to the kind of word work I was doing at the time, and still am to some extent. I read an interview with her, where she spoke about her first novel, which she wrote during lockdown and is similarly poetic sounding. I had been looking for inspiration to try some short story writing about the becoming animal characters I recently drew. I looked again at her sculptural work, which I had forgotten she also made, particularly the piece that won the 2017 Turner prize and it was good to see and read about sculptural made of a diverse range of materials, as I seem to be making a sort of sculptural installation in the studio.

I found some shaped bits of MDF in the skip and some acrylic primer and I had some canvas offcuts I had picked up from the CAP workshop last semester and have nailed some of these to the wall and begun making marks on them with oil paint with again not too much thought to hinder me. 

The CAP talk was by a Louise Ritchie Her practice is all about materials, which she spoke well about and was illustrated by beautiful photos, but didn’t relate particularly to my work except that she talked about us artists being huge consumers and producers of stuff/materials and what made this ok? Which is a question which I am continually asking. I see there is a recycling/sharing materials group being started which I should join.

On Friday I bought tickets for a virtual tour of the Birth Rites Exhibition curated by Helen Knowles which I have been looking into a bit for my dissertation report. It was really interesting, particularly hearing that there was controversy surrounding some of the work – graphic, but very positive photographs of birth scenes. The work is displayed in Kings College and some of the work which was hung in a room for teaching midwives had to be removed because of complaints. I find it so strange that if your training to be a midwife, you would be upset by pictures of birth, especially positive empowering ones. There were only two of us on the tour, which made it nice and personal and we could talk to the tour guide, art historian and midwife Eleanor Featherby and ask questions as she showed us round. We swapped Instagram accounts at the end and I have made a nice contact in the other woman Georgie Winter White who is also a mother and an artist making work about birth, pregnancy and folkflore, in England, who has connections with a Glasgow Gallery; Spilt Milk, where she will be having an exhibition soon.  On seeing my work, she said it reminded her of an American artist Trulee Hall, who I didn’t know about, but am really pleased to have been shown as I completely see the similarities in the way she works and writes about her work and in some of the work itself and am really interested now in learning more.

I have finished a hopefully almost final draft of my dissertation report now (Saturday) and will wait till my next tutorial with Anna Notaro before I do more. 


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