More about the exhibition space

An exhibition at The Prema Arts Centre in Euley, showed the work of a printmaker, Sophia Rae. The exhibition space is a beautiful first floor open rounded area with large windows. The pieces were placed between the windows on the walls. As they are fairly small pieces there were often two or more grouped together. Unfortunately the large windows framing sky and trees dominated the space and drew the eye. The artworks did not hold my attention although there was one I particularly liked. I feel it would have worked better to have panels in the room displaying the work rather than on the walls.printing sophie rae

Importance of the space

Stroud Open Gardens and Sculpture Trail combined two of my interests. After thinking more deeply about space, it was interesting to notice my responses to various pieces.

Pebble seat

Pebble seat

This very large “pebble” created as a garden seat, was a fascinating object – so large against the grass, where one’s expectation was that it would be small. The outdoor setting contributed to the experience.

The willow dancer had such movement and energy against the hedge and on the lawn. I would have liked to see two “legs”, but I did enjoy the shapes very much.

The pot was almost lost in the garden space as it seemed to be part of the garden. As a piece of art I found it most pleasing of all and yet it did not stand out against its surroundings. This tells me that it is not always obvious how best to display artwork.

Dancer

Dancer

 

pot

pot

 

Project 1 Exercise 1

What happens to a story when you take it from its source ,  make it permanent in print and disseminate to a wide audience?

  • Taking a story which has perhaps only been heard previously, via oral tradition, and printing it for it to be read means that the expression of the story would change. hearing the inflexions and tones of the voice telling the story would be lost. In some cultures stories were chanted or sung.  It has been interesting for me to attend readings by authors whose books I have read. hearing them read their own work often makes the story more immediate and alive.
  • The printed story becomes fixed, loses the possibility of subtle changes that might occur with oral story-telling.
  • The story exists beyond the time when there is nobody who remembers it orally.
  • The story also becomes public, loses privacy and the details are available indefinitely.
  • And…individuals can read the story in private, there is more privacy in reading print.
  • The story can spread the word in a positive sense too, sharing about cultural histories and mythology.
  • The story may be about a skill and printing it would offer other people that information and give them access to that skill. More broadly printing would be a way of exchanging ideas, knowledge and research.
  • Stories could be read aloud to a group of people by someone unfamiliar with the oral tradition.

Implications from the printing press.

  • Initially the church had control of what was handwritten and shared. This meant they could censor or limit information. With printing the church lost this power.
  • Is there some hierarchical control over the content of what is printed now and how do we know it to be true ? This is a question I would ask primarily around newspaper and magazine journalism and is probably more about the writer than the printing. However, social and political opinion is informed by newspapers. I do see how printing may have been a powerful agent for change culturally and historically as well as scientifically.
  • As ideas became more accessible to people there would have been a creative exchange and the potential for new ideas emerge. Scientific papers would be accurate and the need to memorise would be lifted, freeing the mind to reflect on the content of the paper.
  • Speed of information and knowledge exchange.
  • Affordable compared to hand written manuscripts.
  • Consistency in spelling and grammar.

 

 

Part Two Creative Reading : Exercise

Why do people read?

  • Fiction could be for entertainment
  • Escapism
  • To enjoy one’s imagination
  • Non fiction could be to learn
  • To explore
  • To live in a story
  • To share the story with others ( eg via a book club)

Why do people write?

  • To explore a topic
  • To express themselves
  • To share the story
  • To escape into the story
  • To enjoy using their imagination
  • To learn
  • For enjoyment

Interesting to see that they are so similar. I had not thought of that before and yet it makes sense! The best writers are probably those who are avid readers.

Assignment one Part A

Reflective Learning

My initial response to the question what is art, was to ask more questions , for example if handcrafted exclusive jewellery is art . If a hand painted tea set is art . I still don’t know the answer to these questions but I have a much broader sense now of art forms which I had not really considered much in the past . I had , I suspect , fallen into the conditioning of considering painting and classical sculpture to be art of the highest order and that contemporary art such as sound installation didn’t rate very highly . I now feel quite differently and have a much stronger sense of the value of art in society as a whole and the role of the artist as communicator . This is an important change to a more conscious approach to art and to understanding my own responses and how they can be better informed. ( 155 words)

 
I would like to improve my study skills, in particular academic reading . I find that no matter how interesting the material might be I am slow in reading it and don’t seem to remember it . I intend to find a method of note-taking that will help, perhaps mind-mapping or similar. In looking more closely at bronze sculpture I would like to learn more about the material and how it works . One of the aspects of pot one pot one pot of this work has been to arouse curiosity in me regarding materials and why specific choices are made . (102 words)

 
My learning log has been slow to get off the ground . Setting it up was very challenging and time-consuming . Now that I’m more familiar  with it I will focus more on content . Having discussed this with my tutor I feel more confident about what should be included, perhaps more reflection in a type of weekly diary.  It would be good to consider myself both as apprentice artist and writer , and perhaps in time this will be true .  I have felt inspired by some of the examples given . I have  come to appreciate that there are small things that I create which could be considered art forms although in the past I would not have recognised this.  It would be useful for me to use the log to hone writing skills but up to now I have not felt that I had the time to do this. (152 words)

Assignment One Part B: Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave

In this essay I will offer a personal interpretation of Jeremy Deller’s The Battle of Orgreave. (Artangel 2001) It will be important to address time and place within this piece as well as reflecting on Deller’s choice of format. I will also consider the subsequent exhibition of associated items that are part of the piece. Citing this piece within the context of Jeremy Deller’s other work will potentially help with the overall interpretation.

 

My initial impressions when watching The Battle of Orgreave were amazement at the
scale of the event and the way that I felt completely engaged with the activity, shocked by the realism of the aggression and transported to 1985. Although rationally I knew it was a piece of performance art, the police presence felt terrifying particularly the vast numbers, the uniforms and the military tactics. The miners in contrast looked vulnerable and although angry, they seemed powerless. I wondered how the people of Orgreave had received this re-enactment of a deeply troubled part of their recent history and what impression it might have made on those who remembered the events. It was therefore not surprising to discover that Deller had been affected by seeing news coverage of the 1985 event as a young man. (Artangel. The English Civil War: Part II)

 

We see how extremely effective it is to create a re-enactment of a battle within living memory in the exact spot where the event first took place. Using the word Battle in the title indicates that Deller saw this as some sort of war. The use of film for this site-specific piece gives a sense of involvement and immediacy, particularly around the violence. Views of police on horseback, clearly at an advantage, contribute to the menace while the sound of angry voices, the loud drumming of police truncheons on the shields, and then the addition of music makes the piece a particularly sensory experience. The glimpses of actual photographic stills from 1984, which intercut the re-enactment film are like flashbacks, give a sense of falling back in time. It is perhaps intended as a reminder that despite the distance in time, the effects of an event such as this, impacts on the future not only on those involved, but on society.

 
With a static medium I feel the emotion would be more reflective as experienced by the subsequent exhibition of artefacts with the film. This installation, now at The Tate in London, is entitled The Battle of Orgreave Archive : An Injury to One is an Injury to All . The title, a slogan used by many industrial unions, reflects Deller’s interest in groups and communities and this particular installation draws attention to the emotional and physical injuries sustained by the mining community.

 
Viewing historical artefacts in the Orgreave archive would draw me to the event and complements the film. Displaying  items of miner’s clothing, a riot shield, newspaper reports of the 1985 event, short videos setting the scene etc, gives context to the video showing in an adjacent room. Part of that context reflects the divisions between groups in society. The archive includes books such as the memoirs of Margaret Thatcher, a staunch supporter of the police force, sitting beside an account of the event by Ian MacGregor highlighting the rift between classes.

 
This is further emphasised in a recording of union representative David Douglass describing the divisions within the miner’s union itself. (Artangel. Spoken Testimonies) That these divisions were not only between strikers and non strikers but also between the left and right and different internal groups is reflected in the polarity in the newspaper reportage.

 
Interestingly, in order to create the re-enactment of the battle, Deller and his team had to build bridges. Michael Morris co-director of Artangel says, “We gave ourselves a year in which to build bridges of trust with the community of former miners in South Yorkshire and resolved to abandon the project at the first sign of hostility.” ( Artangel. Making the Battle of Orgreave 2002) The fact that several former miners and some former policeman took part in the re-enactment contributes to the credibility of the film whilst possibly giving a new and different perspective to those individuals.

 

That the day was meticulously planned and yet the film captures the violent and chaotic nature of such an event is extraordinary. It is a reminder of the spoken and unspoken agreements between people. The actual Orgreave clash was also planned albeit as a picket line (Artangel Soundcloud) the opposing sides knew where to meet and that it would be a violent clash of ideologies, although it is doubtful that the level of violence would have been predicted. In the film, as in reality, the vulnerability of the miners, some bare chested, compared to the police covered from head to toe in riot gear is a stark reminder of the power of the State.

 

The Battle of Orgreave is a political statement of power and class. More importantly it reflects Deller’s passion for people and specific communities. We see this interest again in Deller’s piece that followed called After the Goldrush, 2002 in California, and again in Folk Archive, 2005. More recently Deller’s performance art piece entitled Iggy Pop Life Class, 2016 features a selected community of New York artists at a life drawing class. This community of artists would belong to a specific socio-economic class. Deller’s skill lies in gaining the trust of these communities as Jonathan Jones writes in his review in The Guardian.
In conclusion, Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave is a political piece representing a specific time in the history of the coal mining industry and the cultural changes generally in the 1980s. It remains relevant in terms of the social aspects of the class system in Britain, and the divisions between government at Westminster and the workers literally and figuratively “at the coal face”.

 

(988 words)

Bibliography
Artangel
At https://www.artangel.org.uk/project/the-battle-of-orgreave/ (accessed 9 June 2016)
Artangel
https://soundcloud.com/artangel-2/sets/the-battle-of-orgreave (accessed 10 June 2016)
Deller, J
At http://www.jeremydeller.org
Deller, J
At http://jeremydeller.org/IggyPop/IggyPop.php (accessed 10 June 2016)
Jones, J. The Guardian. 19 June 2001
At https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2001/jun/19/artsfeatures (accessed 10 June 2016)
Tate
At http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/deller-the-battle-of-orgreave-archive-an-injury-to-one-is-an-injury-to-all-t12185 (accessed 9 June 2016)

Self evaluation
I found this assignment quite challenging on many levels. I have not written academic essays and I am not sure if I am doing it correctly. Is this actually an interpretation or have I fallen more into reviewing? Do I present my interpretations in this way or do they need to be more cautious? The feedback will be very useful.

Trying to end the first assignment

Been struggling to end the assignment. It doesn’t feel good enough but I have to let it go now. I keep fiddling with it and not improving it at all. The distance learning technique has to be learned. It takes courage and stamina and I feel a bit low on both of those right now. I am sure once past this first invisible hurdle, the conventions will be more visible. I want to start on the right foot but actually feel like I am hopping from left to right in uncertainty of what is expected.

More quotes

But short films are not inferior, just different. I think the short gives a freedom to film-makers. What’s appealing is that you don’t have as much responsibility for storytelling and plot. They can be more like a portrait, or a poem. – Jane Campion

New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements… the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture. – Jackson Pollock

Hirst states: “I’ve always loved art and art deserves to be shown in great spaces, so I’ve always dreamed of having my own gallery where I can exhibit work by the artists I love. I believe art should be experienced by as many people as possible and I’ve felt guilty owning work that is stored away in boxes where no one can see it, so having a space where I can put on shows from the collection is a dream come true. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to actually own work by some of the artists who first inspired me and made me want to become an artist – like Picasso or Francis Bacon – but my favourite works by far are those by my contemporaries, and I definitely feel a responsibility to share them as much as I can. Newport Street is an incredible space with an amazing sense of history, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to wear a curatorial hat for a change, I couldn’t be happier.” http://www.damienhirst.com/news/2015/newport-street-gallery-release