Audience, Engagement, Site, Display



Traditional way to make contact with an art work:

Erwin Panofsky – 3 stages of watching: describe what you see (concrete) , which theme is shown (iconographic), base the theme and the presentation in the historical context (religious, cultural, political, social tendencies)

Contemporary art:  watching a challenge – a process (Dr. Gabriele Wimböck, Dr. Alexander Glas, artist Rudolf Wachter)

  1. Keeping the curiosity and watching at irritation: what it is making irritation? what blocks my way into?
  2. own living and art experiences are projected onto the artwork – a dialogue between the self and the art can start being aware
  3. Taking knowledge like biographies, sources of inspiration, looking at the way of painting, material and texture etc.

article Denver Post: Ray Mark Rinaldi – art and active audience: participatory art changes audience  – source:

related artists: Anne Hamilton, Tino Sehgal, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Eiko & Koma

related “institution”: 21cmusemhotels

artist: Markuz Wernli Saitô art in public – art in public – source:  related artists: Seyed Alavi, Grady Gerbracht

Ted video with Jane Deeth, : What´s wrong with contemporary art? source:

Jane Deeth: “Engaging Strangeness in the Art Museum: an audience development stragedy” source:

webside with information/blog etc. by Jane Deeth – source:

Jane Deeth raises interesting insights:

1  Listen to the artwork, think about our fears, our disappointments and prejudices

2  Name what it is I dont like, examine what I dont like.  Is it learned, does it affect my behaviour.

3  Have a conversation around the dont likes.

Monika asks some personal questions:  Where are the borders in interacting?

What is my personal interaction with the audience? Which kind of connection do I want for myself?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to act as a child in the museum.


Mwamba’s view of the audience focused on Zambian issues of elitism, performance and location.

He asked ‘What happens to art when there is no audience?’  What indeed!


Emma considered the participation of the audience, marking on the floor, gestural, raw, merging accidental and intentional.  Tricia Brown, a choreographer explores the limits of her body

German artist Carsten Hollers explores slides in his Test Site at the Tate.  He encourages visitors to engage with his work in unusual ways.

Emma referenced the Manchester Hospital arts project, and its healing powers and Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project, also at the Tate.

Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project

Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project

Serbian artist Marina Abramovitch risked death for her art with perhaps the ultimate audience participation performance, Rhythm 0, 1974.



Tanya considered the Arts Engagement Index by Artist Status which evidences greater involvement in the arts by income producing artists rather than non artists.  Cross-cultural interests also correlated strongly with higher levels of engagement.

The Australians have looked at methodologies for engagement and Ontario has studied engagement linked to attendance.

Tanya argues from experience that it is sometimes necessary to facilitate engagement, to lead the nervous, provide seating for ponderance, perhaps lower the eyeline, provide attendants with ‘let’s talk art’ badges, market and label.


Mathew cited Banksey’s Dismaland, where artist turns celebrity (  He noted the importance of the ‘welcome’, be it the building, the engagement of the artist with the audience, the participation of the audience.

I particularly enjoyed his pastiche on Ladybird books:  ‘”Is the art pretty?” says Jane.  “No,” says Mummy, “Pretty is not important.”  John does not understand.  “It is good not to understand.” says Mummy.  John doesn’t understand.’



Alison showed work outside and in public places (Red Shoes).  She spoke of audience participation, with Sleeping Beauties (Bellas Durmientes), where victims of domestic violence add their story to the web site, of comodification of work, the siting of work where it cannot be seen.


My approach to site was practical and focused on painting, from who initiates a project/exhibition, the focus/participants, the purpose, the possible locations.  I listed open competitions, online galleries, examples of sites from lifts to beach promenade to pop up to site specific.  I considered public and private funding, and the funding controversy of artists not being paid.


Ines talked of how art has moved from the museum walls to the street in Geneva.  She explored art found in woodland, ghosts, pictures, blue trees (funded by a watch company), sculpture.  She referenced Goodwood Sculpture Park, (, which I had forgotten about), work in a desert, weaving in trees, narrative painting where once might have been graffiti.



Maire chose to focus on displays within her home, highlighting the importance of a creative outlet and being true to yourself.  Asking ‘Does a display need an audience?’


Rob focused on the display of photography and the impact digitising has had on the size of work.

Reflecting on the Evening

Such a clever approach to research, divide and conquer.  We all brought something different and something of ourselves to our presentations.  The breadth and depth of the research, the focus, the direction could not have been achieved by one individual, not to mention the time it would have take to do so well.

The words of Jane Deeth will be ever present.

Thank you one and all.

There’s that Word Again

I first encountered Tim Ingold during Helen Rousseau’s lecture, when she made reference to his work Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art, Architecture.  Alexa Cox in her video also referred to Ingold’s Lines – A Brief History, as a key text.  I clearly needed to read Ingold and ‘lines’ as a subject is important to me, so I decided to start there.

Lines is a fascinating book about the history, the language and the notation of physical and metaphorical lines.  Professor Ingold is a social anthropologist and his work is filtered through this lens.  Whilst the style is not as poetic as Bachelard, the fine exploration of the elements of the work are reminiscent of Bachelard’s exploration of corners, doors, windows.

Of particular interest was the chapter on Traces, (that word again), Threads and Surface.  Most traces are additive, charcoal on paper, chalk on a blackboard, or reductive, lines that are scratched, scored or etched into a surface, but Ingold continues to explore the word.  From the trace of a lifeline on your hand, vapour in the sky, to Richard Long’s land art.

Richard Long, A Line Made by Walking, England 1967

Two images really spoke to me.  The charter script with its ‘threads’ attached but somehow free.


Fig 2.17 Ninth-century charter script

The process of teaching children through gestures in the air before committing to paper, the comparison of the calligrapher with the dancer ‘In calligraphy as in the dance, the performer concentrates all his energies and sensibilities into a sequence of highly controlled gestures.’ Ingold (2007): p134.  Wonderful images to which I will return.


Fig 5.6 Detail from calligraphy by Hsien-yu Shu (1256-1301)

He references Paul Klee ‘taking a line for a walk’.  More food for thought.

Much as Les Bicknell opened my eyes to the wider world of the ‘book’, Tim Ingold has written a definitive work on trace, thread surface and line, and the concepts they encompass, to which I will return again and again.

Getting Technical – Colour



Colour swatch of my chosen palette painted on Bockingford Not 140lb  56 x 56 cms

Hansa Yellow Light                  PY1          Daniel Smith (DS)

New Gamboge                            PY150    Winsor & Newton (W&N)

Burnt Sienna                                PR101    W&N

Winsor Red                                   PR254    W&N

Perylene Maroon                       PR175    W&N

Quin Magenta                              PR122    W&N

Opera Pink                                     PR122    W&N

Winsor Violet                               PV23      W&N

French Ultramarine                  PB29       W&N

Winsor Blue Red Shade          PB15       W&N

Winsor Blue Green Shade     PB15       W&N

Antwerp                                           PB27       DS

Cerulean Blue                               PB35       W&N

Winsor Green Blue Shade     PG7          W&N

Viridian                                             PG18       W&N

Alizian Crimson                            PR83       W&N

Phthalo Turquoise                      PB16       W&N

Green Gold                                      PY129    W&N

Olive                                                    PR101 PY65 PB15:6  W&N

Jadeite                                               N/A            DS

The pure colours were painted across the top.  The top colour was then painted in the top of each box below it, with the each of the pure colours across the top, painted in the bottom half of each box.  Some combinations clearly don’t work, others do, and I will be further investigating those that work, to better understand and consider their application to my work going forward.

Principles of Harmony & Contrast of Colours and their Application to the Arts – Michel E Chevreul  First edition in French in 1839

Chevreul, a French chemist, born in 1786, discovered the way in which colour is perceived, which became know as The law of simultaneous contrast.  Simply stated this is the visual phenomenon related to the juxtaposition of two colours.


Reproduced from Georges Roque’s publication Chevreul’s Colour Theory and it’s Consequences for Artists 1, based on his presentation to the Colour Group (GB) in Paris in 2010.

When two colours of similar hue are placed side by side as above, the light colour, top diagram, left and centre, appears lighter in the centre, and the dark colour, centre and right, appears darker in the centre, especially around the borders.  The bottom diagram shows the effect known as ‘Chevreul’s Illusion’, where the stripes seen from a suitable distance resemble channelled grooves, more than flat surfaces.

It becomes interesting when two colours are juxtaposed.   Compte de Buffon 2 had observed in 1743 that after staring at a red dot on a white background for a while, it assumed a green halo.  If we then stare at the white paper an after image of a green dot would be seen. Green and red are complimentary colours.  There is a similar result with  blue/orange and yellow/violet, also complimentary colours.  Chevreul’s research led him to conclude that the juxtaposition of complimentary colours enhance each other, a conclusion readily explored by impressionist painters.

1 Roque, G Chevreul’s Colour Theory and it’s Consequences for Artists, Colour Group (Great Britain) 2011

2 Buffon, « Sur les couleurs accidentelles », Mémoires de l’Académie des Sciences, 1743, reprinted in J.-L. Binet and J. Roger (eds.), Un autre Buffon, Paris, Hermann, 1977, pp.138-149.





Since I started my MA I have been collecting words, words that are new to me, from the simple ‘votive’ to the less so ‘solipsistic’.  I have chosen not to burden myself with their meaning, I will save that pleasure for when my brain is slightly less addled, suffice to say that my lack of comprehension has not diminished my understanding.

‘Trace’, however, is a different type of word.  Like Bachelard  and Monty-Perleau it is appearing in my world with a greater frequency than one would expect.  I take these prompts to be my unconscious mind at work.

Alexa Cox’s recent work traces figures, Bachelard ‘If the child is unhappy, however, the house bears traces.’ 1 Bachelard (1958) p108 and ‘traces of labyrinthine..’ p57, and others before I realised I should be noting the source.

Thesaurus lists outline, hint, smidgen, find, locate, trail, follow, search for, evidence, residue; other sources offer footprint, a line marking something, a mathematical intersection, an amount of precipitation, in architecture to put tracery on something, a horse strap,  a fisherman’s fly-tying thread.

Such a simple word, so many meanings.

The dictionary suggests it dates back to 1250-1300; late Middle English tracen, Middle English: to make one’s way,proceed < Middle French tracier < Vulgar Latin *tractiāre, derivative of Latintractus, past participle of trahere to draw, drag; (noun) Middle English:orig., way, course, line of footprints < Old French, derivative of tracier

It also offered the idiom ‘kick over the traces’, to throw off restraint, become independent or defiant.

Not only ideas for new work and how to approach the new work, which I am starting to do with my ‘hide and seek’ masking, but also a philosophy for moving my work forward.  All from one tiny, everyday word.  ‘Happy Days!’ as Jamie would say.

1  Bachelard, G  1958.  La Poetique de L’Espace.  Presses Universitaires de France.  The Poetics of Space.  Translation:  The Orion Press 1964

Space – Poetics and Otherwise

Throughout my reading two names seem to be ever present, Gaston Bachelard and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  Here I will review Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and Georges Perec’s Species of Spaces, a favourite of Caroline’s.  Merleau-Ponty’s weighty tomb The Phenomenology of Perception must wait for another day.

Bachelard – Poetics of Space

Bachelard’s book, sub-titled The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Spaces is a gentle, hypnotic exploration of the minutiae of life, ceilings, walls, doors, corners, drawers, wardrobes and much more.  He explores through the medium of French poetry.  The work is very French.  The language is captivating, ‘It is as though the poem, through its exuberance, awakened new depths in us.’, the experience calming and grounding.  The world stops while the words float round and through you.  Your eyes are opened to the possibilities.  A book to revisit again and again.

Perec – Species of Spaces

There is a clue to Perec’s Species of Spaces, in the title.  Perec has a wry sense of humour and enjoys playing with words.  ‘Letter by letter, a text forms, affirms itself, is confirmed, is frozen, is fixed: a fairly strictly h










is set down on the blank sheet of paper…’

He plays with the concept of space ‘Space as reassurance.’

From page to bed to room to dwelling, ‘Moving in    cleaning checking  trying out  changing  fitting  signing  waiting  imagining…..’ why waste words when a single word can encapsulate the spirit of the time and place.

From dwelling to street to neighbourhood to town to countryside ‘To put down roots, to carve the place that will be yours out of space….’

The writing isn’t poetic but it is purposeful.  (Bachelard was a demanding work to follow.)  Perec brings the unacknowledged to our attention, our field of vision, our gaze and the arresting thereof.  The reader gains a glimpse into the meandering world that Perec seems to inhabit, a more expansive way to consider space, but a glimpse that proffers no clues to his troubled childhood.  But then, why should he?


Further Intersections & Articulations

Following from Helen Rousseau’s seminar, we watched a video from Annabel Dover and listened to two presentations from Helen Paris and Alexa Cox.

Annabel Dover

Annabel is an OCA tutor and is currently undertaking a practice led PhD.  She starts with an emotional response to the art work, rather than leading with the theory.  She is recreating the work of Anna Atkins, whose cynotype prints are believed to be the earliest photographic work.  Through her practise Annabel has established that Atkins probably faked her work, resorting to cutting up/collaging her plants.

Annabel is drawn to objects and the invisible stories that surround them.  But why?  Why are objects important to her and not to me?

I dig deeper.  From a troubled background she candidly offers , ‘..objects highlighted the traumas, the disjunctures and the breaks in human relationships that made up the atmosphere of my upbringing.’1  Through subtle representation she explores their power as intercessionary agents, responding emotionally to the object, recording through drawing, painting, film, cynotype print.

Helen Paris PhD

Helen is the co-director, with Leslie Hill, of the longstanding performance based project Curious.  They are now associate professors in Performance Making at Stanford, California, teaching Practice Based Research in the Arts.

Each project starts with a question.  Recently ‘What are gut feelings?  Can you trust them?’ and another ‘What smells remind you of home?’

Their productions have taken place in homes with audiences limited to 4.  The up closeness of the audience and their participation is important to Paris.  The work is informed by biological scientists in India, where they share dialogue, process and experimentation.

Alexa Cox

Alexa, who gained her MA in Fine Art at the OCA last year, sees her role as a story teller through drawing and painting.  She works in series ‘like the pages of a book’, admiring the work of Peter Doig, Paula Rego and Francesca Woodman.

Originally her work was a place of research, making and applying a theory.  Now she is developing a spare visual language, with ambiguous trace figures.

Her research includes stories and anthropological text, recording ideas with a camera, and much drawing in a playful and experimental way.  She uses mind mapping and Venn diagrams to draw out ideas/make connections, and referenced Bachelard and Ingold’s Lines.

Her process is to make, reflect, learn for next work.  Challenge everything.  Why can I?  Can’t I?  Risk taking is essential to get better.

Recently she has reduced her colour palette, to focus on the composition.  Her trace figures appearing over and over again, emerging, capturing the gesture, the authentic line.

Trace Dance 1.8 (2014) Acrylic on canvas


She is currently researching Simon Schama’s landscape and memory. Spills/stains/threads/spaces with small pieces of work for practical reasons.

Reflecting on the subject Intersections & Articulations

The penny dropped with Alexa’s presentation, perhaps because she is a painter and speaks in a language I can understand.

What is that saying about me?  Am I being too literal, rather than reading between the language?  With Helen , Annabel and Helen I was ‘observing’ what they were saying, and whilst it made sense and was interesting, the connection stopped there.  With Alexa I was experiencing her practice, her thought process;  I was there with her.  This could be because I am just behind Alexa on her journey, whereas the others feel like they are on a distant academic horizon that I am unlikely to see, or is it that I am just not embracing?

What I now understand is that Intersections & Articulations is about where I came from, where I am now, where I am going and how I am getting there.  Good question!


Switch off the Light

I first came across John Skinner when reading Emily Ball’s book Drawing and Painting People.  From the commonality of their work it was clear that he was her tutor.  He runs occasional master classes at Ball’s studio in Partridge Green.

I wanted to know more about the man.  From his web site I knew he had worked in Dorset and now lived in France, but the details were factual and I wanted to understand what made him tick, what inspired him.

Switch off the Light and Let Me Try on Your Dress written by Sara Hudson, with illustrations by John, is a slim, limited edition book, published by Agre who specialise in quirky subject matter from the South West of England.  The book takes it’s title from the painting on the front cover.


Skinner, who titles his work on completion, ‘to explore the quality of the work.’, believes that his title ‘breaks the ice’ and offers a way in given that ‘paintings convey ideas that cannot be rendered into words.’  1

Reading about John Skinner reminded me of David Bomberg, a passionate voice, but not quite being heard.  ‘The painter strives to communicate physical feelings that embody ideas…. It’s about investigating the nature of things through the process of painting.’ 2

His work is powerful, challenging and evocative.  He is tough, passionate (painting daily from Nov to Feb one year in a tent on a Dorset beach) and uncompromising.  I also get the impression that he is slightly bewildered that he is not part of the mainstream.


1/2  Hudson Sara, Skinner John (2002),  Switch off the Light and Let Me Try on Your Dress. Agre, Dorset



Getting Technical – Paint

Many research roads are leading back to Bruce MacEvoy’s truly excellent site.  This is a watercolourist’s dream site, covering every subject from papers, paint, brushes through to theory and artist’s particular colour palette.  For a ‘big picture’ person, his infinitesimal detail (he lists the tube mouth size), is exhausting, but so useful.  I am finding it difficult to approach his site in a methodical way.  My eye is constantly attracted to yet another interesting sub site, making a logical approach quite difficult.

I am trying to see the wood for the trees.  Just how important is it to fully explore the minutiae?  Pigment ratings?  Extensive lightfastness tests?  The difference between paint brands?  Or do I focus on the paints I have, what is missing, the recording and analysis of these colours and their interaction?  Returning regularly over the next few months for the modern take, as read through the colour ‘bibles’ of Joseph Albers’ Interaction of Colour, David Batchelor’s Chromophobia, and Johannes Itten’s The Elements of Color, not forgetting Kandinsky and Mattisse.

After reflecting, I have decided on route two, starting with the product providers.  I mainly use professional Winsor & Newton with one Daniel Smith.  This turns out to be an excellent choice, albeit W & N are at the expensive end.  I will review the DS range and the MaimeriBlu, which MacEvoy considers to be excellent value, remembering that he is based in the US.

It is now an intensive week later.

I have completed my research and ordered the paints I have deemed to be missing from my palette.  W & N, a UK manufacturer proved to be cheaper than US Daniel Smith.  Watercolours are expensive and priced according to series number.  I decided to use series 1 where  practicable and bought the largest tube available, 37ml.  The remainder were determined by pigment code.

The process was  very detailed, and I am hoping, a one off.  It gives me a core palette of warm and cool yellows/reds/crimson/blues/earths and mixing greens.  I used a distillation of MacEvoy’s research and Jane Blundell’s excellent UK web site

I first listed all my existing paints by index code.  This is the industry  name for the pigments contained in a colour, eg French Ultra is PB29, Indigo is PBK6/PV19/PB15.  A single code means a pure pigment and an easier to predict outcome, when mixing colours.

Working in the layered way I do, it is important that the colours are as transparent as possible.  I selected from W & N and DS’s transparent and semi-transparent range, matching Blundell’s recomended pigment codes.  I was also mindful of the granular effect and staining properties of each pigment.

Using Blundell’s palette as a guide I created a matrix of yellow/red/blue/green split by cool/warm/earth/dark.  There will always be other colours that work well and can be added, but this approach has given me the structure I need to go forward.


My chosen palette is highlighted in the central column of the spreadsheet above.  The other two charts are the colour ranges from W & N and DS.

My next task is to produce pigment and colour interaction reference swatches.

Jerwood Drawing Prize

I attended the study day led by Bryan Eccleshall.  My intention was to better understand the scope of the term ‘drawing’.  It was a bonus that earlier that week Bryan had been awarded one of the two student prizes for his submission, so he was able to impart ‘insider knowledge’ on how the process worked and offer encouragement to those present to ‘have a go’.


Bryan’s drawing of Free and unpredictable … After Joseph Beuys’ ‘Wirtshaftswerte

I wasnt disappointed by the scope of the work.  From traditional drawings  to pinpricks, from scratched pans to a video of the lines on a   003

runway, from a plastic thread and perspex sculpture to a beautiful embroidered textile pelvis and a notebook documenting every nut/bolt/screw in the drawer’s shed.


Seeing the works through Bryan’s eyes really added to the experience.  We disagreed about the winner

Detail in the detail … section of From Andrew's Flat, Singapore, by Tom Harrison, 2015 winner of the Jerwood drawing prize

a section of which is detailed in the Guardian article.  Bryan felt it was a worthy winner, the Guardian called it poetic, I felt it was bland, the roofs lacked credibility and the work lacked passion for me.

My personal favourite of the conventional  images was an exquisitely detailed drawing of an outdoor space that you could revisit again and again and still not see it all.


Intersections -connecting and disconnecting the dots

Helen Rousseau, sculptor and artist educator presented Intersections -connecting and disconnecting the dots.  My initial reaction, and reaction when asked to respond in a group to the questions What is Sculpture?  What else is it for me? was bewilderment.  The feelings I had at  this time last year surfaced.  It felt like Helen was talking in a foreign language.  I just couldn’t grasp the point she was trying to make.

Is it that I am not a sculptor, even though in relation to time and space, and the transparent layering I employ, it could be loosely argued that I was sculpting in 2D?  Is that why I didn’t connect?  I do work in a studio, where others don’t, so there was some connection there.

At the heart of my reflection is that I haven’t grasped the essence of her message.

Gilbert Ryle is new to me, I will read Concept of the Mind, a subject I am already reading around.  Gilles Deleuze is also new, I will read Difference & Repetition.  I watch Au Jeu de Paume by Valerie Mrejen, a film maker who procrastinates over entering her studio.  A gentle study of human nature.  I am reminded of the book I am reading, Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, a gentleness that suits the French creative.

I read around Jan Verwoert, an essay on why conceptual artists are painting again  and a video on his lecture .  Tim Ingold’s Lines – A Brief History looks interesting.

Helen talks about the need to know when enough is enough.  What is happening when we use the word intuition.  It is difficult to articulate, suffice to say that there is rigour in the process.  She talks about materiality, the drawing out to see what will appear, referring again to Ingold’s book Image and Materials.  Allow what arrives.  Jane Bennett in her book on political ecology, Vibrant Matter, refers to material having its own agency, not as an abdication of responsibility.

Brian O’Doherty writes about the artist’s and their work’s relationship with the gallery in Studio and Cube, a follow on from his essay Inside the White Cube- the Ideology of the Gallery Space.  Helen refers to the new relationship when the gallery takes responsibility for the work. Verwoert in Control Here I Am, talks of ‘the intuitive capacity to gently, but firmly, keep things focused..’  Anna Cutler in Who will Sing  the Song? quotes Felix Guarrari’s The Three Ecologies ‘transit station for changes crossings and switches’.

So What is Sculpture?  Audience involvement with the work, the ability to move around, the work to move around the viewer, to experience, to feel both tactically and emotionally, negotiating the space to become part of the work.  It exists in time and space, claims the space, which can affect how you look at it.  Monika mentioned the work of Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz and French artist Celeste Boursier-Morgenot at the recent Venice Bienalle.  Helen mentioned Brian Cox’s programme about time, where the photography is slowed right down.

Ines concluded with the work of Iris Van Herpen, fashion designer or sculptor?

There is much to interest me in Helen’s presentation.  I trust that all will become clear as I move forward.