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 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, 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!