Category Archives: Oct ’14

WEEK 4 – Reflexivity in Practice

Reflexivity in Practice

I am now into my 4th week.  I was comfortable with today’s hangout for the first time from a tech perspective, which was good for me.  Last week I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit warren.  Confused and overwhelmed, struggling to understand what was going on around me.  Some things made sense, a lot didnt.  I don’t think Julian Stallabrass’s Contemporary History helped.  That said, I know something is happening, so I need to be not quite so demanding of myself, and accept that this is a long and exciting journey, and I have only just left the departure lounge.

On Friday I decided to revisit the Visual Enquiry questionnaire.  As a master practitioner of NLP, I am well aware that it is possible to shift thought processes in a short space of time.  Rereading my answers, I could sense that my plane had already taken off.  Some answers appeared naive, after only three weeks.  I could see I was already in a different place.  I am already aware of artists, curators, art critics, historians and the context in which they are working, that three weeks ago I hadn’t even heard of.  I am gaining a greater understand of what is happening around me, and whilst still confused, still waiting for the penny to drop, my progress is tangible and with that comes an element of ‘not having to hold my breath for quite so long’.

I am so pleased I am on this journey.  Exciting to see what the next three weeks will bring.  Hopefully I will have caught up by then and my work will be starting to flow.

Anselm Kiefer

Reserched Kiefer’s work.  My daughters are keen to see his work.  I had never heard of him.  I can really relate to some of his work.  Organic, textural, in muted tones.  I have pinned some work from 1974.  It is interesting to see how his work has developed.  We will be going to his exhibiton next month in London.  It will be interesting to see what influence he has on my work.


Todd Henry says ‘It’s often not the circumstances we learn from, but our response to them. Identifying limiting narratives or patterns of self-destruction can help us spot them when they crop up, then nip them before they cause us to implode or obsess needlessly over critique.’

He suggested ‘see if you can identify why that feedback elicited such a strong response in you. Is it possible that there is some defining story that’s affecting your engagement?’

‘Don’t allow limiting narratives to run your life and rule your work.’ Sound advice.

Emily Ball

I started reading Emily’s Drawing and Painting People many years ago, promising to return when I had more time.  That time is now.

It was also interesting to learn that John Skinner painted the front cover of her book, which in turn set me off to research John’s work

I feel I am like a sponge at the moment, poised to march off purposefully in a new direction with my work.  Confused but certain that I am internally processing all that I read and see.

As part of that process, and in part because Angela thinks quite highly of Emily, and because attending Emily’s regular classes was my plan B, i am working through the exercises in her book.

Conversation Exercise

A simple mark making and responding task for 6 images.  Should have been A1, but mine are 20×20 cms, because I am feeling more comfortable with small (what is that saying!).

Conversation 1Conversation 2Conversation 3Conversation 4Conversation 5Conversation 6


A simple exercise, so why do I find the results so unsatisfactory?  Colour choice?  Placement? Overall structure?  Chosen marks?

I will revisit Albert Irvin, Cecily  Brown, John Skinner, Ivor Hitchens, Bruce McClean to see if I can better understand.

Touchy Feely

Again, simple, draw by touch.

Rose QuartzRed BoaRed Boa detailFascinator

This exercise was more satisfying.  No outcome expectation?  No decisions to be made?


A friend of a friend was telling me how he passed out from the overwhelming red in a piece of music by Ravel.  Debussy has a similar effect on him.

I wondered whether listening to music that moved him so deeply would have any impact on me.  The above work was created with Ravel in the background.

Too early to comment.

Stot love the boldness of his work and ries of Art by James Elkins

What an interesting read.  A lesson in how to look dynamically with fresh eyes.  Unpretentious, clear and hugely  informative.

Artists Discovered

Rose Wylie, a favourite of Angela and Emily Ball.  Not sure I understand her.  The Tate Shot gave an insight, but I need to research her influences, her story.  I know I would really enjoy meeting her.  Fascinating lady.

Roanna Wells, what a gem.  Extraordinarily beautiful textile work.

Albert Irvin, just love his uncompromising use of colour.

Amrita Sher-Gil, mentioned by Elkins.  Extraordinary women, successfully combining Eastern and Western cultures.  I wonder what she would have achieved if she hadn’t died at 28.

Maurice Utrillo , contemporary of Sher-Gil.  Classic Parisian feel to his street scenes, but of more interest for me, was his self-taught mother Suzanne Valadon, whose bold portraits and floral images I found more exciting.

Norman Ackroyd’s etchings are so atmospheric.  The BBC3 programme What Do Artists Do All Day? was such a pleasure.  I hadn’t appreciated the process.  Extraordinary.

Shani Rhys-James, another What.. programme.  Such a priviledge to watch the artists at work and to follow their process and the development of their ideas.  Her portraits are bold and uncompromising.




Reflexive Practitioner

I spent much time this week reviewing VL1 and researching the people mentioned in the video.  I spent a lot of time writing up the points raised to ensure that I am fully understanding .

Laborious and slow but I feel essential for me, at this stage.

Contemporary Art by Julian Stallabrass

I have nearly completed this book.  It may be a very short introduction, but it is a very dry read.

For someone aspiring to develop their work for a wider stage, I found the contemporary art market, as described, far removed from the world where artists really care about what they are creating.

It is evident that the contemporary art market, at this level, is a commodity, a global brand, but without the regulations that stock and commodity markets benefit from.  A game, where it is in all the players interests to keep the stakes unaffordably high.

13 Oct

I have now finished the book.  I will need to reread and I have decided to Mindmap the book as a means of making sense of what I am reading and to give me a framework to visualise.

I have just started Stories of Art by James Elkins.  I wish I had read this first.  I wouldnt have felt that Stallabrass’s book was the absolute truth and quite so daunting.




Week 6

German Art

Radio 4 series Germany: Memories of… today’s episode Purging the Degenerate focused on the Jewish potter Grete Marks, also known as Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein and Margarete Heymann-Marks, 1899-1990, initially trained at the Bauhaus, first founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919.    In 1923, she founded the Haël Workshops for Artistic Ceramics at Marwitz with her husband Gustav Loebenstein and his brother Daniel, where she manufactured her Modern ceramic designs.  In 1928, following the accidental death of her husband, and the rise of the Nazi party, she was forced to sell factory.  Her work was considered degenerate by the Nazi party, and in 1936 she was forced to flee to Stoke on Trent in England, with the help of Ambrose Heal, of Heal’s in London, who stocked her ceramics.

The pot described in the programme as illustrating history.

The Imagine.. The Art That Hitler Hated series on BBC1 gives an insight into how artists that were considered by Hitler to not be representing the German taste, were vilified and their work, supposedly, destroyed.  After 1938, it became illegal for Jews to buy or sell art, which meant that many collections were either confiscated outright or bought at derisory prices from fleeing emigrants.

Matisse's Femme Assise

Matisse’s Femme Assise

In 2010 in a routine spot-check on a German train, Cornelius Gurlitt, son of Hildebrand, Cornelius Gurlittan unemployed 77-year-old pensioner with no visible means of support, was discovered by customs agents to be carrying €9,000 in cash: not an illegal sum, but enough to arouse suspicions of tax evasion. When the police entered his home in Munich two years late, as part of their investigation, they found 1,280 works of art, including pieces by Dürer, Renoir, and Picasso, in the rented flat. Many of the pieces in this collection, whose value approached a billion euros, had been missing since the Second World War.  Cornelius died in May this year, leaving the collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland.

The documentary looks at how Hildebrand Gurlitt, a Nazi-approved art dealer, smuggled degenerate works out of sight of the Fuhrer.   Here Tim Martin of the Telegraph reviews the documentary.

I find it beyond my comprehension how it must have felt to be born of that  time, where logic and beauty were alien.

I spotted this work by Wassily Kandinsky in the documentary.

FB_sam03_kandinsky_g_lg.jpg 1,250×1,063 pixels

Improvisation 10, oil on canvas 1024 x 768 cms 1910

I am not so keen on Kandinsky’s later work (he died in 1944), but the work he produced around 1910, really speaks to me.  I need to work out just why this is and to work out how to use this new found understanding in my own work.

Rob Ryan

In Interview-Artists 2010, Ryan describes his journey from RCA screen printing to exquisite cutouts. 

Work in progress.

We have a book and a mug of his work, but until I read the interview, I, shamefully, hadn’t really been conscious of him as an artist.

Does the overt commercialisation of his work, add to, or diminish his stature as an artist?

Terry Setch

What I am loving about  this course is that every day I am discovering jewels that lead me on a trail of discovery.  I am hoping that this is all feeding into bubbling creativity, because I am becoming so absorbed in the process, I am having little time to produce work myself.

Setch is such a jewel.  Working with encaustic wax (whatever that is-YouTube is such an amazing resource!) he is producing gently coloured powerful works, depicting the damage of pollution and with a sense of irony, using a pollutant to achieve the image.

Severn Estuary.

The BBC library, Your Paintings, 35 of his images and where they can be viewed

Images from his exhibition in Glamorgan in 2011

London W1X - Terry Setch latest show showing recent works at Cork Street

Time is Running Out 2011 from a recent exhibition in Cork St, London.

Yinka Shonibare MBE

The interview with Nigerian born Yinka Shonibare, in Interview Artists- 2010 focuses on his inspiration for the work in Trafalgar Square, and as such doesnt really give a full insight into his artistic journey.  What you do learn is his driving force, his background, his symbolism, ships and their movement of people, globalisation and its roots in the colonial period.  All of which influences his subject mater and choice of materials.


Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square 2009 250 x 250 x50cms


Yinka Shonibare African Batik Sculpture - Yorkshire Sculpture Park-2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I particularly liked this sculpture in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and 

Creative Review, commissioned for the Brighton Festival 2014, which again, shamefully I didn’t see.

Sargy Mann

Sargy Mann has been blind for the last 25 years.


Tim Adams writing in the Guardian in 2010,  ‘Even before he lost his sight, Sargy Mann was obsessed with ways of seeing. As a young painter he was tutored by singular realists – Frank Auerbach, Euan Uglow – who insisted that an individual artist must be exactly true to what he saw. For much of his working life Mann taught students at Camberwell School of Art all he knew about representing light and colour on canvas, with particular reference to Bonnard and Matisse,’

As he says ‘If your subject is your own experience then if you are having an experience, you have a subject.’

This BBC article includes a video of how Mann approaches his work.

Extraordinary determination to succeed against the odds.  Particularly relevant to me, following an operation to remove a cataract and replace my lenses.   Ongoing issues with my sight,  particularly during periods of stress or exhaustion, make me very aware of how easily I could be in the same situation as Mann.  His resolve has really heartened me.

Online Journal Review

Evaluating the Options

I have been asked to research an online journal that is relevant to my work.

I considered the publications suggested by Angela Rogers.  Art Review, Art Forum and Art Monthly, but all felt too ‘busy’, and their international bias made them less relevant to my need.

Art Review

Art Forum

Contemporary Art Daily is a ‘quieter’ publication, but its focus on international exhibitions, whilst interesting , the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see the exhibits, limits its appeal to me and where I currently am in my work.  Contemporary Art Daily

The Journal of Modern Craft is a possibility, but it feels more like a physical publication than an online journal.

The Journal of Contemporary Painting will be published online from 2015.,id=239/  The Journal is aimed at academics, critics, writers, artists, curators and the gallery-going public.  Research essays complement reviews and interviews that are responsive to current debates in painting and related art practices.

I also checked to see whether there was anything that focused on painting specifically, but everything I found addressed the amateur market.

The After All Journal is a densely worded review, devoid of illustration, which doesn’t invite the reader to linger.

I then considered the broadsheet reviews and weekly publications.  I receive a daily culture feed from the Guardian, so that is also a possibility.  I finally selected The New Statesman, seduced by Caroline Crampton’s sensitive article about a little known work by John Tavener, Flood of Beauty.

The New Statesman

This is a free (as far as I could tell) online  weekly journal.  The format has a familiar feel, the articles easy to read and the site is easy to navigate.  The online articles are taken from a number of editions, and here perhaps is the problem, the Hodgkin exhibition runs until November 15, but the Rego finished on the 25 October.

Michael Prodger interviewed the octogenarian Howard Hodgkin, who claimed he has never liked painting, Howard Hodgkin in his studio, His exhibition Green Matters is on at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London, W1, until 15 November.


and reviewed Paula Rego’s recent exhibition, The Last King of Portugal, at the Marlborough Gallery, London, W1.

Grayson Perry was recently a guest editor, with an article ‘The Rise and Fall of Default Man’ Grayson Perry’s Attack of the Clones

Mark Lawson’s review of Steve McQueen’s Ashes, a looped video, and Broken Column, his latest sculpture at Duke St in St James, London, with the quirky title  ‘Tracey Emin and Steve McQueen: still paid-up members of the awkward art squad’, is an interesting take on what might have been a rather dry description of McQueen’s latest work, with Ms Emin mockingly taking centre stage, and the said work, not in sight.

You are able to create an account and a profile page, where you can leave personalised comments, save articles to your library, and (coming soon) discuss the issues of the day with fellow New Statesmen readers, if you so desire.  Email feeds are also available.


The cultural section of The New Statesman includes some thoughtful, well written articles, and is predominately London centric, which is accessible for me.   Relevance to what is actually happening is probably better served by Time Out, but if the reviews are of value, then, even if not current, The New Statesman is a good resource.


I have been exploring the subject of creativity, not least because coming to the role of full time artist so late in life, I have a lot of work to do to position myself, so that what I do is paint.  This is as much a mental adjustment, as a physical one.  Where others have spent a lifetime doing what comes naturally, I am having to teach and permit myself, whilst soaking up everything else that my new life has to offer.

I have the added hurdle that my working life has focused on the logic side of my brain and now I need to move that out of the way, to allow the creative side to take centre stage.

To guide me in this process I am reading Dr Shelley Carson’s Your Creative Brain, which, through a series of exercises, firstly, establishing my skill bias, and then by suggesting exercises designed to enhance my less dominant abilities, I am hoping to fast-track the opening of my creative pathways.

My highest scoring brainset, not surprisingly, was reasoning, closely followed by connecting; my lowest were transforming and streaming, which both barely registered  a point.  Surprisingly I score equally for Deliberate and Spontaneous pathways, although given that I have lived a fully functioning right and left brain life, maybe it is not surprising at all.

The exercises will form an essential daily part of my creative work, and I view them as the key to opening up the untapped energy, that has been marginalised for so long.

I am particularly interested in how other creatives, from all disciplines, access this energy.  By chance I happened to listen to Desert Island Discs, and listening to these two hugely successful women, was a good starting point.

Debbie Wiseman

The composer of TV  music, including Judge John Deed, The Andrew Marr show and a host of award winning films including Tom and Viv, was interviewed by Kirsty Wark on Desert Island Discs.  Wark manages to extract a real insight into the character and motivation behind the creativity of Wiseman.

She felt compelled to write music since a very early age and cannot go a day without writing something.  The pressures of writing to a deadline, finding she does her best work between 6-9am, the passion she bestows on her work, are inspiring.

Sally Wainwright

Writer of some the best TV writing for women, Meet the Braithwaites, Last Tango in Halifax and Scott and Bailey, also interviewed by Kirsty Walk.

Softly spoken with a broad Yorkshire accent, it is her slightly oblique take on real life that is at the core of her creativity.  Again she writes every day because it is her hobby as well as her work.


To be successful, creativity has to be at your very core.  To miss a day is like punishment.  Currently, I don’t feel like that and I am trying to work out why.

The EmptyEasel blog highlighted what I am feeling, with suggestions for how to move myself forward, one small step at a time.

Good advice, but is that what is really at the root of my reluctance to paint, or is it that I am in transition, with a whole new, previously unexplored world, opening up for me.

Worryingly, I am finding it easier to research and write blogs.  I am having to remind myself that I taking a course in Fine Art and not Art History.  That said, everything I am doing is essential to moving forward, nothing will be wasted, all that is needed is a better balance.

From Archive to Interview

This is the second Visual Enquiry lecture by Angela Rogers.

I have volanteered to present a slide show of this lecture.  I never volanteer for anything, what is going on?

This blog is to record my understanding of the information presented, for future reference.  At this stage, I need to document thoroughly, to ensure I have understood exactly what is being conveyed.

In this lecture we are looking at a selection of contemporary artists, and considering commentary from online resources and some of the problems that such research poses.

Thomas Schutte

Schutte was born in 1954 in Germany, and was tutored by Gerhard Richter.   "Betty" by Richter

‘Betty’ a photo realist painting by Richter in 1988.  Michele Leight’s review of Richter’s exhibition at the MOMA in New York February 2002

Schutte felt that he had nothing to say in paint, that Richter hadn’t already said, so he turned to sculpture.

Schutte a prolific artist, producing sculpture, installations, photography, and lesser known watercolours, is known for the way he manipulates scale and materials. Online images may not indicate scale or materials used, which can make a difference to how work is perceived.

The first piece of work is from the United Enemies series, 1993-97, made from Fimo and fabric, and are around 30 cms high.

The second image is from the One Man  House  series, number 5 – 2005 chipboard 82.5 x 39.75 x 53.25 inches.


First we listen to Adrian Searle (podcast at a private view of the exhibition Big Buildings, Models and Views at the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, in July  2010.

Getty ImagesModel for a Hotel in Trafalgar Square, November 2007.

Erecting Model for a Hotel at the Big Buildings exhibition.

Adrian Searle feels that the Model for a Hotel works better within a building, rather than as a monument.

Domus review of the exhibition–models-and-views.html

Ferienhaus fur Terroristen 2007 chipboard

An article about the background to the work.

The original Ferienhaus für Terroristen (Holiday Home for Terrorists) in Mosern, Austria.

Grosse Geister 1996-8,  250cms high.

Image of: Blumen im Glas

  • Blumen im Glas, 2012  watercolour 38 x 28 cm
  • Image of: DistelDistel, 2012 watercolours 38 x 28 cm

Searle describes what takes his interest at the exhibition and concludes that ‘Schutte is free.  He does what he wants with wit, melancholy, gravity, sadness and joyousness all together, and that it doesn’t get much better than that.’


In Ossian Ward’s article in Time Out, 14 November 2007,, reviewing Thomas Schutte’s work for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square,  he feels Schütte’s work, a ‘Model for a Hotel’, mocks the very idea of monumental art, and fails to surprise.  The work’s see through  form and its title, reduce its stature for him.  He concludes that Schutte is just being too clever, ‘So while viewers might look straight through this transparent effigy, many will miss the inherent truth it imparts about the artistic act; that all art is a form of proposition and anything’s possible.’

Richard Dorment, writing in the Telegraph, 7 November 2007,, has a different view, calling the work ‘an abstract assemblage of panes of yellow, blue and red, glass – a miracle of engineering that weigh four tons and looks like it would blow away in the first strong breeze.’  He concludes the work is ‘Original, striking, thoughtful and  too beautiful, Schütte’s work is among the best in the series. ‘

Dorment feels that the work is an invitation to view and create an individual experience, where the work is enhanced by its monumentality.  Adams feels that Schutte’s work mocks the very idea of monumental art.  Two very different responses to the same work.

Kiki Smith

A contemporary of Schutte, Kiki Smith, born in 1954 in Germany, is the daughter of minimalist sculptor, Tony Smith.

Smith’s work tackles major world issues of Aids/race/gender/battered women.

The curator

Elizabeth Brown, curator at the university Art Museum, writing in Santa Barbara, California in 1994, says that  Smith one of the most influential artists of her generation, makes sculpture of and about the body using materials as diverse as bronze paper and wax.  The visceral quality using a variety of traditional and unusual mediums, evoking  solid bodies in fragile silk/tissue, or creating transitionary effects in solid bronze, it also reveals her expressive scope. Rather than argue a specific political interpretation or conform to a single suggested meaning.   She notes ‘how her body drives her work.’

Gallery Website

The biography on the website for the Mary Ryan Gallery in 2001, considers Smith to be a feminist artist.  It writes that ‘Smith’s Body Art is imbued with political significance, it undermines the traditional  erotic representations of women by male artists and often exposes the inner biological systems of females, as a metaphor for hidden social issues.’

Mary Magdalene 1994 cast silicon bronze 152 x 52 x 54 cms

Reference Library

Christine Kuan in her interview (believed to be after 2008) with the artist gives a much more balanced view of her work, talking of feminine impact on post modern and contemporary art.

In a recent book of Kiki Smith’s photographs by Elizabeth Brown , Smith talks emphatically about how her body drives her work.

We cannot get a fixed picture on an artist’s work.  Knowing that Smith trained as a medical technician, helps inform her work.

Louise Bourgeois

Bougeois  was born in France in 1911 and died in 2010 in New York installations reflect childhood

Bourgeois has stated that ‘Sculpture is my body, my body is my sculpture.’

Louise Bourgeois ‘Maman’, 1999<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
© The Easton Foundation

Maman 1999 at the Tate, her best known work.

Richard  Dorment, writing in the Telegraph,9 October 2007, clearly not a fan, does not mince his words.  ‘In 1982 she first revealed in an interview that the imagery in her sculpture was almost wholly autobiographical, letting the world know in lip-smacking detail the story of the family scandal that she relives again and again through her art.

In that moment, the Louise Bourgeois industry was born. An army of Freudians, Kleinians, Lacanians and feminists descended on her work, happy to sink their teeth into art they could treat as a juicy case history seething with Oedipal angst and ripe for interpretation.

Seeing what she had unleashed, Louise hasn’t shut up since. By the ’90s she had become an authentic A-list celebrity.’

He concluded ‘Once you know about Daddy’s betrayal, the symbolism is only too obvious.’

He adds ‘The problem I have with Bourgeois’s work is its literalness, the indexical symbolism that has given her interpreters material for their academic feeding frenzy.’

He is suggesting that that is the only interpretation possible because Bourgeois has fed it herself. takes a different view.

Annie Leibovitz’s portrait in 1997 reproduced in ‘Women’ in 1999

An A list celebrity, more famous for what she said about her work than for any intrinsic aesthetic quality of emotional truth.  She is considered to be the or original  confessional artist, the spiritual godmother for Tracey Emin.

Writing in the Guardian October 2007,, Siri Hustvedt, whilst accepting of the manufactured hype stoked by and surrounding the artist, states ‘ Bourgeois can take you to strange and hidden places in yourself. This is her gift. What may be deeply personal for her finds its translation in art that is far too mysterious to be confessional. ‘  She continues ‘I have come to think of Bourgeois as an artist who roams the antechambers of a charged past, looting it for material that she reconfigures as external places and beings or being-places.’

‘The difficulty faced by those trying to interpret Bourgeois’s art is illustrated by The Destruction of the Father (1974), below, because the object and the narrative that accompanies it have become inseparable.’


Hustvedt continues ‘The artist’s intellectual sophistication, her mordant commentary, and the weight of the theory brought in to bear on her work can quickly obfuscate rather than reveal what is in front of us.’

Another perspective of this work can be found at

Autobiographical Work that Operates Outside the Gallery

Bobby Baker

Bobby Baker, born in 1953, is a performance artist, most recently at John Lewis and Battersea cats and dogs home, known for her work with food.  She believes that our domestic relationships influence world affairs.

For 10 years she suffered from mental issues.  Her daily drawings during this period, originally intended to be private, recorded the progression of her illness through at the Welcome Institute, revealing undiscovered aspects of daily life.

Both Bourgeoise and Baker are dealing with their personal experiences with their domestic lives  very successfully through their work.

The Turner Prize

Is the Prize still cutting edge?

In 2010 Susan Philipsz won the prize for a sound installation that features her singing three versions of a Scottish lament.

The BBC website reported the prize  Media views were mixed.

Richard Dorment writing the Telegraph when reviewing the shortlist said ‘please, don’t inflict this stuff on the rest of us.’

Jonathan Jones at the Guardian and Adrian Searle are quite complimentary.  The Independent said ‘Philipsz’s voice on the artwork sounded “drearily poker-faced, as if she is trying to haunt us with her voice. She does not succeed”.’

We get a sense that there is a link between political orientation of these broadsheets and the responses of these art critics.

Tomma Abts, an object and an image.  Chose a particular group of work from 2001-2006 to create a mood.  Tomma Abts Ebe, 2005

Ebe 2005 Acrylic & oil on canvas 48cm x 38 cm, one of the works that won Abts the Turner Prize in 2006.

The Stuckists claim that Abts paints ‘silly little pictures.’  Painting pictures is what matters, not being lured by prizes.  Success is about getting up each day to paint.

Crazy over you exhibtiion installation view 2

Charles Thomson Installation view, ‘Crazy Over You’ at Trispace Gallery. London, June 2014.

Thomson is a founder member of the Stuckists,  a radical and controversial art group founded in 1999 with Billy Childish, an ex partner of Tracey Emin, in response to Emin’s view of Childish’s work.

The Stuckists manifesto states they are opposed to the current pretensions of so-called Brit Art, Performance Art, Installation Art, Video Art, Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Body Art, Digital Art and anything claiming to be art which incorporates dead animals or beds – mainly because they are unremarkable and boring.

In an interview with Mark Sheerin on September 10, 2014 in Hypoallergic, Thomson cites atomic scientist Ernest Rutherford who said: “An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid.”   “The work is the theory. If it doesn’t itself communicate, it doesn’t work.”

Jonathan Jones commented ‘They protest against the broad category of post-Duchamps in art in which idea is prior to craft.’ in his article about Philipsz’ winning the Turner Prize in 2010

The Stuckists, whilst having been acknowledged as a movement, are looking ‘tired’ and their decision not to protest this year against the prize, possibly heralds a diminishing of their presence.  They have, however, successfully revealed a conflict of interest and campaigned against the purchasing of Chris Orfili’s installation  while he was a serving trustee of the Tate,

Andrew Marr in his interview with graphic designer Neville Brody during Start the Week on 31 January 2011 on Radio 4,  Brody is now Head of the Communication Art & Design department at the Royal College of Art.

However, Susan Hiller the American artist who  exhibited at Tate Britain in 2011, stated that ‘the Stuckist manifesto was like ‘an honest scream of pain and anger’.

Marr makes the point in defence of the Stuckists that as Britart is being sponsored by the Saatchis, mainstream conservatism and the labour government, it makes a bit of a mockery in its claim to be subversive or avant guard.  Brody also felt they had a point in their view that everyone should have access to an art or design education regardless of financial background.


Anything can be a resource.

Online resources:

UCA library

LOndon, online catalogues for

British Library

Art Library at V & A

Henry Moore Institute

Tate archive

Welcome Foundation

Arts Journals:

Art Monthly

Art Review

Art Forum

Contemporary Art Daily

The Journal of Modern Craft

Academic Journals:

Taylor Francis Journals include Arts and Health

Intellect Journals include Journal of Visual Arts Practice,id=131

International Journal of Art & Design Education published by Blackwell


TED Talks



Something to Think About

In what way do artist’s biographies inform or detract from the viewers’ experience of the work?

What are the implications of Ward’s assertion that ‘That all art is a form of proposition and anything’s possible’?

If you could only read or hear one view on an exhibition would you choose to hear the artist’s view or that of a critic or reviewer and why?

Read widely and maintain a healthy scepticism.







Jim Dine

This blog entry started life like many other summaries of Interviews – Artists 2010, but the sheer volume of information readily available on Jim Dine, and having just watched VL2 from Archive to Interview, I thought Dine would be a suitable artist to consider in detail.

The more I am reading, the more I am realizing that there isn’t just one ‘truth’ when it comes to viewing an artist and their work.

The first introduction to Dine was the interview in Interviews – Artists 2010.  I found this interview stilted.  Yes, I knew more about the man at the end of it, his home in Paris, his family background in hardware and tools, his love of poetry, but I felt the surface hadn’t really been scratched.  The footnote highlighted that the interview had been conducted over the phone, which perhaps explained why I might feel this way.

Putney Winter Heart #8 (Skier)  Putney Winter Heart #8

I note this version of the series sold for $226,000 in 2001.

Lone Wolf, was an interview by New York poet Ilka Skobie.  Skobie interviewed Dine at home in the Blue Mountain foothills, Walla Walla, Washington, saw him at work, and with his friends and support staff.

There is a warmth to the interview, that is lacking in the 2010 one.   He talks more freely and Skobie’s style is narrative and informative. Dine’s love of poetry may have helped the interviewer.

The date of the interview is not clear, but it could have been February this year.

Taking prints from a wood cut.

The third interview, is focused on Dine’s proximity to, and view of, William S Burroughs’ art work, and the book, as an object, in contemporary art. an interview by Jim Birmingham for RealityStudio November 2007.

It is a probing interview but very focused on the interviewer’s specific agenda.

This final interview is a short, softer interview for the Tate Shot series, when Dine was 73 in 2008.  It is focused around the exhibition of 52 books that Dine produced.

The style, method, focus of these interviews simply demonstrate that to gain a rounded perspective on any artist, it is necessary to interrogate a number of diverse sources.  No one critic or writer has full access to the ‘truth’ of the subject.