June 2009


 

This is how I chose to present my work during my interview for Chelsea College of Art and Design. I couldn’t decide whether to put the work in a really slick portfolio for them to leaf through, or whether to put everything into a powerpoint presentation. In the end the deciding factor was that presenting the work like this is the only way that I felt comfortable. It was much easier to chat through the work – which was much more fitting.

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Apparently I’d made it just in time – this was Gary’s last lab. But I am so so glad that I did and was not at all disappointed. 

 

It was really relaxed, unpretentious and just a group of people exploring some ideas that were never going to be made into great pieces of work. It was really refreshing to get out of my head, away from my notebook and onto my feet.

 

It brought back so many memories of ways that I used to work. Exploring ideas in groups without fear – something that i think being in an art college took away for a while. I miss group workshops and never took to an artists studio properly. No body was judging anyone and no-one had anything to prove.

 

Admittedly, working in a group of strangers bring challenges with it. Learning how to communicate with each other, differences of opinions etc. But i really enjoyed those problems.

 

We showed mini performances that we worked on in the morning of the second day. That morning was stressful in a way. Nothing stuck with my group. Nothing gelled at all. We’d try something and seemed to have an inability to stick with it. We’d change tact and not be able to bring anything to a conclusion. In the end we decided to stop being so serious and do any idea that anyone came up with and just see where it went. 

 

We decided that we would start in a neutral manner and begin to ‘learn’ behaviour, gesture and sound/speech from the audience. We copied their sitting actions whilst standing (so obviously accuracy was unachievable). We copied sounds, pitch, gesture and repeated and repeated it as if we were artificial intelligence.

 

The other group then gave feed back, and redirected us. We then re-performed the piece taking on board what had been said. 

 

The ‘artist’s talk’ was Gary – which was very fitting for his last lab. I always love hearing other people talk about their work as it gives a real insight into process and thought patterns. 

 

We of course ended the workshop with a drink in the pub! Naturally.

The trail of my new ideas went a lot better than I’d expected. 

It was exhausting and possibly not the best time for me to do a trail but I wanted it for my portfolio so went for it…

I tried Trafalgar Square: No body took a blind bit of notice of me. I was practically shoving my newspaper in people’s faces – but to no avail. It is amazing what people can ignore, even when you begin to invade their personal space out of shear desperation and fear that your project is about to fall flat on its face before its even begun!

 

Into the National Portrait Gallery. “You can’t take photos in here love”. Of course not! Strike one. Strike two – nobody is giving me the time of day… but its still art… Strike three: New tactic! Give someone my card without drawing any attention to myself, without speaking – just hand it to them then look at my newspaper – surely that will make them look and understand the context surrounding what I am doing – I would get it.

 

I see a young woman sat seemingly alone on a bench looking at a painting. I approach and sit next to her… easy does it. I give it a minuet – she hasn’t noticed the writing in the paper. Right – try the ‘New Tactic’. I nudge her without making eye contact and slide a card towards her. She takes it. I’ve got her attention now surely. No – she doesn’t appear to be looking at the paper, infact she seems to be fidgeting!?! Quickly I angle the paper more towards her – nope she’s getting up. I decide to stay seated and hope and pray that she will notice why I gave her the card. I don’t look up from the paper. I hear an American accent behind me say “What? What the fuck are you poking me for? What – what the fuck is that? Who the fuck gave you that?!!? What the fuck!” I dare to glance over my shoulder and realise that it wasn’t a young woman at all but a girl of about 14 on some-kind of school trip!!! Strike three and I was out and running as fast as I could before I was escorted out on suspicion of soliciting young girls… open public spaces obviously don’t work to my advantage with this project!

 

Feeling a little more than disheartened at this point I headed back to the tube station. On to the tube! It was a much better place. The close proximity and lack of anything else to look at or do worked to my advantage. People began to read what I’d written whilst blatantly pretending not to – exactly what I was aiming for! I’d give them my card, get off the tube and on to the next one. 

 

I received a real mix of reactions. Some people were out right scared and refused to take the card. One girl said “Oh My God! Did you find that paper?” I said “no” and turned the page for her to read the rest – she wasn’t overly interested in that then… “are you an artist then?”

“Yeah I suppose so”

“Oh cool – I’m an illustrator. What’s this about then? I love it. What kind of reactions have you had?”

And I began to chat… it was at that point that I realised that the whole carriage was listening and more people were reading my paper than I realised – which was a good thing to note for future reference.

 

At the end of my day I wasn’t sure how I felt about the project. I went home deflated.

 

When I got home I had an email waiting for me.. just the one – but it was the start I’d wanted. Someone agreeing to help and write me part of a story to do with his life or someone he knew! Brilliant!