Saturday, 19 March 2011

Lime Residency

I've had an long interest in art and health.  I've experienced the healing properties of creativity and seen it in other people too, so when I saw the Lime residency advertised, I applied. It was one of those last minute things, where you press send and then remember all the other stuff you should have said. But I was lucky, I got an interview, and to my surprise and delight, have been offered one of their four places.

I spend a lot of time in hospitals, due to a variety of health issues, and my journey to being an artist began because of illness and the need to change my life. I love to see creative work in corridors and spaces, and I hope that during the next two years I will be able to make my own contribution to making the hospital experience more bearable.

Lime offers free studio space, and a flexible connection to the organisation and its work. It will be fascinating to see how my practice develops in this setting.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Flood - awash with feelings

This beautiful image was found on the internet.
I don't know who the photographer is.
In the last few weeks, Jane and I have been getting down work on Flood, the installation we are creating for the Chorlton Arts Festival. Jane is mainly responsible for the climate change research, and will be doing the bulk of the making, and I'm doing the historic research, creating the flood map, and material for the flood walk. A large part of my subconscious has been mulling over flood questions. Where do you measure a flood from? From the top of the bank or the normal level of the river?  How do you measure the 'normal' level of a river?  Is the height above sea level more important than the influence of the river?  Do floods travel upstream?

And now the rest of the world is sharing this dreadful fascination with floods. I've tried not to turn the Japanese experience into some sort of voyeuristic fetish.  But when I was sent the link to this film, I finally understood the power of the sea.  The images have lodged so strongly in my mind, that last nights walk home from work was full of shadows of rising water.

By the time the installation is put up, something else will be top of the news, but I hope it will bring to mind what we have learnt in the last days and contribute to the campaign to halt climate change.

Flood will be showing at the Chorlton Arts Festival Big Art Walk from 19th - 29th May

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Methods and Theories of Art History by Anne D'Alleva

My well thumbed copy!
Book Review

How many times have I started reading an article or book on art, only to be blocked, sometimes at the first sentence, because I don't understand a term on which the whole meaning hinges?  I've never had any education in this field, and though I have tried to learn on my own, it has been hard to get started.  It all seemed a bit unfathomable. While writing my MA application, I looked in vain for an art theory dictionary or glossary to help me.  New Keywords: a revised vocabulary of culture and society; eds Morris, Grossberg, Williams and Bennett, was a help but there were still lots of basic elements I didn't understand.  Then I found this wonderful book by Anne D'Alleva.

D'Alleva writes for students and as she says in the introduction, she offers a starting point for approaching theories of art history.  She writes enough to give an overview of each development of thinking about art, but not so much as to overwhelm the first time reader.   The book covers formalism, semiotics, Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis, reception theory, hermeneutics, structuralism, postmodernism and much more besides.  I particularly loved it that almost every time I read a word or phrase I didn't understand, it was followed by an short explanation. For example, 'Gramski developed a theory of cultural hegemony - that is, influence or authority gained via cultural practices rather than by law or force - to explain how the bourgeoisie continued to dominate society.' How can you fail to love a woman who makes it so clear! In the final chapter she gives very practical suggestions on how to integrate art theory into essay-writing, and even analyses real student essays to explain how to produce good work.

The book is written in a warm facilitative style with an emphasis on clarity.  If you want to get the tools to enable you to learn more about art history, art theory and art movements, then this is the book for you.