Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Getting my proposal ready and some inspirational news!

So, today I got up early and promised myself that I would put every effort in to writing my two proposals. If you are new to this blog then let me explain...
As part of my degree course we are offered the opportunity to propose work to be placed in the Lower Gardens, Bournemouth as part of an outdoor exhibition which will be run by the students themselves with the assistance of a Lead Artist and this year we are lucky enough to have the services of Emma Purchase, who I have found to be very inspirational and enthusiastic. Part of this process is to be able to write a succinct and informative outline of the work we intend to produce, a way of 'selling' ourselves if you like. Carrying on from my previous investigations and using the letters from my ancestor Susannah Middleton, I have provisionally made two proposals. The first I have named 'Are You Here?' and I intend to place 'information points' at three locations in the space where I will spend an allotted time each day recording what I see and hear around me, encouraging the general public to be included and to participate by leaving my documentation behind in a perpetual display. The second is titled 'To whom it may concern...' and this is the piece I have been experimenting with recently (see the previous entry) as it hasn't all gone to plan. However this week a very helpful member of staff from the Gardens has been very patient in answering my questions regarding litter picking (it will all become clear from the previous blog!) and has made some suggestions on how this could logistically work. The proposals have to be in by the 8th but I have finished mine early because:  a. I have OCD when it comes to deadlines and b. to see what other people make of the document before handing it in. We are going to be notified by email on the 14th to inform us whether we have been successful or not and as you can imagine, I have some very talented classmates so fingers crossed.
In other news, a few weeks ago I sent a cheeky email to the assistant archivist at the Caird Library (National Maritime Museum), Richard Wragg, who has been very supportive and interested in the work I am producing. He kindly replied to me a few days ago with the news that he is willing to include my work in the blog that he produces for the library. This news could not have come at a better time for me and has really boosted my confidence so my warmest thanks go to him for making an artist very happy and if you get a moment, please do go and visit the site as it is very interesting. You will also find Susannah's original letters mentioned there as they were December's 'Item of the Month'.
I will keep you all posted as to how my proposals are going but if you have any comments or ideas in the meantime, please do post your opinions as they are all very helpful.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

And that's why we test these things out!

So how did yesterday go?? Well put it like this, if it was the closing shot of a movie, it would have seen me sitting on a bench chuckling to myself like some sort of lunatic surrounded by squirrels. Let me fill you in. Yesterday afternoon, armed with my camera and a variety of paper to experiment with ideas and to be able to jot down my findings, I travelled down to the Lower Gardens, determined to test myself and my proposal. I started by spending a great deal of time wandering around the site, thinking very hard about where my 'information boards' could be placed and where they would be most likely to give me plenty of subject matter. I observed for a good hour before picking a bench to install myself on and gave myself 15 minutes to listen and look whilst all the time documenting what I could. It was surprisingly difficult as I found I couldn't write quick enough and began writing in the first person which I somehow hadn't expected. I also hadn't anticipated how much information I had considering the very few people there were using the gardens at that time. It did work though, so feeling like I was getting somewhere I took a deep breath and started writing a letter with the intention of leaving it exactly where I was sitting. This I found very enjoyable, detailing why I was there and what I was experiencing sitting in that spot and folded it so that it gave a tantalising glimpse (or so I thought) of the words it held. I labelled it 'To whom it may concern' and tucked it into the structure of the bench to await its recipient. I had already noticed a good vantage point where I would be able to watch the bench from a distance without looking too much like a stalker and made my way towards it to see what happened. Almost immediately a woman walked past and noticing the piece of paper, lingered momentarily whilst I was whispering to myself 'go on, go on' but then decided to continue her walk. Feeling encouraged and fiddling about with the focus on my camera I neglected to see the member of the park staff approaching on his motorised vehicle, trailer full of refuse being towed behind. Yes, you have guessed it, in the blink of an eye he had removed the letter, screwed it up and thrown it in the pile of rubbish! So it's a small step backwards for me today to have a long hard think about this and how I can alter the outcome in future. Today is also a day of writing up my findings, drawing maps and trying to persuade my boyfriend that I am going to need his carpentry skills if my first proposal is accepted. I will update you all very soon.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

It's all about the preparation.

Today I have been working on a proposal for a project that is available to us on the Fine Art course where we are given the opportunity to experiment with our practice in the Lower Gardens, Bournemouth. I have had two ideas for pieces and it was suggested to me by our Lead Artist, Emma Purchase, that I actually go to the site tomorrow and test out some of my ideas. Hopefully this will have two outcomes:
1. It will be a way of seeing if each idea is actually feasible in the site &
2. I may actually get a response via this blog if it does!
My first proposal is to produce some 'information boards' around the gardens, the type that usually say 'YOU ARE HERE' for you to be able to get your bearings, however, I want to use the aesthetic of the display to start documenting what I see and hear as a way of recording how the gardens are being used, as it happens. This goes along with my fascination of social history - why someone was in a specific place at a specific time and what they did while they were there. I need to look at (if my proposal is successful) where I could possibly site these stations and how they could be sympathetic to their surroundings whilst not being susceptible to acts of god or teenagers. There are still lots of aspects to consider with this idea but I think going to the site tomorrow may answer a few questions for me.
My second proposal is more subtle and needs the help of the general public to be a success. It basically uses the same premise as the first but following on from how my ancestor Susannah used letters to connect with her sister, I am going to attempt to start a discourse with individuals by leaving notes/correspondence in areas of the site where people may stop for a while and happen upon them. This is the idea that is more exciting for me and I think has a great deal of potential but needs the most thought and experimentation.
All of this of course is entirely dependant on the weather! I am watching the skies and if it looks fair, will head down tomorrow afternoon to start this process. So if you find yourself there and happen to see a letter, please take time to stop a while and be part of the art. If you have found yourself at this blog because of one of my 'notes' then welcome! Feel free to leave a comment as I would love to hear why you were there and what you thought.......

Friday, 20 January 2012

The story so far......

The whole point of being an artist is to investigate and that is what has found me here, creating a blog which may or may not be interesting to people but to have the chance to invite people to interact with my work.

So, the story so far....Last year I discovered that an ancestor of mine (Susannah Maria Middleton) had a series of letters that were in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, which detailed both her journey from Portsmouth to Gibraltar and the life she found when she arrived there. The letters are written to her sister and provide a fascinating insight into the social life of a young woman in 1805.
These letters provided me with an incredible amount of inspiration which is sustaining me and inspiring me a year later. I have used them in a variety of ways to test my practice, some of which were a triumph and some a disaster but it has all been fascinating and that is what has led me here.

At the moment I am planning to propose two pieces of work for my second year major project entitled 'Content and Context' where we are being asked to create work for the Lower Gardens in Bournemouth and our lead artist Emma Purchase planted the idea of running a blog alongside any work I produce.
So, hopefully there will be a lot to read about as I go about working out what I do and how I do it and you might even be part of it by participating and interacting!