Saturday, 30 March 2013

A week of many 'hats'

Any of my fellow artist friends will understand what I mean by a week of 'hats'.
The official term for it is having a 'portfolio career' which isn't as financial as it sounds, but it can basically be interpreted as meaning most artists have to have variety of strings to their bow in order to survive artistically and yet still manage to pay the electricity bill. I count myself as very lucky, in that all of the aspects of my career are art related, as I know some of my colleagues have to turn their hand to all manner of occupations just to keep their heads above water.
The beginning of my week was spent glued to my laptop, wading through the great long list of research avenues I need to explore before my residency at The Priest's House Museum. Research is never a chore for me, I always feel a little like Sherlock Holmes, pursuing the salient piece of information that will provide me with the answer to a particular line of enquiry. So far I have looked into Georgian fabrics, battery powered candles and how to create a database that anyone can access on the internet (see previous post).
Wednesday saw me assisting my first year tutor, the very inspirational Julia Flatman, with a presentation she was giving at Arts University Bournemouth, concerning engaging students with museums. Julia was demonstrating to the Higher Education Academy, her part in encouraging the degree students in their first year, to participate in the project 'Wunderkammer' - a consideration of the museum as a 'Wonder Room' or 'Cabinet of Curiosities'. Her presentation was excellent as always and it was a privilege to be asked to speak both with her and in front an esteemed audience including representatives from the V&A and the Pitt Rivers Museum.
Thursday was a short day of respite from the degree, organising a variety of publicity material to promote my work as a commercial artist followed by a wonderful trip to the live streaming of the Royal Ballet's production of Alice in Wonderland, satisfying my previous incarnation as a ballet teacher. Then the conclusion of my week has seen me in my post as Gallery Shop Manager at Walford Mill Crafts, both opening for the public over the Easter Weekend and taking charge of our annual stock take. Tonight numbers are swimming before my eyes and I'm not sure that I will get to sleep too quickly, after adding up columns of figures all day.
This just goes to prove that the traditional view of an artist languishing in their studio is inaccurate, most of us have a broad range of skills and fill our days from dawn to dusk rushing about and cramming as much in as they can. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Digital Experiments


After a week of research at the museum and assembling the 'to do' list (which amounted to 66 items) of what needs to be achieved before my residency, I started to look back over my degree tutorials in an attempt to tie up some loose ends. Every tutorial in the last four years has been a unique experience, some great advice, some terrible advice, positive responses to my work and thankfully not very often - negative responses to what I create. The tutorial I had last week, I'm glad to say, was one of the best I have ever had simply because I felt like I new what I needed to discuss and it was met with enthusiasm and a whole bunch of fantastic ideas to add to my train of thought.
When my piece 'The Archive' was installed at university for the day, participants were eager to engage with the instructions left inside and did leave me with the start of some very interesting information of why they visited. It was suggested to me by my tutor that I digitise this information in some way to be able to analyse it and I have spent a couple of days looking at database programmes in order to do this. I started with Excel but quickly realised that I don't know enough of the workings of the programme in order to use it effectively in the short space of time I have to complete this project. I then looked at apps and began to use the one pictured above - iDatabase - which was so user friendly but after inputting all of the information, it occurred to me that this information would only be available to me or those who also have the programme so I started again. Using Google to explore my dilemma, I decided to use Google Spreadsheets which could be accessed by me anywhere and also be made available to the museum when the installation and my residency have finished. Then of course there was the issue of how I could then get my audience to access it too, so here goes, let's hope that this works and gives you a small insight into the information I am gathering and how it looks when put together. Let me know what you think....
The Archive Database

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

 Yesterday I was very fortunate to be invited to attend the South West Federation of Museums and Art Galleries skills day, where there were several speakers discussing the subject of 'Working with Artists'. Emma Ayling, Head Curator at The Priest's House, was discussing the variety of ways in which they collaborate with artists, including showing the first preview of the work I will be doing with them. This made it all very real in a very short space of time, especially having to verbalise it myself and discuss it with both curators and artists alike. I spent a good deal of time after the morning session, meeting with people to gain feedback on the initial ideas and the general consensus was positive but I was asked some very pointed questions regarding what I thought the audience's response would be to changing a very traditional display. It was good to hear the opinion of others (as it always is) and it has given me plenty to think about in the coming week. The remainder of this week will be spent starting to research the specifics of the objects held within the room and formulating a plan for my residency.

Monday, 11 March 2013

So, the long march towards the end of my degree begins. I am fortunate enough to be working towards my final major project with the assistance of The Priest's House Museum in Wimborne Minster but more on that in subsequent posts. The piece I have just completed has had it's first showing in the studios at university and was received very well. Entitled 'The Archive', the aim of the installation is to assist it's audience in considering their presence in a space, whether that be a gallery environment or a museum setting. I made the decision to show it in a white cube space first, both to test the logistics of its assembly and to gauge the reaction from my peers and tutors from a conceptual point of view. Without wishing to divulge too much about the piece as it will be installed in the Priest's House at the end of April, visitors to it were more than happy to participate and interact with it and I have had some very interesting results which I will contemplate later in the week.
Talking of this week, I have to now get very organised and I plan to blog here frequently to verbalise my thought processes leading up to the end of the project and of course, my degree. Tomorrow I have been asked by Emma Ayling, Head Curator at the museum to be available to talk to a symposium of curators who wish to include artists in their individual museums, which is a great honour to be included in and will hopefully lead to feedback and the possibility of future projects. I am looking forward to discussing my plans with the re-interpretation of one of the Priest's House collections and the inclusion of 'The Archive' in the museum space.