I was excited this week. I was up early and on the road by 7.20 because this weeks lecture was around Eco-literacy and it didn’t disappoint.
The lecturer was Robert Hopkins, Architect. He was responsible for the “healthiest building in the world” The Spine in Liverpool, designed and built for the Royal collage of Physicians. Robert studies Biophilia which is the way in which nature affects the human body. For example, how having a window and being able to see plants shortens recovery time in patients and how being in a space which has plants in it reduces stress and anxiety. He took us through the design process and explained all the different ways they had solved the various problems along the way. He talked about the extensive research processes and how they had imbedded the biophilia principles in every aspect of the design so it could not be removed. He sourced all the materials as locally as possible and used only natural or circular economy based, products. I learned that there is a data base of materials that Bath University have put together (open access to all) that lists all building materials and their ecological impact/measures their sustainability against similar products. All the time he referred back to man kinds innate biological connection to nature and the hardwired connection we have always had, bringing the outside in as far back as cave painting.
He talked about the “Pythagorean Triple” and “Voronoi Geometry” which I have to look up and explore more as it connects to the mathematics of fractals. And of course the wonders of plants that can remove toxins from the air and replace them with clean health air.
It was brilliant and to top it off he talked proper, he is from Manchester and so was totally straight talking. When he discovered the carpets he had commissioned from a local company were sent over to holland to be stamped? He vowed never to use them again. The session continued in the afternoon as we examined the sustainability of our practices. We used a graphic that he had designed as a starting point which had the “three Pillars of sustainability” as “Social” Economic” and “Environment”. It was good to chat about this stuff. Rosie was struggling with it but I tried to reassure her that it was only important to be able to say that she has considered her practice in these terms and as someone who draws her practice is very light in relation to negative environmental impact. Dr. Natasha was present at the lecture and at the discussion in the afternoon. She was very enthusiastic and I look forward to working with her on my C&M essay.
Elsewhere my space in the studio is still empty. I chatted to Erin about her work and André popped in to ask what I was doing there, lol! I said I had warned him I was hard to get rid of. Meg and I confirmed with him that we had a meeting on Wednesday as the course representatives. Ellie has succeeded in making a collage the size of a postage stamp.
I came across the term “Social Sculpture” which Beuys had created so I have done some research around that. It relates to the political forums he started in the University and then his involvement in politics. In 2017 Gyorody from uni of California, discussed the links between Beuys and the Occupy movement. As much as I love Beuys work, the more I read about him the more his ego spoils things. His work dramatically changed the development of Art and has considerable impact on Art today and what is considered Art but I’m afraid for all the good that he did, it was done from a self-serving point of view. From there I decided to look closer at Agne Denes and I like her work but it all seems a bit grand and unrealistic even though she has succeeded in realising some incredible schemes.
I am also, slowly making my way to the end of the Re-enchantment of Art and it is discussing how we define what is and isn’t Art. It appears to come down to intention and functionality. If Dominique Mazeaud had made sculpture out of the rubbish she collected/cleared out of the river, then her actions may have been accepted as Art but because she is simply cleaning the river it is seen as a functional act and therefore not Art?
I am going to have to read this book again once I get a clear idea of where my research is going. I have two more books that Dr Natasha recommended. A Grant Kester, about community and communication in modern Art and Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud.
I have got my feedback and preliminary marks for my Viva last term and I am really pleased to have been given 68/100. The criticism is expected and why I am here. I need to be more specific in my direction, area of study and hone down where I want to be and what I want to achieve. All valid and I am working on it. I am hoping that the C&M work will help with that.
I have started weaving on the peg loom with the silage wrap and bailing twine and I have started setting up the big loom too.
I have done a couple of workshops. Firstly working in collaboration with the Radnor wildlife trust, Rhos pasture projects Artist in residency, making lantern covers for his installation with local school children. It was a long day as we did two school in the same day and the children were a bit young in the afternoon. We were relatively successful, as in we have some useable lanterns but nowhere near enough so we will have to come up with another plan before the installation in March. Then I got a call from CARAD and did a session making papé Maché bowls. The Celf o Gwmpas LDA sessions will be starting up again next month and I have agreed to do one a month as well as a more focused block with a smaller group so that will be good. I’ve also been contacted by Arts Connection in relation to a project about toxic relationships that I had given up on. That will involve screen printing with teens I think.
The Artists Network meeting was great this month. We decided on our next event to take place before the insurance runs out on the Stiwdio. “Land of our Mothers” will start on 1st March/St.Davids day and cover International Women’s Day and Mothering Sunday, So a celebration of Welsh women. We also discussed Graham Haslock’s exhibition. He told us about his process and how he arrived at the decision to make work which works from a pure mathematical system. It is fascinating and he and Geraint and talking about collaboration which will be a match made in a precise heaven. However it might take a very long time.
However, in relation to my Masters I need to develop the activity and contact people I want to work with. It would be good to do this soon so I can get some workshops done over summer or in early autumn then I’ll have the research done for my dissertation. Artist as activator. Can I encourage the farming community to be more mindful of their waste and help to dispel the fear of going backwards in relation to using their grandfathers and great grandfathers ways of working to inform sustainability in the future.