(Image courtesy of Castlefield Gallery)
On Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity present my practice, and specifically ‘New Photographic Chemistry’, alongside three other artists, at a meeting of the Castlefield Gallery Associates group, in Manchester. It took the form of a 10 minute presentation followed by five minutes of questions. The meeting was attended by around 16 members of the group.
(Images courtesy of Castlefield Gallery)
These are some of my reflections following the event:
- Once again, the value of time spent in planning and preparation was evident. I had a slideshow (under my control rather than running independently) and a ‘script’ that I had rehearsed – so it was no surprise that the timing worked out more or less exactly. It took the form of a slightly extended version of the video from my website – here – covering the grounding of my practice; the origins and development of ‘New Photographic Chemistry’; and the various forms in which it has, to date, been brought to an audience. So, I covered a lot of ground in a short time but that didn’t seem to be a problem.
- Everything seemed to be well-received by the audience, in terms of attention and body language during the talk, questions that followed, and responses during the tea interval and at the end of the evening. Most of those in the audience (and all of the other three presenters) were practicing artists with multiple exhibitions, commissions, residencies etc; so there was the potential for a ‘credibility gap’. But I didn’t sense it, and the interest seemed to go at least a little way beyond the merely polite.
- Questions/comments immediately post-talk covered – printing onto fabric; choice of colours; time to produce; size of output (with a suggestion that I might go bigger … a lot bigger!); and praise for the way I managed to create a sense of depth and dimension in the images. I was pleased when, after the talk, one audience member compared the images of text manipulation (below) to the work of David Batchelor (which had been part of the original inspiration, as blogged here. It was also good to find some connection with the presenter who preceded me – Roger Bygott – who was talking about a recent residency during which he produced some work that physically deconstructed and subverted Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida.
Sulphur Sensitizers (2015)
Perhaps most importantly, I enjoyed doing it and felt confident in the work and my ability to talk about it. Artists tend to be supportive of each other and to have genuine interest in what others are doing; and the CG Associates scheme offers plenty of opportunities to develop and maintain contacts. As I have observed before in various contexts, the basis for a sustainable practice is there and its future is entirely dependent on how much I want it and how much I am prepared to commit.
Oh – and my image featured in the e-mail to all associates about the evening …
Castlefield Gallery, Manchester – from website.
Assignment Three is titled ‘Work Experience’ and offers two options for the student – either do a work placement and produce a 1500 word write-up about it, or write a 2000 word essay about a particular role (which should be informed by primary research i.e. direct contact with practitioners). The assignment brief is written in a manner that is quite clearly directed towards a student who intends to pursue a career in photography, which isn’t me. Following discussion with my tutor, and working on the basis that the assignment is, fundamentally, about demonstrating engagement with the ‘outside world’ that is photography/art, I have a plan in place that also ensures that the assignment is about something that is genuinely useful to me in ‘sustaining my practice’. It’s reasonable to say that for much of this year, and certainly for the last six months or so, I have been ‘working as an artist’ i.e. pursuing opportunities to engage with the art world, to present/promote my work, to interact with others in the ‘industry’ and to network. So the agreed plan is to write a variant on option two, the 2000 word essay, which will be based around two ‘case studies’ of my working experience – the developing relationship with Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, as a mentored member of their Associates Scheme; and the experience of working with Bank Street Arts as an exhibiting artist.
The Castlefield experience, as a member of Castlefield Gallery Associates, is proving particularly useful and effective. Already I have attended their monthly Associates Group Meetings; had a one-hour session with the Gallery Curator; attended a half-day symposium on Artist Development; and had confirmed an opportunity to present my practice in a ten minute ‘show and tell’ session at an Associates Meeting next week; all that as well as receiving regular and useful updates on opportunities and activities, plus some networking with other artists etc.
With Assignment Five completed, I will be submitting Assignment Three in early December, leaving me enough time (hopefully) to get an assessment submission sorted and in by the end of Jan 2017.
Last week, I submitted my Assignment Five essay, a reflective account of the publication of my New Photographic Chemistry in the exhibition at Bank Street Arts; and yesterday I had a tutorial where the feedback, apart from a couple of suggested extensions, was that it is ‘there’. Not much more to say on that particular issue except to add a link to the essay, here: SYP Assignment Five Essay Stan Dickinson.
There is a second part to Assignment Five, which is to describe how one intends to submit for assessment. Some aspects of such a submission e.g. copies of assignment submissions, tutor reports etc, are obvious; but one is also conscious that this is the final submission for a visual arts based degree. So I have had in mind to produce a more extended version of something that I did for my Body of Work submission. I produced an A4 size Assessor’s Booklet, a sort of guide through my submission, which I hand-stitched as a small bound object, to give it a little extra character. I mentioned that in the second part of my Ass 5 submission and am being encouraged to follow it through – maybe even to do a small hand-made bound book. In fact, my tutor’s suggestions for reference points went a step further, referring to Duchamp’s ‘La Boîte-en-Valise’ . I’m not sure about going that far, but it does occur to me that I might reproduce the scale model of the exhibition (having donated the original to the gallery). Well, it’s either that or a fold-out, pop-up version in the hand-made book (and submission in 2018!).
(Assignment Three was also discussed in the tutorial and is coming together as a project, of which more to come.)