Round ups and resolutions (Part II)

October was all about New York. I was very fortunate to have been awarded a travel bursary earlier in the year by a-n The Artist Information Company, which meant I could visit New York to talk about my book for 10x10Photobooks. This organisation is all about encouraging audiences to develop, appreciate and engage with Photobooks and I was delighted to take part in a Salon along with wonderful bookmakers Lucy Helton, Virginie Rebetez and Delphine Bedel.

10x10photobooks

I blogged about the trip for a-n and you can read it here.

Round ups and resolutions (Part II)

Round ups and resolutions (part I)

As its been so busy the last few months the blog has fallen by the wayside a little bit. I’m quite regular on Instagram though, so if you like to see what I’m making head over there for my latest work – I try to put something up fairly frequently, even though things take me a really long time to make.

This post though is about what I did since Art in Action – I think I’ll have to break it up into two though, as it was a very busy Autumn…

In July I did a workshop at The Photographers’ Gallery, showing a group some of the techniques I use with my images. It was a lovely day, wonderfully supported by the staff at the gallery.

At the end of the summer I was thrilled to have a volume of my artist book, Conversations with my mother, acquired by The National Art Library in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It’s so important for me to see this book go to places where it can be viewed. As I only made 16 this is the way it can reach as many people as possible.

Here I am after I asked a member of staff to photograph me and my book in the library. If you want to look through the work you can request to view it in Special Collections. A video is on my website here.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

In September I went to Vienna for the group show Handmade III. This included Sissi Farassat, Roger Ballen and Katie Kalkstein, amongst others. This is one of my images on the poster outside. Ironically the original is tiny – only 5.5 x 7 cm.

outside-in-vienna

It was a great show and I had a wonderful few days in Vienna.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Some of my work shown in the exhibition.

If you would like to see more of what is available at Anzenberger Gallery please click here.

Round ups and resolutions (part I)

Making / Marking the photograph

Last weekend I did Art in Action. This was a truly magical event and I was very lucky to be a part of it, especially as it was the last time the festival took place.

I would have enjoyed to have gone there just as a visitor – there was so much to see. I fell in love with the embroidery I saw from China, the theatre of live glass blowing and the patience of the slow methodical woodwork practitioners.

Overall it was a place where it felt like people put in more than they took out. It was a good feeling.

This piece was something I showed there in the Textiles tent. It is pin-pricked work. It was lovely to meet people face to face and explain how I did things – and why. I had many meaningful exchanges. I am doing a workshop using some of my techniques at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, in August.

Inscription (Lace 1)

Making / Marking the photograph

Art in Action

Inscription (untitled III)

I have been lucky enough to get a spot demonstrating in the Textiles tent at Art in Action this year. It’s the last time the event is running and I am really pleased to get to be a part of something which so many people love dearly. I am also thrilled to be showing work there because I have been inching towards this process of being interdisciplinary. My work is rooted in the photographic and I will always love this – the relationship to the index, the way the past is always present…but the stitch is equally important. Making a mark in another time and space, stretching time and space, getting into the skin of the image – these are things that have wriggled and squirmed their way into my practice.

Art in Action

Standing, speaking and choking up

Pinprick Shell 1

Last week I was a speaker at Beyond Jewellery, a symposium which featured artists all making work that incorporated an element of the body in some way. The symposium supported the show Flockomania, an exhibition of performative sculptural pieces that could be worn and played with. It was inspiring to be there…the language everyone was using chimed with me instantly.

I talked about my work in relation to my own personal archive. And I was asked several times about how I felt making this very personal work and putting it out there.

It is something I think about often – whether or not it is “too much” or OK, how I feel about it now, how will I feel about it in the future….my current sense is I can tell a truth, how it is for me, and hope it makes connections with others.

I also have an overriding feeling that in the end, we are all just a shell…. I could tell you everything – and it would mean both everything and it would mean nothing.

In the evening, I went up to a woman who had the most amazing hair. It was amazing because it was a stunning shade of silver and I champion this myself. She said she had enjoyed my talk and at one point thought I had been choking up – which I had. I think the bit she was referring to was when I had been describing putting on my grandmother’s blue dress and performing in it after the death of my mother. I called this work My too blue heart on your two blue sleeves. I had felt a familiar lump in my throat when talking about it. The woman with the amazing hair said she found my talk very moving.

A long time ago, someone once said to me: how can you move others if you cannot move yourself? And I felt, just at that moment, telling everything meant … everything.

A few years ago I went to see the Mary Kelly exhibition of Post-Partum Document at the Whitworth in Manchester and also a Tracey Emin show at the Hayward. The former fascinated me with the clinical documentation of the body, while the latter pulled at all my emotional responses and made me cry (especially Why I Never Became a Dancer). This unabashed, unapologetic study – and the generosity of making these experiences public  – overwhelmed me.

I wonder about what happens when you don’t try to conceal it or tell someone else’s story, but just tell your own. It has been a long process to get to this point where I have felt relatively comfortable being in the frame quite so much myself. But when I look back it has always been my original impulse so it seems disingenuous to say something isn’t about myself – when it clearly is. We have a culture of not wanting to say “look at me”, even though we might do selfies all day for Instagram. But maybe that’s because Instagram isn’t your ‘self’ in any way. It’s a version of your most idealised, most fantastic, most amusing self.

I think it is almost our default position to look for an author in a piece of work, whatever that work may be – how many times do you hear writers being asked if their characters are “them”….? We search for clues, as if this will somehow give us a deeper, more enriched understanding of the story. It is a way ‘in’… to get to grips with it… But what happens when you just say straight away, “yes, this is me”?  Do we get past that question, to the next question? What is that next question?

 

 

 

Standing, speaking and choking up

Another sort of archive

An Important View An Important View An Important View An Important View An Important View An Important View

As most of my work is about the archive in some way I thought I would post this from my own archive. It was made around 2004-ish and is the first serious long-term body of work that I produced. Called An Important View it documents most of the memorial benches along the coastal path in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Each piece shows the plaque or inscription on the bench with the view from it alongside. Text about the person to whom it is dedicated runs underneath. If I couldn’t track this down it simply says ‘Unknown’.

When I started making this work I was almost evangelical about how I made it. If there was a bin in the way, for example, I didn’t include it – the project was about the way people feel about a particular place, somewhere significant and important to them. I also felt, at the time, that it was about other people and their grief….But my own father had died in 2001 and looking back I do think in many ways it was a meditative documentation of my own grieving process.

Now I can see how some of the themes I still investigate started here – the familiar places we go to in order to remember, the acts we carry out to make ourselves feel connected to people who have died, the performative way in which we do this using rituals and objects recognisable to others.

One of the things I considered at the time was doing the coast path in one go – walking and making the work in one continuous stretch. I rejected this, because I felt that would make the piece about me and I didn’t think that it was about me. Maybe now I would walk it in one action – the process of walking, thinking and discovering is significant to me in a way it was not then.

On the surface it doesn’t look like the work I make now… but I think I am more at peace with that – showing where my work came from, as well as where it is going.

Another sort of archive